Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 18 August 2023

Wednesday 16 August 2023 - A Visit to The Crown at Worthington

This was a select gathering to celebrate Reg Kingston's 85th birthday, and thanks go to Reg for his generosity in organising the event for ten of his friends.

I arrived early and went for a 3.5km stroll beside the nearby railway line.

We assembled at 11:00 and after a fudge brownie for those who wanted one, we wandered off along a track that I think we took over ten years ago when some of us walked the Lancashire Trail with some Plodders from East Lancs LDWA.

Reg loves trainspotting, so we paused at the bridge and waited ...

After just missing being sprayed by insecticide / fertiliser, or whatever, we reached a track junction where Reg declared a 'turnaround'. "We don't want to be late for lunch!"

Roy kindly grabbed my phone to take a picture with me in it. We missed the old cameras that you could place on a post and take a self-timed picture of everyone.

Back at the Crown, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and a welcome beer, preceded by Don's 'film' of our past exploits on the Lancashire Trail. A muddy undertaking if ever there was one.

This was a lovely occasion, enjoyed by all, and thanks go to Reg again for organising it.

Thursday 17 August 2023

Tuesday 15 August 2023 - Around Appleton

On a sunny afternoon I took a 25 minute drive to Hillside Road, on the edge of Warrington. We've been here many times before - it's a lovely walk - reported on here.

I soon reached the footpath to the left of the entrance to Hillside Farm, pictured above.

Much of the grass has been cut, but some of the neighbouring field has been left as meadow, with an area of Ashy Sunflowers, and other peripheral species.

There were lots of sunflowers

Blue Tansy

Something in the Daisy family


The flowers are hidden in the verges of the path that leads towards Bellfields. There was also lots of Crimson Clover, but the photo of that was out of focus.

At Bellfields, the brickwork indicates a fairly old building.

My dad would have searched for fingerprints, denoting hand made bricks, perhaps older than these.

I turned left down the hill after reaching the sandstone pillar said to mark the spot where Cromwell's horse was buried after being killed in a skirmish nearby in 1648.

The duck houses appeared to be empty.

Himalayan Balsam has invaded the hedgerow here.

Behind the duck houses are lots of enclosures that appear to house free range partidges.

There are a variety of routes available around here, including a circuit of Appleton Reservoir. Today I chose to avoid the usual route past the Fox Covert cemetery, instead taking the path left that leads down to the Bridgewater Canal. I'd not gone that way before.

The path doubles back after reaching the canal, which it crosses via an ancient hump-backed bridge.

Green Alkanet is evident in the hedgerow before the Red Lane Bridge is reached.

There are lots of berries to feed the birds at present, including this Hawthorn.

This mallard must  have recently had a second or third brood.

The lady in the photo enquired as to what I was photograhing. This led to a long conversation and conjecture as to what this spot would have looked like with locals embarking on the journey to Manchester from the meeting point beside the London Bridge. (The canal dates from around 1770.)

Further towards Lymm, I assume a householder has planted these colourful flowers. He/she has also placed a high fence that prevents the householder from viewing said flowers.

Just before leaving the towpath beside Lumb Brook Bridge, I encountered a sight that I'd never previously observed on the towpath.

The tortoise was about a foot long. It was heavy, and not too keen on being picked up. It ran off and jumped into the canal. That worried me, as there seemed no way the animal could get out of the steep sided canal. I watched for 5 to 10 minutes while it swam around. Then it dragged itself out.

Well, that was a first, as was the presence of a Herring Gull in our garden when I got home.

There followed a few kilometres of pleasant woodland in the Lumb valley, with some side paths that I may explore in the future.

Go this way to avoid the discomfort of a new housing estate

Pewterspear Lane has the aura of an ancient Roman way, and passes through a distinctive pair of gateposts.

Just before reaching the car, the walk ends near the double headed sculpture of Janus.

Here's today's version of the route - a shade over 10km, and 80 metres ascent, taking me a couple of hours. You can see that there are many more paths that could be explored.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

27 to 29 October 1995 - Cairngorm Capers

Notes (context): This was an era of frequent backpacking weekends, starting from the Rising Sun near Albert Square, on Friday afternoons. We always went in my company car as close as possible to (or before) my finishing time of 5:30. We routinely stopped for a meal at the Black Bull in Moffat, if not the Little Chef nearby. A late arrival at the Faskally campsite (that was as far as I could drive without getting too tired), and early Saturday morning departure, meant we usually didn't pay as we arrived after the office closed, and left before it reopened. Faskally offered Saturday morning access to many different areas, for an overnight backpack before an evening return to Manchester by midnight on Sunday, duly refreshed for work on Monday morning!

I had more energy in those days...

27 to 29 October 1995 - Cairngorm Capers 

Friday 27/10/95 (Diarist: Martin W [MW])

I (MW) arrive at Leeds station at 3:10 for the 3:24 train to Manchester and find enormous queues at the ticket office. A tense 10 minutes waiting for a ticket. Train late anyway. Arrive in Manchester and take tram to St Peter's Square, dash to the Rising Sun and find Dave has not arrived (4:45). He missed his bus and another bus driver ignored him.

Anyway, we meet, get away, and there is not too bad traffic on the motorway. We pick up John (JM) from Carlisle at about the planned time. Martin B (MB) forgets to turn left at Moffat and we miss the Black Bull. He also seems unable to turn left at the next services, and we miss a Little Chef. With an 8 mile warning sign he finally manages to turn left at the next exit. This puts his reaction time at about 6 minutes. The services are found by a complicated route and seem rather new, empty and cold. The food is by general consensus less than mediocre. 

Reach Pitlochry (Faskally) at 10:25. It's a calm, clear, cold night. John sneaks off for a beer without inviting any of us to join him. The rest of us have tea in MB's VE25. It's a nice tent but I fail to see what is 'VE' or '25' about it. It's a yellow North Face dome type tent with two bell ends.

Saturday 28/10/95 (Diarist: still Martin W)

Slow start after a good kip - we even have to pay the campsite fee. Drive to Braemar and stop for tea and scones - breakfast was not on the menu and none of us really seemed to need it. The café is run by an ex army chap wearing his regimental sweatshirt. English, and chatty. Leave car in busy car park at Linn of Dee and walk up track to Derry Lodge.

It is a brilliant day - clear and sunny. Plan A was to camp at Derry Lodge and do three munros tomorrow as a day walk. However, it is only 12:35 and instead we adopt Plan B, which is to backpack over Derry Cairngorm. We start up the shoulder, Coire Craobh an Oir towards Carn Crom, where a good path leads north.

Looking back from Coire Craobh an Oir

Still a splendid day with fine views to the south and of Glen Derry. The bouldery minor summit (1040 metres) obscures Derry Cairngorm which, when it comes into view, looks just the same - so there is a feeling of climbing the same bouldery conical bump twice.

Martin W


On Derry Cairngorm

There is a cold wind and clouds are gathering from the west. Good views still to be had from the top, where there is another party of five or six people.

Bouldery descent north; snow in the gaps. MB takes a shortcut over the 1108 metre top. The rest go via the col at 1053 metres to gain a path to Little Loch Etchachan. We camp on the south side between the little and big lakes at about 930 metres.

Simulating wind to test the new tent

Calm, zero wind. Clear starry night. MB eats Vesta chow mein for supper. Ugh, how could he?

[MB - delicious, especially the crispy noodles.]

Sunday 29/10/95 (Diarist: Martin B)

A clear night with good views if cool. Very cosy in the tent and a good lie in, except for a brief escape for me at sunrise - brilliant red sky - soon enveloped in cloud, so no photo.

Eventually we stumbled off to Little Loch Etchachan, after being disturbed by a flock of geese, and complaints from JM about a noisy campsite. (The rest of us didn't notice.)

Striking camp

We chatted briefly with Stephen and Jilly Reid, from Keswick, who had tested their new tent outside the nearby bothy (the Hutchison Memorial Hut) but had adjourned to the bothy for warmth!

On we went past the hut, which is in excellent condition. The recently started visitors book referred to lots of 'death by midges' in August, and more serious incidences of adder bites in the same period, requiring helicopter evacuations. 

We contoured on easy ground to the top of the Lairig before ascending directly up Beinn à Chaorainn. A pleasant if cloudy day;  cool on top. Dry. Stroll on to Beinn Bhreac, meeting two unnamed people, across a boggy flat area (bog was dryish - JM recalls it being wetter).

Descend obtusely to a deer fence above Derry Lodge. Climb / crawl, then stumble through forest amongst the deer (more inside than outside!) and mount another high fence before strolling out to the Linn of Dee by about 3:30. 

[Over the two days we walked about 32km and ascended nearly 1500 metres. Here's my guess as to the route.]

Long journey back due to major traffic jam on M90 roadworks (1 hour plus). This time we managed to stop at the Black Bull, and got back to Manchester after 11 pm, so MW and JM stayed at South Drive and were deposited at Piccadilly station at 7:00 am on Monday morning.

Sue and I went up these hills again recently on two separate day walks. Reports are here and here.