View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Tuesday 15th March, Ironbridge to High Offley

….but not one Wetherspoons

A tough previous day called for a relatively short and easy day, giving my little legs a chance to recover. The ride from Tewkesbury to Ironbridge had been quite lovely – Kidderminster, Worcester, the Severn Valley and Bridgnorth all deserved far more time than I afforded them. The next time I take that route it will be in reverse, ie heading north to south, and at a much more leisurely pace.

My planned destination for tonight was to be High Offley, near Woodseaves – which is close to Eccleshall in Staffordshire. It’s main claim to fame is The Anchor Inn, a wonderful gem of a pub on the Shropshire Union Canal. I’ve been visiting this pub and camping behind it since 1975. I was looking forward to another overnight stop there.

Back to Ironbridge. I’d had a small dorm to myself in the YHA so I had a quiet and restful night, no snorers…..apart from me maybe.

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The view from my hostel dorm window

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Ironbridge YHA

After an enormous YHA breakfast I spent a bit of time wandering up Ironbridge Gorge, it had been nearly 30 years since the last time I’d visited the area.

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On the Iron Bridge

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Up the Severn Valley

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The Iron Bridge

Leaving Ironbridge was going to be hard, not just because it’s a lovely place, but because of Blists Hill, probably the steepest hill I’ve ever tried to cycle up. It ended up being yet another hill the was too steep for me to pedal up so another push was called for. The sun was shining and there was no breeze, I was soon wet through with sweat.

The plan was to cycle through Telford and then enjoy a gentle trundle up the quite lanes of Shropshire and Staffordshire in good time to enjoy a lunchtime beer or two at the Anchor. But I’d underestimated Telford. It was quite the most difficult place to cycle through: poor road surfaces and few roadsigns – hardly any aimed at cyclists. In fact the roadsigns that I came across just wanted to funnel me on to major dual carriageways.

Eventually I made it through Telford and out of the other side – back on country lanes. Next destination of the day was to be Newport in Shropshire, a fine little market town. The sun disappeared behind cloud and the temperature dropped considerably, another layer was needed – as were warm gloves.What a change in just a short time.

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Newport’s Ballroom

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St Nicholas Church on Newport High Street

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In no time at all I arrived at High Offley but it just seemed far too early to end the day there, it was too cold to enjoy a beer anyway.

So I carried on to Stoke-on-Trent, like you do….

Friday 25th March, Mobberley again

Just some photographs from this year’s Tour de Mobberley, aka The Mobberley 8.

Many of the photographs are mine, others (all the decent ones) were taken by Amy, Jenn Stanley, Susie Stockton-Link, John Condy….and probably others too.

A very splendid outing in good company and fine weather. Excellent beers may have been enjoyed in all of the pubs. Singing & playing at the Railway, Mobberley.

The day was spoiled somewhat, my mate Jenn had her bike stolen from outside the Railway. As far as I’m aware this is the first time this sort of thing has happened on the Mobberley 8. Not good. too many ‘strangers’ taking part these days? Who knows.

One good thing: I’ve proved to myself that I CAN cycle in a kilt.

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Amy’s photo of Ralph & Co

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John Hastie & Nessie

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John Condy’s excellent pic at the Plough & Flail

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Jerry and Susie

Gerry & Susie Smile

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Sad sight – the closed Stag @ Warford.

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Nessie playing beautifully

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John McN

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Linda making ‘em have it

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Lord Peter Whimsey

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Susie in fine and full voice

The day’s route….remarkably similar to last years!

Route

Around 25 miles….and almost flat. Apart from the hilly bits.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Sunday 20th March 2016, 31st Two Crosses Circuit

 

Tottering around Tottington

I try to enter this event each year…apart from being a good excuse for a walk in good company it means that I don’t need to make my tea when I get home, the catering on the East Lancs LDWA Two Crosses Circuit is legendary. Judith took part with me last year, but the thought of having to walk with me for another day was enough to put the poor girl off. Anyroadup, in a moment of absolute madness, Alistair agreed to join me on the day’s walk.

The field of around 190 walkers and runners were gathered in the event centre in sunny Tottington, drinking tea and scoffing the toast that the Club had thoughfully provided for the participants. It was good to see Martin, Steve B and his mate Steve at the start. They were doing the 25 mile route, Alistair and I had opted for the more leisurely 17 mile option.

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L > R: Steve, Steve B, Martin, Alistair, ready for the off

At 8am the field set off. Martin ran off and the two Steves soon pulled away from Alistair & me – we were out for a more laid-back day. Conditions were perfect: it wasn’t raining and the ground was quite dry, within half an hour of starting out the sun came out to cheer us on our way.

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Looking towards Egerton & Chapeltown

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Jumbles Reservoir

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A modern Peak & Northern Footpaths sign

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T’Tower at Turton

Even though we were towards the rear of the field were making good time and arrived at the main food checkpoint with time for a good sit-down and chat with those manning (and womaning) the checkpoint. We probably stayed for 50 mins, long enough to see the first few runners (doing the 25 mile route) come in. We enjoyed firsts, seconds, and, er, thirds – the Greek salad was just delicious. As was the pork pie. And the fresh fruit salad….and all the other goodies.

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Checkpoint 4: lovely food!

Very reluctantly we eventually dragged ourselves away from the cheery East Lancs folk and their feast of a feast. Trying to walk briskly after a slap up meal wasn’t easy – but it had to be done.

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Turton & Entwistle Reservoir

Heading East now, our next objective was Bull Hill & Holcombe Moor, an area used by the armed forces so they can practice shooting at each other whilst covered in peaty mud. Very little mud today though, the recent dry spell had made walking across the normally evilly-squelchy really quite straightforward.

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Just to the north of Bull Hill is the infamous Naughty Corner, otherwise known as Checkpoint 6. All manner of naughty drinkies are available here: sherry, rum, whiskey….and other beverages too no doubt. Alistair and I resisted temptation but took advantage of the dry ground for a leisurely sit down in the warm sunshine and a damned good chat with those manning the check. Runners and walkers flew through as we chilled in the good company.

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An orange cap came bouncing down from the direction of the top of Bull Hill, slightly off-route - it was Martin. After a nip of something or other Martin joined us for much of the rest of the walk.

Marching south now, our route took us over Harcles Hill, and on to Peel Tower. This was the last climb of any significance of the day. There were loads of day walkers out, this is a popular area – especially on a sunny day like today.

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Pilgrims Cross, Holcombe Moor

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Wind-up windmills and quarries of Knowle Hill and Harden Moor

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Peel Tower

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Peel Tower. And Alistair.

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South over Bolton, Ramsbottom & Bury, Manchester and the Peak District beyond

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Evidence of sheep literacy problems. It wouldn’t happen dahn sarf.

The next stage involves a steep decent through Redisher Woods, notorious for being slippy and slimy. If you got this far in the walk without getting covered in mud or sliding on your bum, this bit would ensure you finished splattered in the brown stuff (ask Judith). Not this year though. The ground was dry and we enjoyed a relatively quick and easy decent. 

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Martin entering Redisher Woods

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Alistair exiting the woods

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Looking back at Redisher Woods, it doesn’t look difficult at all

The final checkpoint (7), manned by the ever cheery Sue & Steve, came and went. We were now on the final leg of the walk, easy walking over footpaths, across a golf course and a section of disused railway line.

Once on the disused railway Alistair increased his stride, eager to equal or even beat his previous time of 6hrs 37mins (he equalled it) and Martin jogged off to get a good time. I couldn’t be mithered – I was wearing boots so running really wasn’t on anyway. As it happens I came in at 6hrs 38mins. I’m sure we could have easily knocked 30-40 minutes off our time if we’d have shaped ourselves at the checkpoints, but we were out for a walk and not a race.

Good food at the finish - home made soups, butties, Manchester Tart (especially Manchester Tart!) and loads of other goodies, ensured that nobody would need their tea when they got home. The East Lancs Catering Corps strike again!

A great day out (again!), my very grateful thanks to Alistair, Martin, the Steves, my Mum, and of course the East Lancs LDWA for putting on the Two Crosses – it really is a fine event. Special thanks must go to East Lancs members Paul & Alison. They have organised the event for the last 6 years and are now standing down to do other stuff in the group. The new organisers, Cordon Bleu Viv & Caroline are taking over – I’m sure the event is in safe hands. If nothing else the food will be brilliant!

Where we went (clockwise):

Route

17miles with around 2200’ of up and downery