Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Saturday 16 April 2016 - Manacor to Arta and back

Here are a few snaps from today, starting with a picture in Puerto Pollença as we walked round turned Rentmarch to collect my bike.

We had lovely weather for this 62km round trip on the bikes, starting from the forecourt of a tractor retailer.

The morning was spent on minor roads, the afternoon on an old railway line that operated from 1921 to 1977 and was reopened as a recreational route in 2014.

Lunch in a great shady courtyard in Arta, wasn't that great. Ordering a French dish, tartiflette, in Spain was a mistake.

On the way back we broke our journey in Sant Llorenç, where afternoon tea / coffee and ice cream was much appreciated. The wind was against us all afternoon, so although the disused track was flat, cycling was quite hard work.

We were on the ride for about seven hours, of which just over half the time was spent actually in the saddle. But with an hour's journey to and from the start, it made for quite a long day.

Time for a pizza...

Friday, 15 April 2016

Friday 15 April 2016 - Hiking and Cycling in the Sunshine

Well, not today perhaps, but after leaving home this morning at just before 7am, I was able to rendezvous with Robert and Lyn in the sunshine outside their apartment soon after 3pm Spanish time. Sue's taxi, Jet2 and the local bus company all worked fine. The couple next to me on the plane were enjoying their proseco; one of them works at what I used to know as Hammond Suddards (lawyers) and I was saddened to learn of the death last week of one of their (sparring) partners, Duncan Haymes - a good man who will be much missed.

L and R had enjoyed just a short ride today - a longer one is planned for tomorrow. 

Must go - it's beer o'clock and the sun continues to shine. ..

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Few Days with Jacob

Jacob has been to visit us for a few days whilst his mum and dad were out at work. We didn’t do anything overwhelmingly exciting, leaving the lad to choose his own activities.

Red House Farm was Monday’s venue. It’s only a few minutes away by car.

1101jacob1

The slide dumped Jacob onto a dirty mat. Over and over again.

1103jacob3

Digging was hard work.

1105jacob5

A house was built…

1107jacob7

… and demolished.

1110jacob10

Swings were swung.

1115jacob151116jacob16

Then we went home.

On Tuesday it rained. So we went for a bike ride to Walton Park (just a short way along the canal towpath).

The park was deserted apart from us.

1201jacob1

Then we went home and played with granddad's trains.

1205jacob5

On Wednesday a play centre was visited whilst granddad attended to urgent business, then we all cycled back to the park. It was a fine day. The park was full of people.

1302jacob2

Jacob and granddad enjoyed ice creams.

1303jacob3

Part of Jacob’s homework was to spot certain things – like a bird, a nest, a leaf, a bud, a seedling, a flower, an insect, and more. We found them all except for one elusive item – a squirrel.

Then we found lots of squirrels by the miniature railway line.

1307squirrel2

After a roast dinner, featuring unexpectedly spicy parsnips, Jacob went home to his mum and dad and little sister, who was delighted to see him.

jessica

(Picture from Catchlight Portraits, Bury.)

It was lovely to have you to stay with us, Jacob. We hope you enjoyed your visit and we look forward to having you to stay again soon.

Sunday 10 April 2016 – Shutlingsloe

1016wood2

In order to loosen up after the previous day’s exertions, Ken and I headed out, joined by Sue, to Trentabank for a stroll around Macclesfield Forest.

Readers familiar with our habits won’t be surprised to discover that we headed up through the forest towards Shutlingsloe.

1001MaccF1

Looking back from the Nessit Hill path, it’s clear that significant amounts of woodland have recently been felled, giving good views across the valley to Tegg’s Nose.

1004MaccF4

Soon we left the forest and headed along the slabbed path towards our objective.

1005Shut1

At 506 metres, the distinctive summit of Shutlingsloe isn’t the highest in the area – that honour goes to nearby Shining Tor – but it does sport fine views both into the Peak District and out over the Cheshire plain to North Wales.

1008Shutsummit

We descended via the boggy path alongside Buxtors Hill, with good views down to Trentabank and Ridgegate Reservoirs.

1012view

After crossing the minor road through the forest, where tea and chocolate provided an excuse for a rest, we headed on to Forest Chapel and up Charity Lane, a mildly technical descent for mountain bikers.

The path soon turns left off the lane and passes through my favourite tranche of woodland. I hope they don’t fell these trees any time soon!

1015wood1

It was all downhill from here, to reach the Leathers Smithy in time for lunch, then a very short stroll back to the car, parked just beyond the end of Ridgegate Reservoir. The wardens were busy booking cars that weren’t parked within the newly marked parking bays that are necessary to avoid traffic gridlock. (£70 penalty – you’ve been warned.)

Here’s our route – 11 km with 350 metres ascent, taking 2.5 hours plus stops. An excellent short outing.

1099route

Saturday 9 April 2016 – The Calderdale Hike

0909byHangingRocks

This was the twelfth time I’d taken part in the Calderdale Hike since 1997, when after an anterior cruciate ligament replacement I decided against my previous (1968 to 1995) 55 mile efforts completing the Manchester Rag Walk – Bogle Stroll, in favour of shorter and more scenic routes in the South Pennines around Calderdale. It’s a fund raising event (by way of the entry fee - £18 this year) for a local scout group. The organisers change the route every three years or so. There's a long route of about 37 miles and a shorter one of 26 or 27 miles. Over the years I've generally walked with Robert, of whom more next week. He decided not to join me this year.

Last year Ken was over from Canada and we entered as runners on the short course. My report on a successful 'run' (though we walked most of the way) is here. This year Ken decided to run the long route whilst I walked the short route. Walkers are not allowed to run. Despite starting an hour later than me and covering an extra 11 miles, Ken shouldn't finish very long after me. That was the theory.

So we went along in one car, in plenty of time for the kit check before my 8 o'clock start. Participants are required to take the following:

(a) Appropriate & adequate footwear, clothing and waterproofs

(b) 1:25000 Leisure Map "The South Pennines"

(c) Compass (which they must be able to use)

(d) Mobile Phone

(e) Whistle

(f) Survival Bag - NOT A SPACE BLANKET

(g) A personal mug must be carried

That all fits conveniently into a bum bag, if like me you carry no food or water other than the small bar of Kendal mint cake handed out at the start. There are plenty of support / checkpoints so a mug is all that is needed.

There’s a sharp contrast between the garb of these walkers and that of the runners I’ve set off with the past couple of years.

0901start10902start2

About 50 short course walkers set off, after being warned about a landslide on the track to Erringden Grange that had officially 'blocked' the route. However, unofficially we were advised to 'use your own judgement’.

Three different routes were taken down the first hill, with me being the only walker to follow the route across a couple of fields and down the road taken by last year's runners.

We all converged to head up a very steep and slithery slope to the first checkpoint. The walkers gradually spread out as we continued to the third checkpoint at Ryburn Reservoir, which was disgorging a fair amount of water.

0903byRyburnRes

A team of four, plus a lone walker, forged ahead, with about seven of us strolling along a little more slowly ahead of the rest of the field.

0904ascent

It was a lovely morning, cool enough to walk quickly without overheating, and lacking last year’s bitter northerly breeze. I occasionally pulled out the camera, the next three pictures being taken from the same place on Rishworth Moor, between Ryburn and Green Withens Reservoirs.

0905BlackwoodEdge10906BlackwoodEdge20907BlackwoodEdge3

Runners started to pass us after about 15km/ two and a half hours. Lots came past between the Green Withens and White House checkpoints. I was expecting to see Ken but there was, worryingly, no sign of him.

There were several points where my route - basically the one I took last year, downloaded to my phone - was clearly not the quickest or shortest way. It was the scenic route, and given recent rain, a rather wet one under foot. I paused to admire the outflow from Green Withens Reservoir after a rather boggy section.

0908Withens

At this point I was with Lee (last year’s fastest walker), and Tim. They are pictured at the head of this posting heading along the track to the south of Green Withens. They are strong walkers, Lee and Tim, with whom I am pictured below shortly after the Green Withens Reservoir checkpoint. Thanks go to a pro photographer for providing the picture via Tim, and also for taking care of my empty banana.

0910LeeTim

Lee and Tim took the faster road route to the Windy Hill checkpoint – beside the mast in the picture below.

0911bridge1

Meanwhile, I stayed with a couple of others to cross the M62 footbridge via a deep bog and a steep climb. On the bridge we met a jovial team of four who remained a few minutes ahead of me throughout the event, eventually gaining the team award for the second year running. Just one person finished ahead of them.

0912team1

From Windy Hill the route heads north along the Pennine Way for about 10km. A slabbed path leads first to the gnarly summit of Blackstone Edge. As last year, there were good views from here.

0913blackstoneedge1

Looking ahead, I was catching up with Lee as we negotiated the bouldery path interspersed with bogs.

0914Blackstoneedge2

Lee was finding it hard going at this point, although he took a tussocky direct route to the White House checkpoint. Slower than my curvier route along good paths, and I didn’t see him again until the end of the walk. He had gone over and damaged an ankle, which later swelled up annoyingly for him. Ahead of us, the team of four was just in sight, with a lone walker just visible beyond them.

At  the White House checkpoint the long route leaves the short route for an extra eleven miles or so (depending upon the route chosen between the checkpoints). This didn’t confuse the Polka Dot team, who breezed through the checkpoint and off down the road towards Littleborough.

0916whitehouse2

After a few minutes break and a couple of welcome tuna sandwiches I set off up to Blackstone Edge Reservoir in the company of a couple of walking runners. “Which way?” they asked. “The short route goes up to the reservoir then left along the Pennine Way” I offered. And off they went. After a while I met them coming the other way. “We forgot” they said, “we are supposed to be doing the long route!”

Tim and Barry (the latter had been walking at just about my pace but had taken some quicker routes than me) were about 300 metres ahead of me as I strode along the Pennine Way past Blackstone Edge Reservoir, Head Drain, Light Hazzles Reservoir and Warland Reservoir (pictured below).

0917WarlandRes

Whilst the others, who I seemed to be catching very slowly, headed right along the Pennine Way beside Warland Drain, I took the route that I’d fumbled with last year, heading north across Langfield Common to reach the next checkpoint at Lumbutts Church. Plenty of food and drink there to keep me occupied for a while. Just as I set off from the checkpoint, Barry and Tim turned up. Both made a very quick pause and were now just behind me. Tim caught up and we chatted for a while until he fell back a bit whilst I continued with a runner – until the chap ran off into the distance…

It was easy going to the next checkpoint at Erringden Grange, from where I took a convoluted, boggy and intricately steep at times, if basically direct, route to Nab End, where I met a fast runner who reckoned he was in third position on the long route. He was the only participant I saw between Erringden and the end of the walk at Sowerby Cricket Club, where I was greeted by these three stalwarts of the local scouts’ fundraising team.

0918control

Barry soon wandered over to say hello. He had taken a quicker route, mainly by minor roads, from Erringden to Nab End and finished four minutes ahead of me. Not a surprise, as my pace had dropped from 10 minute kilometres to 15 minute kilometres for a while as I had yomped over the steep, rough ground towards Nab End. He had thereby managed to retain the trophy awarded to the fastest walker over 50 years old. He won it last year as well. I pointed out my name on it next to dates of 1999, 2002 and 2009. Barry, who is older than me, did well, especially with his route planning, though I’m quite happy with my arguably more scenic version with less road walking. Here he is, on the right in the picture, showing well earned delight in taking possession of The Heggars Trophy for another year.

0919barry

I’d finished in a very satisfactory 7 hours, so I now had to wait for Ken to finish running the long route. He had started an hour after me but I reckoned I shouldn’t have too long to wait as despite having to cover an extra eleven miles, he was running.

Or was he?

I chatted to Barry and various others for a while, then when they left I became ensconced with Tim and Lee, and the third of their trio, Howard, who had finished at a slightly more sedate pace and looked fresher than anyone. Luckily, they were enjoying a couple of long beers and before I knew it both the Grand National and 6.30 pm had come and gone and it was several hours since the Polka Dot team had collected their award for being the fastest running team of four on the long route.

0920teamwinners

I’d finished at 3 o’clock. Where was Ken?

Eventually a call came in – “Timed out at Erringden Grange, back soon” was the message. Just as well, I thought, as he would be finishing close to 9pm in the dark if he continued. So the broom wagon brought him in around 7pm and we got away by soon after 7.30. Tim, Lee and Howard got a taxi home at the same time, so that timing was fine, though next year I may choose to walk the long route in order to reduce the waiting time at the end!

Here’s the route I took – about 42 km with 1300 metres of ascent, taking exactly 7 hours.

0999route

(Click for a larger image)

Ken’s route was somewhat longer, especially as it appears he may have wandered off course from time to time! Erringden Grange, where he was timed out, is the checkpoint marked at the very top of the map.

The results aren’t up yet, but at some point they should be available from the drop down menu here.

Previous blog reports on this walk:
2015
2014
2012
2011
2009

All in all a very enjoyable day, both on the walk and afterwards in the club house.