View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday 15th July, Haworth

 

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Freaks in the Peaks are a jolly fine bunch. They like to laugh lots, dance lots, play music lots, some of them even drink lots. And they like to go for walks.

A typical Freaks weekend will consist of 20-40 dancers and musicians ‘camping’ at a village hall in a pretty part of the country. This is usually, but not exclusively, close to the Peak District. The weekend is spent learning new dances, practicing old dances, laughing lots, and doing all the other stuff that Morris Dancers do – including dancing outside pubs. Beer may be involved at some stage.

Although my dancing days are over (it’s the knees you know) I still like to laugh, play music, enjoy the occasional drink, and go for walks. This last bit is where I come in.

The Moorish Freaks weekend was held in the Yorkshire village of Haworth, famous for Kate Bush and Timothy Taylor.  For some strange reason the side wanted an experienced walker to recce and then lead a short but interesting walk on the Sunday morning. Experienced walkers were impossible to come by….so they ended up with me.

A gentle 5 mile route was recced the weekend before the Great Event and all was deemed to be good.

On the morning of the walk, the Freaks assembled outside the Baptist Church where they had spent their weekend of frivolity, er, frivolitting. I’m sure there should be two ‘t’s in frivolitting, just one doesn’t look right…..nor does it sound right. Whatever.

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A feature of these little walks is spontaneous dancing. This can happen anywhere, as long as the ground is reasonably level and there are no wild sheep around.

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At a most unsuitable road junction there was spontaneous dancing.  It was good. Some car drivers stopped to watch the spectacle, others just shook their heads in disbelief before driving away – worried that they might catch something. Like fun.

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A little further on, at Bronte Falls, which is close to Bronte Bridge, there was more spontaneity

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Then a quick pose

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Then we all went to the pub. En-route we came across some backpackers. They had been backpacking. they might even be members of The Backpackers Club - there was a club trip in the area that weekend. One of them had a Golite Pinnacle. I’ve got one of those. They’re good.

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At the pub, the Wuthering something-or-other at Stanbury, there was more dancing and stuff: It’s what Morris Dancers do

Then we all went home, apart from the hard-working organisers who stayed behind to clean the church hall and leave it spick and span. What fine folks they are.

The walk was a gentle 5 miles with around 500ft of upness. Very pleasant.

I’m not sure if the Brontes would have approved.

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Friday, 6 July 2012

Wednesday 4th July, Tors, Moors, Bogs, Blogs, Rains…and cancelled trains

Kinder Scout beckoned.

Well actually it was Lynsey who kindly (??) invited me to join her for a jaunt around the perimeter of Kinder Scout. Lynsey had this plan y’see. Being a sucker I readily agreed.

Are walk invitations like buses? I don’t know, but an email from Alan suggesting a walk on the same day popped into my inbox soon after Lynsey’s invitation. It seems that Alan’s as gullible as me, so yesterday morning the three of us met at Manchester’s Piccadilly station for the train journey to Edale.

It wasn’t raining when I left home earlier, it wasn’t even raining at Piccadilly. Perhaps this was a sign.

Fortified with large doses of caffeine we alighted at Edale and marched north towards the Nags Head in the village centre and then headed off sort of left-ish to start the damp but rather warm climb up to the Kinder edges via Grindslow Knoll. The rain did what rain does best. It rained.

So much for signs.

Trouble was that it was warm. That, coupled with a climb had the three of us sweating profusely. Well Alan and I sweated profusely. Lynsey, being a lady, glowed.

The odd shaped tors of the Kinder Scout loomed out of the mist – it wouldn’t have surprised us to hear the howl of the hound of Baskerville Hall, er, howling. But it didn’t.

imageSplodging up to the edge of Kinder Scout

Although there was a lack of howling hounds we did spot a teddy-bear:

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The murk got murkier but we three are rufty-tufty Challengers and a bit of clag, mud, rain, etc wasn’t going to put us off now, was it?

Well was it?  

imageimageA clean Lynsey before her (first) falling-into-a-bog experience 

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A doggy?

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Just some of the wonderfully shaped tors on Kinder Scout

(More will appear on Picasa when I get my finger out.)

On we trundled – faithfully following Lynsey, for she had the map. And more idea of the route than me. Not difficult.

The rain got rainier, the clag got claggier but we weren’t downhearted. Not at all. Well not very much at all.

‘I’ve sunbathed on Kinder, been burnt to a cinder…’ What on earth was Ewan MacColl thinking about? Where was he? What was he on?

imageAlan & Lynsey on the Pennine Way, in Pennine Way weather

Our clockwise route took us across the top of Kinder Downfall. The waterfall was in good flow, hardly surprising given the high rainfall of recent weeks. What was surprising was the view. The mist had started to clear a little and the views improved dramatically.

imageThe Kinder Downfall waterfall

Our views to the west revealed Kinder Reservoir – not for very long mind.

imageKinder Reservoir from close to the Downfall.

The rain held off, leaving us just enough time to locate a suitable lunchspot, open our butty-boxes….and for the rain to return. Ho hum.

Swinging around to the northern edges of the Kinder Scout plateau opened up new views. The clouds lifted for a while, revealing Manchester in the distance. Alan waved to Sheila, busy working in her office in the city. I’m not sure if she waved back.

imageI’m not entirely sure, but the valley in the foreground could be William Clough.

Heading eastwards (I’ve walked eastwards before. It’s good.) and now definitely on the northerly side of Kinder Scout we now followed Alan. He was a man on a mission, moving at a good pace and only stopping to take photographs of the dramatic rock formations of the edges. Oh, and to photograph Lynsey and I, puffing, panting, wheezing, sweating (me), and glowing (Lynsey) as we attempted to keep up with him.

image‘Faces’ on the northern edge of Kinder Scout

Alan kept momentarily vanishing from view as he either dropped into a dip or zagged around a rocky outcrop. Approaching Fairbrook Naze we realised that it might be prudent to tweek our route slightly or we’d be in grave danger of missing our train, or worse – not getting down in time for a pint.

imageAlan looking towards Fairbrook Naze

A decision was taken by the O.I.C. that we should go south. I pointed out that south wasn’t east (which is good) but once it was made clear to me that beer + chips = south…south it was.

South was, er, slightly boggy. The Good Works to return the Kinder plateau to it’s moorland glory were well underway. That was the good news. Oh, and the rain had stopped for a bit.

The bad news was that the Good Works hadn’t had time to improve matters underfoot. In fact it had made matters significantly worse, albeit temporarily. Much of the boggy morass had been seeded with the kind of grass that thrives up here, little green shoots were sprouting up here and there. It would be a year or two at least before there was any significant improvement though.

In addition to the seeding, areas of the gloop had been dammed so as to form small ponds – or more likely to stop much of the water flowing and causing further problems. This damming was damned unpretty and caused us some damned soggy problems. It will be interesting to see what the place looks like in years to come. For now it’s pretty horrid.

imageDammed gloop…just waiting to suck you in

On our merry way we went, slipping and sliding, cursing, falling into bottomless bogs and generally making little headway. Oh how we laughed.

If The New Plan was to cut some mileage off the original route it had failed miserably. Me must have walk 3 or 4 times the linear distance just zig-zagging around the worst of the man-eating fetid swampy bits.

Lynsey spotted a grassy island in the ocean of black porridge – a fine spot for a breather. It wasn’t raining again so we finished our hot drinks and what bits of lunch we had left. Ten minutes later we were off, Alan shot off like a mountain hare. I languished in my rightful position….at the back.

We spotted a group of six backpackers, they looked like a DofE group although perhaps a little too old. I can’t imagine what they were doing crossing over Kinder Scout….but then again, why were we?! Their maps were out a lot…unless they were intending to use them to flag down the passing Chinook helicopter. It didn’t work, the helicopter just flew on….

The group were struggling with the bogs, every now and then one of them would vanish from view as he or she slipped into the black soup.

image DofE navigation meeting a grassy bit of Kinder Scout

Our target was Crowden Tower. Passing the DofE group as they cheerily attempted to rescue three members of their smiling team from a particularly deep and peaty bog, we exchanged greetings. They must have gone to the same school of navigation as Louise, for they too had learnt the art of digital sign-language. Well one or two of them had anyway.

imageThe DofE rescue mission – they were smiling. honest.

Alan was ahead, now marching west for a while. West? Well yes, for due south would have meant certain death by bog.

 imageLynsey chasing after Alan. 

Lynsey’s (earlier pristine) overtrousers were now a peculiar shade of, er, brown stuff. The tide-mark of peat clearly indicated how far down in the many bogs she had sunk. Mine weren’t any better. We hit a river with a solid bed and not much water flowing. We knew it would take us to the southern part of the plateau – so we three took advantage of this and followed it until we hit the edge:

imageThe relatively un-brown water cleaned a lot of the gloop off our boots and wet-legs. It was wonderful not to have to heave our tired bodies out of bogs, but to just trundle along a river bed. Luxury. Before we knew it we were walking on GREEN grass…and it wasn’t raining!

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And then we found a REAL path:image 

Dark clouds gathered, ready to shower the rest of the bog from our kit. It certainly helped.

The rain got heavier….but Edale came into view, causing Alan to burst into song and dance routine…..

image It takes a certain type to be able to smile in these conditions…..!

Once off the tops we gathered speed, heading in the direction of the Rambler Inn. Our plan for a quick pint and then to catch the train homewards was scuppered. A line fault had delayed all trains from Sheffield. So we had another pint. And chips. Alan had another pint too. Walking is thirsty work…and dehydration should be avoided at all costs.

I eventually arrived home at around 8.30pm, pleasantly tired. It had been a good day out.

The beer was good. So were the chips. The company was excellent….and what a brilliant walk!

Thanks Lynsey for the plan, and Alan for coming along.

A map of the route will follow…when Lynsey works out where we actually went!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Saturday 30th June, Breakfast with Marmalade

Lymm Festival 2012 is underway as I type

This local village event attracts performers and audience from near and far. Timperley in my case. Every year local organisations put huge amounts of effort to help make this gala the success it has grown into today. One of these organisations is Lymm Folk Club run by the very fine Bernard (available for weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, divorce parties etc). Bernard arranges for all manner of events to take place during the festival, including a ceilidh, very many folk concerts, and of course Breakfast with Marmalade.
The Marmaladies, previously featured in the pages of this blog, run a singaround / music session for a couple of hours during festival, entitled ‘Breakfast with Marmalade’. Click here for a better photograph than mine of the Marmaladies in action at Lymm Festival 2009.
Honorary Marmaladies are called on for the occasions when more noise is required, and today I was one of those called to assist.  
Enough of this…on with the day!
The weather was good so I decided to ride Diana (my Dawes hybrid….well what else would you call a Dawes??) to Lymm. Apart from the first mile I followed quiet lanes for the 8.5 mile ride into Lymm, and in particular the Spread Eagle (JW Lees) – the venue for today’s musical bash. The ride took around 40 minutes – it probably took longer to load and unload the bike at each end of the journey.
image The Spread Eagle…before the Great Rains
On entering a sunny Lymm village I spotted a most strange looking bicycle. I can’t imagine what it’s like to ride:
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The performance was due to start at 12 0’clock, and at about 12.06 prompt the music and singing began. The audience steadily grew until at one point there were so many people trying to ignore us that their numbers could be counted on the fingers of not too many hands.
Seriously though, it was good. The beer garden of the Spread Eagle filled up with festival goers as well as passers-by who just happened to be, er, passing by. Brief rain-showers did their best to interrupt the proceedings but we were there to have fun – a little bit of rain wasn’t going to bother us!
image The performance area..and what a performance.
I was delighted when Lynsey rolled up with the not-so-baby Isabel. They were looking for some entertainment but were sadly disappointed when they realised that they’d be listening to me.
imageIsabel does lunch….she refused to eat that green egg though 
imageL – R, Our Bernard with his iron lung, Mike, Clur, Lynsey & Isabel, Alan on geetar 
imageRob, singin’ in the rain 
During the lunchtime’s ‘entertainment’ 3 cyclists joined us in the beer garden. These fellas clearly meant business – they ate a huge lunch, loading carbs like there was no tomorrow. They were cycling JogLe – John O’Groats to Lands End. Their original plan was to take 11 days to do the journey, but bad weather conditions had slowed them down so they re-scheduled to take 12 days – that’s still around 100 miles a day. Their next planned stop was the Ellesmere / Overton area of Shropshire where they were intending to camp.
imageThe JogLers with their solo support crew – the father of one of the cyclists.   
I wished them luck as they left, my little commute back home to Timperley was suddenly completely insignificant.
The music and singing finished just after 2pm. Our audience and other singers & musicians either went on to the next festival event – or like me, they went home. I loaded Diana and made for the Bridgewater Canal towpath. Before I could get there the sky darkened, there was a flash, a rumble – and the heavens opened. Big time. Fortunately I’d spotted friend Sue in the village and we stopped to catch up with any gossip and / or scandal – there wasn’t anything worth reporting. The good news was that we’d chosen the stand under a shop awning (yes, Lymm has REAL shops!) which offered shelter from the downpour.
The road became two fast-flowing streams separated by a narrow strip of tarmac. I was so glad to have spotted Sue! Half an hour later the rain eased and I was able to continue my homeward journey. The canal towpath had been re-surfaced in parts so the first part of my bike ride home was fairly clean….then it became muddy. Very muddy indeed.
image The resurfaced and not-muddy section of the Bridgewater Canal towpath
Trying hard to avoid the worst of the cruddy mud and puddles I battled on, soon catching up with 5 girls loaded with heavy rucksacks. ‘DofE? I enquired. ‘Yes’ – they had a fairly simple route of Transpennine Trail (disused but resurfaced railway line), some field footpaths, and canal towpath. They were doing well and were pleased to hear that they hadn’t too far to go to their campsite, the Home Farm / Dunham Park Scout campsite.
I left them to carry on their expedition, whilst I carried on Eastwards (now where have I heard that before?) to get muddier. Leaving the towpath to get onto tarmac at Broadheath was a Joyous Thing. No more mud. 10-15 minutes later I was home.
I’m not sure if I was muddier than the bike. Whatever – it was a close-run thing. Buckets of water had the bike looking better than it had for months. A hot soapy shower had me not looking much different, just with less mud.
Another good, if slightly damp day. I really should get out cycling more.

Vital statistics: 16.5 miles with around 250’ of upness:

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