View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tuesday 26th February, PILES and RHUBARB

More piles and less rhubarb.

Recent local walks and runs have been multi-purpose: exercise, ‘getting out’, good company, and keeping my eyes open for fallen wood for my woodburner. Much of the last two days has been spent collecting this fallen wood and piling it up in my back garden for use either next winter – or more likely, the following winter.

The resulting pile of wood is encroaching on my patch of Timperley Early rhubarb.

What did you think I meant?


With the expected steep rises in the price of gas I’ll be expanding my wood stock – and I’ll probably need more piles. 

I’m probably going to need to move the bird-feeder or the pussy-cats will be having a feast.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sunday 24th February, Walkies

After yesterday’s music & singing rehearsal at Rick’s we decided a walk was needed to stretch our legs and clear our brains.
And so it was that at around 8.45am this morning we met up at the top of our respective roads and hit the Bridgewater Canal towpath at Timperley Station bridge.
It was a bit chilly when we set out, around 1degC. It was Rick’s fault (when it’s not his fault, it’s mine – and today it was his turn). Rick suggested a route that was pretty-well the reverse of the route I used to use to run into work – when I had a job.
P1010407A victim of the treacherous waters of the Bridgewater Canal
After about 3 miles of towpath walking we left the canal and walked underneath the canal aquaduct to join the banks of the Mersey:
Banks of the Mersey? Sounds like the name of a monologue…..
Sale Water Park was on our left, it was reputedly formed by the extraction of gravel used to build the M60 motorway.
Then Jackson’s Boat footbridge – which seemed to have spawned a partner:
imageThe new bridge is to carry one of the many Metrolink Tram lines that seem to be popping up all over the place.
Leaving Sale Water Park far behind, we next came to Chorlton Water Park.

Our last bridge of the day, which took us over the Mersey and away from Chorlton Water Park, through Kenworthy Woods and then towards Wythenshawe Park. Worra lorra parks.
P1010412 Bridge over the River Kwai Mersey
Turning west (eh?) through Wythenshawe Park towards Timperley, it was still damned cold. My Buffalo was a good choice for today’s walk. A bit of tarmac and we were back in Timperley.

10 miles of flatness. Nice though.


Saturday 23rd February. A bit of a trot

I needed a USB wireless dongley sticky-thing – and I also needed to get out for a bit of a stretch.
Our rather good local computer shop, Grapevine Computers in Altrincham, always come up trumps for me – decent kit at the right price, off the shelf – and they know what they’re talking about.
I devised a bit of a circuitous running route that would enable me to grab a bit of exercise, take me over ground where I might spot fallen wood for the woodburner – and get into Altrincham for the computer gubbins.
Beechfields, Brook’s Drive and Altrincham Golf Course provided traffic-free bits of the route, unfortunately the rest was tarmac. We can’t all live in a part of the country with wilderness on our doorstep….worse luck!
It was to be a good morning: I spotted loads of fallen wood (a job for tomorrow), bought a rather fancier USB wireless thingy than I knew existed (it’s loads faster than other wireless dongles I’ve used previously) – and it snowed. But only a bit.
On the route back to home I spotted a bit of history:
I may nip back tomorrow with a tin of Brasso
Wilson’s Brewery, once of Newton Heath, Manchester, were one of the most prolific suppliers of beer to pubs in the Manchester area. After amalgamating with Websters of Halifax, the brewery closed in 1987 and the brand ceased to exist in 1998.

The whole trip took me around 90 minutes which was fine.

6.3 miles of flatness:

Altrincham 10km

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

20th February, Petition for Trump Inquiry

The very excellent Laura posted details of the Petition for Trump Inquiry calling on the Scottish Parliament, through the Public Petitions Committee, to urge the Scottish Government to hold a public inquiry into the way local government, Scottish Ministers and other relevant public bodies conducted themselves throughout their dealings with the Trump Organisation in relation to the Menie project.


Trump: Image from

You know what to do.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday 17th February, Sunset in Cheshire

Whilst en-route to the Clonter Opera Theatre this evening, I thought the sunset was rather nice:
P1010396 Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope
Jodrell Bank and a tree
P1010403Jodrell Bank 10 minutes later
Jodrell Bank is quite a fancy bit of kit – you can read all about it here.
Both the Clonter Opera Theatre and Jodrell Bank are well worth a visit if you’re around these parts.

The photographs were taken with my Lumix DMC-FS40.

Saturday 16th February, Tally-Ho!

The training for training continues….

The opportunity to go “running through cow fields (and other cow things) in all weathers and conditions just for the fun of it” was not to be missed, so just before 2pm I set off to follow the sawdust trail laid by Mark Taylor and Tommy Markham. The weather was good: sunshine, warm – a pleasant change compared to the weather we had been enduring of late.
Today’s pub was an old favourite of the Cheshire Tally-Ho!, The Cross Keys at Uppermill, on the western edge of the Saddleworth Moors. I ran most of the route with Ian J – he was suffering from the back-end of a very bad cold so I thought there might be a chance I could keep up with him.
P1010350Ian running up Pots & Pans 
Running (Ho-ho!) south to climb up the local tourist honey-pot hill, Pots & Pans, was relatively easy – the ground was reasonably dry and the gradient not too steep. The views were good:
P1010351  Every ascent has a descent and our descent took us down to Dovestones Reservoir. The track was a little tricky and even with fell-running shoes I kept slipping and sliding until we got down to the bottom.
P1010362On Alderman’s Hill, above Dovestone’s Reservoir
P1010371 Dovestone’s from the dam
Continuing south, following the eastern edge of the reservoir and on good tracks, we headed to the half-way point of the trail – a footbridge across the stream that runs through Chew Valley.
It was here that some of the faster hounds caught us up:
P1010373As is often the case when following trail in company, chatting too much leads to losing the trail – even when the trails is laid as well as this one. After a good 2-3 minutes of yakking….we were lost. Well not quite lost, but we were certainly off the trail. Fortunately we had half an idea of  where the route should go and we followed our instincts – which proved to be correct.
Although the photo above shows a well-surfaced track, it wasn’t long before we we running over more typical Tally-Ho ground:
It wasn’t all as bad, and by the time Rob caught us up we were back on half-decent tracks again: 
P1010386You’ll notice that all the other runners were catching us up. In our defence, Ian and I weren’t 100%…..mind you, even if I was 100% I don’t think I’d have done much better!
P1010387Not far from the end now 
Tally-Ho! trails always feature a dinner after the run. Prior to dinner we get cleaned up and changed. Use of the club’s tin bath is the preferred method of getting clean – it certainly encourages runners to get round the route as quickly as possible – those who finish late suffer rather gritty bath water:
P1010389It was a good run – a bit heavy on tarmac, but to be honest that suited me today. I’m completely out of condition and an easy run was just what I needed.
A good dinner of meat & potato pie with mushy peas and red cabbage, followed by fruit pie and custard refuelled the runners very satisfactorily. Rehydration was made possible by consuming vast amounts of well-kept John-Willie Lees….not for me though, I was driving.
P1010392Hungry runners waiting to be fed 

8.5 miles with around 1800’ of ascent. Good.

Cross Keys 2013 route Thanks go to Tommy Markham and Mark Taylor for a very well-laid trail.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

14th February, Valentine Venture

Knackered knees, amongst many other things, have buggered up my running & walking of late. I planned a gentle (sadly mainly tarmac) run in an attempt to gain some fitness in advance of a training trip coming up.
The following route was devised as a gentle run / walk – enough to remind heart & lungs what they are there for, but not too much so as to overly jangle my knackered knees.
It all seemed to go swimmingly well with only two enforced stops to give my L knee a good talking to.
image Just under 8 miles with around 300’ of up and downery. And it didn’t rain.
Nice. I’ll do it again next week, but before that there’s a 8-9 mile Tally-Ho! trail run in Saddleworth on Saturday. Well kept JW Lees, good food, good company….and hopefully a good route. And mud.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Saturday 9th February, Kidney Research

NP+1 (aka Neezup) were asked to play at a fundraising ceilidh last night. The event was held in aid of Kidney Research UK at Oughtrington Primary School, near Lymm, Cheshire.

It was well supported and I’m fairly sure the charity made a few bob out of the event.  The band had a great time, the audience were very enthusiastic….and they fed us. It was fun. A good result for all – especially those who enjoy gherkins, of which there were many.

Gherkins that is.


P1010315 Alison in gherkin demolition mode

P1010317A willow in the process of being stripped

P1010319 Half of NP+1 in action

P1010322 All of NP+1 in action (L > R: RJP, JJ, Les, the long-suffering Rick)

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of Rob, our rather excellent caller. Next time perhaps….if he stands still long enough.

Anyroadup, I need to buy some gherkins. I’d forgotten how good they are.

I wonder if they can be dehydrated for backpacking>

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sunday 3rd February, Stockport to Manchester

Don’t let the title put you off, this is an interesting little walk – although there isn’t a curry at the end of it. There will be next time.

I needed to escape JJ Towers, two weeks of walking inactivity wasn’t doing me any good at all. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy, I’ve been running round like a blue-arsed fly recently, I just haven’t had any ‘me’ time.

A Plan needed to be put together. A frazzled brain meant that The Plan would have to be a simple one, needing very little brain power. No problem there then…I’m blessed with VERY little brain power.

Company on the walk was obtained relatively easily: Alistair rarely needs an reason to get out and it was good that he could come along. Oh, and there’s me of course. I’m still here – despite what you may think….and I need to train to get ready for a training trip that’s coming up.

I took the train from Navigation road station in order to catch the 09:57 to Stockport. It delivered me to, er, Stockport 15 minutes later. Alistair, who lives a few minutes from Stockport Station rolled up a few minutes later – and off we went.

Our route took us north out of the town, initially along the Trans Pennine Trail. The morning was a bit grim – not actually raining, but cold, dark and drizzly-damp. Fortunately we were all clad in boots. The path was very muddy in parts although as with many paths, the bits close to populated areas tended to be well surfaced.

P1010257This section of the TPT, in common with a lot of the route, follows disused railway tracks.
P1010260Rather attractive marker posts guided us to Reddish Vale
The last time I was walking here was in 2005 when I used an extended version of the route as a training walk for the Nijmegen Four Days Marches. Things have changed a little since then. This is the reason we got lost missed our turning around Reddish Vale. And there were too many railway lines. Oh, and we were probably yacking too much to be keeping an eye on the map. This little mishap meant we used more tarmac than planned, but that wasn’t the end of the world.
P1010262Reddish Vale and the slow line to Sheffield….the cause of some confusion. 

Lunch was taken in Debdale Park but the cold wind ensured we didn’t hang around. Then there was another navigational mishap, this one caused by the planting of a new housing estate on top of a footpath. No big deal though, we were soon back on our planned route.

P1010263 The local council’s careful use of limited finances is to be applauded.

Soon we’re on the Ashton Canal towpath, walking west (?!) on a route that coincided with the Cheshire Ring Canal Walk. This canal is just part of a very extensive network of canals that grew out of, and grew with, the industrial revolution. The sad shells of factories are all about.

Much of the housing around here consists of small terraced properties. Thankfully the slum-housing of East Manchester is long gone, but it’s easy to imagine what the area must have been like in years gone by. More modern properties are cropping up where these industrial slums once stood.

P1010265Then came the Fairfield Moravian Settlement – an oasis of peace and tranquillity. It has to be visited to be believed. You should go, it’s quite a shock to come across this place – set as it is, in a not particularly wealthy area of East Manchester. Check out the link, here are some photos:
Back on the canal, still walking west, and more industrial archaeology:
P1010275P1010282 The disused factory of Eva Brothers, Forgemasters and Engineers.
P1010283 Manchester city centre in the distance
The condition of the canal towpath and it’s environs improved as we got closer to Manchester. I suspect this improvement is a legacy of the Commonwealth Games – it had to look good for the visitors! Lack of finance (and interest?) has meant that the area hasn’t been maintained as well as it might have been.
The Games were of definite benefit to the area though:
P1010292Manchester Velodrome 
P1010293 City of Manchester Stadium, now home to Manchester City Football Club
P1010296 Getting closer to the centre now, old mills and new builds

P1010304Who ever said that Manchester wasn’t at the cutting edge of entertainment technology clearly hasn’t visited the city for a long time:
On final approach to Piccadilly Station where Alistair left us to catch his train home
P1010308There’s a lot of investment going on in Manchester, even in these financially strained times. It would be a terrible shame if this old advertisement was to vanish, just in the name of ‘progress’. H.A.Howard & Sons Ltd was incorporated in Manchester in the 1940s but the firm no longer exists.
Chrissy Brand’s very excellent Mancunian Wave featured this advertisement in November 2011. 

We trundled on, into the city centre, to catch the Metrolink tram home – just in time for afternoon tea. A splendid day out and just what the doctor ordered.

This is where we went. Sort of….

Stockport to Manchester route Around 12.5 miles with not a lot of up and/or downery. Good though.

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