Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 17 October 2014

Thursday 16 October 2014 – Bury to Holcombe Brook

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Back to the on-line diary. I’m regretting having attempted the last posting. It was a mistake on my part.

Today Sue and I had the pleasure of a morning walk with some of East Lancs LDWA’s jovial ‘Plodders’. A dull day until lunchtime, apart from the company, and by the time the sun came out we were on our way home. Never mind.

Luckily, the tram from Timperley to Bury didn’t on this occasion veer off in the direction of Rochdale, though the driver did look a bit nervous as we passed the turning to Monsall.

Our Metrolink rendezvous at the Bury terminus went smoothly, and six of us set off through Bury and across the River Irwell to Higher Woodhill Road, which leads to Burrs Country Park.

Shortly before the park, on the left, is Calrows Farmhouse.

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It’s a building ‘listed’ for its special architectural or historic interest, and the English Heritage website describes the building here.

It describes architectural features, including the date moulding on a carved panel - "Standley/P/LM/1710/Derby" – but it’s reckoned to be older than 1710 in part (and later in other parts). C17 coins are said to have been found under the floor of the house.

We continued into the park, pausing for a shortbread fuelled cuppa and the traditional group picture (above), as well as a framed photo.

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The park covers quite a large area, the mill chimney being visible from some way off.

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School kids were enjoying playing with kayaks on the warm day, and we passed this giant plumber trap. We watched aghast as Reg flicked the control that sent the plumber spiralling into the sky, finally plummeting head first down the mill chimney, never to be seen again. (Not on this walk anyway, though he probably did escape.)

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By now we were on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. There is a series of information boards on the various industrial artefacts in the Country Park, and on some of the seventy or so sculptures, such as the 1997 sculpture by Julie Edwards, ‘Stone Cycle’, comprising a series of large stones recycled from a dismantled bridge in Bury.

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After bimbling around the Country Park for some time, we eventually moved on along the banks of the Irwell to this dramatic weir that the children use for honing their kayaking skills. Someone related the tale of how they watched some poor youth get the nose of her kayak stuck at the bottom of the weir, leaving her in a cold shower for a few minutes whilst a teacher tried to free the stricken vessel.

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Beyond the weir, the path carries on pleasantly beside the river before sidling under a railway bridge and climbing gently to Bank Top Farm. The farm looks more like an ornamental garden than a working farm, although some sheep were in evidence. There’s a pond with more sculptures, a moorhen rooting through the undergrowth, and a black stag peering through the hedge at some herons.

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High above the river and railway, the path weaves beside fields and through woodland to emerge at Summerseat’s cricket pitch, where David used to heave a lump of willow (I think that’s what he said, anyway). The empty bench confirms the lack of ‘play’, but the autumn colours are coming into ‘play’ hereabouts.

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Beyond Brooksbottoms an ancient cobbled way leads up to a left turn, where the railway enters a tunnel and the good path to Ramsbottom leads on by way of a continuation of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which actually goes all the way from Salford Quays to Bacup and could be utilised for a series of short walks along an excellent route. Or even for an energetic 33 miles in a day blast!

But we turned left, through the greenery of Woodhey’s woods.

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After a while a footbridge was reached. I crossed this by mistake the last time I was here, but today the correct turn to the right was made, up beside the left bank of Holcombe Brook, past man made weirs and knobbly trees in an area that must once have been filled with mills for the cotton industry.

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Our rendezvous with Christine and Maureen in the Hare & Hounds at Holcombe Brook was thwarted by a refurbishment project. I should have checked their Facebook page before setting off! So the two wives had to slum it on the pavement outside the pub whilst waiting for us to appear from our leisurely plod.

The pub re-opens with a beer festival on 23 October. We couldn’t wait that long, so we all trooped off to nearby Summerseat Garden Centre for an excellent, if non-alcoholic, lunch.

This was a delightful stroll, in the best of company, along a very pleasant route. Thanks to everyone for turning up, and it was great that Christine and Maureen could join us for lunch (not a common scenario for an LDWA outing).

We walked just under 9 km (5.5 miles), with a modest 150 metres of ascent, taking less than two and a half hours. Excellent!

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Thanks to Peter and Christine for the lift back to Radcliffe Metro station, and I trust everyone else got home safely, satisfactorily refreshed, and far from exhausted.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Postcard from Timperley shortlisted for The Great Outdoors ‘Outdoor Blogger of the Year’ Award

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I’ve attended the last couple of award ceremonies, representing the Bridge of Gaur Guest House near Rannoch, and Alpenstock – my local gear supplier. I’d nominated both of them, but this year the nomination period passed me by and with neither of those fine establishments being shortlisted I didn’t expect to be involved in any way.

Nevertheless, I’m on a TGO mailing list and recently clicked the link to cast my votes. I was somewhat surprised to see my own blog listed in a new category for this year. Thanks go to whoever nominated me – I feel honoured to be shortlisted, though I’m not sure whether many folk will recognise ‘Postcard from Timperley’ from the code name above.

‘Postcard from Timperley’ thus gained an unexpected seventh birthday present. It’s really an on-line diary, not exclusively an ‘Outdoors’ blog, but out of over 2000 posts to date nearly half to have the ‘Walks’ label, and ‘Bike rides’ and ‘Skiing’ account for quite a few more. The original purpose was to keep in touch with friends and family whilst on a trip to New Zealand in early 2008. Sue and I enjoyed doing that, and I decided to continue with it until I got fed up. I still enjoy it, albeit I feel some entries are becoming a little repetitive.

Highlights, in my opinion, are entries such as the ‘Italian Border Route’ – a 58 day backpacking trip to the Alps, and various TGO Challenges including this well indexed record of our 2009 Challenge. More recently I’ve failed in my bid to properly index trip reports, and I apologise for that – some housekeeping is required. Perhaps starting with this summer’s trip to the Dolomites, and continuing with last year’s Pyrenean Adventure, which with Humphrey Weightman’s assistance was converted into a book with very little editing.

I am familiar with three of the other shortlisted blogs, and have now had a quick look at the others. Here’s my take on them, albeit very superficial.

Alan Sloman’s big walk – I’m a long-term follower of Alan, who writes with passion, originally about a Lands End to John O’Groats walk in 2007 and subsequently concentrating on TGO Challenge walks and Alan’s impassioned opposition to wind farms.

Alastair Humphreys – a new one to me, Alastair is a professional adventurer, author and motivational speaker who has written around 1500 postings since 2001.

Backpacking Bongos – James Boulter’s blog records a wide range of wilderness trips alone, in his campervan, or with his dog. I’ve followed James for a while and enjoy his postings.

Dean Read – another new one for me, Dean appears to be based in the Peak District and his activities include blog postings starting in 2006. He uses video clips and is a keen mountain biker and photographer.

Keith Foskett – a professional long-distance walker, writer and blogger. You expect ‘Postcard from Timperley’ to compete with this?

Terry Abraham – a film maker who posts blog entries as he goes about his film making activities. I have his excellent ‘Cairngorms in Winter’ film made with Chris Townsend. Terry has recently released another film – ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike’ to similar acclaim, and he has just finished another film ‘Backpacking in the Lake District with Chris Townsend’ that will no doubt receive similar accolades.

The Girl Outdoors - a blog edited by Sian Anna Lewis ‘a journalist obsessed with adventure’. I notice that one of her recent postings is an interview with Alastair Humphreys, who seems to be popping up everywhere as I compose this entry.

Tony Hobbs - has only made two blog postings this year, though I understand he also posts videos elsewhere, and these may be the reason for his shortlisting.

Two Blondes Walking is an engaging record of two anonymous blondes’ antics with the wildlife of Dartmoor, Duke of Edinburgh Award children, and life in general. It’s new to me, but I’ll now be following these blondes’ short, often quirky, daily postings.

Leaving Tony Hobbs aside, I note that I’m the only person on the shortlist who doesn’t ‘Twitter’ (I have no plans to do that). Some of the blogs include advertisements that I find distracting, but that shouldn’t affect one’s overall opinion of them. Very few of those shortlisted attempt to keep their on-line records of their trips up to date on a daily basis whilst on those trips. That’s left to amateurs like me, Conrad and Gayle. It can be quite hard, but not ‘work’!

I note that four of those shortlisted, (Alastair, Keith, Terry and Tony) have also been shortlisted as ‘Outdoor Personality of the Year’ and Alastair has a third throw of the dice as one of his books has been shortlisted in the ‘Outdoor Book of the Year’ category.

It’s a small world…

I’ll let you know who wins in due course.

Thanks for reading my postings, especially during my/our longer trips when the interaction with commenters is appreciated, whether or not you choose to vote for the ‘Postcard’.

Note: following some comments and emails concerning my take on advertising on some of the shortlisted blogs, and having been accused of “trying to bash your opposition”, I have amended the above text to exclude some observations regarding advertising, and I’ve replaced the offending comments (below) with what I hope is something conciliatory. I certainly have no intention of “bashing” anyone – I just wanted to provide a brief overview with links to those shortlisted. In fact I’ve tried to be appreciative of all the blogs, so far as I can be, so I apologise to anyone who has misinterpreted my observations.

Result: Here's my take on this by way of the replication of a comment made on Alan Sloman's blog, see also here and here - I think TGO magazine's readers have come up with a strange result...

"Martin Banfield here. I've been away. In Wales. On a walking trip. I've written about it, as usual in a rather basic way on a mobile phone whilst trying to be sociable at the same time. It's my on-line diary. Dean Read and many others will relate to this, but won't necessarily be inclined to read it. It's for friends and family and anyone else who may be interested. It's not controversial. My 89 year old mother is the target audience. 

I was shortlisted for the Outdoor Blogger Award. I felt surprised and honoured. Until I spotted that it was a website that my wife and I use to notify friends of planned trips that had been shortlisted, not our blog. I was able to get TGO magazine to change the web address to correct the error, but the name by which the blog is recognised - 'Postcard from Timperley' was never revealed to voters. 

I was curious about the other shortlisted blogs. I wrote a short piece, providing links:


I mentioned that for me, advertising detracted from the content of some of the blogs. James Boulter's 'Backpackingbongos' blog was perhaps unfairly mentioned as it was the first on the list of 'offenders'. (The advertising on his blog is minimal and shouldn't really have deterred anyone from voting.) The cause of using outdoors blogs for advertising purposes was then taken up by Sian Anna Lewis in an exchange of comments including some, supportive of my stance, by Alan R. After being accused of trying to 'bash' the other shortlisted bloggers, I (for the first time in seven years of blogging) removed some of the comments and concluded an acrimonious series of emails with Ms Lewis, who emphasised that she encouraged advertising on her blog - a bit of an anathema to me. I've now looked a bit more deeply into her blogging efforts. To me, a blogger with an interest in the outdoors (mine is an on-line diary not exclusive to 'the outdoors'), Ms Lewis's so called 'Outdoors' blog is a bit like turning on BBC Countryfile and getting a shopping channel. 

Anyway, the exchange with Ms Lewis led me to conclude that this was not for me, so whilst I had already put a voting button in my sidebar, I left it at that and didn't mention the shortlisting again, even to friends and family. I expected Alan, Alastair, James, or Terry to receive the award, all their efforts being, in my view, worthy of such. Imagine my amazement when I discovered the results of the voting. The winner of the 'Outdoors Blogger' award appears to me to be a different genre to most of the other shortlisted blogs. 

That's enough. I've just lost nearly half an hour of my life..."

PS Here's some entertainment from Old Mortality - makes me feel much better!

PPS Keith Foskett has made some valid observations here. Well done to him on coming third. I should have included his name in the penultimate green paragraph.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Sunday 12 October 2014 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon

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Yes, it’s that time of year. The picture above shows Paul, Robert and Greg after the finish, and here’s Robert at the start, a foggy 50 metres down the road from Paul, Greg and me.

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Here are Paul and Greg, first timers on this event – starting with me from right at the back of the 320 strong field. Everyone was very jolly at this end of the field.

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We left Robert to shoot off and finish in under 3 hours, whilst the rest of us took it easy. We had to at the start, as 320 people don’t fit very well onto the narrow lanes, especially when there’s a pile-up going up a steep hill because of so many people dismounting to push.

The field slowly spread out, and I was able to enjoy the fast descent to Mytholmroyd – it’s a bit technical but much easier than in the past – with lots of slower descenders allowing me to pass them.

Soon after that descent, the first checkpoint is reached, near Hebden Bridge, and here Greg is faced with the dilemma of choosing between a drink (from the left) or cake (from the right). I think he managed both, but narrowly avoided causing another pile up!

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The conditions were dry, and once the fog had lifted it was sunny. Some time before this checkpoint at Grain Water Bridge, Greg’s exertions from the previous day caught up with him, slowing our progress from here. But not to worry, it was a lovely day to be out on the bikes.

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The support was immaculate, as ever, even down to a first aider running up onto Midgley Moor to help a stricken participant. Paul had been just behind him when he fell – so he copped the job of looking after the guy until he’d recovered sufficiently to carry on.

Meanwhile I’d enjoyed the moor in easier conditions than usual and waited at a hairpin bend (pictured below) for Paul, who had been waiting higher up for Greg, who apparently took a few dives himself. They turned up after about 15 minutes, and we managed to get to the end without any further incidents (no cramp for me for a change, probably thanks to the break). We even managed to cycle all the way up the steep final hill without dismounting, encouraged by Robert, who having finished nearly an hour ahead of us, had come back down the hill to Luddenden Foot to meet us.

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Having reached the finish, Greg relaxed immediately into what I’ll describe as a ‘Lazy Moment’.

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He soon recovered whilst the rest of us went off to stash the bikes, before enjoying a beer in the sun outside the Church Stile Inn. Here we are before that, after enjoying tea and chilli kindly provided by the organisers, and having collected our t-shirts and certificates.

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The support is amazing for the modest entry fee of £15, especially as it’s a fund raising event for a local scout group. A big vote of thanks to the organisers.

Here’s the route - 42.5 km (27 miles), 1000 metres ascent, 2-6 hours. (We took rather less than 4 hours, with Robert an hour ahead of us.)

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This is the seventh time I’ve cycled in this event since starting ‘Postcard from Timperley’, hence the fairly brief report.

The other reports can be found here, the route description and results summary are here, and there’s a slideshow here (click on the first image and then click ‘slideshow’), mainly pictures of folk who would have finished in three and a half to four hours, descending from Midgley Moor at the point where I was waiting for Paul and Greg.

The CMBM website is here, with this year’s results here. I’ve just put 11 October 2015 in the diary…