Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Hardly the kind of weather for sunbathing

18th August 2010

Cheshire has seen many a fast moving spotty rain shower pass over it today and the Met Office’s online rain radar shows more of them in Ireland. In between those, there have been spells of alluring sunshine of the kind that makes wonderful photos. How is it that you need a session of rain for the sunlight to look better when it comes afterwards at this time of year? Well, good photos don’t come without some cost.

Grosvener Park, Chester, Cheshire, England

That little mention of photographic endeavour brings me to an afternoon well spent in Chester last Saturday. What drew me away from home was the prospect of meeting with some sun without any dampness, something of a rarity in the last few weeks. There were other reasons too, such as the escape from what felt like a rut. The reason for choosing Chester was that I got to looking through the photos of the place that I have been sharing in the online gallery only to come to the conclusion that they didn’t look the best. It was time to have another go and I came away with some pleasing results too when the clouds didn’t get in the way of the lighting. Much of my urban stroll took me towards the less crowded parts of the city, like Grosvenor Park where a miniature train was conveying families around a small circuit. Trotting along the banks of the River Dee and along the old city wall took me towards the Old Dee Bridge from where I found my way towards the more crowded rows where many were out shopping. These may be uncertain economic times but you wouldn’t have known that from the bustle and a headline in the local rag about the place being a boom town.

The passage of a large wad of cloud in front of the sun meant that any designs on digital capture of landmarks such as Chester Cathedral or Chester Castle (the old County Hall looks an elaborate affair) had to wait for another time. While awaiting the return of the sun, I ended up in a shop or two, though I wasn’t really on a shopping outing. However, that didn’t stop a visit to a branch of Field and Trek resulting in my coming away with a Berghaus Twister Softshell jacket having saved nearly £30 off the original price. My succumbing to the attractions of making a purchase might have been influenced by there being a sale in progress but I have toyed previously with the idea of acquiring a heavier duty counterpart to my North Face Apex Elixir (currently needing a spot of sewing to keep in the drawcord at the base of the jacket after the wrong thread came away) might have made me more vulnerable to this kind of thing, even though it was a thought that had slipped from my conscious memory. So far, it’s got only a bit of a light wetting but I like the cut and fit. Exhaustive testing is not something that I do, but the new acquisition is working well thus far.

Black Lake, Lindow Common, Wilmslow, Cheshire, England

The trying out of the previous day’s extravagance had to await its opportunity when Sunday came dry too though with milky skies, thanks to a passing anticyclone sticking for long enough to give us respite from all the damp greyness that has been outstaying its welcome over the last few weeks. It was enough for me to take to lanes and highways on my bicycle. Though I was to spend some time around Lindow Common, the main motivation was the investigation of potential commuting routes, but the level of traffic and the steepness of some inclines left me thinking the venture a work in progress. However, a chance perusal of a map afterwards at home revealed a possibility that went by Over Alderley, Hare Hill and Mottram St. Andrew. The promise of a sunny Monday had me taking a risk in the form of trying the route in the flesh and the experience convinced me of the need for tightening my back brakes, though nothing untoward happened; then, any inclines can be tackled with greater confidence and there are a few such as the dip around Over Alderley or the hill on which Mottram is situated. Nevertheless, I sampled a glorious morning and pass someone harvesting “haylage” on my return in the evening; some of it was blowing in the air too. Other amenable days may get me passing the way more often.

Even with all of this, I remain on hiatus from walking in hill country, though seeing how high the local reservoirs are now might be one draw. There’s a bank holiday weekend at the end of the month too and thoughts of making something of it are just beginning to prod me into action. Autumn isn’t far now and there’s a certain coolness to be felt on some mornings as well. Maybe that’s what’s bringing more attractive lighting between those showers…

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