The Vault Regulars

Friday, February 27, 2015

Unusual visitor

I noticed what i thought were a pair of sparrows sun bathing in the tree at the bottom of the garden, but looking at them through the binoculars realised they were Reed Buntings.
I have never seen them before in the garden and was even more surprised that they stayed long enough for me to dash round looking for my camera.
Here are a few shots i managed to get before they flew off.

I have checked everyday since but they havn’t returned.

Monday, February 23, 2015

We didn’t see this coming!

Yesterday we did our 10k circuit. It was cold and crisp and we set off with duvet jackets on.
Ten minutes down the Rochdale canal where believe it or not i saw three Deer the other day it started to rain.
We pondered a few seconds and then decided that it had been a wrong decision to put the duvet jackets on and headed back home for the waterproofs.
It was the right decision although we thought it would blow over in ten or fifteen minutes. How wrong we were. It came down harder and was unrelenting. Half way round it started to sleet and then snow. The flakes got bigger until it was blizzard conditions.
The wind blew up and turned the walk into a bit of a battle. We had to hold onto Dorothy as the ground became more and more slippery. (We don’t usually take Dorothy with us if there is any chance of ice).
No other folk were met on route until we pushed open the cafe door in Tandle Hill Park to find 6 or 7 others sheltering.
A warming coffee and a toasty and we set off again into the snow. I tried to pick a route which would reduce the chance of Dorothy slipping. It wasn’t that easy. The steps up to the monument were very slippy but she did ok.
On reaching the trig point the view had disappeared and conditions were as bad as they would have been on any pennine top. For a few minutes we had white out conditions. We had a laugh about Never Expecting This Today and we certainly had a few ice dancing moments as we made it down to the Tandle Hill Tavern for a warming wee dram. Well it would have been rude to walk/slide past without calling in.
The rest is a bit of a blur. But we did get home eventually.

Three Deer beside the Rochdale Canal.
A good day locally.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Adlington circular. A short walk when time is tight.

The heavens had certainly opened as i parked up outside Lyn’s house in Adlington lower village, a short walk to where the start point had been arranged by Martin.
A few minutes later Martin arrived and thankfully we had a car port to use to don our wet gear and boots.

A few minutes walk brought us to the start point of the White Bear Marina cafe where there were bound to be many other souls ready for the off.
 As it was there were only 2 others enjoying the warmth of the cafe and one of those was not as daft of us, more sensible than us by just dropping off the wife Julie, while he was bogged down with other duties at home in the man cave.
After a lengthy chin wag and deciding that the 3 of us where the “A” team, we set off. Over the canal bridge and onto the tow path.
 Keeping an eye on our progress from a key vantage point was Queen Victoria. I believe that this statue was placed here by Leonard Fairclough. (No not the one from Coronation St. fame). The one who was a builder and stone mason, who lived in the house and who’s company became the famous AMEC. I think the statue was a kind of advert for his services at the adjacent cemetery. I thought this was great.

 The points of interest on route. And below a zoom of the route map. (I didn’t take the Satmap as i knew it to be just a short walk.)

It was raining quite a bit but at least it wasn’t getting heavier, as earlier. The Marina is quite a large size with many of the narrow and not so narrow boats being lived upon. The air was full of woodsmoke and noises of occupation.

Photo copied off Martin. (I’m sure he won’t mind).
 Leaving the towpath we needed to cross the main road and where we had to take a turning the way was blocked by massive works to electrify the railway line. A short detour after a word with a man in orange had us back on track.
Some very boggy fields were crossed and some unplanned detours to circumnavigate a pond were taken. ( Always full of surprises are Martin’s walks or as i have now called them The 3M’s, Martins Map Meanderings). No we were not lost, honest.

 Boggy fields and a nice view of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill.
We crossed and re-crossed the M6 motorway by different bridges before stopping briefly for a brew and some of Sue’s Caramel Shortbread. Quite a large flock of sheep were enjoying the weather which had now stopped raining. Possibly Black Welsh Mountain sheep?
 A very nice section of the walk followed the River Douglas which was in spate. Luckily we didn’t have to pass through it. It was a bit odorous in parts. A Heron was spotted as we stopped by a mill pond attached to what seemed like a bleach or dye works.Again quite odorous.
 Crossing the main A6 road brought back memories of my childhood. My dad used to deliver materials to a printing factory opposite this pub below. The Wagon and Horses, now closed. During the school holidays he would take me with him and i remember going in here for lunch a few times. Also we would go for evening drives out in the country and for some unknown reason the car would always stop here for refreshment whilst i had to make do with a bag of crisps with the salt in a blue bag.
 Another closed pub.
Where the River Douglas flows underneath the canal we climbed the embankment steps to rejoin the canal towpath which in a few minutes led us back to the start point. 
I really enjoyed our 10k walk. Thanks Martin and Julie for the company.

Martin’s blog is here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Helm Crag. Grasmere.

Friday 13th February.
There was an amber weather warning for Grasmere this morning and looking out to a scene of very poor visibility suggested it may be right.
Cloud base was averaging around 300 metres and although just a slight breeze it didn't bode well for getting high. So we thought Helvellyn then! I think not.

We could see almost to the top of Helm Crag so decided we would do that. It had easily been 25 years since the last time i was up there and Sheila had never done it.
The initial walk out of Grasmere brought back memories of our Coast to Coast walk and gave good views of Helm Crag and the surrounding valley.
At one point we saw the top only to lose it again seconds later.

Once away from the intake fields the path is steep and unrelenting to the very top.
Much work has been done to the path which is a very popular one in the summer. Today however it was eerily quiet apart from the occasional Woodpecker chiseling.
We soon had to stop and take off a layer and it wasn't until we reached the top did we need to put our shells back on.
Just the odd patch of snow greeted us at the summit but most of it had already melted away. Temperature felt like it was well into minus figures but realistically it was probably around 1 degree C.
The wind was quite cutting and it didn't take long before we had to find some respite from it.
 Looking across to Easdale Tarn in the gloom
Sheila just managing to stand up with Helvelyn somewhere in the background.
The views downwards were great but the high fells were just a guess in the gloom. Helvelyn must be over there etc etc.

We could just make out Easdale Tarn but the onward ridge to  Calf crag was invisible and although it is a relatively straightforward hike we thought better to wait for another day.
At the crag called The Howitzer we took a few photographs and was joined by another couple who quickly disappeared back down. I don't think they even took the time to look around this spectacular craggy place. And then a couple of fell runners passed us with a cheery hello.

 Craggy top of Helm Crag
Approach to the Howitzer
As the rain/sleet started we headed off to find a sheltered place for a coffee and then retreated ourselves.

Just as we entered the tree line we spotted a Red Squirrel but it was away before we could take a photo of it. It was an unusually bright orange colour rather than the more deep reddish brown that i am used to, so it was a shame we missed it.
Our return back into Grasmere was a wet one but it didn't hammer down and the wind didn't become strong either.
Why the amber weather warning then? I don't know, but we had a good time and thankfully the knee was fine.

The following day was spectacular weather wise but we had to head back home, typical.
 I took the following photo’s as we got on our way.
 Helm Crag
 Harrison Stickle right - round the Crinkles to Pike O’Blisco left.
 Wetherlam -left and Swirl How taken from Red Bank.

The Langdale Pikes from Wrynose Pass.

All photo’s taken with samsung Galaxy S3.

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