Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Thursday, 12 November 2015
Rob’s YouTube video: Not sure who the ugly bugger is – the one who nicks a pint at the end.
Thursday 12th November:
8.40pm: Plough, Ashton on Mersey (Hydes)
9.10pm: Volunteer, Sale (Holts)
9.40pm: Prairie Schooner, Urmston (Brewery Tap)
10:15pm: Steamhouse, Urmston (Freehouse)
10.45pm: Church Inn, Flixton (Various cask ales)
Friday 13th Nov
7.45pm: Greyhound, Ashley (JW Lees)
8.30pm: Railway, Hale (Robinsons)
9.00pm: Old Market Tavern, Altrincham (Freehouse: ELEVEN handpumps!)
9.30pm: Malt Shovels, Altrincham (Sam Smith)
10.10pm: Costello’s, Goose Green, Altrincham (Brewery Tap, Dunham Brewery)
10.40pm: Quarry Bank, Timperley (Hydes)
The BIG day is Saturday:
2.30pm: St Werburgh's Autumn Fair, Warburton (Tea….hmmm)
6.15pm: Black Swan, Hollin Green, WA3 6LA (Various cask)
6.45pm: Rope & Anchor, Dunham, WA14 5RP (Various cask)
7.15pm: Axe & Cleaver, Dunham, WA14 4SE (Various cask)
7.45pm: Swan with 2 Nicks, Little Bollington, WA14 4TJ (Various cask)
8.15pm: Spread Eagle, Lymm, WA13 0AG (JW Lees)
8.45pm: Green Dragon, Lymm, WA13 9SB (Various cask)
9.30pm: Saracen's Head, Warburton, WA13 9TH (Dunham Brewery)
The Saracen's Head performance is the last of the season and is one huge party.
Lymm Folk Club are running a singers night in conjunction with The Play and there'll be music, singing & dancing afterwards.
Come and have a look-see if you’re at a loose end, it’s going to be fun!
Monday, 2 November 2015
The Warburton (Cheshire) Souling Play season starts this evening, Monday 2nd November
The Plan (Ho-ho!):
8pm Saracen's Head (Dunham Brewery), Warburton
8.45pm The Vine (Sam Smith's), Dunham
9.15pm The Black Swan (Free House?), Hollins Green
10pm The Wheatsheaf (Hydes) Agden
If you're doing nowt and fancy having your pint nicked by Beelzebub then you know where to be!
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
A load of years ago I met the Pieman at Shiel Bridge, my start point for that particular Challenge. Mike was starting from Glenelg, a good few miles to the west. That year it was a bad few miles: the weather had been awful and Mike, the brave chap, had decided to walk to his start point. Thank heavens for Paramo.
This year it was my turn to do the Glenelg start. Everybody I’d spoken to reckoned it was a brill place to start from, I wasn’t disappointed.
On the Thursday night I shared a B&B with High Altitude Brookes and Paul. Mrs Cameron, our host(ess) collected us from Shiel Bridge bus stop and drove us to her rather nice house, a short walk from the Glenelg Inn, a rather excellent boozah.
Tiredness and the need to be up for an early(ish) breakfast meant that Graham and I escaped from the pub at around 10.30pm and legged it back to our B&B….not before we’d made fools of ourselves attempting the pub quiz.
Day 1: Glenelg to Shiel Bridge
A good night’s sleep followed by a decent breakfast set me up for the day. I was in no rush (nowt new there then) and spent an hour wandering around Glenelg, taking photographs, chatting to some of the locals, wetting my boots in the briny – and picking up a lightweight pebble to haul over to the east coast of Scotchlandshire.
First stop was for refreshments at The Wagon @ Corrary, well worth a visit: decent coffee and a smiley lady serving goodies. Of considerable interest were the remains of a number of ancient brochs, drystone structures with hollowed walls.
Broch at Corrary
The heat from the sun was hot, probably something to do with the temperature. To stay cool I scared the local wildlife by rolling up my trousers to above my knees. Women and small children screamed at the sight of my pale knobbly knees. Such knees shouldn’t really be allowed out in the daylight, perhaps I should start wearing tights…..or maybe a fake tan is the answer.
Shiel Bridge was my intended overnight stop, not too far at all. The glorious weather (almost) had me wishing it was further. Whatever, it was a lovely walk that offered some good views.
Most of the Challengers had left by the time I arrived in SB – although I was very pleasantly surprised to find a couple of non-challenging Challengers lurking:
With Jeanette & Biaggio at The Kintail Lodge
Much refreshment was taken that night, this walking (and talking) lark can seriously dehydrate a chap. And hydration is just so important. Innit.
A good night’s kip followed….well it would, wouldn’t it?
Day 2: Shiel Bridge to Strawberry Cottage
At 8.30am I promptly left the bunkhouse around 9am. The weather was still glorious: hot, well quite warm, sunshine and a gentle breeze. Norralot not to like really.
Walking East is always A Good Thing on the Challenge, so that’s what I did. It was easy walking on a Land Rover track through Kintail Forest. Still no Challengers, Shiel Bridge starters were mostly a day ahead of me.
A helicopter flew over at one point, I was later to find out that it was going to extract a Challenger (from Alltbeithe I think) who’d fallen and suffered a dislocated something or other. Such bad luck.
It was tempting to stay around Alltbeithe, I knew that some Challengers were staying there so I certainly wouldn’t be alone. The warden / manager or whatever they are these days was something of a star. She provided excellent refreshments and hospitality to passing Challengers….I only found out a day or so later! Ho hum.
Strawberry Cottage / Athnamulloch is four miles after Alltbeithe, along Glen Affric. It was around 6.30pm when I eventually put my tent up. I was sharing the nice flat(ish) area with 5 other Challengers – company at last! A little later another group arrived but they camped a good distance away from us – they probably weren’t Challengers.
The sky was quite clear and the temperature was dropping. I was looking forward to a cosy night in my new sleeping bag, a North Face Hightail 3S, but I was disappointed. I was quite chilly, the down in this brand new bag was clumping badly, creating a good number of (very) cold spots with hardly any insulation. Not impressed – especially for £230.
Further to my little recce t’other day it was now time for The Real Thing, laying trail for the Club run.
Laying a trail on your own isn’t the easiest of tasks: there isn’t anyone else around to compare notes with, carry extra sawdust, whinge at, help with navigation etc. It’s down to the trail-layer, and if it all goes horribly wrong there’s nobody else to blame.
I left the car park of the very splendid Royal Arms at Ryal Fold, Tockholes at 11.15am. I was loaded down with a trail bag full of sawdust, a rucksack with more sawdust, a map and a bottle of water. The first part of the route was through woodland. I left great clumps of sawdust on the paths - an easy trail to follow. I thought. Nobody could POSSIBLY lose such a heavily laid trail. Of course they couldn’t.
Pendle Forest Orienteering Club were also out in the woodland, enjoying (enduring?) one of their Autumn Series events.
Orienteering kites were spread throughout the woodland
According to their website Tockholes was voted best area in Lancashire in the recent best 100 areas in the UK listing. I can believe it.
So busy had I been on my recce that I completely missed the charcoal burners deep inside the wood:
My route up to Great Hill more-or-less followed my recced route but somehow I managed to get my feet even muddier. 24 hours, a hot bath and two showers later my toe nails were still stained brown from the peat. Oh well.
Visibility was marginally better than on the recce, it was possible to pick out Blackpool Tower on the horizon.
There were more folk out today, it being a Saturday and all that. You don’t half get some funny looks when you’re charging around the countryside leaving piles of sawdust all over the show.
Leaving my recce route by Slipper Low car park I started the climb up to Darwen Moor. Really good tracks were dead easy to navigate, it was just a matter of keeping an eye on the map so as not to go (too far) wrong. On the climb I stopped a few times
for a breather to look back towards Great Hill to see if there were any runners in view – not a one. I just hoped they’d not lost the trail.
A most odd-looking contraption caught my eye as I flew <ahem> up the side of the hill. I had to stop (again) just to take the photograph. It took ages to compose.
Once high on the moor there were a goodly number of opportunities for rest – although I resisted temptation….of course.
Peel Tower is just visible to the left of the windfarm. Windfarms like these are cropping up wherever there’s a need for an EU grant.
Still no sign of any runners so I plodded on, now towards Darwen Tower – or more correctly Jubilee Tower. The tower was completed in 1898 and was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. A few years ago, in high winds, the top blew off. Locals rescued the top and later replaced it with a fibre glass one instead. That one blew off in 2010 and has since been replaced with a new one made of stainless steel. It’s supposed to be getting windy tonight…I wonder?
A jolly bunch of ladies (a bunch of jolly ladies?) were finishing their jolly lunches at the tower. They recognised my Tally-Ho! kit, admitting to knowing some Club members. That’s a rarity in itself, hardly anyone I know would admit to knowing anyone in our club. :-)
5-600 metres of flat running on the NW edge of Darwen Hill offered great views over Lancashire and as far as Cumbria. Closer views were of the empty Sunnyhurst Hey and Earnsdale Reservoirs:
Still no sign of any runners. They’d either got completely lost, fallen into one of the fetid and man-consuming bogs that Lancashire is justifiably famous for…..or nobody had turned up. Oh well.
It was a steep descent from Darwen Hill back to the boozah which was now in view. Even so, the sawdust trail had to continue to the bitter end.
The orienteers were still out and about, their competition almost finished. I had a chat with a couple of the officials about the long lost 2 Day Capricorn event. Happy days, probably not to be repeated.
Back at the pub for a very welcome and warming coffee. Although it wasn’t a particularly cold day I’d started to chill soon after I stopped running.
It was around 4pm when the first runner came in, Hon Prez Park – quickly followed by Hon Sec Shipley and Ding Dong. They seemed to have enjoyed themselves, not losing the trail much at all. Or perhaps they were just being polite.
The tin bath was put to good use. Being the trail-layer and therefore the first man back, I got the clean water. Perhaps I should try to run faster so I could finish earlier and get cleaner water on future runs……..nah!
By 5pm only half of the runners had returned, the fast pack were still out. They’d somehow got lost. That’s what happens when you run too fast. The early finishers were hungry so we sat down to a good dinner of Cumbrian Hotpot followed by Apple Pie & Custard – just what the doctor ordered. Halfway through our meal the fast pack rolled up, fortunately there was plenty of dinner left for them.
Only 12 runners attended, a very poor turnout indeed – especially for this excellent venue, one of the very best.
Where we went:
9 miles with 1500’ of downhill.
That’s a lot of downhill, what’s to complain about?
The lost boys covered around 10.5 miles and heavens knows, they must have done some serious uphill stuff.
Next time: Longnor in two weeks. I can’t wait!
What the prez said:
The Royal Arms, Ryal Fold, Tockholes, 17th October 2015
Overcast ( later sunny ), 10 Deg, little wind.
The route started across the road from the pub down through Plantation No 2 and crossed the dam separating the Roddlesworth reservoirs. The trail turned south through Plantation No3 and crossed Belmont Road onto Wheelton Moor.
There was a large number of Pendle Forest OC scuttling from control to control. They were celebrating their 50th anniversary.
The first part of the moor was difficult with rushes, bog and Turk’s Heads but eventually high ground was reached and Great Hill came into view. Over the hill we headed for White Coppice familiar as the turning point of the Steeplechase.
We soon turned sharply back towards the bog and Belmont Road. The trail chicaned around Piccadilly into the woods passing Hollinshead Hall ( ruin) , across Tockholes Road and round the shoulder of Cartridge Hill. The last climb took us up Darwin Hill to the Jubilee Tower (372) before dropping down to RyaL Fold.
We came across an old squeeze box player surrounded by saw dust in the car park. We congratulated him on the excellent trail and queried the uncharted rush bog, he retorted that there was a dotted line on his map and carried on playing.
A disappointing 12 eventually sat down to hot pot and apple pie after five headless chickens arrived having been up to the tower several times and covering extra distance. We all cried into our beer.
Jocys did an excellent job laying a nine mile trail on his own.
Friday, 16 October 2015
6.5 miles with 1000’ of descent.
I was in dire need of a run.
There was a part of a trail route that I needed to recce, I’ve not been ‘out’ for a few days and it’s left me feeling quite lethargic, but more than anything else I’ve been shamed into pulling my trail shoes on by Old Running Fox a fine figure of a man if ever there was one.
This young man gets out virtually every day, rain, hail or shine. It’s only very rare bouts of illness that confine him to barracks – even then he manages to drag himself out into the hills more often than not. I really had no excuse.
I parked the car outside the very fine Royal Arms in Tockholes, deepest Lancashire. The area hadn’t seen rain for a while so the usually very boggy ground was only a bit very boggy in parts. Running through lovely woodland towards the Roddlesworth Reservoirs I passed a few walkers, and passed by a couple of runners…..er, well they passed me.
The track following the River Roddlesworth was a bit boggy but quite runnable.
Autumn leaves were really quite beautiful, unfortunately the dynamic range of the sensor on my Lumix DMC-ZS3 really wasn’t up to the job of displaying their colours very well. I should spend a few quid and buy a better compact. I must speak to Ian, he knows all about these things.
Across the busy A675 and a gentle uphill pull to Great Hill and rather more squelchy bog. By the time I got to the top of Great Hill my tootsies were a little waterlogged, and, as I was to find out later, dyed a dark brown. From the peat. Honest.
Interestingly, well I thought it was interesting, the cats eyes on the A675 are of the new electronic type. A solar cell charges a small battery which in turn powers bright white LEDs which switch on when traffic is detected. Clever, eh?
ran trotted walked up to the top of Great Hill – then ran down t’other side. Getting even muckier. Then I ran back to cross the A675 again, this time to run by the ruins of Hollinshead Hall.
A mile of mainly tarmac took me back to the car. It was tempting to call in to the Royal Arms for a beer and a bag of chips but I resisted.
A good couple of hours – 1hrs 40mins actually, but I wasn’t racing….’cos I’ve got far better things to do with my time. Trail running is for enjoyment :-)
Where I went:
6.5 miles with 1000’ of downhill. And uphill.
Friday, 9 October 2015
The International Four Day Marches Nijmegen (or Vierdaagse) is the largest marching event in the world. It is organised every year in Nijmegen, Netherlands in mid-July as a means of promoting sport and exercise. Participants walk 30, 40 or 50 km daily depending on their age and gender, and, on completion, receive a royally approved medal (Vierdaagsekruis). The participants are mostly civilians, but there are also a few thousand military participants.
That’s what Wiki says.
What Wiki doesn’t say is how much fun it is walking 160km over four consecutive days in the company of 45,999 other walkers. Basically it’s a 160km party!
I arrived in Nijmegen on Sunday, giving me plenty of time to register at the start point and to have a wander around the town. My last Vierdaagse was in 2007 and the event is still as popular as ever – the whole town was buzzing. Vierdaagse is party time and the good folk of Nijmegen certainly know how to party!
Day 1, The Day of Elst
Each day is named after the largest town that the route passes through, today that town is Elst which is north of Nijmegen.
My allocated start time was 6am (the one in the morning) which meant leaving my accommodation on St Annastraat at around 5.30am, giving me plenty of time to get to the start point – and hopefully not be at the back of the queue.
I’m not sure if it was my alarm clock or the rain hammering against the window that woke me. Whatever it was, I rolled out of bed in a gloomy mood. The idea of walking 40km / 25 miles in heavy rain wasn’t very appealing. By the time I’d breakfasted and had my 2nd cup of coffee things were improving, at 5.50am the rain had stopped completely – and that was the last wet that I experienced for the rest of the walking week :-)
At 6am there was a loud cheer from the crowd as the walkers were scanned and sent on their way. Even at that time of the morning there were huge crowds of spectators, most of them seem to have been partying all night – as the week wore on some of their faces became quite familiar.
The Marches started in 1909 when most of the participants were military, today the military still have a high profile but their numbers have dwindled to around 5,000 – they come from all over the world.
It was good to meet up with some good mates from the Royal Marines, to say their company is entertaining is an understatement – their quick wit always has me in stitches. I first met this lot through motorcycling and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Although this was a walk, this bunch of lunatics decided that running a couple of miles of the route might be a bit of a wheeze. I ran with them but that meant nothing – they were shod in full kit, including heavy boots AND they were carrying 10kg+ packs, I was carrying 3kg and was shod in running shoes. Quite barmy, the lot of them.
Day 2, The Day of Wijchen
A 5am start may sound like something out of a nightmare but it certainly wasn’t. The weather forecast for the rest of the week was hot and the idea of walking through the hottest part of each day didn’t appeal. So 5am it was, and by swapping my start times with other walkers I managed 5am starts for the rest of the week.
One for Alan
24.8km to go
I hooked up with The Irregulars – although I promised myself that I wouldn’t go drinking with them, I wanted to survive the week! The Irregulars had somehow arranged access to the military checkpoints for refreshments – very civilised!
Look who I found, East Lancs LDWA get everywhere!
Back to Nijmegen
Day 3, The Day of Groesbeek…
…and another 5am start:
I’d arranged to meet up with The Irregulars at 5am, but as an organised group they were rushed through the start and were away by 5am. I was an ‘also ran’ and had to queue, it was 5.20am by the time I got moving. I didn’t see them all that day.
Actual distance: 39.7km
Day 4, The day of Cuijk
My (successful) attempt to get through the start gate as early as possible in order to catch up with the Irregulars meant I had to be up and about at 3.30am :-(
The event is very much a 100 mile party, but the last day really is something – everyone is out for a good time, spectators and walkers alike:
How anyone can look so happy at such a ridiculous hour is beyond me!
The British Dutch Walking Fellowship (BDWF) and The Irregulars are somehow related and they tend to get involved in joint ventures such as Vierdaagse. This tie-up allows them various advantages, including access to the military checkpoints which offer food, drink, medical facilities. And toilets. There seem to be a number of groups affiliated to the BDWF. Members of the groups need to stick together on the walk to enjoy the advantages. Losing group members can be a headache for the group leaders, but not for this group:
Of all the towns and villages on the route, Linden is the most spectacular when it comes to doing spectacular….almost outdoing Nijmegen itself:
And that was only just over half-way through the day’s march, there was more to come.
Jean leading the Irregulars
The route had already crossed the River Maas once, now it was time to re-cross it. There was a slight technical problem: the absence of a bridge. The Dutch military came to the rescue, as they do each year, by constructing a temporary crossing. I wasn’t able to get a decent shot of the bridge so took the one below from the Vierdaagse website:
Above photograph from De Gelderlander
This photograph from http://www.nufoto.nl/tag/via%20gladiola/
Actual distance: 42.4km
Total distance for the week: 161.8km
101 miles in 4 days isn’t excessive – although 101 miles on tarmac takes it’s toll. I wore a fairly new pair of New Balance 854 running shoes with new Sorbothane Double-Strike Shockstoppers to quite literally cushion the blow. Other than being a bit knackered at the end of each day I didn’t suffer any adverse effects.
Some may sneer at a walk that’s mainly on tarmac and that the route is generally flat – but they’re generally the folk who haven’t taken part in Vierdaagse. It’s a huge amount of fun, ask anyone who’s taken part. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Next year is the 100th and I’m going to apply again. Numbers are limited to 46,000 and I suspect that the event will be over-subscribed, I’m just going to have to cross my fingers!
Me and the Mrs JJ (who didn’t take part in the event) flew from Manchester to Schiphol with KLM @ £76.00 each. We each took hand luggage (included in the ticket price) and one large case which cost around £14 extra.
Accommodation for Vierdaagse is available at reasonable cost but I wanted my own place. We rented a lovely house about a mile from the Nijmegen start / finish point at around £350 for the week. I rather hope that house is available next year.
A hire car + insurance cost £145. It’s quite practical to travel by train but a) Mrs JJ isn’t overly mobile so a car was almost essential, b) The cost of two train tickets, Schiphol > Nijmegen return, was the same as the car hire. The added convenience of having a car for the week made it a no-brainer – so a car it was.
The event itself costs around £60 to enter.
Training: not a lot. I put in half a dozen brisk 20 mile walks and some 10-14 mile run / walks in the 6-7 weeks before the event but that was about it. Interestingly I weighed myself before going to Holland and found that I weighed an unhealthy 13st. I wasn’t overly concerned, walking 101 miles in fairly quick time should shed a few pounds. Imagine my dismay when I returned home, I weighed 13st 3lbs! 6-8 weeks after the event I was down to 12st 6lbs. You tell me!
Walking pace: Quite variable. I averaged around 2.95mph, finishing each day in around 8hrs 30mins – including rest stops.
Food & drink: Butties, water and 500ml of SIS drink each day. There’s loads of food available en-route – that’s probably why I gained 3lbs in the week!
Clothing: obviously depends on the weather. I wore shorts & a wicking T shirt each day. A sun hat was needed this year, the weather was glorious. I wore running shoes with new sorbothane Shockstoppers on my feet. A carried a windproof and a very light waterproof, just in case.
That’s about it. I had a cracking week, met up with lots of old friends, enjoyed Dutch hospitality and I didn’t drink too much beer at all. Although Mrs JJ came along she wasn’t able to get out much although she sat out at the front of ‘our’ house on the last day and really enjoyed the spectacle of 46,000 lunatic walkers, all wearing manic grins, marching to the finish line.
That’s it until 2016 then.