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.

Trip Reports to Come

Shining Tor, Rainow, Cheshire, England

Rather than continuing to tease or even bore readers of what is to be found on this outpost of mine by listing outstanding trip reports in blog posts, I am collecting a list of outings here as they happen. It should ensure that I never forget to say more about any walks or cycles that I have done that deserve it. Naturally, such a list should be ever changing and I really need not to be so tardy with sharing where I have been either. Such is my way of life at the moment, they have been piling up so the proverbial lead needs to be got out for these.

2016-08-26 to 2016-08-29

Norway has featured on my list of places that I would have liked to go and I made good on that on the Summer Bank Holiday weekend. Oslo was my first port of call before I continued by train to Bergen. Time was short and rain was about from time to time but I get in a walk in the hills next to Bergen without any wetting. That meant setting aside any boat trips into a fjord but the train ride was to answer that need to a point anyway. Oslo could have done with more time there too and a week easily could be set aside for both places. Still, the break from the usual routine did a lot of much needed good and that remains appreciated.


It was only a short trip with a preceding overnight stay in Ambleside but I got so much out of it. The walk itself took me from Dungeon Ghyll to Grasmere via Stick Tarn and Easedale Tarn with a certain amount of off route blundering but that was the delight of it. Aside from the joys of a crisp sunny winter day and the surrounding fells, it was the more elemental concerns of finding a way down that sent the cares of the world very far away. After the throng of the path up by Stickle Ghyll, finding a patch of Lakeland fell country with so few about was exactly what I needed with all else that has been happening in my life. That I got to Grasmere with time to spare before my bus to Windermere was a bonus that allowed some self-tidying my onward travel.


An offer of a half decent day in the run up to Christmas was just enough encouragement for me to go for a walk between Burbage, near Buxton, and Whaley Bridge. Though dampened by rain and having enough wind not to hear what someone else was saying, I persevered and dropped into the Goyt Valley. From Berry Clough onward, much of my route was a reprise of a walk undertaken in October 2013. As if to underline what recent years of tumult have done to my memory, the section along by Fernilee Reservoir had been a blur and I followed the River Goyt from its dam on the western side instead of the eastern one as I did before. Otherwise, there was reward in the form of some sunshine lighting up Errwood Reservoir. Nevertheless, another return is in order and one on a sunny day would be best since I never have had much luck with the Goyt Valley when it comes to photography. It may mean getting muddy again but that is a trifle when it gives returns like the ones I often get.

2016-12-27 to 2016-12-31

After a Christmas period laden with plenty of local walking that got as far as Tegg’s Nose on St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day as some know it), I headed off to Mallorca in an effort to make a hard break in the run of things. Having sunny weather all the time was a novelty for me as I took the sights around Palma as well as heading out for walks around Port Pollença, Sóller and Port Andratx. That ensure a mixture coastal and hill walking with a feeling of leaving normal life after me. It might have worked too well for a cold stuck in the slowed my beginning to 2017 and felt for a long time like it was refusing to leave me. Other than that, the getaway was exactly what I needed to snap me out of a mental rut into which I have fallen.


It felt like the first sunny weekend of the year and it was enough lure me out of a rut. Many others were drawn out of doors too and it made for a busy bus from Macclesfield to Buxton. It was Burbage where I left it to commence a walk through the Goyt Valley to Whaley Bridge. It was a variation on the pre-Christmas trot through the same area with different choices made on the way that got me better westward views towards the Cat & Fiddle and added moorland wander along indistinct trails and down steep inclines. The extra sunshine made for more successful photographs that featured the reservoirs of the Goyt Valley. Even with all the people who were about, there still were amble periods of soothing solitude and that draws me out and about too. It all was the escape from the everyday world that I so craved.


The day before saw me between minds as to what to do and I then went for a walk along the Goyt Valley. With another fine day in the offing, weary legs did nothing to deter me from another stroll. This time, I would walk from Disley to Macclesfield via Lyme Park and along part of the Gritstone Trail. Lyme Park was busy and what really surprised me was how many had the same idea as me and crested Sponds Hill. It was only after the quarry near Brink Farm that I lost the last of them and that took a lunch stop sat on a broken down stone wall. More were around Bollington but that was to be expected. By this time, hazy skies dominated but the sun was to do better later and it had been the first walk between Disley and Bollington where I had sunshine in Lyme Park while I was there. The day had been good to me in so many ways.

2017-04-07 to 2017-04-10

It was a spur of the moment trip undertaken with less relish than it deserved. The Isle of Man was my destination and it appeared that no slight was taken at my initial reluctance. Firstly, a sunny Saturday saw me take in Snaefell and much else besides on a circular hike from Laxey. Then, Sunday was an easier day with a less promising forecast that was overly pessimistic compared to what we got. A visit to Castletown that day saw no rain and I reprises part of the coastal trail around there along with a flying visit to Castle Rushen. On Monday, there was some time for strolls around Douglas before setting about returning home again.

2017-04-15 to 2017-04-18

The plan was to head off to Edinburgh on Holy Thursday and return on Easter Tuesday. Goings on in Ireland meant that the Thursday departure had to be shelved in favour of a Saturday one with the same planned return arrangements. Even so, the stay allowed for two walks among the hills near Peebles. The first of these revisited Glen Sax on Easter Sunday only for rain to remain longer than I would have hoped. That put paid to thoughts of improving on photos made during the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend in 2002 so another return will be needed. My following the John Buchan Way from Peebles to Broughton saw better weather and was a delightful stroll that would have been improved by the absence of concerns about matters in Ireland. Even the evening shower of rain or the scarcity of sunshine around Peebles did not take for any satisfaction.

2017-05-26 to 2017-05-29

The promise of a bank holiday weekend was enough to take me to Aberdeen. Sunshine on Saturday was enough to cause me to walk around Aberdeen to take in both Old Aberdeen and the North Sea coastline before heading to Stonehaven to see Dunottar Castle. Sunday saw me head to Banchory from where I walked to Crathes Castle before continuing along the Deeside Way back to Aberdeen, a long stroll that could amaze some but the chance of an evening with increasing sunshine was too good to overlook.

2017-06-04 to 2017-06-09

Having not had a whole week away since 2009 because of where life took me, it probably has been high time that I did such a thing and my destination was Norway, a country visited in 2016 that a long weekend hardly did it justice. The extended stay was to put that to rights this time. Firstly, staying two nights in Oslo allowed for whole day of exploration that included a fjord cruise as well as allowing morning visits to Akershus and the royal palace. Next day, it was time to go to Stavanager where some perseverance was rewarded with cruise to Lysefjorden. Even the rain that came next day failed to stop me pottering around some of the city’s lakes with Lilla Stokkavatnet, Stora Stokkavtnet, Hålandsvatnet and Mosavatnet all seeing visits with sheltering trees offering some covering from persistent rainfall. The rain was to keep falling overnight until the next morning. As it started to lighten, I made for the ferry to Tau from where I caught a bus to Vatne. Though it was dry when I arrived, the rain soon returned and I stuck with an out and back walk to Preikestolen and many others did likewise so this was not to be a solitary trek. The rain and lack of visibility at what should be a fabulous viewpoint on the side of Lysefjorden made for near constant progress though the way back was not as peopled. The sun began to come out when I was back at Preikestolhytta so the prospect of a walk around Revsvatnet tempted me. The rain had left conditions underfoot waterlogged and boggy in places but that also meant that solitude was on offer in less manicured surroundings. The sun lit all around me for much of the way so there were rewards. As if to warn me what Norwegian hiking really was like, some navigational confusion required resolution before I could turn to complete the return leg, passing some waterfalls as I did so. Once the circuit was completed, I rested until the bus arrived. With a good deal of satisfaction in spite of the imperfect weather, I returned home the next day.

2017-08-18 to 2017-08-23

My taking a career break allowed for another longer overseas excursion and Sweden was the destination this time around. Basing myself in Stockholm, I pottered about its city centre while also visiting a number of its city parks. These green spaces often feel further removed from their situation than many would expect and that was to throw me near the end of a northbound walk along the Sörmlandsleden from Tyresta National Park. Failing light did not help but a return visit next morning made things clearer before I headed on a day trip to Gothenburg. The whole trip was exactly what my spirit needed with its mix of natural surroundings and built up areas like Drotningen Palace. Travel was over land and sea too as I pottered about part of the Stockholm archipelago.


Storm Ophelia may have passed over Ireland but Britain saw its share of blustery winds too. Amazingly, the next day came sunny and I got myself out among the Derbyshire Dales near Buxton for an afternoon of walking. My starting point was Sterndale Moor due to bus service timings so I skirted a few quarries on the way to Earl Sterndale from where the walking got even better. Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill are well known landmarks and I chose going around them in preference to going over their tops. The sunny afternoon meant that there were plenty of photo opportunities and I took the chance to experiment with my camera settings too. On reaching Hollinsclough, I decided to continue to Buxton via Booth Farm, Thirkelow and Grin Low. There were moments when navigation was not as clear as desired so some thought was needed around Glutton and Booth Farm with my GPS receiver stopping me going around Brand End following a lapse of concentration. There was no such ambiguity on the grounds of the HSE Laboratory with large signs and poles with green and white banding to show the way. Further warnings about soft mud decked the perimeter of the empty Stanley Moor Reservoir. Even with industrial intrusions, this still was a good walk and, handily, I made the last bus back to Macclesfield at its end.


The promise of a sunny day before the onset of winter time was too much to lose and I decided that a walk was in order. The destination became Calderdale where I tottered about between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden after a break of just over ten years. The network of rights of way is so extensive that it might have been better for me to have my GPS receiver with me for added piece of mind. There were times when I needed to backtrack and correct my course and ensuring that I was not going astray often needed a level of concentration like that for completing a sudoku puzzle. None of this did anything to take from what was a satisfying walk that took in little parts of the Pennine Way and the Calderdale Way as well as sights of the monument on Stoodley Pike. Cloud did bubble up over the course of the day and there was a chilling breeze up high but these did not intrude on my state of mind either. Resigning myself to pottering about as best as I could and enjoying what lay about me was the best medicine and it was just as good for overlooking damp conditions underfoot when the going got boggy.


Having whetted my appetite for such things in Calderdale, another sunny day ensured that another walk followed. This time, I took myself to Hope in Derbyshire. From the railway station, I made my way to Lose Hill and followed the Great Ridge as far as Mam Tor before piecing together rights of way including part of the Limestone Way to get to Castleton by way of Cave Dale. Though there were plenty of folk about, the ambience was a relaxed one and I was left in a sense of rare peace at the end of my journey home.


A day when the railways faced major disruptions hardly was one to travel to Hope for a walk in the Dark Peak but no one was to know ahead of time. Nevertheless, I got to my starting point on time so I made for the top of Win Hill by a more circuitous course that granted me views over Bamford and Yorkshire Bridge towards Stanage Edge. Once over the summit, I dropped down to Hope Cross after which I started my descent to reach the River Ashop in the Woodlands Valley. From there, I continued to Ladybower Dam while enjoying the fading light of day. At the dam, I decided to see where the northern end of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way was to be found before retracing my steps and following it as far as the A6187. Declining light meant that a head torch was put to extensive use and I did some successful night navigation around a field too. What did not go so smoothly was the journey home. Some of this was my own doing for I missed a train by less than a minute so a wait of an hour was forced on me and getting home from Manchester also was less than straightforward because of disruption elsewhere in the rail network. Still, it had been a superb day out as would the next day if I had expected it to be sunny. Such are the niggles of life.


After what I had gained from trots around the High Peak on previous visits, there was more to visit or revisit. This time around, it was the turn of a stroll from Bamford to Hathersage via Stanage Edge. In the early years of the century, there were several day trips to this part of the world and they brought home to me how hard navigation could become. Trying to find a right of way on pathless ground needs solid map and compass work and a strong sense of self-confidence unless you have a GPS receiver with map data loaded onto it. The latter came into play on this walk laden with memories of unguided cross-country tramping in failing light that eventually landed me in Bamford after scaring me more than a little.

There was none of that this time around and the day remained sunny though a chilling wind required both gloves and headgear. My start from Bamford train station saw me travel on a lane bound for the nearby village and the by-way up Bamford Clough. When I discovered that the latter was closed for several months due to electricity network maintenance, I decided to go to New Road by another route while other walkers decided to brave the closure. After returning to Ashopton Road, I found a public footpath that did what I needed and I followed the intended lane reach the start of my public footpath towards Stanage Edge. After some blundering around an old quarry and the loss of any sign of pedestrian passage, I resolved to follow the course plotted by the GPS receiver given that the terrain was no threatening than a soggy bog. Waist-high rushes were to be crossed as well as both heather and dead bracken until I found the clear track that would turn me towards Hathersage. It was not a saunter for those seek human landmarks for all I had was a broken-down wall. It had its compensation for I had the place to myself while others went elsewhere and I was in the midst of other outdoor lovers at either end of my walk. The sun had lured many out of doors.

Progress was slow so I needed to make a decision given how late it was in the day. Inspection of the map convinced me that enough of the journey to Hathersage would be completed by the time that light failed that night navigation would be along lanes. In spite of following the often boggy track along the edge as far as High Neb, this was realised and course correction was an easy thing to do. Climbers were coming away from the crags so I was not the only soul to be found out and about in the fading light. After a nearby car park, the journey to Hathersage was direct apart from one misstep near the village and the need to find its train station in good time for the two hourly train service. Unlike the previous Sunday in Bamford, I had minutes to spare before I began my train journey home.


Affording some reconnaissance trips to Wales, it perhaps was not before time that I went for a longer walk there. The first of those earlier visits that took me around the western end of the Brecon Beacons National Park just before Christmas 2017. In January 2018, I journeyed between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth with a stop at Llangurig for some muddy walking along part of the Wye Valley Walk. Passing near Pumlumon Fawr was the main objective of the mid Wales tour and left me with the framework for a scheme that either would use Aberystwyth as a base or involve a bivvy on the side of the hill, depending on how brave I feel. Spending time around Cardiff introduced me to the delights of Bute Park and the possibilities offered by the banks of the River Taff.

Following all of this, I decided that the first longer Welsh hike in what felt like an age was in order. Having had the place in mind for so long, Monmouth was the starting point for a circular walk within the vicinity of its part of the River Wye. Following the Wye Valley Walk took me as far as Symonds Yat. The return leg took me near Christchurch before returning to the Wye through Highmeadow Woods. Following the opposite bank to that along which I walked on the outward leg took me along Route 423 of the National Cycle Network before I was back on tarmac before light truly failed for the day. Before then, I was able to realise that an old railway used to travel along the course that I was following. Torch-lit trotting returned me to Monmouth in plenty of time for the journey home again. It had been a day with some sun and much in the way of woodland walking.


Having passed it on a trip to Whitby before Christmas 2017, the thought of walking up Roseberry Topping was planted in my mind. Needing a short afternoon stroll, I decided to make use of the idea even though cold weather was forecast. On arrival at Great Ayton, I was greeted by bright sunshine but that was set to be lost. My route took me around by Great Ayton Moor and Newton Moor with views of the Captain Cook Monument on Easby Moor.

Recent snowfall meant that there were slippery stretches so that added an air of added attention. This was needed on any tarmac and especially when ascending or descending pitched paths. Perhaps it was foolish stubbornness that drove me to the top of Roseberry Topping in conditions that I thought dicey. Nevertheless, others were ascending in normal hillwalking footwear so I did the same. The way down remained a frightening prospect given the chance of slipping down steep slopes and doing oneself an injury. There was some slippage but it not end badly. If anything, it added confidence because control was not lost.

Progress was slowed enough to miss a planned train but other arrangements were enough to get me home. Next time I am faced with anything like this though, either additional traction equipment will get used or I leave the objective for another time. Because I still fancy getting a photo of the hill in brighter light, Roseberry Topping may see me again and this taste of what is found within the North York Moors National Park was a good one. No wonder Alan Hinkes is a regular visitor.


Rothbury has been a place that I have wanted to visit for quite a while and the chance of a bright day as well as some motivational machinations made good the idea. What I wanted to do was walk to the top of Simonside. Using the route of St. Oswald’s Way, I went via Whitton before making my way to the open moor. Unlike the previous hike, ground conditions were not so icy. In fact, it was soggy bog that presented the biggest challenge away from any pitched paths.

Leaving the long distance trail for a public footpath that was instated after the 2005 publication date of my map. In fact, St. Oswald’s Way has appeared since then so I augmented the map with the OS Maps app on my phone. Having a subscription meant access to the latest data so long as signal strength and speed allowed it. Here, it did what I needed.

The way to the top took me over several false summits and took longer than I had hoped. The views were magnificent in the afternoon sunshine and stopped me many times. Some tops were dusted with snow but not the one where I was. With all the other pleasures that I enjoyed, I did not feel short changed. Keeping in mind my intention to catch a bus at a certain time, I did not overly dally and was happy to be descending the steep side of Simonside with care. Walking poles were an asset as I steadily lost height to reach Great Tosson.

By now, any earlier tardiness was set to rights and I made good progress on the return to Rothbury. Lanes were travelled along with byways, footpaths and bridleways as I followed the River Coquet as the sun lowered in the sky. The fading of daylight was no disappointment as I had plenty of time before my bus was due. There even was time to go to a shop for some provisions and I could not overlook the chance of getting a new map. Hopefully, there may be more to see around Coquetdale yet.


In my wanderings of north-east Wales, I had not got as far as Moel Famau in the Clwydian Range though I had identified it as a possibility in the mid noughties. When I found a chance to visit a part of Wales that was new to me, I took it. Travel by train and bus got me to Loggerheads Country Park from where my walk began. After following the course of the River Alun and leaving families out enjoying the sunny day, I crossed muddy fields to reach Bryn Alyn. From there, I made for Moel Famau by road and bridleway, rounding Ffrith Mountain as I did so. Views over pastoral countryside opened up as more height was gained and there were some snow flakes in the air too.

It was blustery atop my target hill and I needed to contend with such strong winds until I found shelter in a valley. Even so, some remained around the Jubilee Tower while I set off along part of the Offa’s Dyke. The sight of a group of walkers pondering their next steps after passing me convinced me to continue towards Moel Dywyll, especially after seeing where they were heading. It was a time of uninterrupted quiet among wilder views that attempted to belie views over plains that were so prevalent. Greasy ground was another challenge and one that cause me to fall twice when I speeded up while in a carefree mood. No one saw either though someone passed while I was mutter to myself after the second tumble got me more dirty.

The way down by Garth was followed more studiously to avoid a repeat and there was none. Some reservoirs were passed in the delightful evening light as I returned to tarmac again. Though tempted to continue to Cilcain, I instead opted for a footpath that avoided road walking until the River Alyn was reached again. From there, it was road trotting through Pont-newydd, Pantymwyn and Gwernaffield before I turned to head for Hendy Road for the last stretch into Mold. A good day with many soothing quieter moments had been enjoyed.


It has been in my head for a while now to walk among Shropshire hills near Church Stretton while taking in The Port Way and the Stiperstones. An opportunity to do this as a linear came and I made use of it. Skies were grey and gloomy as I left Church Stretton and there was a hint of drizzle in the air too as I made my way uphill from Carding Mill Valley. Others were going the same way but I soon lost these once I was on a bridleway that took me north to where I would meet with The Port Way under breaking cloud cover and occasional sunshine.

Navigation was relatively facile from there to near Thresholds though someone added a road sign to ensure that walkers went through the right gate at one point. Between Thresholds and New Leasowes Farm, navigation got tricky but I got past that after a fashion. My course then took me on a byway around by Leasowes Farm that got me on a road near The Hollies. While I had intended going through that farmyard, it did not look so welcoming so I stuck with going around by road instead, marvelling at how many larger vehicles were travelling along  the one linking Stedment and Stiperstones.

Still, good progress was made and fascination turned to the size of tractors these days on seeing one putting out feed to the otherwise grazing sheep. Spells of sunshine had been growing more frequent all the while and I enjoyed views over the surrounding countryside too. Overlooking the path up from the car park, I kept going along the lane in search of part of the Shropshire Way. Nearing my objective, I encountered a family whose father asked about a good way to the Stipestones for kids with trainers. Perhaps incompletely, I directed them along the road. Seeing where I was going, that might have been best because I was shod for dealing with mud.

The way to Manstone Rock was quiet for much of the way and I again met with humanity. They would have come up from the car park and their way looked better for trainer travel even if an uneven stony surface would have been their lot. A mother was having her patience tested by young lads around the trig point on Manstone Rock as I continued north to quieter parts.

Beyond the Devil’s Chair, that really proved to be the case and I relished this in the evening sunshine. A large rambling group lay ahead of me though and I fancied getting well enough ahead of them to retain a sense of solitude, even if I veered off the trail that I fancied following. It made me wonder if we sometimes traipse through the countryside in groups that were too large because chatter replaces observation of surroundings. Once I reached Snailbeach, I saw the minibus that was awaiting them for this was an organised outing. They reached it while I was awaiting my bus to Shrewsbury and one said to em that they thought I knew my way down. In reality, I only was finding my way as with so many things in life. Rain arrived before the bus did but this was no dampener on my spirits given the day that I had enjoyed.