The 300 plus club visit Bolton By Boland.

On Tuesday I was out walking with my friends, Les, Chris and Gordon. Last year we realised that the sum of our ages was 300 so we called ourselves the 300 club. Of course over the past 12 months we have all had another birthday. Officially that now makes us the 304 club but we cannot keep changing our name every few months so we have settled on the 300 plus club.

575 The bridge at Bolton By Boland

We started our walk from the car park by the bridge in the attractive village of Bolton By Boland. We crossed the bridge and followed field paths looking for a signpost on a tree directing us towards Sawley.

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Soon we came to the remains of an old stone cross.

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It was easy walking and nice to see the new-born lambs in the fields.

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We crossed Skirden Back via a footbridge and continued south to meet the banks of the Ricer Ribble.

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We could now see our next objective, the village of Sawley and we followed cones across the fields to reach the bridge.

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We crossed the bridge and followed signs, both old and new, for the Ribble Way.

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It was at this point that I remembered that I had done this walk before, way back in 2012. The map I was using then was a 1995 edition and showed the Ribble Way following the banks of the river but the path has now been diverted. We had to climb upwards and should have been rewarded with fine views of Pendle Hill, but not today. It just merged into the general greyness. We passed an area where a festival had been held and a stone circle. I don’t think it was a genuine ancient one.

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594 The stone circle

After crossing and re-crossing the railway line we dropped sharply down the aptly named Steep Wood to reach the banks of the River Ribble. A perfect place to stop for lunch.

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We walked alongside the river for a short distance and then followed the Ribble Way to the outskirts of Gisburn. We could glimpse the Gisburn Estate the home of Sir Guy of Gisburn, the adversary of Robin Hood.

We now had a bit of road walking to reach Park House Farm. We saw some wild chickens. These really were ‘free range’. But, why did the chicken cross the road?   !!!!!!

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There were other animals and we were glad that they were behind a fence.

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The final few miles were across fields back to Bolton By Boland. We had covered almost 10 miles and I could feel it in my legs.

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A stroll through Ainsdale Dunes.

Today was bright and sunny although rather cold so I decided to do just a short walk to pass away a couple of hours. I drove north for just a few miles to park at the Ainsdale Discovery Centre and then headed south through the dunes.

The leaves were just appearing on the scrub willow but in a few weeks time they will be being devoured by the caterpillars of the White Satin Moth. In June the pure white adult moths will emerge in their thousands. The whole spectacle only lasts a couple of days but it is like walking through a snowstorm.

Scrub Willow01. White Satin Moth

The dune slacks were full of water  and several new scrapes had been dug to provide breeding pools for the rare Natterjack Toad.

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The breeding season had just begun but I did not find any spawn. I did spot a few tadpoles but a think they were the common frog.

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Eventually the path seemed to run out and in front of me was a massive sand dune, at least 50 feet high.

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I made two attempts at climbing it but both times I was defeated. It was one step forward and two steps back. I was exhausted.

I had to find another way round. I still had to climb some sand dunes but they were manageable and I ended up on Formby Beach.

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Miles and miles of sand and not another person in sight.

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I continued south until I came to the Old Fisherman’s Path which I followed into the woodland. It is mainly Corsican Pine and a habitat for the Red Squirrel population. At last I found some where to sit and get my breath back.

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I reached the Sefton Coastal Footpath and headed north alongside the railway line. This would have led me back to my car but would have involved some walking a close to the road. Instead I headed along the West End Walk and the Pinfold Path, neither of which I has walked before. I had to keep my eyes open to spot the waymark posts.

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By the time I got back to my car I had done almost seven miles of hard walking mainly through soft sand. I was exhausted.

If I had realised I was going to be away so long I would have brought a sandwich. But, as always I had my emergency Mars Bar and a bottle of water.

Back home I now ache. Do you think a glass of red wine might help?

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A Ramble at Bakewell.

475 The river at Bakewell

My walk last week was based on the beautiful village of Bakewell in the Peak District and featured some lovely riverside walking and the splendid viewpoint from Monsal Head. At 12 miles it was a good stretch of the legs but we had enough time at the end to get the local delicacy, Bakewell Tart or should it be pudding ?

We crossed the river and left the village climbing steadily across field paths to cross a road at the end of Kirk Dale.

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We climbed up again heading for the village of Sheldon before descending steeply into the upper part of Deep Dale.

483 Deep Dale

Deep Dale is set in the “White Peak” area of the Peak District National Park where the underling rock is mainly carboniferous limestone. The area is rich in history dating back to the Iron Age. Also there are folk tales about the giant Hulac Warren and his love of the shepherdess Hedessa which ultimately led to both their deaths.

484 Deep Dale

We followed the stream down the dale and although it is early in the year there were lots of wild flowers. I saw Lesser Celandine, Wild Pansy and Wood Anemone.

488 Lesser Celandine494 Wild Pansy

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I also spotted a plant that I had never seen before.

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I think it may be Red Bartsia, a parasitic plant. Can anyone help?

492 David, our leader

We followed David, our leader down Deep Dale to reach the A6 and a picnic area where we could stop for lunch. Sitting at a picnic table was a luxury that we don’t often get on a ‘A’ party walk.

Crossing the busy A6 we entered the beautiful Monsal Dale where we enjoyed some riverside walking. I thought I saw a monster but it was just an old log.

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Stopping to take photos had left me way behind but the group waited for me by the weir. We were amazed at the volume of water flowing down the river.

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We continued along Monsal Dale and soon the viaduct came into view.

518 Towards the viaduct

The Headstone Viaduct at Monsal Head was built in 1863 on the Derby to Manchester section of the Midland Railway line. It is 300 feet long and has five arches each spanning 50 feet making it one of the most impressive viaducts in Britain.

At the time of its construction the viaduct and the railway came in for a lot of criticism. John Ruskin, a leading poet of the time wrote.

The valley is gone – and now any fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour and every fool in Bakewell in Buxton.

However the viaduct became one of the railways best selling points and appeared on many posters.

Following the closure of many of the railway lines in the 1960’s there was talk of dismantling the viaduct but there was lots of opposition and in 1970 a preservation order was placed on the structure.

Just before we reached the viaduct we took a path to the left and climbed up to the viaduct where we stopped to admire the view and take a group photo.

520  Group  photo

We were now on the Monsal Trail which follows the route of the dismantled railway track. The line ran for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and the Coombs Viaduct in Bakewell. The majority of the route was opened in 1981 but four of the tunnels had to remain closed for ‘Health and safety’ reasons. However in May 2011 these tunnels, each 400 yards long were finally opened to the public and lighting was installed.

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We did not go through the tunnel but followed a path to the left for a short but steep climb up to Monsal Head.

524 David

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We walked along the road to Little Longstone before re-joining the Monsal Trail which we followed back towards Bakewell. Close to Bakewell we left the trail to follow an old drovers route entering Bakewell over the old packhorse bridge.

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It was now time to enjoy a pint with ‘Birthday Boy’ David.

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No visit to Bakewell would be complete without sampling  the local delicacy. Bakewell Tart, or should it be Bakewell Pudding.

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Bakewell Tart, on the left, consists of a shortcrust pastry base with a layer of  jam and a sponge using ground almonds. Cover the shortcrust pastry with a layer of jam, add a mixture of eggs, sugar and ground almonds and margarine. Sprinkle with ground almonds and bake in a warm oven.

Bakewell Tart

                                                               Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Pudding although containing the same ingredients, looks and tastes different. It is believed that it was first made by accident. In 1860, Mrs Greaves, the landlady of the White Horse Inn was expecting some important guests and she left instructions with het cook to prepare a jam tart. However, the inexperienced cook, instead of stirring the the egg and almond paste mixture into the pastry spread it on top of the jam. During cooking the jam bubbled up to the top and the texture was different.

Bakewell Pudding

                                                         Bakewell Pudding.

This time I bought a large pudding from the Bakewell Pudding Parlour. Last night we ate half of it served cold with cream. Tonight we will finish it served warm with custard. Delicious.

Happy days.

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Madeira, the North West tour.

We wanted to explore more of the island so we booked on the North West tour. Many companies offer these tours but we did not want to be on a coach with 50 other people. We chose ‘Pride of Madeira’ There were just 8 of us in a people carrier. Two Germans, four people from Holland and ourselves. Of course they all spoke perfect English and we had some interesting discussions although one topic was barred – Brexit!

We set off along the south coast and and first stop was at Camera de Lobos where Jean and I had been the previous day.

236 Camara de Lobos

Little had changed. The men were still playing cards.

232 Still playing cards

Having already explored the harbour we visited the small chapel. Parts of the building date from the early 15th century but it was largely rebuilt in 1723.

230 Church at Camara do Lobos

We continued along the coastal road before climbing steeply up tom the headland of Cabo Girao. The cliffs here are the second highest in Europe and plunge 590 metres ( 1900 ft ) down to the Atlantic.

249 Cliffs at Cabo Girao

It is now a major tourist attraction and a huge complex of a cafe and souvenir shops has been built. There is a viewing platform with a glass floor from where you can gaze directly down to the ocean below.

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257 On the glass floor

It is so different from when I first visited in 1994 when there was just an hand rail for protection.

Heading west our next stop was at Ribeira Brava which we reached by the old road. The name means ‘Wild River’ but not much water was flowing down today. The main attraction was the 16th century church of Sao Bento ( St benedict’s Church). It contains some of the islands finest gilded and carved woodwork plus an elaborate font and painted ceiling.

273 Church at Ribeira Brava

We had plenty of time to wander down to the harbour which was quite picturesque.

274 Ribeira Brava

We were now due to drive to the north of the island and Porto Moniz. As the weather was fine, our driver Filipe decided to take the scenic route over the steep, twisty and narrow mountain road. As we gained height we entered the mist. The high level plateau of the Paul da Serra resembled the Scottish moorlands,

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By the time we reached Porto Moniz it was raining. Not much and certainly not enough to stop us exploring. Porto Moniz is famous for its lava pools where it is possible to swim. But not today, it was too rough.

299 Porto Moniz

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We wandered along watching the waves crashing over the rocks.

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At one viewpoint a frame had been erected that made for a good photo.

326 In the frame

We now headed along the north coast towards Sao Vincente passing through Seixal, the wine growing region. We had a couple of photo stops. One was to see the ‘bridal veil’ a waterfall that cascades over the old corniche road. I remember back in 1994 when we were driven along this road in a yellow Mercedes taxi and the driver pulled up under the waterfall to give his car a wash. The road is now closed as it is too dangerous due to erosion and landslips.

328 The Bridal Veil

The new road avoids all this and passing through tunnels we soon reached the pretty village of Sao Vincente where we visited the lovely church of Ireja Matriz.

354 Church at Sao Vincente

The interior of the church is well worth a visit and the ceiling depicts St Vincent.

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Our journey back to Funchal was quick and easy using the Tunel de Encumaeda.

It had been a fascinating day out and it was now time to try a bottle of dry madeira white wine from Seixal. You have to help the local economy!

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An afternoon in Camara de Lobos.

148 Camera de Lobos

Just 10k west of Funchal is the picturesque fishing village of Camara de Lobos ( Lair of the sea wolves ) The name refers to the seals that once swam nearby. In 1950 Winston Churchill visited Madeira and painted many scenes of the village.

113 Boats at Camara de Lobos

114 Boats at Camara de Lobos

The area is very colourful with the brightly painted fishing boats in the harbour. However it was very noisy as there was a lot of rebuilding work taking place following the fierce storms of last December. A huge crane dominated the skyline.

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We wandered around the harbour and were interested to see salt cod ( Bacalhau ) drying in the sun.

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Crossing the harbour we started to climb the many steps leading up the Caminho do Calhau. It was hard work but worth it for the view looking back down to the harbour.

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We passed some older cottages and outside one we paused to watch an old lady hanging out her washing to dry on the rocks.

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We continued on for perhaps 1k until we could see the raised walkway that skirts the cement works before reaching the pebble beach at Praia Formosa. The tunnel that links the far end of the beach to the lido promenade is currently closed for maintenance.

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We made our way slowly back to the harbour where it was time for a drink. We sat in the sunshine at one of the bars alongside the harbour. It was coffee and a custard tart for Jean while I enjoyed a glass of poncha, the local drink of sugar cane brandy, orange juice and honey.

Custard Tart

Even the dogs were finding the day tiring.

147 Lazy dog

Meanwhile the old fishermen sat around smoking and playing cards.

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It’s a hard life!

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A trip to the market in Funchal.

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A popular tourist attraction in the old town is the Mercado des Lavradores. the worker’s market.

At the entrance there are some tiles depicting life in the market.

056 Tile at entrance to the market

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Inside there is the flower market, always bustling and colourful.

060 The Flower Market

061 Flower Market

The flower sellers are dressed in their traditional red costume. They have an extraordinary knack of sensing a camera and will turn their back on you. Unless of course you want to buy some flowers.

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Downstairs we find the fish market where you can gaze at todays catch.

67 Todays catch

One of the most popular fish is the espada, a fearsome looking ink-black fish looking more like an eel. It has needle sharp teeth and can grow to one metre in length. It lives several hundred feet down in the ocean and when it is being hauled up to the surface its eyes tend to bulge making it look even more fearsome.

068 Espada

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We wandered round watching the fishermen descaling, gutting and filleting the fish. It tastes delicious when fried and served with banana.

074 The Fish Market

 

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Back upstairs is the fruit market where you can find a wide variety of produce. It is very colourful and immaculately laid out.

088087 The Fruit Market

92 The fruit market089

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090 Spices

On the upper floor vendors will try and tempt you with samples of some of the exotic fruit. But beware, their prices are very  high.

The market is well worth a visit and afterwards you can call in at one of the many nearby restaurants and enjoy your espada and banana.

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Art outdoors.

A few years ago the Rua Santa Maria in Funchal was looking very run down. In this former fisherman’s area many of the houses were uninhabited and in a bad state of repair.

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Then an artist, Jose Maria Montero had an idea. He invited artists from all over Madeira to come and paint the doors of the abandoned houses. Over 100 artists responded. Their choice of materials and subject matter was left up to them. The idea grew into the Arte Portas Abertas project. It is now a major tourist attraction.

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We strolled town the narrow cobbled street early on a Sunday morning when it was quiet and I could take photos. A few hours later it would have been busy with tourists, many from the cruise ships, all trying to keep up with their guide with the red umbrella.

161 doors were decorated some using metal, clay or ceramics as well as paint. Here are a few examples.

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We had been walking for a couple of hours and Jean reminded me that it was time for coffee. But I decided to try a glass of Poncha. It is made from the powerful sugar cane distillation, aguardente, which is mixed with honey and flavoured with lemon or orange juice. Delicious, but it has quite a kick.

A steady walk back with lunch in the Parque de Santa Catarina.  A good start to our holiday.

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