View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Right Royal Run .

Trotting around Tockholes

The day before Bonfire Night saw the Club’s annual gathering at the very fine Royal Arms at Tockholes near Darwen where 17(?) members met for a run over some of the lumpier bits of the West Pennine Moors.

Photo by Joe Park

(Photo: Hon Prez Park)

Rick Ridings and I set off from the pub at 11am to lay a sawdust & shredded paper trail along a route that had been (mostly) recced the previous day with another Rick – the Long Suffering one.



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On the recce: Long Suffering Rick is NOT a fairy

We trotted north(ish) via the familiarly bovine excrement-perfumed Ryal Fold, splodging across fields to pick up The Witton Bloody Weavers Way….and some mud. Hours of persistent heavy rain the previous night had ensured we we would enjoy some rather squelchy ground.

Photo by John Wilson

Old Markham leading Eastwood and the Hon Sec through the fragrant Ryal Fold

(Photo: J. Wilson)

It was dry when we recced it. Honest.

Photo 4 by Ian Brown

Cobbles

(Photo: Ian Brown)

It was a slimy cobbled descent to Earnshaw Reservoir dam, although the dam-top path offered temporary respite from the slutch. The sun shone intermittently and was only a bit chilly.

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Earnshaw Reservoir, the Jubilee Tower on the skyline.

Photo 1 from Ian Brown

Early starters Goulder & Lesser Ruddock

(Photo: Ian Brown)

A mix of uphill concrete tracks, diverted and concessionary paths led us south, up the eastern side of Darwen Hill and Darwen Moor, tantalisingly close to the Jubilee Tower.

Photo 3 by John Wilson

Jubilee Tower. So near yet so far.

(Photo: J Wilson)

Photo 3 by Ian Brown

(Photo: Ian Brown)

The route so far had been generally runnable…..well some bits were generally runnable, the other bits were generally, er, interesting. And a bit wet.

Dramatic clouds scudded overhead whilst a couple of light showers kept the puddles and fetid bogs up to Lancashire’s usual high standard.

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A footpath…or a stream

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Rick Ridings at rest

The descent from Darwen Moor led us to a short section of uphill tarmac at Duckshaw Brook. This short dry bit provided only fleeting relief from the tough terrain of the previous couple of miles before once again returning us to the rough ground of the Witton Bloody Weavers Way. For a few hundred yards anyway.

Photo 6 by John Wilson

Not So Fast Taylor going across the rough bit of path

(Photo: J Wilson)

Then the route became slightly more difficulter (that’s Timperley dialect is that) as we left the Witton Bloody Weavers Way. Turning right (SW) at a rotted signpost (the rot was probably down to the gound being slightly more moist than the surrounding terrain) we trotted cheerily and muddily across an incredibly lumpy footpath that was quite unrunnable in parts. Well actually it was completely unrunnably along quite a lot of it’s length. That length seemed to go on for miles but in reality it was less than a mile.

Photo 7 by John Wilson

There’s a path there – somewhere

(Photo: J. Wilson)

The path was mostly obscured by waist-high rushes and sedge grasses, consequently some runners disappeared into hidden holes in the ground – one may still yet be lost, there was definitely one runner missing when we sat down to dinner later. 

Photo 6 by Ian Brown

Winter Hill

(Photo: Ian Brown)

The wind was getting up on this exposed section and care had to be taken laying trail. It wouldn’t do for the runners to lose trail and go astray….they might end up getting back too late to enjoy the delights of the tin bath. Worse still, they might miss their tea.

Photo 5 by John Wilson   Wells & Eastwood relieved to be back on the DWWW

(Photo: J. Wilson)

Suitably soaked, muddied and bruised we rejoined that Damned Witton Weavers Way – at least the ground became more runnable. Wislon J had tumbled a grand total of five times on the rough section – surely a Club record. There are rumours that he’s going to receive the award of the Club’s Official Fell Fall Runner.

We were now on the return leg although it would be a while before Darwen’s Jublilee Tower would become visible.

Photo 8 by John Wilson

Only slight dampness on the WBWW

(Photo: J. Wilson)

What DID become visible were two of the Club’s runners coming up behind us. They were still a good distance away but they were moving quickly – obviously Fast Pack Runners. Rick and I, er, picked up speed to keep ahead of them for as long as we could. It’s frowned upon for Hounds to catch the Hares. Apart from anything else, the Hounds wouldn’t be able to follow the trail – because, as Trail Layers, we Hares hadn’t completed laying the trail.

Photo 9 by John Wilson

On final approach to Jubilee Tower

(Photo: J. Wilson)

We managed to keep ahead of the Fast Pack until they caught us up on Darwen Moor, just to the south of the Jubilee Tower. It turned out that the fast guys, Goulder and Lesser Ruddock, had set out at 1pm – rather earlier than even the Slow Pack. In fairness to them they both had to beat a hasty retreat after the run – not even stopping for dinner.

The route zig-zagged a little, now on more familiar ground. The Tower came into full view and it was a quite straight-forward matter of following clearly marked paths across the heather moorland.

More runners, including the Hon Prez, hove into view. They knew the route back down to the pub so after pleasanties were exchanged they continued their way back to the warmth and comfort of the Royal Arms.

At Jubilee Tower we littered our way south-westish for half a mile or so on a very good and flat path. The views over Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir out to Blackburn and Preston were excellent – on a clearer day you would be able to see THE tower, the one at Blackpool.

Then it began to rain, fortunately it didn’t last long. A steep and rocky descent was the last of the difficulties for the runners, in the wet it was a bit hairy. All survived and were back at the pub by around 4pm – in good time for tea.

Photo 10 by John Wilson

Doggy Burston at the finish

(Photo: J. Wilson)

The pub, as always, really looked after us and made us very welcome. We were served with really excellent food: a very tasty lamb hotpot followed by apple crumble and custard. The beer, as ever, was superb.

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The Apple Crumble Demolition Squad in action


Photo 1 by John Wilson

The Royal at Tockholes.

(Photo: J Wilson)

The Royal is probably my favourite pub – anywhere. I feel very fortunate being able to lay trail from here every year. It’s a great venue set in really rugged running country.

Thanks to Long Suffering Rick for helping with the recce of the route, and to Rick Ridings for letting me have one of his bananas – and helping to lay trail so very well. Hardly anyone got really lost – and that can’t be bad. 

Tally-Ho Tockholes 2017

Tally-ho Tockholes 2017 profile

8.5 miles and 1300ft of ascent and wetness


More photographs are here


Most of the photographs were by Ian Brown or John Wislon Wilson.

Other photographs were taken by me using my old but very weatherproof Olympus mju410. This camera is okay but doesn’t perform at all well in anything like low light. It also takes a long time to boot-up from ‘switch-on’  - especially when the memory card has a couple of hundred images stored on it.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

18 miles Roundabout Ringheye

An East Lancashire LDWA production…

Ringheye – the old name for Ringway, the site of Manchester Airport

Ringway old map2

.I collected fellow East Lancashire LDWA member and fellow ceilidh band musician Rick, AKA Long Suffering Rick, at 8.30am and we trundled off to meet fellow members of the LDWA in darkest, deepest Hale.

This was my turn to lead a walk for the East Lancs LDWA. I’ve done very little with the LDWA over the last couple of years and the Roundabout Ringheye walk was my mea-culpa.

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Eleven LDWA members gathered at the appointed time to endure my idea of fun….well, one of them. My absence from the LDWA scene was made very apparent (to me) – I only recognised 5 of the walkers. I need to get out more.

The weather forecast wasn’t brilliant: gloom followed by deeper gloom. At the least the gloom was forecast to be dry.

How wrong the forecasters were, we enjoyed warm sunshine virtually all day – I was more than glad I’d decided on wearing shorts.

The route was based on the ‘Jump in the Lake’ walk from a few years back – although there were some significant differences.

The walk coincided with the Manchester Half Marathon, held just a few miles north. Rather than setting off at bang on 9am we waited 5 minutes for any latecomers who may have been delayed by the road closures.

So, at 9.05am we wandered off, westwards, crossing the River Bollin (that river keeps cropping up on this blog) and then following the very well-surfaced farm track to Ryecroft Farm, adjacent to the M56.

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By Ryecroft Farm: Preparations for ToughMudder continue

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Here they come

It was here that we turned South-West, crossing the M56 and following a mix of tarmac and footpaths to the very pretty village of Rostherne.

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There they go…heading towards Rostherne

At Rostherne we followed a concessionary path (not marked on the OS map) that took us close by Rostherne Mere. This was as close as it’s possible to get to the mere, it’s situated in a nature reserve with very restricted access.

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Rostherne Mere (photo taken on a recce)


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Autumn colours in Rostherne


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St Mary’s Church, Rostherne – much photographed by me

From Rostherne we headed directly to the Home Farm entrance of Tatton Park by way of the dead-straight church path.

This was a leisurely 18 miler so we stopped for a good 20 – 25 minutes at Tatton Hall….where they serve rather nice coffee and cake. Rather nicely expensive too.

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Rostherne’s church has strong links with the Parachute Regiment. Tatton Park was used extensively in WW2 for parachute training, the nearby RAF Ringway, now Manchester Airport, was home to No1 Parachute Training School. It only seemed right to include a visit to the training school’s monument, close to the landing zone in the park.


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Long Suffering Rick and I had been at Tatton Hall on the previous Friday evening, playing a ceilidh. We’d noticed signs warning of the rutting – deer might not take kindly to us marching past their love nests. Care was to be taken.

As it happened the deer were generally away from our route so there wasn’t a problem. Even for Alma.

Leaving the monument, we walked south, keeping to the western shore of Tatton Mere to exit the park at Knutsford.


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No apostrophe problem – but the spelling ain’t quite right.

A gentle wander through Knutsford, home to General Patton’s HQ in WW2, is always a pleasant experience.

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Perhaps Joe Holt’s poshest pub

Our lunch stop was in Knutsford’s park. Conveniently vacant benches overlooked the lake – filled with Canada Geese and other birdies.

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Rick has been suffering from a poorly foot so he’d chosen this point to bale out. A train would whisk him back from Knutsford to Timperley in double-quick time. Rick went one way and we went t’other, north-east towards Mobberley.

This next section was made up of a mix of tarmac and soggy fields.

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Splodging through muddy fields

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North towards the airport’s Runway 2 in hot sunshine


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Double Decker to Dubai

The Plan was to follow quiet lanes to the east of the airport rather than following the unofficial and clarty, slutchy footpath that runs (?) alongside Runway 2. A last-minute change of plan was made after a lengthy (about 20 seconds) discussion with Frank – we would follow the runway mudbath. This shortened the route slightly but had the advantages of a) testing the grippiness and waterproof qualities of our footwear, b) allowing us very good views of aircraft taking off.

Leaving the side of the runway we joined the Bollin Valley Way as it took us UNDER the runway and west-ish on the final leg of the walk.P1070449

The River Bollin culvert under Runway 2

For those that complain that this area is flat – here’s proof that it just ain’t so:

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60m A.S.L.

The last couple of miles were very gentle indeed (they probably needed to be after visiting that trig-point), a pleasant riverside walk back into Hale and our cars.

The survivors were encouraged to pose before we finished:

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I count two smiles…not sure about the others

We were done, dusted and finished by 4pm = a 7 hour bimble. We took 3 very leisurely breaks – this was a gentle 18 miler, not an eyeballs-out race. It was good.

Thanks to everyone who turned up, I hope you enjoyed it – I certainly did. I almost enjoyed Michael’s jokes….well maybe not.

 Winking smile

Where we went (anticlockwise):

Roundabout Ringheye Route 18 miles

18 miles with 960’ of ascent + lots of sunshine and laughs.


Friday, 13 October 2017

Friday 13th in Cheshire

What could possibly go wrong?

One of Sue & Martin’s walks. We met at Lindow Common (famous for Lindow Man) and wandered along bits of the Bollin Valley Way, over to Styal Woods and then to Quarry Bank Mill (NT) for a fast coffee before returning to Lindow Common.

I was in good company: we were five TGO Challengers: Sue & Martin, John B and Graham B….plus me of course.

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Sue leads (!!) Graham through more slutch and clartyness

The weather promised to be a bit variable, and so it was: grey, wet, very wet and really very wet.

In between chatting with my fellow walkers, my thoughts drifted to what I should make for my tea, the possibility of fresh Rat-au-Van presented itself but was quickly discarded:

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Martin, our glorious leader, leading from the rear

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River Bollin in Styal Woods

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Photos of the same bit of oak tree taken with my Lumix TZ70. The photo on the left was taken with maximum optical zoom, the photo on the right was taken with maximum optical zoom + (maybe) maximum electronic zoom.


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Sue, being the ever-vigilant sort that she is, spotted this fungi


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We’re Challengers after all….


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Time was getting on, Sue & Martin had a lunch appointment in nearby Hale so the last mile or so of the route was coverered smartishly.

Where we went (clockwise):

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7.5 miles with 700’ of up and downery…according to Viewranger.

A nice little walk in very agreeable company – just what was needed on a soggy Friday morning, thanks to Martin & Sue for inviting me along. And for the cake. And for the coffee.

You can read what REALLY went on here.


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