View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Monday, 23 January 2017

30th July 2016, A Bikepack to Anglesey

My mate John has been mithering me for years to join him for a few days on his annual sojourn to Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. I’d successfully resisted for years but I eventually gave way and agreed to join him for a few days – the weather was nice, so why not?

I didn’t fancy the idea of driving so I loaded up Ronny the Ridgeback and pedalled the 120 or so miles to Ynys Môn.

Not many photos I’m afraid, a majority were taken on my iPhone which were lost whilst trying to fettle the damned thing. Only a few were taken on my Lumix compact.

The journey took two days, I stealth camped overnight somewhere west of Llanfairfechan. It was a decent ride into a steady breeze, my little legs knew about it. Ronny the Ridgeback just took the ride in his stride. My backside survived the ride well, thanks to the very excellent Brooks sprung saddle – bought earlier in the year for my LETimp ride.

I arrived at Rhoscolyn’s Outdoor Alternative at around 7.30pm. It’s a nice campsite but it was dangerously oversubscribed – so much so that I struggled to find a space for my Akto.

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The view from Four Mile Bridge…..which is nowhere near 4 miles long

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On the footpath from the campsite to the seashore

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The wind had completely changed direction by the time I was ready to go home so I wimped out: I cycled to Holyhead and chucked myself and the bike on the train. I’m not TOTALLY stupid!

It was a nice break that was all the more enjoyable by being in good company. Anglesey is quite a pleasant backwater. Rhoscolyn in particular is nicely off the beaten track. I think my next camping trip to Anglesey will either be a round-the-island bikepack or backpack, maybe in the summer of 2017.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Berwyn Bimble, 15 - 18th August 2016

 

A bit out of order….

Lucky, Mike and Dawn invited me along for wander in the Berwyns – my first trip to this area. There can be no excuse for this lack of attention, it’s remarkably close to JJ Towers…and what a wonderful area it turned out to be.

A train whisked me from Timperley to Chester where I met up with my three fellow defendants. Another train journey to Ruabon and a short bus ride took us to Llangollen – and the start of the expedition….although a visit to The Llangollen Pie Shop delayed our departure ever so slightly.

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The River Dee (no, not THAT River Dee)

It was tricky navigating through the back streets of Llangollen, my 1:25k OS map of the Cairngorm Plateau proved to be useless. My rule of thumb ‘if in doubt choose uphill’ proved itself once again – the stiff climb out of the town was so steep that it just HAD to be the right choice. It was. It was also very hot. Seriously very hot. It was so seriously very hot that it took ages to get to where we wanted to be, although I’m not sure where that was.

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  Beer is Good.

Vivod Mountain loomed, a blue squiggle on the map suggested water was available, a potentially good pitch then. It was actually better than that, water was piped into a make-shift settlement tank so we had an abundant supply of clear water. I still filtered it though. 

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Our clear water supply

A nice flat spot was located and our three tents were erected. This was the first outing for my Luxe HexPeak V4, up until now it had only adorned my back garden.

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First night’s pitch on Vivod Mountain, my HexPeak in the foreground

Dawn is very au-fait with the HexPeak. Her advice, and that from Andy, proved invaluable – I’m not saying I would have struggled without their input but life would certainly have been harder without it.

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Vivod dusk

The evening was hot and completely still. There was water close-by and loads of vegetation & trees: midge heaven, and we were on their menu. Dawn had come prepared. No DEET for her,oh no. Something far better: citronella burny stick things. These things burned for a good few hours, stuck in the ground by the tent door they kept the midges at bay. These things are The Way Forward for camping in midge-infested areas.

It was a peaceful and thankfully highly midge-free evening – thanks Dawn!

 

To Llyn Lluncaws

It was a leisurely start the next morning, we were on our jollies, no rushing about thank you very much.

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The order of the day was to be Moel Fferna (630m) > Cerrig Coediog (593m) > an un-named hill (621m) at SJ090369 > a few other un-named lumps en-route to Cadair Bronwen (784m) > Cadair Berwyn (827m). This made for a very nice day’s walking – great views, decent ground underfoot and nothing terribly steep. But it was still hot.

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Lunch, or some other excuse for a sit-down

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar

The three stages of doggy-stile (as opposed to doggy-style) negotiation:

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NOTE: No stiles were harmed in this process.

A bit of not very tricky navigation got us to an interesting memorial:

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We’d just missed Martin here, he’d been up Cadair Bronwen that very same day. Motorcycle trail-bikes were chugging around, the memorial was located on a very pleasant green lane.

Another lunch ensued, we couldn’t risk malnutrition, that would never do. Basking in the sunshine it was tempting to just sit and chill. Lucky had other ideas, we moved on.

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Cadair Bronwen (I think): Lucky with some bloke in a hat

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Late afternoon view from Cadair Berwyn

It was on Cadair Berwyn that we came across one man and his dog. They were sat, facing west, waiting for sunrise. I imagine he was going to face the other way at the appropriate time.

Onwards and downwards.

A very attractive ridge walk presented itself – it would take us gently and prettily down to that night’s intended pitch by Llyn Lluncaws. It looked lovely, Lucky thought so too.

Not so Dare-Devil Dawn. She spotted a rather more direct route…one that involved rather a lot of damned-near vertical steepness. I felt secure in the knowledge that I’d packed a spare pair of undies,

My descent was by derriere – the skidmarks on (the outside of) my shorts bore testament to that. There was no way I could get down otherwise. Mike’s shorts suffered similarly – although not quite as badly as mine. Dawn and Lucky, on the other hand, skipped down. Hrmph.

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Llyn Lluncaws

A nice flat-ish, midge infested spot was located and our overnight camp established. This time we had lots of vegetation, lots of warmth and stillness – and a large body of completely still water. The midges must have thought all their birthdays and Christmases had all come at once when we arrived. Their dinner had arrived – but they hadn’t reckoned with Dawn’s midge counter-measures. Once again we avoided the worst of the biting blighters thanks to the citronella smoke of the smelly, smoky, burny sticks. A restful night followed. Apart from someone who snored. Loudly.

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To Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog…and a bit further

Next morning dawned a bit mistily but that soon cleared and a cloudless sky promised another hot day.

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We trotted off upwards – only because there was no downwards alternative. Up on the tops, we had some dramatic views:

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Looking south-ish, down the Afon Iwrch valley

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A brief trespass was called for in order to avoid a few miles of not particularly interesting ground. We thought we’d get away with it but as we crested a small hill we spotted a couple fencing contractors doing what fencing contractors apparently do: drinking tea.

The put us right – although their view was that there was no way we could get to Vivod Mountain that day. Well, they were right – but we could have done if we’d wanted. Honest. Anyroadup, we were ‘given permission’ to cross the farmland by the fencing contractors – and that was good enough for us, so we left them to their tea drinking fencing. and wandered off in a sort of determined way.

Our determination paid off – before too long we found a pub. Two pubs actually, but The Hand was the one we settled on, and what a fine choice it was. The process of rehydration began in earnest. All was well until Mike realised he’d lost a walking pole. A short retrace of steps failed to locate the errant stick, it could have been anywhere. Oh well.

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We wandered off, keeping an eye open for suitable camping spots. Eventually we found one – a patch of thistly, scrubby land with a trickle of water nearby. There was plenty of cover, a casual passer-by wouldn’t spot us.

Mike and Dawn were in quite low profile, small footprint tents. My Luxe HexPeak V4 is a much taller affair and has quite a large footprint, secreting it presented a bit more of a problem – even so, we weren’t spotted. Thinking about it, I’m not sure if anyone walked by anyway.

I didn’t photograph our pitch so I’ve had to nick this one from Mike’s blog:

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To Llangollen

A short and easy day.

We woke to a warm morning, it was humid – the sort of humidity that might suggest the coming of stormy weather. We packed and set off, Llangollen bound, as the humidity abated.

The moorland colours were really quite lovely:

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Our route took us past our first night’s pitch from where we retraced our steps back to Llangollen. Apart from the Pie Shop bit, we didn’t re-visit that. Instead we headed for Llangollen Railway Station where we watched steam locos, ate sausage, egg & chips and drank loads of tea.

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A lovely few days away – my grateful thanks to Dawn, Lucky and Lucky’s dad for inviting me along.

Where we went(ish):

Route

According to Lucky’s dad we covered around 30 miles – in a most relaxing and agreeable manner.

More incriminating photographs are here.

You can find out what really happened by looking here and here.

I’m going to go back to the Berwyns, you should too. It’s a brilliant area.

21st January 2017, Fundraising for Syria Relief



Marmalade in action, raising funds for Syria Relief - we helped raise around £2000 last night, playing a ceilidh at St Peter’s Assembly Rooms in Hale.
 
The event was very well supported, in fact it was a sell-out.

Photograph by Brian, our very excellent caller for the evening.

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air, 7th Sept 2016

…or Norman’s Birthday Walk

 

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Norman’s got this thing about lighthouses. If there’s even the slightest chance of including one in a walk it’s a dead cert that he’ll incorporate it somehow. This has led to many a sorry tale of navigation gone wrong, too many miles etc.

But today we decided to humour him, he’d just had his birthday y’see and advancing years are taking their toll on the old bugger.

‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ is a route that Norman devised when he was a young whippersnapper of 70, Each year, around his birthday, he leads this walk in the (vain) hope that fellow members of the East Lancs LDWA will buy him lots of beer at the apres. Fortunately the members are wise to his ways and he always ends up having to put his hand in his pocket. It’s tough being a retired plumber.

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The Wednesday Chapter of the East Lancs LDWA in all their finery and glory

After a quick pre-flight check and photo call we left Conder Green’s Pay & Display Car Park (which was free ‘cos the ticket machine was jammed) and walked north along a disused railway track

The sun shone strongly and lashings of ginger beer sun cream were (was?) being applied to bare bits of flesh in an attempt to avoid nasty sunburn.

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Norman sped off, leaving us in his wake. It was a devil of a job to catch him up.

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Norman checking that his followers are, er, following him.

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At Aldcliffe a call for elevenses went out, it was only 3 miles or so into the walk but it was hot and I don’t think anyone objected to such an early stop. A convenient wall provided seating, trees provided a little but much needed shade.

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The Lancaster Canal, our view from the elevenses stop.

Suitably rested, fed and watered, Norman once again sped off – now heading south along the western bank of the Lancaster Canal.

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After four miles of fast-ish flatness our leader decided it was time for his troops to lunch at a lovely lock-side spot, just south of Galgate. This was a very leisurely affair – there was plenty of time to catch up with all the current LDWA scandal and gossip…..but I’m sworn to secrecy – so no boddice ripping tales will pass my lips. Well not until the dust has settled.

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Norman in Lunch Mode

Our route left the canal towpath and we headed towards St Michael and All Angels Church in Cockeram, a fine bulding if ever there was one. I’ve been this way on other walks and have always wanted a peek inside. Bits of the building date back to 1589, there’s little doubt that parts are considerably older. Today a service was being conducted so once again my plan for a quick church explore was foiled. Curses.

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  St Michael and All Angels Church, Cockerham

A couple of miles further and another stop beckoned, this time for cold drinks and ice creams – very welcome in such high temperatures. The venue for this much needed stop was the airfield at Cockerham, home of the Black Knights Parachute Team. As with previous visits to the airfield, the team were in action – and what a glorious day to be pushed out of an aeroplane at 15,000 ft.

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Doggies weren’t allowed close to the airfield, so whilst we enjoyed our cooling refreshments and watched the aerial display the pooches were left tied up in the airfield’s car park.

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Eschewing NORM1, our leader takes to the hoof ….Barbara looks on in amazement

Leaving the airfield by the tradesmen’s entrance we were marched towards the coast – and a fine example of salt marsh:

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The next point of interest, Cockersand Abbey, looks nothing like an abbey – it looks more a little chapel / church, a fine build nonetheless:

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Cockersand Abbey

Just visible from the abbey is Plover Scar Lighthouse, set off the coast, in the River Lune estuary. Although the lighthouse is small and isn’t normally manned, apparently it offers some very basic accommodation and a fireplace – presumably in case lighthouse staff were marooned because of bad weather.

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Plover Scar Lighthouse (Black Combe in the distance?)

The lighthouse suffered a bit of a prang earlier this year, a passing vessel barged into it causing some damage to the cast iron structure. It still works as a lighthouse but is currently undergoing repairs by a specialist welding company.

Northwards now, heading towards the fleshpots of Glasson Dock, world famous for it’s docks. Although still officially a working sea port, it seems to be more suited to leisure craft these days – it has quite an extensive marina.

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Following the coastal path to Glasson Dock

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One for Alan R

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Glasson Dock Marina

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Nearly back!

16 miles from the start:

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Norman in Rehydration Mode:

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So that was that. A flat 16 mile walk in excellent company, stories told, beer drunk….and then we all went home for tea.

Thanks to Norman for leading the walk and everyone else who walked the route – you all made it a grand day out. Thanks!

Where we went:

Breath of Fresh Air route 

16 miles of flat niceness.

Links:

More photographs here

Route details on ViewRanger

East Lancs LDWA ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ webpage