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.
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.
It is a prospect that I first spotted during the latter part 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.
Such was my state of mind that a mid-week walking trip was in order and the promise of some sunshine took me to Litton. From there, I made for Tansley Dale before dropping into Cressbrook Dale on the way to Monsal Dale. Rambling groups were out and about bus I lost those and entertained a query about the location of Tansley Dale from resting strollers. Wintry showers overtook me and I loitered around Monsal Head waiting for better photography weather.
Having got as I much as I could get, I continued along the Monsal Trail before deviating along the River Wye to pass Cressbrook and Litton Mill for a quieter route. This resulted from a spur of the moment decision that may give away a certain fecklessness typical of preceding walking excursions but nothing untoward was to result.
Once back on the Monsal Trail again, I passed Millers Dale before choosing what became an adventurous trek along Chee Dale in preference to proceeding through a lit former railway tunnel. Limestone slabs, steep descents and a nearby river do not mix in my mind and a heedless climbing group was another obstruction encountered on my way. Reaching Wye Dale saw easier walking before I crossed the A6 to make for Deepdale after the last bus of the day to Buxton had passed the way before I could use its services.
That path took me around quarry workings with warnings of quicksand along their perimeter fencing before surroundings became more pastoral. A group of teenagers (possibly Duke of Edinburgh Award participants) with a mapping query were passed to reach the Midshires Way, the trail that would take me to Buxton once I passed a lady trying to coax a horse into its shed for the night. The journey was a long and varied one that just may have provided what I needed. Sometimes, new experiences and recollections are needed to supplant the workings of a restless mind.
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.
The day was a bank holiday in Ireland so I took up the chance of a lack of intrusion from over there to walk another section of the Sandstone Trail. My starting point was Delamere Forest and I sought to leave the collections of families and other groups of children behind me as I headed south.
The number that were about of a Monday afternoon astounded me given that I thought the half term break was over but a tricky crossing of the A556 was to leave all behind me to trot through woods and fields all the way to Beeston Castle and Peckforton Castle. The only reason for stopping at any point was letting a farm worker move young cows and that was marked by a shouted “Thank you” so my presence was not an intrusion. That was near the former and I was to leave the long distance trail after me near the former.
Navigational prowess held up until a missed turn took me into a private wood where I met an estate worker. A friendly conversation resolved the trespass and set me on my way again. As the distance to Tattenhall was shortened, my sense of embarrassment and bewilderment abated to leave a sense of relish for the prospect to walking along the Peckforton Hills and Bickerton Hill to get as far as Malpas or even Whitchurch. That remains an idea for now but the walk had been a good one.
The previous walk along the Sandstone Trail left me with a feeling of unfinished business so I made my way to Tattenhall from where I plied public footpaths, lanes and roads to reach where I had left off the last time. Along the way, I exorcised that navigational howler from my mind and then set to following the trail along the Peckforton Hills in the occasional sunshine. This was to become the section with the greatest height of the whole route and much of it elevated me above the Cheshire Plain with views east or west according to where I went. The sandstone escarpment is most pronounced hereabouts with Raw Head being the highest point of my walk for the day. Bulkley Hill and Bickerton Hill are under the care of the National Trust with the presence of humanity to prove that. Between those, there was plenty of solo time and any temptation to continue to the trail’s southern end at Whitchurch in the dark was resisted so I headed for Hampton Head where I caught a bus to commence my return home. The day had been a good one that I will remember for many good reasons.
The last part of the Sandstone Trail was there to be walked and it looked as if it was a stroll across farmland before reaching the banks of the Llangollen Canal for the final approach to Whitchurch. That meant that there was no need to wait for a sunny day; a dry if cloudy one was enough. Reaching the point where I left the trail two days before, I started along its weaving course. Mostly, I stuck to the line of the trail apart from making the best way across a tilled field, using a permissive path to avoid a busy farmyard and picking my own way through the heart of Whitchurch. Though I had misgivings about these at the time, I know that life brings bigger problems so I let them fade. This is another long distance trail that I have completed in stages and I heartily recommended the stretch in the middle of its course.
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.