View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Thursday 26th July, to Brereton, Macclesfield and Gawsworth

My mate Mark is currently unable to drive because of a buggered tendon and I offered to transport him to hospital for his bits to be fettled – in return for which he very generously treated me to lunch at Gawsworth’s  Harrington Arms (rather fine Robinson’s). We usually go to The Harrington to play music at the regular Friday evening sessions.
The journey to Mark’s was slower than usual…and my camera was on the passenger seat of the car:
P1020455    What???
Lunch stop, The Harrington – we usually go there on a Friday evening to play music. I was there playing music only last Friday, ‘twas a rather very excellent evening!
Mark in hop-along mode
Brereton, home to odd-ball bears:
Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, last seen from The Gritstone Trail a couple of weeks ago:
It was good to catch up with Mark – especially being able to enjoy a leisurely lunch with him: thanks Mark!

Monday, 15 July 2013


15th July

By this time of the year the tits usually have left my garden, not returning until the later part of the year.

I don’t know why, I’m no ornithologist, but this year one or two have stayed. Perhaps I’m feeding them too well.

P1020426Not a good photo, taken this morning, through my kitchen window with my Lumix FS40. 

Beating The Bounds

The Court Leet, an ancient form of local government, is responsible for keeping the old (Saxon) boundaries of Altrincham defined and to do this they 'Beat the Bounds' each year.
The boundary is marked with a number of boundary stones or plaques and on the second Sunday of July Members of the Altrincham Court Leet process around these markers.
The Court Leet always invite members of the public (ie: Plebs like me) to follow them around their annual bimble….stopping off around half-way round for beer and lunch. Nice…except hardly anyone ever turns out to support them.
Today a total of four walkers turned out, better than most years, but still not great.
At 10.30am we all gathered at the boundary stone on The Downs in Altrincham for the first ‘beating’ of the day:
P1020394Members of The Court Leet doing their stuff
P1020398 The boundary stone on The Downs, Altrincham
P1020401 P1020402 A Dunham / Altrincham boundary marker
Altrincham / Hale boundary marker on a house gate-post
I’m sure The Court Leet won’t mind me saying that a couple of them aren’t in the first flush of youth – although one member in particular walked around most of the route with the pedestrian followers. Other members of the Court Leet were transported around the 8 mile route in a minibus.
Lunch was had at Timperley Old Hall (that isn’t very old at all) where a very good pint (or two)of Jennings High Spy was served. I don’t normally drink beer when on a walk, but we were probably 5 or 6 miles into the route, and at 3.8% ABV it didn’t have any adverse effect – apart from straining the bladder department!
imageThe Court Leet at lunch
After lunch there were only 3-4 more boundary markers to visit. A few people came out to see what all the fuss was about and I’m pleased to say that they all showed a genuine interest in this quirky tradition.
By 3.30pm it was all over. Around 12 boundary markers had been visited, some of them in locations that made access difficult – but not impossible.
The population of Altrincham had been assured that their town’s boundary was intact and, according to the speech repeated around the circuit, assured of protection by the Barony….provided they stayed within it’s boundaries.
A nice little walk and a very interesting day out. I’ll probably do it again next year. Especially if the Old Hall are serving High Spy.
More photos here.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Thursday 11th July, Lymm sunset

View from the TransPennine Trail, part of the E8 European route.
The E8 European long distance path is one of the European long-distance routes. It stretches over 2900 miles between Cork in Ireland to Istanbul in Turkey. You’re not expected to walk on water though.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sunday 7th July, Almost The Gritstone Trail

The Gritstone Trail is ‘a challenging 56km walk’ and is a trip I’ve had on the backburner for quite a while. Running between Disley (South East of Manchester) and Kidsgrove (er, 56km South of Disley), it traverses some pleasantly hilly country of Cheshire and Staffordshire. 
Options for doing the route were: a) Jog/walk in a day, b) Backpack (Hotel/B&B) over two days, or c) Backpack (Camping) over two days.

Sudden high temperatures blew-out the jog/walk idea – I’m not fit enough anyway. I’m such a tight-arse that the hotel/B&B idea was rejected…..that left backpacking with a tent. And so it was.

In order to go lightweight I chose to use my Terra-Nova Laser Competition for the first time. I had no idea how to pitch the thing properly – I chose the phone-a-friend solution and it worked. Thanks Judith!

Family responsibilities meant that I couldn’t set out until the evening. Daytime temperatures reached 27degC so a late start was a good move.
P1020317 At 8pm I parked the car in Disley railway station car-park, ignored the Ram’s Head and shouldered my pack. Heading south (and uphill) I was glad to have left my start until late, it was still very warm even at this late hour.

There were good views over Lyme Park, Stockport and Manchester. This is a cracking time to walk. Ask Denis, he knows these things. 
Monkey Nuts
Light was fading as I climbed up to Bowstones, the views improved to the west – Manchester and Stockport were turning their lights on. This is the holiday season and at one point flights were coming into Manchester Airport every couple of minutes.

Bollington soon hove into view. The Gritstone Trail only touches the outskirts of the town before climbing steeply up to the Saddle of Kerridge to White Nancy, a folly built in 1817 to celebrate victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Two years late, but what the hell, eh?

No pictures of White Nancy – it was too dark.
Dropping off the saddle a bit early (well it WAS dark) I had to walk a couple of hundred yards on tarmac before regaining the correct route. It was 12.45am. Never mind.

The next two miles were a delight, even in the dark. There were good tracks and footpaths, one particular path crossed a lovely meadow. Well I think it was a lovely meadow, the absence of moonlight meant I needed the head-torch more than I wanted which was a shame. I find I can often see so much more walking in the dark without a headtorch, once your eyes adjust to the darkness. A headtorch generates a lot of glare, effectively blotting out much of what you would otherwise see. Note to self: next time I go out on a night-nav trip, bring a compass with luminous bits. I managed without but it was a faff.

My plan was to go to Teggs Nose and drop down to Ridgegate Reservoir to camp. Even with my Alpkit Gamma headtorch, a seriously good bit of kit, it was a no-no. It’s a stony track and I was tired, it was 2am. The chance of tripping on the decent in the dark was just too great. I chose to camp on some lovely flat grass just far enough from the visitor centre.

The tent was up in not a lot of time (thanks again Judith!) and after a wash down (Ask Alan. Or Phil) I covered myself with my sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep.
P1020328 I got up around 7am and after a coffee I packed and was away by 7.45am. A mountain-biker had stopped to chat as I packed, he was off on a ride from Macclesfield to Buxton and back again – planning to be back home before his wife was out of bed!
Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope from Tegg’s Nose
The air was pleasantly cool but even at that early hour the sun was hot. Dropping down to Ridgegate Rerservoir, I recovered a 4 pint milk container full of water I’d hidden the previous day.  After breakfast and replenishing my 2 litre platy, I drank the rest of the water, dumping the empty container in the Leathers Smithy pub bins.
P1020335 Tegg’s Nose
P1020337 The next substantial up of the walk was to Croker Hill and Sutton Common. On a clear day the telecomms tower on the top is visible for miles around, almost as distinctive as the outline of Shutlingloe. It’s a good but hard pull to the top in such hot weather. I didn’t see any other walkers out on this trip. Obviously they weren’t as daft as me.
South of Croker Hill, the route follows Minn Edge Lane, a green lane traversing the length of Bosley Minn. To the west, across the Cheshire Plain, Jodrell Bank white parabolic dish shone brightly in the strong morning sun.  
P1020346 The Trail leaves Bosley Minn towards it’s south end, but I’ve run around here before and well remember the killer strength nettles. For the sake of a few hundred yards of tarmac I diverted slightly and enjoyed a nettle-free passage. Good eh?
Another climb – this time up Bosley Cloud, another very distinctively-shaped hill. It was now burningly hot, and although I still had plenty of water on board I was finding the going tough. I don’t do heat very well at all, and this was hot, hot, hot. Views from the top were good, Frodsham and Helsby Hill were just visible through the heat haze.
 imageMow Cop on the skyline
Congleton was clearly visible to the west, Mow Cop to the south. I was desperate for cool shade. It was now so hot I was beginning to feel unwell. The next stretch of the route followed a stretch of disused railway line….with lots of shady trees. I found a comfortable spot and plonked myself down, planning to sit out this hottest part of the day before continuing.

An hour later it was hotter still and it was clear that I was going to have to wait for some hours for the temperature to drop. By that time I’d have run out of water and food – and still have another 8-9 miles to walk into Kidsgrove.

Executive decision time. I waited another half-hour and set off walking west, into Congleton and it’s railway station. It was the only sensible choice. I wasn’t enjoying the walk now and it was getting harder and harder.
The very excellent Queens Head in Congleton, a very short walk to the railway station, provided a pint of cold water followed by a pint of TT Landlord in very good nick. I’d have stayed longer but I just wanted to get home and have a cool bath. I’ll go back to the Queen’s, it’s a proper pub with a good selection of proper beers and real ciders.

I ended up doing 26-27 miles, all of which was lovely – it was only the extremely hot conditions that buggered it up for me.

I’ll do it again, but only in more appropriate weather. The Gritstone Trail is a cracking route  through some glorious countryside. You should do it.

This is where I went….well up until the bail-out point:


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Wednesday 3rd July, Walton Wander….The Truth

The true story can now be told.
You may recall that last week there was A Walk Recce for an East Lancs LDWA walk – well today we walked the real thing. No safety harnesses, no safety nets….and no escape routes. Pure unadulterated danger. But the pub at the end actually had decent ale on tap.
I collected Alan (of Blog on the Landscape fame) from Timperley Tram station and we went of to collect the rest of the Jovial Crew – including Long Suffering Rick, the walk leader.
P1020261Rick, holding a small selection of his camera collection, posing in front of the group. Norman 2nd R…he’s the one with the unlicensed knees.
A total of 18 walkers + Norman gathered outside the Walton Arms at the appointed hour and once Rick had completed his David Bailey impersonation act we headed off down the Bridgewater Canal towpath towards Daresbury (pr: Daarsbury), famous for Alice in Wonderland.
Norman had on agreed to attend because we convinced him the Cheshire had a hill and that, on a clear day, you could see Lancashire….if you looked REALLY hard. Anyroadup, Norman believed us. But he IS gullible.
Speeding westwards through Moore (famous for there not being enough of it) the party of 18 + Norman had spread out. Try as we might- it was impossible to lose any of the group. They’re a canny lot, the East Lancs. This part of the walk was notable for not stopping at the ice-cream shop in Moore….but I suppose it was a little early.
P1020268 Norman tactfully pointing out to John Bullen that The Ramblers are recruiting
Toiling up the ascent that is Keckwick Hill, further fruitless attempts were made to lose some of the group. Well, just one of the group actually.
The first tea stop of the day was at Daaaarsbury’s All Saints church – the one with Lewis Carroll stuff in. Some had a cuppa and perhaps a butty too. Pieces of Rick’s rather delicious flap-jack were distributed to members of the group. This undoubtedly led to more points being awarded.
Before continuing on our mission, some went into the church to look for the Cheshire Cat and other characters.
P1020270Fred the Frog trying to hitch a ride.  
P1020271What the well-dressed walker is wearing this season
P1020281Wandering through last year’s Creamfields site in hot sunshine
Much of today’s route followed the Mersey Valley Timberland Trail:
P1020284 Lunch was taken at Hill Cliffe, a very well-kept graveyard that afforded excellent views over the grave-stones to Warrington and even as far as Lancashire’s Winter Hill. Points were awarded for this latter view.
P1020286Tea bread was distributed as a supplement to everyone’s butties….more points may have been awarded.
A stretch of tarmac through a housing estate took us across the A49 to The Dingle, a wooded valley-type thingy. And very pleasant it was too.
P1020289 Bimbling down The Dingle
Leaving the houses behind and entering Grappenhall Woods, John spotted one of his mates:

P1020291Laughing Boy John and friend 
Once out of the wood, a bit more tarmac was needed to get back onto the Bridgewater Canal….not before the final coffee break of the day:

Pedant’s Corner

P1020294 Afternoon Tea’s at The Rams Head
P1020292 Back on the canal and on final approach into Walton
Norman offered the chance of extra points if a Blackshaw ‘Little Loop’ could be added on to the walk. It’s difficult to turn down such an offer and so a detour around Walton Park was included. As it happens this little loop was a worthy addition to the route, the park was a real oasis of tranquility:
P1020310It was only a short distance back to the cars and a quick re-hydrate in The Walton Arms – where the Golden Hen was on top form:
P1020316 Apres-walk refreshments
A good day out in good company, and thanks to a visit to Rick’s with the map I now know where we actually went. Rick had worked hard to put the route together and it earned a well-deserved 10/10.

14.8 miles and around 800’ of uppity stuff.

Walton Wander The Truth

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