Tackling the Tacklers Trail.

Our walk this week took us up to the West Pennine Moors, close to Darwen in Lancashire. We were doing the Tacklers Trail which is a section of the Witton Weavers Way. In the 19th century this part of Lancashire was the centre of the cotton industry and the four walks that make up the Witton Weavers Way are each named after a job within the cotton industry. The Tacklers worked in the weaving sheds and set up the looms. ready for weaving.

278 Lake in Sunnyhurst Woods

We started our walk from the visitors centre, once the gamekeepers cottage in Sunnyhurst Woods just south of Darwen. We followed Sunnyhurst Brook past a couple of small lakes and stone bridges.

Our walk was supposed to be relatively easy, just 9.5 miles with a couple of short climbs but as always things did not go entirely to plan. After only a mile we came to a metal barrier. The footpath was closed following a landslide on the section alongside Earnsdale Reservoir. As we studied our maps a friendly local came up to us and explained an alternative route. It involved a steep climb and added another mile and a half to our walk.

280 Earnsdale Reservoir

We eventually came to the reservoir and were able to pick up our intended route. On the hill in the far distance we could see Darwen Tower which we would reach in another four hours. We had a steepish climb up to Tockholes Road which we crossed and then dropped down onto a track through the woods.

283

At times our route description was a little confusing but we made it down to the shores of Roddlesworth Reservoir.

287 Roddlesworth Upper Reservoir

We followed the stream up to a wide track and finally saw a Witton Weavers Way marker.

290 Along the Witton Weavers Way

Lots of trees had been felled but were replaced with new plantations.

292

The track was once a busy highway linking Tockholes, Abbey Village and Hollinshead Hall. We now began a steady climb up the hill called Slipper Lowe.

299 Heading for the moors

Descending the other side we walked past the ruins of Hollinshead Hall. Little is left apart from the wellhouse where the waters from five springs meet. The waters are alleged to have healing properties for the eyes.

300 Open moorland

After crossing the Tockholes Road we turned left and headed for the open moors. On the skyline we could see the telecommunication masts on the top of Winter Hill. It was lovely walking with the wind on our back, the sun on our face and wildflowers along the path.

303 Wild flowers

Many of the tracks across the moor were built by miners and there were 21 pits scattered across Darwen Moor. The coal was of poor quality and there were often sticky tar deposits in the coal seams. Hence the origin of tales of the famous ‘treacle mines’

After a rather confusing section in the Cadshaw Valley, where a couple of marker posts really are needed, we headed northwest across the moor towards the white building known as Lord’s hall.

Moorland track

We could now see our final objective on the skyline. Darwen Tower.

318 Heading for the tower

Darwen Tower, officially the Jubilee Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It also celebrated the opening of Darwen Moor to the public.

323 Jubilee Tower

I always find that the tower reminds me of a sky rocket. The tower is open and it is possible to climb to the top to admire the view.Today conditions were perfect and we could see as far as the Lake District and North Wales. It was important for us today to climb the tower, not just for the view but for the extra feet of ascent. It took us over the 2000 foot mark for the walk.

The dome on top of the tower is a relatively new structure. The previous dome built in 1971 was a wooden structure but it was blown off by high winds during a storm in 2010. The new structure made of stainless steel was unveiled in 2011.

It was now downhill all the way as we descended to the road and through the Lych-gate into Sunnyhurst Woods and back to the visitors centre.

332 Sunnyhurst Woods

It had been a super walk in marvellous conditions.

11 miles, 2060 feet of ascent.

A good stretch of the legs.

Posted in Local History, Walks | Leave a comment

Away with the fairies.

For my walk this week I went to Fairy Glen, situated on the side of Parbold Hill in Lancashire. The Glen follows Sprodley Brook which over a period of time has cut through the underlying sandstone to create the steep valley which is Fairy Glen. There are traces of some small scale quarrying and this coupled with the action of the brook has created several little waterfalls and cascades. It is a  magical place especially in the Spring when the ground is carpeted with wild flowers.

A clear footpath leads down into the Glen and alongside it there were lots of bright yellow Marsh Marigold. It was time to get down on my knees to take some photos.

27

28 Marsh Marigold

The petals contain a substance that is related to carotin pigment. It was once added to butter to give a rich yellow colour.

Moving down the valley the air was pungent with the smell of Wild Garlic.

32 Wild Garlic31

The main reason for my visit was to see the bluebells, but I thought I was perhaps a week too early. At the top of the glen the flowers were only just showing a bit of colour.

37 Bluebell

However, lower down the glen in the sunny glades the flowers were covering the banks.

46 Bank of Bluebells

50 Native Bluebell

These were true native English Bluebells.

Dotted amongst them were the pink flowers of Red Campion.

48 Pink and blue

It was a place to linger and just listen to the birdsong and the tinkling of the water.

60 Waterfall

There was also plenty of yellow Celandine. The leaves of the young Spring plants contain Vitamin C and can be used in a spring salad. However the later leaves develop a bitter taste and become poisonous.

55 Celandine

I had seen lots of wild flowers but had not spotted any fairies. I did see a large toadstool which is perhaps where they used to live.

59 Toadstool

On my way back up the glen I saw some Enchanters Nightshade.

66 Enchanters Nightshade

It will not be in flower for another month or so but it proves that Fairy Glen is an enchanting place.

Posted in Lancashire, Photography, Walks, Wild Flowers | 2 Comments

A walk in Delamere Forest.

03

My walk this week was in Delamere Forest in Cheshire. Delamere forest originated from the Norman Hunting forests of Mara and Mondrum. Today it is mainly a recreation area very popular with cyclists. There are several designated cycle trails for mountain bikers. You have to keep yours ears open as they can come out of nowhere. Despite their expensive and complicated bikes, they never have a bell.

Our route description was very precise as we followed a mixture of tracks and forestry roads. We reached Black Lake, one of the many mosses in the forest. It looks like an overgrown pond but it is actually a quaking bog. The vegetation on the surface is not rooted to the ground and is floating on the surface like a raft.

04

Parts of the forest are very ancient and there were some wonderful tree shapes.

07

06

Wild flowers were starting to appear.

08

We followed a section of the Sandstone Trail but then decides to extend our walk with a circuit of Blackmere Moss.

1209

Blackmere Moss is the largest area of wetland in Delamere Forest and a lot of restoration work has been carried out in the area. Several of the mosses were in danger of drying out due to drainage work and this the habitat was changing. Trees have been removed and boggier conditions have been restored creating a more diverse habitat for insects and plants.

16

21

The last section of our walk was a modest climb up to Pale Heights from where there are views over The Peak District, Mersey Estuary, West Pennines and the Clwydian Mountains in North Wales.

There is a monument surrounded by pillars that explain the view.

2330

We have covered 9.6 miles at a fast pace, but it was now time for tea and cake at the visitors centre.

Posted in Cheshire, Photography, Walks | 1 Comment

No 108, Barrow.

Last weekend I was out with Crosby Rambling Club when we visited Keswick. I joined the rather large B party on a pleasant walk to the summit of Barrow at 1494 ft.

It was my 108th Wainwright. I am now over half way, only another 106 to go!

We started out walk from the pretty village of Braithwaite.

49b Leaving Braithwaite

We followed the path towards High Coledale, gradually ascending on a good path.

50b Towards Barrow Door

Looking back we could see Skiddaw. The snow that covered the tops last week had all gone. Soon we were on a lovely green path and our objective was in sight. To our left was the deep gorge containing Barrow Beck.

53b Green track towards Barrow

As we approached Barrow Door we could see Causey Pike dead ahead. This is where the  A party were heading. We could also see the clouds that were moving in. A cold front was moving in from the Northwest.

58b Clouds moving in

At Barrow Door we turned left to begin the final 300 ft of ascent to the summit of Barrow.

60b Heading for the summit

66b Almost at the top

There was no real cairn at the summit but the panoramic views were worth the climb.

61b Looking down on Derwentwater

                                        Looking down on Derwent Water

73b David

We had lunch at the summit and posed for a groupenphoto.

68b Groupenphoto

The weather was closing in and it had got windy. It was time to put our fleeces on and head down.

74b It's getting cold

76b Heading down

We returned to Barrow Door and continued in the same direction down a rocky path to meet the Old Mine Road.

78b Descending Barrow

84b The descent

All the hard work was now behind us and we could stroll down the mine road with Stonycroft Gill below us to our right.

90b The old mine road

92b Along the Old Mine Road

Down in the valley we headed north alongside Newlands Beck towards Little Braithwaite and on to Ullock. We made a small diversion to Lingholm Gardens where I wandered down to the lakeside. The boathouse was in need of some TLC.

99b  Boathouse at Lingholm

Several of the group stayed at Lingholm to visit the tea shop, but I had other things on my mind. A quick return to Keswick and a pint of Jennings’ Cumberland Ale. I was thirsty.

An excellent day out on the fells. 9.6 miles and just over 2000 feet of ascent.

I climbed my first ‘Wainwright’, Cat Bells, in 1984. It has taken me 33 years to reach the half way point. If I continue at this rate I will be 106 by the time I complete all 214. I had better get a move on!

Posted in Crosby Rambling Club, Lake District, Landscape, Photography, Walks | 2 Comments

Formby Point.

28 Formby Point

It was a beautiful sunny morning so I decided to do a short walk. Having checked the tide timetable I set out for Formby Point, just a few miles along the coast.

I parked at the National Trust beach car park and set out along the Squirrel Trail. The pine woods are home to one of the remaining colonies of the native red squirrel. I was hoping to see some and maybe get some photos.

27 Formby Pinewoods

I thought it would be quiet but I had forgotten it was the school holidays and there were lots of families and children enjoying the fresh air. I did see several squirrels but each time one was spotted a chorus of voices rang out. “ Look Mummy, there’s a squirrel. Of course the poor animal quickly disappeared.

I left the woods and entered an open area. Signposts indicated I was on a stretch of the Sefton Coastal Footpath and also on the Asparagus Trail.

31

I was on a clear path and all around me there were signs of Spring.

32

Soon I was in the sand dunes.

34 Through the dunes

I made my way through the dunes to emerge onto the beach near Formby Point. It was low tide and miles of sandy beach stretched ahead of me.

35 Golden sands

There were quite a few people on the sands but few ventured more than half a mile from the car park so I felt as though I had the place to myself. It was peaceful with just the crunch of shells under my boots and the occasional cry of gulls.

4541 Gull

I found a couple of interesting shells and got my knees wet as I knelt down to photograph them.

4844

I walked past the entrance to the Fisherman’s Path, I think the marker post has fallen down, so I had to clamber up through the high dunes to regain my path. I followed the path signed Victoria Road/ Lifeboat Road which led me through woods back to my car.

My short walk ended up being nearly eight miles. Wish I had taken some sandwiches!

Posted in Photography, Sefton Coastline | 6 Comments

Causey Pike recce.

My walk this week was in the Lake District where I accompanied Les and Gordon on a recce for the next walk with Crosby Rambling Club. We parked in Keswick and set out towards Portinscale. We could see Causey Pike ahead. It seemed a long way off.

91 Causey Pike ahead

Conditions were perfect, warm sunshine and not a cloud in the sky, as we headed south on the Cumbria Way. The path ran alongside Newlands Beck and it was lovely with just the sound of the water and the wind.

95 Alongside Newlands Beck

We began our ascent from the village of Stair. 1300 ft of ascent along a mainly grassy path. It was very warm and soon our fleeces were discarded.

99 Gaining height

The path became steeper as we headed for Sleet Hause.

101 Getting steeper

Looking back we could now see the snow-capped peaks of the Lakeland fells.

103 Looking back

110

We stopped for lunch at Sleet Hause where the gradient levelled out. The view was brilliant. We could just make out Derwent Water below us. I have stitched three images together to try to show the scene.

109 Panorama

We now had the final push to the rocky summit of Causey Pike at 2035 ft.

106 Causey Pike

On the journey up the motorway I had been reading my copy of ‘Wainwright’ The north western fells. He said “ The final rock tower requires the use of hands. It is easy but no place for fooling around” I wish I had not read it as it set the seeds of doubt in my mind. I am not as agile as when I first climbed Causey Pike in 1994 and can no longer cope with any exposure.

119 Les

120

I managed the first section but then could not go on. My eyes and brain were just focussed on the drop by my side. I decided to go back thus breaking one of the Golden Rules. Never split up leaving one person on their own. But we would keep in touch with our mobile phones.

My plan was to contour round the summit and then climb up to re-join the others on the ridge. However the going was tough. I battled through heather over very uneven ground gradually losing height.I tried to climb up to the ridge but it was impossible as it was defended by rocks and I had no alternative but to make my way carefully down to Stonycroft Gill and the miners track. I managed to cross the gill and it was time to contact the others and let them know where I was.

Problem. There  was no signal. We had broken rule number 2. Never rely on your mobile phone to get you out of trouble in the mountains.

We were all due to meet on this track and I was sure I was ahead of the others so I turned left and headed up the track to meet them. After half an hour my phone rang. I had a signal. “Where are you”. After swapping coordinates we realised we were nearly two miles apart. They had got down to the track before me and for the past half an hour we had been walking away from each other. Reception was patchy but they agreed to stay put while I came down as quick as it was safe to do. After meeting up we then had a leisurely stroll back to Stair to join our outward route.

We had “lost” an hour were late returning to our car. It was a good job we were now in ‘British Summer Time’ and had plenty of hours of daylight. But no time to stop for a pint.

When I got home I had a red face. Was it embarrassment for messing up the walk, or was it sunburn?

11 miles, 3600 feet of ascent.

No wonder my legs ache.

Another little adventure and some lessons  learned.

Posted in Adventures with Les, Crosby Rambling Club, Lake District, Landscape, Photography, Walks | 2 Comments

48 Hours in Budapest, Day 2

It was day 2 of our visit to Budapest and time to explore the Buda half of the city on the west bank of the Danube.

We crossed the river via the Chain Bridge which was built between 1842 and 1847. It was the first solid bridge over the Danube connecting Buda and Pest. We then had a choice. The easiest was to get up to the Castle Area is to use the funicular railway, but there was a long queue. We were feeling energetic so decided to climb up the steps.

133 Holy Trinity Statue

We came to Trinity Square and the Holy Trinity Statue. The column commemorates the people of Buda who died from two outbreaks of the Black Plague.

The Black Plague swept across Europe in 1691 and 1709. People believed that erecting a column would keep the plague away and the foundation stone was laid in 1700. In 1709 the plague returned and a newer and larger column was built. The sculptor Fulop  Ungleich made the column that you see today.

The carving on top of the column represents the Holy Trinity. Below this the column is decorated with smaller statues depicting angels, cherub like figures and saints. The central sculpture shows a biblical scene with King David praying to God.

Nearby is Matthias Church.

Matthias Church was originally called the Church of Our Lady but its popular name comes from King Matyas (Matthias) who extended and decorated the building during his reign (1458 – 70) The present day appearance date from the renovations in 1873 –96.

17. Budapest18. Budapest

The colourful tiles were most impressive.

Close by was the Fishermen’s Bastion.

The Fishermen’s Bastion lies on top of the old fortress walls. It was constructed between 1895 – 1902 and is named after the fishermen’s guild. According to customs in the middle ages the fishermen’s guild were in charge of defending this part of the castle wall.

106 Fishermans Bastion105 Fishermans Bastion

The seven towers symbolise the seven chieftains who conquered the land for the Hungarians.

19. View across the Danube

The towers provide an ideal vantage point for panoramic views over to the Pest side of the city.

We had packed a lot into  a short space of time but now we had a chance to relax and wander along the banks of the Danube. Maybe enjoy an ice cream.

Viszontlatasra.

Posted in Hungary, Photography, Travel | 2 Comments