Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Plodders Walks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Plodders Walks. Show all posts

Friday, 18 November 2016

Wednesday 16 November 2016 – 36 Degrees, Stage 2 – Burscough Bridge to Adlington


For this second stage of John P’s much vaunted ‘36 Degrees’ walk (see for Stage 1), John and I were picked up by Nick in Adlington and driven to Westhoughton Station, where Bernard joined us. The locals here have a novel method of releasing cows whose heads get stuck in fences.


After a train ride, and welcome coffee in Burscough Bridge, we set off in light rain along the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.


We soon turned north, up the Rufford Branch of the canal, the last of the autumn colours still illuminating an otherwise grey day.


After leaving the canal at Prescot Bridge, we soon crossed Eller Brook at Wham Bridge and passed a deserted airfield.

The rain was intermittent, the paths were flat, and sometimes tarmacked.

We passed a house that has recently been acquired by one of John's friends for use as a barber's shop. We gave him a cup of coffee and some medicine before continuing merrily on our way.


Shortly afterwards, Bernard was found negotiating a particularly dense section of East Lancashire Jungle.


On the ascent of Harrock Hill we raced past a disused artefact of the Industrial Revolution. Our leader was anxious to press on. There were worries of a finish in the dark!

There was however time for a group photo.


Here's the view in the other direction (north) from the same point near Hill House Fold.


Winter Hill was now looming through the mist ahead of us, but one o’ clock had been and gone, as had the M6 motorway, beyond which we made progress to a point where the noise was reduced. A couple of pallets were spotted, making an excellent base for lunch, where we all sat next to each other, with four different views.


Nick’s new dog, Buster, was soon brought to heel, and we continued past a smart plaque near Chisnall Hall Jubilee Wood.


By the time we reached Bogburn Hall Farm, Nick had sold Buster to a passing hobo and our very own Hoarse Whisperer found a friend on whom to practice his not inconsiderable skills.


It was a day of showers, with occasional sunshine. John and Nick broke into a run after a pot of gold was spotted. Bernard was rooted to the spot. He could see two pots of gold and was unable to decide which one to aim for.


A little later, we negotiated a tricky entry to a field. Bernard fell in. Then we had to return the same way as the footpath had been diverted and there was no other way of escaping from the field. Bernard fell in again.


John proceeded to give a masterclass in finding his way to Holt Farm.


After this series of tricky manoeuvres, we all headed in increasing gloom down a diverted path to an al fresco tea stop in John's back garden. At this point the walk could be subtitled ‘0 Degrees’.

Soon we were on our way again in another sharp shower, before long finding our way back to where my car was parked in Adlington.

Here’s our route: 25 km, 300 metres ascent, in 6.5 hours. Click on the image to see a larger version.


There’s a captioned slideshow (34 images) .

That was a nice walk. Very jolly.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Wednesday 5 October 2016 – 36 Degrees, Stage 1 – Ainsdale to Burscough Bridge


Today's team - John, Phil, Bernard and Martin, had assembled at Westhoughton Station for a train to Southport at around 9 o’clock – a bit early for most Plodders, one reason for the poor turnout. We were almost leaderless when John was found to be waiting in the car park whilst the rest of us preferred the platform. Another train took us to Ainsdale, where we headed due west from the station until the Irish Sea precluded further movement.

The idea was to revisit Stage 1 of John’s ‘36 Degrees’ walk, as he wanted a .gpx file and nobody had kept one when this route was first walked nearly five years ago. It was Stage 1 of John’s project to walk across England from coast to coast, keeping within 36 degrees of his own back garden, ie a straight line across the country to within 18 degrees each side of his garden.

We posed whilst a convenient post recorded today’s team.


The walk soon brought us back to Ainsdale Station, from where we had set off some time earlier, and on towards a sandwich shop outside which Bernard found himself glued to the pavement. Next door was a coffee shop that duly obliged whilst Bernard selected a sandwich. It was an auspicious occasion as I’d never before witnessed Phil entering such an establishment – he usually paces around outside.

After this excellent and much needed coffee break we headed east along narrow strips of tarmac past neatly cropped fields. Some of the party were already lagging behind and single file was wise as any vehicles took up most of the width of the tarmac strips.


John was raring to go, loving every minute of this rebirth of his project.


We dived into the undergrowth as Tractor Number 1 roared past.


It was a lovely day with a brisk easterly breeze. By the time we reached Cabin Lane we were on a track that petered out in the stubble of a harvested crop. We soon learnt that the farmers hereabouts don’t restrain their crops from growing on the signposted footpaths through their fields.


Manor House Farm was immaculate. Here we encountered Tractor Number 2 and a friendly farmer, as well as a horse and cart trapped forever, frozen in time behind a row of plant pots. The taxidermist had made a fine job of the horse.


Tractors Number 3 and 4 were lazing nearby in a barn.


Outside the farm, Phil sang a Gloria Gaynor song to these love sick cows. They showed signs of distress when ‘The Cow Whisperer’ deserted them, their mournful moans following us in the breeze all the way to Heathey Lane and Jack’s Mere.


The turf farm near Jacksmere Farm certainly didn't maintain its footpaths.


We made our way along the footpath through Hooton’s Farm, at one point having to hack our way through a forest of nettles. It may have been easier to ignore the path and walk through the field to the south.

Scarisbrick has a pretty lodge and a long driveway that leads to a school. The high proportion of personally registered cars indicated a certain exclusivity. A gent in a Jaguar paused to satisfy himself that we didn’t present a threat. (It took him some time.)

We enjoyed lunch in the sunshine on a grassy bank by the Private entrance. Bernard enjoyed his sandwich, the rest of us feasted on cake, and John pondered a phallic object that his wife had wrapped in tissue and placed in his lunch box.


We negotiated the roads passing alongside the school without incident, before heading along Dam Lane and Merscar Lane. Tractor Number 5 – an early Massey Ferguson driverless prototype - weaved past us, heading crazily in the direction of Slattocks.


Eventually we reached the scenic delights of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for the last stretch to Burscough Bridge.


It's a lovely stretch of towpath. Winter Hill came into view in the distance, as did one of its nearby residents, or so we thought…

“Hello Norman, what are you doing in that dinghy?”

“I’m not Norman”, protested this man, “I’m his twin brother, just checking the seaworthiness of my houseboat!”


Ha ha, you can’t fool us, Norman.

We left Norman blushily renovating his houseboat, which looked a bit basic to us (the only tool he had was a baler), and left the canal at bridge 32A.

The Hop Vine proved to be very friendly and a great place to finish this five hour jaunt before catching our train back to Westhoughton. That wasn’t so simple as there was some confusion regarding the timetable – we caught a train at around 3.30, a good 15 minutes later than expected, much to Bernard’s consternation.


Stage 1 of the ‘36 Degrees’ walk had proved to be about 19 km, with around 100 metres ascent, and it took us less than 5 hours including several breaks (walking time was 3.50). We now have a selection of .gpx files. There’s an additional twenty minute walk to the start from Ainsdale Station, of course.

Here’s the route – click on the image for a slightly larger one.


There’s an album with 39 pictures here. Try clicking on the first image and seeing what happens. I’d like you to be able to view a full screen slideshow with captions, but the current Google software doesn’t seem to be amenable to this.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Wednesday 20 January 2016 – Affetside Amble

My ears were burning as I drew up at Affetside for my first outing with The Plodders since last April. Times have changed since then. Norman has a Kindle Fire and can access the internet! He’d been extolling the virtues of my report on his Breath of Fresh Air walk around Lancaster.
Plodder Walks seem to be evolving back towards mainstream LDWA walks, today’s outing being the best part of twelve miles. My last ‘Plodder’ walk was a mere six miles. Numbers are up. The regulars (Don, John P, Neil, Phil, Barbara Peter and others) have been joined by some new faces, including Chris Langabeer, today’s leader. He delivered a ‘welcome address’ from a pedestal near Affetside’s medieval cross.
Affetside is at the top of a hill, so the only barrier to quick progress down to Jumbles Country Park was the incidence of a number of stiles that paused the progress of the 21 stumblers plodders.
Neil was full of beans (or whatever else he had for breakfast) at this point, but later he had extracted all available nutrients and needed a short cut to get back to the start.
Since I last saw him, JP has honed his body to a suitable shape for LS Lowry to copy onto his easel. (He’s dead, John!)
It was another ‘Blue Sky’ day, perfectly clear, with the low sun casting long shadows as we progressed along surprisingly mud free paths to Jumbles Country Park.
The grass on the dam at Jumbles Reservoir was a vivid green in the bright sunshine.
Norman has been seen here before. Note the piping system has been changed since this visit in November 2011.
After pulling Norman out of the mire (again) we soon found ourselves strolling down a pleasant lane strewn with No Parking signs.
Chris seemed to spend much of the day leading from the rear. “I know the way” cried the four-eyed monster out in front.
This ornate foot-tunnel is of great benefit to the residents of Horobin Fold, if they want to visit their friends at Torra Barn (or vice-versa). Don and Norman just enjoyed playing hide and seek in it.
Our route joined the Witton Weavers Way for a while. The section below was boarded, so as to avoid a deep bog. There were however numerous complaints about the slippery nature of the boards, perhaps because the plumber at the head of the line was emitting a viscous fluid.
“Sorry about the snot on the boards” announced Norman, “watch me dive into this pool of slime.”
“Take your sunspecs off” advised Don “- it’s grass, not a pool, and the path isn’t that way.” (“You Stupid Man!”)
Norman did eventually park his bottom on the top step (see picture at the head of this posting) and make an important announcement – something to do with the ongoing conception of his great grandchildren, in an attempt by his family to outnumber any other in East Lancashire.
Turton and Entwistle Reservoir was serene in the sunshine. A small group of cormorants was drying out on the white landing stage.
By and by we came upon the Strawbury Duck. It used to be a fine walkers’ pub. Not any more.
Soon afterwards Chris spotted that we were passing The Wellbeing Farm. It was past 1 pm, and he wisely decided that for the wellbeing of his Plodders, two of whom had already been burnt off by the blistering pace, a break for lunch was in order.
Norman nuzzled up to me and grabbed the last piece of cake, whilst three reprobates posed next to the sign. And what an advertisement they are for said farm!
Up above Edgworth, one of the group was caught furtively examining the contents of a Post Box.
Descending through Hawkshaw, past John and Janet’s road, I couldn’t help reflecting on how sad it is that John’s health prevents him from joining us on outings such as this one.
The steep path back up to Affetside was, luckily for those who needed to catch their breath, punctuated by more stiles.
Looking back, there ‘s a fine view over Hawkshaw to Holcombe Moor.
By about 3 pm we were back at Affetside, outside the Pack Horse, still blinded by that pesky sun. Some of the group went in, claiming it was better to wait until after the rush hour to get home.
I joined the pack that were on cooking duty and had to get home before the rush hour. Phil and I paused to admire the medieval cross that apparently served as a waymarker for pilgrims travelling from Bolton (what were pilgrims doing in Bolton?) to Whalley Abbey.
Here’s our route – 18 km with 400 metres ascent, taking around 5 hours.
An excellent day out in superb weather. Apologies to anyone who has been accidentally maligned in the above text. I’m afraid my fading memory sometimes results in minor unintentional insults and inaccuracies, or so I’m told.