Monthly Archives: December 2016

Preston Guild Wheel again.

In my last post I mentioned there were a few issues with the ‘Wheel’ but as we were in the Xmas season of goodwill I left them till now. Today has been bright, sunny and freezing with no wind – perfect for another circuit to keep the momentum going. Well wrapped up I cycled from Longridge thus adding an extra ten miles to my clockwise route. Brockholes nature reserve was busy with family parties strolling around and serious telescope wielding birders. There did seem to be a lot of wildlife on the lakes. Onwards again in the parks families were enjoying the good holiday weather. This brings me to the first issue, that of sharing the ‘path’, there are a multitude of users – cyclists, strollers, pram pushers, dog walkers, joggers. On social media there have been unfavourable comments directed at cyclists for their selfish and at times dangerous behaviour. The main issue being speed. I must admit on my visits the majority of cyclists proceed in an orderly manner with due respect to pedestrians. There are only a few head down speedsters. Being old fashioned I have a bell on the bike and use it when approaching walkers as a warning, this seems to work well and we all pass happily. My grumble here is that a significant number of walkers are plugged in to some sound system, don’t hear and tend to stumble into your track becoming a danger to all. Touché.

The Guild Wheel has been a great success as a recreational route since its inauguration in  2012

For walkers and cyclists it is mainly traffic free but recent developments are threatening its viability. There are several new housing developments in the northern section which will, apart from the inevitable loss of open countryside, increase traffic on the presently quiet lanes. Local residents are as much up in arms as the Guild Wheel users. I believe that sections of ‘cycle to school’ lanes are also affected.                                                                                                                      In another area the construction of The Broughton By-pass cuts right across the Wheel and endangers users. I have not seen the proposals for pedestrians and cyclists on its completion.   It is interesting to read correspondence between Guild Wheel campaigners and our political representatives on the County Council. I will leave it to your interpretation as to whom to believe, time will  tell. There is a petition to sign if you have strong views.

Back home warming up in the bath I’ve a warm glow of satisfaction from today’s ride – physical and mental – long may it remain possible.

 

 

 

AROUND THE WHEEL, IF NOT THE WORLD, IN EIGHT CAFES.

      The Roman Soldiers on Preston Guild Wheel have dressed for the festive occasion.

The most clicked page on my posts in the last few years has happened to be the Preston Guild Wheel map –

– it seems to be a popular ride.

This is no blow by blow account of today’s festive ride, I’ve done that before here and there.

Better to look at one of the many YouTube videos of a speeded up trip around the circuit, they remind me of the London to Brighton film shown on the BBC as an interlude back in the days, along with the potter’s wheel.

Anyhow to get back to today’s ride, anticlockwise from Red Scar on a sunny but cold afternoon.  I didn’t have time to call in at all the refreshment stops but made a mental note for a future caffeine indulgence. Other beverages are available.                                                                     [These are the establishments directly on the Wheel, there are several more within a  hundred metres for a grand slam circuit.]

Starbucks. Bluebell Way.Jpeg

The Guild Merchant.  Tag Lane.

Ancient Oak.  Cottam.

Final Whistle Cafe. UCLAN Sports Centre.

The Beach Club Coffee Shop.   Preston Marina.

The Continental.  Riverside.

The Pavilion Cafe.  Avenham Park.

Floating Cafe. Brockholes.There are some ongoing issues with the Guild Wheel but I’ll leave them to a later date.

 

… so a seasons greetings to you all.

 

 

THE WYRE WAY – ROUND THE HORN AND UP THE CREEK.

“Do you think we should abort?”  was Sir Hugh’s opening gambit when we met to walk the remaining section of The Wyre Way. I must admit the morning was foul with mist and rain.  Fleetwood looked bleak. No-one was patronising the promenade snack kiosks. Somehow the sight of the familiar statues greeting the imaginary returning fishermen, they would have endured far worse than us, galvanised me into action.  “Lets just set off and see” was my usual optimistic response. Within 100 yds the rain had stopped and there was a glimpse of brightness, the rest of the day was warm and almost sunny.

When I was walking The Wyre Way a couple of years ago I deemed I had completed the length of the river without this curious add on loop in the Fylde but when Sir Hugh suggested it I couldn’t miss out and risk shame. So here we were striding along the prom.What did we see? We saw the sea. But not at close quarters as the tide was out revealing vast mysterious sand banks. The famous distant views to the Lakeland Hills was denied us today. Leaving the Victorian esplanade area, with its two lighthouses and prominent North Euston Hotel, we wandered past run down beach huts, a yachting pond and on to a leaning coastwatch station. This latter was completed in 2012 and is of startling construction. The promenade/sea wall was closed further on for major works so we used a higher path adjacent to the golf course. In the distance Blackpool Tower.Turning inland we passed Rossall School and followed a few streets to meet up with the Wyre again. Good paths took us between the muddy river and the ICI [now AkzoNobel] plant, still functioning but greatly diminished. A car park appeared along with a multitude of dogwalkers. A fascinating area of boat jetties came next and led into Skipool Creek a centre for sailing but today with the tide still low everywhere looked distinctly muddy. There was a fascinating dereliction to the place, a  mixture of allotment and scrap metal.

Echoes of ICI.

Echoes of ICI.

A final section across low lying muddy fields, which would be flooded at high tide in an hour or so, brought Shard Bridge into view. I remember the old metal toll bridge from my time working in Blackpool when an evening’s drive for a pint in the pub seemed to be crossing into another world. Today the pub is unrecognisable in its reincarnation as a Hotel/Restaurant. I peeped over the terrace to view the ‘path’ I had tried to follow at high tide a couple of years ago. Even today it looked uninviting.The thin winters light was upon us as we reflected on a day well spent.

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

TENERIFE GR131. La Laguna – Santa Cruz.

The final chapter, another easy day that wasn’t.

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The tram took us back up to La Laguna and that was the easy bit. We walked up the nearest hill, good view back to La Laguna, but our way from there looked awkward so we dropped down to the road again and picked up the ‘correct’ lane further on.  Higher up we met a Dutch couple who seemed to be in completely the wrong place, they were using an alternative Kompass map which didn’t seem much better than ours. As we climbed the lane numerous runners in various states of exhaustion were pounding down. Obviously some sort of training run was in progress and the only person to stop and chat said they had already done 20k on a circuit from La Laguna. Higher up a farmer tending his frisky cattle gave us some indication of a route through to Santa Cruz.  At the highest point we rested whilst more runners came through. A track led off in the right direction through cacti and other prickly shrubs. All was going well and we met up with a  ‘Camino Lecheras’ which promised a continuing way. Research later has shown this was the route for transporting dairy products from La Laguna to Santa Cruz.                                                                                                                                                 This was quoted on one site – La vegetación predominante en esta zona es una variedad del cardonal tabaibal, abundando bejeques, balos, cornicales, faro, incienso, verode, cerrillo, mato risco, tederas, tasaigo, magarza, pitera, gomereta, jediondo, culantrillo y otras.                                                I think we must be missing something.                                                                                                        Anyhow we managed to loose that camino and took our own way down to the road at Valle Jimenez where we thought we had found our route. Crashing through undergrowth brought us onto a lane heading in the right direction. Then it was hopefully  back up a cleared path, Lamesa, seemed to be going somewhere but ran out at the upper road near some transmission stations. We were challenged by security as to what we doing but when we said walking to Santa Cruz our obvious stupidity allowed us through. The embarrassing thing was that we could soon be retracing our steps. At a view point we could see Santa Cruz and decided to make a break for it down ancient terracing. All went well and soon we were on a road which zigzagged all the way into town. We celebrated our completion, almost, with a beer in a cafe near the port.

Next morning we relaxed over breakfast and repacking. A stroll through town to the market and then the emblematic Auditorium, an arching concrete structure. Past the inviting ‘lido’ was the Palmetum where we spent  an hour marveling at the diversity of botany. Back to the bus station for lunch and the transfer to the airport.

Ficus sycomorus.

Ficus sycomorus.

Crinum Asiaticus.

Crinum Asiaticus.

 

Pandanus.

Pandanus.

 

Life is not always a bowl of cherries – the morning after at the bus station.

Snow on our local fell has not melted since our return.

So we walked almost coast to coast across Tenerife. The GR131 only existed between Arona and La Esperanza and was excellently waymarked. The bits we did at either end linking to the ports, surely the original idea of a route through the Canaries, were virtually nonexistent. With a little more research we could have found a better way through what is good walking territory, it was good fun trying. Can’t imagine the local authorities will get round to completing the route.

On to the next Island….