Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Formby Sands and Squirrels

Distance: 10.5 miles
Weather: breezy
Red Squirrels: lots
Sanderling, Jay, Black backed gulls, Grey plover, Golden plover

We did some last minute planning and decided to go to Formby, to get some more sand in our shoes as it's been a while.

Parking at the national trust car park, we visited the facilities and got expensive ice creams but failed to get a leaflet, which isn't like us at all.

We walked north along the beach for a mile or so, then returned back to a sheltered picnic spot in the trees. Back out on to the sand we headed south down to the Cabin Sands nature reserve, where we turned up the lane and returned via the path through the dunes, old asparagus fields and red squirrel walk.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ullwater Way - Day 2

Distance: 12 miles
Ascent: 400m
Weather: overcast
Cormorants, swans, dipper
Harebells,  heather
Midges: plenty

We caught the early steamer to Pooley Bridge today to do the second leg of the Ullswater Way, along the north western side of the lake. The paths on this side are much newer, through (ed- wet and boggy) farmland and forestry to Aira Force.  We took the terrace path around the edge of Gowbarrow Fell, stopping for lunch (massive slabs of tiffin!) at the stone bench, and also applied some insect repellant.

It was cloudier than yesterday, a little drizzly at times, but no where near as bad as the forecast had suggested, and this side of the lake is definitely less popular than the other, so we saw a lot fewer people than yesterday.  Until we arrived at Aira Force. It was heaving. The recent rain made the falls impressive, and the stones slippy.

From Aira Force to Glenridding there is now a nice new gravel footpath off the road, mostly, with footbridges and view points over the lake.
We arrived back at the hotel at about 4pm, celebrating with a couple of pints of Lakeland Golden Ale by the Bitter End brewery in Cockermouth.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ullswater Way - Day 1

Distance: 12.5 miles
Ascent: 500m
Weather: hot and sunny
Cormorants, mallards, honky geese, black backed gull, greenfinch, damselflies
Competitive dad: 1
"Fun" dad: 1
Bottoms: 2
Midges, lots of midges
Squeaky thing: squeaking

We caught the earliest ferry at 9:45 to Pooley Bridge, calling at Howtown to pick up some midges. Lunch and insect repellant was purchased in town and a quick decision made as to which direction we would walk the first section. We decided the along the south eastern side today, for no particular reason.

It was warm and sunny, becoming hotter later and quite busy. We stopped for lunch on a rocky outcrop, with fine views over the lake.

Being a bank holiday, there were a lot of people out walking, mountain biking and kayaking. People were as people are.

We stopped to investigate a brown squeaky mammal (probably a mouse) in the bracken, and had some close encounters with a damselfly and a bee.

We are staying at the Patterdale Hotel, and had a sit in the beer garden with a couple of pints on our return.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Into Manchester

Distance: 16 miles
Weather: hot and clammy

Buzzard heard

Into Manchester along the Medlock Valley Way, stopping for lunch at Park Bridge,  ice cream at Daisy Nook.

We walked along the canals to Salford Quays, where we are spending the weekend watching England vs Pakistan at Old Trafford.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Round Castleshaw

Distance: about 12 miles
Ascent: 550m
Weather: cloudy

After a wet week with disappointing step counts, action was needed to meet our weekly goals, in my case 44,000 of them.

We went out after lunch, walking past the cricket club and down through the horse field at the edge of Strinesdale before heading up to Bishops Park and along the lane to Diggle.

There was nothing untoward on Lark Hill today, just some dog walkers and a fancy new dune buggy.

At Castleshaw we passed a mountain biker who was having doubts, and then took the (dry!) track to T'heights and into Denshaw. We were very strong and didn't go in the pub, despite rumbling tummies, and went home via the Co Op.

My step total was 31,000 which left 12,000 required for the week, easily managed (plus extra) by a walk around Brushes Clough and Shaw (to Asda for purchasing of a new set of weighing scales) on Sunday.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Cumbria Ways Day 18 - Milnthorpe to Arnside

Distance: 4.8 miles
Ascent: 100m
Weather: warm and sunny

After a hot and airless night, we were up at 7am. The midge bite count is high. 

Today is the official end of our walk, we could have gone to either Silverdale or Arnside station,  deciding on Arnside so we'd be able to get an early-ish train back to Manchester, to get home in good time to catch up on three episodes of Game of Thrones before someone spoils it.

We decided to go through the deer park,  where there were cows masquerading as deer, sleepy sheep and pheasants, plus some actual deer. We also saw a grey heron flying over the River Bela.

From Beetham, we went into Underlaid Wood, following a rocky path to the fairy steps, which are down a narrow rocky gully in a low limestone cliff. A concessionary path went around it for people too large (because of rucksacks, not lardy breakfasts) to fit, so we used that. Without rucksacks we fitted quite easily, although had to touch the sides once or twice, so we won't be seeing any fairies.

Leaving the woods, we crossed some farm tracks, seeing a couple of large hares bounding through the long grass.

One of the farms had a CL caravan site, with a few vans crammed into a corner of a field. One of them had two awnings. And not only two awnings, also a double bed with a pine headboard.

Crossing some fields, along a neatly gravelled little path and over the railway line, we then went up the street to Arnside station, and the end of our walk.

In total we have done 298.9 miles. Most of it with sand in our shoes.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Cumbria Ways Day 17 - Staveley to Milnthorpe

Distance: 17.3 miles
Ascent: 480m
Weather: hot and sunny
Hot in sun, midge in shade, high pollen, headache. Big fish, buzzards, wood pigeons, haymaking, posh goats.

We'd (half seriously) joked that today's walk would be on overgrown footpaths with missing footbridges, but as it was it was very picturesque, through parks and National Trust land, well signed and clear.

It was already warm when we set off, blue sky and very hazy. We crossed lanes and heaths, passing a busy campsite, and people heading into Staveley. Ratherheath Tarn is a small lake in the woods, with massive monster fish. We left before we got et.

We crossed some dry grassy meadows, filled with grasshoppers, with little pokey gates up in dry stone walls - small gates seemed to be a feature of the day, I had to take my rucksack off at least three times - although I have eaten some big dinners lately I don't think it was entirely down to that.

With lots of huffing and puffing, we went up to the top of Cunswick Fell, which is a Wainwright outlying fell. It has wide grassy paths with some big cairns, quite rocky with bird's foot trefoil and saxifrage growing in the short grass.

A small gate led through the edge of Scar Woods up to Scout Scar. This is a NT beauty spot with a high bench density. We stopped at the mushroom observatory shelter at the top, which was built in 1912 as a memorial for  King George V on the top of the escapement edge, with a map of the fell tops and places visible on the horizon drawn around the edge, although it was a bit too hazy to see much detail.  Normally we sit in shelters to get out of the wind, it seemed odd to be using one to get out of the sun.

To the south we had views down to the River Kent and Milnthorpe Sands. To the north, indistinct central Lakeland fells, with cumulonimbus clouds bubbling up.

The route led around the escarpment edge to Helsington Barrows (too warm for wights) fringed with stunted twisted hawthorn trees, amongst the cedars and larch.

Crossing a quiet lane, we went into Sizergh Castle's parkland,  and we stopped for lunch and ice cream at the cafe. Leaving the grounds, via a handy underpass under the A590 we went down Nannypie Lane to the river, crossing by the foot suspension bridge, which dates from 1872 built for workers at the nearby gunpowder factory.  There were lots of people enjoying a paddle in the river, including some ducks and cows. We'd thought it would be nice to walk along the bank a bit, but there wasn't much river to be seen, we headed over to the Lancaster canal, now just a footpath with random bridges in fields, and the Sedgwick Aqueduct built in 1817 and falling into decline after the railway opened in the 1850s, it is now mostly uses by bunnies.

At Levens Park we came through the deer park along a grand avenue of oak trees, under which some of the rare breed Bagot goats were resting.

Outside Levens Hall we walked along the same section of pavement that we'd used two weeks ago on the first day of our walk, but we turned off to take a different route through farmland and lanes around Heversham and into Milnthorpe.  We are staying at the Cross Keys Hotel, and it is too hot to think.