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Monday, January 28, 2013

A question

Has anyone walked any of the Welsh Coastal Path? If so, do they have any reflections/hints/tips on it? Ditto, the Offa's Dyke Path? Any information would be very much appreciated. Cheers

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fernilee Reservoir

Walking with; Nobody

Snow seems to divide the nation, one half turning into big kids and the other into whingers and moaners, perhaps the divide is based on whether you have to go to work in it, because spending a day wandering through the Peak District in the snow is, quite frankly, one of the best things I can think of doing! It's a while since I have found a completely new walk in the Peaks so I pulled my well thumbed "Pub Walks in the Peak District"  out of the bookcase and on John Morrison's advice decided to try a variant on his stroll around Fernilee.
Fernilee is a hamlet, a mile or so South of Whalley Bridge and consists of "The Shady Oak" pub, a few farms and not a lot more. However a short stroll down the Goyt Valley there are the twin reservoirs of Fernilee and Errwood built in 1938 by the Stockport Water Corporation. I followed the footpath through Folds Lane Farm and down the pristine slopes to the River Goyt itself which I crossed before following a path that seemed better suited to cross country skiing than walking to the head of the Fernilee Reservoir.  Walking with the crunch of snow under boot, the sky blue and cloudless and a chill wind reddening your cheeks is hard to beat and my meander was further cheered by a friendly Robin accompanying me en bird looks better against a backdrop of snow and holly. The next section took me through a fir plantation giving the walk a distinctly Scandanavian flavour before a path dropped down to the shore and I followed this to the dam separating the two reservoirs. It was being utilised by some kamikaze sledders who I watched in awe before lunching on top of the dam and spending ten minutes chatting to a gent who'd come down from the Cat and Fiddle.
I circumvented Bunsal Cob before taking the Midshires Way and heading through some seriously deep, drifted snow to the roadside viewpoint of Long Hill with views back towards the reservoir and across to Ladbitch Wood and Taxal Moor. The slog across the thigh deep drifts made me feel like Titus Oates, except with a little less immediate peril. Crossing the access land North of the A5004 I headed through more deep snow up to the Old Road which led me past the very lonely and remote farm at Wythen Lache and back through a true Winter wonderland to the lane down to the pub which sadly had just closed thus depriving me of a well needed pint and opportunity to thaw out in front of a fire......ah well, there's always next time!
All this snow has seriously whetted my appetite for our ski trip, one month from today, so fingers crossed it continues in this vein!

To view the full album, please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.325422667576645&type=1

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Snowy Peak District Double

Walking with; Nobody

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday and I'd hoped to fit something special in as a prelude to this momentous landmark, luckily the weather seemed to be on my side and I had two fantastic days in the Peak District with snow lying thick on the ground and barely a soul to be seen. My plan for the Monday was to head over to Edale and up Kinder via Grindsbrook but as I drove along Rushup Edge the snow was already coating the raod pretty thickly and I decided to stop at Mam Tor and have a dander from there.
Mam Tor is one of my favourites, the "bang for your bucks" vista, the Great Ridge stretching out in front of you, the Bronze and Iron Age history and hill fort remnants and the broken road destroyed by the 1979 land slip. It's accessibility, however, means the top is generally busy......not today. I stood alone in glorious solitude on the "mother mountain" in a complete whiteout, barely able to see two foot in front of me! It was too chilly to hang around so I continued along the ridge, dropping out of the cloud until I reached Hollin's Cross. A toss of the coin took me down towards Castleton rather than Edale and as my footprints disturbed the untouched snow on Hollowford Road I passed Candle House and into the village for a cup of coffee and some respite from the falling flakes. Buoyed by caffeine and warm again I passed the colourfully named "Devil's Arse" cavern and after crossing the bottom of Winnat's Pass headed across the narrow, slippery path traversing the face of Treak Cliff to the Blue John Cavern. Blue John is indelibly linked to Castleton, a form of flourite it is found only in this area and has been mined since the 18th Century mainly for the production of decorative pieces. The caverns are closed at this time of year, but well worth a visit on a rainy day in the Summer. I had lunch back at my car before deciding to utilise the white out conditions to practice my navigation work. I headed down towards the Limestone Trail and has I reached it, the cloud broke giving fantastic views to a snow capped Win Hill in the distance. Red faced and chap cheeked I headed back to the car for another restorative coffee.
Snow was falling again (though lightly) as I parked up near Bowden Bridge, the site from where Benny Rothman led his group of ramblers on the Kinder Trespass of 1932. This site should be a mecca for all hill walkers, marking, as it does, the site of a formative event in challenging the restrictive access laws of the time. The trespass went up William Clough but I headed for Coldwell and Oaken Cloughs (where I spotted a Grey Heron and a beautiful Wren) and followed them up past the snowline to the Edale Cross. The views back to South Head and Mount Famine were stunning and the whole hill had that unique, sound muffled quality that snow tends to bring. The only noises disturbing me as I headed across Swine's Back in beautiful sunshine, were the occasional Grouse and the crunch of snow and ice underfoot. I headed out to the cairn at Kinderlow Head before doubling back towards the Trig Point all the while using the snow covered terrain as navigational practice (this will be a big theme for the year as I work towards my Mountain Leader qualification). With blue skies and great views I worked across to Noe's Stool before yomping through sometimes knee deep snow across the plateau to Red Brook and The Pennine Way. I followed the Way as it hugged the edge of the plateau over the Downfall with views to the Reservoir and Mermaid's Pool before descending down William Clough,where the route once taken by Benny Rothwell and his band of protestors switched back and forth across an icy stream. The last mile was a gentle stroll along the reservoir and back down to Bowden Bridge. This was to be the last walk I took in my thirties and it's fitting it was on one of my "local" and favourite hills, I was even luckier that the snow fell and sun shone. Roll on the next ten years!

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

White Nancy, Rainow and The Gritstone Trail

Walking with; Nobody

There are some days when it dawns on you about half way round your chosen walk that you'd be better off nestled in front of a log fire in a cosy pub (such as The Vale in Bollington) with a pint and a good book, rather than slogging through shin deep mud in a blanket of mizzle with views approximating to not much more than a foot in front of you. This was one of those days.......None the less I have set myself some quite demanding goals for the New Year and in order to achieve them sometimes it is just going to be necessary to get some miles under the belt and besides there were the 8lbs of Christmas excess to start shifting, so away I went.
White Nancy is an endearing folly and I have written a bit about it's history on a previous walk up here ( and is one of those excellent hills, like Mam Tor or Win Hill where a relatively short slog gives great 360 degree views, in this case over the Cheshire plains. I continued staright ahead through the gloop onto the Saddle of Kerridge, the cloud had already dropped very low and the gnarled hawthorns peering through the gloom created the kind of eerie atmosphere where I could very well imagine Dick Turpin or somesuch nefarious bandit looming out of the murk. The path drops into Rainow, a Cheshire village full of picturesque houses with expensive cars parked in the driveways but seemingly blighted by the decline in rural facilities so commonplace nowadays. I was back home in East Sussex at Christmas in the village of Crowhurst where I grew up. When I was a child there were two pubs, a tearooms, a village shop and Post Office, two market gardens, a school and a church. On my recent return, the one remaining pub was on the verge of closure leaving the school and the poorly attended church as the remaining communal features of the area. Two of the three pubs I passed on my route today were closed and the buildings seemingly left to fall into disrepair.....a sorry state of affairs.
I continued across the fields to Four Lane Ends Farm and then on through ever deeper mud and fields of frisky bullocks past Withinlow Farm, which had passed the stage of picturesque dilapidation and reached the kind of state of decrepitude that if you were watching a horror movie and a bunch of attractive teenagers decided to camp in a bearby field for the night would have you screaming "Noooooooo, don't do it....." at the screen. The path continued over Black Brook and past Further Harrop Farm before linking back to The Gritstone Trail which gradually led me back towards White Nancy and the warmth of my car heater! As, so often with my wanders in Cheshire, the state of the paths was pretty abysmal and a stout pair of wellies would be called for if I were going to try and repeat this route

To view the full album please click on the link below;!/media/set/?set=oa.315767258542186&type=1

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Walking Resolutions for the New Year

1. Walk 1000 miles during 2013
2. Complete another long distance pathway
3. Obtain my Mountain Leader Qualification
4. Do more wild camping
5. Do a Winter Skills course

Anyone else got any other good ideas for 2013? Happy New Year to you all!!!!