Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sunday 5 June 2016 – Happy Days at Dunham Massey

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Fresh from a nearly starring appearance on BBC’s quiz show ‘For What It’s Worth’, Kate turned up with Jessica for a short trip to Dunham Massey. On a lovely sunny morning we encountered huge queues for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic when we left after coffees in the old café.

Here are just a few snaps to keep Jessica’s Great Grandma Dot happy:

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Saturday 4 June 2016 – The Mary Towneley Loop

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Previously:

22 June 2012 - A Nice Day For A Bike Ride - The Mary Towneley Loop

28 April 2014 – The Mary Towneley Loop

A few weeks ago Andy and I were chatting during Wythenshawe’s parkrun. It transpired that we had both cycled the Mary Towneley Loop before and we fancied doing that again. But only in fair weather.

The allotted day duly arrived. Robert, always up for a day out on his bike, joined us at 7.30 am at Waterfoot in perfect weather – overcast, not too hot.

Having previously ridden in a clockwise direction, today we chose to go anti-clockwise, starting with a long push to the top of Cowpe Moss. The reward was a fast, long descent down Rooley Moor to bring us back up to ten hour pace, which we maintained for the first half of the ride.

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Beyond Broadley the path rises to a golf course, then jinks past Brown Wardle Hill and heads pleasantly down to Watergrove Reservoir. Here we were distracted by people in bright yellow jackets and we missed the Pennine Bridleway turn that the Mary Towneley Loop assiduously follows. We’d been distracted by a group of parkrunners, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It was Watergrove parkrun’s second anniversary. We lingered whilst lots of awards were made.

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After that it was a lovely sweeping descent, followed by some minor undulations, to reach Lock 33 at Bottomley, on the Rochdale Canal, just in time for elevenses.

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Even though we were refreshed, the steep cobbles above Walsden drew some sharp intakes of breath and a little pushing.

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Back on a more level track, we had lovely views on the now sunny day, over buttercup meadows to Todmorden.

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Just around the corner, the familiar sight of Stoodley Pike Monument came into view. Thankfully we wouldn’t need to go up to it today, and this path took us smoothly round to Lumbutts.

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It was a little early for a pub stop at Lumbutts so we continued on beyond Mankinholes, rising slowly to Erringden Moor. The descent to the Rochdale Canal at Charlestown should have been straightforward, but we missed a turn, spotted another turn, and walked up a hill, at the top of which my rear tyre punctured.

Whilst replacing the inner tube we encountered a small group we’d met near the start. They were riding the MTL in a clockwise direction. We also met a couple who were doing it in two days in the same direction as us. They went down the hill we’d just walked up, and the ‘clockwise’ group headed off towards Stoodley Pike. Somehow we had contrived to reverse our direction, so we headed back down the hill, eventually reaching the Rochdale Canal.

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We had plenty of provisions, and the towpath was closed, so we decided not to venture off route to the fleshpots of Hebden Bridge, instead climbing steeply out of the valley towards Blackshaw Head. We met a ‘clockwise’ Australian, enjoying a long day out on his bike. As it turned out, we went a bit too close to Blackshaw Head, as we missed the bridleway to Jack Bridge. This time we were soon back on track, but the attractions of the New Delight made us succumb to another minor diversion. We enjoyed refreshments and a spot of lunch with the couple who were riding the route over two days.

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We then headed on towards the Gorple Reservoirs. The route undulates here, with a steep bit of tarmac reminding me of the fastest section of the clockwise route. We caught the two day couple just as I got my second puncture. The couple had seen a Little Owl beside the path, as well as other interesting wildlife.

There is merit in spending two days over this route.

Andy kindly repaired the punctured tube (which was brand new when installed earlier) whilst I wrestled with my second spare inner tube. Luckily, that lasted for the rest of the day – but I think I need a new rear tyre.

Meanwhile, at the Lower Gorple Reservoir an eight strong group from the Manchester Mountain Bikers Club, of which I’m a member, came storming through just as Robert’s bike suffered a puncture. So we had a quick chat and off the others went. They had started an hour later than us, and they finished half an hour before us, so I’m glad I didn’t enrol in their group as my fitness isn’t up to their required standard for this ride. They did really well.

It was another long, hot pull (push) up to the Gorple Gate track, before a splendid descent to Hurstwood and Cant Clough Reservoirs, and on to cross a stream at Shedden Heys. A family of sunbathers had positioned themselves perfectly to enjoy to antics of mountain bikers with wet feet. The water was quite deep. Robert and Andy walked over the stepping stones. Wimps.

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It’s another hefty pull with the occasional ‘dab’ (or in our cases ‘push’) up to The Long Causeway, where we gave up the MTL on our first clockwise attempt in 2012. From the Causeway and its wind farm it’s a great descent into Holme Chapel, beyond which the route climbs steeply past Cow Side to reach the memorial to Mary Towneley, whose sterling efforts were largely responsible for the superb ‘Pennine Bridleway’ network of tracks.

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That grassy ascent past Cow Side was the last of the steep grinds, and the final hour and a quarter of the ride was spent pleasantly making our way back to Waterfoot on good tracks with a few entertaining downhill adventures.

It was 7.20 by the time we got back to the cars, so the trip took 11 hours 40 minutes, about 50 minutes longer than last time. Three punctures, a pub stop, and a few extra kilometres due to navigational mishaps are probably the reason for the slower time. As last time, I wasn’t bike fit and I held up the others from time to time, but never mind, it was a great day out.

Here’s the route – on this occasion we did about 76 km, with around 2300 metres of ascent according to Anquet (some trackers may show a bit more distance and a bit less ascent, but hey – it doesn’t matter, it’s a great day out).

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There’s a link here to a slideshow including some of Robert’s images, which can be seen in full here. Andy also has some photos and I’ll insert a link if he gives me one.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Thursday 2 June 2016 – An Evening Walk around Mobberley

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Andrew’s ‘Deepest Cheshire’ walk from The Church Inn in Mobberley turned out to be rather more popular than my Peak District ‘walk’ the previous day. Despite Jenny’s absence, five regulars turned up, plus Andy, Andrew and Jan – a most welcome contingent of escapees from Wythenshawe parkrun.

Across the road from the posh people in their award winning pub and its ‘dog beer’, is the actual church where there’s a window in memory of George Leigh Mallory who died on Mount Everest in 1924. The church has had a long connection with the Mallory family and there are numerous windows and memorial plaques to the family.

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Bridget lives nearby, so she was able to assist in navigating us around the 8 km circuit chosen by Andrew, who was slightly jet-lagged after having returned from holiday a few hours earlier.

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Some fields were full of buttercups (this makes a change from cotton grass and daisies), others were simply full of lush grass.

It was a lovely warm evening.

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‘Deepest Cheshire’ is the title of this series of walks, and today Andrew achieved this by plotting two crossings of both Mobberley Brook and (shown below) Pedley Brook, involving calf burning ascents that brought our tally of metres for the evening to approximately 83 (that’s 27 Fitbit floors).

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‘Deepest Cheshire’ also involves passages of deep grassland in an area full of field paths that aren’t necessarily seen as such by some of the farmers, whose crops take precedence.

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These cows decided on ‘mob’ tactics, following the other seven walkers across their field. They didn’t notice me behind them. They were a little surprised when they turned and spotted me. Jenny would have loved it!

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The sun eventually set, not spectacularly as there was very little cloud, and we soon found ourselves back in the comfortable lounge of the Church Inn after a most enjoyable outing.

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Here’s our route – 8 km with 83 metres ascent, in a little under 2 hours.

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It’s another beautiful day (Monday) in Timperley, so the backlog of these diary entries will remain just that whilst I leave the scuffling, squeaking swifts just outside the study window to enjoy the snacks that seem to be constantly supplied to their nursery, and get outside myself. The lawns need mowing.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Wednesday 1 June 2016 – Another ‘Big Macc Ramble’

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I’ve written about this bike ride before, going back to 2005, but I was surprised that my last visit was in 2014, so here’s an annotated pictorial story of today’s route. It’s surprising how at different times of the year, or simply on different visits, the eye is caught by different scenes that are absent from previous reports. Though some, such as landmarks like the Cat & Fiddle, usually feature.

I parked outside Trentabank Visitors Centre and started by zooming down past the Leathers Smithy pub and into Langley before heading beside Alan Roberts’ old house and up Holehouse Lane to a quiet spot between Teggsnose Reservoir and Bottoms Reservoir. The houses on Clarke Lane are seen the other side of Bottoms Reservoir (top photo).

Teggsnose Wood was delightful, despite the overcast day, with the last of the bluebells lining the path that leads to Clough House.

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A steep pull leads to the main A837 road at Walkers Barn, where this ride enters the Peak District National Park, where it remains until exiting the Park at Nessit Hill.

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After a few metres of main road a right turn returns the rider or walker to the quiet solitude (on a Wednesday morning in June) of Charity Lane.

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Once the tarmac is left behind, the lane becomes a superb mountain bike track that leads to a high point that is one of my favourite places. Today low cloud meant that the summit of Shining Tor and the buildings of the Cat & Fiddle were both hard to discern through the gloom.

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Forest Chapel was in use, for a funeral that would be adjourning to the Peak View Tearooms, just visible in the picture below after a tarmac ascent.

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If you need sustenance just now, you need the tearooms (only open on certain days) as the Cat & Fiddle…

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… is closed, and has been all this year.

Presumably the owners are waiting for someone suitable to contact them.

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After that sad sight of the closure of the second highest hostelry in England, the cotton grass lined track past Danebower Hollow was a delight, especially as it brings back dark memories of a horribly boggy route before the path was re-built.

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A kilometre or so along the main A54 road passed in just a few seconds as it was downhill with a brisk tailwind. I could nearly keep up with the motorised bikes!

The descent past Sparbent to Cumberland Clough, and onwards to the Wildboarclough road seems to get rockier every time I use it. It’s what some may describe as a ‘technical descent’. Great fun.

Here are two pictures taken near the path junction at SJ 997 699, where I paused to despatch a pint of tea and some chocolate before tackling some of the bigger boulders and a stream crossing further down the clough.

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The rocks get bigger. You have to divert your eyes from Shutlingsloe (on the right in the picture below), or risk disaster!

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Once in the valley, beside Clough Brook, I was astonished to see how green everything looked today, even under dark clouds.

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My usual route up a steep lane was blocked, but the tarmac via Bottom o’th Oven and Forest Lodge was much more gentle on the thighs. I think I’ll use it in future although it does turn the ‘circuit’ into a ‘figure of eight’ shape.

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The views within Macclesfield Forest, with Trentabank Reservoir in the picture below, seem to be continually changing as forest management dictates harvesting and replacement of the trees. I’m sure this is much greener than when I’ve been here before.

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All too soon the National Park is left behind, Nessit Hill is summited after a sharp ascent, and here there don’t seem to be any regulations preventing the installation of sparkling new benches with fine views towards Tegg’s Nose and away over Greater Manchester.

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On this occasion I took a steep descent route marked for bikes – slightly shorter than the old route on which pedestrians may have felt terrorised by fast paced mountain bikes. The path I took was deserted, so no such problem today.

The 23 km with 800 metres ascent took me 2 hours 50 minutes (moving time 2.10). A most enjoyable morning’s outing that substituted for a planned walk for which nobody turned up at the allotted time at the Visitor Centre. Luckily my bike was in the car, or this would have been a (solo) walk report.

Here’s the route.

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