Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sunday 30 April 2017 - The Bóquer Valley

An easy journey from Manchester courtesy of Jet2 and Mallorca buses saw us at the apartment in Puerto de Pollença by about 2pm despite 'losing' an hour and strolling around the music laden pedestrian precincts of Palma for an hour or so.

It's so nice to avoid the hassle of hiring a car, and to have time to buy pies in the centre of Palma. We had no idea about the pie contents and were delighted to find it stuffed with ham and peas.

This is a hand luggage trip, so it took very little time to unpack and then head off on the short walk up the Bóquer valley to the stony beach at Cala Bóquer (pictured). It probably took me more time to clean up afterwards, as a result of my finding the only damp patch for miles around and undergoing a slither that coated all my clothes and my rucksack in a layer of light brown slime. I can't remember ever having to conduct such a comprehension laundry session on the first day (let alone hour) of a holiday.

There are supposed to be rare birds up here, and we did pass some long lenses. But we also encountered lots of noisy locals. The only bird of note that I saw looked like a cross between a greenfinch and a yellowhammer.

As you ascend the valley, an 'eye' appears up on the ridge to your left. There's a possible extension to the walk that rises towards this 'eye' or arch. We didn't bother as I was covered in slime and may have made the rocks slippery. I note from our guide book that on a previous visit on 3 June 2010 (no doubt recorded in this diary) we enjoyed the same walk with Al, Hazel, Andrew and Kate. We didn't go to the arch on that occasion either. (Given Sue's recent 'interesting' attempts to witness that family's passport applications they may struggle to go abroad again!)

Anyway, on the way back from our 6 km jaunt that was actually 8 km due to us setting off in the wrong direction along the esplanade, we had a successful diversion for beer, olives, crisps and water (the tap water in Mallorca tastes like used dishwater).

There's no other food in the apartment so we enjoyed dinner at the highly rated Little Italy restaurant, just round the corner.

So, Where are we now?

That wasn't difficult was it? We were up at 4.30, but pleasantly installed in the apartment by soon after 2 pm. 

Sunny and warm...

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Saturday 29 April 2017 – Ralph’s Return to Wythenshawe parkrun

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Today was Ron’s 100th parkrun and his 92nd at Wythenshawe. To celebrate the occasion his old mate (they met at parkrun) Ralph returned from exile in Yorkshire to enjoy the chippings of Wythenshawe Park that have recently replaced the infamous ‘muddy passage’.

The above picture was taken near the finish, so I was puzzled not to find Ron’s name next to Ralph’s (the latter came home in position 309 out of a record 381), but I’ve now discovered that Ron finished earlier, in his 3rd consecutive Personal Best time, and must have jogged back out to meet his mate.

Ron went for years running in times of well over 30 minutes for the 5 km, but now he’s under 27 minutes and heading south. Well done Ron, again.

The conditions were good. Sue was close to her PB, and I managed my best time since October 2015. And shortly afterwards my current bout of root canal treatment was concluded. Hooray, but the tooth now needs a crown…

Today’s results are here – there are lots of great performances.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The TGO Challenge 2017

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Last year I completed my tenth TGO Challenge. There’s a tradition that after one’s tenth you either help with the organising in some way or take a break for a year. My ‘organising’ services weren’t needed, so I submitted an application for this year’s Challenge on the basis that I’d be ‘last standby reserve’. I was in standby position number 80.

By the time of the Snake Inn reunion in March, the dropout level meant that I was ‘in’, so a route was quickly devised and vetted without amendment by Bernie Marshall. Thanks Bernie. At 290 km (180 miles) with 9,500 metres ascent it’s my easiest route to date and is shown on the map above, which may appear as a slightly larger image if you click on it. The arrows are at 10 km intervals, the red or black triangles are summits, and the camping or house icons mark where I intend to stay.

Here’s a summary:

Day 0: Thursday 11 May - Train to Oban (Regent Hotel)

Day 1: Friday 12 May (21 km, 830 metres ascent) – Ferry to Lismore > Port Appin > Airds Hill (Ma) > Appin > Strath of Appin > camp to the west of Beinn Churalain around NM 986 464

Day 2: Saturday 13 May (28 km, 1520 metres ascent) - Wild camp > Beinn Churalain (Ma) > NE ridge dropping to join minor road N of Fasnacloich > NE to Elleric > Glenure > Glen Ure > Airigh nan Lochan > S to Beinn Trilleachan (C)(Ma) > N and E to Gualachulain > Druimachoish > bridge at NN 140 468 > S towards the Robbers Waterfall (wild camp around NN 138 449)

Day 3: Sunday 14 May (21 km, 1360 metres ascent) - Wild camp > Allt Mheuran to col at NN 163 433 > Glas Bheinn Mhor (M)(Ma) > return to col > Stob Coir an Albannaich (M)(Ma) > return to col > SE below Sron na h-Iolaire to join track at NN 197 409 > past Loch Dochard > Abhainn Shira > Clashgour Hut > N beside Allt Toaig to convenient wild camping spot around NN 254 429

Day 4: Monday 15 May (19 km, 430 metres ascent) - Wild camp > Abhainn Shira > Victoria Bridge > Mam Carraigh > Bridge of Orchy > West Highland Way > Tyndrum (Pine Trees Caravan Park)

Day 5: Tuesday 16 May (13 km, 920 metres ascent) - Tyndrum > West Highland Way > Kirkton Farm > NE > South top (MT) > Ben Challum (M)(Ma) > E to Stob a' Bhiora > N to wild camp by Allt Challuim around NN 399 332

Day 6: Wednesday 17 May (23 km, 420 metres ascent) - Wild camp > tracks roughly NE to join minor road near Kenknock > minor roads > Botaurnie > Tullich > fork L at Lochay Power Station > Killin (Killin Hotel, meet Sue)

Day 7: Thursday 18 May (22 km, 1750 metres ascent) - Killin > A827 > turn N towards Meall Liath > join track at top of pipeline > NE to minor road at NN 605 383 > S to parking spot for ascent of Lawers massif > Ben Lawers traverse - Beinn Ghlas (M), Ben Lawers (M)(Ma), Creag an Fhithich (MT), An Stuc (M), Meall Garbh (M)(Ma), Meall Greigh (M)(Ma) > N to wild camp around NN 677 447 (or stop earlier)

Day 8: Friday 19 May (14 km, 330 metres ascent) - Descend E > Boreland > Fearnan > forest track above A827 > descend to Kenmore, try to get meal in hotel and wild camp nearby

Day 9: Saturday 20 May (20 km, 600 metres ascent) - Kenmore > minor road E > Tombuie Cottage > Rob Roy Way > Garrow (River Quaich) > track to Wester Shian > Auchnacloich > L to Turrerich > NE shore of Loch Freuchie > Wester Kinloch > Amulree (camp here or nearby – NN 900 366)

Day 10: Sunday 21 May (24 km, 580 metres ascent) - A822 > track to Girron > Meall nan Caorach (Ma)(G) > NE to join track at NN 939 346 > around Findowie Hill to Auchmore > SE to Little Glenshee > track to Loch Tullybelton > Glack > Balquharn > minor roads to Bankfoot Inn

Day 11: Monday 22 May (22 km, 510 Metres ascent) - Bankfoot > Ardonachie > New Ardonachie > Airntully > Honeyhole > Ballathie House > cross River Tay (see query) > Cargill > Meikle Whitefield > Redstone > Saucher > Collace > Dunsinane Hill (O) > Black Hill (O) > wild camp near Broch by Little Dunsinane around NO 223 324

Day 12: Tuesday 23 May (22 km, 380 metres ascent) - Wild camp > King's Seat (Ma) > NE to join track > SE then N to Glenbran > E and N to Dundriven > Littleton > SE to Redmyre > Dron > Flocklones > Benvie > Denhead of Gray > Camperdown Country Park > Dundee Hotel Travelodge

Day 13: Wednesday 24 May (16 km, 150 metres ascent) - Camperdown Country Park > fort and memorial at Dundee Law > join coastal cycleway at Tay Road Bridge > Broughty Castle > Monifieth (campsite at NO 497 321)

Day 14: Thursday 25 May (22 km, 150 metres ascent) - Monifieth > coastal cycleway > Carnoustie > East Haven > Arbroath > Dickmont's Den

Back to Arbroath for bus to Montrose (Links Hotel)

Friday 26 May – return to Manchester for Manchester Half Marathon on 28 May.

I’m planning on taking my Phoenix Phreerunner tent that dates from the 1980’s, if I feel it won’t weigh me down excessively. Here it is on Beinn na Caillich, enjoying some morning sunshine at 6 am on 18 May 2010.

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I may not be rising so early on this year’s easier route…

To fellow Challengers – see you in Glasgow, Oban or Montrose, and maybe a few of you along the paths between Oban and Montrose, but I may be a bit to your south!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Tuesday 25 April 2017 – A Walk to Stockport

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JJ was yet again to blame for this morning’s outing. He had booked tickets to Mallaig to start his TGO Challenge in a couple of weeks time and needed to visit Stockport station to collect them. There are many ways of reaching Stockport from Timperley, on foot being the most scenic.

It was a lovely morning, so Sue and I jumped at the chance of a stroll through Wythenshawe Park then the Mersey Valley to Stockport.

One of the river crossings, in Didsbury, is by Simon’s Bridge, recently repainted. The plaque records its origin in 1901, after Simon’s death.

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Henry Simon (1835–1899) was a German born engineer who revolutionised Great Britain's flour milling industry and in 1878 founded the engineering companies Henry Simon Ltd and Simon Carves. His second son, Ernest Simon went on to become the first baron of Wythenshawe in 1947. There’s more about this remarkable man here.

This stretch of river has lots of bends. Kingfishers can often be seen, but we didn’t spot any today. Greenfinches, jays and magpies mingled with the swallows, all busily following their own agendas.

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A little further on we crossed a stretch of road that forms the most northerly stretch of the old Manchester to Oxford route. In 1753 the Manchester and Wilmslow Turnpike Trust was created by Act of Parliament, with powers to build, maintain, and improve this stretch of the route, funded by the collection of tolls.

In 1755 the Trust built the first stone bridge over the River Mersey at this point. The river flows 70 miles (113 km) from Stockport to Liverpool Bay.

This part of the River Mersey is prone to flooding and the original bridge collapsed in 1756 and was rebuilt in 1758. The bridge was replaced in 1780 and again in 1861 with this current bridge.

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The River Mersey here historically formed the boundary between the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire and there is a boundary marker in the middle of the bridge.

The Trans Pennine Trail follows the Mersey Valley at this point. It’s a 215 mile cycle route between Southport and Hornsea, completed in 2004. There are some ornate ‘mileposts’ like the one below, many of which feature on these pages in previous postings.

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Stockport is eventually reached. The offices perched on the side of the buildings across the river at this point always amuse me. I imagine foremen or managers with a high regard for their status occupying these exclusive sites above the river!

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It’s a land of bridges and viaducts and even, nearby in Marple, aqueducts.

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We were soon ensconced in Rosies Tea Room with coffees (tea for Sue) and toasted tea cakes after our ten mile walk. A busy place.

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Sue and JJ went in search of train tickets whilst I picked up some Essential Supplies from Alpenstock, where Jose and Hugh informed me that they would shortly be closing as the lease expires and Jose wants to retire. Our favourite outdoor shop has been there for about 40 years. It’ll be the end of an era. There may be some bargains to be had as Jose tries to get the best prices she can for her remaining stock.

The train to Navigation Road saw us nearly all the way home, via a short stretch beside the canal, where this family was braving the cool breeze.

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It was sunny enough to enjoy a cuppa in the garden.

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Happy Days…

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Saturday 22 April 2017 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 285

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An auspicious occasion, as in the background above, you can just spot our good friend JJ trying to hide behind an under 11 runner in his first ever parkrun. Well done, JJ, on getting registered and taking part.

JJ’s time was pretty sensible, as he took things easy and, as advised, left himself plenty of scope for a PB next time out.

Meanwhile, a couple of stalwarts were spotted zooming to speedy finishes, and the indefatigable Ron Carter managed his second consecutive PB on his 91st run at Wythenshawe. Well done Ron.

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As you can see, it was a lovely morning for a run, as shown by the second highest turnout at Wythenshawe (341) to date, after which coffee was taken in the sunny courtyard outside the tea rooms.

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The results are here.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wednesday 19 April 2017 – ‘Tally-Ho…’

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JJ is a member of an exclusive running club, details of which are provided at the foot of this entry. A key feature of this running club is the requirement to jump into a tin bath full of tepid water at the end of the run. First home gets clean, warm water.

I’m not a member, but I was invited (with a couple of hours notice) to join JJ on a recce of the course he has devised for a forthcoming run. Participants simply follow a list of written instructions, and any sawdust arrows JJ deems fit to put in place, in order to navigate the course, which in this instance will be nearly twenty miles.

I got the tram to Altrincham and strolled down to Bankhall Lane in Hale to meet JJ. This is about two miles into his route, but he was confident about the first section being accurately described. For most of the day I was testing JJ’s four pages of directions, and a few alterations were made in an effort to make them easy to follow for mapless runners whizzing through the countryside. If they lose their place in the instructions they could be well and truly lost. I imagine that is not such a rare occurrence!

The Bollin Valley provides a delightful green corridor between Altrincham and the airport. Bluebells adorn the ancient woodland, and a good path manoeuvres through a mixture of woodland and meadow and golf course.

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As well as the bluebells, the garlic scented Ramsons are just coming into flower, creating a white carpet in the shade of the trees.

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The River Bollin is very slow and sedate just now, following a spell of dry weather in these parts.

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For a while the path leaves the river and proceeds along Castle Mill Lane, passing a rather dirty trig point near the junction with Mill Lane. JJ yearns to paint this relic of surveying, which marks the highest point in the area – 60 metres.

(How about pink, JJ?)

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Soon we found our way back down to the river and the magnificent tunnel under Runway 2. An impressive piece of engineering.

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Aircraft spotters will enjoy the next section of the walk (run, on the day) alongside the runway, before winding their way through field paths on the outskirts of Mobberley. With vegetation growing fast, some of these paths will be slow and indistinct for the runners.

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JJ has already recce’d the route a couple of times, during which the new bridge shown below has replaced a very rickety section of footpath. He has noted lots of minor changes, often involving fencing, over a short period of time, so a further recce will be needed a few days before the event takes place. There are bound to be a few more minor changes.

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Here’s the view looking back from that bridge, which doubled as a tripod.

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After reaching Knutsford via lunch on a tree trunk next to the North Cheshire Way footpath, we enjoyed a long and easy section, heading through Tatton Park to the east of Tatton Mere. Just beyond the Old Hall, the route heads across parkland towards a WW2 memorial. Here, the fallow deer and the red deer reside in separate herds, lazily enjoying the spring weather before the responsibilities of motherhood come to many of them.

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Here’s the Parachute Regiment memorial that slowly comes into view. A tea break just here was most welcome.

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A small and distant red sign is the next target for the runners. I wonder how many of them will spot that from afar? Anyway it will lead them towards the main car park, past the mansion that dates from 1716, though what you can see below is more recent. There’s currently a WW1 memorial flame that will sit outside the hall until 2018. The hall was owned by the Egerton family until 1958, when it was donated to the National Trust.

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Unlike most NT properties, the car park is not owned, so even for NT members it can be an expensive place to visit, especially as members also have to pay to go round the Home Farm, which we passed after narrowly evading the car park.

Soon we were heading along good paths through brightly coloured fields, due north to the small village of Rostherne.

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Whilst Rostherne has no public house, which fact probably helps to preserve its status as a small village in a rural backwater, it does have a water pump, which despite JJ’s renowned plumbing skills, could not be coaxed into action. Where were you, Norman?

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There was an easy short-cut to our intended path, but JJ will send his runners ‘around the houses of Rostherne’. A pretty thatched cottage is passed, outside which this owl lurks.

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Next up, St Mary’s Church, the grounds of which we enter through a lych gate dating from 1640, claimed by some to be the finest in Cheshire. The yard is full of slabs of grave stones.

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Nearby Rostherne Mere is a Nature Reserve, access to which is discouraged.

This is about as close as you can get as an ordinary member of the public. It’s a haven for a wide variety of ducks and other birds, and many other species, including the somewhat unlikely sightings of a mermaid. And there’s no public house in Rostherne!?

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When JJ last came this way, the path to Marsh Lane had been completely destroyed by a plough. Thankfully the farmer has now reinstated the path, which passes pleasantly through fields before a kilometre section of unavoidable tarmac that might get JJ sacked as a trail designer.

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Some sowing has already taken place. We passed this near Rycroft Farm, after crossing the M60 motorway. Before and after the farm there was lots of fencing work in progress. Hopefully the integrity of all the footpaths will be preserved.

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We headed in a loop by way of recce, not quite reaching the final destination – The Swan with Two Nicks in Little Bollington - before returning to JJ’s car and my gentle stroll back to Altrincham.

Our 30+ km route, with minimal ascent, is shown below, JJ having started from the place where the circle is squared, if you know what I mean.

Thanks, JJ, for getting me out for such an enjoyable day.

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Historical Notes:

1. Here’s some of what Wikipedia says about ‘Tally-Ho’:

The phrase tally-ho is a largely British phrase, which originated from the activity of foxhunting, and other forms of hunting with hounds, shouted when a rider or follower sees the fox. Today the term has evolved to have other meanings, most of which relate to 'pointing out' or 'spotting' a 'target'. For example, it is sometimes used as slang in air traffic control to verify a radar contact has been visually confirmed.

Tally-ho dates from around 1772, and is probably derived from the French taïaut, a cry used to excite hounds when hunting deer. According to other sources, the phrase may have originated from the second half of the 13th century, from the concatenation of a two word war cry: taille haut; "taille" being the cutting edge of the sword and "haut" translating to high (or 'raised up'), thus the original meaning of this interjection is something close to "Swords up!".

"Tally-ho" had its first recorded use in the Americas in an 1773 hunting journal. From there, its use spread as more British colonists arrived. However, the phrase fell out of favour following the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

2. Here’s what the Cheshire club of which JJ is a member has to say:

The Cheshire Tally-Ho Hare and Hounds Club is a traditional running club, founded in 1872. The club holds runs (called trails) from a number of venues around Cheshire and Derbyshire.

​A trail consists of the Hounds following a marked trail laid by the Hares in a circular route of about 8 miles. Trails usually start and end at a pub. After the run, members get together and enjoy a meal and a drink in the pub.

The club is essentially non-competitive, and the club’s runs are designed so that groups of runners (packs of hounds) of similar ability set off together at times representing the likely speed of the pack. The trails are cross country, and any time spent on roads, while necessary at times, is looked on as disappointing, and the trail layer is likely to hear some appropriate comments at the finish. The trail layers, the Hares, vary from venue to venue, so that the club members can each participate.

​The packs start at various times, the earliest before 14:00. The slow pack leaves at about 14:00, the medium pack 15 minutes later, and the fast pack at 14:30. The run ends around 16:00 or so.

The ablutions vary from the sublime, a leisure centre at Frodsham with showers and sauna, to the ridiculous (normal), namely bathing in a tin bath.

​Membership is by election only, and requires two sponsors from the members. If interested in running through cow fields (and other cow things) in all weathers and conditions just for the fun of it please contact the Hon.Sec .

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

An Easter Sunday Stroll

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For one reason or another I didn’t get out much this Easter. The time was spent ‘planning’ and faffing with things like recalcitrant computers and printers, failing to resolve seemingly simple problems that I won’t bore you with, but which after perusal of some forums turn out to be puzzling minds much sharper than mine.

A short circuit from home on a rainy Sunday confirmed that spring is really going strong, with lots of plants coming into flower. An ideal time of year for a long distance walk like the one that Conrad was attempting from Berwick to Castle Cary on the south coast. Later, I discovered that Conrad had tripped and fallen, finishing up with a broken arm in a hospital in Durham and having to abandon his walk. A great shame. We were looking forward to him coming through Timperley.

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I didn’t take my camera, and the phone doesn’t have a macro feature that I am able to work, so apologies for the quality of these flower pictures taken in the Woodheys Park area.

Bluebells, Forgetmenots (Field?), Daffodils, Cranesbills (not pictured), Garlic Mustard and Marsh Marigolds and White Dead-nettles, to name just a few.

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At the western end of my stroll the Trans Pennine Trail is encountered, but my route eschews that on this occasion and takes a slither down to the dismantled railway that used to link West Timperley with Glazebrook. There’s a move to reinstate this railway and rebuild West Timperley station.

‘Ambitious plans are being unveiled to create a heritage railway along the disused rail route between Irlam in Salford and Timperley in Trafford.

There will be a footpath and cycleway running parallel to historic steam and diesel trains.

The £25 million - £30 million project would involve relaying the track and rebuilding stations and reinstating the Cadishead Viaduct along the six mile route.’

The old trackway is pretty overgrown but can be walked as far as the point from where you can slither down to the Bridgewater Canal. It’s overgrown though, even at this time of year. Wet legs from the foliage.

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I left the trackway at Stamford Brook, where the National Trust has sold off a lot of the land it owned as part of the Dunham Massey Estate. A huge new housing estate has arisen, at the western end of which is an area still known by its ancient name of Malljurs Covert. A surfaced loop path through newly planted trees has been constructed here, under the easier nomenclature of ‘Stamford Brook Woodland’.

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There are many paths through the maze of houses, all with a strip down the middle that I think may be an attempt to separate cyclists from walkers. There are not often many of either, and there are extra muddy paths around the perimeter of the estate that the planners didn’t realise would be needed.

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My route to the canal left the new estate and crossed the ‘dismantled railway’, which at this point has not been dismantled, although it’s 33 years since the last need to ‘Stop, Look, Listen’.

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Having reached the canal, it’s a short walk to Timperley Bridge and the twitten that leads to our house.

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A gentle 7.5 km in light rain, hence the strange absence of people on the towpath! I soon dried out.

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Click to enlarge.