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!
Photographic equipment errors can blight subsequent results. For instance, this summer saw me using a camera at a different ISO setting to what was intended and I did not notice it for weeks. Given that the setting was 320 rather then the desired 400 and I have often mulled over the idea of using 200, it was not a calamity given that I create raw image files anyway.
What reminds me of the above is that a more obvious mishap beset the photos made on the trip described in this report. That time, I somehow knocked the camera into the wrong daylight balance setting. All the images came out far too red but again creating raw image files allowed for a rescue in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Being able to bulk copy the new settings was a real bonus so I could ameliorate any annoyance in the act and leave the lesson on file for future reference.
Given I finally had got to Rothbury after having designs on such a trip for what seemed light an age, the easy fix to those photos probably was just as well. Just like the North York Moors that were featured in an earlier post, this too was a long way to travel for a day trip, though that never did stop me getting to other parts of Northumberland since they are afflicted by the same disadvantage.
Rothbury was reached later in the same week as an icy encounter with Roseberry Topping. The chance of a bright day added to the required motivation input even after an outdoors escapade earlier in the week, especially since an early morning start was needed. It also was good timing for travel by double decker bus for the last part of the inbound journey.
Though Newcastle was dull while I was passing through the city, Rothbury was bright and sunny with clear blue skies overhead when I arrived there. My intended walking target was Simonside so I soon left by way of St. Oswald’s Way to make the most of the time that I had. The day may have been laden with wintery crispness but I was to pass a harbinger of spring once I passed Whitton: snowdrops.
After passing Sharpe’s Folly on my way towards Hillhead Road, the surrounding views opened as I followed the track with height being gained as I did so. Though looking to my left brought my eyes towards pleasing sights, it was what lay to my right captivated my attention at various points throughout the day. The white-topped summits of the Cheviots not only acted as a reminder of winter but also contrasted against the otherwise green landscape bedecked with some brown patches.
The track was left to reach Whittondean and going beyond that took me onto open moorland. Handily given that I was crossing soggy bogland, the path was paved. All the age of my map was plain to see so it was just as well that I had the OS Maps app on my phone for adding the extra details. Quite why I had not got to buying a newer paper map is lost to me but it would have added the route of St. Oswald’s Way for one thing.
At that time, thoughts of depending on a phone app given the vagaries of signal and battery life felt imprudently trusting. Still, it all held together on the day and even showed another public footpath over Simonside that itself came in being after 2005, the publication date of my Explorer map. Since then, I have chosen phones with lengthy battery life and they came into their own during this year’s travails when they allowed me to leave paper maps at home for various local day hikes where I largely know the lie of the land anyway. Still, I am mindful that the phone is doing the locating so I need not lose that ability for myself in case I ever need it again. After all, devices are not that infallible.
A relatively timely arrival at the eastern end of the Simonside ridge added a certain complacency about route timing that soon got dispelled by the false summits that I met along the way. The whole section may have been around three kilometres in length but the afternoon passed as I pottered from east to west, especially given the arresting views that lay all around me. Winter whitening of various sections and the presence of icy patches added to the need to concentrate on what was at hand. That really applied to the steep western descent from the actual summit itself.
By then, it was late afternoon and I needed to catch a bus at a certain time too. Even with this and with others going the way, I was not going to rush but any coated patches were left after me soon enough along with any gathering of humanity. Then, it was a matter of descending through forestry to Great Tosson, an act greatly aided by the use of walking poles to speed things though there was ample time to survey the surrounding scenery as well.
From Great Tosson, there was a road descent to Newtown after which a byway returned me to the banks of the River Coquet. Once across to the other side, I was bound for the bridleway taking me back to Rothbury again. That the sun continued to lower in the sky caused no concern given the progress that I was making. A lost time had been made up again without the need for rushing; it was all a matter of maintaining a steady if unhurried pace while relishing what lay about me.
In fact, there was enough time before my bus came to visit a shop for some provisions and a new map of the area. After that, my journey home began and I could wonder about returning to Coquetdale. Though current circumstances may delay that, I still have spied a possible route taking in Cartington Hill and the Cragside Estate. Having an excuse to revisit a place never is a bad thing to have.
Return train journey between Macclesfield and Newcastle extended by a return bus journey on route X14 between Newcastle and Rothbury.
The previous posting on this blog may have been a sunnier reprise of a walk that I did before but what I describe here is not of that ilk. Firstly, I decided to stay in Newcastle on a Saturday night. Though my initial explorations along the Tyne were done after dark, I liked enough of what I saw that another visit would not go amiss. On Sunday, I took myself off to Bamburgh to see its famous castle and walk from there to Belford, enjoying bright sunshine for much of the time.
Initial notes on here updated my recollection of this trip. For instance, I never recall having played with the idea of a weekend among the Brecon Beacons or that a delayed start put paid to notions of a walk around Rothbury that took in nearby Simonside. What I remember much more clearly is what actually happened.
For one thing, there was an overnight stay in Newcastle that allowed for a bit of strolling along the banks of the River Tyne. It was then that I got to realising just how near Newcastle and Gateshead actually are and that the former of these is a not unpretty place. It helps that there has been some urban regeneration with a new footbridge across the river and that a tower belonging to the castle giving the place its name still stands in spite of the depredations of railway building.
Much of my wandering took place after dark so I made it my business to see things in morning light before I headed north the next day. Still, seeing everywhere lit up has its appeal too and there were plenty about the place. It was not only those out for the night on the town for a cancer charity was holding a night walk and I made it my business to be out of the way before that hoard set off on its way. The repeated booming of the line “Stand up to Cancer” was a little too extrovert for my tastes but it still told me that I had time before the charity stroll was to begin. In the event, I was largely out of the way before things really got going so my own amble was a pleasant one.
After that quick morning stroll along the Tyne, it was time for me to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed by train. It would have been more complicated if I had been going to Scotland for there were engineering works between Berwick and Edinburgh so it was just as well that my sights were on Northumberland instead.
Before travelling onward from Berwick by bus, I took the chance to potter around the place in the morning sunshine, peering at its bridges as I did so. Then, it was time to continue to Bamburgh where its castle awaited. It did not take long to find once there since Bamburgh is not at all large and it is situated atop a hillock.
Rather than going into see the castle on a wonderful sunny day, I opted to stroll around it instead. First, I headed a little south along the road and crossed to the beach through grassy dunes. Only the faded colours of the grasses gave any hint that this was autumn and not summer. Given where the sun was as the time, this also was the best vantage point for photos with good lighting and I was to find that the usual photos that you see published need to be made at another time of day, more likely morning.
It was when I got onto the beach that I was discover that last fact but there were other sights to see. In hindsight, it might have been better to have had a camera with a telephoto lens for some of these. Even capturing views of the Inner Farne would have been helped but it was the more distant ones of a well lit Lindisfarne where the usefulness really would have been seen. Still, it was good to get what I got and to savour what lay about me anyway.
It was around Harkess Rocks where I was to see the classic view of Bamburgh Castle and realise that this was not the time for my own version of such an image. It was no disappointment given what I had got from the day already and I was about to rejoin the Northumberland Coast Path that was set to carry me all the way to Belford.
That conveyed me around the coast as far as Budle Bay while largely avoiding the Bamburgh Castle Golf Club course before I was directed inland towards the B1342. That gave me a chance to look back at the castle where my walk began and it had fallen into cloud shadow. Since I was to head downhill from Galliheugh Bank, this was to be my last sighting for the day.
The sea was not to be seen much as I headed for Spindlestone Heughs by footpath and road. Near Outchester, I got to see more of the sea again but there also was a curiosity in the form of an old windmill called the Outchester Ducket. The word “ducket” is a local form of dovecot so that makes the name an unusual one for what is now a building let put as tourist accommodation.
Passing Outchester Farm led me along quiet roads and public rights of way towards the East Coast Mainline that I had to cross to reach Belford. Rather than over a bridge as might be found on the West Coast Mainline, this crossing went straight across the tracks, a striking thought given the chance of an accident. Before making my crossing, I used the provided phone to check if I could cross and did the same on the other side to let them know that I was safely across. The latter was as much for sake of courtesy as anything else.
After that Belford was near at hand under cloudy skies with more industrial surroundings for company for much of the last stretch of what had been a pleasing walk with much bright sunshine. It is how Bamburgh Castle and how the nearby coastline looked in the sun that is what I remember. It was a much needed interlude of brightness in a life with a lot happening.
Train journey from Macclesfield to Newcastle with an overnight stop before continuing by train from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Outbound bus journey from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Bamburgh followed by a return bus journey from Belford to Berwick-upon-Tweed before going from there to Macclesfield.
As anyone with elderly parents should know, life can be a roller coaster ride when their health declines. It certainly has felt that way over the last few years for my family and I. However, escaping out into the countryside has helped in its own way when dealing with life’s rougher moments. Getting through December 2012 certainly called for those head clearing escapes, be they into Tatton Park near Knutsford in Cheshire or along Irish country lanes. Both of my parents were frail then with my mother having been shook up by a hospital visit and my father’s strength in free fall since the summer. By Christmas, he really needed to be in a nursing home but mentioning the subject only resulted in angry exchanges. It took a brush with death due to a kidney infection for the matter to be forced and the issue to get resolved as it needed to be. He still was not intent on staying where he needed to be, and it was a nice place too, so no one could relax and a walk along the Macclesfield Canal between Congleton and Macclesfield as well as a shorter stroll around Buxton were well needed.
What really changed everything was my mother’s passing away not so long before what would have been her eighty first birthday and the loss was a raw one that not only resulted in next to daily evening walks by the River Bollin but also had me venturing further afield is search of a spot of solace. April 2013 saw me make two trips to Derbyshire and the area was to see me more than any other in that year. The of those April visits had me encountering banks of snow left over from a late winter as I hiked from Hayfield to Glossop, rounding Kinder Scout from below as I did so. The weather was much milder later in the month when I embarked on a circular yomp from Bakewell that took in both Ashford-in-the-Water and Monsal Dale. These were followed in June by a walk from Bamford to Edale that took in the southern edge of the Kinder Scout plateau and a walk from Monyash to Bakewell via Lathkill Dale. That last big walk of the year had me passing swollen rivers too; it had been a month of heavy rain and much flooding. A July escape to Fort William that took in Glen Coe and Glenfinnan could not have been more different with its sweltering temperatures and dry sunny weather. There also were sunlit walks from the Cat and Fiddle Inn back to my home that took in Shining Tor and Lamaload Reservoir. The first of these took me onto Rainow and Bollington while I passed close to Shutlingsloe on the second.
The combination of the scare that began 2013 and the loss of our mother meant that I tended to be more precious about my father and I suspect that my brother probably felt the same. The sense was that we could lose him sooner rather than later and it pervaded most of 2013. It sounds churlish to say it now but I started to wonder in the light of my father living longer than we might have expected if it was not before time to abandon any putting of my life on hold that there might have been. That is not to say that there was any sense of abandonment because, if anything, my visits to Ireland became more frequent. For much of 2014, I crossed the Irish Sea on a monthly basis.
In between those though, I began to get out and about again and last summer saw me make three visits to the Lake District. The first was to Buttermere when I crossed the top of Haystacks while the second facilitated a walk from Patterdale to Grasmere that went over the top of St. Sunday Crag and the last revisited Orrest Head and Loughrigg Fell. January and November saw me spend time around Llantysilio Mountain near Llangollen with the first trip enjoying bright sunshine all day and the weather disintegrating to spells of rain while I was up high. That makes an excuse for another return sometime though I did get more than a little compensation from spending some time by the Mawddach estuary near Barmouth the next day. There were more Welsh visits though with a summer solstice one that visited Sgyryd Fawr and Sugar Loaf near Abergavenny and a September retracing of steps between Rhossili and Port-Eynon in glorious weather. Yorkshire too saw a visit before the Tour de France did and that took in Pateley Bridge and Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale on a largely grey day. Northumberland was paid a visit during October with the delights of the coastline around Bamburgh being sampled on a day that felt more like it belonged to summer. Local trots around Macclesfield were not neglected either with Alderley Edge and Hare Hill seeing two visits. A pesky Jack Russell terrier took a set on my left leg the first time around so a hospital visit was advised and no such intrusion was experienced the second time around though I could have done with more sun.
There was more to my normalisation with a bike trainer being put to good use to see if my fitness could be bettered. The second half of 2014 also had my father see a good run of health that lasted until last month. There was a smaller scare in February 2014 but things steadied after that and I felt in the need of all that walking. Still, he was growing weaker as I found during last Christmas and I returned to Britain before New Year sensing that we might be on the cusp of a big change of some sort. In fact, I also wondered to myself how he would fare if he caught an infection. That question was about to get an answer only weeks later. A heavy chest infection was to confine him to bed after a traumatic experience when the nursing home thought him strong enough to sit up in a chair for a while. With that in mind, I made what I thought was a flying weekend visit in case there were to any further developments. Much of Saturday was spent with him and my brother was there too. When we left, he was comfortable and we thought that a peaceful night was in store. That changed after midnight and we dashed to the home. By the time that we got there, he had breathed his last only minutes before. Some would find that heartbreaking but the final peace is what I recall. His suffering was over and that nearly was more important than we might have felt.
A word said during one of the many conversations we had with others over the ensuing days remains with me: release. My brother and I felt it while nearby neighbours were stunned by our father’s departure; they surely felt it more than we did and some were crying on the phone to us. There may be another factor: we both had our homes and our lives while they see breakage in a continuity that they held dear. Also, the period with our father allowed us to come to terms with where things were going and have a partial glimpse of where things would go after he went. Of course, there are ups and downs as well as twists and turns of which we know nothing yet. The turbulence within me after my mother’s passing has not come after my father’s and there are times when I wonder why though that is not to see that there was no weeping or no jabs of the heartstrings. Maybe it’s that sense of release again.
There are matters that need attending yet but my mind also is starting to explore possibilities too. Visits to Ireland are sure to continue but not at the same frequency and certainly not with the same purposes as before though you hardly can abandon your relatives or former neighbours. There may be opportunities to visit places in Connemara, Mayo, Donegal or Wicklow that I have yet to see. That would be continuing something that they did after their own parents were deceased and there was many trip to Kerry and West Cork. Some of those gave me the love of hill country scenery that has taken me around so much of Britain and the Isle of Man. Over the past weekend, I was strolling around old haunts in Edinburgh like Blackford Hill, Bruntsfield Links and The Meadows before crossing over to newer haunts like Dean Village and Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. Except for the occasional incursion of rogue clouds, there was sun shining on me throughout and I pondered the possibility of spending a week in the city sometime. Even in a place like Edinburgh, there was much opportunity to wander down memory lane (I graduated from one of the city’s universities) and have time and space to yourself if you needed it. Nearer destinations will remain attractive in a new life situation.
Speaking of memories, there is one that returns to my mind when I mention Edinburgh for I gained a research degree in a science subject while there. My parents were hoping that I would find a job in Ireland afterwards but the world of science is an international one, especially if you fancy a career in academic research. Some of my contemporaries gained post-doctoral jobs in the U.S. and that option did appeal to me not a little. The phrase “seeing the world” came to my notice and sharing it while on a trip back to Ireland must have tugged rather too strongly on parental heartstrings for I was asked to leave such designs until after they were gone. Now, youthful naivety has been displaced by realism so I now am amazed at the sorts of thoughts that went through my mind back then, especially when after experiencing more of the delights of Britain and Ireland.
Even so, that is not to say that I am not tempted by foreign destinations. The likes of the mountains of Canada or New Zealand or the American Rockies may not be what I have in mind but other spots in Europe have a certain allure. For instance, business trips to Sweden appear to cultivated a soft spot from Scandinavian destinations such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Iceland. There are areas of hill country in three of those and any photos of Norwegian fjords that I have seen look stunning. The Faroe Islands also have detained my attention and it helps that they are compact too. Going there would build on a 2008 escapade that to Scotland’s Western Isles and the islands of Orkney and Shetland have not missed my attention either. To return to the European theme though, you cannot overlook the Alps or the Pyrenees and they are but some of the mountainous regions on the continent that get mentioned in walking magazines from time to time.
None of this means that responsibilities are about to be overlooked and it can feel that you are able to make new obstacles for yourself too. The ones that appear of their own accord are enough for anyone and a life after my parents will bring its ups and downs will come soon enough. In between, pondering those other destinations may bring its own comfort while realising that short visits only uncover so much. After all, I lived in Edinburgh for over four years and still have parts of it to see anew along with those nooks and crannies that I continue to revisit. As ever, only time will reveal what comes to pass and what adventures may be had yet.
Everyone can have a hiatus and there has been a long one on here for entries like this one. In my case, it is not as if I have been away from hillwalking. As it happens, I have had more trouble motivating myself to write stuff on here than getting out among hills and there is a growing list of Trip Reports to Come too. What has happened is that procrastination has got in the way of my getting those additional outings shared and it gets worse as the list grows longer. In addition, an old bike of mine has found its way onto rollers in an effort to increase fitness and reduce flab. The former has been a success so far and the latter needs more in the way of effort so the bike trainer will not be left to gather dust like another road bike that I acquired in April but that was taken out on a short cycle between Macclesfield and Buxton yesterday.
The inspiration for this post though is an email that I unexpectedly received from the publisher and editor of a walking magazine that I thought was defunct: Walking World Ireland. My impressions led me to join Mountaineering Ireland to received its journal, Irish Mountain Log, as a substitute. However plans are afoot to get Walking World Ireland back on newsagent shelves again, albeit under a new guise of Mountain World Ireland. Here is the text of that email:
An apology and announcement to readers of Walking World Ireland
From November 28th:
Walking World Ireland will become Mountain World Ireland
As a subscriber to Walking World Ireland, you’ll have noticed that the magazine has not been published for almost a year now – since the 2014 Annual.
As editor and publisher I want to apologise sincerely for this. We value every reader very highly, and it was only after a prolonged period of business difficulties that the decision to suspend publication was made. Since that moment it has been my clear hope and intention to return WWI to the shelves as soon as possible.
The reason I’m contacting you today is to let you know that the magazine is indeed making a comeback. I’m delighted to be able to say that, and I hope it will also come as good news to you.
From next month, Walking World Ireland will resume publication as Mountain World Ireland. It’s a small change, reflecting a slight but exciting change in emphasis – largely the result of the countless conversations I’ve had with readers over recent months.
Mountain World Ireland will remain at its core a hillwalking magazine, celebrating, as ever, the beauty of Ireland’s mountain landscapes and the pleasures and challenges they offer. But more, it will celebrate the wider world of mountain sports – the people and activities that inspire us as lovers of high places.
I hope and trust that this rebirth will meet with your approval, and will continue to inform, entertain and inspire you as WWI did. I want to thank all of you for the patience you have shown, and for the many, many expressions of support we have received from readers and subscribers. I hope to hear from you again with any comments you may have on our future direction. Anything, in fact, that you have to say.
Finally, I want to assure all of you with unfulfilled subscriptions that we will honour all our outstanding commitments, and if you’re unsure where your subscription stands, do contact me at [email protected] or on +353 (0)86 805 4590.
Copyright © 2014 Mountain World Ireland, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have previously subscribed to Walking World Ireland
Our mailing address is:
Mountain World Ireland
10 Kickham Road
Some of the sentiments sound familiar so I will wait and see what becomes of these plans. An improving economic situation may help the new venture so I wish it well while intending to savour what is on offer. If anything, the WWI offer had gone a little repetitive so a refresh was needed anyway and a break often can make for a good reboot as has been seen with many a movie franchise. My Irish travel horizons may have been narrowed by life events over there in recent years but there may be a chance to do some explorations of my own yet.
As for the future of this outpost, I hope to get more trip reports shared and the summers of 2013 and 2014 came good enough to lure me out and about on welcome and much needed escapades. Usual haunts like the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District and the Peak District saw incursions along the Gower, Monmouthshire, Yorkshire and Northumberland. The perceived need for better photos drove quite a lot of these and the Lake District photo album is being rebuilt at the moment too. Also, there may have been visits to other places too and there are musings that I wish to mull over on here too once procrastination has been banished.
For various reasons, this summary of my walking during 2012 is arriving twelve months late. That’s mainly because I was not in the right frame of mind for writing it this time last year. The subsequent year has been life changing yet wandering through countryside not only did not stop but its restorative effects never were more needed. Before that though, things felt more steady and here is how things went.
January saw me staying local with a three counties (Cheshire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire) stride between the Cat and Fiddle Inn and Buxton that took in the Three Shire Heads bridge. It was having extra time on the day that allowed that to happen even if I arrived at Grinlow Tower, or Solomon’s Temple, too late in the day for much in the way of photography. Even now, I have yet to be there on an occasion when the conditions allowed for the sort of photographs that I like to savour and there were two visits during 2013. Some things take time to happen so patience is a prerequisite.
There no such constraints when I walked from Alnmouth train station to Embleton by way of Northumberland’s pleasing North Sea coastline and the remains of Dunstanburgh Castle, now under the care of English Heritage. What I got to experience was the sort of crisp sunny day that adds so much to a walk. That was much more than a previous walk in the same area more than six years before.
March was a quiet month on the walking front because of heavy work commitments and April was little better even if I was not working as hard. Even so, I did to walk up Nab Head near Bollington as an addition to a cycle that circled around by Pott Shrigley. Even with a heavy cold towards its end, May worked out much better with an evening spent around Tatton Park and other spots in Knutsford. The next day saw me get as far as Waterhouses in Staffordshire to fulfil and often aborted scheme: following the Manifold Trail from there to Hulme End. When that turned out to take less time than expected, I extended the walk to take in both Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale to finish up in Hartington. That was another design fulfilled on a day when sub eventually beat cloud cover to deliver its delights to anyone out and about. Later in May, I returned to Northumberland to visit Alnwick and Warkworth to see their castles.. The day was a hot one so it was best to limit exertions and a previous heavy cold made that all the better as a plan. There were enough sights to savour anyway and, with views along the Aln and the Coquet available so easily, there was little need to rush along anyway.
The extended public holiday weekend at the start of June, the bank holiday was moved from its usual place at the end of May, offered an opportunity for a getaway and I struck lucky in Scotland’s Eastern Highlands. Having based myself in Pitlochry, I took in the shores of Loch Ericht and sampled a little of the scenic drama of Glen Tilt. Sun was in short supply at times and it limited what I could do when capturing a view of Blair Castle. Even that was better than the wetting that anyone attending the Diamond Jubilee Events in London when rain that was very typical of the year pervaded. Just like a previous trip to Pitlochry nearly six years earlier, my walks were mere tasters and I was more than happy with that at the time, unlike that preceding visit that left me yearning for more.
Having had it in my head for a while, I finally got to do an evening walk from Wilmslow to home after work during June, mostly using the route of the Bollin Valley Way except for where bank erosion necessitated an untidy diversion. It should have been a matter of reversing a previous walk along the route done of a winter afternoon whose timing mostly is lost to memory unless digital photos offer some resuscitation.
Even with 2012’s reputation for wet weather, I still got some other pickings from its summer and limitations on sunshine were a marked feature of otherwise dry weather walks. Looking on the positive side, it may have been better than walking in sultry heat. One outing in such conditions happened in July with a visit to Sedbergh from where I walked as far as The Calf in the Howgill Fells. That out and back trek definitely was satisfying and left me open to more like it. That I tasted my best ever fish and chip supper added to the appeal. Maybe I should go there again and there’s more of Cumbria and Yorkshire to be explored or revisited as well.
August saw me head to Wales twice. First, it was to the Gower where I walked over Rhossili Common before picking up the coastal path from Rhossili to Port-Eynon by way of Worm’s Head. The walk was a glorious one even with cloud advancing from the west all the while. Also, I’d like to revisit the portion near Port-Eynon because it looked very primeval and I was passing it with the object of catching a bus on my mind. As it happened, roads around the Gower were chaotic and the bus that I was making nearly was two hours late as a result. Still, I got back to Swansea for the night before light failed and electrical rain storms made landfall.
The Summer Bank Holiday weekend allowed time for a trip to Pembrokeshire, again revisiting somewhere not sampled since 2006. Only the Sunday of the weekend offered much in the way of dry weather and there even were showers in the evening time. Before then, I got in a walk from Strumble Head all the way to Fishguard under ever cloudier skies. The day started well so I saw Strumble Head at its best and very nearly got lured south-west instead of following the planned eastbound course. It was completed in dry weather so there were no complaints, especially with the drenching that came the next day.
The second weekend of September granted us a glimpse of how the summer of 2012 might have been and I popped over the county boundary into Derbyshire for a stroll by the River Dove that took me from Thorpe to Hartington. The southern end of Dovedale was mobbed with families and I couldn’t get into my stride as I would have liked but things were so much quieter north of Milldale that there was no such concern. What took over as I neared Hartington was how hot the day felt in the afternoon sun after I had emerged from Wolfscote Dale. Any thoughts of an extension as far as Longnor or Crowdicote were set aside in favour of returning home. Quite how those wearing suits during the well dressing ceremony stuck their attire in the heat is beyond me. Maybe I am more warm blooded than some…
September ended with another sunny interlude and that drew me along the Saddle of Kerridge and onto Tegg’s Nose before I turned for home in the fading light. Ambitions for a trip to Teesdale in County Durham were frustrated by fatigue so the more local yomp was what was needed. Indeed, it made me ask why I didn’t head out among nearby hills more often than I did. Local walking has set that to rights though a Teesdale incursion has yet to happen.
The first Sunday in October allowed a trot along the Goyt Valley that had lain in my mind for a while. On the day, so many walking possibilities came to mind that I had difficulty choosing between them. There was walking home from the Cat and Fiddle Inn to take in Shutlingsloe along the way. Trotting along the Gritstone Way between Bollington and Disley was another though a late start put paid to that option; it was to serve me well later. The sight of cloud advancing from the south decided me at the Cat and Fiddle Inn so I headed for the Goyt Valley and it wasn’t a bad choice at all. The ground conditions were well soggy after all the rain that had fallen during the preceding six months and that was expected. Autumn and winter walks bring with them encounters with mud so that was no irritation and I had sunshine as far as the dam of Errwood Reservoir. Cloud took over then and the shore of Fernilee Reservoir was shadowed under overcast skies. Since I quite fancy retracing these steps with some sun, that is another excuse for a return sometime. When Whaley Bridge was reached, there was no dissatisfaction and it had been great to clear my mind.
November saw me make two trips to Tatton Park near Knutsford after some photos of autumn colour. The first of these involved some foolish conduct on my part and what I got for my pains was a ripped jacket, soggy feet and clouding skies that thwarted my hopes. The second outing set things to rights and all was unperturbed again. It was in that spirit that I made use of a possibility left unused the month before: following the Gritstone Trail from Bollington to Disley with a visit to Lyme Park. The morning was glorious and clouds left the sun alone until I had got as far as Sponds Hill. Much was savoured before them and it was my first sighting of sunlit Derbyshire hills from there. It was with satisfaction that I dropped into Lyme Park and ambled unhurried from there into Disley. There was one final trot before November was done: along the Macclesfield to Congleton along the banks of the local canal. The section between the Bosley locks and Buglawton was a delight even under cloudy skies and with declining light. Though I repeated the trek in the opposite direction, it remains worth revisiting.
December brought more fraught prospects and Christmas week was a difficult one for our family. Worries about my parents’ health pervaded and there were much needed short walks taken for head clearance. One of these took me over to Tatton Park again and the winter sunlight did nothing to disappoint, if only I wasn’t feeling so raw inside. 2013 then looked a tall order yet I made it through the year. At the point, 2014 looks less foreboding and it will be taken one day at a time. Life is not for grand designs right but smaller ones will do just fine. Hopefully, your 2014 will bring you good things and I am happy to await what it brings me.