View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Pitmen Poets, Monday 13th February 2017

I went to see The Pitmen Poets last night, they were performing at Crewe’s Lyceum Theatre….this was AFTER the Curry Walk of course.


This was a tremendously powerful and evocative performance at a beautiful venue. There's still chance to see them: Melksham, London, Bury Met, Bathgate, Hexham, and the Sage Gateshead between now and 19th February.

The concert is a mix, mainly songs but plenty of stories and some poetry. It's entertaining - quite funny at times, interspersed with the tales of hardship and tragedy.


Some of the material is traditional, some self-penned (Jez Lowe being the master!), other material is gleaned from the writing of Tommy Armstrong and others.

It's all really excellent. It's a must-see show if you're remotely interested in the history (and exploitation) of coal miners and coal mining, especially in the North East.
Even if the subject matter doesn't interest you I'm sure you'll enjoy the high standard of performance of Bob Fox, Billy Mitchell, Jez Lowe and Benny Graham...... although southerners may struggle with some of the dialect stuff!

Images nicked from the Pitmen Poets website….I’m sure the guys won’t mind!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Curry Walk…..sans curry, Monday 13th Feb 2017

Blame Ursula, it was her idea….nowt to do with me, I just wanted to go for a walk.

At 10.15am we gathered at Timperley Met station, the Plan being to march into Manchester in order to enjoy a good lunch in fine company. The Plan worked well, helped along the way by beautiful weather.

The route was one of our standards, head north along the Duke’s Cut into the heart of Manchester.

20170213_102008I couldn’t resist this one, moored in Timperley


L>R: Andy, Ursula (it was her fault), Rob, Pam, Martin, and Long Suffering Rick

Martin had a prior engagement but he was able to stay with us up until Stretford before returning to Timperley. We’ll arrange another walk soon so that he (and Sue) can once again endure enjoy the full thing.




A swan. I know these things.


At Waters Meeting canal junction, Trafford Park.

This junction affords connection to the Rochdale, Trent & Mersey, Leeds & Liverpool, and Manchester Ship canals.


 Looking towards Manchester from Waters Meeting


Manchester from Throstles Nest Bridge




Redeveloping Manchester



Manchester YHA


Lockkeepers Cottage


Old & new, the Beetham Tower in the background


Home for someone


Manchester has more than it’s fair share of homeless, this was just one of the shelters we spotted on today’s walk.


We walked a shade under 9 flat and easy miles. Lunch was taken in Katsouris on Deansgate – they don’t serve curry but the food is very good and is good value.

I hope Ursula enjoyed it, everyone else certainly did. 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.


The view from Four Mile Bridge…..which is nowhere near 4 miles long


On the footpath from the campsite to the seashore





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.


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.


  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. 


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.


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.


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.




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.




Lunch, or some other excuse for a sit-down



A Very Hungry Caterpillar

The three stages of doggy-stile (as opposed to doggy-style) negotiation:




NOTE: No stiles were harmed in this process.

A bit of not very tricky navigation got us to an interesting memorial:



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.


Cadair Bronwen (I think): Lucky with some bloke in a hat



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.


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.


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.


We trotted off upwards – only because there was no downwards alternative. Up on the tops, we had some dramatic views:


Looking south-ish, down the Afon Iwrch valley



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.




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:

berwyns 035


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:





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.


A lovely few days away – my grateful thanks to Dawn, Lucky and Lucky’s dad for inviting me along.

Where we went(ish):


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.