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!

Out in some of the whiteness

6th January 2011

Those heavy coatings of snow that many of us were to find round about our way before Christmas weren’t left to pass without my going out and sampling the transformed countryside, even if my excursions were mere nibbles compared with what others were doing. On the Monday before Christmas, I got myself into the hills not far from Glossop with Shelf Benches being the limit of my explorations. Tuesday saw me pottering about Lindow Common enthralled by the way clumps of snow were clinging to any vegetation. Wednesday afternoon was too good to leave go so I tried out and circular trot round by Prestbury, starting from my own front doorstep. A Christmas trip to Ireland in spite of snow showers closing Dublin Airport and sending me around the island a bit more than I intended offered its own opportunities too. That meant some wandering along snowy roads and over well coated fields before the thaw came on St. Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day to the British). The only sign of snow since was a greasy damp dusting that greeted me on the morning of my first day back at work for 2011.

Doctor's Gate track in snow, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Shelf Benches in snow, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

It was after a chaotic weekend for anyone travelling in the U.K. that I finally had the chance of making something of what had visited us on Friday evening and beyond. With the aftermath of the snowfall and the impact of the cold weather in mind, I decided against going too far and stuck with an option that erupted in my mind the day before: sampling the hill country near Glossop again after being absent for a few years. The prospect of popping over to Longdendale was an extension that never came to pass but it was better not to get too carried away during the hours that were available to me. That was just as well because any attempt to approach Shelf Moor and its neighbours would have been stymied but for my having my Kahtoola Microspikes with me; they stuck into the ice superbly to get me further away from civilisation than otherwise might have been the case. Beyond the obstacle, it was over to the cleats of my Scarpa ZG10’s to keep me upright and they did that, apart from downhill skid on slippery snow that didn’t carry me either too far or into any danger; it merely was a warning not to get too carefree. Cloud were advancing from the south, but enough sunlight was left for me to make a pleasing record of what surrounded me. It was only after Mossy Lea farm that I had the chance to use the Access Land to leave the more travelled way to have a potter about. In the end, I contented myself with reaching the foot of Shelf Benches after following a jeep track as far as a broken down wall, from where I followed animal tracks as far as was sensible.

View south-west from Shelf Benches, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Strangely, there were more folk around when I made my return to Glossop; there only was one other soul out when I was venturing away from civilisation. Some were struggling over the icy obstruction with instep crampons while others seemed to get around it without any need for specialised kit at all. My incursion into the whitened outdoors may not have carried me far but I did gain a bit of height to gaze over humps and bumps that lay about me, so satisfaction was assured.

Woodland in snow around Lindow Common, Wilmslow, Cheshire, England

The next day’s sampling of whitened surroundings was a snatched trot about the Black Lake on Lindow Common. Every tree and scrub had clumps of snow stuck to it, which may for dramatic sights when walking through the Common’s more wooded parts. These were sights that I rarely get to see so I lingered even though there were other things to be done and there was time-consciousness in the bargain too. The afternoon of the day after was less rushed as I walked from my house to Prestbury. The light was beginning to fade a little and there were sights that reminded me of Lindow as I followed the Bollin. There were thoughts of walking back via Tytherington but an iced up track under a railway put a stop to that; a quick local trot had me leaving the Microspikes behind and they were needed unless I contented myself with wandering through Prestbury village and back home by roadside footways whose gradients were a solid reminder of the depression of a valley through which the Bollin flows. That’s what I did to reach the cover of street lights before daylight finally failed for the day.

Snowy Trees near Belville, Kilmeedy, Co. Limerick, Éire

River Deel in snowy surroundings at Belville, Kilmeedy, Co.Limerick, Éire

Glaise na gCiaróig surrounded by snow, Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick, Éire

Those Irish explorations took place in better light, so there was enough for photos of unusual scenes for a usually mild part of the country. Well, seeing clumps of snow stuck to everything and hearing the dropping of snow dust within a hedge or a bush just isn’t usual at all. Much of my venturing took the form of careful road walking, though I followed farm roadways too. In hindsight, I was glad to have sampled what I did because a rapid thaw after Christmas Day didn’t take long to remove all the whiteness from everywhere; that was almost as dramatic as the snow fall and arctic temperatures themselves. It may be January, but one cannot be betting on any repeat of what came from the north to us and many would appreciate its staying away for a good while after all the disruption that was caused. Well, it goes to show that nature’s beauty has a price but it’s worthwhile when you gaze upon scenes like those shared here.

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