Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 8 August 2014

Thursday 7 August 2014 – Swettenham, and the Murky Depths of Deepest Cheshire

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For the latest in Notchy’s ‘Deepest Cheshire’ series of evening walks, we convened, just about on time, at the Swettenham Arms, where our leader  confessed to having crocked himself on the recce. “Tricky terrain” he commented.

So he gave me some instructions and legged it back home (insofar as he can ‘leg it’ anywhere these days). That left me and Sue and Richard and Jenny pondering what would happen, as we left The Lavender Meadow, which was lovely in the evening light.

By some sort of fluke we found the prescribed route without too much difficulty as we left the fleshpot – though socialising with the heavily strapped and even more fed up Notchy had delayed our start by 30 minutes, the consequences of which would become apparent later.

Following Notchy's instructions assiduously, we ventured down a country lane and bravely negotiated the River Dane - there would be no way to cross back to 'our' side of the river for several miles...

The footpath was slightly eroded, as we headed west towards Holmes Chapel, with some giant lumps of earth seemingly about to head off towards the river, possibly taking my companions with them.

Jenny gasped in wonder that Notchy had even managed to complete the recce, given the nature of the terrain, which it has to be said was a bit trickier than the norm for ‘Deepest Cheshire’.

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After this eroded bank section the map showed a path going in a straight line. I’d been told an easy mistake would be to follow the river too closely. I did the opposite and managed to give some electrocution lessons whilst negotiating the lively fences installed by the local farmer.

We'd strayed a little from the faint path, but everyone seemed happy enough as we marched on beyond Woodhouse Farm, blinded by the dipping sun. We weren't anywhere near half way along Notchy's route, but nobody seemed bothered, other than ‘mole’ who had retired gracefully by turning turtle when faced with yet another muddy barrier.

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We lost the sun, but we gained the A535 main road, which delivered us safely back onto the correct bank of the river, beside a fine railway viaduct.

After dodging some commuters, a barking donkey and a tuneful tandem, we escaped from the dangers of the verge of the A535 and followed the DVW - Dane Valley Way - all the way back to Swettenham. This wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds, as the path was a bit tricky to follow through the fields in the dark, so we deviated slightly where it wasn't clear; but at least the moon behaved as a good torch (except under tree cover, which was frequent).

I think Jenny may have preferred the road route given the frisky cows, attentive horses with soft noses, honking ducks and muddy declivities. And Sue’s shorts weren’t the best equipment to avoid the nettles and brambles of the ‘open road’ – ie the bits of the path that weren’t in deep wet grass, through fields of sweetcorn, or through troughs of mud.

The moon, and the signposts, did come in handy on their occasional sightings.

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Civilisation, on the edge of Swettenham, greeted us in the form of a large black dog and a recorded message informing us that “Attention – your movements are now being recorded by a security camera”. Some of our group found this a little intimidating, but I suspected it was just one of Notchy’s jokes, so I ignored any danger and carried on.

When others had had been counselled into following, we found a bit of tarmac that led miraculously to St Peter's church, last renovated in 1926, but dating from Norman times.

This was a welcome sight, and my companions were so pleased to have been delivered to mercy from Notchy's muddy adventure into the Murky Depths of Deepest Cheshire, that they bought me a drink! Notchy was of course nowhere to be seen.

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The route we followed wasn't quite the green dashes that were intended, but we gave it our best shot - 9.5 km, 90 metres ascent, in a shade over 2 hours.

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There’s a slideshow – only 17 pictures – here.

Thanks to Notchy for planning this route, albeit not actually accomplishing it on the night. It was considerably entertaining!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Hyde and Godley

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Last night Sue and I enjoyed another summer’s evening outing with SWOG, starting from the Cheshire Ring pub in Hyde. Numbers were down – only 27 tonight – people must be on holiday.

We started off by dashing across the A57 and onto the Peak Forest Canal towpath – a rather muddy section of the Cheshire Ring canal network (but unlike the towpath through Timperley, this one is at least open).

Conditions were lush and warm.

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We left the towpath at Apethorn Lane to stroll along a 2.5 km section of disused railway between Apethorn Lane, Hyde and Green Lane, Godley, managed by The Countryside Service.  This is a section of the Trans Pennine Trail, providing a good path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, even wheelchair users.

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The route of the old railway is green corridor with woodland, scrub and grassland creating a local wildlife haven. In the grasslands flowers like knapweed, teasel, and clovers provide colourful displays and food for insects and birds.

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The original railway was built in 1866 by the Cheshire Lines Committee, primarily as a freight link to Chester and Liverpool, avoiding Manchester. In 1954 the eastern mainline near Godley was electrified and a large turntable had to be built at that end so that engines could be changed. The pit for this turntable is shown below, with Howard either showing particular interest, being sick in the pit, or dropping his glasses. With the closure of the Woodhead route in the 1970's the line became little used and was closed in 1981. It remained disused until the new Trans Pennine section of trail was created in 2000/01.

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After back-tracking a little, Pete and Sue led us through a series of ginnels and into Vincent Park, between Godley and Hyde.

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The name "HYDE" is apparently derived from the hide, a measure of land for taxation purposes, taken to be that area of land necessary to support a peasant family. In later times it was taken to be equivalent to 120 acres .

Anyway, a bit further on we came across this folly, under which some members of the party recalled lighting fires back in their youth.

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The folly isn’t accessible from the front as it’s in the grounds of a day nursery, but I believe it is in fact a castellated pigsty dating from 1767. The handsome structure, built of local stone and still with many of its original features still intact, is apparently one of a pair. I don’t know where the other one is – perhaps at the bottom of Sandra’s garden? But who is Sandra?

All in all, a very interesting route, on ground that other than the canal section I was not familiar. Thanks Pete and Sue.

Here’s the map – 8 km (5 miles), with 50 metres ascent, taking rather less than 2 hours, and adjourning to the excellent Beartown bitter of The Cheshire Ring.

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There’s a ‘Deepest Cheshire’ evening walk on 7 August (today), starting at the Swettenham Arms (SJ 800 672) at 7.30pm. All are welcome, though I can’t guarantee even a fraction of last night’s attendance figures.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Summer in Timperley

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Well, it doesn’t seem like ten days since we landed back at our pristine house that is now strewn with various ‘trip’ debris.

We are often away at this time of year, so the shorts and t-shirt regime whilst at home is very pleasant. It was also nice to say hello to our screeching swifts before they flew off to Africa. Judging by the amount of poo below their nest (on our front doorstep), they seem to have successfully raised another family. Good luck to them on their travels.

We have missed our usual activities – walks, rides, jogging… beside the Bridgewater Canal, having arrived home to find the towpath closed for the two mile stretch between Brooklands and Altrincham. The path is being resurfaced, presumably as part of the Bridgewater Way project, though the Bridgewater Way website hasn’t been updated recently and the ‘Towpath Closed’ signs are singularly uninformative. Hopefully we’ll be able to use the path this coming winter without the need for wellies!

A ride with JJ to Wilmslow for a night of excitement at the Boddington Arms with the Backpackers Club saw us diverted from our usual route by a road closed for bridge demolition (see below), but we found a way round that and enjoyed a pleasant evening amongst throngs of backpackers, albeit most of them non-members.

A visit to Old Trafford cricket ground saw me almost single-handedly applauding Lancashire to victory over Glamorgan by one run in a 20-20 match that should have taken about three hours to complete but because of showery weather took almost two days – perhaps that’s why the stadium was nearly empty, most people having gone home. (My visit was brief – a short tram ride after I heard the match was due to start ‘in a few minutes’, so I got there just in time.)

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A trip to Tatton Park was well timed to avoid traffic chaos due to the demolition of the motorway bridge referred to above (taking with it our ‘back route’ to the airport), and got us to Etruria in plenty of time for a ‘taste of the Mediterranean’ and an afternoon with the Silvermoon Quartet.

To work up an appetite, Sue and I took a stroll around the perimeter of Tatton Park, where the young stags near the beech avenue were contentedly munching in the shade, building up energy for the sparring to come.

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Our route led us into a VW car show. Some were in better condition than others.

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The show was crowded. We’d wandered inadvertently into it without realising people were actually paying to see all the wrecked camper vans etc. We declined the offer to have our hands stamped so that we could re-enter for free, and headed on past a herd of fallow deer and a large area of devastation where the flower show had recently been held. I’m sure it’ll recover quickly.

On the Mere, a large party of scouts was enjoying messing about in boats, the tranquil scene being hampered only by a strong breeze.

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(The scouts hadn’t drowned – they were just out of shot due to the sun direction.)

The ‘perimeter route’ brought us out neatly at Etruria, for a very pleasant afternoon of food and jazz with Richard and Jenny and Jaqui, and of course Hayley and Mike and the rest of the Silvermoon gang. It was nice to encounter drummer Mark and his twins, and his dad Paul, who has been so helpful to Mike over the years. Mike and Mark have a rock band, Kill for Company – guitar and drums only – that generates some interesting sounds – good luck to them.

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The route we took around Tatton Park is shown below, starting from the P&D car park in Knutsford (free on a Sunday but you need to arrive by 11 – 11.30). From the south entrance it follows a new fence by the beech avenue along which walking is now being discouraged. WW2 tank training took place here, some of the bridges for which are still intact. A series of information boards leads to the back of the main car park, and on past the fleshpots of the Hall – refreshments available – then you continue on around the perimeter, past the Old Hall and along the east bank of the Mere. After exiting the Park you can enter Knutsford via a railway bridge, or take a thin (maybe muddy in wet weather) path to the right of the railway.

It’s about 10 km (6 miles) with very little ascent – about a two hour stroll. A very pleasant way to spend a relatively lazy Sunday morning.

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It has been good to catch up with the Adlington quizzers at the Spinners on Tuesday nights, though I have to admit I can be something of a liability to the team, who are continuing to enjoy some beer vouchers won in my absence. Still, we did come near to the top last night, thanks to John and Bev being on good form and Lyn having returned from the Commonwealth Games with all the sporting answers and long tales of her encounters with an assortment of athletes and royalty. If only Stuart knew a bit more about music….