View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

14th – 17th April 2015, Cheese & Wine training in the Chilterns

…..without the cheese & wine.

It started badly. Gerry and I had arranged to meet in Cholsey’s Red Lion for a swift pint or two. A fine Plan you might think. This fine Plan had a major flaw: the pub was shut, the pint would have to wait. This was a major setback, there was a good chance that things could get out of hand.

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GPS Gerry….note the T-shirt with a rather suspect design

Things began improving almost immediately: gloriously warm & sunny weather and a delightful walk along the Thames Path to Wallingford…and an open pub. Beryl Margaret joined us in the pub, this was A Good Thing – her presence ensured we behaved moderately well. Margaret is a lady after all.  After suitable refreshments and general rehydration our now swelled ranks advanced on Crowmarsh Gifford to meet up with the rest of the Daunderers at the campsite.

A merry evening was spent catching up with each other’s news and discussing the next few day’s exertions.

Crowmarsh Gifford to Henley

The next day dawned warm and sunny – this was darn sarf where it’s generally a wee bit warmerer than my home in the Northlands.

P1040208 Daunderers on parade

At whatever time it was that we agreed to set off, we did just that – but not after many photographs had been taken. This was to be a major expedition and we didn’t know how many brave souls would return safely.

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Marching Eastwards is always a good thing, even in April. We sped along the ancient Ridgeway / Grim’s Ditch at a truly frightening pace. Such was our speed that noses were seen to be bleeding and heads were known to be aching. The latter complaint may have been down to over-enthusiastic rehydration exercises that took place in Wallingford’s boozah the previous evening.

P1040211 Croydon, Margaret and Phil on the Ridgeway

P1040215As the sun rose higher in the sky our expeditionary force needed to call a halt to proceedings, our average speed was unacceptably high and matters needed to be taken in hand. We needed a rest, we were in grave danger of overheating. Apart from Robin who was sporting a fine Legionnaire-style hat, a snazzy summer shirt, cool LaSportiva Raptor footwear, and REALLY cool shades. A cool dude indeed.  

Anyroadup, cool drinks (a hot drink in Gerry’s case) worked wonders, we were all soon suitably chilled and ready for the off once again.

The scenery in this part of Oxfordshire is quite lovely: gentle rolling countryside, lush fields, and pleasant woodland. The sunshine, wild flowers gently blowing in the warm breeze, and agreeable company combined to make our journey through this stereotypical English countryside a real delight.

Such a shame that eight Daunderers saw fit to shatter the peace and quiet. Oh well.

P1040228A lonely Oxfordshire tree

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More yomping

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Resting is just so important:

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Phil & Beryl Margaret

P1040237 Average speeds need to be maintained – Daundering at speed just wouldn’t be right.

The campsite at Henley was a bit posh: it had a bar that sold real beer and provided half-decent food. After showering and changing into the finest of eveningwear the Daunderer-in-Chief led a raid on the unsuspecting town – pies, fish, chips and beer were consumed in substantial quantities in Henley’s Three Tuns.

 

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Henley to Watlington

After a night of snoring, grunting, farting and other things we decamped to the site’s restauranty thing for, in some cases, a second breakfast:

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The Daunderer-in-Chief and his Second-in-Command decided it was time for the group to go out without their wise guidance. We were made to promise to be careful, hold hands when crossing the road and not to talk to strangers. I regret to report that we failed on all three counts.

Our map of Wales proved useful, we couldn’t locate our position on it. This proved conclusively that we weren’t in Wales. We had to double check when we spotted this sign:

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Croydon demonstrating tree-hugging to Margaret

P1040254One of very many red kites 

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Our Glorious Leader pointing us in the wrong direction 

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P1040265The first closed pub of the day 

P1040267 Signs for Bix Bottom, Assendon and, er, another sign. And Phil.

P1040269The earlier (closed) pub meant that our first proper stop of the day was in a building site – although it was a pretty one. This yard of a church that had seen better days proved an ideal elevenses venue. 

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Beau Peep leads the way, the terrifying Doris must be at the rear of the party.

Lunch No2 was enjoyed at the Crown Inn at Pishill another fine Brakspear’s pub, there are a lot of them around here. Such was the hot sunshine that we ate in the beer garden – and it wouldn’t do to upset the genteel folk of Pishill with our raucous humour and smelly feet.

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The Crown’s rather excellent loo

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Legging it from The Crown Inn 

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The Watlington White Mark on Watlington Hill, en-route to our next overnight stop in Watlington. What a lot of Watlingtons. 

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Doris Beryl Margaret descending from Watlington Hill 

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P1040295L > R: Margaret, Croydon, Alan, Phil’s pint, Phil, Bob, Gerry, Robin 

Watlington to Cholsey

The last day of our expedition. I needed to be away early-ish, my train from Cholsey wouldn’t wait for me.

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After a leisurely breakfast at the campsite’s picnic table I left the jovial crew and wandered back to Crowmarsh Gifford at a most un-Daunder-like pace: a moving average speed of 3.6mph. I’m a failed Daunderer. 

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P1040318 Wallingford, over the Thames from Crowmarsh Gifford

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Wallingford back to Cholsey was the reverse of the outward route, the Thames Path.

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Four days of strenuous backpacking in good company is fine training for the rigours of the TGO Challenge and the Cheese & Wine Party. Those who successfully completed the Daunder (that’s all the Daunderers who started) should now be fully psychologically prepared to face anything that Aviemore’s Tesco wine shelf can throw at them. Not sure about the cheese though, I need to carry out more research into Aviemore’s various cheese emporia.

Crackers? Well that’s another matter entirely.

Thanks to Alan for all his hard work in planning in putting the Daunder together. Inviting such a grand bunch was an inspiration. Thank you, I enjoyed all your company immensely – it was just what I needed.

More photographs here.

If you want to read what REALLY happened, check out Alan’s recollections or Robin’s slightly less hazy version.

Happy days!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Saturday 11th April, The Hartley Folly

A White Peak 15 miler

The Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! runs are always circular in nature, ie they start and finish at the same point. Except sometimes.

Tally Ho logo

One of these ‘sometimes’ is the Club’s end of season run, the Point-to-Point – also known as Hartley’s Folly, so named because someone called Hartley dreamt up the idea although the rest of the club thought it was barmy. That was a long time ago, and the Hartley Folly goes from strength to strength as the seasons go by.

This year’s run was from Foolow to Tideswell, the long way. Fifteen miles of long way.

My day started with a train ride to Buxton and a bus ride to Foolow, getting me to the start at around 11.45am. I deliberately set off alone, I knew I’d meet up with other runners as the day progressed.

Some runners had started before me, the majority were to start around 12 o’clock – at least 15 minutes after me – in fact I spotted the largest group of runners lurking in Tideswell as I passed them on the bus. It was me on the bus, not them.

imageThe spring, almost summer-like temperatures of the previous few days had vanished. It was dry and bright, but cold and quite windy. Running in shorts wasn’t my best decision of the day…..it also wasn’t my worst.

The route headed east out of Foolow, following easy footpaths to the plague village of Eyam.

image One of Eyam’s Plague Cottages

The sun was shining brightly but the cold wind was really biting, hat, gloves and a pertex shell helped keep the worst of the cold away.

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I won’t say I was feeling lonely. Okay, I WILL say I was feeling lonely – but at 5 miles I really thought the faster runners would have caught up with me. I kept looking back along the route but there was no sign of anyone. I was making good time with the easy downhill running through Stoney Middleton to the western banks of the River Derwent and on to Froggatt. At Froggatt the route doubled back, crossing the bridge over the River Derwent and running south along the eastern banks of the river by Curbar.

Still no other runners.

P1040181 Turning to head west meant a climb up to Calver. I was having such a lovely time in the dry and sunny conditions that I took a wrong turning, adding around half a mile and a stiff climb to my run. It was such a lovely day that I didn’t mind. Surely this extra distance and climb would be where the other runners would take the lead.

The first runners I came across, Brian & Marilyn, were early starters – they’d kicked off from Foolow at 10am. They weren’t exactly lost, but an error on the route description meant they were struggling to ascertain their exact location. Although I’d gone wrong earlier, I’d soon realised that I was off route and I knew where I was. Sort of.

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Brian & Marilyn

A couple of miles later we spotted a couple of fast runners coming up behind:

P1040184 Ding Dong and Hon Sec Ships

Ding Dong and Hon Sec Ships had both struggled with the same route description error but after half an hour of scratching heads and other bits they took a calculated risk and continued on what they correctly guessed was the right route.

A mile or so later, on the outskirts of Little Longstone, came the very welcome tea stop:

P1040185We were plied with tea & biscuits before continuing on our merry way through Little Longstone……

P1040191 Little Longstone Church

…..and then to Monsal Head. That’s where it all went horribly wrong.

The indicated route followed a more or less straight line from Monsal Head to Litton Mill. I was a bit puzzled that the track was so straight, particularly with it being over hilly ground. But this is the Cheshire Tally-Ho! and we do this sort of thing.

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But not today. Although I did.

What I was SUPPOSED to do was to run through the railway tunnels that, er, follow a more or less straight line from Monsal Head to Litton Mill. Instead I set my compass and religiously followed what I thought was the correct track.

In my defence, m’lud, my map didn’t show the tunnels. Even more recent maps are misleading, they show what appears to be a Land Rover Track OVER this hilly bits. Normally such features are identified as ‘Tunnel’ on the map. Not this one.

P1040194I later found out that it was when I was battling up hill and down dale that the bulk of the runners had taken the lead, speeding along the flat ground through the tunnels.

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The rest of the route was pleasant, fairly flat and quite uneventful – I’d had enough excitement for one day.

The route continued to Litton Mill where the River Wye was crossed. Some tarmac running took me to the southern end of Tideswell Dale. It was then just a gentle 2 mile trot into the village of Tideswell and the very excellent Horse & Jockey, where a nice hot shower, a very refreshing couple of beers and a good meal fixed all that had gone wrong with my day.

P1040197This hadn’t been the most well attended of Tally-Ho! Point-to-Point runs of recent years, with around 40 people in all sitting down to dinner. In spite of the low numbers it was a huge amount of fun….even if I did screw up the route. The event was organised (wot?) and planned (eh?) by Fast Taylor and Doggy Burston – thanks must go to them for all the hard work they put in to making it happen.  

16.5 miles with 2300ft of ascent.

P2P 2015