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

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.


There is something about the thirteenth day of any month that brings negative associations for me but an aborted trip to Wales brought on by fatigue allowed a chance to do something else. Clouding skies did not deter me from walking from Alderley Edge back home via Hare Hill and Prestbury. Some new paths were explored and I exorcised the demon of a snappy Jack Russell having tackled my leg around the edge itself. It was time for a dawdle that cleared my head and some fungi were spotted in an unexpected spot too so a camera got pressed into service. A repeat on a sunnier day beckons but this route option could have its uses on one of the shorter days that await us.


After a few unsuccessful attempts (website troubles and over preoccupations got in the way), I finally got to Gower again and reprised a walk between Rhossili and Port Eynon where clouding skies restricted photographic opportunities when I last went that way. The late September sunshine lured out loads of day trippers to Rhossili and my own departure was a fairly leisurely affair. The morning had started in its chilly September way only for temperatures to climb to level not atypical of a summer day. Other signs of autumn were apparent with bracken changing colour as it dies back for the cooler months of the year. Plenty of young folk were out along the Wales Coastal Path too and I was left wondering if Duke of Edinburgh Award participants now went for this kind of thing too. Others may have been out on circular coastal walks too for things grew far quieter as I shortened the distance to Port Eynon. Some of this had me going in a rhythm that would not be possible without my indoor bike training having helped with my fitness and I also asked myself if I was going too well because such gorgeous weather almost commands savouring it. My defence was that I going through a lot of pasture and things eased around the cliffs near Overton. These took on a wilder aspect and I fancied seeing them in the sun so I wasn’t disappointed. That I almost had them to myself was another bonus before I continued uphill to the Gower Society monument with the bell of a sea buoy ringing in my ears, a reminder of the peace that I met on my previous visit. My time of approach to Port Eynon allowed me to relax a little since the bus I needed was one that I easily would catch. Unlike the last time, it was on time too so a happy Irishman set off on his way home.


The delights of the Brecon Beacons may have been playing on my mind but the weather forecast sent me to England’s northeast. Any designs on Simonside near Rothbury for Saturday needed to be put on hold after a later than planned start. An overnight stay in Newcastle meant that a trot around Bamburgh to take in sights like the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne before continuing as far as Belford. The sun stayed clear of cloud long enough for those coastal sights and going inland had me crossing the East Coast Mainline on foot after consulting with a signal man as required; thoughts of courtesy had me let him know that I had crossed safely afterwards. It had been a good day along another part of Northumberland’s coastline though I still wonder if a bridge over the railway like what we have near Macclesfield might not be sensible given the numbers of fatalities of which you hear on Twitter feeds. It’s best then to recall the way the light fell on Bamburgh Castle then because that is the memory that needs to last.


The walk may have started mid afternoon from Walker Barn, near Macclesfield, and it not only allowed visits to Forest Chapel, Shutlingsloe and Langley on the way home but there also time for a little more exploration around Shutlingsloe itself. The day was blessed with sunshine so the surrounding hill country looked well too.


What two previous trots that took in both Alderley Edge and Hare Hill missed was a bit a of sun so I was happy to repeat the stroll all the way home via Prestbury, albeit with route deviations to suit the mood. That the sun stayed out to allow some photos provided recompense for my efforts.


During the first few months of 2013, such was the worry on my mind about the frailty of my parents that I only managed one long walk. That went along the Macclesfield Canal between Congleton and home. Then, there was not much in the way of sunshine and it even snowed on my arrival into Macclesfield but I was on the home stretch then. The beauty of the portion around The Cloud stayed with me and I fancied a repeat on a sunny day and that is what happened of a Sunday afternoon during April 2015.


January 2009 is not only more than six years but it also feels like a different time from now with all that has happened since. Then, a stiff steely southeasterly wind nearly knocked me over on the way up Shutlingsloe while walking home from the Cat and Fiddle Inn. The initial part from there to Shutlingsloe saw something of a 2015 reprise before deviating around by Macclesfield Forest and Tegg’s Nose on a much sunnier and warmer day. It was a pleasing break from the vagaries of a less certain world.

2015-07-30 to 2015-08-02

Finally, I have made a start on some self-funded foreign travel with a visit to Iceland. An early morning flight from Manchester allowed me to explore Reykjavik on foot with more sunshine on offer than I have expected based on weather forecasts. The next day saw me take in Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss on a largely self-guided tour in strong sunshine. Going to Landmannalaugar the day after allowed a chance for some mountain walking on a waymarked trail so I got to experience the wilder side of Iceland too. The whole escapade got me a solid introduction to this northern island and fractured whatever rut into which my life had fallen so it did what was hoped of it. The latter impact was by far the important.


Finally after a life rut put paid to previous attempts, I managed to reprise a walk from December 2013 from pottered from Monyash to Bakewell via Lathkill Dale and Haddon Hall. The summer repeat made for more greenery and less water in the Lathkill and Wye rivers but the peace of my surroundings was what I really needed. My map scarcely needed perusal either, so fresh was the memory of the route. There was more sun this time around so more photos resulted. The mid afternoon finish was perfection too for the heat was getting up to a point that made walking a little less pleasurable. There was little adventure but those days are needed too and I returned home in the better of my exertions.

2015-09-04 to 2015-09-07

My first ever trip to Switzerland saw me base myself in Geneva where I spent the first day trotting about to enjoy the sunshine and the views over Lac Léman. The next day saw me visit Berne but it was not all city strolling either. Zematt saw a visit after those and there was an enjoyable sunlit walk with views of the Matterhorn, not inappropriate in its timing given that one hundred and fifty years has passed since the first ascent to its summit. The last full day in the country saw me walk underneath the Eiger, another iconic mountain with its share of tragedy, as I walked up from Grindlewald to Kleine Scheidegg. The Eiger itself was cloaked in cloud but there were others who caught the sun so I was far from dissatisfied. The whole escapade allowed me to leave the world’s cares after me for a while and that was well needed. That I got to glimpse Alpine mountains in sunshine was a bonus for which I remain grateful.


It was a walk that I fancied doing in April 2013 but losing too much height to see Kinder Reservoir put paid to such ambitions and the icy way off Kinder Scout was best avoided anyway. This time around, there was no deviation after following the Pennine Bridleway to pick up the track leading to Edale via Coldwell Clough. A variation happened when an unwillingness to lose height saw me make use of a secondary path that eventually brought me near the trig point on Kinder Low. After that, it was a case of picking a way towards Kinder Downfall using any of the near-parallel paths that have come into being. Things grew clearer beyond Kinder Downfall and there was doubt as to the way off Kinder Scout with it’s pitched surface and the continuation towards the Snake Pass road over a path with its gravel paved sections.

One across the road, it was a matter of find the Doctor’s Gate path with its challenges in the form of erosion and a missing footbridge. The former was avoidable by naughtily going a little off course to go over flatter ground and fording Shelf Brook was a possibility thanks to a rope being slung between two posts. After these, progress towards Glossop was straightforward and the walk was easily completed before light failed and with a little time to spare before the next train to Manchester.


When a late train put paid to the plan of starting a walk from Disley, I went to Congleton instead. While there, I pieced together a meandering course that took in Astbury Mere, Astbury village, the Macclesfield Canal, Dane in Shaw Meadow and the Cloud. The day was both sunny and unseasonably mild so I built up a sweat while gaining height to get to the Cloud, an objective that I scarcely thought I would make with the ambling that I was doing. The day had been pleasant in lots of ways and that train delay made an impact on my mood afterwards.


It is a prospect that I first spotted during the latter of 2010 but it took around five years for me to make it a reality. The Sandstone Trail has been around since 1974 and I had spied the possibility of walking from Delamere to Frodsham. That there are train stations at either end helps and the walk is short enough to do of a winter’s afternoon too. Thus, when a bright day appeared and I had a day off work, it was too good to leave the idea unused given that we had been getting a run of too many dark dreary damp days. Delamere Forest was a delight as was the high viewpoint above Frodsham near the end of the walk.


2015 will go down as the first year I never made it to Ireland for Christmas. There may have been a plan to do so between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day but high running emotions meant that the trip needed to be postponed (the dark grey weather on Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day were of little use in rousing spirits). If the weather had been less accommodating for a tidying spree, I might have gone out on walks to clear my head part from a out and back stroll from my house that took in Tegg’s Nose, the Saddle of Kerridge and the White Nancy. The day was mild and sunny though an extended sequence of storms and heavy rains meant that muddy conditions underfoot were unavoidable. Still, the walk was exactly the breather that I needed on the only sunny day of the Christmas and New Year period, if you discount a sunny afternoon on Christmas Eve when another out and back stroll took in Prestbury and the sodden banks of the River Bollin.


Walking should allow you to deal with the cares of the world as you plod your way around some quiet countryside but I oddly find that they also can weight so heavily on me that I fail to get out for a longer outing than an hour or two near my home in Macclesfield. At least, that is why I reckon it took me until May before the first long walk of 2016 came to pass. It loosely followed the route of the White to Dark Trail between Tideswell and Hathersage. The starting point is off the trail but I fancied seeing its church again after spending some time around there on an otherwise damp Easter Monday that cheered up later in the day. Also, I decided to go via Cressbrook Dale after spying it on the bus between Bakewell and Tideswell. Then, Eyam saw me make another diversion to see more of its sights than the prescribed route would have allowed. Lastly, I chose a different ending that took me more directly Hathersage train station from where I started on my way home. Much of the weather was warm and sunny with no rain and occasions when cloud did its usual obstructing duty. It was exactly what I needed and the following Monday evening saw me head out around Tegg’s Nose near Macclesfield to keep up some of the momentum. Only time will tell if that persists.


The following Saturday saw me head to Leek after a mostly sunny working week which ironically my mindset being fragile throughout so a good long walk was in order, even if there was a lunchtime start. There was more sunshine than forecast though clouds got in the way from time to time. The route took me through Leek’s Brough Park up to Haregate where I found a path to take me along the side of Tittesworth reservoir. However, it was the western side that I shadowed rather than the intended eastern side due to a wrong turning, something that I didn’t allow to annoy me at all since I know where I was anyway. Looking back on it now, a combination of not having visited since 2009 and new building since then could have confused me momentarily.

Severn Trent Water have constructed a new path all around the reservoir that I first spotted and then joined before there was a call into the Visitor Centre for additional sustenance and some ablution needs. It was a haven for families from which I made for Upper Hulme and Hen Cloud. The way up the latter was subject to diversions and the direct route that I followed involved some clambering before I reached the top where gentler gradients and better paths prevailed. After customary visit to the highest point, I crossed over to the Roaches proper and chose a path that led away from the many climbers enjoying the crags on a pleasant day. At one point, I wondered if I was using the intended route but that now appears the case on review and only the sun blessed trot up to the trig point now remains in memory.

Once there, I had a decision to make for I could return to Leek or continue to Macclesfield. It felt safer to do the latter so I dropped down to Gradbach with part of the way leading me through woodland as well as past a scout camp. Steep uphill travel followed a crossing of the River Dane (there was a useful bridge), until a minor road was crossed to reach a track that took me to the A54. That too was crossed to reach a path leading to Wildboarclough where some route finding effort was rewarded with the the purchase of a well relished carton of orange juice from an honesty box. After Wildboarclough, fields again were crossed to reach the lane leading to Greenway Bridge and the use of red and green bucket bucket lids to make out the positions of stiles was welcome. Fields of suckler cows and calves were negotiated with signs declaring some leniency in the line of the path to be followed, never a bad thing given incidents where cows injure passing walkers.

At Greenway Bridge, I took have taken another path around by Oakenclough Farm but decided to stay with the road because of the time of day. That may have had the unintended effect of exposing tired legs to even stepper gradients but steady progress with a few stops got me to the road that was to take me down via Higher Sutton. Tarmac travel made for sore feet though but I was glad of the easier progress as the sun was setting. Daylight remained long enough for me to meet with streetlights after Gurnet and not have to worry about its decline any longer. It had been a good simple day out, something much needed after the complexities of the preceding week. The day after came pleasing too but my limbs needed recuperation and I limited myself to simpler enjoyment.

2016-05-27 to 2016-05-30

2016’s Spring Bank Holiday weekend saw me head to Innsbruck in Austria for a first visit; Germany featured too for I flew to Munich before continuing by train. For a variety of reasons that included the weather, this was not the weekend of walking like what I got in while in Switzerland. The time was short anyway and Innsbruck is brilliantly located so it is hard to move away from there. That the weather ranged between sweltering heat and thundery downpours meant that I did not have the luck enjoyed on my previous Alpine outing. Nevertheless, I did some wandering about the Nordkette and got to Zillertal too. There is so much in the area that it really needs a longer stay to make the best of what is there and that could be enough reason for a return sometime.

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.

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