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October 2000

1 0ctober

Beryl and I set off to do a circuit from home. I'd long moaned that the village was on the edge of 4 of the Pathfinder maps. I'd only ever bought the two northern ones on grounds of costs. Still I was living in the hope that the situation would be resolved by the new Explorer map. It was; now we are on the edge of two.

My plan was to walk on the southern map into relatively new country. However the combination of dull weather, mud and footpath blockages meant that Beryl got fed up. She said that she was off home and gave me the option of carrying on alone. I didn't.

We saw the local buzzard as we walked back up the high street. They are resilient birds.

7 0ctober

The Ramblers Autumn Weekend. As ever we missed the Friday walks and travelled up in the evening with Angie. Arriving just in time for the meal. We were staying at the Dunoon Hotel. Now I know that I had done all the organising and I would say this (wouldn't I) but the hotel was super and gave us a very competitive price. It might be the buying power of a group of 40 but I tried a number of places that didn't show the same willingness to bargain.

It poured down on Friday and Saturday promised to be fairly grotty. Having spoken to a couple of the more experienced leaders I abandoned the plan to walk on the Carneddau and went for a low level walk around the back of Colwyn Bay. We started at Eirias Park and set off up Nant y Groes valley. We struck off up the valley side over Cilgwyn Mawr from where we had great views of the Carneddau; where was all the bad weather. I could pick out the original route very easily.

Just before Mynydd Llanelian we turned eastwards and then north eastwards to loop round north of Llanelian yn Rhos. We had lunch there with good views out over the bay. The going then got just a little muddy and the paths less well maintained. We had to paddle across a couple of streams as we made our way across to Llysfaen. There we picked up the North Wales Path all the way back to the Park.

This took us across the golf course. I get a very childish satisfaction out of that.

I also get a different and deeper satisfaction out of picking up a map cold, plotting a route and then finding the stiles without great fuss. Today was one of those days when this went exceedingly well; the pompous side of me was thinking of this as a master class in map reading. Actually I didn't have the whole route worked out ahead and Reg was a great help as we studied the map together over coffee. The route was well signed for the most part. None the less, I was very pleased about the way it hung together. Not a classically scenic walk but a satisfying day.  

8 0ctober

The two Sunday walks started at the Aber Falls car park. Beryl led the B one and I took the A.

My route took us back to the village and then up the steep climb that we had prewalked together for the B two weeks earlier. Where their walk levelled out, we continued climbing up the flanks of Moel Wnion. There was one section of hacking across a pathless hillside but we did pick up a good track. After coffee overlooking Anglesey, the Menai Straits and Penrhyn Castle, we followed the track as it wound gradually up the hill. There was an unexpected stretch which gave a superb view of the Falls as well as the northern section of the Carneddau. Much of it was under cloud but I was able to bore people by banging on about the wonderful summit of Bera Mawr, which was in view.

It tried to rain just before we got to the summit (as it also did on 3 subsequent occasions). Fortunately none of them lasted and we had lunch at the top, in the dry and protected by a circular shelter. The one time I had been there before (with Charles), the cloud had been down and we didn't see a thing. The setting is really brilliant.  The hill isn't on any of my lists and it really deserves wider recognition.

We dropped off and worked our way back to the seaward side and on to the North Wales Path. This crossed the line of our ascent so that the walk was a figure-of-eight shape. It led at a medium height before dropping down to the Falls with excellent views of them all the way. We paused there for a while and everyone was very impressed. Margaret entertained us with tales of the day, many years before, when she' come down the scree run on the opposite side of the Falls.

The target for the day had been to meet up with the other party at teh car park and we got their with 5 minutes to spare. They'd arrived about 10 minutes earlier and seemed to have had a good day too.

All in all a very successful weekend.

15 0ctober

One of the Ramblers problems, in trying to open up decent new walking, is finding a car park. Three years ago I did a walk from Sandon and there was a remote car park at the far end in Fradswell. I issued a challenge; that was for someone to use this as the start of a walk. Well no one has picked up this gauntlet, partly because Fradswell is right on the edge of the map. As I've now got the next map over, I thought I'd have a go at working out a walk round there.

This still meant carrying three maps. I started on my Stone Pathfinder map, crossed into the new Explorer map of Derby, crossing the A518 I was on my old Cannock Chase Explorer map, back on to the Derby map and I didn't actually need to take out the Stone map for the last short section down the road.

Of course we've had a lot of rain in recent weeks, culminating in floods in Sussex and Kent. This meant the paths were exceedingly wet. This was also clearly not a well walked area judging by the disappearing footpaths and general shortage of way marks. I should have known this at the first field I tried to enter. There was a new finger post, no stile and barbed wire over the top. It's a good job I've got long legs. The path was blocked at the far end but I got talking to a farm worker who showed me the new line of the path. I don't mind diversions but they ought to leave a permanent record on the ground because it's a long time before the maps catch up with them.

There was then a good path for half a mile or so but the turn off through a wood petered out. So I followed the farm track to the Round House where there was actually a way mark on the gate. Unfortunately this appeared to come to a dead end. Again a chat with a chap feeding the pheasants who showed me how to get round this and then a long path down the side of fields (with a good headland) and easy navigating. This turned off into a wood just before I got to the A518 and whilst there was a finger post to show where the footpath left a grassy track there was no indication of a path through the trees. I stayed on the track which was very wet and had only a brief struggle to get to the gate at the end.

I could have just walked up the main road but it's a bit dangerous at that point so I walked up the minor road to Grindley and then back along the other minor track. Actually I got the best views of the walk so far on this stretch; out across the Blythe valley.

Crossing the A518 again I picked up some very wet paths around Newbuildings Farm but the stiles were all where they should have been. As soon as I got back on the Derby map, the stiles disappeared although the fields were a little drier. I was having to straddle barbed wire all the way to Banktop Farm.

I then picked up a green lane. It is marked as "Road used as Public Footpath". There were vehicle tracks in the mud but I'm not sure how they got a vehicle down it. I felt like an explorer as I went along the path. No views but good fun nonetheless.

This brought me out at Gratwich. A brief walk up the lane, past the church (very unusual design) and then along the banks of the Blythe. The paths got progressively muddier and by Moor House Farm I had to paddle thigh-deep across one side stream, which was clearly carrying a lot of water. More muck then to get to the Stone-Uttoxeter road.

At that point I'd had enough of all the filth and barbed wire and just pottered a couple of miles back down the road back to get to the car. Perhaps I won't put this on the Ramblers programme.

22 October

I think that we have a problem with the Ramblers programme. Too many people are giving in names for walks that are too cryptic. This means that there is a danger of getting two very similar walks too close together.

This is what happened here. The walk was billed as "Those Blue Hills". There are some Blue Hills off the end of the Roaches but the alternative meeting point, Newport, suggested that we were going in the opposite direction. Those of us who are fond of Housman suspected that the programme was wrong and it should have read "Those Blue Remembered Hills" as in the following extract from "A Shropshire Lad".

                  In my heart an air that kills

            From yon far country blows.

            What are those blue remembered hills,

            What spires, what farms are those?

            It is the land of lost content

            I see it shining plain,

            The happy highways where I went

            And cannot come again

(Call me old-fashioned but I love the stuff of the Housman, Kipling, Elgar generation.)

Anyway back at my theme, the effect of this cryptic walk title was that we trooped off to Craven Arms again and did a very similar walk to the one with John Rhodes' walk last month. Out on the opposite side of the Onny across mist-covered fields. Into Wistanstow and Cheney Longville, followed by a big pull up onto the side of Wart Hill. Follow the Shropshire Way over Hopesay Hill where we failed again to get decent views; I have been up there in good weather and know what a superb vantage point it is. As soon as we started the descent the weather improved and we did get a sense (albeit from a valley prospective) of the rolling Shropshire Hills.

27 October

Reg's Ramblers staying at Malham. Also my first time out with my new digital camera.

The weather all week had been dire and it rained heavily all the way up. Reg rejigged his walk plan and brought forward the Saturday walk to Friday. This meant that most of it was on hard surfaces rather than sinking into boggy ground.

The walk was relatively straightforward taking in the classic circuit of Malham. Along a reinforced footpath from the village to Janet's Foss which looked very attractive with lots of water in it. I enhanced my false reputation for wisdom by droning on about the tufa screen behind the waterfall and about the time when I was slim enough to get behind it. No danger of that nowadays even if the river level had been low enough for me to approach the fall.

Then up the tourist path to Gordale Scar. Several of us were able to say how we'd scrambled up the waterfall there, safe in the knowledge that the rocks were too slippery and the waterfall too full for us to attempt this. Actually I was disappointed about that.

On to Malham Tarn. The rain had stopped by now but it was still blowy and cold and we took refuge in the woods for lunch. At one point there was a shaft of sunlight falling on us and spontaneous cheers all round. Sadly it went as quickly as it came but it did signal brightening weather all through the afternoon. This gave us some lovely prospects over the Tarn.

Having completed a near-circle of the tarn, we rook the dry valley route to Malham Cove. This took us past the water sinks where the stream from the tarn disappears. I've not seen so much water in it before but it still stopped very suddenly. The dry valley was glorious with sunlight reflecting off limestone, especially at the point where the valley drops suddenly. It all emerges on the limestone pavement at the top of the cove. Very impressive as is the cove itself. One of the sights of Yorkshire.

Malham Photographs

28 October

A vile day of rain and high winds.

We walked down the banks of the stream and canal into Kirby Malham; the rain was quite and it was sheltered at this stage and the walking pleasant. We had a quick look at the church in Kirby Malham.

By this time the rain had really started. We climbed out of the valley on to Scosthrop Moor. This was a long pull up but there was no real view because of low cloud. At the top it was so cold and went we turned round and returned to the hotel.

Note: the Sunday walk was also aborted because of rain: the whole country has been flooded since then.


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