Countryside Wanderings

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out of doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Category: Photography

A walk that itself recalled numerous trots around Shutlingsloe

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Last week, I left my house to go for a day walk that threaded its way around Macclesfield’s nearby hills. Regular readers may be aware that this is something that I often do and that I manage to vary routes thanks to the number of rights of way around these parts. There are times that I set out without a map too, such is my knowledge of the area. Otherwise, I would not risk such a thing or advise anyone else to do the same.

Still, I set off mapless and with the intention of summoning directions from memory with a little help from my general sense of direction and any existing waymarkers when confirmation was needed. Thankfully, the day remained largely sunny aside from times when clouds got in the way.

Buxton Old Road lay at the start of my route but I fancied using it as little as possible because more folk drive along it than is ideal given how narrow it is. It is not a recipe to relaxing carefree strolling. so I instead deviated away from the road to go around near Higher Blakelow Farm and chose Teggsnose Lane as part of the way to Tegg’s Nose Country Park. From then on, quite lanes and public rights of way were to be my lot.

Looking back towards Tegg's Nose, Langley, Cheshire, England

From Tegg’s Nose, the hike followed the general line of a route that I walked in April 2006 after a week spent in Delaware on a business trip. Jet lag had not gone away but there was a day off in lieu of my arriving in Manchester Airport on Saturday and that extra free time saw me head out to make use of the spring sunshine. There were digital photos captured with a Canon EOS 10D too but fumbling during autumnal computer maintenance meant that these have been lost so repeat visits have been needed to create some near replacements.

Sign in Macclesfield Forest, Cheshire, England

As I lost height on the way down Sadler’s Way, a permissive path created by prisoners and volunteers, I was retracing these steps. Near Clough House, a sign pointed out a way to Macclesfield Forest and Shutlingsloe so that was to convey me onto the wonderfully named Hacked Way Lane. That too was left for a delightful forestry track that I reckoned would lead towards Forest Chapel. Once I negotiated my way through a four way junction that I last met on a ramble in May 2015, I was en route to Charity Lane and I easily knew which way to go next because I was now following a route last taken on Easter Monday 2015, though I set off from Walker Barn and finished up in Hurdsfield on that occasion.

Forest Chapel, Wildboarclough, Cheshire, England

Once I got to Forest Chapel, I lingered a while in the sunshine. All was quiet apart from the occasional sounds of a building work. This was evidence that I was out and about on a working day. Even so, there still were folk like myself enjoying the countryside in the sunshine. We were not everywhere but places like Tegg’s Nose, Macclesfield Forest and Shutlingsloe were places that lured more than others.

Road sign passed on Easter Monday 2015, Forest Chapel, Cheshire, England

Looking towards Cat and Fiddle, Forest Chapel, Cheshire, England

Though signed as forest bridleways, metalled lanes were what I plied on my way from Forest Cottage. If I recall correctly, not a car passed so I could linger some abandon and put a recently acquired second hand Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR through its paces and there was plenty of inspiration for any testing. Especially in these days of digital photography, camera behaviour can differ so you really need to spend some time getting to know how your equipment performs if you are to get the best from it.

Looking out over Trentabeck Reservoir, Langley, Cheshire, England

To get to Shutlingsloe, metalled lanes were left behind me for a forestry track that took me ever higher. The gradient never was too taxing but it was enough to allow view to open out around me. Sometimes, photographic efforts were stymied by the leggy remains of dying weeds that remained in sheep pasture from the summer season. Autumnal colour was starting to appear in trees too and there were new views to be savoured though Trentabeck Reservoir was somewhat hidden among its surrounding trees.

Cats Tor and Shining Tor, Cheshire, England

View north from summit of Shutlingsloe, Wildboarclough, Cheshire, England

Leaving the forestry track for a while, I set off on a path to the top of Shutlingsloe. There was more height gain this time around so wider views were on offer and they caused me to linger on Shutlingsloe while I had it all to myself before another person came along. Naturally, it was less busy that I found on my visit on Easter Monday 2015. Then, I started my descent down Shutlingsloe’s southeastern slopes to drop onto a public footpath that circled the hill before rejoining my more usual route again. This time around, I settle on the more direct approach and I would have an undisturbed descent of the section of step stepped pathway. Maybe the suspected lack of that was why I chose the course I did in 2015 but those thoughts are erased now, possibly by the passages of life’s troubled course since then.

Ridgegate Reservoir, Langely, Cheshire, England

Once back on the forestry track again, I continued towards Langley and eschewed a path descending to Trentabeck Reservoir for a longer course that would drop me at the foot of Ridgegate Reservoir, where I stopped a while. This took me round by Nessit Hill and I noted that more folk were out enjoying the afternoon hereabouts, prompting the thought that they may be doing so after a working day. This was a route first followed in January 2009 and that encounter was a muddy one before the current gravel had been laid and settled.

There was a sign for Langley that would have taken me onto tarmac too soon and keeping away from roads as much as possible was as much a guiding ideal as enjoying my surroundings in the sunshine. Instead, I sought out the Gritstone trail and followed that to the end of Bottoms Reservoir. There were signs advising of a diversion by the dam of Teggsnose Reservoir while work on the dam was in progress. Thankfully, the diversion was not onerous though the car park is closed until all is over later in the year.

From the reservoir, I continued through the village of Langley before I left roadside hiking again. Tiring legs might have preferred a more level course but I still continued up around Birch Knoll before dropping down through Macclesfield Golf Club to reach Macclesfield Canal. That was followed by a shopping stop and a rest in Victoria Park before I continued my return home after a satisfying afternoon full of relaxing walking. In places, you could say that I gambolled and that momentary freedom of spirit was much needed.

Photographic recollections new and old

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

During March, I made a start on two new photo albums to the gallery on here. One is made of photos from a trip timed between Christmas 2016 and New Year 2017 while another collects ones from a trip made in August 2008.  As well as being separated by nearly a decade, they also represent two very different stages of my life.

Though on the cusp of what we now call the Great Recession, the earlier outing took place in simpler times compared to today. My personal circumstances were more straightforward back then too and they facilitated many a trip to Scotland. Included among those was a week long escapade that took in Skye and the Western Isles so it was not before time that photos of the latter made their appearance in their own album.

Though some of the exposure conditions were more challenging, photos of Mallorca took less time to make their appearance in the photo gallery. Meeting strong sunshine somewhere in wintertime made for an unfamiliar experience so the resulting photos are the result of a learning experience in a part of the world that I reckon many find challenging to capture photographically. Blue heat haze was part of the challenge as was the combination of scrubby vegetation and bare limestone rock. Even so, my hope is that a good start has been made.

It was only at the start of the month that I finally got to publishing these new albums on here. Even with an ongoing sabbatical, the need for rest slowed down the processing of image editing and the adding of descriptive text. Even now, I find myself yearning for another sabbatical though financial discipline needs restoring first.

A springtime sabbatical

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Though the output on here may try to belie it, the month of March was one of exhaustion and a longed for sabbatical from work came not a moment too soon at the start of April. Mostly, it was time to rest at home though there were some escapes. My yearning for rest and recuperation had to be countered for these but it is good for anyone’s state of mind to get out and about too.

The second weekend saw me head to the Isle of Man for the first time since July 2011. Though it was a reluctant manoeuvre in the end, it repaid my efforts with sunshine on a circuit from Laxey that took in Snaefell and on an amble around Castletown. Before I started my return, I took in Douglas Head and Summerhill Glen along with some other sights around the island’s capital.

Strife with insuring a car in Ireland partly ruined any peace of mind around Easter such that I shortened a stay in Edinburgh. In truth, I spent more time around Peebles with a rain-soaked walk around Glen Sax on Easter Sunday preceding a trot along the John Buchan Way between Peebles and Broughton in much better weather on Easter Monday. Thankfully, that Irish obstacle was overcome to allow a few more days of quiet rest before it hit me just how fast time was going.

While it felt as if my time away from work was too short, there still was time for walk from Litton to Buxton that took in several of Derbyshire’s dales. The list included Tansley Dale, Cressbrook Dale, Monsal Dale, Miller’s Dale, Wye Dale and Deep Dale. Wintry weather intruded at times and Chee Dale offered plenty of adventure. Still, it was a good day out with my partly making up the route as I went along.

There was a trip to Ireland too and this allowed more time for myself in between visiting family and neighbours as well as attending to business that I have over there. Evening walks took me on circuits around by Springfield and Kilmeedy village. Though the walking was along roads for the most part, it was a case of revisiting haunts that I have not frequented for a few years now.

On returning to work, I have decided to do things differently and that is allowing me more rest time. My mind is turning to future excursion ideas as a sort of tonic though such flights of fancy are tempered my aunt’s health for now. Still, there is no harm in dreaming a little as I assess how things are going for me after all that has happened during the past five years.

A few new photo albums

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

After last year’s overseas excursions, I finally got to internationalising the photo gallery. Photos from two visits to the Isle of Man are in their own album and ones from a business trip to Sweden are in another. My trip to Iceland last July yielded a bumper crop of photos as did that to Switzerland in September.

Stories of my Manx excursions already appear on here because I was following the coastal path around the west and southwest of the island. More urban sights are there to complement the in the gallery. There is not so much of the outdoors on view in the Swedish album since it was a business trip allowing evening walks around Södertälje and Stockholm. Also, I could have done with a better camera too but went without many hopes and with a life change in front of me. The tale of those wanderings is to be found in the travel section of the website so it has not been lost to online posterity.

In contrast, the Icelandic and Swiss escapades came after an even bigger life event. There are plenty of views of Icelandic countryside to go with those of Reykjavik even though the level of outdoor wanderings was not as extensive as those that have taken me around Britain. The Swiss outdoor incursions were more so thanks to the efficient public transport system that got me from Geneva to Zermatt and to Grindelwald, albeit at a cost. The sights that I got to see easily compensated for this though and I hope what is on view shows them at their best. Their stories has yet to be told in full on here and I already have the beginnings of those entries in place.

What I also hope is that more overseas explorations follow these. Norway, Germany and Austria are in mind and, out of curiosity, my mind has taken to explore the prospects of American, Canadian and Kiwi escapades. With what I have ahead of me already this year, I need to temper any soaring ambitions. Once outstanding personal matters are settled, only then can I really begin to dream about heading outside of Britain and Ireland again. In the meantime, the home countries still have a lot to offer me and parts of Ireland as yet unvisited by me may see my footfall. Reining in dreams can be good.

Spaisteoireacht and stravaiging

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

While playing with the Google Translate menu that I recently added to the navigation bar of this website, I discovered that words like explorations, jottings and wanderings are not always translated into other languages. One of these occasions was with the Irish language (the term “Irish Gaelic” is not one that I abide) that I learned during my schooling in Ireland. However, I also rediscovered a word that sounds wonderful to me: spaisteoireacht (try pronouncing it as spash-tore-ukt, speeding that up after practising it a few times). An entry in the online dictionary from Foras na Gaeilge translates the word as walking, strolling, sauntering or promenading. To my mind, that makes it sound like the Scottish word stravaiging, albeit without any insinuation of aimlessness about the business.

Bollinhurst Reservoir from Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire, England

The Cage, Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire, England

Unlike much of last year, much of my walking this year has fallen with the confines of spaisteoireacht rather than anything more strenuous. It also has remained largely local too. For instance, my return from Ireland after my father’s funeral was disrupted by snow and I took the opportunity to get out for a walk round by Prestbury with a lot of melt water around in the places. That was enough to overwhelmed my knockaround pair of Regatta boots and drench my feet though the whiteness was a delight to the spirit. A pair of Wellington boots has been acquired from Go Outdoors since then in preparedness for a return of any such conditions later in the year or beyond that again. Later that weekend, I paid Lyme Park an afternoon visit and the white covering still was very much in evidence everywhere I looked or trod and the photos show what I mean.

Shining Tor from Cat and Fiddle Inn. Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

Grinlow Tower, Buxton, Derbyshire, England

Axe Edge from Grinlow Tower, Buxton, Derbyshire, England

Several trips to Buxton came to pass too and the first of these had me crossing the hills from Macclesfield on one of the few buses that travelled that way on the day. There was plenty of snow up there so that may explain why my bus for the return journey was conspicuous by its absence. A train journey was in order since the temperature very was dropping at that stage. More recently, I repeated the journey with buses carrying me both ways though the outbound one broke down and had to stop at the Cat and Fiddle Inn and await a replacement. The beeping noise being made as the ailing bus limped the final part of the way to the inn certainly had me thinking that it would not been a bad afternoon to be disrupted up there with unexpected sunshine lighting all the surrounded us. Others may have pondered the prospect of patronising the pub but it was photos that I was after. When I finally got to Buxton, I made for Grinlow Tower and without ignoring the delights of the Pavilion Gardens. It was blustery up high and the gusts that came made photography a shaky business so I could have done with a tripod. Even so, pleasing images were made and I came away happy.

Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat from Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

There was a trip to Edinburgh too and that had me revisiting old haunts from my university days up there. Places like Blackford Hill, Morningside, Bruntsfield, the Meadows and the city centre along with Dean Village, Stockbridge, the Botanic Gardens and Inverleith Park gave shape to what essentially was a stravaig. Skies were blue and the sun was out too so it was a glorious day for some strolling and there is more exploring to be done around Blackford Hill and another trip along the Water of Leith towards the Edinburgh would not go amiss either.

My mind has been travelling overseas too but I am reminded that I should be making time for some hill country wandering too. The closest that I have got is what I have mentioned above and there was following a stretch of the Macclesfield Canal too. Ideas have not been collated but catching up on trip reports from the past year of too may sort that.

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