View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Via de la Plata, Round 2, Day 3

To Xunqueira de Ambia
(I can't pronounce it either)

We left the very excellent Vilar do Barrio Xunta Albergue at stupid o'clock in the morning, pre-dawn and in the dark too. Head torches were needed.
Unusually, it was misty and mizzling - but not enough to need waterproofs.

We passed a number of Horereos. These are a bit like sheds on stone pillars. They are designed to store food, grain etc, keeping it safe from the local animals who might fancy an illicit snack.

After a couple of hours the mist disappeared and the sun came out, once again it got quite hot - it reached 30degC by late afternoon.

The Plan (Ho-ho!) was to walk to Pedroso, 9 of yer foreign kilometers away, where  'Cafe Bo Camino' would provide brekky. Except it didn't 'cos it was shut.
That's the trouble with plans.

Fortunately had few snacky things on board: Rob's home-made energy bars, some cake, and of course we had plenty of water. We didn't starve.

Continuing, in a slightly less hungry manner, we yomped on to our next overnight stop. This was only a short day of about 15km so it wasn't too much of a problem.

The Albergue was good but very busy and a bit too noisy. We had a good nosh, washed down with a few beers at a nice cafe-bar in town. Once again around 10€ each.

All in all it had been another good day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Via de la Plata, Round 2, Day 2.

Which was really Day 3, but as we didn't walk on the first day it didn't count, so....Day 2:

(Prefaced with a bit of Day 1, which was really Day 2):

The previous day's walk was short, quite easy and really quite pleasant....being as wot it was generally downhill and on good surfaces. The weather was nice too, it may have been a bit too hot. I was glad to be walking in my kilt....lots of ventilation y'see.

We'd started off from the same bar where we finished in April, it was still run by the same grumpy, shouty woman as before.

We spent the night at the very clean, modern and comfortable Xunta Albergue in Laza, it was a night of luxurious peace and quiet - we were the only peregrinos staying there. The cost was 6€ each.

That evening we ate down town and at least one of us (probably) drank too much.

Anyroadup, onto Day 3...or Day 4 if you're being pedantic:

This day wasn't quite so easy, but still pleasant: around 20km with about 1000m of ascent, mostly on good surfaces. And hot. Kilts are good for this sort of thing.

We set out at at around 6am (5am in real money) in order to avoid the heat of the day.  It meant walking with headtorches for a couple of hours but it was quite lovely at that time of day.

Sunrise was just after 8am local time.

At As Eiras, 8km into the walk, the local Amigos del Camino had set up a small help-yourself cafe, we donated a few Euros each and took advantage of the facilities. Nice, this is what happens on the Camino.

Later, we stopped for a bite to eat and a cuppa at Cafe El Rincon del Peregrino in Albergueria.

The cafe owner has adorned the walls and ceilings with shells, each bearing the name of each peregrino who has called in. It was quite a sight.

Our planned stop for the night was at Vilar de Barrio, at another 6€ per night Xunta Albergue. Again this was a modern spotlessly clean affair. Odd that there was no cutlery or crockery in the otherwise excellent kitchen.

Once again we ate in the town, an excellent 3 course meal for 10€ each. There may have been beer involved too. But no wine this time. By order.

It had been a good day and Rob was proving to be a more than worthy walking pal.

More photo later...

Monday, 17 September 2018

Via de la Plata, Round 2, Day 1, Sept 2018

Rob and I walked a short section of the Via de la Plata Camino in April, now it was time to finish the job.

We hopped on a luxury-less Ryanair flight from Manchester to Madrid, and then a luxury train to A Gudina in Galicia.

The train was excellent : at 250kmh you really didn't know you were moving. And it was cheap. Very cheap.

The British train network could learn a lot from Spain.

We spent the night at a 'hostal' (a cheap, but very good hotel) and then took a taxi to where we finished our last leg of El Camino, at Campobecerros. the middle of Spanish nowhere.

Then we walked shortly, downhill, for around 15km to our first night's Albergue accommodation, 6€ a night each.

We know how to splash the cash....

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Sploshing around Frodsham, Saturday 8th Sept 2018

The first trail of the season

The runes (ie the BBC weather forecast) lied. They said we might get the odd shower…not a downpour that started as Mssrs Park, Wells and myself set off from the Forest Hills Hotel, armed only with bags of sawdust.

Forest Hills is popular with the club, the food and facilities are excellent, the staff address you as ‘sir’….but the beer’s not up to much. Oh well.

Anyroadup, undeterred by the increasingly heavy rain and the promise of not-very-good beer, we trotted off in the general direction of the monument behind the hotel, leaving clumps of sawdust in our wake – so that more athletic club members might have half an idea of where they were supposed to run.


We slipped and slid downhill towards Overton and eventually gained a bit of tarmac…but only a bit. We ‘ran’<koff>  through some soggy woodland that had seemingly be freshly planted with nettles. Fortunately we’d all chosen to wear longs rather than shorts so we didn’t suffer too much.

We headed NW over the A56, to run alongside the railway line to pick up Godscroft Lane, running south, back to the A56.

The first encounter with the A56 had proved too much for Old Markham, he declared ‘lost trail’ and returned to base for a shower and a pint. He probably got the best deal of the day.

Next objective was Helsby Hill, quite familiar ground. Although it’s not a big hill, the climb was a bit of a rude awakening for some members (and one trail-layer!) who hadn’t done much during the summer months.


The forced smiles of Wells & Park on Helsby Hill

Prez Park decreed that the weather was brightening up. He was probably right….it just wasn’t brightening up where we were. The rain got even heavier.

We sploshed off the hill in a south-easterly downhill direction where it wasn’t extremely slippy at all, just slippy. And muddy.


Some not very happy cows

More familiar ground followed as we trotted along the sandstone edges, along the Sandstone Trail. We were still laying our sawdust trail – supplemented by chalked arrows, courtesy of Prez Park.


The golf course presented a slight problem. somehow we couldn’t find the path we wanted. HOW long have we been running from Forest Hills??

A slight, er, diversion along the edge of the golf course took us nicely to the path runs across the well-tended green.

It was then just a matter of bit of zigging and zagging back to the civilised surroundings of Forest Hills.

It was a nice route – made better by the addition of a bit of new ground….although I’m not sure if the members of Frodsham Golf Club would agree.

We trail-layers arrive home at 2.20pm, in good time for a hot shower and a coffee – before the packs returned…all looking slightly damp but mostly grinning.

Around 15 sat down to an excellent meal, a couple of runners weren’t able to stay for the meal – it was their loss!

Thanks to Joe for planning the route and being Trail-Layer-in-Command, and Paul for assisting, making jokes, and generally being good company.

Where we went  (anti-clockwise):


7.9 miles with approx 1.100ft of ascent.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

TGOC2018, Day 14, The End

In which I eat strawberries. Again.

This was all terribly amazing and confusing….but at about 10.30am (after once again being fed royally by the Crooks of Knipe Knipes of Crook) we set off walking from Brechin’s Co-op in the general direction of The End Of My TGOC2018, aka: Kinnebar Links….via the very wonderful Charleton Fruit Farm. Obv.

Until this year I’d never visited Brechin, I gather there’s a pizzeria in town. And probably a couple of pubs, perhaps more. Whatever, Our Plan was to head east and get to the coast as quickly as possible. The route wasn’t going to be much fun, a few off-road bits but mostly tarmac…but at least it was dry & bright.


Caledonian Railway Station, Brechin

We were soon out of town and heading to the coast in the most direct way possible.




It should be Garden’s ….shouldn’t it?


For AlanR

After much tarmac, a few interesting ancient features and a closed pub we arrived, hungrily, at Charleton Fruit Farm.


It would have been rude not to…..

Chasing after Fast Knipe, who seemed to be on a mission, we arrived at the coast where the traditional wetting of the boots and chucking of the pebble from the west coast ceremony took place.


A ship in the North Sea



Then it was a brisk march along the beach to Montrose where loads of biscuits were snaffled from Challenge Control. And I received a pair of Darn Tough Socks by way of reward for my efforts. The socks were good, very good. In fact I’m going to buy some more. 

So that was that, all over and done with until next year. I was good fun (nowt new there), the weather was unusually excellent, the company was good…and the socks were brill.

Next year just MAY see me doing a very lightweight and very fast crossing. Not sure yet.

In the meantime….

20180524_180904 Michael Glass holding me up


The very excellent Ali


The equally very excellent Su…chatting to Tim (who is also pretty damned excellent too!)

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Sweltering Dales Backpack, 24th–26th June 2018

Messrs Rye & Walker had planned this little jaunt and foolishly invited me along….probably knowing I’d bring them beer. Which I did. Obv.

The Plan was to meet up at Hebden near Grassington on Sunday around 2pm. I’d had a particularly tough week and so decided to make my own way to the first camp spot of the trip on Conistone Moor, meeting up with Martin and Andrew at 10pm. My alternative plan was a good ‘un, it meant that my walk avoided the silly high temperatures of the day.


The Planned Route

A few shots from my evening walk from Hebden to Conistone Moor, Sunday’s overnight pitch  :





I eventually found Alan and Martin just after 10pm. I wasted no time in getting my tent up (I used my TN LaserComp….just to remind it that I still loved it) and distributing the cans of beer I’d lugged up.


Monday morning dawned very brightly and rather warmly. After a quick breakfast and a few mugs of reviving caffeine we were off, via Great Whernside, to Kettlewell for tea, coffee, bacon butties etc.

It was now getting very hot. I don’t know how Martin & Andy coped with long trousers, I was cookingly hot in my lightweight kilt and T shirt.









Looking back to Kettlewell

After our refreshment stop we headed out, climbing out of the valley. This was tough going in the very strong sun.


We’d had a good day of walking, but the high temperature and very strong sun slowed us down. Water was very scarce. We eventually found an almost dried-out tarn. My Sawyer filter clogged in seconds. Andy’s MSR Guardian filter was a life saver, it filtered what was virtually mud, converting it to clear and potable water.

We needed to find a suitable pitch for the night, ideally with a water source – not easy. Eventually we pitched up at Horse Head Gate, actually on the wide path. There was a trickle of a stream nearby so we were sorted for the night. 


Decision time.

The Plan for the next day was to head over to Pen-y-ghent, this was clearly going to be a problem. Limestone country isn’t known for a surplus of surface water – and water was going to be a vital requirement if we were to continue with our route.

Home for the night on Monday:







We chose to re-route and cut our trip short by a day. We’d camped on the Pennine Journey LDP, this offered us an easy way off the top and down to the River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite and then to pick up the Dales Way – much easier walking, plus far more chance of picking up water.


An ex-mole on the Pennine Journey LDP


Descending to Yockenthwaite


The dried-up River Wharfe at Yockenthwaite

At 7.45am it was so hot that we were actively searching out shade. Bits of woodland provided some relief from the blazing sun – but the flying insects were a damned nuisance. Smidge helped.


St Michael and All Angels Church at Hubberholme


At Buckden we sat outside the village shop, ate ice creams and glugged cold drinks.

The Dales Way follows the course of the River Wharfe so it was fairly flat (apart from some hilly bits) and easy walking.


At last, water in the River Wharfe


Conistone Pie



Limestone pavement


En-route to Kettlewell and more ice cream


Posing outside Kettlewell’s village shop: purveyors of el-cheapo electrolyte drink. And ice cream. (Poor quality pic due to a mucky lens on my phone)

Next stop: Grassington…and a pub. No beer though, we drank copious amounts of coke, water, shandy – anything that was refreshing, cooling and rehydrating.


Hebden, so near….

We arrived back at Hebden around 4.45pm, we needed more ice cream and cold drinks – the tea room was still open it was doing good business. We made full use of it’s facilities…all of them!

We parted company around 6pm, Andy and Martin headed off darn sarf whilst I enjoyed a very pleasant drive through the Dales and eventually back home to Manchester.

First job when I arrived home was to run a much needed cool bath and have a good long soak, that cooled me down nicely.

I’d considered going to the monthly music session at the Lord Eldon in Knutsford….but I was too knackered! A cold beer at home suffficed.

Thanks to andy & Martin for planning the trip, for cutting it sort Winking smile and for inviting me along. It was good.

Full photograph album here.

Via de la Plata, Round 2, Day 3

To Xunqueira de Ambia (I can't pronounce it either) We left the very excellent Vilar do Barrio Xunta Albergue at stupid ...