Outdoor Discoveries

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.

Armchair Ambling

27th November 2011

While the prospect of a day of sunshine should have been enough to get me wandering through the countryside, that hasn’t come to pass. As it happens, the skies over Macclesfield are laden with cloud with the sun only getting out from time to time. That means the landscape gets spotlit instead of the full lighting that really enlivens it though there are some who’d enjoy the photographic possibilities that come with it.

What has resulted is a spot of time for pondering walking options and sorting out gear for when an opportunity really offers. Local options such as Nab Head near Bollington, Alderley Edge to and from Hare Hill and following the Gritstone Trail from Bollington to Disley are recalled but others have come to mind too. Around this time last year, I took myself down to Shropshire for a day of walking and I wouldn’t mind following up on that. Another possibility for these shorter hours of daylight is Ysgyryd Fawr (also known as the Skirrid) near Abergavenny.

Yesterday’s map surveying revealed other possibilities, this time in the Derbyshire Dales. A circular walk centred on Hartington that takes in Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale sounds promising, possibly more so than the sections of the High Peak Trail and Tissington Trail that I followed last October. Continuing from Wolfscote Dale into Dove Dale is a longer alternative that would get me near Thorpe. Following these deep narrow dales through the High Peak could be interesting.

In the same locality, there is another walking option and this is the Manifold Way that takes in the Manifold Valley as it goes from Waterhouses near Leek to Hulme End, a few miles from Hartington. It’s one that I have had in mind in while and considering what lies around Hartington has reminded me of it. Though it can be done in a day, this is longer distance option that needs some pouring over bus timetables to make it work. Now that there is no bus service between Macclesfield and Leek of a Sunday, it probably is one for a Saturday or another day of the week.

Of course, this just is a bundle of ideas with more coming to mind from Wales and Scotland. This hasn’t been much of a year for trips to the latter so there’s plenty of choice. For one, Peebles looks a handy base for a weekend wandering through the hills that surround it. Then, there’s Glenfinnan and Morar for those longer days of Spring when using later trains would be an option. Other parts that I only ever have passed include Sleat on Skye and Lochalsh on the way to that alluring isle.

A weekend reconnaissance trip to Gower in July revealed that it is somewhere worthy of a return but there are places lining the Heart of Wales railway line that merit more attention too. Looking a little further away from that railway line has brought my eyes to the Elan Valley and all that has to offer. Apart from my more customary haunts of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, there is a lot of Wales that I have yet to see.

A busy work life seems to have lulled me into a torpor from which I feel the need to escape and collecting ideas like I have done here could be a big help. Even writing up that trip report for the weekend that I spent in Cowal has set me to thinking. Extending that further, could fleshing out those ideas lead to more entries on here, thus becoming something of a series? Anything that forces a certain readiness should help though there remains nothing like actually getting out in hill country and retelling those experiences for adding to the encouragement.

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