View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Friday, 29 September 2017

Roundabout Ringheye Recce, Tues 26th Sept 2017

I’m due to lead a walk for the good folk of the East Lancs LDWA in October, and as with all such things a couple of pre-emptive recces are deemed important.

The route I plan to take isn’t original although there are a few tweeks and alterations chucked in to confuse the innocent and unwary, so here goes…

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Sunrise from my bedroom window

I had foresaken my early morning run which was a shame because it was a lovely start to the day – but a 4.5 mile run followed by a 17 – 18 mile walk probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

The actual walk will start in Hale, close to the River Bollin, but as friends Andy & Lynn had kindly offered to join me on the recce I drove to their home in Knutsford to start the circular route from there.

We set out around 10.30am and walked through the town, famous for Cranford, Knutsford Royal May Day…

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….Penny Farthing races…..

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…..the shortest river in England…

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……and King Canute

Leaving the town we had to resort to tarmac for a mile or so but we were soon back on the wet, grassy field footpaths. My feet, inside NorthFace ‘Waterproof’ walking shoes, were soon wet through. I’ve had two pairs of these shoes now, they’re very comfortable but completely useless as waterproof footware

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We walked NE out of Knutsford to skirt around the northern edge of Mobberley, there was a gloriously autumnal feel to the day.

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We left the environs of Mobberley to continue NE alongside Manchester Airport’s main runway and then picked up the Bollin Valley Way which routed us under the runway via the River Bollin culvert – that never fails to impress me:

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Our lunch stop at the southern end of the runway was a bit noisy but we had great views of aircraft taking off and landing:

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Andy & Lynn at the high point of the route…a whole 60m metric metres ASL

It must have been a climb although we didn’t notice it….perhaps we’re just very hill fit. Although maybe not in my case.

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Invasive species around the River Bollin, Himalayan Balsam abounds


Hale is the home to many large and expensive houses - particularly those that back on to the Bollin Valley. Not all blend in to the pleasant surroundings:

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By early afternoon my feet had eventually dried out – perhaps my shoes are only waterproof one way: water can get in but it can’t get out.

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More Bollin Valley invasive species: Giant Hogweed reaching for the skies

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Not invasive

We head south past Rostherne, along a permissive path that’s not marked on the OS map. There are nice views over the mere, the autumn colours are glorious:

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Rostherne Church…and a coffee & knee tablet stop

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The next leg took us to Home Farm on the Tatton Estate. It’s a dead-straight ‘church path’ – well it should have been, but a large field was being ploughed and seed was being spread so we followed the field edge.

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Home Farm amongst the trees

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Hand-powered fuel pump at Home Farm

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Andy posing with the piglets…and Mummy Pig

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More autumn colours

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Melchett Mere, Tatton Park

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Tatton Mere

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Not Very Nice Algae in Tatton Mere

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One of Tatton’s residents, just chillin’

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The one was more interested in pigging-out on acorns, he just wouldn’t pose.

We walked through Tatton Park towards Knutsford, keeping to the west side of Tatton Mere, exiting the park at it’s southern road gate. From there it was just a few hundred yards back to Andy’s house and my car.

‘Twas a good day out and a nice little stretch. I’ll be back next week to tweek the route a little further but in the meantime I’m fairly happy with the route as it stands.

If anyone fancies coming along on The Big Day, details are here

Where we went: Around 17 miles and a bit – it will be nearer 18 miles on the day. There’s some ascent but not a lot.

Route

Note that the ‘proper’ walk doesn’t start in Knutsford, but in Hale at SJ773858 at 9am sharp on Sunday 15th October.

All the photographs were taken using my Lumix TZ70, any photo editing was with Photofiltre.

The route was recorded using my old Samsung S3 Mini with Viewranger installed. It has a far clearer display that my crappy SatMap 10 and battery life is similar if not better.

Thanks to Andy & Lynn for their company and very helpful suggestions on route tweeks. And the tea. They make very nice cups of tea!

Ringheye?

It’s the old name for Ringway, the site of Manchester Airport.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Frodsham Frolics Saturday 9th Sept 2017

The first trail of the season

The Prez wasn’t quite firing on all four so I volunteered, along with Intercontinental Wells, to litter around 8 miles of Cheshire countryside.

At 10.30am on the dot we left Forest Hills, armed with bags of sawdust and strips of paper….at 10.50am.

Joe’s route took us left out of Forest Hills and down hill to pick up the path that we followed south, skirting the eastern side of Beacon Hill. The sun shone and the birdies sang….but the clouds looked ominously April-like.

Sure enough, some very heavy rain-showers were encountered – but we weren’t downhearted much at all. Well not very much.

Note to self: Bring (old) weatherproof camera in future.

A sharp turn to the east took us by Crow Mere and then downhill to the B5152 close to Newton Hall. By this stage of the game both Intercontinental Wells and I though we had a pretty good idea where the Hon Prez was going to take us. We were almost right.

Then we got wet. Very wet actually. The rain shower, albeit only lasting a few minutes, was very heavy.

There followed a couple of miles of wet and nominally downhill ziggery & zaggery, some of which coincided with the North Cheshire Way.

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At the Weaver Navigation we trotted in a sort of NNW direction, scattering a mixture of sawdust and the smallest of strips of paper for the runners to follow. We followed the muddy path alongside the Weaver Navigation and the Frodsham Cut as far as Frodsham Lock where we turned west for about 546 yards 500 metres.

Apples (windfalls) and blackberries were collected around here. They made a very fine apple & blackberry crumble* the next day.

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Turning south and gently uphill along a section of Eddisbury Way we littered our way through Bradley, and then on the North Cheshire Way, back to cross the B5152, approximately 546 yards NW of where we crossed it earlier. Blue sky had appeared and it was quite warm.

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This area must be well populated with giant moles. Or mayber badgers.

More uphill followed, this time back to Beacon Hill. A short section of the return route coincided with the outward section – we had to be careful not to confuse the runners (some are easily confused) so trail had to be littered carefully. I think we succeeded.

A final bit of an uphill tug on tarmac took us back to Forest Hills where coffee and butties were enjoyed (well I enjoyed mine).

Runners arrived back in dribs and drabs – I think there may have been a couple of packs out:

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Early Taylor

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Ding Dong, smiling. Always smiling

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Goulder cruising in, well ahead of the main pack

Nobody complained, not even about the nettles, so I reckon Joe did a good job with his route.

A good meal was enjoyed by all, shame about the beer but there you go.

Where we went, anti-clockwise:

Route

7.6 miles with around 820ft of ascent. And descent. It was decent.

Thanks to Joe for dreaming up the route, and to Joe and Intercontinental Wells for their excellent company on the trail-laying expedition.

* The Apple & Blackberry crumble….well the remnants of it:

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Rain in Lleyn…4th Sept 2017

(Not) Backpacking

I’d prepared two dehydrated backpacking meals, different stuff to what I’d normally take so I was looking forward to trying the new stuff out:.

The main meals consisted of:

1) Remains of a Shepherds Pie. All mashed up and mixed prior to dehydrating. It was supplemented with 50gms of Smash.

2) Remains of a chilli con carne + rice. The rice and chilli were dehydrated separately and bagged separately.

3) This wasn’t all dehydrated, but consisted of some smoked Polish sausage, 50gms of Smash, and 1/3rd tin baked beans – dehydrated.

As things worked out the stuff didn’t get used. Read on….


In the beginning:

The Plan was for Lucky the Dog, Mike, Dawn and me to backpack a section of the Lleyn Peninsula coast in glorious sunshine.

Even the best plans fall apart sometimes.

The weather forecast was for a bit of damp followed by a few days of overcast dryness – quite acceptable backpacking conditions.

What ACTUALLY happened was that a huge amount of wind-driven wetness descended on Llanystumdwy….famous for Lloyd George and my dad. And a pub that only opens 3-4 nights of the week. It was quite a nice pub though.

We had two cars and with this in mind Plan B was quickly concocted: instead of backpacking through the wetness we’d go out for linear day walks. Plan B was put into action – it worked quite well. Mostly. Apart from getting lost.

Day 1

It was still raining. So we breakfasted hugely on egg, bacon & tomato butties – washed down with lashings of tea & coffee. After which it was still raining but not quite as much. The Afon Dwyfor at the back of the campsite had risen by about 4ft overnight – the roar of the water thrashing about was impressive.

Dwyfor in spate


That was supposed to be an embedded video but Open Live Writer and YouTube don’t seem to like to talk to one another. Kids, eh?

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If the video clip doesn’t work, this photo may illustrate the state of the river.

Some random photographs taken in Llanystumdwy:

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Anyroadup, we went to Llanbedrog and dumped a car there in the National Trust car park. Then we went to Abersoch and dumped another car there in the hugely expensive car park. Not having any more cars to dump we thought it would be a bit of a wheeze to walk back to Llanbedrog, and that’s precisely what we did.

The rain had stopped by this time but it was rather grey and only a bit miserable.

We walked east, often a good direction, passing the harbour / marina before dropping down to the beach.

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For Alan R:

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The tide was out and apart from a couple of dog walkers and a defunct jellyfish that resembled an enormous blob of lumpy wallpaper paste, we had the sands to ourselves.

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Anybody recognise this plant found growing on the edge of sand dunes? The leaves are hugely thick – perhaps to store water?

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Looking back over Abersoch

As we bimbled along eastwards the clouds lifted and the sun made a welcome appearance – Snowdonia appeared out of the murk:

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On the descent to the beach we came across this interesting sculpture:

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Aberdaron’s ‘Tin Man’ – it looked more like a woman with a babe in arms to me

I gather that the original statue was a wooden ship’s figurehead – but that suffered malicious fire damage many years ago.

The route down to the beach was seriously steep, it took an age to get down – ask my poorly L knee. It wasn’t too happy.

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Llanbedrog’s colourful beach huts

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Llanbedrog Beach

Then it was back to the cars and back to Llanystumdwy (via Pwllhelli’s Asda) for far too much to eat and a comfortably large amount of beer. Bottled Hob Goblin Gold seeing as you asked.

The pub was shut.

Day 2

Even though the weather had improved Plan B was still in operation: one car was left at the Aberdaron NT car park, the other at the Whistling Sands NT car park. We wandered off in a nominally south-ish direction, following the cliff-top path as much as possible. I was surprised to come across a young 80+ year old couple from Knutsford, just down the road from JJ Towers. This couple, clad in finest Paramo, were clearly made of the right stuff – it was a pleasure to stop to chat with them.

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Looking north over Whistling Sands

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Dramatic coastline, similar in character to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and part of the the South West Coast Path.


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On Mynydd Mawr:

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.

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The former Coastguard lookout at Mynydd Mawr.

The sun was shining brightly and warmly, good conditions for backpacking – apart from the lack of water. Running water was scarce, any that we discovered was decidely iffy. Much of the coast was used by cattle.

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Over the sea to Bardsey in the late afternoon sun.


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I’m still playing with my Lumix TZ70 camera – in reality the colours in the hedgerows were very vivid than is shown here. I must try harder.

Navigation was a little <koff> difficult, the paths on the ground often didn’t coincide with what appeared on the three different maps we were carrying between us. Being as what we were nominally following an official Long Distance Path this was all a bit of a poor show. You couldn’t even rely on the Coastal Path signposts – on more than one occasion we came across signposts that just pointed into either undergrowth or ground that was clearly impassable.

Whatever.

Back to the cars, Asda and the campsite – for lots of lovely grub (c/o Lucky’s Dad) and more beer. The pub was still shut.


Day 3

The day began with more egg & bacon butties. The eggs came from the farm where we were camping – they were a bit tasty.

It was a windy morning, and that was just the weather. We parked up at the NT car park at Plas yn Rhiw and proceeded to wander off, up what we took to be the coastal path. We had it on good authority that we really were on the coastal path, the Coastal Path signposts should have aroused our suspicion.

As it happened we only got a bit misplaced a few times.

Mist and clag descended a few times, severely curtailing our views.

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Hell’s Mouth

Foolishly(?) following signposts we passed a lovely little hamlet overlooking the sea. We  suspected that we were on the right path – but there was always a nagging doubt.

Even more foolishly I suggested a change in direction of travel. This change entailed a bit of a scramble. Okay, a LOT of a scramble. I’m not very good at scrambling. Oh well.

Eventually, and blindly following Lucky, Dawn & Mike, I got to the top of an Everest of a hill, Mynydd y Graig I think. There were signs of a Hill Fort and a Standing Stone. I didn’t look too hard, I was more concerned in not falling off this mountain of a, er, little hill.

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Lucky & Mike, climbing without oxygen

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The Tenzing moment

Once at the top the walking was much easier, we even had some views when the cloud lifted.

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Another hill beckoned. This was either a Munro or a Marylin or something. Whatever it was 177m ASL and Mike needed it for His List. Penarfynydd was actually a bit non-descript, but what the hell. It would probably be better on a sunny day.

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Time to turn round and return to the car. More misleading signposts successfully misled us. In spite of this we managed to find our way back to the car and a far easier navigate to a nice little car park at the east end of Hell’s Mouth.

Dawn had planned a dip in the sea at Hell’s Mouth but the wind was far too strong and the sea currents looked a bit perilous.

Instead she rolled up her trouser legs and went for a paddle with Mike. Lucky didn’t play with a ball very much. I flew my kite, the one I use to support vertical aerials when I play radio. The wind was so strong that I began to wonder whether the line was going to be strong enough to hold on to the kite. It was, but I’ll be more careful in future.

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Once back at the ranch more lovely grub followed, again c/o Lucky’s Dad. Dawn had an early night, so did LTD, Mike & me, but our early night involved a visit to the pub which was now open. The beer and the welcome were both good.

There were only half a dozen customers in the pub that evening. It’s good that it stays open, even if it’s only for a few evenings in the week. I hope it survives, we’re losing too many pubs.

We had a good few days away, it wasn’t what we’d planned but it worked out well in the end. Thanks to Lucky, Mike & Dawn for a fun time…we must do it again soon. Next time we’ll do it in an area with less confusing paths.


More photographs are here.

Anchor Inn session

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