Tuesday 25 February 2014

Spring is on the way!

Tuesday 25th February 2014 

This afternoon we spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey admiring the many snowdrops, daffodils and irises.  Spring might just be on the way!

Friday 21 February 2014

Back to the Dales Way

This morning I am heading back to Buckden in Upper Wharfedale to resume my walk along the Dales Way, which I started back in December.  Today I'm planning on walking from Buckden over to The Station Inn at Ribblehead (22km), tomorrow I'll then walk down Dentdale to Sedbergh (26km) and then on Sunday I'll walk to Burneside (26km) to catch a train back home.  I'll be returning at a later date to walk the final 15km to Windermere.

The following Social Hiking map shows my planned route (in pink), which should get overlaid with my progress (in orange) assuming that that I have signal and/or my SPOT works properly!  Once I've finished walking, I'll be uploading blog posts for each day at some point in the next few weeks.

See map on Social Hiking site or full size in a new window

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Offa's Dyke Path - Day 11: Pandy to Monmouth

Saturday 25th January 2014 

A return to the Offa's Dyke Path to walk from near Pandy, past White Castle to reach Monmouth 

Distance: 26km; Ascent: 460m; Dry with occasional sunshine, followed by heavy rain; Solo
See tracked route in new window (although today's GPS track seems slightly offset compared to the Offa's Dyke Path on the map for some reason)

Many months had passed since I last walked a section of the Offa's Dyke Path over the very snowy Easter weekend last year, so I arranged to return this weekend to finish it in just over 2 days of walking.  After catching an early morning train to Abergavenny I attempted to board the bus to Pandy only to be told that it had broken down and it could be up to two hours before a replacement arrives!  Unfortunately I was on a bit of a tight schedule and hence decided to take a taxi instead in an attempt to ensure I still finished my walk in the daylight! However one advantage of the taxi was that I was able to get dropped off at the exact point that I left the Offa's Dyke Path on Easter Monday last year (pictured below).

Back on the Offa's Dyke Path
I set off down the farm lane and across the muddy fields at around quarter past ten this morning in the sunshine.  By the time I reached the small village of Llangattock Lingoed just under an hour later, I was plastered in mud due to slipping over whilst descending a steep section of muddy grass :(  At this point I was extremely glad I had packed a change of clothes for the pub this evening!

Fields NW of Llangattock Lingoed
St Cadoc's Church, Llangattock Lingoed
I stopped for a break on the picnic bench outside the medieval St Cadoc's Church in the small village of Llangattock Lingoed.  Continuing southwards I crossed the B4521 and ascended up to the impressive ruins of White Castle, which dates from the 12th and 13th centuries. I spent a while wandering around the ruins and climbing one of the towers, from the top of which there were excellent views across to Ysgyryd Fawr.

White Castle moat
Looking W to Ysgyryd from White Castle
White Castle
After exploring the ruins I found a handy picnic bench in the grounds for a spot of lunch, before heading down the road to Llantilio Crossenny to avoid yet more potentially very muddy fields (and to catch up the time I'd spent looking around the castle!)  A bit more road walking brought me to a path through lots of cider apple orchards, which looked a bit bare at the moment due to the time of year.

Cider apple orchard
By now the wind was really starting to pick up as the weekend storm approached, so I didn't hand around for long as I descended eastwards towards the Trothy valley.  Soon I passed the church of St. Michael's of the Fiery Meteor, whose porch provided welcome temporary shelter from the wind and rain!

St. Michael's of the Fiery Meteor
Very heavy rain now set in, so I donned full waterproofs and headed off down the path on the south banks of the River Trothy to meet a minor road.  Beyond here there was a signed alternative route for use in wet conditions, which I concluded today certainly qualified as! This alternative route stayed slightly higher that the main route through the waterlogged fields to my right, although it was still pretty muddy.

Suggested diversion
Wet conditions!
The heavy rain shower was over in around half an hour, followed by a nice rainbow.  I ascended eastwards into the King's Wood on a good track to reach a bench near the high point of the track, where I stopped for a quick break at around sunset.

Continuing eastwards in fading light I descended through woodland and fields to reach the minor road of Watery Lane on the western edge of Monmouth.  A road walk, lit by head torch and then street lights, to the town centre then followed before I reached my accommodation for the evening, where somewhat annoyingly the boiler was broken!  I refuelled on curry and real ale before turning in for an early night at 9pm after a long day.

See also my Social Hiking live map from the walk.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

An Afternoon Walk along the River Mersey and Bridgewater Canal

Saturday 18th January 2014 

A walk from Stockport to Altrincham, mainly along riverside and canalside paths 

Distance: 23.5km; Ascent: negligible; Mainly dry with occasional sunshine; Solo

Car trouble prevented me from getting into the hills today, so instead I opted for a more local walk.  Therefore after having dropped the car at the garage I set off westwards at around 11am along the Trans Pennine Trail, which here follows the north bank of the River Mersey.

River Mersey near East Didsbury
Around Didsbury the Trans Pennine Trail leaves the river, but I instead decided to stick with the Mersey and continued along a muddy footpath past the colourfully painted Didsbury Sluice Gate building.

Didsbury Sluice Gate
River Mersey near Millgate Farm
Soon the path improved and I reached Simon's Bridge, which according to the plaque dates from 1901.  Shortly afterwards I left the river to take a short-cut footpath across a golf-course to avoid one of the many large meanders of the Mersey around here.

Simon's Bridge
After another couple of kilometres I reached Chorlton Water Park, where I stopped for a quick bite to eat at a handily located picnic bench.

Chorlton Water Park
Now back alongside the Mersey, I continued downstream under the new bridge, which was built for the Metrolink extension to the airport, and on past Jackson's Bridge.

New Metrolink bridge near Jackson's Bridge
I left the river once again to follow the Trans Pennine Trail through Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve and on underneath the Altrincham Metrolink line and the Bridgewater Canal.  Here I left the Trans Pennine Trail and instead picked up the Bridgewater Way south along the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal.

Bridgewater Canal
Bridgewater Canal
My original plan had been to walk along the canal as far as Dunham Massey, but given the time and the fact that I'd just have to walk back into Altrincham from there to catch the train home, I instead decided to head directly for Altrincham station.  I arrived at the station at around quarter to four, in plenty of time for the hourly train back home to Stockport after a pleasant few hours walking.

See also my Social Hiking live map from the walk.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Mount Famine & Brown Knoll by Starlight

Monday 20th January 2014

A night time walk up Mount Famine, South Head and Brown Knoll on the western edge of the Peak District under clear skies and an almost full moon. 

Distance: 12.5km; Ascent: 570m; Dry with light winds; with Colin

Colin and I had been planning an evening walk in the Peak District for a while now but never quite got around to it.  However this evening's weather was forecast to be near perfect (clear skies with light winds) so we arranged to go for a walk into the hills from Bowden Bridge car park near Hayfield.  We set off walking at around 8:30pm and followed footpaths up to join the Pennine Bridleway.  We gradually ascended under clear skies with a fantastic number of stars on display to reach the summit of Mount Famine (TuMP), via a slightly convoluted route to avoid the barbed wire fence!

On the summit of Mount Famine
We followed a faint path SE down to the pass and on up to the cairn on the summit of South Head (TuMP) from where there were excellent views of the moon, which had an orange glow this evening.

Orange moon from South Head
South Head Cairn
After a short break we continued eastwards to pick up the partly slabbed path towards Brown Knoll.  By now it was below freezing, which meant that the slabs were frosty and the bog was slightly frozen - but only the top layer!  Shortly before 11pm we left the path to cross the peat bogs to the trig point on the summit of Brown Knoll (Dewey).

Summit of Brown Knoll
By now a thin layer of cloud had begun to obscure most of the stars, but the visibility remained pretty good considering it was now several hours after sunset!  After returning across the peat, we picked up the slabbed path again and followed it north to a bridleway, which we followed west past Edale Cross and Oaken Clough.  The track improved as we descended and we reached the cars shortly before half past midnight after a most pleasant evening walk :-)

See also my Social Hiking live map from the walk.

A Short Wander Around Dunham Massey's Winter Garden

Sunday 9th February 2014 

There was a short break in the rain forecast for early this afternoon so we headed out for a wander around Dunham Massey's Winter Garden.  Below are a couple of photos of some of the snowdrops and iris flowers.