View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Friday, 2 April 2021

Mobberley 8, Covid-19 Edition 2021

Good Friday came round again and it was time for a solitary and socially distanced ride to, and around the closed pubs of Mobberley.

The day had dawned dry, bright, and pretty damned cold – but there was no wind so the cycling was easy.

This ‘event’ is usually attended by 100 or so cyclists, but in these days of Covid-19 restrictions this just couldn’t be.

In spite of restrictions, other cyclists had a similar idea to me, by the time I’d arrived at the Plough & Flail at around 11.45am, I’d ‘collected’ Pat and Vanessa en-route. Other cyclists had beaten us to it.

The former Stag Inn

There was just enough time for a photo call and a beer when it was time to head out to the Stag at Warford. The Stag, a one time excellent pub, closed it’s doors for the last time some years ago. In spite of various promises to re-open, it looks like it’s being converted to offices.

Still, a quick beer was quaffed as a mark of respect.

The Frozen Mop was next, followed by the Bird in Hand – a Sam Smith’s pub that Humphrey Smith had closed a long time before Covid-19, for reasons best known to himself.

The Bird in Hand....anyone want a job?

A sign in the pub window advertised for someone to run the pub. I don’t think there’ll be many applicants, most folk I know want at least SOME job security.

The Bull’s Head & Roebuck were next, along with a couple of pints of Cheshire Cat. The Roebuck has become a village shop, selling lovely pies. And beer. No photos I'm afraid, I was too busy eating my butties.

The sun continued to shine brightly – and almost hotly. Not bad for an early spring day.

The Church Inn, preceded the once excellent Chapel House, now a private house, but still sporting the pub sign.

The former Chapel house, now a private house

 The last pub of the day was the Railway, a former Greenall’s house. This pub is unusual in that it has retained it’s bowling green – so many pubs have converted their greens to beer gardens – or car parks.

 The Railway rather unwillingly hosts a music and singing session at the end of the ‘Eight’, it’s proved popular with customers and M8ers alike, but for some reason this enthusiasm isn’t shared by the pub management. 

 With no pub to play in this year those remaining headed for the Manchester-bound platform of Mobberley station. A few tunes were knocked out, no singing though, before we all began our responsibly distanced journeys to our respective homes.

And we all lived happily ever after.


Friday, 26 February 2021

Lyme Park, sans Mountain Rescue

After my last, abortive, trip to Lyme Park, a re-match was in order.

I met up with Kay at Nelson Pit, Higher Poynton, on a lovely early spring morning: birds singing, sun shining – all that sort of thing.


We wandered into Lyme Park by the usual back door and, passing the location of the Mountain Rescue call-out a couple of weeks earlier, headed up to Bowstones.

Walkers and runners were out and about, taking advantage of the glorious weather, as we were - although Kay was keen to be out whatever the weather.

I’d arranged a radio sked with John, G6LCS, in Weaverham, a straight line distance of 22+ miles. I was using my Baofeng U5R handheld, John chopped and changed – switching from his Baofeng into a half-decent aerial, and his FT817. John also had linear amplifiers, allowing him to run 20 watts or so.

John was a decent signal, but he struggled to hear my 5 watts.  The GB3MN 2m repeater was poorly, although we managed to chat using GB3MR on 70cms. Both repeaters are located at Bowstones. An interesting exercise! 

The Bowstones, with the repeater aerials in the background.

Kay and I headed south over Sponds Hill where we sat down for lunch with a view, but the cold wind didn’t encourage and hanging about.

Kay at lunch

For Rob

Pott Shriggley is home to an artist (sculptist? sculpturist?) who produces most magnificent metal sculptures, it's always worth spending a little time looking at some of the exhibits:

We soon hit tarmac, and walked towards Pott Shrigley, to eventually gain the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal which delivered us safely back to Nelson Pit and our cars. 

So that was it, a lovely little walk in good company. Nice. Very, very nice. 

Where we went:

9 miles with 1300ft of ascent – according to Viewranger.



Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Sunrise this morning

Just prior to going out for my morning run:

Taken with my Samsung S6 phone.


Monday, 22 February 2021

A (failed) Championship Walk


It was a bloody freezing Saturday morning, but it was dry, and snow lay on the ground, only one thing for it – go for a walk!

The Plan (it’s always good to have A Plan) was to park up at Nelson Pit in Poynton, then walk into Lyme Park via the back door, and walk the Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! championship route, a short 6-7 miler.

I really was cold and very windy, we were later to discover that with wind-chill it was –14degC. I was wearing my Buffalo top for the first time in a long while – and was very grateful for it. Joules was well wrapped up with a Paramo top over multiple layers.

We entered the park by ‘Windgather’ and followed the tracks to the disused quarry by Knott, a little bump of a hill.

The track was frozen solid, compacted snow had been polished to a mirror finish by countless pairs of boots. Those braver than us, ie nearly everyone else out that day, walked without poles – there was much slipping and sliding. The track split at Hase Bank Wood, we took the uphill option towards Paddock Cottage. 

Enter YakTrax and MicroSpikes.

To describe that uphill track as being slippy was an understatement, but we were able to wander uphill safely. We’d have been stuffed without our aids to traction.  

A couple of hundred metres short of Paddock Cottage we came across Ian, sitting on the frozen ground, with one foot at a funny angle. He’d slipped and broken his R ankle – we were subsequently to discover, in 3 places. Ouch.

I was carrying winter kit so managed to help a little bit - thanks to Chrissie for flogging me the Bothy Bag a couple of years ago!

The cavalry, in the shape of Kinder MRT soon appeared and they took over in a very speedy and efficient manner.

By the time the MRT had done their stuff we’d been sat out in the icy blast for nearly 2 hours, rather than continue our walk we thought it prudent to turn back and go home.

 Not Hartlepool

Oh well, we got out although we damned near froze our wotsits off. I hope Ian’s broken ankle heals sooner rather than later – then he can get out (or in) doing his indoor cycling before long.

Thanks to Kinder MRT for their service – I know they’d been having such a wonderful day out playing in the frozen waters of the R Goyt on a training exercise. It must have been such a wrench to get out of the icy water ...

More photos here.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Covid-19 and all that

A call from the GP’s surgery – ‘What are you doing on Thursday morning?’ marked the beginning of my journey to sunlit uplands…, not those ficticious ones.

Maybe the TGO Challenge and normal life will return this year – I hope so.

Just some of the things miss so much:

My friends and acquaintances, all of them (yes, even you!)

Going to the pub for good beer, stimulating conversation, singing & playing music – or just chilling in a convivial atmosphere.

Playing in the ceilidh band

Getting out for a decent walk

Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho!



Taking my (new-ish to me) caravan out.

….and so much more


The jab was painless, after-effects minimal: a very slight feeling of bruising, and a couple of days of all-over body stiffness – a small price to pay.

England has paid a high price for the way the Covid-19 epidemic has been dealt with by the government, fingers crossed this improve now that vaccinations are under way – although this government’s record of dealing with significant challenges doesn’t fill me with confidence. If there’s just a chance of something going pear-shaped then this government will do it’s damnedest to ensure a total screw-up – that’s where their competence lies.

Talking of lies, well I suppose we’re world-beating at something.

My very grateful thanks to the researchers, the NHS and staff everywhere, the carers, those who wear face-masks and take the threat of Covid-19 seriously, my GP and all her wonderful staff,….and so many more.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Warburton Souling 2020, Covid-19 edition

The Warburton Souling Play, one of many traditional ritual plays performed up and down the country, was revived in the late 1970s after break of over 40 years.

Setting off for the first night's performance - pre-Covid-19 days

Our Play is performed over a period of 2 weeks, kicking off on the 1st November each year – unless that date falls on a Sunday, in such cases we start the following day. We never perform on a Sunday.

You can read more about our Play here. 

We perform mainly in pubs (tsk) during the two week season….and we, er, rarely go thirsty.


Beelzebub, thirst quenched

We’re determined that our local tradition doesn’t die out as so many other plays have. Continuity is important but Covid-19 posed a threat to this year’s tour.

The Enterer

Turkish Champion


Enter Zoom.

In order for the Play to be performed safely it was agreed that the Play should be performed remotely from our respective homes using technology. A bit of clever editing has resulted in this:


If all goes to plan we should be hitting the road again next November – I certainly hope so, this year has been a disaster for many. To quote a certain ex-Prime Minister, ‘things can only get better’… can’t they?

The show must go on…as somebody else once (probably) said.


Soul Cakes - made by the lovely Honor. Last year. Obv.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Gear Test: Sleeping mat pumps

An alternative to lung power was needed in order to keep the dreaded moisture from making a mess of the inside of my expensive sleeping mat, so….

Left to Right:  
FlextailGear, Thermarest Mini-Pump, Thermarest Poly Bag Pump


Thermarest Polythene Bag Pump

The was first option I explored. The pump consists of a short section of very flexible tubing that has a large open-ended polythene bag on one end, whilst t’other end is pushed over the inlet valve of the sleeping mat.

The idea is that the poly bag is opened up to it’s max, then with the open end of the bag scrunched closed, the air is squeezed out, thus inflating the sleeping mat.

It’s good, it works, it’s lightweight, and the batteries never go flat. I paid around £10 for mine 6-7 years ago, quite expensive for a bit of tubing and a poly bag – but it does work well. I store mine in an old sleeping bag liner stuff sack, total weight is 68gms.

6-8 squeezes are enough to fully inflate my full-size NeoAir, taking a couple of minutes.

The bad news is that I don’t think it’s available any more having been replaced by Thermarest’s Blockerlite Pump Sack – a similar idea, but rather than a poly bag, it uses a stuff sack. Price is around £34.

Thermarest NeoAir Mini-Pump

I bought this on the recommendation of my friend Beryl the Peril (aka Margaret) who was, and still is, delighted with her pump.

The gentle buzz emanating from her tent as she enjoyed a brew and her sleeping mat inflated (whilst I was going cross-eyed trying to inflate mine with lung power) was enough to convince me to buy one!

This is an electric pump, powered by 2 AAA cells. Thermarest recommend using Lithium cells, presumably for longer life and maybe (?) their ability to provide higher current. I only had a quick look around but I couldn’t find the capacity of these cells. I store it in a small poly bag, total weight is 80gms.

I power mine with 2 Energizer alkaline cells, they seem to work well enough. The pump draws around 300mA, so batteries will be taking a bit of a hammering.

The pump is operated by opening an end flap that conceals a flexible rubber nozzle which should be connected to the sleeping mat air valve. The pump starts to run when the flap is opened.

Mine developed a fault earlier this year, it was only minor but it stopped it working. I repaired it at home (it was just a corroded battery connector) but it wouldn’t be repairable in the field. I stripped it, cleaned it, and soldered a copper connector in as a replacement.

I paid £32 for mine, a recent advert I spotted has them priced at £40.

It took 3 mins 40 secs to fully inflate my Neoair, not quick.

FlextailGear pump

I’ve only very recently bought this pump so haven’t had time to try it out in the field. Yet.

It’s larger, and at 159gms, twice the weight of the Thermarest Mini-Pump. It’s powered by an internal rechargeable Lithium Ion cell, presumably 3.6v. Capacity, according to the ‘manual’ and markings on the pump case, is 3600mAh. The electrical power rating of the pump is published at 15W. Charging is via a mini usb charger, not supplied – although a short lead is supplied. It comes with a stuff sack, plus a selection of adapters to suit different-sized valves.  The pump has an one / off slide switch on it’s side.

The pump has inlet and outlet ports, so as well as inflating it can be used to FULLY deflate a sleeping mat – saves struggling to get every last bit of air out prior to trying to squeeze it into it’s stuff bag.

Where this pump scores is the time it takes to inflate my NeoAir: 40 seconds – rather quicker than the Thermarest Mini-Pump.

Assuming the power source is a single 3.6v Lithium Ion cell, and that the 3600mAh capacity is correct, the claimed 15W power rating = a current draw of around 4.2 Amps.

I don’t know much about the characteristics of Lithium Ion cells, but the sums, guesstimation, (and a smattering of experience of discharge rates) suggest a theoretical total pumping time of around 40 minutes.

Price: £24.99


Each pump has it’s own merits. Although it’s a great performer, I’m not sure whether I’d take the FlextailGear on long trips – weight and the non-replaceable battery being the main drawbacks. I’d be happy taking it on shorter trips of 2 – 4 days though.

The Neoair Mini-Pump is slow and fairly lightweight - but batteries are replaceable. I’m not 100% sure on reliabilty though.

The NeoAir Poly Bag pump is lightest, the batteries last forever, and it has no moving parts – although it’s a bit of a faff to use. For longer trips this is the one to go for.


Mobberley 8, Covid-19 Edition 2021

Good Friday came round again and it was time for a solitary and socially distanced ride to, and around the closed pubs of Mobberley. The d...