Monday, 23 April 2018

Rochdale Canal from Manchester

Distance: 16 miles
Weather: overcast
Canada geese, a couple of fish splashes, moorhens, pied wagtail, kestrel

After a lot of dithering we got the bus into Manchester so I could try on some walking trousers in the hopes of getting some that are less flappy than my TNF Horizon pants. I got a couple of pairs from Patagonia, so we'll see.

After lunch at Bella Italia and a brief unsuccessful visit to Go Outdoors, we walked back along the Rochdale canal. Canal walking is dull and there is nowhere to sit down, the aches and pains after yesterday's quite long walk made themselves known. A short rest at the monument at the top of Tandle Hill improved moods, along with the possibility of dinner at the pub. We stopped in at the Shay Wake for very nice, and very value-intensive, burgers and beer.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Hollingworth Lake Round

Distance : 16.5 miles
Ascent : 450m
Weather : warm and sunny
Meadow pipits, skylarks,  pheasant and grouse. A few curlew, Canada geese, pied wagtail, ducks with loads of ducklings, swallow, house/sand martin, reed bunting.
People with cans of lager: 2
Not very well hidden hiding people: 2

We left the car at the aerial and walked down along the track to the Transpennine trail towards Hollingworth Lake. The lake was pretty busy, the ice cream van just driving up had missed a lot of sales. We visited the visitor centre and got our ice creams there, before heading off through the nature reserve towards the canal.

We followed the canal, stopping at a handy bench for lunch, where we were guarded by a goose who swam over to us then proceeded to hiss at everyone who passed by. He seemed disappointed but stoical that we didn't share our lunch with him.

From the canal we went up to Warland Reservoir, the very wet places still pretty wet despite the dry weather, discovering that the dam wall is still being repaired and the diversion still in place. This adds another mile on to the route. We had decided to not visit Studley Pike today anyway because of weather warnings for thunder later. As it was the day stayed dry.

We returned along the Pennine Way passed the Aigen Stone and over Blackstone Edge back to the car.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

A Walk to Gorse Hall

Distance: 21 miles
Weather: sunny
Frogs: lots
Banged heads: 1
Man complaining about getting his trainers dirty: 1

Setting off from home at about ten am, we went down the Medlock Valley Way to Lees (lunch purchased at the co op) and along the bear trail. We turned off, crossing a bridge and a grassy field to join the lane up to Kiln Farm, where a wet track took us up to Hartshead Pike. We had lunch accompanied by some flies, enjoying the view (and pork pie) then walked down past from horsey farms to a little nature reserve.

A bit of a walk through a housing estate and crossing a busy road brought us to Stamford Park, where the flower beds are nearly in bloom but not quite, and we had a sit down and second lunch (with cocktail sausages.)

We followed the canal (which contains more wall than it used to) to the gates of Gorse Hall and walked up through the grounds. None of the Gorse Halls are now standing, one of them was the home of Beatrix Potter's grandparents and there is a blue plaque commemorated this connection. There was also a mysterious murder, the perpetrator never caught.

On a more jolly note, some people where out flying kites and we helped some people out for a walk with their grandson identify some of the hills and view points at the top of Hough Hill.
A grassy path led down through Cheetham Park and, after crossing Tesco Car Park, to the Huddersfield Canal. It was quite muddy along the canal but nowhere near as muddy as we've experienced lately.

We walked through Scout Tunnel, which is 188m long, dark, with a low roof that drips. We walked along the canal and the river Tame back through Mossley and up to Grasscroft, along Lovers Lane to the bridleway to Austerlands. Then we walked along the lane by the Roebuck towards home.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter Weekend - Day 4

Distance : 10.7 miles
Ascent : 370m
Weather : Rain, easing, then heavy

Today's weather forecast had been quite concerning, but as it happened it wasn't that bad. Light rain eased off, until we were almost home, then the heavens opened.

We started along the Biddulph Valley Way again, enjoying the old railway way line path, which by now had some big puddles as it rained most of the night but was easy going and there were lots of birds including a bullfinch. Reluctantly, we left that path and, following the Gritstone Trail, turned off up a lane towards a farm. Before the farmyard, the path crossed a field and led into muddy woods. Here it was very muddy, however our mud tolerance has been adjusted and we splashed happily through. Ok, maybe not happily.

The path exited the woods onto a track, that gradually climbed up to Mow Cop, in cloud, along muddy but rocky paths that are more like what we are accustomed to, and along a road for a short while where there were lots of laybys where people cosy in their cars can enjoy the views. Leaving the road we followed a misty, snow lined wood path to the top. At the top there was a bench that we didn't stop at, as although I imagine there there are occasionally lots of views up here there weren't any today but it did make for an atmospheric visit to the castle. We also stopped to admire the Old Man of Mow, which is very erm geological.

Coming down off the hilltop we followed a straight grassy waterfall of a path that was a little slippy in places but did clean the mud off my shoes. The cleanish shoes lasted a while as the towpath along the Staffordshire Canal was paved nicely, but too soon became less gravel and more muddy, then grassy and very muddy. We past the boat with the best name, The Snooty Coot, and were soon near Kidsgrove, swapping to the Trent and Mersey Canal, then leaving the canal at the train station to catch the imminent train back to Manchester.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Weekend - Day 3

Distance: 18.5 miles
Ascent : 750m
Weather : overcast
Slips: 1 and frankly that's a miracle
Curlew, Kestrel, Treecreeper, Squirrels

Another comfortable night, and another gupping big breakfast. We were off just before ten, and avoided being mown down by a tractor with a big spike on the front, disappointing to the nearby buzzards.

Before long we had been accosted by two lots of Ramblers, one clutching a torn out page from an AA Road atlas asking the way to Teggs Nose and another asking if we'd seen some of their party. The mislaid Ramblers were about 50m ahead, if that. Things quietened down for a while, we walked through Macclesfield Forest on pleasant paths, with birds singing and the sun shining through the trees. Leaving the forest, along the road as some footpaths were closed due to storm damage, we entered farmland complete with slippy mud, edged with holly, gorse and brambles. A bright white treecreeper was spotted.

We stopped briefly on the way up Croker Hill for some Easter mini eggs, lest the Easter Bunny get angry. We haven't seen any bunnies yet, the one I thought I saw turned into a squirrel. Up on Croker Hill there were curlews, skylarks and pippets singing and we met Millie the very excited spaniel. Croker Hill has a large telecoms tower on it, visible from home (well almost, you can see it from the top of Bishops Park) and it looks quite impressive from afar. Close up, not so much. We walked past aerials and down a grassy slope on the other side.

The next high top of the day was The Cloud, which is about 3 miles away as the crow flies. We are not crows. The Gritstone Trail loops around, first along a hill top lane then through sodden fields with flooded areas, over grassy slopes with muddy gates, along grassy meadows with muddy duck board bridges and by the side of disused canals with ankle deep muddy banks.

Once up on The Cloud, it turned out to be a proper gritstone heath, complete with trig point and a toposcope. The way down was along a muddy rocky path, with sticky out rocks and tree roots. A group of lads was messing about in the stream, much to the obvious disgust of one of their group who's black Nike Airs are never going to be quite the same again. Crossing a few (wet, muddy) fields brought us on to the Biddulph Valley Way, which is a disused railway that, most unusually, seems to be both solid and dry underfoot and leads directly to the place you want to go. We followed this into Congleton and then it was just a quick walk into town.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Easter Weekend - Day 2

Distance: 20 miles
Ascent : 1000m
Weather : overcast
Types of mud: all of them, except glorious
Barely seen creatures : stoat, fox, big brown bird

After a very comfortable night and a fine breakfast, we were set off just before 10am. There was some early excitement of horse mud as we dropped down the hill into New Mills.  I won who got mud highest on trousers competition.

We wiggled though the village on the wiggly Sett Valley trail, then ignored some footpath closed signs to visit the hydro Station and accompanying industrial stonework that was very impressive along the gorge that led round to the Millennium walk way. This was also impressive, although a little bit gerty tummy inducing. Back on solid ground we tried to identify a bird, possibly a peregrine and visited the Swizzles factory, where there was a definite sugariness to the atmosphere.

We walked along the canal for a while, turning off in Disley and up a lane by a  church and onto the Gritstone Trail. As Rob later commented, it is less the gritstone trail and more mud. So. Much.. Mud.
After some mud, we already along a rocky lane to the east gate of lyme Park where there was a proper track and some red deer snoozing by a wall. The Parkland by the house was fairly busy, and we called in at the wheelwrights cafe for lunch.

After lunch we walked through the park and up onto the moors, seeing a curlew and tried to id some hills back towards home to the north but it was too cloudy. On Spondon hill we throught there was a bit heap of gravel but it was the lime stuff they use on fields.The moorland became sheep grazing land which became fields. All muddy. We veered around farms and lanes, through mud and more mud, some deep, some slippy, some deep and slippy and walked up on to White Nancy's Hill and followed the ridge, hoping it would be easier going.

Up on the higher ground, there were sheep fields, heavily pregnant but not quite lambing yet and into open moorlands  with kestrel and buzzards overhead. The views towards Croker Hill weren't making it seem any closer. We left the fields and joined a road just at the Teggs Nose visitor centre.
Time tea rooms shut: five
Time we arrived: five

We had a sit down and tepid tea on a picnic table near the car park and then walked to The Nose.
After looking off the edge of the Nose, we walked down the side of the Nose to the reservoir at the bottom of the Nose. Leaving the Gritstone Trail, we walked up the steepest road in the world through Macclesfield Forest and then up some more. Then down a green lane that actually was ok before arriving at the Stanley Arms. Here we have made ourselves at home and eaten an enormous amount of food.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Easter Weekend - Day 1

Distance: 14.5 miles
Ascent: 500m
Weather: quite bright, pleasant
Mud: plentiful
Tunnels: many
Ducks: fancy

We caught a convenient (although slightly stinky) train to Stockport and then walked through the town centre trying to follow the signs for the Trans Pennine Trail. After a bit of a detour to view Sainsburys car park, we crossed the motorway and the joined the path alongside the river Goyt.
A buzzard was flying overhead and we saw long tailed tits and robin. The wildlife count was pretty good today, but we have had several issues so far with things like rucksack straps breaking, holey shoes and a dodgy charger. The Midshires Way ends in town too but isn't quite so well signed. As the paths part ways the small signs are more noticeable.

Coming into Vernon Park we saw jays, a scruffy looking kestrel and a bumble bee. The garlic is now up, carpeting green underneath the trees and beginning to smell, there was lots of slippy mud under the trees too. And also not under the trees. The path follows the edge of the river, where there were lots of mallards, mandarin ducks mf and also a kingfisher. There was more mud through woodland, ok apart from when the path went down hill steeply, then it was quite slipsome.

Leaving the park's woods we joined the Alan Newton Way (past the sewage treatment works - our noses have had quite the treat today) which we followed to Chadwick Chapel park, where there was a hill. The route has apparently been gradually ascending all day but this was quite a noticeable up. In the woodland we saw a nuthatch and emerging into farm land there were a couple of fieldfares.

Along the Peak Forest Canal we heard a buzzard overhead and a woodpecker nearby, and saw some coots, tufted ducks, cormorant, Canada geese, swans, moorhen, grey wagtail,  and a warbler of some kind. We had lunch by the aquaduct near Marple, which is currently being repaired. There was more work being done on the canal farther along, well needed judging by the amount of canal wall that is in the canal rather than alongside it. We left the canal and followed the Goyt Way for a while back next to the river.

A green lane that was unsuitable for motor vehicles led us onwards and upwards into Derbyshire. We crossed New Mills Golf Course, ringing the bell as requested, and then followed the lanes to the Pack Horse Inn.