View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Summer Solstice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summer Solstice. Show all posts

Friday, 29 June 2018

A Summer Solstice Backpack, 21st June 2018

For whatever reason I couldn’t embed this YouTube video, hence the hyperlink. Well worth a listen:

Pete Coe’s ‘The Wizard of Alderley Edge’ sung by Steve Mills. 


After last year’s total Summer Solstice Failure the 2018 Solstice caused me a little apprehension: Would the weather be better? Would the Metrolink tram system thwart my travel plans? Would Brexit continue to cause me a load of grief and worry?

As it happened I needed to keep my daily mileage figures up – July 2018 should see me taking part in Afoot in Two Dales’, a 50 miles in 24 hours walking challenge in the Yorkshire Dales, and the Nijmegen Marches, 160km of ‘marching’ over 4 days in, er, Nijmegen.

An appropriate Plan was planned: I would walk from JJ towers to Alderley Edge, home to footballers, the odd coven, King Arthur and his knights, plus loads of other stuff – including the very fine Derbyshire Caving Club.

A nice little 10 mile route to Alderley Edge was plotted and so off I went, leaving home at 7pm and arriving on the Edge at a little before 10pm.

Alderley Edge is a magical, mystical spot – this YouTube video gives a flavour of the place.

I took lightweight kit: LaserComp tent, a short Thermarest, Caldera Cone meths stove and stuff like that. I thought I’d persevere with my SatMap GPS and take it along – just to give it another chance to redeem itself. It didn’t, obviously.

I’d arranged to meet my mate Anup on the Edge, he was intending to bivvy so he could stare at the stars all night….all night - less than 3 hours of actual darkness.

So, some photos:

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Styal Country Park, en-route to Alderley Edge

Folk were wandering around the Edge, some were there to catch the sunset whilst others were just up there for a late evening wander around. Anup had arrived before me, he hunted round and found a nice little flat spot to lay his head.

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Sunset from Alderley Edge

Around 10.45pm a group of curiously clad folk rolled up out of the gathering gloom. Some carried djembes, others carried staffs. It was all rather atmospheric.

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I didn’t have time to grab my ‘proper’ camera so had to make-do with the phone camera – it didn’t take a very decent photograph. The druid-folk eventually wandered off to sit up the rest of the night around a fire in the man-made stone circle in the woods.

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Home for the night

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Brew time: my Caldera Cone

I spent a comfortable although not completely restful night in my tent. I was aware of some nocturnal wanderings about and the distant sound of occasional drumming.

Next morning:

Sunrise was forecast to be 4.38am. My alarm announced 4am although it wasn’t needed, the light on my tent and the sound of drumming was more than enough to wake me.

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What witchery is this then?

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8 minutes to sunrise


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By 4.30am the Edge became rather busier, more spectators arrived to witness the sunrise. There were probably 20+ wandering around.

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4.38am: Sunrise

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The sunrise itself was quite something – although with the low cloud it could quite easily have been a non-event

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As it became lighter the congregation began to disperse. Anup packed his bivvy and headed for home – he was off to do another overnighter somewhere else. Dog walkers and a couple of early morning runners wandered by as the sun rose higher in the sky. The Edge was returning to some level of normality.

At around 6.40am I was packed up and ready to retrace my steps to get back home. I rather foolishly gave my SatMap10 GPS yet ANOTHER chance to redeem itself – to no avail:

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The maps were either missing or just wouldn’t load.

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Route-finding wasn’t too much of a problem, I either followed the many signs off the top or just followed my nose.

My route home was straightforward, just a matter of retracing my steps: bits of the North Cheshire Way and the Bollin Valley Way plus some inventiveness to avoid as much tarmac as possible. I probably ended up keeping to footpaths for 75% of the time.

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Manchester in the distance

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St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow

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Henry Boddington: famous for beer and playing fields 


I stopped for breafast at a picnic table in Styal Woods, lots of dog walkers around plus some runners training up for the Wilmslow Half Marathon.

I arrived back home at 10am, feeling quite pleased with myself – I’d managed a nice little backpack but was only away from home for around 15 hours.

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I returned to the Edge in the evening, just for the hell of it. The light was completely different…obv.

You should read ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner if you’re remotely interested in Alderley Edge. It’s suitable for children of all ages – and it may even be based on fact. Maybe.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Sleeping with a Mad Woman, 20th June 2017

A Summer Solstice Wild Camp

Heat does something to your psyche, so I’m told. I couldn’t possibly comment.

The MetroLink tram journey from Wythenshawe to Manchester, around 7 miles in a straight line, took 1 1/2 hours. It arrived at Piccadilly train station just as the 6.40pm train to Edale was departing. The next train was in 2 hours and wouldn’t arrive in Edale until 9.30pm. I couldn’t have walked into Manchester in that time, but given cooler weather I most certainly could have jogged it. Oh well.

The light was fading as the train approached the tunnel beyond Chinley but the sky was fairly clear. When the train emerged from the tunnel in the Vale of Edale it was as if I’d been transported to a late autumn day: dark, grey and very foggy – the hills were completely hidden by a thick wet mist.

I resisted the strong temptation to cross to the other side of the station and to jump on the next train home – I’d made it so far I might as well stay. Anyway I might have been able to climb above the clag. Or not…

I walked north, past the Nags Head, crossed over the river and began the steady climb up to pass to the left of the rocky outcrop of Ringing Roger. The mist was so thick that it remained invisible until I was almost upon it. 

I got to the lower of the two footpaths that run East – West above Ringing Roger and turned right (East….which is A Very Good Direction). My idea was that by sticking to the slightly lower path I could use the slope to my right as a handrail….perhaps not the safest choice given the visibility.

By this time it was really quite dark and I had to use my head torch, set on low so as to reduce and reflected / refracted glare from the water droplets. At least I could see where I was putting my feet.

My plan was to get to the stream running down Jaggers Clough and then bear left, uphill. In normal visibilty it would have been a straightforward navigational exercise. In the thick mist and dark it wasn’t quite so simple. For a start, the stream, which was to be my water source, was dry. Fortunately I’d guessed that it might be dry on the tops and I was carrying 2 litres of the stuff.

Eventually, and after much cursing, I located the feature I was looking for, a footpath crossing the stream. From here I knew I could pick up a path to my intended pitch: Madwomans Stones – highly recommended by Chrissie.

I could hear voices in the far distance, it sounded like a group of 2-3 people were chatting, they sounded in high spirits.

It was 11.30pm by the time my tent was up and the kettle on. Visibility was quite dire and I wasn’t holding out much hope for a clear sunrise at 4.38am – I set my alarm just in case.

At 4am I awoke, it was getting light but the mist hadn’t thinned at all. I had a wander around but it was clear, actually it wasn’t at all clear (!) that there would be no magical Summer Solstice Sunrise for me. I made a cuppa and got back under my quilt…zzzzz…..

Awake again at 6.30am, the mist was lifting / burning off. It was going to be a warm one. The sun was hot – my sock and trail shoes, wet through from last nights trudge through sodden heather, were drying nicely.

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First job of the day: make coffee….and drink it.

There was no sign of any other campers in the area, heaven knows where the voices I’d heard the previous night had come from.

I packed up, had a wander around and took a few photographs of the stones, the views and other stuff.

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Jagger Clough dry stream bed

My return route was via the higher path to Ringing Roger, in the light there was zero risk of getting lost.

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A hairy caterpillar

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Ringing Roger

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Ringing Roger

Breakfast of muesli (as usual) was at The Nab. A cooling breeze tempted me to linger longer but the path was getting busy with day walkers so I scuttled off downhill in search of water.

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My breakfast stop at The Nab, overlooking Edale

It was now cookingly hot and very humid. I was back in Edale by about 11.30am so I topped up with water and soon found myself at the visitor centre, sampling the rather good Bradwells Ice Cream. If you haven’t already, then you really should – it’s a bit excellent.

My route:

Madwomans Stones

Not very far, around 7.5miles + 1400ft(ish) of ascent….according to Memory Map.

A nice little trip, it would have been nicer in clear conditions. There’s always the winter solstice to look forward too….when I would expect no lack of water.

I improved my MetroLink tram journey time from Piccadilly to home: 1hr 25mins.


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