The Vault Regulars

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Our Christmas day this year was spent in South Lakes, Cumbria. Broughton In Furness to be more precise.
It's a place that we know well, it's not too big or too small and has a vibrant community spirit, a good pub, cafe, butchers, bakers but no candlestick maker as far as i know.
It's also well positioned if the seasons weather turns very wintery.

Our arrival was a bit of a shock to some as we had kept the visit a bit of a secret. It was good to see the smiling faces of friends.

We were immediately invited to  join in with the village on it's Christmas Day walk or run depending on which one you wanted to do. This is fell running country and Mountain Rescue country so there are a lot of fit people around here.

At 10.30 the crowd congregated at the small car park in Broughton Mills and 34 folk and 4 dogs, mainly local, greeted each other.
Spot us if you can.
At the off i think it was a ratio of 60% running 40% walking (or there about)on what was a mild dry day but breezy with the area falling on the edge of Storm Connor. Scotland was having a rough time according to the weather man.

Sheila and i were walking of course, my fell running days in this sort of company are well over. The route differed depending on which exercise you were doing but the meeting point would be the trig point on Great Stickle.
Here are the 2 routes. The walking route is accurate but the running route may differ slightly from actual.
 Walkers route
Runners route
As you can see neither route is lengthy or difficult. This is about getting out, meeting and chatting and then returning to the Square Cafe in Broughton In Furness for a Whisky, provided by the locals along with Mince Pies and other savouries. 

Our route is a kind gradual rise and heads first to Green Bank where the views of the Duddon Estuary start to make an appearance. At a nicely positioned picnic table some outer layers are removed by many. Although the breeze is picking up in force the temperature is around 4-5 degrees C.
We follow Red Moss Beck which has a path adjacent to it, this path has probably been created by years of farming and sheep and is not marked on the os map. It's boggy in parts but it's good walking with fine views both North to the fine triangular shaped top of Stickle Pike and Caw and South over the estuary.

Instead of reaching the watershed between the 2 Stickles we decide to take the straight up approach which was more to test my knee out on some steep stuff than anything else and as it happened most of the others followed suit. Maybe they were suffering bad knees too.

Reaching the northern shoulder of Great Stickle the wind was ferocious, blowing me straight over at one point. We sat down and scoured the fell sides for any sign of the running section. Shouting became the order now as we couldn't hear above the wind noise.

Getting to the trig point was fun, the wind seriously pushing me into a run at times. I was glad to get the usual photographs taken at the summit done and quickly find a sheltered spot on the leeward side.
At this point one of the dogs decided it was time to undo my rucksack, pull the toggle and release the drybag to find the pork pies lurking inside. Luckily i manage to wrestle the bag away from him before  he prised the lid of the tupperware container. Clever these collies.

The hound never left our side as it became clear we were the only folk at the top who had food. We also had coffee and not enough to go round.

The first runners appeared on the right side of Stickle Pike, the bright colours of the running gear standing out against the grass and dead fern. Minutes later the front runners were with us followed quickly by the rest. They were not out of breath, baa humbug.

Some brave souls, traditionally stood atop the trig point, and today despite the fierce wind was no different. Three adults did it including a very lightweight 14 year old whippersnapper who i thought would be blown straight off. The wind must have been gusting around 40 -50 mph.

Tradition completed we all set off back, the runners away like a wisp. The walkers gingerly picking their way down between the crags and mud slides to the car park.

Back at Square Cafe, bottles were appearing and the volume of laughter and conversation increasing. Will Jane ever get this lot to leave i thought. We made our escape, dinner was calling.

Thanks to everyone who made this a walk to remember.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Christmas to Everyone.

Well this year has been a really odd year without going into to much detail. Injured knees, and Flu to mention two reasons why posts have been a bit too infrequent for my liking.
The good side is i have managed to keep up with folks blogs although numerous regular bloggers seem to be winding down using blogs. I think this is a shame as i for one have learnt so much from blogs and have met some super people which i wouldn't have done if it wasn't for blogging.
So i hope in 2017 that blogging has a bit of a revival.

I now have my Apple imac desktop back after a months fraught repair with it being older than 6 years. The cut off period that Apple support repairs.
No new graphics cards were available so at first a card repair was tried, although i knew that this was a pretty certain failure then a replacement refurbed card was located and fitted.
Its now all working and thankfully all my files were backed up apart from a few albums of music.

I really missed it being in PC hospital and looking at the empty space in the office.

There is a good chance that i will not purchase another Apple desktop in the future. The Champagne costs of Apple gear just doesn't cut it with my beer budget. When you buy a Rolls Royce you don't expect a Lada.

Anyways we, thats Sheila, Dorothy and I are off to the Lakes for a weeks RNR. So it only leaves me to wish everyone especially my regular readers and commenters a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Lets hope the world improves in 2017.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Is it that time again!

Well it certainly is. Martin's Christmas walk. An annual event for some reason.

Here's Martins route. On this walk i used both my iphone map and my Satmap active 10, both decided to play up and loose the route. So it just goes to prove that a paper map should always be in your kit.
Sheila and I had a good journey down to Tideswell and were first in the car park where we had the privilege of paying £4.50 to park for the day. I'm sure this car park used to be free, but no more. Maybe its as a result of Brexit, well everything else is so this might as well be too.

23 folk eventually set off north heading for Litton on a breezy day but a dry one. At numerous points, marshals in hi vis gear stood ready to open gates, it turned out that there was at least one fell race taking place on part of our route but it could  well have been two races.
Tansley Dale was slippery in places but i managed to stay on my feet. It is quite a lovely Dale as many of the White Peak Dales are. Crossing over into Cressbrook Dale we stopped for a quick coffee and a chat with Graham Brookes about his TGO Challenge route which will be terrific crossing. I don't think he will meet too many other challengers, but you never know.
Heading up Litton Dale
 The lovely Tansley Dale
Upwards to the meander in Cressbrook Dale
Setting off from our brew stop we had a short but muddy "UP" and at this point met with our first fell runners coming the opposite way. Collisions were somehow, luckily, averted but it was pure luck. Onwards and upwards we went avoiding many more opportunities to trip runners up when Martin realised that we were "meandering". So the good Duke marched his 10,000 men, (well 22) back down the hill to where we should have taken the path to Wardlow.
 Cressbrook Dale

It was a good path to Wardlow, where after a short section of road walk we picked up the excellent path across to Crossdale Head Mine workings which led us down to the village of Great Longstone and the Crispin Inn.
Having never been in this establishment before we didn't know what to expect and i have to say that the place and the menu is very nice. We had a room to ourselves and looked after very well by the staff. The food was excellent and filled ravenous walkers no problem.
The usual quiz turned out to be a surprise as our table of 4 came in second place with a huge 13 1/2 points out of a possible 50! What, how did we manage that i ask.
View south from path at Crossdale Head
The Crispin
We could have stayed in the Crispin all afternoon, in fact we nearly did but we had a 5 mile walk back to the car, which meant we had to get a move on.
Once out of Great Longstone passing Thornbridge Hall, our route was easy and flat and followed the Monsal trail, the old railway line. It was quite busy with runners (not part of the race) and numerous cyclists. The lights were on as we entered the first of three tunnels on our route. These lights are switched off at dusk for some reason which in my mind makes little sense. Dusk was creeping up on us fast.

Across the viaduct at Monsal Head, the second tunnel's lights were off. The third tunnels lights were on until we got half way through then it was pitch black. These tunnels are quite long and the light at the end cannot be seen until you are close to the end. The group had become quite spread out by now so before dropping off the old trackway we had a wait for everyone to catch up.

Monsal Tunnel
By now the light was going quickly, we only had a mile to go, across the River Wye and then into Tideswell Dale and the car park. The last of our coffee was had before saying our farewells.

Thanks Martin and everyone who attended.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Wensleydale Bash.

Fourteen experienced hikers had been invited by Martin and Sue Bamfield to join them in the take over of the wonderful Eastfield House in Leyburn North Yorkshire for a weekend of banter with some walking thrown in for good measure.
Apart from Martin and Sue and Sheila and I, the party consisted of Conrad, Mick and Gayle Blackburn, Graham Brookes, Humphrey and Mary Weightman, Mike and Marion Parsons, Sue Oxley, Ali Ogden, Richard and Jennie Craven.

Friday evening's meal was wonderful, provided by Martin, consisting of luxury fish pie, meat or veggie lasagne. I think most folk had all three.
The evening passed all too quick and i wished i had taken a few more bottles of Holts Two Hoots.

I was particularly interested in Mike Parson's new venture which he with the help of others is putting together. Its basically about training the trainers on outdoor fabrics. It's far too much to go into detail here but check out the facebook page to get a better idea.

Saturday, 12 of us drove to Redmire station from where our walk started. Martin had the route and i made the mistake of not downloading the map onto my iphone. Having paid the OS to have the UK at 1:25,000 i never checked my downloads. Hence, i just had a red arrow on a white screen. I learned a lesson today.

Wensleydale is superb walking country, wide open expanses of agricultural land enclosed by undulating hills with exposed scars intersected by peat coloured rivers with stunning falls. Castles and pretty villages.
Looking out across Wensleydale.
We had our first meander in the village of Redmires but normal service was quickly resumed when a footpath sign was spotted a little further on.
Apedale Beck was crossed by a sturdy footbridge and led across fields to Bolton Castle. It was quiet here, no hordes of visitors, no cars or voices, just the aroma from the rising smoke from numerous chimneys.

I was suffering with a dodgy knee, the cause is still under debate, could it be worn out cartilage or is it arthritis? The jury is still out. However, it isn't pleasant. I decided against my better judgement to use walking poles. This is the first time i have ever walked with them and will probably/hopefully be the last. What i noticed from the off was that i couldn't be bothered releasing myself from the pole straps to get my camera out to take pictures as and when. All rather frustrating. Its the learning curve you know.

It was a dry muggy sort of day but with lots of dark clouds intermittent with bright. Some times it looked as though it was about to pour down whereas at other times you could sunbathe.
We had a quick break for coffee at some point north of Carperby. 
Down beyond Carperby we crossed the River Ure and decided lunch was about due and following that another meander, so it was duly taken. I think we should be called the Backwards Walking Club. Meanders are fun though and should always be included somewhere within a walk. In fact they should be compulsory.

A huge steep hill (cough) led us into Aysgarth. A lovely village and worth a visit. We entered and left quite quickly, it may have been due to the plague, i'm not sure.

 Ominous clouds.
 Dropping down to Carperby.
Sue, astride the Ben Samualson, Bambury Mower circa 1900.
 (Two images above.) Due to another very impressive meander, which you really had to have been there and done it to appreciate that this meander was a catagory "A".
 We stumbled upon this fine mower. There seems to be a growing number of agricultural vehicle lovers amost the blogging community so a little history here won't go amiss.

The mower was built by a splendid chap called Ben Samuelson in his factory, The Britannia Works at Bambury in Oxfordshire. This chap was a special person, way before his time. He looked after his workforce in ways that puts todays rich company owners to shame. The wages he paid to employees was double the average in the area, he looked after the welfare and education of the families. And visa versa they looked after him too, producing 650 of these machines as well as numerous other pieces of agricultural equipment per month. They were so well made there are still many examples of this horse drawn mower to be found up and down the country. We saw two on this walk alone.
This one dates at about 1900-1905.

The above image shows two Fordson type N tractors dating from around 1937. Its a shame that they are in a graveyard and not being restored. I wonder how much i can get them for. (Just kidding Sheila). Just to the right is another Samuelson mower.
This is what they could look like restored.
Anyway i have started a meander of my own here. So back to the walk.
Just before we got to Aysgarth upper falls we crossed a camp site where a motor home had become bogged down. The arrival of a dozen willing hands must have been a sight from heaven. But we looked the other way and walked on.
Of course we didn't, we tried our best but it was to no avail, we couldn't get it out of the grass. A restored Fordson would of though.
The falls were busy with visitors as its on a roadside and there is a cafe. A few photographs and then away from the bustle we went.
Aysgarth Upper Falls
The Upper falls lacked a bit of power due to the good weather recently but the lower falls were a bit more spectacular, good force and sound.
 Aysgarth lower falls
 Sheila and I, photo taken by Mick Blackburn.

 The group shot off, heading downstream, we hadn't realised until we were last 2 standing. Getting back onto the footpath we spied and caught up with Conrad and within a minute or two saw the disappearing heads of the group. At this point Sue caught us three up, she too had somehow gone astray. This was not classified as a meander.
The sun came out and blue skies made for a warm afternoon. Castle Bolton was bathed for a few minutes, just enough for myself and Mike P to get a photo.
The group, well ahead must have been chatting because some went the wrong way and had to backtrack which allowed us slow coaches a chance to catch up. A couple of high stiles had to climbed and i slipped on the downward step and clobbered my sore knee, it had to be that one didn't it.
In a bit of discomfort i soldiered on.

Approaching Redmires our path had a sign which said "NO RIVER CROSSING HERE". Well that was all it needed for the advance party to see a bit of a challenge. Off we went to find the river. When we got there, Apedale Beck, it was hardly in spate so Martin, Sheila and I splashed through the knee deep pools, Graham B decided he wanted a bath and so belly flopped into the cold throwing his rucksack into the water just for good measure.

The rest, decided to use the bridge which was about 20yds further up stream. Wimps thats all i will say. So i ask myself "why the sign saying no river crossing here". PASS.

With only a short distance from our start point i didn't empty my boots of the water but squelched my way back.

All in all a cracking walk in good company and now hungry enough to enjoy evening meal in Restaurant 13 in Leyburn. I will not mention the Apple crumble, because i said i wouldn't mention the Apple Crumble again!!!!

Here's our route. 20.4km.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finding the Manchester, Bury Bolton Canal.

Up to a few months ago i had never even heard of the Manchester, Bury, Bolton canal. In fact, asking my friends and neighbours, neither had any of them, except one who had been taken there on a day out with his photography club.

I contacted the society and enquired about getting a guide book. Well worth the money at only £4 plus p and p. It is, or rather was, a well used canal mainly ferrying coal but today most of it is in a sorry state and parts of it are filled in. However reading the book and learning about it's life triggered me into exploring what i could find of it in the Manchester City centre area.

As a brief intro, the canal was opened in 1790 between Bury, Bolton and Agecroft. The link from Agecroft to the Irwell in Salford, just on the outskirts of Manchester, wasn't completed until 1808.
It was built to take wide beam boats with wooden containers for ease of extraction.

Setting off on the south bank of the River Irwell, I first came to what I  thought was a dry dock next to the Victoria and Albert Hotel. It turns out that this is the start of another canal, the Manchester and Salford Junction canal, now unused and its route is mainly underground. It was built in 1839 to link the Manchester Bolton Bury canal and the River Irwell with the Rochdale Canal.It goes from here under Granada Studios across town and exits close to The Bridgewater Hall. It was closed in 1922.
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, the River Irwell is beyond the open lock gate. This section was rejuvenated when the adjacent Victoria and Albert hotel was built.

My route onwards was blocked by high fencing and a huge amount of work was underway. It was right where I had intended to go and I was a bit miffed that I couldn't get onto Prince's Bridge. It turns out that a new "Ordsall Chord" as its called is being built to join the railway line from Victoria Stn via Oxford Rd Stn to Piccadilly Stn. It's a huge undertaking but why the need for solid fencing which stops the general public from viewing progress is going a bit far. It seems to be the norm in Manchester to have these restrictive fences on all new works.
The link HERE is worth clicking on.

Within the budget for the Chord is also provision for a new pedestrian/cycle bridge which will cross the River Irwell underneath the railway bridge.
 The River Irwell, high fencing stopping pedestrian progress on the left. The new rail Chord will be going above the new yellow pedestrian bridge replacing Princes Bridge. 

 Construction ongoing of the Ordsall Chord.
The entrance to the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal is under the left arch. This is as close as i could get to seeing it in relation to the River Irwell.

I was determined to find the canal, I had to walk quite a diverted route onto Ordsal Lane where I managed to glimpse the canal and the first lock, again it was behind large screens and fencing but i managed to squeeze the camera through a gap. I had no chance of getting down to the canal itself. Across the new road more of the same fencing denying access to the public towpath.
The entrance to the River Irwell from the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal. 

Again, not giving up I did another detour onto Oldfield Rd where once more on both sides of the road enclosing massive building works, more high solid fencing. From the advertising fixed to the fencing i assume that thousands of new homes are to be built waterside with funding from China.
To my amazement I found a small access gap where the fencing had not yet shut off. Some workmen in high vis gear and hard hats watched my every move but didn't stop me getting down to the canal. It wasn't the old canal but a modern new section. It turns out that this section from the River Irwell up to Oldfield Rd was rebuilt and opened in 2008! I must admit that I don't remember reading or hearing anything about this development.  But here it was and I managed to walk the majority of the new towpath.

The old canal, just before its entrance or exit into the River Irwell used to turn north east into Canada Sidings and Canal Street Sidings which were rail goods yard. Although this area has now been bulldozed and cleared and behind high fencing the branch has not been reinstated. There also used to be a run off channel for when the canal water became too high. This channel or culvert, I am not sure which it was, may also be missing.
The junction between the canal and river is also in a slightly different location than the original was. The original can still be seen with a bit of investigation but I couldn't get near to take a photo.

This new section of canal ends at Oldfield road, the old Outwood, Oldfield and Crescent warves completely filled in and beyond that as it follows the railway past Salford Crescent Station for about 3.6km (2.25 miles) until you get to Park House Bridge at Agecroft.

LNWR bridge and canal tunnel under the new ring road.

Looking South East Into Manchester.

Looking North West from Ordsall end.

 Looking North West towards Oldfield Rd.

Winding Hole.

Under Oldfield Road.
 Algae growth.

 Looking South East. The building work and security fencing made access to the canal almost impossible. The area must have been a hive of activity in the hay days. Here three large wharves unloaded boats full of coal and stone primarily. 
Who goes there!

At Park House Bridge I joined the towpath proper. Some water was visible but mainly the canal is overgrown with bulrushes. The towpath is in very good condition and looks like it has been laid fairly recently. It had started to rain, quite heavily and prolonged and waterproofs were required.
Just about 5 minutes after joining the towpath a Kingfisher flew past, low and fast, a fantastic sight.
It was too fast to get a photo unfortunately.
The old canal proper, with towpath access at Park House Bridge.

 When we reached this point, SD 804013 it looked like a new road was being constructed. There was also construction excavators on the opposite bank. We thought it odd.
Our chatter woke many Greyhound Dogs which started barking loudly, loud enough to wake the dead we thought as we passed the Jewish cemetary.

Passing underneath the A6044 brought us into a section where the canal had more water. It was quiet, eerily so. No people, no birds, no cars, no sounds at all and then we heard a few dogs barking from Mayfield Kennels and a sign which gives "keep out" a stronger meaning.

The rain had stopped and the day had turned into a pleasant one. The towpath became muddier and the canal more and more overgrown. A number of paths headed off into the Clifton Junction area and then once across the aqueduct with the River Irwell below us, we lost the canal completely. Lots of fences prohibiting access to land, and the way forward not obvious. At this point we decided that we had done enough for today and so headed back along the banks of the Irwell which was a pleasure to walk along. 

Coming to the end of this section of canal.
The disused aqueduct that carried the line from Clifton to Radcliffe. its now a footpath and one to remember for another day.

The River Irwell from the canal aqueduct.
The Irwell from the footpath.
 It was an interesting day out and good to do something on our doorstep that we didn't know was there. The canal section through Salford is going to be a big job to re-instate and i am doubtful it will be done in my lifetime. However the section from Salford to Clifton should be easy enough if the funding is there for it. We are looking forward to doing the next section which i am led to believe is mainly in water with lots of interest along the way. Can't wait.

Some further reading:-
 Canal plan here.
Canal routes here.
Wikipedia, history. here.
Manchester Bolton Bury Canal Society. Here

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