Martin

Martin

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The GEA (Grande Escursione Appenninica) Revisited

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In April 2013 Sue and I enjoyed the southern twelve sections of the GEA. Reference to the sections is by way of Gillian Price’s Cicerone Guide.

We return tomorrow to attempt to complete sections 14 to 23. I must have deemed section 13 to be unlucky – I don’t know what my reasoning, if any, for omitting it was…

An advance party is already out there (hopefully he will complete section 13 tomorrow!), and luckily we shouldn’t be affected by the recent earthquake. Cary seems safe and sound in a bothy tonight and should join us in a hotel tomorrow. We’ll also be joined by Graham B on this trip.

The picture is a more gloomy April view in the Apennines, selected at random from my 2013 snapshots.

Our 2013 trip is recorded here.

I believe it’s a bit warmer there just now.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Saturday 27 August 2016 – I Am Team GB Sports Day

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Wythenshawe parkrunners on tour at Lyme Park

A jolly band of parkrunners assembled this morning at Lyme Park, the visitors from Wythenshawe boosting numbers to 145, the fourth highest number in the run’s 127 event history. This is one of a very small number of ‘one-lap’ parkruns, and is also possibly one of the hilliest. 120 metres ascent doesn’t sound much does it? Try it!

Run Director Sarah and others welcomed our little group and helped with the photos, whilst also looking after a few brave souls who were taking up the ‘I Am Team GB Sports Day’ challenge by embarking on a regime of exercise, starting with this event.

There’s an annotated slideshow of runners at the start and at the finish, here. Click on the first image, then click ‘slideshow’; you may need to go back to the first image. Despite the stunning views I didn’t take any pictures during the run, though if I’d had my wits about me I would have taken some of runners queueing to climb over a large ladder stile at a point where the volunteer marshal couldn’t get a gate to open. Never mind, that gives scope for personal bests on our next visit. (I reckon the terrain makes this course two minutes slower than Wythenshawe, for a 25 minute runner.)

Most of the pictures are of our team finishing the run in various ‘states’, Sue’s, for example, being the state in which she nearly loses her wig!

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The route is described by parkrun (with my annotations) thus:

Breathtaking. Literally! (Yes)
Lyme Park parkrun begins towards the back of the main car park - the open gate marking the start line. The first uphill section (almost exactly 800m) is tough, narrow and loose under foot. However, your perseverance will immediately be rewarded as you pass through a second open gate into the woods, which is rich in colour, but more importantly, (nearly) flat! As you pass under the trees and along this next section, you will reach a second open gate where you (queue to ascend and descend a tall ladder stile and) should turn 90 degrees to your left. This narrow trail runs parallel with the park wall and is gently undulating and highlighted with small crossing streams (hardly a ‘muddy passage’ though). Glance to your right and you may be treated to your first deer sighting.(Not today.) At the end of this section, turn left again, through a third open gate and run straight ahead, passing the archery field on your right and through the final open gate. Please take extra care at this short part of the run, as you pass the staff car park on your left. Bear round to the right and follow the road until you spot the first large stone, turning left as you reach it, and head towards Lyme Park’s Cage. This huge open space with spectacular panoramic views of Manchester and beyond, will almost certainly give you perspective, and take your mind away from any aches or pains. (Yes, the views were excellent today.) Pass to the right of the Cage and head downwards over a rocky path, taking care to (avoid tripping headlong into an abyss –) lift your feet on this loose (and unforgiving) terrain. As the path blends into the grass, it becomes very slippery and ends with a sharp turn to the left. Marshals will be ready to catch you at the bottom! (I think Andrew flattened one of them.) Dig (very) deep for this last section, a gradual incline awaits (, for 1.2km all the way) up to the finish line, a few hundred feet in front of the house, and in perfect situ to head off for a well earned breakfast at the Timber Yard Coffee Shop.
(Yes, excellent cakes.)

Anyway, while you’ve been reading that, seven of our team have finished and Ralph is waiting anxiously for number eight.

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Here he is. Having flattened a marshal, Andrew has decided to be a gentleman and give way to the ladies.

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It was tough, but not only did we survive the undulations of today’s route, I think we all enjoyed the lovely scenery, the ladder stile, and the expected ‘parkrun camaraderie’. Brilliant.

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Here’s the route. (Green flag to red flag, arrows at 1 km intervals.)

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Claire’s husband Dan and their twins joined us for coffee and cake as we relaxed in the sunny Timber Yard.

What a great way to start a Bank Holiday weekend.

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Did I mention - Here’s a slideshow – 22 images – with captions!

My bike was in the car, so after a while (getting on for 11 o’clock, actually) I left the others to continue chatting and pedalled back to Timperley by an off-road route – basically through the park to the Macclesfield Canal, along that and the Peak Forest Canal to Bredbury Green, westwards along good tracks to join the Trans Pennine Trail in Stockport, following that to Stretford before diving down the Bridgewater Canal to Timperley.

Other routes are available. This one featured this prominent landmark after a long, pleasurable descent past many locks on the busy canal.

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Through this short tunnel is East Didsbury Metrolink Station. You can see perhaps why they haven’t extended the line to Stockport – the trams would have trouble getting through here!

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Almost home, and a Bank Holiday barge fest was going on in Brooklands, where it was ‘party time’.

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Here are two versions of my 40 km route with about 200 metres ascent, taking 2 hours 40 minutes. A nice ride – home for lunch.

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Other Stuff

Not worth a separate posting, but perhaps of passing interest:

Our local heron must have great eyesight!

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Work continues on the Linotype site in Broadheath. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops.

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Ruadh-stac Beag and Meall a’ Ghiubhais

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Ruadh-stac Beag (left) and Meall a’ Ghiubhais (right), from the east

Reading Conrad’s blog last night brought a joyous reminder of a wonderful day’s walk on 15 April 2008, when five of us set out to climb these outliers of Beinn Eighe. Only Dave, Sue and I made it to the tops of both hills. Reminded now by Conrad, my memory of the day is very clear. Dave is shown below, romping down Ruadh-stac Beag with Beinn Eighe in front of him, after he and Sue had utilised my carefully placed footsteps for their speedy ascent after they had originally headed misguidedly up to some impenetrable crags.

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Apparently this walk is normally blighted by difficult boulder fields, so although the snow was deep and soft, we probably had much easier conditions underfoot than Conrad did yesterday. And we had about a fifteen year age advantage over Conrad (more like 35 years in Sue’s case!).

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Jacob gets Silver!

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‘Postcard from Timperley’ (aka Grandad) is very envious of Jacob, who enjoyed meeting up with GB silver medallist, Bryony Page. Thanks go to Bryony, and to Simon for taking the picture (and making it happen).

Brilliant!

Wednesday 24 August 2016 – A Marple Evening with SWOG

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It was a lovely warm evening, so Sue and I trotted off to Marple for our final SWOG evening walk of the season (there is one next week but we will be away).

Setting off from the car park next to the Midland Hotel at Marple Bridge, about 35 of us wandered up the track towards Mellor Mill. Lottery funded work continues on this site, where the Wellington Wheel is slowly being brought back to life. We were here two years ago; not an awful lot has changed.

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Soon we were heading in a long crocodile past Roman Lakes and numerous mountain bikers who were polite if perhaps a little frustrated at having to contend with a 35 strong walking group.

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Just beyond a viaduct, we crossed the Roman Bridge that spans the Goyt. Someone had left their clothes on the beach. (Migrants swimming upstream?)

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Then it was up a hill to the Peak Forest Canal, pausing half way for some of the more elderly members of the party to enjoy a long rest.

A lovely sunset greeted us from the towpath.

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We strolled on into the monochromatic gloom of a ‘nights are now drawing in early’ in Marple Bridge, where the outside benches of the Norfolk Arms provided a spacious welcome for those with a thirst.

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Here’s the route – 6 km with 170 metres ascent, taking a leisurely couple of hours or so.

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SWOG soon reverts to its programme of Wednesday evening presentations at Hazel Grove Civic Centre. Programme here – don’t miss 19 October.

Thanks for your company, everyone, and ‘well done’ to all the SWOG evening walk leaders for another interesting season of walks – it’s a shame we’ve only been able to attend a handful of them.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Catgill Camping, Bolton Abbey – 19 to 21 August 2016

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Friday 19 August – we left home early enough to arrive at Catgill campsite in time to set up camp in Kate’s favourite corner, and avoid the rain, which started as soon as the final peg had been placed.

An obvious choice of wet day activity hereabouts is a visit to Skipton Castle. I’d not been there since passing through with Andrew in June 2011 as we lumbered along the Dales High Way.

We managed to penetrate the well guarded fortifications without too much difficulty. Jacob had been sick in the car. Perhaps that’s why his mother shouted "take him to the dungeon".

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Skipton Castle in the rain – a fascinating place engulfed in over 900 years of history, with a yew tree in its central courtyard - Conduit Court - that was planted in 1659.

There's a good view over Skipton, but the town was shrouded in mist today.

A nearby walkway/moat sports a pretty ornamental waterfall.

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It was soon time for afternoon tea in a welcoming tea shop, after which Jessica spewed all over the car on the journey back to camp. “I’ve got a weak stomach but I’m throwing it as far as I can” I heard her murmur.

Back at camp, Jessica continued to exercise by throwing her stomach all over the tent, whilst the rest of us downed some welcome spaghetti bolognese.

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Saturday 20 August - a rainy start encouraged us to go underground.

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Stump Cross Caverns were surprisingly quiet when we arrived. There was a 'treasure trail' to keep Jacob happy, whilst Jessica impersonated a whingebox.

Opened relatively recently, Wolverine Cavern sports a wonderful array of formations. The height of the cavern is around 15 feet.

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"So, did you enjoy that?"

At least nobody was sick!

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Sue and I watched an excellent 20 minute film about the caverns, of which the show cave forms just a small part. That gave J and J time for a short rest before the drive to Grassington, where a refreshed Jacob made a bid for freedom.

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A 'pooh stick' bridge over the River Wharfe was soon reached, just below the weir at Bow Bridge.

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Then we went back to camp, with the children intent on travelling in a darkened room.

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Grandma and Grandpa went for a walk whilst Kate and Co tried to get a bit of rest after Friday’s late night. We headed down to Bolton Abbey and the ‘Welly Walk’, at the start of which there is this classic view towards the River Wharfe and the ruined Priory.

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Most of the stepping stones were out of the water.

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There's a children’s obstacle course that we more or less completed on our way to Wooden Bridge, before returning along the west bank of the river.

Then we all went to Billy Bobs American Diner for tea. And a children’s playground. I was getting quite a few spare moments to read John Grisham’s ‘The Racketeer, and Kate practiced drinking a milkshake up her nose.

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Here's the standard walk from the campsite, which we repeated with Kate and J and J on Sunday 21 August - it's about 6 km.

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Here we all are on that walk, dodging the showers, after packing up the tents and making use of the jump leads as I’d left the fridge on in Sue’s car. (I’m sure the old car had an automatic cut out to preserve the battery – this one was completely dead though.)

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Overnight rain had made the stepping stones over the Wharfe disappear, but the Welly Walk’s obstacle course had stepping stones of its own…

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...and a 'Bog Adventure'.

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The maze was easy peasy, and Jacob discovered the muddy tube in which I’d filthied myself the previous day. There was also the obligatory Money Tree.

On reaching Wooden Bridge, we lunched outside the café in lovely summery weather before returning to camp via the other side of the river.

And then we went home to watch GB basking in the glory of being second in the table with 67 medals in the Rio Olympics.

There’s a slideshow with a few more images, here. Click on the first picture, then click ‘slideshow’.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Thursday 18 August 2016 – Deepest Cheshire Again

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The Bells of Peover pub was Andrew’s chosen departure point for the last of this year’s Deepest Cheshire evening walks. It was a lovely evening, and we savoured it – at some point Graham and I waited for the WI Contingent, relaxing outside a summerhouse.

Lower Peover church is next to the pub, but the ‘Bells’ of Peover don’t relate to the church – the name is that of a long deceased owner of the hostelry.

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Andrew usually comes well prepared for his walks, so was he ready for a pre-walk interrogation whilst the rest of us enjoyed drinks in the last of the sunshine?

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Soon we were on our way, Sue having selected shorts and sandals to negotiate paths overgrown with deep grass, nettles and brambles!

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The route took us to a path beside a motorway. Surely not the M6, which is usually a giant car park at this point when we travel by car…

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After negotiating a redirected path and some fields of frisky cows, we reached some quiet lanes that led to a former pub (still marked as such on my map but now an equestrian shop). A very pleasant path then followed a parish boundary back to the start of the walk. During this time the sun set, a final ‘action’ picture was taken before the light disappeared, and the moon rose behind us.

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It was properly dark when we arrived back at the pub after an excellent 7 km stroll with minimal ascent, taking a little over an hour and a half.

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Well, the long days of summer seem to be rapidly dwindling – had I better organise a few torch lit strolls around Timperley?