Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 16 June 2023

Wednesday 14 June 2023 - Around Chadkirk with SWOG

This was an outing with about 25 of SWOG's evening wanderers. We started from the car park next to the Midland Hotel in Marple Bridge, heading uphill, along an overgrown path behind the tennis courts, and soon crossing the Peak Forest Canal.

We then followed a series of ginnels that led to the site of a once magnificent building - Marple Hall. This is the site of the hall, about which there is lots of information here, from which I've copied extracts below this rather sad picture.

The date of the original house on the Marple Hall site is uncertain. It was probably built by the Vernons of Haddon Hall during the reign of Henry VII.
 The Vernons held the manors of Marple and Wybersley through several generations, the last being Sir George Vernon. He died without male heirs, so the estates were divided between his two daughters. Margaret, the eldest, married Sir Thomas Stanley, second son of the Earl of Derby. The other daughter was the famous Dorothy Vernon who married Sir John Manners.

The demolition of Marple Hall in the late 1950's was a tragic loss to Marple's heritage. 300 years of history swept away almost without trace is a sad reflection on the Council of that time and also the members of the Isherwood family involved. That so little remains in Marple today to remind us of this historic place is deeply disappointing, as is the disgraceful vandalism which brought about the hall's demise.

In 1954, when Marple Hall was derelict and abandoned to the vandals, thankfully someone had the foresight to preserve a small part of the treasures it contained. The stained and painted glass shown here was salvaged from the entrance hall and reinstalled in the vestry of the ancient Church of Bunbury in South Cheshire, where it remains to this day.

Local man Alan Newton won a cycling medal in the 1952 olympics. He is celebrated in Stockport by way of a route that is named after him.

We continued through ginnels and lanes, eventually - after rescuing our leader from a wrong turn - reaching a relatively new bridge across the River Goyt where a ford previously provided the only means of crossing just here.

After huddling to one side to allow some horses to pass, we crossed this substantial bridge and headed towards Chadkirk Chapel.

A monk stands guard outside the chapel, the current building of which dates from the 1740s.

We enjoyed an unexpected audience with King Charles 111.

... and some Jerusalem Sage.

The Peak Forest Canal is nearby. We followed that back to Marple Bridge.

Soon we reached Hyde Bank Tunnel - about 300 metres in length - through which there is room for boats to pass, but no towpath, so barges had to 'leg it' before being reunited with their horses in days preceding the advent of motorised transport.

There's more information here.

The evening light was reflected by this wall of ivy by Hyde Bank Farm.

Then we proceeded along the towpath, over the aqueduct next to the later viaduct, and up the flight of locks to our starting point near Marple Bridge Station.

Here's our 8km (2 hours, 150 metres ascent) route, that tonight finished with beers in the sunshine outside the Norfolk Arms. A lovely outing.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Wednesday 14 June 2023 - A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 11 – Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man

I've done this walk many times before and couldn't resist getting out in the ongoing fine weather, combining the walk with a visit to Jim and Cathy in Water Yeat.

Since my last visit, the end of the Walna Scar Road has been sanitised into a car park costing £5 for up to 4 hours, and £8.50 for up to a day. Apparently the popularity of the Lake District during the Covid era has been such that without proper control, parking has been a real problem. It's quite simple - if you disagree, park elsewhere, and I did see a few folk walking up and down the hill to Walna Scar.

I walked all the way up the Walna Scar Road to the ridge to Brown Pike.

Looking across to the southern end of Coniston Water

The gentle gradient of the Walna Scar Road stretches out ahead

Another view back to Coniston Water

Wild Thyme lined the path

The path at the Walna Scar col leads to the Duddon valley; I turned right to ascend Brown Pike

Harter Fell and the Scafell summits come into view here

From Brown Pike, the path continues upwards to Buck Pike, with the OMC now clear in the distance

From Buck Pike it's an easy stroll across to Dow Crag, 
albeit there's a short scramble to reach the summit (just right of centre)

En route, a steep gully that some brave folk use as a means of ascent!

There's a good view from the summit of Dow Crag, across to OMC and down to Goat's Water

The Scafells from Dow Crag

I then chose the easy gradient of the Brim Fell path, with good views back to Dow Crag

Nice views to Seathwaite Tarn and Harter Fell

Brim Fell and OMC

Dow Crag from OMC

OMC summit, looking back towards Brim Fell

Coniston Water, from my lunch spot on OMC

Before descending steeply to Low Water I pondered the alleged absence of upland birds in the Lake District, suggested in a book that Sue is currently reading - Wild Fell, by Lee Schofield. That wasn't my experience today. I saw lots of mainly small birds such as wheatears, meadow pipits and skylarks, with many seagulls of several types on the summit. I didn't spot any plovers, curlew, oyster catchers or grouse.

It's a steep, zigzagy path to Low Water. Having seen only nine people in the 3 hours or so that it took me to reach OMC's summit, I now met many folk (including the bikini and flipflop brigade) enduring the unpleasant ascent.

I had good views down to Coniston Water and village

The 'tourist path' up OMC is being upgraded; can you spot some of the many 
bags of rock on the path, awaiting installation?

If you click on this picture you should be able to make out the Wild Swimmer of Low Water. 
Had Sue been with me there would have been a long delay at this point

The next, and last, two pictures of this sequence show mining detritus beside the path leading down from Low Water, a reminder that hundreds of quarrymen and miners lived here not so long ago, before the age of Lake District tourism.

By the time I got back to the car at the Walna Scar Road car park, I'd covered 11km and ascended some 700 metres, taking a little over four and a half hours. Here's my route (click on the map for a better image).

Previous reports on this walk (or similar) can be found here and here, to name just two, but I have been up Coniston Old Man loads of times.

Before heading for a supermarket then home to cook dinner before a SWOG evening walk, I had the pleasure of calling in to see Jim and Cathy, who were already students in the TDHHC (UMIST) hiking club when I went to UMIST in 1967. So we've been friends for over 55 years. Frightening! Their house is in a nice spot, with ready access to the lake. The view below is what they enjoy from their chairs in the garden.

It was good to see you, albeit briefly, and I hope to come again soon.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Saturday 10 June 2023 - Wythenshawe parkrun #526

On a lovely warm, sunny morning, some 339 runners and walkers completed the 5km parkrun course at Wythenshawe. Sue and I enjoyed a coffee afterwards outside the pony cafe with some of our good friends - Paul, Andy and Jeanette.

I took a few photos - captioned, below:

Setting off at the back of the field

Still at the back - passing Oliver Cromwell

After 'Far Bridge', this shady section was welcome today

By the time I got to 'Home Corner', I'd been lapped by 30-40 folk who turn left to the finish, 
whilst mere mortals turn right to start their second lap

A brief pause to encourage those heading for the finish

Then Jeanette and I headed off on our second lap - given the heat, our decision to walk around the route made for a more pleasant outing (43 minutes for 5km) than running...? Maybe...

Full results are here.