Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 23 October 2015

Wednesday 21 October 2015 – A Stroll around Windermere town

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Wednesday brought a series of pleasurable episodes.

First, a visit to Jose and Hugh at Alpenstock in Stockport. “Fancy a coffee” were their first words as I entered the shop. No wonder that they have again been shortlisted in The Great Outdoors magazine’s retailer of the year category for their 2015 awards.

Anyway, after (not unexpectedly) coming away with rather more than the intended spare poles for our Hilleberg Nallo tent, I moved on to the next pleasurable activity.

German Martin’s EasyJet flight from Berlin was on time. I met Martin in the Pyrenees on my GR11 walk. He is one of a number of GR11 friends who will be congregating in Leyburn next weekend. Here he is in the Pyrenees.

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Martin was on his way to the Lake District to attempt a circular walking tour devised by Jim Reid. There’s a Cicerone guide, and the route is shown below in blue, with some alternatives in green.

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Conrad (aka Sir Hugh), who often comments on these pages, lives en route to Martin’s Windermere destination, so we called in for another most pleasurable hour, during which I gave Martin some maps and tried to brief him, with Conrad’s help, on the route. It was great to meet you again, Conrad, and thank you for the coffee and biscuits.

After that, a short drive to Windermere saw Martin grabbing some last minute provisions and heading off into the hills. Over a day later, his phone was discovered at Conrad’s house. Oops!

I couldn’t visit the Lake District without some sort of a walk, especially as the mizzle appeared to have stopped for a couple of hours. So off I set, aiming for a path that skirts the eastern side of the town and eventually meets the Dales Way path on which an easy descent to Bowness is made.

Don’t make my mistake of heading down Thwaites Lane if you do this walk; continue on the footpath beside the A591 to a footpath on your right.

Whichever way you go, you’ll cross Mill Beck, then gain views across bumpy farmland to School Knott.

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Scout Beck is then crossed, after which I enjoyed a few minutes in the company of a chap who was out for a walk with Meg, a working sheepdog whose frustration at being ‘on holiday’ was starting to show. She wanted to work.

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If the characters below are representative of Meg’s ‘clientele’, then that dog has an easy life!

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Beyond High Cleabarrow the Dales Way route is reached. I turned right here, and headed down to Matson Ground, where mallards and moorhens paddled around in the midst of a family of swans whose crop of six or seven goslings were still appreciating the support of their parents.

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As the path descends inexorably towards Bowness there are plenty of places for weary Dales Way walkers to rest their feet before finishing the 81 mile trek from Ilkley.

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A few hundred metres dogleg to the left takes you to a good viewpoint over the lower reaches of the lake.

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Soon after that, surrounded by a deep dark brown carpet of autumn leaves, is a final resting point before descending to the fleshpots.

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Bowness was fairly quiet on this late afternoon in October, and with dusk approaching the bowling green was deserted. The town was however much busier than I’d found its Pyrenean counterparts to be back in July.

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A stroll along traffic free Longlands Road saw me back in Windermere after 9.5km and about two hours. It was 6pm. There was a chippy. And an unexpected chat with the fryer about long distance walking routes.

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An easy drive home concluded a lovely day out.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

How did that happen?! (Wythenshawe parkrun number 209)

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Last Saturday morning Sue and I turned up for our last parkrun at Wythenshawe until 19 December, when I’ll be disguised as a Christmas tree.

The Sale Harriers running club has developed a habit of celebrating special occasions by way of mass attendance at Wythenshawe. Thus ‘Sarah’s Wedding Party’ pushed attendance above the 300 mark around which it currently hovers.

They all completed the run in a sufficiently composed manner to enable the header photo to be taken. Well done the Harriers.

Meanwhile, conditions were again good for the 5km run, with the muddy passage unusually dry. It also seems to have received a dose of hard core since last week! Fast Andy will be devastated.

Anyway, Sue wandered off with her still sensitive Achilles, to marshal at ‘The Far Bridge’, where she took a few snaps that illustrate the diversity of this weekly free event.

Near the front, the runners really are running. These folk will all get round in under 20 minutes.

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I’ve just been overtaken by an athletic lady, but to my amazement I had been able to keep up with Richard and Matteo for a while. They dragged me to my first ever sub 4 minute kilometre. Thanks folks.

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Here’s Jan, heading for a personal best (PB) despite looking as if he’s about to fling himself into a bed of nettles. Matteo, in the yellow vest, is using the ‘Fast Walk’ technique.

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Pushchairs and dogs accompany quite a few of the runners. It’s hard to keep up with some of them.

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After the buggies come the fun runners, enjoying their gentle Saturday morning jog/chat before settling down in the café to enjoy as much coffee and cake as may be made available from those completing ‘landmark’ (50th, 100th, etc) runs. It’s poor form not to bring celebratory cake on such occasions, which occur most weeks.

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After a short break, the leaders soon come past on their second and final lap. Just visible in the distance (below) is Rob Jowett, on his way to his 6th consecutive finish at the head of the field. Also his 6th consecutive PB – he goes faster every week.

It’s not about winning, though, as parkrun is NOT a race, though ‘Fast Andy’ is as hot on the heels of Rob as any old timer could expect to be. There’s also an ‘age related’ result. Age grading takes a runner’s time and uses the world record time for their sex and age to produce a percentage score (world record as a percentage of the runner’s time). ‘Fast Andy’ came second on both counts this week. It just wasn’t his day! But he did manage an age related percentage of over 80%, a figure that Rob Jowett can only dream about. In 209 events, only 25 of the 4738 people who have admitted to taking part in Wthenshawe’s parkrun have achieved this feat.

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Sarah’s wedding party eventually plodded through. The Sale Harriers treat the parkrun in the right spirit, saving their energy for proper races.

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Mark Sydall, known affectionately as ‘Syd’ is another character who probably derives as much pleasure from the parkrun as whoever comes in first. He’s one of a breed of ‘slower’ participants for whom parkrun has provided an opportunity to improve their fitness by expending a few calories before settling down to cake and coffee in the café.

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And the reason for the ‘How did that happen?’ headline…

This was my 80th run at Wythenshawe. My PB of 21.33 was set 66 runs earlier in perfect conditions in August 2012. So at my advanced age I would never get below that. Would I?

So where did 21.04 come from, and the landmark age related percentage above 80%?

Strange things can happen…

(To put this into perspective, I was overtaken on the second lap by an even more elderly gentleman, a proper runner unlike me, whose pace I couldn’t match.)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Thursday 15 October 2015 – Around Dunham

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We enjoyed a good turnout for last Thursday’s evening walk, when Paul and Jeanette joined me and Sue, as well as Andrew, for a stroll around the environs of Altrincham. At one point P + J introduced us to the Devisdale Lizard; though it was hidden in a dark copse, they managed to go straight to it.

Torches weren’t needed earlier, as the sun was available….

The walk started from The Swan with Two Nicks in Lower Bollington, from where it’s a pleasant wander into the grounds of Dunham Massey.

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After passing the hall we bore right, to the south of Smithy Pool, soon passing a building where the fallow deer take shelter.

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After crossing Charcoal Road we wandered onto the golf course. It was dark, so golf balls weren’t a risk. Chester Road was our next obstacle, leading to Denzell Gardens, which despite being open, on this occasion we circumnavigated en route to Devisdale.

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Devisdale is effectively a ‘green belt’ of Altrincham. A lovely enclosed meadow.

The route then returns through the golf course, on the far perimeter of which a right turn leads to Oldfield Lane and an enclosed path to Dunham Town.

Dunham Town is home to St Mark’s church, and the excellent Axe and Cleaver hostelry.

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We decided to adjourn to the Swan rather than the Axe, so headed up the lane to the Bridgewater Canal and a short towpath meander to the start of our walk and another glass of beer at the Swan.

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The recent dry weather means that the towpath is perfectly dry at present. A temporary situation until the winter rains turn it to mud. But up to the Bay Malton, beyond Broadheath, the Bridgewater Way towpath renewal initiative now provides an all year round dry surface all the way from the Bay Malton to both the Barton swing bridge and the centre of Manchester. Hopefully the work will soon continue in the direction of Lymm.

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Here’s our route – one of many alternatives – 8km with minimal ascent. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours.

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