The Vault Regulars

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The expedition of The Magnificent seven

 The word had got out that Martin had found an old map, a very different one than is used today. He asked for volunteers to assist him in the quest of a tough assignment.
I volunteered straight away but was very nearly carpeted at the last minute. Was i spinning a yarn? Was it the pile?

 The map it seems had been found deep within a loft space, covered in dust and a bit fragile. The colours faded and the terminology, missing in parts. The important thing and the most significant to the day was this golden line which had been scribed upon it. It was still visible and it happened to go into territory in the far northern reaches of upper Lancashire.

 Was this line tracing the ancient wanderings of a lost tribe of creatures, half man half Dolphin. Was it where they had hidden the gold raked up from the sea bed. The great up rising of Nicky Nook or was it Nooky Nick, it was so difficult to translate the old words, seemed to show where the hoard had been probably hidden.

 The volunteers from the famous East Lancs club where usually numbers are high were few and thin on the ground. Trepidation at the thought of entering lands that had never before been reconnoitred putting off all but the brave and hardy.
 Some souls, dafter , braver than most had arrived so early that the sun had barely risen.  Was it going to be a golden day.

 Our chief explorer had a pow wow and ensured that we knew what lay ahead. We scanned the fragile parchment covered in a kind of Verdigris or was it Verdigris Agaric. It presented big river crossing, collapsed bridges, contour lines, vast forests, mines, mills and of course the golden line winding it’s way into the unknown. We couldn’t say no, we had to get to the end, to find that wealth.

 We donned our Ventile and saddled up the pony  Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A quick grouping and a flash of magnesium, then with a sharp intake of breath and a shaking of hands we were away. Was this the edge of the known world? What would we find? Would we get back?

 It was obvious that the sun God moved around here, all lands around, apart from this area alone was blanketed in winter guise. The green and lush land we were entering seemed almost tropical.

 Following a fast flowing river northwards for some time, we came across a deep dark cutting with strange wheeled chariots moving at enormous speed. We passed quickly so as our ear drums were not burst. These were truly scary times.
 Beyond was an intricate passage way with hieroglyphics which we soon translated to mean footpath. We entered the passageway to be faced with over friendly natives of the 4 legged variety. At least we wouldn’t go hungry tonight.

 At an old abandoned encampment we backtracked, the ground ahead blocked. Picking our way through the camp we found a track that looked good. We checked the position of the sun and realised that this route cannot be right. For some reason we were being sidetracked. Again we backtracked.
 We regrouped at the last turn off and checked the map again for signs of passage. Lines on a map suggested we go east and not south east as this was surely the highlighted way.

 Vast lakes were all around us and waterfowl enjoyed splashing and chasing each other. We could name some but not all and Maude the Staffi showed great interest in their capture for identification purposes. This was a wonderful place.

  We sneaked through what looked like habitation until once again picked up the river that led us to a very strange but beautiful place.  We had stumbled upon the territory of the Dolphin worshipers.
Many pods passed but habitants were scarce. We entered a street with no greeting and we were glad as the doorways were indeed strangely shaped. We certainly didn’t want to encounter the beast that made them or which passed through them.
 It gave us great hope as it seems from the pods that there is good wealth here.  Vast buildings, built of expensive stone and hand blown glass portrayed a wealth gone bye. Or had it gone bye. We might cotton on soon i thought.

 Picking up the pace we left the area of the Dolphins only to be met by contours of little gap. We became warm as progress again reduced. The sun god, although still with us was becoming tiresome of us and shrouded itself in a grey cloud. We needed a little sustenance in order to overcome the weakening spirit. Very soon we came upon a very smelly dwelling in poor order. Obviously the habitants were not clean like the Dolphins. We huddled in the lea of the wind which was picking up in speed and there had our repast.

 We checked the map again and it looked good. Another abandoned building was approached with caution, it was in cleaner condition than the previous one but still in a state of dilapidation. Obviously the builders had moved on long ago. We recorded the structure for posterity and then found an out building with a slab that had a hole cut into it. It looked like some sort of seat. The sky was clear and it was obvious looking at our star and planet map that these old people worshipped Uranus. I bet they were relieved on clear nights to get back into the shelter of the larger dwelling.

 The land was becoming unforgiving, bog, ice, snow and the ever strengthening wind seemed to be telling us to return to the sun. Our leader was having none of it, as for the first time the goal looked like it could be achievable. We checked the map again quite a few times to ensure the golden route was kept to.
Some time later the route passed underneath a vast structure that seemingly didn’t exist when our ancient map maker was here. We were not sure what this structure was. We had never seen the like of it before. In front of it was a huge well and therefore many souls must inhabit it to want such a demand. Was it from this planet or was it a structure to escape this planet. We didn’t know, but we all wanted one similar.
 So as not to waken the beings inside we found a moat encircling the structure and escaped without capture but with muddy, wet feet.

 Gaining an incredible height our leader decided that this called for lunch. It was cold, snowing, windy and the worst spot to take lunch. The ground was sodden in a black morass and many tussocks of golden grass abound. I found a high spot and plonked my derrière onto it. Chocolate brownies that had been saved and packed away for such an expedition came to the fore and were demolished.  Numerous of those 4 legged creatures we had spotted earlier came within smelling distance and they would obviously report back to their masters later that they had encountered 7 strange lunatics.

 All around us in such a God forsaken place, so far from home, we could make out the hand of a kind of being that had struggled to make a go of life in these wild enclaves. So different to the land of the Dolphins.

It made me think of a poem by Henry Kendall.
 He crouches and buries his face on his knees,
And hides in the dark of his hair,
For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees
Or think of the loneliness there-
Of the loss and the loneliness there.

  Contouring, and then passing a huge forest of Spruce we came face to face with a strange 2 legged creature that warned the surrounds of impending presences.  We starred back and pronounced it to be similar in construction to our own Guinea fowl. Do you think these would be good to eat or just good for eggs someone said. I could eat anything at the moment i thought, and took a handful of nuts and raisons.

 Higher ground beckoned as the golden route climbed forever upwards. Immense peaks in the valley opposite and the hope of wealth to be found at the top spurred us on. A strange column of concrete greeted us where the land no further rose.
 We stopped and checked around for signs of burial but none was found. Was it under this concrete structure? Maybe it was covered up by the snows. Maybe we will have to come back again when/if the snows clear.
 Other large blocks of stone stood stark against the grey sky. Could these structures all have a meaning, a belonging to the stars maybe. Could the golden route just be a figment of some weird mind. Who knows!
We did know that now the golden route once warm and lush had turned cold. The moon God had started to suck the warmth away and replace it with a gnawing cold. It would soon be dark and foreboding. We needed an escape and some warmth.
 Coming across what looked like a welcoming habitat, we stepped with trepidation across the threshold of this new world. "What you would like Alan", Martin said. Filtered or Golden blend?
 I was woken up, back in the land of the coffee machine.
Had we really found nothing? Well i was glad to say, i had. "I’ll go the Golden route please Martin”.
Any chocolate brownies left.

Thanks Martin and to the other 5 explorers for a fine day out.

Photographs here.

Walk start-finish. Scorton picnic site. SD 505 504
To Nicky Nook via Dolphinholme
Distance. 20.6km measured by Satmap Active 10+

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just out and about

 Spindrift, horizontal snow, fierce biting wind making it feel like -3 or -4 deg C, air temp 0 deg C. Ideal conditions to get out and try my new boots.  Sheila had her light shoe grips on her Walsh’s but i wanted to do the walk without assistance to get a feel for the boots limitations.
 Plenty of ice had been covered by the fresh snow and the fields which would normally be muddy with the activities of the local cows were today ankle breakers. 
 It was difficult to spot the surrounding hills, snow laden grey clouds shrouding them from view. 

 The boots tread was performing well, the tread not getting blocked with snow and the DWR appears to be astonishingly good. On thick icy areas they performed  like any other rubber soled boot, not so good. I didn't expect anything else.
 I was impressed with the first outing but will resist elaborating more and do a review in the near future.

 I’d picked up a pair of French ski gloves recently, made of leather with furry insides and they were wonderful. A bit too warm to be fair but i don’t particularly like cold hands. They are also a bit on the bulky side but again i don’t care as long as they do the job and the important thing was the price, £15.
 I smothered the leather in 2 coats of RM Williams saddle and leather dressing so that they would stand up to prolonged rain which i can reveal they did without a problem.

 Crossing through a local park the adults seemed to be having more fun sledging whilst the younger lot stood around staring into their phones.  The cafe was doing a roaring trade.

 Just off from one of the main thoroughfares through the park is this carving. It’s amazing how many people walk past within a few metres of it and don’t spot it. Today was no exception, no footprints in the snow, stating the obvious.

  The snow eased off as we headed for the trig point but on route we passed a fallen tree which Sheila decided she had to climb for some reason. Must be an age thing because she also had to have a lie down after it.

 The park seemed eerily quiet except for the snow falling off the high branches. The sounds of the sledgers long gone. It was quite a steep climb up to the trig point. We took this route on purpose rather than the tourist route.

 At the top the view once again was grey, snow laden clouds and very ominous dark ones moving in from the south west.

 I made good use of an old Icebreaker sock to insulate my water bottle.
Then on a downward trod(well it would be from a trig point wouldn’t it) we passed a pub that dragged us in for a hot Vimto and a cheese and onion toastie.

Just got home in time to watch the Man United v Tottenham match. We were lucky to get a point. Tottenham played very well and we were on the defensive for most of the second half. Improve we must.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Scout Moor Circuit

Date: Wednesday 16th January 2013
Area: Scout Moor, Ashworth Reservoir.
Walk: Circular
Distance 21.7 km.
Ascent: 708 Metres.
Start and Finish: SD 83051 15940

Number of LDWA Plodders: Too numerous for me to count but a guess is 32 and 3 dogs.
Temperature at start: -3.5 C

View South over Ashworth Reservoir
 Due to the high turnout the car park adjacent to Ashworth Moor reservoir was almost full.
I am not sure who actually led the walk as the name seemed to change by the minute. So apologies to our leader because it was a fine day and good route.
Start Point
 We set off NNE on the path up to Knowl Hill until we found a spot wide enough for us all to gather for a group photo. Unfortunately i was in the group and not the photographer, so i don’t have that image.
Thanks to LDWA web site for the photograph.
 Some comments about What! Hills on a Wednesday! were heard. Apparently hills are taboo on plodders walks. Ha Little do they know.

 Good views from the top of the surrounding area and even the Manchester skyline where i waved to Sheila, who was busy grafting in the office. Martin, fellow blogger (phreerunner) was doing an impression of a partially built wind turbine for some reason.
 It was turning out to be quite a sunny morning although still below freezing. Some lovely skies due to the high cloud and low sun.
 Martin, highest, on Knowle Hill
 Plodders on Knowl Hill
Manchester Skyline
  After a brief spell atop Knowl Hill 419 metres the group descended to the head of Greenbooth reservoir. It was quite slippery on the way down and one or two went a cropper. Only pride hurt fortunately.
The 4 reservoirs were looking quite spectacular in this panchromatic atmosphere and made a real difference to when we walked here in the summer.
Heading for Greenbooth Reservoir and brew stop.
 A 10 minute brew stop was taken on Greenbooth Dam before we headed off to join the Rooley Moor Rd which is a cobbled pathway with history going back to the American War of Independence.
We joined the road at Whimsey Hill and carried on North. Passing the front gate posts of the old pub, that’s all that’s left now.
 We had a chat about being a bit peckish and i wondered if we were going to stop at Ding Quarry but the answer was no as we walked past the quarry track.

North on Rooley Moor Road

 The Old Pub Gates

 Knowl Hill from Rooley Moor rd

 Continuing along the track Martin was talking about detouring to do Hail Storm Hill which is a Marilyn.
3 of us back markers made the detour to the trig point and Martin quite rightly pointed out that the land further on looked higher. This proved to be correct and if any of us had had a map we would have known for sure. We were at Top O Leach. So my apologies for the error. We will go and do it again soon.

 Martin heading for Top O Leach
Top O Leach trig point and shelter
 The group that had continued on, without doing the hill, now had to be caught up. We took a diagonal and headed them off at the pass. Well it was the tail end actually.
Hunger pangs were now in attendance. We stopped about 10 minutes further on, along the Cragg Quarry track that is also part of the Rossendale Way. Because we were playing catch up our lunch stop was only a blip and the group were soon on the move again. ho hum.
The good news was that i managed to get a piece of Martins chocolate brownies. Thanks.

 The Rossendale Way track is a good path with fine views over Cowpe Reservoir to Waterfoot and Rockliffe. Alongside the track a separate route for mountain bikers has been set up through Crag Quarry. A great idea.
 Heading East along the Rossendale Way
 Cragg high level tank and Cowpe reservoir overlooking the Rossendale Valley

 Following the Rossendale Way as far as Cowpe Lowe we veered off heading down hill for Edenfield via a good track passing New Hall, through Dearden Clough and exiting to cross the main road via Michael Wife lane. Some of the track was very icy and progress was slow as dancing on ice.
Dearden Brook
 Across the main road and onto the Old Bury road, numerous animal sanctuaries, catteries etc were passed, along with good views of Peel Tower /Holcombe Tower, before another icy track gained us some height before hitting the moorland stile onto Harden Moor.
 Again if we had brought a map we would have noticed the trig point and done a slight diversion to it. Never mind.
 Our route now had become a hidden boggy plateau, our leader had saved the best or worse until last. With the snow in the tussock grass it was hard to tell solid from liquid ground.
 We seemed to be heading too far west IMO but it was a short lived worry as the route, pathless in the snow, turn NE and headed for a culvert and a building shining brightly in the late afternoon sun.

Back up and out onto the moors. The final leg.

 The building just left of centre was where we were heading for and then crossing a culvert the path rejoins the main road for a short distance back to the car park.

Back at the start point the sun was giving us a marvellous farewell.
Thanks to the leaders and to all i managed to speak to. Too few in all honesty. It was a super days walk. Good to see you again Martin. I look forward to next time.

Some more photographs can be found HERE
Martins blog post of the day can be found HERE

Ignore the 7hr 14 mins. I didn't switch the GPS off. My usual trick.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Up on Crompton Moor, brrrr.

 Crompton Moor is only a short drive away but it’s ages since i was last up there. Sheila had to work yesterday which is our usual walk day and so i thought the 3 off us, that’s Sheila, Dorothy and I, should go there for a change.
We found the car park which, i struggled to remember where the turn off was along Buckstones Rd. It was quite noticeable that work had been carried out to improve access. The road had been improved and the parking area resurfaced. So 10 out of 10 for which ever organisation had done the work.

 It was quite a bright morning although the temperature gauge said 0℃. Cloud base was high and altogether a nice crisp day. Snow was forecast as Sheila kept informing us but it stayed off all day.

Lots of dog walkers were out as we made our way up to Brushes Clough Reservoir.
I tried my best with the backlight  feature trying to get a reflection in the water.

We were quite pleased that it was chilly because the muddy paths were easy to walk on.

View back over Oldham and Royton

 Beyond the reservoir the eastward path joins up with the Oldham Way and turns North as it skirts the communication masts.  To our left we joined an unmarked path that took us east, passing underneath the electricity pylons to join up with the Crompton Way. 

 We were lucky with the cloud base today which gave us good views all round and in the distance we could just make out Ingleborough and Whernside. More local, Blackstone Edge, Meltham Moor and Black Hill along with the mast on Windy Hill alongside the Pennine Way.

 The masts on Crow Knowl. There is a trig point in amongst them but we skirted past it this time. Height 391 metres.
 Following the wall along Boothstead Edge and the Crompton Way.
 Clear views to Windy Hill with Rooden Reservoir in the foreground.
 Crow Knowl Masts
 Just above Cherry Top Farm we rejoined the Oldham Way  and headed West. This sheep kindly posed for me.
 Trail bike tracks abound in this area and here is some of the damage done. Although putting it into perspective there are also numerous burned out car sites too. We saw one such site where as well as the car remains, there were about 30 car radios.
 After crossing Little Rochdale Parish and finding a convenient spot for coffee above Whitesides, Compo and Cleggy posed for photo’s. The temperature was dropping and at this point was -2℃. My face and fingers were feeling the chill and thankfully there wasn’t a breath of wind or else it would have been bitterly cold.
 As we headed down and back to the car park i spotted this Kestral. Unfortunately it wouldn’t turn round.
View over Rochdale and to Knowl Hill where we walked a few weeks ago. The turbines visible on Scout Moor. 
A very enjoyable walk and it made a nice change to our routine stroll.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Walsh Enforcer lightweight trail boot.

Alan, and a few other people asked if i (Sheila), was going to put a review of these Walsh boots on the blog. I've had a think about it and decided that it could only be beneficial  to readers as their seems to be a shortage of reviews specifically about outdoor gear for ladies.

 Well let me start by saying "I am not a boot fan". I much prefer trail shoes of the un-waterproof type and where required, i supplement them with waterproof socks. After all, if you get water inside a waterproof boot it stays there with no escape route apart from taking them off and draining them out.

 So why have i got a pair of boots. You may well ask.
Well it started in early December 2012 when we were getting our gear ready for Martins Christmas walk. I expected snow to cover the ground as it did last year and i was a little worried about cold feet all day.

 Alan was feeling rough with flu and was browsing the internet between moaning about shivering and feeling dreadful. He must have been listening to my apprehensions about cold feet because he said "have a look at these boots, i think they will suit you and for the price must be worth getting".
 The boots were Walsh Enforcers.

 Now i also don't like boots because when they are wet and mud covered they usually weigh a ton and i dislike the whole experience. I wasn't convinced it was the right way to go but Alan kept saying "Give them a go, Walsh make good shoes. They will be worth every penny". I said ok,ok, and ordered a pair.

 Walsh, i eventually clicked, was the same company as make the running shoes of note. I have seen lots of Norman Walsh  running shoes on the fells and therefore i was a bit surprised to see a boot and at such a cheap price, because i know what good shoes they make.

 So they arrived, i was impressed with how light weight they were. I actually said “wow" they are nice. Basically a high running shoe. The sole was the typical Walsh sole. I think they only do one type and it looks nothing like a Vibram.
 The web site actually says it's an all new Pyra grip sole but to me it looks exactly like every other pair of Walsh's i've seen. Not that there is anything wrong with it btw.

 They are now a month old and i have been out in some dire weather, mainly wet, boggy, light snow and some frozen tracks. I am still impressed. I don't fell run, so all my comments are just about walking in them although no doubt you can run in them.

 The boots are a size 5.5 and each boot weighs 395gr. That's measured on our own scales. I don't know what the official figure is.
 Two tone grey with a red trim upper, a waterproof and breathable membrane. I have been pleased with the results so far, they have kept my feet warm with only a lightweight sock and dry as a bone.

 I found the ankle collar quite firm at first and just a little uncomfortable on my right foot. I put this down to me not wearing boots for so long although why one foot was a little sore and the other one ok i don't know. Maybe i had the lace too tight.
 So with this in mind i made sure it wasn't too tight next time out. It didn't make any difference, my right ankle still felt a bit sore.

  A month in and around 60 miles done, there is no soreness, so i can only suggest that the problem was my soft ankle.
 I'm not 100% sure. It's not a problem now though.
 The tongue is comfy and bellows type, easy lacing,  and i like the rand protection. The toe protector is not huge but i wouldn’t expect it be on a lightweight boot. There is also a pull tab on the heel.

 The boot itself is quite flexible in the area of the ball of the foot but very little elsewhere and holds the foot extremely well. There is no heel lift.
 I think i have found a last that is made for me.
 The Pyra-Grip sole works particularly well when contouring, this works brilliantly on everything except smooth wet rock where i felt i had to be careful. There's no slipping on wet grass or muddy surfaces due to the shape and depth of the sole lugs. And walking on hard surfaces is not uncomfortable.

 The insole is basic but adequate and i don’t feel i need to change it for a better quality one as yet.

 After Martins Christmas walk these boots were caked in a limestone concretion. They looked like i had been working at a cement works. This was due to walking along the Tissington trail in very wet conditions. Alan got the job of cleaning them and he says he was amazed at just how easy they were to clean and how well they looked afterwards.

 So, i can no longer say i don’t like boots. I barely know i have these on my feet now.
 They only cost £34.99 from Sportsshoes .com.   Truly amazing value for money.
 I am so pleased Alan persuaded me to get them and i wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them.

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