View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label A bit out of order. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A bit out of order. Show all posts

Friday, 15 September 2017

Trotting around North Cheshire, Sat 29th April 2017

Point-to-Point 2017

I was all a bit last minute, but I volunteered to help plotting a little running route, the Hartley Folly, the Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! end of season run – always a bit longer than the Club’s regular fortnightly runs.

Tim, the original plotter had been inundated with so much work (the sort of work that people go out to) and family stuff that he was rendered unable to get stuck in and sort the job.

I had the following parameters to work within:

Start point: The Griffin in Bowdon (a rather posh part of already posh Altrincham)

Finish point: The Swan with Two Nicks, Little Bollington (a lovely pub in a lovely hamlet)….around 1.5 miles from the start

The route should be a long(ish) one – and definitely be predominantly cross-country.

There must be a tea stop.

If you’ve been keeping up and not fallen asleep (yet) you’ll have noticed that the 1.5 miles between the start and inish doesn’t constitute ‘long’. Or even ‘long-ish’.

Tim had come up with good start and finish points, so that was something I didn’t need to worry about – it was just the bit in between.

After much studying of maps and loads of recces I settled on a pleasant 19 mile route that took in some interesting bits of local countryside.

The recces, and there really were many, were carried out with the invaluable assistance of Mssrs Coatsworth, Banfield and Norman, plus the Ms Fairley who provided much in the way of (constructive?) criticisim. Atcherly, having those extra pairs of eyes proved invaluable in tweeking the route and it’s description – thanks guys….and gurl.

Anyroadup, the route wasn’t particularly original, more a tweek of a route I’d walked / run in the past.

19 miles of clockwisery:

Tally-Ho Hartley Folly 2017 full map Rev4

On the day itself I set out alone but armed with a bag of sawdust to mark bits of the trail where runners could have lost the intended route. I was probably the first to start – I wanted the extra time to drop sawdust where I thought it might be needed. And I’m a bit on the slow side. Rather a lot on the slow side actually.

The route left Bowdon and so did I, initially on quiet suburban roads and paths before heading down to follow the River Bollin upstream. The river passes the back gardens of some enormously expensive and expansive houses on one side and the uber-posh Hale Golf club on t’other. Apparently the odd famous footballer / manager can often be seen walking their doggies on the river bank. I wouldn’t know an odd famous footballer or a manager if they bit me.

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I dropped a few clumps of sawdust along the way, nothing conspicuous, but enough that runners following me would spot the stuff.

The weather was ideal for trotting along, dry and bright but not too warm – a hot day wouldn’t do at all for a 19 miler, however slow I was.

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It was still early in the year so whilst undergrowth was quite verdant, the trees were lagging behind – few were in full leaf.

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The River Bollin close to Sunbank Wood

My original route was to take me through Castle Mill but the previously good footpath had been illegally diverted through a mud-bath that really was quite impassable. The obnoxious land owner has been reported to the local authority who are taking action against her.

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Castle Mill’s mud-bath …and electric fence. Photo taken on a recce.

My alternative route bypassed the quagmire and entailed passing our local trig-point, looking a bit forlorn. I have a plan to brighten it up….


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The rather sad trig point at SJ796837 marking the dizzying altitude of 60m ASL

The sound of aircraft now became noticeable, I was approaching the end of one of Manchester Airport’s runways.

The River Bollin proved a bit of a problem to the contractors charged with extending the airport with the addition of Runway 2. The problem was solved by culverting the river under the new runway:

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Doggy walkers were walking their doggies and birdies were tweeting in the hedgerows, it was only the occasional roar of aircraft taking off that spoiled an otherwise very pleasant trot alongside Runway 2

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There was just a bit of tarmac beyond the airport (sorry guys, even the best trails often have SOME tarmac!) but the trail was soon back on field paths that skirted the north side of Mobberley. It was on this section that the first runners caught me up (and passed me…of course), I was beginning to wonder if anybody had turned out to follow trail.

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Here they come…

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….and there they go

Numbers weren’t great on the day. Excuses for absence were many and vairied, Hon Sec had the best one – he’d broken his arm whilst on the Lakes Weekend trail run.

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Approaching the tea stop

Whatever, it was good to catch up with Tim & Rob at the tea stop:

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Tim’s wife and family had provided a very splendid spread for us, it was easy to eat and drink too much – Not A Good Thing To Do when there’s still another 9 – 10 miles to run.

As we guzzled and slurped our way through the feast more runners appeared:

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Fast Taylor – going remarkably fast considering he was nursing an injury

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Hon Prez Park….say no more

Dragging ourselves away from the tea stop we plodded off along more tarmac to enter Tatton Park at it’s southern, pedestrian only, entrance. The trail now changed direction, turn north on the eastern shore of Tatton Mere. The run through the park was very easy running, we were treated to a toilet stop and a herd of curious onlookers.although they weren’t watching us at the toilet stop.Probably.

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The next point of note was the No 1 Parachute Training School monument in the park. Ringway Airport (now Manchester Airport) was the site of the training school and parts of Tatton Park were used as a landing zone. Tatton Mere was used to practice water-landings.

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Poseurs at the monument, L>R: Mssrs Taylor, Park, Bell, Jenkinson, Riley & me

Turning west(ish) towards Tatton Hall, Hon Prez Park was delighted to see that we’d arranged for his own personalised route out of the park:

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More northness followed, this time to Rostherne, along a church path – reputed to be the path used by the Tatton Estate workers to get to St Mary’s Church at Rostherne.

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Taken on one of the recces: Martin at Rostherne Village Water Pump


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The church grave yard had some interesting, er, features 

A concessionary footpath, not marked on the OS map, takes you nicely past the church and allows views over Rostherne Mere:

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Rostherne Mere

In the two weeks leading up to the run one of the field footpaths had seen a significant diversion to allow for ploughing. This lengthened the route – but just two days before the run the diverted path had been re-instated and all was well.

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More tarmac followed, although it was less than a mile and along very quiet lanes before once again getting onto the (slightly) rough stuff. The ground was generally quite dry although the odd bit of wetness muddied the legs – giving just a bit of credibility to our cross-country run.

Once over the M56 on the footbridge to the east of the Lymm roundabout we were on the home leg. We once again met up with the River Bollin, now on the outskirts of Bowdon….home to the Club’s esteemed legal advisor.

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River Bollin bailiff’s shed near Bowdon

We ran west along the north side of the river, passing the site of the Motte & Bailey castle at Watch Hill. It’s well worth watching this YouTube video.

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Taking our lives in our hands we crossed the very busy A56 and continued to follow the River Bollin along another concessionary path to the Swan with Two Nicks and the end of the run.

I took about 5 1/2 hours to complete, I was quite happy with that considering I’d spent around half an hour at the tea stop and spent additional time laying trail.

The pub was unable to provide bathing facilities – or even a room to change in. The Club’s tin bath was once again pressed into service in the pub car park. Pretty Quick Riley opted to cool his legs off with the pub’s hose pipe before diving into the bath. At least that what he said he was doing:

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Tim & Co had arranged for a gazebo to preserve the dignity of the runners and to spare the blushes of the pub’s customers.

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Our luxurious bathing facilities

An excellent nosh followed. Runners, helpers, guests and partners enjoyed a fine meal supplemented by beers from the Dunham Brewery. And I wasn’t driving.

Thanks to all who helped with recces and planning the route, in particular Tim, Andy, Martin and Joules. Your inputs really were invaluable.

Thanks also to Tim’s family who fed and watered us so very well, to everyone who ran the route – and to The Club for letting me plan the route.

Smile

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.