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Postcard from Timperley



The main purpose of this blog is to keep in touch with friends and family, and maybe entertain others with common interests, particularly in relation to the outdoors. We hope you enjoy it, and your comments are valued....



Updated: 2017-12-11T03:11:11.638+00:00

 



Friday 8 December 2017 – A Ten Mile Walk from Navigation Road

2017-12-10T15:09:33.633+00:00

This week’s morning walk was due to end at the Aspire Restaurant at Trafford College, where we were booked to enjoy a Christmas lunch with Paul and Jeanette, so a convenient rendezvous point, as they live in Hale, was Navigation Road Metro Station.Rick sprouted unexpectedly at the start. Having spent most of his working life at FE Colleges, he politely declined any luncheon there, but he was most welcome in joining us for this local walk.We survived the icy footpaths that led to the stone chipped surface of the Bridgewater Canal towpath. No slipping over here. The top picture shows how the housing development on the old Linotype site is steaming ahead.On the other side of the grey bridge that is now unusable (what will happen to it?) is some old lifting gear and massive timbers that presumably can be slotted into the canal to retain water on one side or the other. I’ve never seen them in use.We left the canal by the Bay Malton and strolled down Black Moss Road to Sinderland Crossing, to join the Warrington to Altrincham Junction Railway, the disused line of which now houses the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) cycle route. It was a lovely sunny morning. (NB – better to continue along the towpath for a few hundred metres to the end of the resurfaced section, then turn right through the woods to join the TPT.)The section of line between Latchford and Broadheath was opened in 1853 and was closed to passengers in 1962. Goods traffic continued until 1985, when the Latchford Viaduct was deemed too expensive to maintain.The first bridge you come to takes School Lane over the railway. Some sort of construction work is on the go here. Not sure what.The muddy route was significantly repaired a few years ago, and it continues to be maintained as part of the TPT. Some sections are easier to maintain than others. They seem to have given up in the spot shown below and have created a narrow pathway/cycleway to the side of the flooded trackbed.We passed the site of the former Dunham Massey Station and continued towards Heatley.The Bollin Valley Way (BVW) path was then taken. This led us along a mixture of quiet lanes and field paths, leaving the BVW at some point. Tea and cake was consumed at a suitable point near some picnic benches in the vicinity of Moss Wood.Altrincham Crematorium was eventually passed, beyond which a junction drew us to a narrow unsurfaced lane, Dark Lane, which becomes Dunham Road after crossing the former Glazebrook to Timperley railway line and heads into Carrington Moss. Dark Lane is the final resting place of a piece of technical wizardry that is now almost beyond identification. My guess is ‘Ford Ka’, but that’s only based on Fords’ reputation for going rusty!Our luncheon booking fast approaching, the quickest way of getting there was via the trackbed of the disused railway. It’s the Partington to West Timperley line on the following representation of railways in use in 1960.This line was opened in 1873. It was deviated in 1890 to cope with the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, with the Cadishead Viaduct being completed in 1892. Passenger services ceased in 1964 when the stations were closed, but freight traffic continued until 1983, when the high cost of repairing the Cadishead Viaduct led British Rail to close the service and mothball the viaduct.The track as far as Partington was lifted in the 1980s, but beyond that it remains partially intact and now under the ownership of Network Rail. Whilst there’s no official footpath here, the trackbed is readily accessed. We walked along it as far as the new housing estate at Stamford Brook.The bridge below is near the recycling centre by Malljurs Covert. The only bar to progress along the line is the rampant brambles, which are quite manageable at this time of year.This line is one that is being put forward for reinstatement. It’ll cost a lot!We could have continued further along the railway, but it suited us to diverge slightly and stroll through the new housing estate to Trafford College, and an excellent Christmas dinner for four of us at t[...]



Monday 4 December 2017 – The Tame Valley Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club

2017-12-06T15:57:03.134+00:00

Another excellent night out at Eagley Jazz Club in Bolton.Norman Pennington and his men were on cracking form, and given the number of special requests, together with Terry Brunt and the rest of the band’s usual enthusiasm, the performance overran somewhat, so we were late home, though thankfully this was a rare night when the M60 motorway wasn’t closed, albeit tricky to avoid being directed off towards Liverpool as there’s no proper signage at present despite the need for some nifty lane changes to remain on the correct road!Here’s what Norman currently says about the band, pictured above, left to right – Terry Brunt, Pete Smith, Roger Wimpenny, Norman Pennington, Paul Broomhead, John Gordon:The Band was formed in 1999 by myself, Norman Pennington, after I was asked to put a rock band together in the local pub, when I said I would prefer to put on a jazz quartet. Hence the Band was born: the line-up was Noel Broadgate, piano; Pete Smith, bass; Paul Broomhead, reeds; and myself on drums. The pub was called the Swan Hotel, so the Band was called 'The Swanee Swingers'. Quite soon, the success of the Band meant we needed a new venue so we moved a few doors down to the 'White Horse' pub, consequently changing our name to 'The White Horse Jazz Men'. After a few months, Noel left the Band and I was lucky enough to get the very well known pianist Alan Howarth to join us: he had at one stage backed Shirley Bassey and had performed extensively both in the UK and abroad. Such was the quality of our Band by this time. In January 2000 we were approached by the Beaconsfield Conservative Club in Ashton-under-Lyne to move there, which we did, and the Beacky Jazz Club was formed: we are still there on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month, with a special guest at every session. Once again our name had to be altered and as the River Tame runs at the back of my house in Ashton-under-Lyne, the 'Tame Valley Stompers' was born. Shortly after moving to the Beaconsfield, we took on another residency at the 'Red House' pub on Monday nights, where we were fortunate to be joined by the ever popular trombone man with scarf and beret – Terry Brunt. During our time at the Red House, Alan Howarth became ill and luck was with us again when Noel Broadgate was able to rejoin us. After 3 years at the Red House we moved to our new, and present home at the `Turnpike Hotel' and at this point we had the good fortune to take on the wonderful trumpet player Roger Wimpenny, whose own Show Band in years gone by were the performers on the Benny Hill Show signature tune – though, unlike Benny – they didn't get to chase the mini skirts (that we know of)! After starting our residency at the Turnpike some 18 months ago, our Band acquired yet another, additional, name as "Terry's Dead Good Boys – The Tame Valley Stompers", which the exuberant Mr Brunt bestowed on us when our playing was delighting him even more than usual! This has stuck with us and we are sometimes featured under this name when Terry is with us. Note: dates given are approximate due to the passage of the sands of time We do at present have a pleasingly pretty full diary and regularly play at a number of Jazz Clubs and events in the North West. Should you require our Band for any kind of function in- or out-of doors, please ring Norman Pennington on 0161 330 1226 FOR LOVERS OF BETTER MUSIC.[...]



1 to 4 December 2017 – Center Parcs revisited

2017-12-06T00:42:07.242+00:00

Last Friday saw the start of our regular weekend trip to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest.Peg and Jim returned after a two year absence; Robert and Lyn did the organising as usual; Stuart brought shortbread; Louise arrived on Saturday due to illness; and Roger ‘lost his deposit’ due to being in Patagonia.The site is littered with reindeer at this time of year. The runt in the next picture was soon removed to a hospital ward.We tried a new game – Football Pool. Quite engaging for the whole family, with Robert opting for his own strange footwear code.Apart from that there was the usual Hydrobikes, Swimming, Short Tennis, Table Tennis, Line Dancing, Squash, Badminton, Floodlit Tennis, American Pool, etc. Plus of course the ‘normal’ pool in our games room, and a nightly sauna that’s attached to house number 889. And ‘Balderdash’. Not everyone participated in everything (in fact nobody participated in everything) due to a variety of mental and physical ailments …. knees, back, shoulder, brain, gastroenteritis ….etc.Much good food was consumed, closely monitored by this fat chap.The firework display on Sunday was very good, albeit I failed to capture the true quality of the event ‘on film’. One of my early Canon digital cameras had a good ‘Fireworks’ setting, but later ones, including my current Lumix, seem to lack that feature. We watched from the beach that features in the top picture.By Sunday night we were, after the main course of Normandy pork, down to just five active participants. Jim and Peg went home due to a commitment on Monday, and Louise fell ill again. That left a fruit and almond Clafoutis for eight to be shared between five of us. It’s maybe just as well they went home, as we just about managed to scoff the lot!Earlier in the day we’d spent half an hour in a hide near our house. This was the only time Sue’s camera appeared during the weekend, some of the results of which are shown below. The birds on the feeder are blue tits, a great tit and a coal tit. Scavenging on the ground below were several squirrels, three rabbits, blackbirds, wood pigeons and a moorhen. Scavenging from above was a kestrel, or was it a sparrowhawk? Anyway, it was so quick that it was hard to see whether it succeeded or not. Nearby we saw a tree creeper, bullfinch, jay, carrion crows, woodpecker, swans, Egyptian geese and more.Before we knew it the weekend slewed to a halt after a swim in the pool on Monday morning. We drove home via Chorley, with Sue driving Louise’s car so that the invalid could be an invalid at home rather than be stuck in Nottinghamshire.Thanks go to Robert and Lyn for organising.Our various trips to Center Parcs are recorded here, if anyone has time for some amusement.[...]



Thursday 30 November 2017 – Dunham Massey again

2017-12-01T09:34:20.343+00:00

For what was billed as a repeat of the walk I did on 20 October, I was pleased to be joined by Rick, Paul and Jeanette on this occasion.We enjoyed bright sunshine on the frosty morning – a perfect day for a stroll such as this, though if we’d had more time a visit to the Lakes or North Wales would have been brilliant today.These first two pictures were taken near Dunham Town.Dunham Massey house looked serene under the cobalt sky. There were very few folk around today.The driveway has changed since I passed through on 20 October. The leaves have now dropped.After coffee and cake at Lavender Barn Tea Room (note that the tea room will be closed from 11 to 27 December), we headed on along Rick’s preferred route back to Altrincham. It’s better than mine and took us past Devisdale Sunken Garden, a gem of a place that has recently been recovered from dereliction by volunteers.The garden is right next to Denzell House, a building housing offices. There’s more information on the gardens, etc, here.Apparently agricultural fairs were once held in Devisdale, which is now an area of grassland on the edge of Altrincham.Jeanette directed us to a folly situated in dense woodland that has recently been cleared sufficiently for people to be able to approach the tall brick column.Nearby lurks a crocodile that once looked immaculate but which is now slowly dissolving.Paul and Jeanette were keen to inspect the wear and tear on the poor beast caused by the elements.Brief pauses for shopping in Altrincham didn’t prevent us all from getting home by lunch time after this most enjoyable 14.5 km perambulation with around 100 metres ascent, taking about 3 hours including stops.[...]



Another Red Tractor

2017-11-29T15:35:44.691+00:00

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One of our esteemed European Tractor Correspondents has come up with this latest image, which he has imaginatively titled ‘Another Red Tractor’.

Thanks, Nick – perhaps AlanR can manoeuvre himself off his sick bed to provide a more informative subtitle!

…. With the speed of a sickly bullet:

“It’s a McCormack, International Farmall D 430 2 wheel drive from the 1950s I like the registration plate MB and AR, what a coincidence.”

Thanks Alan




Saturday 25 November 2017 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 316 – Too Much Cake!

2017-11-28T16:49:55.689+00:00

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The gazebo came in very handy as a cake and person shelter, though by the time they got home many people would have been soaked by the heavy showers of ice cold rain.

There was no shortage of cake, with Andrew Ratcliffe bringing a child size object that masqueraded as a raspberry sponge #100club cake. Well done Andrew on joining the 100 club, as did Craig Bradbury, who celebrated by being first home. Cake was also provided by others, including Michael Wymer, in celebration of his 200th parkrun outing.

The full results are here. Only about 5 PBs, and that reflects the very wet conditions, with muddy passage starting to live up to its name again despite this year’s remedial treatment.

Sue and Jeanette walked round but despite encouragement from the last corner they just failed to break their 40 minute target. Lots of us adjourned to the Courtyard Café for the post run social that has become as important as the run, and possibly more enjoyable on showery days like this.

I only took the one photo, so to brighten up this posting here’s ‘The Last of the Leaves’, on the Bridgewater Canal near Sale, a couple of days earlier.

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Friday 24 November 2017 – Around Birchwood

2017-11-27T13:52:23.428+00:00

For this week’s modest morning walk, Rick and I headed over Warburton toll bridge to Moss Gate, in Birchwood*, for a walk mainly amongst trees, and bordered by part of Warrington’s road and rail network.We were blessed with sunshine and started past the sunlit sculptures of a young girl and a sheep, both situated in large puddles.The tree lined tarmac footpath is shared with cycles. It looked a nice bike route, though it was deserted on this morning.The path leaves the A574 by a Walled Garden. You wouldn’t know it, but for the walls, although my walking guide to North Cheshire, published in 1994, considers it ‘worth a visit’ and ‘planted with exotic plants’.A short section through familiar retail names ensconced within the Birchwood Centre led past Birchwood Station to Birchwood Brook Park. Elevenses were taken beside the brook. I tried to capture the sunlight on the last of the unblown leaves.A left turn took us to the entrance to Risley Moss, which is unfortunately closed on Fridays. So we continued through Gorse Covert housing estate towards Pestfurlong Moss. A narrow trod led through the bracken.Soon a wider path was joined. This led up Pestfurlong Hill, through a willow arch, to the 25 metre summit from where a self timed photo captured a couple of old codgers on this hill that grew out of the rubble from the Royal Ordnance Factory that used to occupy this site.There were good, if slightly hazy, views to the Peak District and the Pennines. Winter Hill, pictured below, is about 15 miles away. The Welsh hills can also be seen from here.Here’s our route: 9 km with minimal ascent, taking us around 2 hours.An excellent little outing. Thanks Rick for your company.* Here’s some history about Birchwood, mainly from Wikipedia:"The surface, at a distance, looks black and dirty, and will bear neither horse nor man….. What nature meant by such a useless production 'tis hard to imagine, but the land is entirely to waste" are the words of Daniel Defoe as he rode through Risley in 1724. (Later part of the Risley area was renamed Birchwood as the Warrington 'New town' development), though the ‘Birchwood’ name probably derives from the birch trees which once covered much of the Pestfurlong area.In the past travellers avoided the Risley (Birchwood) area because it of its dangerous mossland. However, gradually over time much of the fertile mossland was reclaimed and turned into farm land. With the advent of the Second World War, 927 acres of agricultural land was changed into a massive Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Risley. The location was chosen because the low lying mist and cloud helped camouflage the factory from the air; according to a local builder: "It was very lonely and misty at night, and that's why the factory was constructed there ... it was usually covered with a mist or cloud. It was hard to see it in the day time, you know". Although the location of the factory was known by the German Luftwaffe, the factory was bombed only once during the war.A number of bunkers were also built (some can still be seen today) to house the munitions, to protect them from potential bombing, and also to segregate the site and reduce the consequences of any accidental explosions during manufacture or storage. Although these bunkers are on the surface, they are covered with soil and turf and so give the impression of being underground.During the war, some 30,000 people were employed here, many of them women, and over a million bombs, mines and shells were produced.However, after the war the factory no longer had a purpose other than as a storage depot (for the Navy’s rum!) and so in 1956 the north west of the factory was sold to UKAEA with the entire disused area being put on the market in 1963. No buyer was found for it until 1968, when the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation bought the site and turned it into the new town of Birchwood. The armam[...]



Aspire Restaurant, Trafford College

2017-11-25T17:45:11.546+00:00

It’s while since we went to the Aspire Restaurant that’s only a few minutes walk from our house. So a little odd that we chose to go after visiting a posh restaurant the previous night and after lunch at the Hollybush in Seighford, my mum’s favourite eatery. Thanks for the treat, mum. Anyway, we managed only a light lunch, which was just as well, and we joined eight other lucky folk at Aspire at seven o’clock. The 20/20 club is supposed to be for 20 people at £20 a head for a cocktail followed by five ‘taster’ courses. We were very full by the end, although on the face of it the tasty courses looked modest in quantity. They didn’t get the 20 people they aspire to attract. That’s a shame. If you live within reach we do commend a visit to this establishment, where trainee chefs and hospitality students managed to match or even surpass what we had enjoyed at Mr Cooper’s the previous night.Here’s this week’s menu:The college’s website gives details of opening times, and if you call or email them they’ll send you the relevant menu. Special dietary requirements are not a problem for them – in fact this provides good experience for the students. We chatted to some tutors afterwards, and it was clear that they are very experienced and push the students to very high standards.Here are the current opening times. In the evenings you may have to walk all the way around the college building to get in as the college reception may be closed.Wednesdays 20/20 ClubDinner from 6.45pm ThursdaysLunch from 12 noonDinner from 6.45pm FridaysLunch from 12 noonChristmas DinnerChristmas dinner will be served on Thursday 30th November, then 7th and 14th December£24.00Christmas Lunch will served on the following daysThursday 30th November7th, 14th and 21st DecemberFriday 1st, 8th and 15th DecemberIt sounds delicious (see the extract from their website below); let us know if you’d like to join us for lunch on one of the above dates.Christmas Lunch MenuSTARTERSChestnut Mushroom velouté (v)Selection of home made breads Or Ham Hock & parsley terrineHome made piccalilli, toasted brioche Or Home-cured fillet of mackerelHeritage beetroot salad Or Caramelised shallot tart tatin (v)Goats cheese, endive & walnut MAIN COURSES Roast Cheshire bronze turkeyGoose fat roast potatoes, organic vegetables, apricot stuffing Or Baked supreme of HakeRoast tomatoes, olives, tarragon mash, herb oil Or Slow cooked belly of middle white porkChamp cake, caramelised shallots, braised cabbage & roasting gravy Or Spiced Roast squash risotto (v)Wilted spinach, cumin & fennel seeds, tomato fondue DESSERTS Lemon Trioof limoncello drizzle cake, crème brulée & citrus sorbet Or Christmas pudding With brandy sauce and spiced clementine jam Or Rich chocolate tartVanilla cream, chocolate ganache and accompanying sauces Coffee and Mince Pies £17.50 includes VAT at standard rate The staff and students of Aspire Restaurant wish you a Merry Christmas[...]



Some Jazz and Blues

2017-11-24T21:38:38.166+00:00

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The Chicago Teddybears Society Jazz Band put on a great show at Eagley Jazz Club on Monday. The performances at this jazz club are outstanding, especially considering you can get in, have a beer and a pastie, and enter the raffle, all for around a tenner.

On Tuesday Sue and I were treated by a good friend, by way of a thank you to me for organising a couple of Alpine trips, to a delicious meal at Mr Cooper’s restaurant, followed by a visit to the Bridgewater Hall to see John Mayall with the Buddy Whittington Band.

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So far as I can recall, the first gig I ever went to, probably in 1966 shortly after I passed my driving test and was let loose on my dad’s Morris/Austin 1100 (don’t ask – I did crash it), was to see John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers at Redcar Jazz Club in the Coatham Hotel. We went to a few gigs there around that time, including early performances from Cream, who I saw again in Manchester. I recall Zoot Money and the Big Roll Band featuring loudly in Redcar, and amazingly, I’ve discovered that like John Mayall, who is 83 years old, they are still playing and have a gig tonight!

Mayall has been performing since 1956. His band, over the years, reads like a Who’s Who of blues and blues rock musicians.

I enjoyed the performance, though the Buddy Whittington Band’s sound could have been better – perhaps we were too near the front. It brought back some happy memories from my schooldays with Mike and Geoff and John and others.




Friday 7 July 2006 – Going Home

2017-11-24T08:48:43.251+00:00

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After a slightly rainy night, it was cloudy and cooler today - more like 17ºC than the usual 25ºC. The three of us caught the 8.35 train to Jenbach, where I left Mark and Julianna to head for their next destination - sunny Vienna, whilst I returned efficiently to reach home in Manchester by 17.45, via Innsbruck and Frankfurt.

I'd enjoyed Mark and Julie's company, and a very pleasant week in the Alps with them. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

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Today’s first picture was taken in Mayrhofen, the next two in Innsbruck, with a map of the week’s venues being shown below.

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Revisiting this week has resulted in a 40 page photo book that I hope Mark and Julianna will enjoy when it reaches them, by way of thanks for having us to stay in Calgary in September.

The next project is a photobook for Mark’s mum and dad. That won’t attract historic blog postings like these as their 2014 trip from Shap to Richmond is already recorded here.




Thursday 6 July 2006 – A Sunny Day Out

2017-11-23T15:50:27.192+00:00

Another lovely sunny day for a final walk with Mark and Julie. We met Sue and David at camp around 9.30, then headed to Ramsau along paths 11 then 51, the latter involving a 200 metre ascent. That took us to 11 o'clock. All instead of a 7 minute bus ride, and it wasn't a particularly scenic route anyway. Once at Ramsau, for €6.50 we enjoyed a lovely chairlift ascent - 500 metres up to Sonnalm (1360 metres), where we enjoyed coffees, etc and Mark and Julie tucked in to another apfelstrudel - they have come to like these. Then we strolled up quite a way, through woods and meadows, up to around 1900 metres, for lunch just beyond Schlatterhuttenaste, where a new waterwheel seemed to be supplementing the power.It was easy navigation - route 50 all the way to Mayrhofen.There were nutcrackers in the woods, and a pair of ring ouzels were foraging for worms in a field as we passed. More goats, lizards, etc. The cloud arrived a bit earlier today and we felt a few drops of rain early on the descent. These soon eased and no waterproofs were required as we descended on a lazily zigzagging path through beautiful woods towards Brandberg. Instead of going there, from where a postbus could have returned us to base, we continued along path 50 to reach Mayrhofen at 4.50. Somehow we managed to get separated, all but me and Mark having stopped for ice creams. Perhaps Sue wanted to escape from people who disagree with her views.It was overcast and hot, but there was no deluge like yesterday's. We were thankful not to get the flash flooding that was inflicting places near home in Manchester.We reconvened later for a meal at the Edelweiss restaurant, owned by one of the wealthy families of Mayrhofen (not the Krölls, who also own quite a bit!). It was a good meal, and we all enjoyed ice cream treats as well. Yodelling muzak for elderly coach parties was a little intrusive in the background, but we put up with it.We had walked about 14 km, with 700 metres ascent, in about 5.3 hours plus stops.[...]



A Postcard from Timperley

2017-11-21T15:59:46.321+00:00

This is just a ‘catch-up’ posting of a few recent pictures that many people might nowadays put on Facebook.But here there’s no advertising…Autumn colours by the canal continue to delight.Saturday morning: parkrun number 315 at Wythenshawe, under Oliver’s watchful eye.Jeanette and Sue have taken to walking around the 5 km course in about 40 minutes. This protects them from injury and facilitates a good natter.Sunday: A visit from Jacob and Jessica.Mummy (Kate) has a birthday on Monday, so we’d better make her some cakes.This is Jessica’s design masterpiece.Meanwhile, Jacob’s is ‘work in progress’ when a visit to the park intervenes.The trains at Walton Park were operating, but there was no sign of an ice cream van.Much time was spent on the swings.Then we returned home for Jacob to complete his masterpiece.[...]



Wednesday 5 July 2006 – A Slow Descent

2017-11-20T15:33:02.728+00:00

After a starlit night that I spent in my Nallo 2 tent with the door wide open, our great position saw the sun on us at 6.45, whereas on our pitch in Mayrhofen it's 8.30. By 7.15 the thermometer had rocketed from 9º to 23ºC. It was a lovely clear day and we enjoyed our lofty position whilst breakfasting and packing up in a very leisurely fashion.A 9.30 start had us ambling slowly along path 536, the Berliner Hohenweg. The path was excellently marked, but extremely rough, with long bouldery sections spliced with narrow vertiginous paths creeping through and around the crags that flank this Hauptkamm range of mountains.The difficulties were minor if we took our time, as M and J's town shoes are not really the best equipment. A steep drop led through the final barrier of crags to the farm buildings at Kesselalm, but not before a steep snow slope had to be negotiated. An ice axe, buried deep in my rucksack, but taken as a precaution, came in handy. Getting down to the snow was a bit tricky, but once there I renewed the path across the snow and then returned three times for the rucksacks. Then M and J went around the top of the bergschrund on a route I'd already reccied, and slithered down a bit of snow in which I'd made some steps. All good fun!By the time we got to the other side of the shepherds' hut it was 12.30 - time for a well earned lunch. We'd covered about two miles all morning, in excellent weather. It's slow going, especially for Julie. [But now, after another eleven years of 'adventures with Mark', she would float along such a route in no time at all.]After 45 minutes we escaped from some annoying flies by descending some 800 metres to reach the bus stop at Tulfer-Alp at 3.30. The bus, when it arrived (late) 40 minutes later was full, and only I got a seat.On the descent we had seen a herd of goats scrabbling on high rocks and sheltering from the sun under an overhang. The wild flowers were tremendous - numerous different varieties adorned our scenic route that led through open meadows then down through fragrant pine woods. A superb if short overnight trip.By the time we got back to Mayrhofen the weather was fresher, with quite a lot of cloud, and whilst shopping the heavens opened. So we adjourned to a bar next to Dave and Sue's pension and enjoyed a beer. They arrived within minutes (dry - they'd been on a bus) to join us, after which we dispersed for our separate meals (I had luxury mushroom soup with frankfurters, M and J had spag bol), showers, etc, before returning to rendezvous with D and S for another beer, after which David and I watched the rather dismal end to France 1; Portugal 0 in the World Cup, France being very poor despite winning.Today we walked about 5 km with 250 metres ascent, taking a little over 5 hours, plus stops. It was very rough going.[...]



Tuesday 4 July 2006 – High Camp Day

2017-11-19T18:44:50.905+00:00

Another lovely day in the Zillertal Alps. We rendezvoused with Sue and Dave on the crowded 9.30 bus from the railway station up to Schlegeisspeicher. An interesting 1100 metre ascent, including a 15 minute wait at one tunnel entrance and 7 minutes at another.We were soon heading up route 502 towards the Olperer Hut - a 600 metre climb taking from 10.45 to 12.45. The steep, zigzag path was well graded with a good number of people on it. We took an easy pace but made reasonable time. M and J's backpacks were lighter than on the previous attempt as we only had one day's food, and many other items had been discarded - left in Sue and Dave's room in the pension earlier in the day.We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on a high spot above the hut, before continuing on over fairly rough ground to Friesenberghaus at 2477 metres, after reaching a high point at around 2650 metres and descending steeply to the lake (in a rocky bowl, not suitable for camping) and fairly deserted hut. Drinks and apfelstrudel were enjoyed here, on the Berliner Hohenweg route. [Sue and I walked that route in its entirety the following year.]After the 40 minute break at the hut, Dave and Sue left us at 4.10 pm to descend by route 532 - 'a beautiful descent' they later reported, after getting down in plenty of time for the last bus at 17.55.The three of us carried on for 50 minutes, admiring trumpet gentians along the way.We crossed the ridge that goes up to Hoher Riffler, with fine views.A small lake, Wesendkarsee, 2350 metres, was reached at 5 pm. The going had been rough but we were pleased to find some flattish spots for the tents. I had camped here before, on 9 August 1993. There is also a good flat spot, hidden from the path until further east, about 100 metres SE of the lake. [Now in 2017, these observations are sadly rather academic as wild camping is no longer permitted in Austria.]The weather was lovely. We lingered outside for an al fresco meal until a few drops of rain drove M and J into their tent, but well after the sun had vanished over the peaks to the west. It was very quiet. The high cable car on Gefrorene Wand was now hidden, and whilst Sue and Dave's evening in Mayrhofen was blighted by disappointed German soccer fans (they lost to Italy in the World Cup semi-finals) until 3 am, we had a lovely calm, quiet, starry night. At 9ºC it was a bit cool for Julie, who needed clothes on, and their superbly positioned site turned out to be 'a bit lumpy'. Never mind!During the evening two oldish men hobbled past on their way to Friesenberghaus. They were absolutely knackered. When we spoke to them in English they just waved us away. It's obviously a long day from Gams Hutte.Today we walked about 8 km, with 850 metres ascent, in a little under 5 hours plus breaks.[...]



Friday 17 November 2017 – A Cheadle Circuit

2017-11-18T17:56:01.195+00:00

“You must be desperate” someone observed when I suggested that I wanted to explore some paths I’d not been on before and I was thinking of walking around Cheadle. So I’d anticipated little interest in this walk. It was therefore an unexpected pleasure to set off from the foyer of John Lewis in Cheadle at 10am with four other takers.This was very familiar territory for Paul and Jeanette, whose schools we passed, as well as numerous other places of remembrance, and overall the route seemed to please everyone present.Once we had escaped from the shopping complex, underpasses led us into Bruntwood Park, where vibrant autumn colours shone brightly on a day with sunny periods that degenerated into heavy cloud with spots of rain.After an hour or so, on joining a brief stretch of tarmac, we encountered ‘One Thirty’ on Hulme Hall Road. A moment of indecision drew a face from the doorway… “You will come in, won’t you?”The coffee and cake was excellent. This was a great place to stop, even if it did result in late lunches for us all.After a few minutes on tarmac, with various points of interest to P and J, we entered Carr Wood, where a pleasant path leads through the wood next to Bramall Park Golf Course.As Lady Brook was approached, the colours were still great, despite the heavy cloud and spits of moisture.We diverted to admire the timber framed Tudor manor house, Bramall Hall, that dates from the 14th Century. It lies in parkland of 70 acres and has been owned by the local government authority, currently Stockport MBC, since 1935.The house is a museum. We must visit it.We exited the well groomed park, which hosts a scenic Saturday morning parkrun (we must do it), to join a sometimes boggy path alongside Lady Brook.The main line railway that we had earlier crossed by way of a footbridge, was now high above us as we approached Lady Bridge.Looking back, it was hard to discern that this was essentially an urban walk, with housing estates bordering the green passages we found between them.At some point Lady Brook mutates into Micker Brook, which drains into the River Mersey in Stockport. We took time to admire the colours; in a week or two the trees will be bare.It was a little surprising (to me, anyway) to find quite a large weir in the middle of a housing estate.“Look! It’s a weir!”We followed Micker Brook until a path through Brookfields Park led us towards Bruntwood Park, where we reversed our outward route and returned to the John Lewis foyer.All in all, a very satisfactory outing on pleasant paths. Here’s our route - 16 km, with minimal ascent, in around 4 hours including breaks.We will reconvene at some point at Bramall Hall for a circuit to Poynton and back, followed by an optional visit to the house if it’s open.After the walk we returned home via Alpenstock, my favourite outdoors shop, in Stockport (35 St Petersgate, Stockport SK1 1DH). Their lease expired some time ago and Jose has decided to retire rather than renew it. She will be closing the doors for good on 30 November. Meanwhile, whilst she has run down the stock, there may be bargains to be had if you care to pay her a visit. If you tell her you are there on my recommendation you could secure rather more than the usual 10% discount for items that are not on ‘sale or return’. Good luck, and happy shopping.PS I hope nobody minds this interruption of my postings from 2006![...]



Monday 3 July 2006 – A Bad Nav Day

2017-11-18T13:25:27.956+00:00

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It started fine. We were honest and paid for our bus fares into Innsbruck on a sunny morning, our day passes having expired minutes earlier. Julie failed to buy a dress, but the staff at Tourist Information were very helpful and we did get onto a correct train to Jenbach, for Mayrhofen. Unfortunately we soon thought it was the wrong train so we got off at Hall and returned to Innsbruck before getting another, 45 minutes later, train to Jenbach, passing 'Camping - Hell' en route. Had we been quicker, we would have recovered our schedule and immediately boarded the narrow gauge train to Mayrhofen.

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Anyway, we managed that half an hour later, and lunched and shopped in Mayrhofen before setting up at the excellent campsite (but keep away from the overhead lights) a ten minute walk to the north of the town.

The afternoon was spent lazily, with Mark and Julianna enjoying the pool despite the low flying wasps that avoided my lounger in the shade.

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Dave and Sue Emmett made an appearance in the evening. They are staying half board (B&B and evening meal) at a pension in Mayrhofen. We ate à la carte at the restaurant for which they had vouchers that got them a €6.50 discount on main courses that were about €10. [As I transcribe this eleven years later, those prices seem very cheap!]




Sunday 2 July 2006 – A Good Weather Day

2017-11-17T20:47:22.062+00:00

The backpacking 'trial' having failed, we decided on a day walk and purchased Innsbruck Day Passes. Leaving camp at 9.30, LK, then O, then J buses took us to Igls, where annoyingly we got off at the wrong stop. I'll never make a proper mountain guide! A walk back to Igls got us to the cablecar station where we joined hordes in ascending up the Patscherkofel from 870 to 1960 metres - two hours from camp.Then we wandered around the very poor alpine botanical gardens - not a patch on the ones I'd seen in the Pyrenees on my previous trip. At least they were free of charge - it would be an insult to make people pay for viewing this unkempt meadow/woodland.So it was 11.45 by the time we joined the crowds on a sunny saunter along the Zirbenweg path - route 350 to Tuffeinalm via Boschenen. There were summits to climb, but we eschewed these as M and J were tired after yesterday's exertions. It was a pleasant walk in the sun, along easy paths. However, an errant mountain biker did fall off the path ahead of us.A generous lunch stop on a lofty perch, then it was on to Tulfeinalm for drinks. Here there was no signposted route down, so we retraced some way back along the panoramic path, descending steeply by route 45. It seems we either missed route 42, just beyond Tulfeinalm, or it wasn't indicated. After meeting huge numbers of people on the high path, on our route down we encountered just one mountain biker. People must take the cablecar down. Not surprisingly, it was a long, hot dusty road. Eventually we reached Rinn, where we waited for over an hour for a postbus that refused to recognise our Innsbruck transport passes. Meanwhile we spent time with happy beers at a local pension. I called Sue - in the garden at home with a sick note for two weeks.Once the 7 o'clock bus came we got back to camp quite quickly, by 8 o'clock, and cooked our separate meals in the warmth of the Austrian evening.We saw a marmot today, but they are very elusive compared with their Pyrenean cousins.We walked about 16 km in 5 hours, with ascent of 300 metres or so.Here’s a map showing where the last two days were spent. Click to enlarge (and a magnifying glass may be handy!).[...]



Saturday 1 July 2006 – Dodgy Path Day, and Tick Trouble

2017-11-16T10:36:08.451+00:00

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A slow start. I lay in bed until 7.30 then brewed up and ate muesli bars before shaving and slowly decamping. Meanwhile, Mark and Julianna went in search of food for our backpacking trip, which promised to involve a big ascent in the heat of the day.

We eventually got going at 10.45, past Kranebitten station and up path 214. Julie struggled a little to keep up. Frequent rests were needed. Mark had a huge load for the two day backpack, even after leaving stuff at the campsite. We did however ascend at a reasonable pace and reached 1100 metres, from 650 metres, after about two hours. But the path, already a narrow, steep single track, now skirted crags, with big drops. I went ahead to suss out whether it was suitable. Mark had sturdy trainers and Julie had town shoes. It was unfair to expect them to walk on very narrow shale above steep drops, so we decided to return to camp, stopping for lunch on the steep hillside, and picking up a few ticks for our trouble.

So by mid afternoon we were back at base*, having walked about 4 km with 450 metres ascent, in rather less than four hours.

The rest of the day was spent in camp, and we even watched some of England's ignominious World Cup defeat to Portugal (0-0, 1-3 on penalties).

The path we failed on was marked 'Nur fur geubte', so M and J are not 'geubte'...

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* This brought back vivid memories of an ill-fated attempt to continue an Alpine Pass backpack out of Kandersteg on 31 July 1982, when we were turned back by a snow storm and finished up re-pitching our tents in exactly the same place as they had earlier been dismantled, to puzzled looks from other campers as by then the weather was glorious.




Friday 30 June 2006 – A Fishy Interlude starting at Innsbruck

2017-11-15T11:09:25.837+00:00

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It's the summer of 2006, a busy time for me, with back to back trips around Europe in between a bit of consultancy. This little interlude slotted in between a trip to the Pyrenees with the Aberdeen Hillwalkers, and a camping trip in the Dolomites.

Now, in 2017, I’ve finally edited and indexed some of the pictures from this 'Fishy Interlude', and have typed out my diary and produced a Photobox album. This is the first of a week long series of postings by way of recording the trip for digital posterity.

Friday 30 June

I used Airmiles for the last time to get me from Manchester to Innsbruck, via Frankfurt. Leaving Manchester at 6.45, I arrived in Innsbruck on the "Austrian Arrow" Dash 8 plane in time to walk up to the campsite at Kranebitten and meet my companions for the week at 3 pm.

Mark Fish and his girlfriend Julianna were taking a short break from a tour of European cities. I shared a house with (amongst others) Mark's mum for a while in the 1970s before she emigrated to Canada, and I was pleased with her suggestion that I might accompany Mark and Julianna in the mountains for a few days.

My tent was soon up, and the three of us enjoyed a stroll into Innsbruck along path number 8. Camping gas was acquired and beers and a meal were sourced at Weinhaus Happ, where Sue and I had eaten the previous year. Service was slow, perhaps because Germany were engaged in a tense penalty shoot out in beating Argentina to reach the semi-finals of the football World Cup.

It was a lovely evening, with a fine crescent moon. An easy bus ride saw us back at camp for an early night and a long, deep sleep after a welcome shower.




Canada – Summer 2017 – Costs Summary

2017-11-14T13:53:54.654+00:00

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Following requests, I promised to summarise the costs of this trip. They are shown below. We could have spent more. We could have spent a lot less. But we don’t have a budget and basically we spend whatever we like. Having said that, this was the most we’ve ever spent on a trip of this nature, but on the other hand Canada is the most expensive place we’ve chosen to visit, so what would you expect?

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The photo is from Day 15, when we enjoyed an excellent meal in Sechelt before returning to camp.




All’s Well in Timperley

2017-11-13T17:23:51.936+00:00

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I like these images, so it seems a shame not to share them. The top two were taken last Wednesday, the bottom one on Friday, when I just missed capturing a potentially prize winning image of a cormorant emerging directly towards me from the canal with a fish in its beak. Then I spotted a rather shy Little Grebe or Dabchick – I’ve not seen one of these before on the canal, though they are common in the region.

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We enjoyed Wythenshawe parkrun number 314 on Saturday – a dull day with no photos taken, and for a change I didn’t have to leave early for root canal treatment, although Mark, a parkrunner and root canal specialist, didn’t let me forget about that routine.

Sue walked (sore achilles) and I limped round just behind old Ken. Then we took a couple of ‘Days Off’, though I seem to have accumulated nearly 20,000 steps today during the demolition and removal to the tip of our rather rotten garden shed…

This week may feature a ‘blast from the past’; you don’t have to read it but I know Dot will enjoy it.




Thursday 9 November 2017 – Burbage Edge

2017-11-12T11:12:59.987+00:00

This week’s short walk was out of range for the usual suspects, so it was just Sue and I who set off soon after 2 pm from the car park on Goyt’s Lane above the Goyt Valley. Surprisingly we couldn’t find a pay machine; free parking in the Peak District – surely not!As is becoming customary on my walks, we set out at a 90 degree angle to the planned route, enabling me to take the above picture of the car park from the disused railway line that looks like a good path if you should choose to use it.After returning to the start, we descended steeply down to Wildmoorstone Brook. A good bridge crosses the brook, beyond which a track leads enticingly down towards Errwood Reservoir. However, our route turned left, steeply up beside the wall on the left in the picture below.A short thrutch led us to good views on a hazy day across Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs.The contouring path across Wild Moor to Goyt’s Moss was thin but easy to follow. Here the heather hadn’t suffered its normal ‘burn’, but instead had been coppiced. This method of securing fresh new shoots for the grouse seems less disfiguring than the ugly burn marks with which we are more familiar.Coppicing probably also provides some control over the bracken, which can be seen to the right of the next picture, taken in the afternoon sun as we made our way along the fine path up Berry Clough. No coppicing had taken place here.The path leads up to the crest of Burbage Edge, from where today’s view to Buxton looked, well, gloomy.A suitable trig point was found on which to rest the camera. We passed only one person on this walk, right at the beginning.From the trig point the sun was setting behind Shining Tor and the Cat & Fiddle.We lingered a little while, noting kestrels, rabbits, grouse, pheasants and various LBJs, whilst the sky prepared for sunset. I was surprised not to encounter any hill baggers, as the Hill Baggers’ website informs me that this is Hill Number 7732, a ‘subdewey’. Wow!A proper photographer would have had the patience to stay high, but we meandered down the edge towards Beet Wood before the best of the colours were concealed from our view by woods and moors.Below Beet Wood a ‘footpath’ leads to The Beet – a private house with posh cars and a public footpath running through the garden.Another footpath, a proper one this time, leads through Watford Wood to Watford Farm, the home of two rather sad looking tractors.The above picture was taken at 1/6 second at f3.3, so I’m lucky it came out at all. We got some lovely sky colours as we negotiated the bogs of Watford Moor and the even worse bogs by Longhill Farm, but by now it was almost dark.Luckily there was very little traffic on Goyt’s Lane after we had left the wide verge of the A5004. Just as well, as Sue got delayed by a call from work that pinned her to a rare point of reception for quite some time.Here’s our route – 10.5 km with 350 metres ascent, in rather less than 3 hours.A nice little outing, and despite the little bit of bogginess on Watford Moor our feet remained comfortably dry.We adjourned for an excellent meal at Simply Thai, in Buxton, then an interesting evening at the Opera House with Paul Goldstein and Chris Packham. I felt a bit out of place in this gathering for long lens aficionados. The pictures in this posting would all have been deleted by this duo due to their intrinsic flaws, and there were condescending comments along the lines “if you don’t want to be doing this sort of [...]



Monday 6 November 2017 – The Wabash Jazzmen at Eagley Jazz Club

2017-11-10T15:13:03.824+00:00

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Another excellent night’s entertainment at Eagley Jazz Club. Tonight’s line up for the Wabash Jazzmen was led by Mark Challinor on banjo, accompanied by the rhythmic string bass of Richard Vernon, with a front line of Bill Smith on cornet/mouth organ, Mike Hayler on clarinet/tenor sax and Mike Pembroke on trombone.

Our old friend Reg Kingston, of ‘LDWA Plodder’ fame, is actively trying to increase the membership of the jazz club. Posters have been produced for shop windows etc, but as it’s a little way from Timperley I can’t assist in that way. However I would encourage readers who like a bit of Trad Jazz to make the trip to Bolton and enjoy the (roughly) fortnightly Monday night performances. It’s great stuff.

The next date is 20 November - THE CHICAGO TEDDYBEARS SOCIETY JAZZ BAND.

See you there?




Wythenshawe parkrun Number 313, and some Fireworks

2017-11-07T14:10:26.855+00:00

There was a good turnout of 239 for parkrun 313. Despite poor weather, the cancellation of a nearby run boosted today’s numbers. We used the original course as we’d have got in the way of preparations for a firework display if we’d used the usual route. It was very squishy underfoot. Waterproof socks were a definite benefit. Only the bravest ran through the big puddle (pictured) at the end of both laps. Sue walked around the course with Jeanette, who is banned from running by her medical team, in about 40 minutes, whilst I jogged round with Young Joe in about 28 minutes. My ‘hamstring’ (or it may be something else?) remains debilitatingly the same, but doesn’t stop me jogging slowly. Thanks to Joe for educating me re some computer issues. Full results are here.I put my rucksack on the grass under the gazebo before the start. Half an hour later the whole area had been transformed into a mud bath! Moving on from ‘The Muddy Sinks of Timperley’, the following evening, thousands of people braved the mud to enjoy a 12 minute firework display. Since we were dining with Mike and Sarah just round the corner from the park, it was an easy stroll to watch the excellent display.My phone may have a ‘fireworks’ setting (older phones certainly have had one) but if so, I have yet to find it. So most of my firework pictures are c**p.We walked home under a cloud of firework induced fog, but the following day everything had returned to normal. The leaves are mostly still holding firm on the trees by the canal…[...]



Friday 3 November 2017 – A Walk Around Burtonwood

2017-11-06T14:01:40.639+00:00

This week’s regular mid-week outing started from the car park at Red Brow Wood (SJ 577 044), near Vulcan Village just north of Junction 9 on the M62. It enabled Keith to pop over from Liverpool as the start was only a five minute walk from Earlestown Station.Cary accepted a lift for the 40 minute drive from Timperley. He had never been over the Warburton Toll Bridge before and was highly amused by the 12 pence fee!Keith appeared on time, and we gazed up at a ‘heap’ (not worthy of a picture) that gives it name to the ‘Mucky Mountains’. In 1832, James Muspratt built a chemical works here to manufacture Vitriol – Sulphuric Acid and Metallic Sulphates – by the Leblanc Process. Unfortunately, for every ton of Vitriol produced there were two tons of waste. This waste accumulated to form the ‘Mucky Mountains’. The process also produced large amounts of toxic Hydrogen Chloride. Local landowners complained and Muspratt built a 400 ft chimney to try to circumvent the problem. It didn’t work. The lawsuits continued. The works were closed in 1851, and the chimney was demolished in 1925. Nearby houses had been built for the workers, but these were very basic, being deemed in 1956 to be hovels, and demolished then without ceremony.Subsequently, a sugar refinery built in 1855 lasted until 1979, when it became an early victim of the EU’s restrictions on sugar cane imports. Perhaps it will now be rebuilt?Long before the chemical works, back in 1757, the Sankey Canal was opened – the first still water canal – mainly for the purpose of transporting coal from Haydock and Parr to the burgeoning factories of Liverpool. The water remains in part of the cut (see above), but the canal is no longer navigable, having been profitable only up to the 1830’s, when competition from railways initiated its decline. There are a few locks like this one (Winwick Lock) that have been partially renovated (excavated).On the other side of the railway near here, the Vulcan foundry is the site of the construction of many locomotives, and a village of small houses that took care of the workforce. Unlike the Muspratt homes, these have been restored and look picturesque as you drive through the village.The ‘Sankey’ path is now a good cycle track all the way to the River Mersey. It’s easy walking or cycling. It goes under the M62 near junction 9, passing a scrapyard where this classic vehicle is sadly mouldering. I’m not sure of the model, but it appears to date from around 1967 – a Leyland Comet?We passed Winwick Dry Dock, once a hive of activity.Nearby, Hulme Lock and Dallam Sluice have been partially resuscitated.Stanners Pool looks very ordinary, but nearby signage declares it to be part of a nature reserve that teems with wildlife, including water voles, ‘pond minibeasts’ and amphibians, as well as many species of fish.We left the Sankey Valley here and followed a good path around the edge of a modern industrial estate, and back under the noisy motorway. Soon we were on field paths with views to competing ‘blots on the horizon’.The local farmer doesn’t seem to care for either the public footpaths across his land, or the signage that accompanies them.However, I was expecting more mud than this!Cary and Keith seemed reasonably happy as we took an extra little loop through pleasant woodland to reach the unremarkable village of Burtonwood.We diverted for half a kilometre or s[...]