Total Pageviews

Monday, January 30, 2012

Come limp with me......round Pennington Flash

Walking with; Ruth
Confined by circumstance (in the shape of my knee operation) the high hills and low dales of the Peaks and Lakes were out of reach for a weekend or two. However it takes more than a bad Long John Silver impression to stop a dedicated walker from getting out and about so the gentle trails and bird hides of Pennington Flash seemed an ideal choice, especially with the Bacon Butty van overlooking the main pool there to provide sustenance. It was also, fittingly, the weekend of the Great British Birdwatch and there is little that better enhances a walk than the sight of some beautiful birdlife, we weren't to be disappointed.
Pennington Flash is a 173 acre lake on the site of the former Bickershaw Colliery. The Flash is an excellent example of an urban nature reserve and a fantastic spot for a stroll on cold, Wintery morning with just a touch of frost still on the ground. It was busy with families and dog walkers and very different from the wilder walks of the previous week or two, but having made gentle progress in the direction of the Bunting Hide we weren't to be disappointed. Bullfinches, Long Tail Tits, Reed Buntings and Redwings were amongst the highlights and it proved to be a fantastic spot for Ruth to get in some photography practice with her new zoom lens. We meandered on along the side of the Flash to a second hide overlooking a sandy spit covered with Cormorants, Lapwings, Black headed Gulls and with a pair of Teal and another of Goosander to keep the interest up.
We barely covered a mile and there was no incline and yet as a stroll, rather than a walk, it was a very pleasant way to spend a peg legged Saturday morning.
To view the full set of Ruthy's photos, please click on the link below

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Most popular National Park in the UK

Whilst I am laid up recovering from my knee operation I thought I'd better keep the site going and hopefully continuing to inspire! So please visit our Facebook site below to let me know your opinion in our first ever poll!!!
The link is below, and if you are not already a member please let me know and I'll add you to the group!!/groups/136991043086476/

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blencathra via Scales Tarn

Walking with; Al
My last walk before the knee operation so wanted to make it a good one, and where better than The Lake District. At 868m, Blencathra is a top 20 Lakes Peak, but as far as the Northern Fells go it is second only to Skiddaw and affords magnificent views in all directions. For many years Blencathra was known as Saddleback due to the shape of the summit which comprises of six separate fell tops, however that doyenne of the Fells, Alfred Wainwright, repopularised the ancient name which is believed to derive from old Cumbrian words for a "bare hill" and "shaped like a chair".......The classic route includes the ascent to Atkinson Pike via the hair-raising Sharp Edge but with plenty of snow and ice still on the ground we decided to make the ascent via the beautiful Scales Tarn.
The path climbs across the hillside behind The White Horse Inn, woodsmoke curling appealingly from the chimney this morning. It was damp underfoot and the wind had teeth, but we gained height quickly and the path curled round til it followed the Glenderamackin River to Scales Beck. We climbed up to the Tarn, the perfect place for a spot of contemplation alongside a coffee and museli bar to fuel the haul up to the summit. Sharp Ridge was beautifully picked out against the clouds and the snow on the tops was clearly visible now. Scales is a fantastic example of a glacial tarn and the name means "The Tarn by the Shepherd's Hut", although there are no signs of a hut there nowadays. Martineau wrote about it in his 1855 "Complete Guide to the English Lakes"
“Here, too, lies another wonder- that tarn (Scales Tarn)
which is said to reflect the stars at noonday – a marvel which
we by no means undertake to avouch. The tarn is so situated at the foot of a
vast precipice, and so buried among crags, that the sun never reaches it, except
through a crevice in early morning."
The climb to the top was tough but the views back to the tarn were fantastic and as we circumvented the patches of snow to reach the official summit at Hallsfell Top the sense of satisfaction was very real. Ahead of us lay Derwentwater and Keswick and the saddle leading to Blease Fell where we'd planned to descend. We could also see Thirlmere, Skiddaw and the Old Man of Coniston to name but a few. We'd planned to have lunch on the top but the wind was so severe that we battled our way along the saddle to Blease Fell before starting to descend. Even heading down it didn't ease off much, but we eventually found a ledge of rock above a ditch and sheltered in there for a hasty sandwich with a view of Thirlmere. The descent continued towards the valley floor before running for around a mile and a half back along the lower slopes with the occasional scramble or beck to traverse to our starting point at Scales.
To view the full photo album for this walk please follow the link below

Monday, January 23, 2012

Castleton-Winnat's Pass-Mam Tor-Back Tor-Castleton

Walking with; Rob and Helen
A perfect Sunday walk in the sunshine with a couple of short climbs rewarded with disproportionately spectacular views of the Hope and Edale valleys and the Kinder Plateau. We started out of Castleton, passing the path to "The Devil's Arse" cavern and following the gentle contours along the frosty hillside to the foot of Winnat's Pass. The original name means "Wind Gates" and the pass was once the gated entry to the fortified Medieval village of Castleton. It was too early in the year for the wild flowers that grow on the pass so it was time to get on with the muddy, icy slog up the hill which opened out to beautiful frost rimed views in all directions.
Mam Tor, once an Iron Age hill fort with 360 degree views and still visible earthen ramparts, is always a popular spot with easily accessible views of the Peak District all around. It was a beautiful place for a windswept sandwich and coffee enhanced by the views of hang gliders throwing themselves of Mam Tor itself and nearby Rushup Edge. Kinder was bathed in sunshine and the views down into the Edale Valley promised great things for another day. Refreshed by coffee we headed on along the ridge, avoiding Kamikaze mountain bikers before climbing Back Tor (aiming for the stark silhouette of a solitary bare branched tree) for a last look down at Edale before heading through the small forestry plantation and descending past Lose Hill farm back into the Hope Valley. We followed the banks of a small beck, through muddy fields of cows, before emerging back into Castleton and heading to the excellent (if eccentric) Dolly's Hidden Tea Room for a well deserved cream tea!
To view the full photo album please click on the link below

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nantlle Ridge

Walking with; Al
A beautiful, wild, windy day out in Snowdonia without another walker in sight. We parked up at the very picturesque Rhyd Ddu railway station, scenically set with Snowdon (hidden by cloud) as a spectacular backdrop.
We set out across very swampy land, before passing Drwyscoed Uchaf farm and starting the lengthy ascent towards the summit of Y Garn. Slippery conditions underfoot made it hard going, but the "view stops" looking back over the valley towards Snowdon provided welcome respite. The summit was blowy, but the vistas opening up with spectacular views towards the coast and Caernarfon Harbour made the initial ascent worthwhile. Looking West from the hilltop, the ridge lay before us, the clouds were scudding across the pass, but the wind kept them moving and we pressed on.
Following an excellent stone wall along the ridge with an exposed edge on one side, the wind hit us hard and with the rocks slippery from the frost and dew, the scramble up to the second peak of Mynydd Drws Y Coed was hair raising, but just the right side of exciting. The cloud was getting lower now in spite of the wind and after a third short ascent we hit the grassy plateau of Trum Y Ddysgl and assessed our onward/downward options. We'd initially planned to descend along the ridge to Bwlch-Y-ddwy-elor, a pass on the ancient route between Rhyd Ddu and Cwm Pennat, but in the distance the obelisk atop Mynydd-Tal-Y-Mignedd just proved too intruiging. The obelisk was reached via a narrow ridge with drop off views on both sides and a short, steep climb, sheltering in it's lee, we had lunch with magnificent views back to the coast and across the Snowdon range.
With frozen fingers and wind bitten cheeks we headed away from the obelisk and descended a very steep sheep path into the Afon Dwyfor valley (Valley of the Big Holy River) where we made our way through the abandoned, and by know quite ruined, copper mine workings before the steep ascent following sheep tracks up the marshy slopes with only circling ravens and the spectacular, sunlit views down the valley as distractions. Finally reaching the Bwlch-Y-ddwy-elor pass we headed down into the dense pine of the Beddgelert Forest where a sole mountain biker proved we were moving back towards civilisation. The path wound through the forest and spat us out back on the A4085 where we followed the railway line back to our parking spot enjoying magnificent views of the Llyn y Gader lake nestled in the shadows of Y Garn.
To view the full photo album please visit the link below

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shutlingsloe-Macclesfield Forest-Tegg's Nose-Toot Hill-Clough Hall

Walking with; Nobody
A fantastic walking start to the year in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. I started out from Clough Hall and headed straight up Shutlingsloe, known in this part of the world as "The Cheshire Matterhorn" due to it's distinctive triangular profile. At 506m, it's a little smaller than it's famous namesake but it's a short, sharp shock at the start of a January walk and conditions underfoot were slippery. I made the top without seeing another soul and celebrated with a slice of coconut cake and some fantastic views out towards The Roaches and The Cat and Fiddle.
I continued on across the moors and into Macclesfield Forest, site of one of the ancient Royal forests and hunting reserves, though the majority of the trees are now Sitka Spruce and Japanese Larch farmed for timber by United Utilities. The path wound it's way through the forest although there were a number of trees down across the path after the recent high winds and emerged near the Ranger station before continuing alongside Ridgegate and Bottoms reservoirs. There were a few Goosander and a pair of Tufted Ducks on the latter and a large, restless flock of Black headed Gulls.
It was a slog up to Tegg's Nose, but the views more than compensated and after skirting the abandoned quarry works, I stopped for lunch and watched a Buzzard circle over the valley below, it was a bit early for any lamb carcasses and it eventually ended up alighting in a bare Hawthorn where it sat and watched me for a while, unimpressed with my sandwiches! I'd originally planned to continue via Hardingland, but headed back down the valley, crossing the brook on a set of stepping stones before following the road back to Ridgegate. The "Leather's Smithy" was doing a good trade and the temptation to pop in for one of their really good game dishes was strong, but Toot Hill awaited, and the thought of having to drag an extra Venison Wellington up it's steep slope drove me on towards St Stephen's, a Grade 2 sandstone church, better known as the Forest Chapel and sitting in a beautiful churchyard.
The final descent back towards Wildboarclough took me through fields of pregnant sheep and a flock of pheasants before following the winding lane back towards Clough Hall and the remains of my coffee.
To view full set of photos please click on link below