Friday, 17 October 2014

Stalled Blog (or perhaps the closing down sale)

Well it's been a bit quiet on here since July you may well be saying, but you would be only partially right. Thus there has been zero blogging, but an awful lot of walking. In fact me and Helen (and Molly) have had some great walks around the Peak District during this period, including Ladybower reservoir, Chatsworth, the Monsal Trail and countless others. I have also done a National Trust working holiday in September, which included a circular walk around Arundel (with the castle as backdrop along the way). The problem unfortunately is that I have done all of these walks before (including the Arundel one), and have just run out of new things to say about them. Thus having begun this blog on 19/04/08, I have reached a point where I don't think I can carry on with it in it's present form.
I have wrestled for some time with the best way forward with this. I have considered only blogging brand new walks, but that would then give a false impression of how much walking one actually does. Also I don't want to get caught in some cycle where one is going further and further afield in order just to find new walks for this blog, when we have so many great ones that we like to repeat (often in different seasons and weather conditions). I have also considered moving it onto Twitter, but think maybe the format of one picture + one sentence, is far too limiting. I have even thought of expanding it (again via twitter) into a larger blog featuring all the cultural things that we do up in these parts, but do wonder at what point does that become 'look at me and all the wonderful places I go to, and things that I do'. Also I have always been a computer person, and think twitter is more for the mobile phone junkies among you.
So for now the blog has got the closing down posters on the window, whilst the decision on whether to re-open, move to new premises, or board the whole thing up completely is still being made.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Biggin Dale Circular - White Peak - 20/07/14 - 6.5 Miles - Helen (Molly)

This being a gentle and flat walk from the Chesterfield Reflections magazine on another glorious Summer day. So picking up the Tissington trail, we eventually came off on the road to Biggin. There we walked through the village past Biggin Hall, before turning into Biggin Dale. We Continued through the valley, followed by a woman and her two dogs, before turning into Wolfscote Dale at its end. There we walked alongside the River Dove, having negotiated a bottleneck of ramblers. We eventually left that path by Coldeaton Bridge and turned left up a narrower side valley. Once we left this small stretch of National Trust land we soon rejoined the Tissington trail, and Biggin road, to return to our car in the layby. A nice afternoons walking

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Black Combe (circular) - Lake District - 27/05/14 - 6 Miles approx - Helen (Molly)

After the usual faffing around at the start taking pictures, and putting clothes on and off we began our climb away from some cottages and up towards Black Combe. For some reason I felt absolutely buggered at the start of this one. Possibly I was somewhat drained by the multitude of insect bites that had appeared on my legs and arms overnight, from the previous days excursion. Anyway I insisted we stopped after about half a mile. so I could have some provisions from my lunch box (which did seem to do the energy trick).
Yet again we were operating from a 'Country Walking' route plan, and at this point we immediately lost the route and had to make our own one up. So at the near summit we stopped for lunch proper, before eventually getting to the top to pick up what seemed a very straightforward path down. In the course of which I took some pictures of Sellafield nuclear Something (which had been a feature all week) and can be clearly seen in my photo.
Needless to say the straightforward path wasn't, and although the views were spectacular, we kept drifting off it, onto various sheep trails. Helen by this time had taken charge, whilst refusing to take any more readings from my GPS. Anyway this was also the point where the insect bites on my legs began erupting into nasty weeping blisters, which made not just the rest of the walk, but also the rest of the week, rather unpleasant. A nasty final section along a busy footpath free road, was somewhat of a downer for an otherwise enjoyable walk.
Postcript: the following day found us having a touristy day in Coniston (our original intended holiday destination) which included a trip to the Ruskin museum, but a futile stroll to the edge of the lake. Then on the final day I stayed indoors, out of insect range, whilst Helen strolled to the top of Muncaster Fell.

Dunnerdale (circular) - Lake District - 26/05/14 - 6 miles approx - Helen (Molly)

After parking in a friendly church car park (using the honesty box system) we followed the River Duddon, by virtue of climbing some huge tumbled boulders along the side of Wallowbarrow Crag. Finally the walking pole which I got for Christmas, made its walking debut, with Helen using it for ascents, and myself for descents. Speaking of which the near lethal descent back down to the river was obviously not the one they meant on the 'Country Walking' route plan. No matter as once we reached the river again we decided to have our lunch on the rivers edge, not before taking some photos (don't I look spiffing)
Unfortunately that decision was to have a big effect on the rest of the week for me. On our way out of the door, somehow the insect repellent had been missed, and sitting at those rocks having our lunch, found us also providing lunch for countless midges/mosquitoes.
Once on our way again we picked up the relevant path, crossing a tributary before finding ourselves in a deforested area alongside Long Crag, which we struggled to negotiate. However having eventually crossed the River Duddon, and Troutal Farm, the valley and views opened up once more giving us a scenic route back to the car at Seathwaite.
On the drive home Helen decided to take a near suicidal route back over Hardknott Pass. Although my life flashed in front of me several times, she did have a good reason, which was to enable us to visit the former Roman fort there. Whether this was one of the best or worst postings in the Roman army, probably depended on whether you were stationed there in the Summer or Winter.

Ravenglass / Dalegarth (circular) - Lake District - 24/05/14 - 9 Miles - Helen (Molly)

Our week in the Lake District started with a very touristy ride on a miniature railway taking us from Ravenglass station to its final stop at Dalegarth (Eskdale). Molly showed a little reluctance to get on board, but once settled I am sure she enjoyed the ride just as much as we did.
Having reached Dalegarth we watched them turn the engine around, before having lunch in the café and then deciding to walk the whole trail back to Ravenglass.
The BBC forecast rain thankfully never materialised, leaving us in the main a pleasant walk back. There was some logging going on as we approached High Eskholme which was signed for us to turn back. However with no-one about we continued on regardless up the steep climb of Chapel Hill, before reaching Muncaster tarn some way below Muncaster Fell.
From there we passed through the information centre at Muncaster Castle (which we were to visit properly the next day) before eventually coming across a Roman Bath House on the return to Ravenglass. From there it was a brief skirt past the esturary (which we had already discovered walking Molly) and then back to base.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Eckington (circular) - Derbyshire/South Yorkshire - 17/05/14 - 6.25 Miles - Helen (Molly)

This being a new area for us to explore and taken from a route cut out from Country Walking magazine dating back to May 2009. Thus having started at Eckington Church we soon came unstuck trying to find our way out of the local housing estate to pick up the relevant trail (namely because an area of open ground we were meant to make our way across, had obviously been fenced off sometime in the preceding five years). Anyway yours truly soon wanted to give up and go home at this setback, but as the calmer voice among us insisted we had lunch first, we were then able to regroup and find the relevant path.
Once on our way though it was a nice mixture of gently undulating open ground and bridleways through Bramley on one of the warmest days of the year so far. Unfortunately for me I have been having (to put it politely) stomach problems for a few weeks now, so when the instructions said there was a pub en-route in Troway, that looked like the solution and I (erm) mentally relaxed. However when we got to the pub at 1457, only to be told they were shutting at three (serving us one quick drink), I was then kind of left in no-mans land. So having then continued on the bridleway, I then found I (erm) couldn't continue on the bridleway and had to dive under a fence into a field to (erm).......... Good job this wasn't a first date.
That crisis dealt with, we then found our way to a pub that actually stays open on Saturday afternoons called the Bridge Inn at Ford. There we enjoyed an ice cream in the garden, whilst Molly exchanged glances with a few other canines. After which we continued along the more wooded Moss Valley, coming across the Seldom Seen engine house on our way (and some scramble bikes going up and down a nearby slag heap).

Monday, 31 March 2014

High Peak / Roystone Grange Trail - Derbyshire - 29/03/11 - 6 miles - (20lb rucksack) - Helen (Molly)

This 6 mile ramble through the High Peak was taken from the local Reflections mag, which Helen gets delivered free, but I never seem to get a sniff off (despite being roughly the same postcode). So having parked at Minninglow car park (and given how long it takes us to ever get out the door for these things) we decided lunch was immediately in order and took advantage of the handy picnic tables. The weather was sunny and the skies were blue, but there was a distinct wind chill (especially if one was eating wearing short sleeves). However I planned to get warm quickly as I was revisiting an old idea of carrying 9 litres of bottled water in my rucksack, to give 20lb extra of resistance training.
Now the High Peak trail is a former (pre-Beeching) railway track that is shared by cyclists and walkers alike. Where we joined, it sweeps around two embankments (look past me in the photo), whilst up ahead you could see the inaccessible Minning Low mound. After passing a rusty crane, and taking the usual pit stops (not easy on such an exposed trail) we climbed over another mound which eventually led to us joining the Royston trail (part of an ancient drovers route). Along the way we passed an old pumping house (which required the usual investigation).
Having come though a signposted right of way through Roystone Grange Farm, some irresponsible person came driving towards us, with his collie dog running alongside his car, who immediately made a bee-line to Molly to start a fight. Now it is not unusual for Molly and other dogs to exchange a bark and a snarl, but this dog didn't want to leave it at that, and took some persuading to bugger off. Meanwhile its idiot owner, made the faintest of calls after his dog, and then just drove off.
Anyway after minninglow lane where we met some cyclists and trial motorcyclists, we climbed a nook, before we eventually rejoined the High Peak trail. As we approached the car we came through on what was once known as Gotham curve, which apparently was the tightest bend of any railway in Britain. So overall a different type of Peak District experience with a much flatter open sky, and all the more interesting for that.
2 walks since last blog entry (Chander Hill and Chatsworth/Beeley 5 mile circular) + 11 mile trans pennine circular (2 days since) with 20lb weighted rucksack.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Ashover Circular - Derbyshire - 09/03/14 - 5 Miles - Helen (Molly)

Wow did Summer just creep up on us all without looking ? Well it obviously must be if I am wearing shorts. Anyway this is a walk we have done a few times before, and Helen many times (in a past life). Thus we were treated to fantastic valley scenery out of all proportion to the minimal climbing effort required for it. Molly seemed to appreciate it as well, after what was apparently a boring day for her prior to this, watching someone doing the gardening (know how she feels).
Anyway highlights were: a couple from Newark who we couldn't quite shake off (they probably said the same about us), the perfect weather, the launch of the daffodils, and Helen almost getting caught, getting caught short (work that out).
Walks since last blog entry: Linacre Reservoir 26th Feb - Helen (Molly)

Monday, 17 February 2014

Matlock Bath to Ambergate - (Derbyshire) - 16/02/14 - 7 Miles - Helen (Molly)

In this winter of wind and rain (but thankfully in these parts no floods), one had forgotten what a nice day actually looked like. So with the Sun out it seemed everyone (and their dogs) was eager to get out and stretch their legs. So having parked the car at Ambergate, we caught the train for the few stops to Matlock Bath to begin this linear walk.
Now Matlock Bath for those who don't know it, is a picture postcard biker town. This was evidenced by the impressive line up of trikes parked outside the station, but also the constant roaring along the A6, that accompanied our climb up Lovers Walk. There we could look over the cable cars on the Heights of Abraham, and look down at Gullivers World on the other.
Eventually we descended back down into Derwent Gardens, crossing the bridge over the river, and picking up the A6 (accompanied by a parade of bikers), until we reached the first of a series of Arkwright's Mills (Cromford in this case). So after a couple of false starts over where to eat, we eventually chose the café by the start of the canal. Unfortunately the four young girls in charge of it seemed a bit overwhelmed and said there would be a half hour wait for food. Also like the other nearby options, one was looking at tourist prices, so it was a case of settling for tea, coffee and cake.
From there it was a straightforward 5 mile stroll along the Cromford canal all the way back to Ambergate station (and as stated given the break in the weather we weren't the only ones with that idea). Along the way we passed High Peak Junction, whilst Molly had a game of chase and snarls with two dogs in particular, and a few others as well.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Chesterfield Trans Pennine Trail (Circular) - Derbyshire - 25/01/14 - 11 Miles

Well here I am blogging again, in this New Year of 2014. I must admit I have debated over the last few months whether it was worth continuing this blog. Also given that my last entry was September 2013, it would appear that a state of inertia has already made that decision. The reality however is that since moving full time to Chesterfield last April, walks have become less of a fortnightly 'Event' of some 10 to 12 miles duration. Instead they have become more frequent, usually involving much smaller distances, and over ground that has been covered many times before. In short I have run out of things to say. My gut feeling is that things are likely to change this year, and that walking as an event (and thus this blog) will pick up again.
Given the uncertainty of the weather, this is the time when you want to be doing the tried and tested. So with the sun out and the rain not forecast till around 3.00pm, that theory looked to hold water. Unfortunately it wasn't the only thing holding water, as the saturated ground in the woods, where I left the Trans Pennine trail in order to come out at the grounds of Ringwood Hall Hotel, was caked in slippery mud. Thus even with the aid of a stick (which was a bit silly as I had been given a walking pole for Christmas) I took three times as long to get through there. However things did look up when I reconnected with the trail on the Chesterfield Canal as Nona's coffee bar was actually open (which is very rare when I normally pass this way). So with the weather still on the acceptable side, I was able to enjoy my Victoria sponge cake and hot chocolate outside. Now earlier in the walk I had been a bit peeved when some dotty old woman let her collie dog leap up and wipe its muddy paws on my trousers, just as I was about to eat my scotch egg; I needn't have worried. Thus along the canal, I decided to climb up a small embankment off the canal to take a small call of nature. On the way down, I slipped backwards on the muddy slope, with my trousers now given the impression that it had been a much larger call of nature that had gone badly wrong (see picture); I still needn't have worried. Thus within 30 minutes the heavens opened (with full thunder and lightning accompaniment) giving my trousers a complete wash and soak. Other people were sheltering under bridges, but as the storm had been forecast (but turned up an hour early) I figured it was for the duration and carried on.