Saturday 29 March 2014

A Moorland Walk in Lyme Park

Friday 14th February 2014 

A windy walk in and around Lyme Park on the western edge of the Peak District 

Distance: 15km; Ascent: 420m; Very windy - heavy rain later; with Lynsey

It had been some time since Lynsey & I had been out for a decent hill walk together, so we were determined to take advantage of a child-free day today to get out for a walk.  Unfortunately however the weather had other ideas!  Therefore due to the strong winds forecast we decided to go for a slightly lower level walk in the moorlands of Lyme Park.

On the way up Cage Hill
We set off from outside Disley Station shortly before 10am and headed along a lane to enter the northern edge of Lyme Park, before ascending up Cage Hill, which is topped by a tower known as The Cage.

The Cage
The Cage
Lyme Hall from Cage Hill
After passing the Lyme Hall we ascended ESE up past a forest to reach the edge of the moorlands, before reaching a minor road.  Soon afterwards we reached the Bowstones, which according to the sign are shafts from Saxon crosses.

Looking south towards Reed Hill and Shining Tor
The Bowstones
Now we had the most exposed section of the walk to look forward too!  We continued SSW along the track towards Sponds Hill, stopping on route to don waterproofs due to the entirely expected arrival of the heavy rain.  It was pretty windy on Sponds Hill so we decided to forgo the opportunity to visit the summit trig point and instead walked perpendicular to the wind, eastwards along the outside edge of the southern boundary of Lyme Park.

Just outside the western edge of Lyme Park
After crossing the moorland it was nice to descend out of the wind as we approached West Parkgate, from where we followed the estate track NE back into Lyme Park and on to the cafe for a well earned lunch of soup and cake.  It was nice to be inside out of the now very strong wind and rain, but we couldn't stay here forever!  So after lunch we headed back out to brave the stormy weather, to head north to Parkgate and back to Disley village after a good walk.

Heading north towards Parkgate
On the way to Parkgate

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Marbury Country Park

Sunday 16th February 2014 

An sunny walk around Marbury Country Park and along the Trent & Mersey Canal towpath 

Distance: 6km; Ascent: negligible; Sunny; with Lynsey, Isabel, Olivia & Margaret

As it was actually forecast to be sunny today, we decided to head out for a family walk in the Cheshire countryside.  We set off from the car park at Marbury Country Park and walked through Hopyards Wood to reach the Anderton Boat Lift, where we had lunch in the cafe there.  To return to the car, we walked along the Trent & Mersey Canal's towpath to reach Big Wood and the car park beyond.  Here are a few photos from the walk:

In Marbury Country Park
Trent & Mersey Canal near Anderton
Trent & Mersey Canal

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Dales Way - Day 5: Sedbergh to Oxenholme

Sunday 23rd February 2014 

A wet walk from Sedbergh to Oxenholme via the Crook of Lune  

Distance 22km; Ascent: 400m; Very wet and windy; Solo

I set off walking in drizzle shortly before 9am, but it wasn't long before the rain became heavier and I had to don waterproofs.  Due to the weather I opted to skip the first section of Dales Way today and instead followed the A684 to Lincoln's Inn Bridge, where I rejoined my planned route.

Lune Viaduct
The route north alongside the River Lune was pleasant, and I crossed underneath the disused Lune Viaduct before spending a couple of kilometres away from the river.  I then returned to the river, following a path through the riverside woods, past a number of kayakers paddling downstream.

In the Lune Gorge
Shortly before 11:30am I reached the Crook of Lune bridge, where I stopped for a quick break.  By now the forecast heavy rain and strong winds had well and truly set-in, and I decided to abandon my original plans to continue across the, almost certainly, very muddy fields to Burneside.  Instead I opted to walk along the minor roads to Oxenholme station, from where I'd have a greater choice of trains to catch home.

Crook of Lune Bridge
The River Lune at Crook of Lune
I walked into driving rain and wind for much of the next couple of hours as I made my way SW to reach Oxenholme station shortly after 2pm.  I shall return at some point to walk from Oxenholme to Burneside, where I'll pick up the Dales Way and follow it to the finish in Windermere - probably later in the year.

Dales Way - Day 4: Ribblehead to Sedbergh

Saturday 22nd February 2014 

A morning moorland walk followed by an afternoon walking down Dentdale 

Distance 28km; Ascent: 480m; Dry until late afternoon; Solo

I had a long day ahead of me today so I set off walking from The Station Inn at around 8:30am after a good breakfast.  I decided that I didn't fancy retracing my steps back along the road, so instead came up with an alternative route over to Dentdale, via Little Dale and Blea Moor.

Train crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct 
Ribblehead Viaduct in front of a misty Ingleborough
The track alongside the railway made for reasonable walking, with good views of the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct, on the famous Settle to Carlisle line.  There were plenty of other walkers out today, although they all seemed to be heading for Whernside so I soon left them behind as I continued on up Little Dale.

Looking back down into Little Dale
Soon I began to ascend on the track, which here runs pretty much directly above the Bleamoor railway tunnel, past a couple of large cylindrical air shafts for the tunnel.  Shortly after passing the third air shaft, I left the track and ascended over pathless moorland to reach the trigpoint on the summit of Blea Moor (HuMP, Dewey).

Trig point on Blea Moor
On the summit of Blea Moor
There were good views from up here, although I imagine they'd be better on a clear day; however I didn't linger long as there was a bitterly cold wind.  I headed NE to reach the high point of the fence, before roughly following it back NW to the track.

Air Shaft for Blea Moor tunnel above upper Dentdale
I passed another air shaft; this one was adorned with scaffolding, solar panels and various gadgets - I wonder if it is some sort of automated weather station?  I continued to descend through the woods to reach the northern portal of the railway tunnel.

Northern portal of Blea Moor Tunnel
I passed Dent House Farm, before crossing over a grass covered bridge to reach the minor road in upper Dentdale.  I quickened my pace as I walked NNE along the road, with good views of Dent Head Viaduct and Artengill Viaduct.

Grassy bridge in upper Dentdale
Train crossing Arten Gill Viaduct
Soon I stopped for lunch in the sunshine, on the wall between the road and the river.  After refuelling, I continued down the pleasant dale complete with the River Dee tumbling down the various limestone steps in the river bed.

River Dee
Looking down Dentdale
River Dee
After quite a bit more walking along footpaths and road, I reached the lovely cobbled village of Dent, where I took a well earned break in the picnic area.  It would have been nice to call into one of the enticing looking teashops, but I was now well and truly up against the clock if I was going to get to Sedbergh before nightfall.

Memorial in Dent
St Andrew's Church, Dent
I left Dent at around 4:15pm and headed NW along the road to rejoin the Dales Way, which I followed across fields for the next few kilometres before joining a minor road on the south side of the valley.  There had clearly been a lot of rain recently as this road was quite flooded in several places - I was glad I was wearing gaiters!

Flooded road in lower Dentdale
As the light was beginning to fade, I opted to divert from the Dales Way for the rest of the day and instead follow the road into Sedbergh where I stayed for the evening.

Monday 24 March 2014

Dales Way - Day 3: Buckden to Ribblehead

Friday 21st February 2014 

My return to the Yorkshire Dales to walk along the Dales Way from Buckden to Ribblehead 

Distance 23km; Ascent: 550m; Mainly wet, but occasional dry spells; Solo

After several hours of travelling by train and bus I set off walking from Buckden in full waterproofs at around 11:30am this morning.  I followed the pleasant riverside path along the SW banks of the River Wharfe, in the rain, to reach the small hamlet of Hubberholme, where there were lots of snowdrops in the churchyard.

St. Michael and All Angels Church, Hubberholme
River Wharfe just west of Hubberholme
The Dales Way continued westwards along the north bank of the river and I soon reached Yockenthwaite, before continuing along the path to re-cross the river at Deepdale Bridge.  By now the rain had stopped and I took the opportunity of a dry lunch break near a small waterfall.

Looking downstream from Deepdale Bridge
Small section of rapids above Deepdale Bridge
The break in the rain didn't last long and I was soon continuing on upstream to reach the confluence of Green Field Beck with the River Wharfe near Beckermonds.  A couple of kilometres of road walking now lay ahead to reach the small village of Oughtershaw where I left the road behind.

Looking up the River Wharfe towards Beckermonds
Confluence of Green Field Beck and the River Wharfe
Lone postbox near Beckermonds
A farm access track made for relatively quick walking westwards past Nethergill to reach Swarthgill farm.  From here a muddy path headed further westwards towards the watershed near Cam Houses.

Looking west over the watershed towards Ingleborough
There were noticeably large areas of new tree plantations on the south side of the head of the boggy looking valley.  I continued heading west and soon crossed the Pennine watershed.  The River Wharfe, which I had been following for the first two and a half days of the Dales Way drains into the North Sea, whereas on the west side of this watershed the burns flow into the River Ribble, which drains into the Irish Sea.

Looking back towards the headwaters of Oughtershaw Beck
After passing Cam Houses I passed the edge of a forestry plantation, which looked to have suffered somewhat in the recent storms as there were quite a few fallen trees.  After a little bit more ascent I reached the junction with the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway, which here both follow the Cam High Road.

Cairn at Junction of Dales Way and Pennine Way
A good track made for quick walking south-westwards, in a hail storm, and I soon came to a track junction not marked on my maps.  It appeared that a new access road had been built for the forestry plantation at Cam Woodlands.  This track joined the Cam High Road at this junction and followed the Dales Way all the way to the road.

New forestry road
Looking down the upgraded Cam High Road towards Ingleborough and Ribblehead
By now it was late afternoon, so I continued downhill along the upgraded track, which was now more like a forest road than an old track - it certainly seemed quite different from when I was late walking this way back in September 2008.  A new heavy-duty looking bridge across Gayle Beck brought me to the B6255 road, which I followed in fading light to reach my overnight halt at the Station Inn at Ribblehead.

New bridge over Gayle Beck
I reached the pub shortly after 6pm, where I enjoyed a good meal along with some excellent real ale after another good day's walking :-)

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Offa's Dyke Path - Index of Posts

Back in January of this year I walked my final section of the Offa's Dyke Path, which I had been walking in sections since January 2012, and this post is an index to all my blog posts on the subject.  As on previous long distance paths, I adopted a section walking approach using a combination a trains, buses and occasionally taxis to allow me to walk 2, 3 or 4 days of the path at a time.  I also deviated from the route in various places, either to climb extra hills, take a short-cut or to reach transport home; therefore these are reflected in the distance and ascent figures below.

Moel Arthur from the south
The first section I walked was from Prestatyn on the North Wales coast to the village of Llandegla over two days, including a lovely traverse of the Clwydian Range in January 2012.  Here are my posts on each day:
  • Day 1: Prestatyn to Bodfari - 21km, 680m ascent
  • Day 2: Bodfari to Llandegla - 28km, 1280m ascent
One of the first sections of the Offa's Dyke that I encountered
Then in early March 2012, I walked my second section of the trail from from Llandegla to Welshpool over three days, which included my first section of the Offa's Dyke itself.  Here are my daily posts:
  • Day 3: Llandegla to Trevor - 21.5km, 750m ascent
  • Day 4: Trevor to Llanymynech - 30.5km, 980m ascent
  • Day 5: Llanymynech to Welshpool - 20km, negligible ascent
Beacon Ring hill fort from the SW
Next it was a two day section from Welshpool to Knighton, including Beacon Ring and The Switchbacks, in early March 2013:
  • Day 6: Welshpool to Mellington Hall Campsite - 24km, 670m ascent
  • Day 7: Mellington Hall Campsite to Knighton - 24.5km, 1250m ascent
Hatterrall Hill
Easter 2013 saw me walk in the snow from Knighton to Pandy, via Kington, Hergest Ridge and the Black Mountains, and then on over Ysgyryd Fawr to Abergavenny station:
  • Day 8: Knighton to Kington - 22km, 730m ascent
  • Day 9: Kington to Hay-on-Wye - 24.5km, 900m ascent
  • Day 10: Hay-on-Wye to Pandy - 27km, 800m ascent
  • Day 10a: Pandy to Abergavenny - 12km, 410m ascent
Chepstow Castle
Finally this January I returned to Abergavenny and walked from near Pandy to Sudbury Cliffs over two and a half days.  This was a mainly stormy weekend, but it was bright and sunny when I finished the path at Sedbury Cliffs.  Here are my posts on the three days:
  • Day 11: Near Pandy to Monmouth - 26km, 460m ascent
  • Day 12: Monmouth to Chepstow - 28.5km, 1120m ascent
  • Day 13: Chepstow to Sedbury Cliffs - 6.5km, 150m ascent
The Offa's Dyke Path was the second National Trail that I've walked (the first was the Pennine Way) and I found it to be an enjoyable long distance path to walk with plenty of variety.