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Monday, July 30, 2012

Ridgegate Reservoir-Higher Sutton-Sutton Common-Fox Bank-Ridgegate Reservoir

Walking with; Nobody

The bucolic pastoral landscape of Cheshire farming country seemed like it might be the place to stretch the legs on a lazy Wednesday with the sun shining and not much else going on and so I headed off to beautiful Ridgegate Reservoir sitting in the shadow of Tegg's Nose. There were a lot of wildfowl on the water, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebe, Canada Geese and just before I arrived a deer crossed the road at some speed in front of me! I decided to strike out along a section of The Gritstone Trail and it got me thinking. A couple of years ago I walked the Wainwright's Coast to Coast, it took two weeks with tent and all kit on my back and it was one of the most satisfying challenges I've undertaken. It was much more satisfying though for being completed in one go and made me identify much more strongly with Munro baggers and their ilk whom I'd previously not really understood. Now I have walked most sections of The Gritstone but I would never consider myself to have completed it unless I did it in one go.......Still, I digress........
Walking through the countryside I found myself thinking that, as on previous occasions, in this part of the world there seems to be a very real difficulty in accommodating the needs of walkers and those of farmers. The track was already quite overgrown, but in a number of places the path had been chewed to pieces by dairy herds and in damper conditions would probably have been impassable. It's a tricky issue and not one I have a ready answer for but it seems particularly prevalent in this part of the world ( Passing through a couple of hamlets I diverted from The Gritstone onto the bridleway along Rossen Clough which was beautifuly lit in sunshine and flanked by wild flowers. Looming in the distance I could see the huge radio tower at Lingerds Farm, which whilst not exactly a beauty spot certainly ensured it was hard to get lost. As I climbed up towards the mast the views back to Tegg's Nose, Shutlingsloe and Macclesfield Forest were more than compensation for the sweat! Regaining The Gritstone I followed it along the ridge through more fields of cattle before dropping down Fox Bank. I passed over the road and headed up through hay fields where the mowing sent up clouds of insects and where I bumped into a family of Partridge fleeing ahead of the tractor, not to mention a couple of redstarts and a goldfinch! The last half mile or so took me past the magnificent (not to mention eccentric) pile at Meg Lane End and then a huge Canada Geese nursery (or goslingery) behind Mosslee Farm.
I may not have completed The Gritstone Track (as of yet) but it does provide good and varied walking and helps to showcase the diversity of the Cheshire countryside!

To view the full album, please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.254114044707508&type=1

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two down, one to go

Walking with; Ruthy

A couple of years ago Ruthy and I visited the Yorkshire Dales staying at the fantastic "Game Cock Inn" in Austwick (, fuelled by French food and Yorkshire bitter we ascended Ingleborough in the snow and sleet and I decided that she was the girl for me. Later on, with another pint in front of the fire I asked her to marry me! Last weekend was our first Wedding anniversary and we stayed once again in this fantastic pub and decided to try and conquer another of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Pen-Y-Ghent this time. Whilst Pen-Y-Ghent is the lowest of the three, it is an impressive looking lump of rock when viewed from the tables outside the legendary cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale. The Celtic sounding name appears to be a bit of mystery with some people ascribing it to ancient Cumbric whilst others back a Welsh interpretation meaning "Hill of the Winds", given the conditions on the top I am prepared to favour the latter!
We decided to take the anti-clockwise route gradually climbing from Brackenbottom Farm until we reached Brackenbottom Scar where the full imposing splendour of the hill really became evident.We continued to ascend with spectacular clear views to Ingleborough and Whernside and of lonely windswept farms perched on the moorland below. The scramble to the summit was made a little trickier by the buffeting wind but it seemed to be those coming down who were finding the route more difficult and we were soon walking over the brow to the Trig Point on the summit which was pretty busy with people enjoying the rare day of sunshine.
The descent follows The Pennine Way and drops down quite steeply through moorland with views of Hull Pot (a gaping hole in the earth), flocks of Jackdaws and the rare Purple Saxifrage that is found in abundance on the slopes of this hill. As the path levelled out, we admired the views back to Pen-Y-Ghent and watched a waterfall crashing down in another limestone scar. It wasn't long before we were making our way back into Horton with two Yorkshire Peaks under our belt and making the decision to schedule in another trip to Austwick and give us a crack at the third and final one of the challenge!

To view the full album please click on the link below;

Monday, July 16, 2012

Elterwater and Skelwith Force

Walking with; Ruthy

Two weeks since my hernia op and I felt it was about time that I got back out there, albeit in a gentle, non-strenuous manner. This undemanding perambulation in Langdale hit the spot and, in spite of the occasional shower, finished with a pint in the sunshine.....
The name Elterwater is believed to have derived from the Norse for Swan Lake and although we didn't see any swans until the next day in Coniston, the birdlife was good on the walk with plenty of Swallows, Grey Wagtails and a beautiful Redstart all popping up en route. There were also some magnificent Oak and Beech trees occupying some rare, undisturbed patches of English woodland. We set off from the village and left the Coniston Road before climbing up an increasingly rough track that led through the margin of Sawrey's Wood. The woodland opened out and we followed a path that skirted a well flowered hay meadow and allowed great views of the Coniston Fells down towards Little Langdale where the rain started to fall. We pressed onto Stang End Farm enjoying the views of the Brathay Valley and being glad we weren't buried in the thick cloud coating the Peaks that were visible through the drizzle. We continued to follow the river through woodland until the sound of crashing water alerted us to the fact we'd arrived at Colwith Force where the Brathay falls about 40 feet to the valley floor over a series of narrow cataracts.
We continued on along The Cumbria Way and down to Skelwith Bridge where we watched the Wagtails for a while before venturing through the yard of Kirkstone Slate Gallery to Skelwith Force. Whilst the falls here are much smaller than Colwith, the passage the water is forced through is very narrow and the river thunders through here throwing up clouds of spray, even the wettest Summer anyone can remember has some benefits !! From the falls the path meanders along the bank of the Brathay to Elterwater with stunning views of the Langdale Pikes, surely one of the most evocative of all Lakeland views. Leaving Elterwater behind we passed a very angry cow, admired the redstart as he stayed a couple of fenceposts ahead of us all the way to the carpark and then, just as the sunshine made a welcome reappearance, crossed to the excellent Britannia Inn for a pint of their eponymous bitter!

To view the full album for this walk please follow the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.249340331851546&type=1

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting back on the horse.....

After a couple of weeks off recovering from an operation (number 2 for me this year), it is off to the Lake District this weekend towards Chapel Stile. Any ideas for an "ease back into walking" route in that neck of the woods? I know Elterwater probably has one or two, not sure I'd be up to the Langdale Pikes just yet.....We'll see!

Monday, July 2, 2012

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