View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Sunday, 28 December 2014

28th December, Black Lake, Lindow Common

Sunset today

imageI went out for a much-needed brain-straightener this afternoon and found myself wandering around Lindow Common on the outskirts of Wilmslow.

The name Lindow is derived from Llyn Ddu = Lake Black. The lake shot to fame in 1984 when the preserved body of a man was discovered by commercial peat cutters. The word on the street is that Pete Bog / Pete Marsh / Lindow Man may well have been a sacrifice of some sort. His body has been carbon dated to between 2BC and 119AD – so he’s quite old.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

19th December, Chorlton to Manchester

Following the Floop

I put this walk together at short notice – the weather forecasters had promised a dry day. They lied. I was particularly miffed about this ‘cos I’d washed my bedding and hung it out to dry before leaving home. :-(

Anyroadup, The Plan was to walk into the centre of Manchester using the Fallowfield Loop, or the Floop, and the Ashton Canal towpath. We’d then reward ourselves with a curry. Because we’re worth it.

Over the last couple of years we’ve  been plotting ‘green’ routes into the centre of Manchester, always finishing at This & That, our favouritist eatery. This was our latest idea.

The Metrolink whisked Rick and I from Timperley to Chorlton in norralot of time. We waited until 10.30am to see if anyone was daft enough to join us but they all had their sensible hats on today.

image St Werburghs Road, the start of the Floop.

 

We got onto the Fallowfield Loop just by St Werbergh’s Tram stop. We were both quite surprised to find that the track was very well surfaced which made for fast and easy progress.image Cold, sunshiny, rainy, and an excellent walking surface

image The weather ended up being changeable (at best!) – we had everything from bright sunshine to heavy rain. At one point we had to shelter under a bridge – it provided an ideal opportunity to crack open the flasks to wash down enormous slices of Stollen. It’s nearly Christmas so why not eh?

image Platt Brook

The Fallowfield Loop follows part of a former railway line that linked Sheffield Victoria and Manchester Central stations.

imageWe were more than pleasantly surprised to find we had covered around 8 miles of apparently suburban walking actually feels very rural…..to almost quote Gayle’s description of our curry walk last week.

It was an unpleasant, albeit brief, jolt back to ‘reality’ as we left the Floop and crossed the busy A635 Ashton Old Road. Peace and quiet returned as we entered the Fairfield Moravian Settlement – a real oasis of tranquility. If you’ve not been there then you should.

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imageLeaving the Moravian Settlement by the back door we jumped onto the Ashton Canal towpath to head west towards Manchester – and our lunch.

Rain showers continued throughout the day, we both had over-trousers but resisted the temptation put them on –they’re such a faff.  

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image Pretty!

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image We arrived at ‘This and That’ on Soap Street at 2.25pm, allowing for our cake & coffee stop we’d been walking 3hrs 40mins = a midgy’s wotsit under 3.3mph, quite a respectable speed. Had we had company on the walk we’d have walked at more sedate pace but as it was we were hungry and a brisk pace was appropriate.

image A hungry rick outside This & That

imageLate Lunch 

Where we went:

Chorlton to This and That

12 miles and damned near flat

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

14th December, Radio Direction Finding on Top Band

Variously described as orienteering with radios or hide and seek for grown-ups (or not very grown-up in most cases).

The general idea is that someone will hide themselves away in the area covered by a particular 1:50k OS map, around 1600sq km. They’ll have a radio transmitter with which they’ll transmit for short periods. Some transmissions are scheduled whilst others are random.

The only rules the transmit station has to adhere to, apart from the Amateur Radio Licence regulations, are that they must be located in an area of public access, not be in a building, and once established they must not change position. It’s a given that the transmitter doesn’t change frequency during the event. The fun begins when the competitors have to locate the hidden station – first one in is the winner. Obviously.

The transmitting station operates on Top Band, or 160m. The actual frequency coverage of the band is from 1.81mhz to 2mhz, just below the Medium Wave broadcast band. Because it’s fairly low in frequency (= long wavelength) the aerial needs to be quite long, ideally a quarter-wavelength wire - around 40m long.

The competitors are equipped with map and compass, and most importantly a radio receiver fitted with a highly directional aerial. The radios are home-made, commercial equipment generally isn’t sufficiently portable or affordable.  

imageTop Right: Transmitter, Centre: DF Receiver, Bottom Left: Breton Plotter 

So, on Sunday morning a group of DFers gathered in Sale, Cheshire, and strained their ears (and other bits too probably) to get a bearing on the hidden transmitter’s first transmission, scheduled for 10am. 

image At the start

Unfortunately the signal was completely inaudible. In such cases there’s a sealed envelope available at the start which contains an approximate bearing (+/- 20 degrees) and an idea of distance, usually within 10km. This can still be a huge area to search.

Not being able to hear the transmitter at the start can be a clue – it’s possible that the station is hidden in a valley so that the signal isn’t being radiated too well. It could also be that the operator decided not to bother and stayed in bed instead….or perhaps he/she fell in a river, fetid swamp, or got eaten by an alligator recently escaped from a zoo. Or more likely a private collection.

Anyroadup, the approximate bearing given was 67degrees which passed within 4km of the transmitter, and the distance given was between 10 and 20km from the start. A quick faff with maps, rulers and pencils soon had the hunting area defined on the map, and competitors jumped into their cars to find somewhere suitable to take a bearing from the second transmission.

In theory two bearings are needed to locate the transmitter…..where the lines cross is where the station SHOULD be. That’s if the laws of physics are to be believed. After all, electromagnetic radio waves travel in straight lines – everybody knows that. Except they don’t.

All manner of external influences can distort radiation patterns, the proximity to pylons and overhead power cables being prime examples. 

I’m not particularly mithered about winning, it’s always nice to do well of course, but I just like to enjoy the event. I left the start and travelled around the M60 towards Ashton-under-Lyne at a sedate 60-65mph. I’d pin-pointed a couple of spots where I’d try to take a second bearing and headed straight for the first one, arriving in good time for the second scheduled transmission….nothing heard.

At the third transmission I heard a good loud signal. I plotted the bearing, then jumped back into the car and drove half a mile up the road where I just managed to get another bearing before the station went off air.

Suspicions grew as to where the station might be…..very close to where Gayle and I had walked a few days earlier, Daisy Nook Country Park. I plotted the bearing onto my map and drove close to the point where the lines crossed – arriving just in time to hear another brief transmission.

My suspicions were confirmed, the signal was so strong that it overloaded my radio. I was obviously very close indeed.

I left the car and followed muddy footpaths towards the River Medlock. After much slipping and sliding, charging across the river (I was wearing my fell-running shoes!) and thrashing through very wet undergrowth I spotted the very well camouflaged station.

imageRoger, the station operator, now not hiding himself away. The box closest to him is the transmitter. The white-ish square(ish) piece of kit is my DF receiver.

At approximately 11.27am (exactly!) I officially found the transmitter. Surprise, surprise – I was first in.

image Posing with Roger, a slightly (very) muddied JJ….looking quite pleased with his little self

Around 10 minutes later we were alerted to the sound of someone crashing through the undergrowth on the other side of the river, looking for the hidden station. We kept perfectly still, trying hard not to snigger, as we watched with no small amount of glee as Chris splashed his way through the mud and bog. When he actually spotted us he declared he wasn’t going to cross the river, he hadn’t won so why bother?!

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Chris, who didn’t come first, was heard to say something like ‘bugger crossing that river’

The next half hour or so saw the remaining competitors finding the transmitter – all coming in from a similar direction….and the wrong side of the river.

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Chris and Roger, daring each other to cross the river

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A happy Geoff, officially second in – because he crossed the river

image Determined not to be outdone, Hayley crosses the river

image An excellent lunch at The Hare & Hounds, Luzley

Results:

JJ                              11:27

Chris P                       11:40 (Located the station but didn’t cross the river)

Geoff Foster               11:42

Roger B                      11:48 (Located the station but didn’t cross the river)

Hayley                        11:57

Dave Chipp                 11:57:30 (Located the station but didn’t cross the river)

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Plotted route shows my route in, a bit all over the place as I was trying to take multiple compass bearings on the hidden station in order to triangulate it’s position

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The arrow points to the hidden station, the red line is the approx bearing from the start. The station was 10 miles from the start, as the crow flies.

Being as wot I came in first it’s down to me to hide on the next event, scheduled for 11th January.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

13th December, The Championship

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Tally-Ho! are not a competitive club although they do run two ‘races’ a year: The Championship and The Steeplechase. Today’s race was the former. It’s been at the same venue, the Boars Head in Poynton, and is roughly the same route each year – around 6 miles, for as long as I’ve been a member.

At approximately 2.15pm the 16 rufty-tufty runner set-off up a stiff uphill pull into Lyme Park in cold but bright conditions – good for cross-country running. Although the route is nearly always nearly the same each year, a sawdust trail is still laid – we’re old a and prone to forgetfulness…..and one year the route just may change a bit too much.

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I chose to run with Terribly Fast Whitworth, we had things to chat about whilst we tore round the trail and he’s very good company. We take this sort of running (almost) seriously.

image After what seemed an age, discussing and comparing our various aches, pains and other problems, we were surprised – nay, SHOCKED, to see Stanton running back towards us – an expression of grim determination writ all over his face. It was clearly his turn to win today’s race. I wasn’t fast enough to photograph the leader, in fact I only just managed to take a photo of No2, as he sped past in a blur.

 

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McHarry, holding on to 3rd place 

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Fast Taylor being chased by Eastwood and (I think) Young Ruddock

The running surface is best described as ‘variable’: everything from tarmac (lethal when icy, as this route often is) to boggy and squelchy.

The winner, Stanton the musical, came in at around 43 minutes (I think), the rest of the field were nicely spread out. Terribly Fast Whitworth and I were rather grateful to have the benefit of a reasonable handicap. I’ll say no more.

Nice hot showers are an attraction of this run, we have the use of the local football team’s changing rooms. The other attraction is that it’s the Club’s Christmas dinner, turkey with all the frilly bits, followed by Christmas pudding. Very nice too.

The various prizes are presented after dinner and the Hon Pres has to deliver his Christmas Speech – think of the Queen’s Christmas Speech. Well it’s nothing like that.

Pleasantries dealt with, we all left the venue tired and very full. That’s the runners who were tired and very full,  not the venue. Although it might have been. It’s nearly Christmas after all.

The route

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Around 5.5 miles with a couple of nasty little uphill pulls.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

10th December, Mick and Gayle go for a Curry

…without Mick

Being as wot Mick and Gayle were staying in the sunny north-west for a few days I thought it might be nice to go for a walk and go for a curry with them. Mick ended up having to work for the day so it was just Gayle and I doing the walking.

We decided to walk from Oldham, close to where Mick was working, into the centre of Manchester. The idea was to keep to a green a route as possible, ie: minimal tarmac, I think we succeeded.

Gayle met me off the tram at Oldham Mumps(that’s a place, not a disease) and we wandered off south-ish through Oldham’s Alexander Park to pick up the River Medlock. It was quite cold – it’s the altitude you know. Oldham’s quite a lot of feet above sea level….and December isn’t the warmest month of the year.

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Park Bridge Iron Works, more info on it’s website

Trundling along the not always dry banks of the River Medlock we made good time through Daisy Nook Country Park. I marched, whilst Gayle wobbled across the M60 motorway, busy with traffic.  

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At a very conveniently sited picnic table, a coffee, flap jack, scone and another flapjack break (in the rain) was taken. Well, it would have been rude not to – it’s not every day you find a vacant picnic table, even in December.

Suitably refreshed and refuelled we faced some splodgy, muddy walking. Along with added navigational challenges and some wind-driven hail and rainy stuff we eventually gained the heady heights of the banks of the Rochdale Canal.

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Canals that run into and through former industrial areas often look grim and depressing, but spending just a little time looking around and exploring can unearth some really interesting sites (and sights). 

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Leaving the canal towpath in Manchester it was time to hit the streets. The rain was only raining a bit but it was still quite cold…..the temptation of a yummy curry was becoming too much to bear. Not before a quick photo-shoot in Stevenson Square in Manchester’s Northern Quarter:

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Manchester’s former Smithfield Fish Market, once famous for selling fish.

Approaching our destination, This and That, our rumbling stomachs were heard by Alan R …who’s stomach was also rumbling loudly. I’m not sure what Gayle thought of our favourite curry emporium, perhaps she was too polite to say, but I suspect she enjoyed the experience. There wasn’t much left on her plate afterwards!

A pint or two at the the very fine Holt’s house, the Ape & Apple, provided the necessary apres-curry rehydration. Alan’s partner, Sheila, joined us for a short time before it was time for us all to make tracks. Trams took Gayle back north to Oldham Mumps, and me to the southern flatlands of Cheshire. We’d had a pleasant day out and once again managed to put the world to rights. We’re good at that sort of thing.

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Manchester’s Cenotaph, recently moved to the other side of St Peter’s Square to allow for the square’s redevelopment

Where we went:

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11 miles, with rather more down than up

Oh, and just for a giggle I took my SatMap GPS to record the route – although I didn’t rely on it, I left that to my trusty Garmin Etrex20.

The route was recorded as being 11 miles on the Garmin, whilst the SatMap stopped recording the route soon after we set off. Nowt new there then,

Friday, 12 December 2014

2nd December, Even more Dales Way

Bolton Abbey to Otley Chevin

I drove over to Rick’s at the unearthly hour of stupid o’clock in the morning in a fairly successful attempt at beating the worst of the rush hour traffic. I transferred to Rick’s rather more luxurious motor for the journey to darkest Yorkshire – it was his turn to drive. Bella, Stuart and Peter met us at Otley Chevin and they all piled into Rick’s car for the drive to Bolton Abbey.

image Bolton Abbey, where we finished last time….and today’s start

It was a wee bit fresh, although not too cold to deter other walkers – obviously Tuesdays are walking days around these parts. We headed off south on the west bank of the River Wharfe – first stop Ilkley. We were moving at a fair pace, I needed to be back in Timperley for 6.30pm and we had a fair distance to cover.

Lunch was taken at the start / finish of the Dales Way, on the outskirts of Ilkley.

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Scones, butties and hot drinks were demolished in double quick time. A rare one-legged heron waiting for lunch to arrive:

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After lunch we turned away from the River Wharfe to walk through the centre of Ilkley to gain the heady heights of Ilkley Moor. We were now off the Dales Way proper and on one of the Dales Way link routes partially shared with the Ebor Way. This one goes as far as Leeds – but not today.

 

The Moody Cow:

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I’ll say nowt, it’ll only be wrong.

image Up to Ilkley Moor – without our hats

Looking at the 1:25k OS map it’s clear that this moorland area has a lot of history, there are loads of ancient cairns, cup and ring marked stones shown. I’ll be back to explore the area when time is less pressing, if nothing else it will make an interesting navigational exercise.

We followed a footpath around the edge of the moor rather than across the moor itself, quinciquontly we had interesting views to the north east.

image A radar station, visible to the NE of Ilkley Moor

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Cow & Calf rocks

Leaving the moor by Burley Woodhead, our next target was Menston. Light was failing and it was getting cold. We still had plenty of time to get back to Timperley for 6.30pm but we didn’t have time to waste. Paths and lanes were good and easy to follow which made for fast progress. I felt a bit mean pushing the party on, we weren’t even going to manage a pint after this leg of the route.

image Sunset from Beacon Hill, a couple of miles east of Menston

We arrived back at Bella’s Tardis of a Jeep in the dark. When sheep and traffic allowed, we sped back to Bolton Abbey and Rick’s car. We were still okay for time – provided there were no hold-ups on the journey home.

A long hold up around Skipton followed by a virtually closed M66 buggered up the plan big time. A mega multi-vehicle shunt meant that the traffic was going nowhere fast. Hours later we got back…and I got it in the neck.

Oh well, at least it didn’t rain.

Where we jolly-well went:

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According to WalkLakes mapping my excellent Garmin Etrex20 GPS we did:

Length: 15.4 miles  24.8 km

Ascent: +539m  -464m

Start: 2014-12-02 10:21:02 GMT

End: 2014-12-02 16:45:10 GMT

A great day out….just a shame about the collateral damage,