Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Wednesday 1 November 2017 – Morfa Nefyn and Llanbedrog

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Peter and Cassie, who hosted us in Calgary in September, are in the UK for a few weeks. They have been staying in a rented house in Mynytho for a few days with Peter’s old school friend Rod, and his wife Kate.

We popped down for the day and enjoyed a couple of ‘gentle strolls’, the first being along Porth Dinllaen, near Morfa Nefyn. The wind was light and the sea was calm; a few seagulls were floating overhead, or bobbing gently on the water.

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It was warm for the first day of November, so much so that children on their half-term holiday were playing happily in their swimsuits on the beach, with one girl venturing into waist deep water with her fishing net!

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The 19th Century Ty Coch Inn, located on the beach, was too inviting to stroll past. Coffees (and some sneaky brownies that were in Martin’s rucksack) were enjoyed, with the sun occasionally breaking through the light cloud.

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Another short meander brought us to the smart lifeboat station, with its shiny rescue boat ready for action (after closing the hatches, of course).

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There’s a popular golf course here. Take plenty of balls! The coastguard is well positioned to watch the golf and have a seaward view at the same time. Today his telescope was trained on a flock of about twenty choughs who were practicing their murmurations, or should that be ‘chattering’?.

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Meanwhile, cormorants, oyster catchers, and a variety of gulls mobbed the offshore rocks.

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We weren’t the only tourists – just off the peninsula Nessie revealed that she was on tour – enjoying her half term break no doubt.

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The Welsh Coast Path assiduously follows the coast as closely as possible hereabouts. So much so that Cassie decided to turn back at this point, Rod and Kate having already succumbed to the more level nature of the path through the golf course.

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We soon regrouped, having wandered around the headland in various ways. Ty Coch Inn was now heaving with families enjoying their lunch. We joined them. The food was good, especially the home made soup.

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Walking back along the Porth Dinllaen beach to the National Trust car park, the views to Yr Eifl, with its cap of cloud at 500 metres, confirmed that we weren’t missing out by eschewing the higher peaks of Snowdonia.

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Here’s our 4.5 km route.

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The afternoon saw us taking a wider road than the morning’s narrow lanes, to Llanbedrog, where the National Trust car park seems to be a winter home for lots of beach huts. These are just 8’ x 6’ sheds with robust corrugated roofs instead of the usual felt (that on our shed at home has rotted and blown away), and solid doors. The lack of any windows must grant a rather dark sort of privacy.

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Down at the beach, a lone heron looked rather out of place amongst the one-legged oystercatchers, gulls, and redshanks.

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What can you spot?

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Away in the distance (see previous picture for the wider view), the sun caught a small section of beach.

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Kate adjourned to the pleasures of Plas Glyn-y-Weddw’s tearoom, whilst the rest of us climbed about 100 metres up a steep stairway.

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A short walk from the top of the steps leads to a wrought Iron Man that was a millennium project to replace a Tin Man that had looked out over Cardigan Bay to Barmouth and the Rhinogs since the 1980s.

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There were good views from here, back to Llanbedrog beach and also down to the Plas Glyn-y-Weddw mansion.

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We took the coast path around Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd rather than head over the summit, where the toposcope would have been informative as to the direction in which the peaks of Snowdonia lie, but given the cloud cover those peaks were well hidden today. Instead, we got an aerial view of Abersoch and an ‘estate’ of up market mobile homes.

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Looking out to sea, a lone two bladed windmill lurked in the foreground.

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A short descent back to Llanbedrog took us past St Pedrog's Church Hall, then past the church itself to Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, a dower house built in 1856 by Lady Love Jones Parry. The Gothic mansion became an art gallery and ballroom in 1896 and was served by a horse-tramway from the railway terminus at Pwllheli until 1927. It remains a vibrant gallery, and is one of nine locations that houses the Celtic Neighbours partnership, a group of visual artists from native Celtic communities.

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Some of the art, on this occasion from a renowned Welsh abstract artist (Gillian Ayres), unlike the tea and cake, and as on previous visits, remains sadly not to our conservative taste.

The lovely sculpture, ‘Louise’ was made by David Williams-Ellis and was generously donated in 2002 and placed on a large rock from the Wern Estate.

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Outside the mansion sits the only remaining carriage from the tramway that was closed in 1927/28 after part of the line was destroyed by a storm in 1927. Now immaculately restored, the carriage was found in a barn in 1967, being used to store animal feed.

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Here’s our 4.5 km route. Allow an hour and a half.

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Then we returned to Mynytho for more tea before driving home.

Well, that was a most enjoyable day out, and good to see Peter and Cassie again. We hope Peter’s poorly foot regains its more normal sprightly condition as soon as possible.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Autumn in Timperley

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Recently I’ve noticed reference to autumn having progressed to a leafless landscape without the usual range of colours. Strong winds have been blamed.

Here in Timperley the winds came and went before the leaves had started to fall. Thanks to the warm weather and lack of frost, the wind damage amounted to fallen branches rather than fallen leaves. There has now been just a bit of frost, and the leaves are starting to turn, as shown in the above picture taken on the Bridgewater Canal between Timperley and Marsland Bridges on 30 October 2017.

Whilst not shown in the picture, this was a good moment for birdlife, with a cormorant, grey wagtails, black-headed gulls, Canada geese, mallards, a mandarin duck and many hedgerow birds all in evidence at this spot.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Ramsoc Weekend at Helmsley – 28/29 October 2017

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I’ve been recording these weekends for some time. Since the time when many of those attending brought their children along. Those parents are now free to take longer walks as the children are ensconced in various types of further education. So Saturday’s team that walked directly from the hostel was a very jolly nonet of obsolete parents (except Janet – who was very much in demand).

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Others went for a bath in some slurry near Chop Gate, but the following picture shows the the muddiest the path up Ash Dale got.

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Several plantations were negotiated as the paths gradually narrowed.

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We emerged from woodland to discover masses of happy free range animals near Oscar Park Farm. Sue fed them sausages left over from breakfast.

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An easy section of roadside verges was rendered a bit scary by racing motor cyclists, but we soon left that to descend to Rievaulx for lunch, either here outside the English Heritage relic (none of us is a member) or in the café by the entrance, where Janet enjoyed the comparative luxury of a proper chair.

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Just down the road is Rievaulx Bridge, a structure listed as being of historic interest:

Bridge. C18. Limestone ashlar. 3 segmental arches, central one being wider and taller, with 2 cutwaters to each side. Band above arches and plain chamfered parapets. Pevsner, Yorkshire: The North Riding, 1966.

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Looking back, we admired the remains of the Abbey. It started life in 1132 and had a rich history up to 1538, when at the time of its dissolution it was said to consist of 72 buildings occupied by the abbot and 21 monks, with 102 lay employees, and an income of £351 a year. The abbey owned a prototype blast furnace at Laskill, producing cast iron as efficiently as a modern blast furnace.

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From Rievaulx it’s an easy walk back to Helmsley along the pretty Cleveland Way path.

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Everything is still pretty green, so we can expect the remaining leaves to fall during the next few weeks. We haven’t had much frost yet, so it still feels quite summery. (Today in Timperley the cafés were making full use of their pavement tables.)

I hadn’t noticed many flowers, so on the walk into Helmsley I kept an eye out for them. Here are some that I spotted::

Herb Robert

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Red Campion

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Dandelion

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Hawkweed

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White Dead-nettle

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Common Valerian

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Bramble

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Red Clover

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Hedge Bindweed

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Hogweed

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I managed to snap these Magic Mushrooms just before Neal and Jenny ran off with them and found a bench on which to hallucinate.

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By then we were close to Helmsley, so we could dash down past the castle that has a long history since its construction from wood in 1120.

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Borough Beck runs through the centre of the market town.

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There’s an impressive church.

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The ‘Sugared Butterfly’ provided a suitable antidote, from where we drifted in various ways back to the Youth Hostel, depending on shopping preferences.

It was an 18 km walk, with about 300 metres ascent, taking about 6.5 hours, of which my Garmin gadget reports us as having been stationary for about two hours.

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The evening meal at the hostel was a little disappointing. My soup was excellent, but the veggie cannelloni could be likened to a pool of sludge, and I noticed that Janet just got a plate of scrapings! The apple crumble was good though. I later discovered that the YHA is now outsourcing its food, so it’s not cooked on site. I think we may revert to self-cooking in future.

Sunday saw most of the people that Sue and I had walked with on Saturday heading off in other directions, as did Colin (pregnancy pains), Paul (leg pains) and Chris and Alys (Megan and Joe pains). So there was only one walk, also from the hostel, outside which we milled around for much of the morning.

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Eventually we set off, heading by accident along a new footpath to Riccal Dale.

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Jess led the way with some very long strides whilst a man looking for deer lumbered along at the back.

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A field of sheep chased after us, briefly, then they lost interest and allowed us to enjoy elevenses in the sunshine, though it must have been raining nearby.

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After only a very short duplication of yesterday’s route we passed a large group who were lunching at yesterday’s elevenses point, then we headed along excellent paths past a leaping fox (or was it a lynx?) into Beck Dale for lunch at a picnic bench that accommodated six of us. The other five got wet bottoms on a bank.

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The sun came out as we continued down Beck Dale past lots of flowers like the ones seen yesterday.

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Shortly before Helmsley there’s a good spot for those who need to wash their feet, then a nicely paved path leads into the centre of the town.

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We were back soon after one o’clock, after a 14 km stroll with about 200 metres ascent, taking around 3.5 hours.

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The easy drive home in two hours contrasted significantly with Friday afternoon’s four hour battle with traffic to reach Helmsley.

A very jolly weekend. I hope others enjoyed it as much as I did.

There’s a slideshow (65 images) here. Click on the first image then click on ‘slideshow’. Sorry about the lack of tractors. Sorry, but Google has recently disabled this function. I’ll have to find another way of sharing the slideshow.

Try this. You may be able to see the pictures, but the captions don’t seem to show. Along with many others I fear I have to abandon what was once a good product for creating public slideshows and use someone other than Google. The forums are full of complaints, but Google don’t seem to care. They just make retrograde ‘updates’.

7 November – I’ve tried to upload to Flickr – see here. Scroll to the top of the screen. For a full screen slideshow, without captions, click on the TV screen icon, third from the left at the right of the screen above the images. To control the speed and see the captions, don’t click the above icon, instead click on the first image and then use the arrows on the screen or your keyboard to scroll through the pictures, below which the caption, if there is one, should appear at the bottom of the screen. If like me you find that it’s obscured by the taskbar (the row of icons at the bottom of the screen) right click the taskbar and click on ‘Taskbar settings’. Turn ‘Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode’ to ‘On’. Note the taskbar reappears when you move your cursor to the bottom of the screen – assuming that’s where you keep your taskbar. Note also that you can scroll down to more information about each picture, and you can add comments.