Monthly Archives: January 2015

CHESHIRE RING WALK – Northern Section, day 3

Manchester City Centre  –  Marple.

In the mist an almost ghostly early journey on the Tram brought us back to Piccadilly. We disappeared underground where we had popped out last night, a few drunks were still staggering about from their all night session. In the depths water was rushing around us in numerous leats and escaping from leaky locks – audibly very similar to a caving trip in the Yorkshire Dales. Things improved when we left the Rochdale Canal and doglegged into the Ashton. New canalside developments seemed habitable, warehouse conversions or twee town houses with all the usual little balconies. This is Manchester – how often do you sit and sip your cocktails in the evening?

The freezing mist persisted. I was disappointed not to see much of the Etihad Stadium or the Velodrome and attached BMX course where one of my Grandsons would be trying to break something on his bike or himself.

This is a part of Manchester I don’t know and we passed quickly through the suburbs past a series of locks towards Dukinfield. There were no boats using this stretch and because of the mist we didn’t see very much. The Portland Basin at Dukinfield where we branched onto the Peak Forest canal looked popular, there was a cafe and museum, but as they were on the opposite bank and we were on a tight schedule we pressed on. More people started appearing, mainly dog walkers, as we contoured high above the wooded Tame valley. Our lunch stop sat on a stone wall coincided with the start of a snow storm! Old walled bridle ways linked up with unseen 19th century industrial sites below. A quick visit to a road above in ??Hyde [the home of Harold] produced an Aldi and The Cheshire Ring pub. After bypassing a tunnel we were now walking above the attractive Goyt Valley and more people [and their dogs] were taking their Sunday exercise. The Marple Goyt Aqueduct was the next attraction, a hundred foot high, with an exposed canalside. Probably best seen from below.Thinking we were dropping into Marple we were surprised to find a series of 9 locks taking us up to the road near the station. Our train wasn’t due for an hour so we hopped on a bus to Stockport and another to Altrincham and another to Timperley, didn’t cost us a penny!

Thanks Conrad.  I’m keen to complete the circle now but that will have to wait till I arrive back from hotter climes.

CHESHIRE RING WALK – Northern Section, day 2.

Lymm  –  Manchester City centre.     

‘Overhead, the light is fading. Below, in the murky water, bubbles rise and burst amid a sludge littered with debris from nights gone by: takeaway boxes, empty beer cans, condom wrappers, needles. The walkway is dotted with tunnels, low-hanging and cobwebbed, where shadows lurk beyond the reach of street lights and the air is heavy with the stench of decay.’            Sarah Rainey  writing in the  Daily Telegraph.  16 Jan 2015.

Her article rather melodramatically discussed the possibility of a serial killer,  nicknamed  “The Pusher”,  stalking these Manchester canals. 61 bodies in 6 years is the tally, some have met a violent end but others were probably inebriated.

As we rejoined the Bridgewater canal at Lymm on a sunny and frosty day these thoughts never crossed our minds. An interesting and varied morning lay ahead on this well used section of canal.

Things changed in the afternoon as we entered Stretford, the graffiti and litter increased and we felt alone. The tow-path was completely barred [even for us] near Old Trafford Stadium necessitating an unpleasant road diversion only to find ourselves in no man’s land on the wrong side of the canal in a dingy area. Perhaps the anxiety contributed to Conrad taking a nose dive into the concrete, he was lucky to come up with only scalp bruising and twisted glasses. We made our escape to the gentrified Castlefield area all the time marvelling at the complexity of the canals, their basins and the engineering skills that had created them. We were now on the Rochdale Canal. Areas with bright busy canalside cafes gave way to echoing subterranean passages with shadowy figures, I found myself humming the Harry Lime theme. Eventually we emerged into the busy Canal Street and Piccadilly Station to catch the Metro tram to Altrincham, a first for us which left us impressed with the transport system.

               We survived to tell the tale.

CHESHIRE RING WALK – Northern section, day 1.

Acton Bridge – Lymm.

The Cheshire Ring is a 97mile circular canal route linking six canals.  Trent and Mersey; Bridgewater; Rochdale; Ashton; Peak Forest and Macclesfield with a total of 92 locks. Somebody had the bright idea of using the tow-paths as a walking route, skirting the Pennines, passing through the Cheshire countryside, vast industrial areas and the city centre of Manchester.

Conrad had already walked half last year but we teamed up for the Northern Stretch over three icy days this January, using my son’s house in Altrincham as a hub.

See Conrad’s version at

We were dropped by the Acton Swing Bridge which is actually on the navigable River Weaver, at this point close to the Trent and Mersey Canal where we joined the ring.

Walking briskly to combat the cold we made good progress along the tow-path through rural Cheshire until confronted by an unexpected blockage.

Undeterred we proceeded with only a little squeezing past barriers. The canal had been drained in one section for repairs.

The spoil of some past crime had been recovered ……

The weather took a turn for the worse with cold rain and the path more muddy, reaching for my poles I discovered the lower section of one had dropped out at some stage but there was no point in returning to search. Sad after 20 or more years of faithful use.

A tunnel without a tow-path was climbed over, a kingfisher was spotted, we ducked under the M56, a seat found for lunch, Fiddler’s Ferry power station belched its steam.On the edge of Warrington we found an antiquated chandlers shop open and serving hot drinks from a machine. The owners were a font of canal tales and warned us to be wary tomorrow of  local youths causing problems where the canal winds through the city.  From there it became more Cheshire-like to finish in the sandstone town of Lymm.

A full day and what with all the slipping about in the mud I felt tired enough to ponder two more days of the same. A bus meandered through the countryside back to Altrincham.


               A post about nothing but the need to get out, exercise and enjoy one’s locality.We are just on the edge of the severe gales this weekend but nonetheless it’s hardly fit to be out. Previously I would have headed to the warmth of the climbing wall, but being wary of the associated big toe pain I ventured outdoors for my afternoon exercise. For some perverse reason I chose an exposed Longridge Fell circuit, mainly for the dry road walking. I only had my phone with me for pictures. The little reservoir at the top of the village resembled the mid Atlantic.

The wind blew me up the fell road in no time and I couldn’t resist a diversion to visit the trig point. The Vale of Chipping below was flooded in many areas, sunlight came and went as the clouds blew rapidly through.

Despite being back on the road progress was slow against the 30-40 mph gale coming straight at me, would not have liked to be any higher. A passing motorist even stopped to enquire whether I needed Help.  A forest area next to the road has been cleared of trees since I was last up here and was almost unrecognisable, the previously hidden ‘Sweden’ quarry, a large hole, was now laid bare on the hillside. There used to be some bouldering here but the rock reverted to vegetation through lack of traffic, maybe things could change.

The golf course was deserted, with the flags straining on the greens. This must be one of the most exposed golf courses in the country, running along the fell top.

In fact I saw only one other person, he was running around the road circuit. He is well know for running in his bare feet and true to form despite the cold and wet was not wearing shoes today!!!  I have hidden his identity / insanity on the photo.

Felt a touch of insanity myself as I battled against the wind and cold towards home, a welcome bath and the last of the mince pies. Probably do something similar tomorrow.


The quotation above is from Lancashire dialect poet Edwin Waugh  [1817 – 1890] he knew these hills well. before the wind-farms.

I had turned up at the Owd Betts inn, next to Ashworth Moor reservoir above Edenfield, on a bright and frosty morning to meet ‘the plastic bag man‘  and  ‘the teacher‘. They are locals and had planned a walk for my enjoyment.

Lovely crunchy ice on the paths straight from the car park, the temperature barely rose above freezing all day despite the sun shining continuously. First up was a quite steep ascent of nipple like Knowl Moor, a first for me. Winter Hill to the west was floating on a cloud.


Immediately we were in a forest of mammoth wind turbines which seem to cover these hillsides and in today’s sunshine the glinting blades were hypnotic. So much so that we descended from the summit on the wrong path and  had to veer south, the first of many turnings. Then suddenly  we were on the lip of a previously hidden deep valley, Naden Dean with its reservoirs and opposite Rooley Moor our destination for later.  More zigzagging took us down. Crossing the middle dam was exciting as the path was sheet ice, I wonder how the teacher’s backside is today.

We climbed back up the other side and met up with the old track leading up the moor to the numerous quarries on high. Views opened up of the Manchester conurbation, tower blocks in Rochdale and the slightly more rural valley towards Bacup.   I vaguely remember coming up here on a backpacking trip through Lancashire years ago and walking up stone sets and stone runners worn by the quarry carts or sledges. Not to be disappointed we were soon following this ancient route and contemplating the rigours of the workforce in those days.

Christmas Cake and coffee were very welcome sat on a massive quarry block in the afternoon sunshine. Onwards into the extensive hill top quarries where mountain bikers were in evidence. There has been a lot of recent work up here to provide high standard technical riding.

We were now above our next panorama  – the Rossendale Valley in the foreground, Pendle Hill middle distance and a backdrop of the Bowland hills.  The moors here are like islands within the industrial waste lands, their wildness now unfortunately diminished by those turbines.

Heading back south we passed by Waugh’s Well an 1866 memorial to the aforementioned Edwin Waugh who spent time at nearby Fo Edge Farm [ demolished by NWWA in the 1970s]  His poems and songs in the local Lancashire dialect earned him the title of “the Lancashire Burns”

You should listen to the Oldham Tinkers rendition on  ==


Once over the last hill Knowl Moor reappeared and guided us back to the pub.

We were able to use the new tracks winding between the turbines. Stood below them we felt very small and fearful for their stability.

Therefore it came as quite a surprise to read this today —

Thanks A and P for a top class short day’s winter walk. Much enjoyed.





Further to my previous posts on the Landmark art installations on Longridge Fell and Beacon Fell I decided today to visit the other two sites – Langden Intake and Gisburn Forest.

It was rather a dull day and I was quite happy inside my car driving out to Dunsop Bridge and onto Langden Intake carpark, no ice cream van today.

Didn’t have to go more than 10 yards into the trees from the car to view  Phillipe Handford’s Out Take. This consisted of boards hung between trees with perspex inserts forming a curvy pattern. You can walk into the installation and view it from different angles and with different backgrounds. Behind are the rolling Bowland Hills. I spent time here and began to appreciate the natural setting and the curves within the boards. Are they a reflection of the Bowland hill outlines or of the Langden Brook’s sinuous journey?

I drove on to the Gisburn Forest hub carpark [pay and display!] and walked up the hill to Salina Somalya’s Celeste. This was a sculpture on the edge of a stone wall with a view through the forest to Stocks Reservoir, on a good day. The multitude of cyclists on the fell ignored it or were unaware of its existence. I found this metal and stone much harder to appreciate, couldn’t see any symbolism and felt it intrusive. Maybe if I had the views it would take on a different aspect. So thumbs down to Celeste.

I’ve enjoyed visiting the other three and hope they can achieve some permanence in the Bowland scene. Catch them while you can.


Since arriving back from La Gomera Christmas has come and gone, I’ve reacclimatised to the weather, caught up with family and friends, been walking and [indoor]climbing and now 2015 is upon us. So Happy New Year and here are a few random photos in the Bowland locality from this last week of mixed weather.

Langden Brook.

Pikefield Plantation, Slaidburn.

Hazelhurst Fell across Bleasdale.

Gliding past Parlick.

My boys under Fairsnape.

Fairsnape and Parlick.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Not me!

Not me!

Parlick in evening sun.

Parlick in evening sun.

What hope for Longridge in 2015?

What hope for Longridge in 2015?