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September 2001

8 September

First walk in 3 weeks!

I just went out on my own in the fields around the village. From Audmore Loop up to Brough Hall, down via the kennels to Hollies Common and across to Shelmore Lodge and then to Norbury. Back via the canal and the railway line. 3 hours walking - 8.5 miles

Got plenty of buzzard sightings but more unusually I spotted a kingfisher by the canal

 9 September

Prewalking my Ramblers walk for next Sunday. It was the same route around Gun and the Roaches that I did in January. Beryl came too. 

Initially the weather was much better but it got cloudier later. I did get some better photos

15 September

Another Saturday afternoon walk from home. I'm trying to make a regular thing of this because I need the exercise. Just on eight miles today down along the canal southwards nearly as far as Church Eaton. Over the fields towards Befcote and then cut back towards the canal. However I didn't see it as I arrived where it goes under the Cowley tunnel. Back through by Quarry Cottage.

I had never actually navigated myself around this patch before although there were odd bits I recognised from SRG walks.

On the canal I saw a stupid heron. Why do the fly off away from you but only go 30 yards down the bank so that they just keep repeating the futile exercise. This one even flew over to a low branch on the opposite side but when I got nearer it flew back over to my side.

Photos                Map

16 September

My walk for the Ramblers around Gun and the Roaches. Actually it should have been two weeks ago but Ron asked me to do a swap with him. This probably kept the numbers down because there were several people who told me that they'd have liked to have been there but they were away for the weekend. As it was we had ten there which at least gives you time to talk to everyone.

The route is very straightforward. Park under the Roaches. Walk down to Meerbrook and start Park House/the Franklins. There are then two footpaths joined by about 400 yards of road that take you to the top of Gun, Staffordshire's only Marilyn. It's a wonderful view but not easy to capture on film as the hills are just too far away for an interesting photo.

The descent goes to Turner's Pool where we had lunch. We then climbed by Pool Farm and Old Springs to the road around the south side of the Swithamley Estate. I was planning to turn up at the second gatehouse (before dropping down a track to Danebridge) but got seduced by a path opposite. There is a sign there saying it only goes to the riverside and doesn't have a bridge across. I'd looked at this on the map and there was a track marked up to Danebridge which looked a better route. Jim reckoned he had walked this before so we went for it. A mistake. It was very boggy in places and ended up in a double barbed-wire fence. I had to track round a fair way to find a gate back on to the road. A shame about the poor path as the Dane is a spectacularly lovely river.

There followed the long pull up on to the Roaches. At least it is fairly gradually with only two short steep sections in the woods above Danebridge and then up to Hanging Rock (a short drink spot there). Then follow the ridge back to the cars.

It was a good walk. The weather forecast had not been good but whilst it was cloudy there were lots of sunny spells and no rain. This is a walk that needs good weather as the joy is in the views. Not quite as good as on the prewalk last week but still was enjoyable. 

Photos                Map

18 September

An evening wander around the local fields. Up from Audnmore Loop nearly to Brough Hall but then I turned the other way and went towards Haughton. The stiles grew more and more overgrown with nettles particularly near Wood Knowle Farm: click here for what was by no means the worst example.

I then made my way via Woodhouse Farm to the old railway. Until quite recently the section between Haughton and Gnosall has been closed but it is now part of the Staffordshire Millennium Way. This was my first walk along it; it's not inspiring!


22 September

I drove down to Wheaton Aston for my Saturday afternoon stroll and walked across to Blymhill. The first section was mainly on bridleway and not too interesting. The navigation was tricky. One path disappeared completely; that wasn't too surprising as it happened shortly after I found a horse gate with a wooden fence across the inside. The other tricky feature was the appearance of farm ponds not on the map - even though I was using one of the new Explorer series.

It became a little more interesting after Lower Brockhurst. I was on better paths across fields. I also saw 3 buzzards take off from a wood; I was on the look-out for them as they were kicking up a racket from the trees. I did a loop round the back of BLymhill through Beighterton Plantation and then struck across to Marston (seeing 2 more buzzards en route). I then followed the bridleway south to rejoin to initial path and returned along it to Wheaton Aston. Three hours walking, eight fairly flat miles. 


23 September

We were going out to a silver wedding celebration in the afternoon so we needed to be back early. Beryl went on the Ramblers morning walk and I went out on my own. 

I went via the railway line to the Norbury road and after a brief bit on the road took the footpath over the canal and the railway to Coton and then on to Swanpit. Back across the main road and on nearly to Forton via Guild of Monks and the Aqualate Nature Reserve. Back via Sutton, Norbury Junction (well not quite), Shelmore Lodge and Hollies Common. I saw a fox quite close up on this stretch. I could see some pheasants in the long grass when I realised that one of them was a little on the large side. I'd seen the obligatory buzzards earlier - just how many of them live round here?

Twelve and a half miles all told in good time so I was pleased with that.


29 September

A day that had been a long time in the planning. Andrew and I went off to the Cambrian coast; this involved getting him down from Glasgow and an overnight stay near Harlech on a mutually convenient weekend. The object of this planning was to walk the Rhinogs - this had hitherto been avoided on the grounds that I couldn't do it in a single day.

We parked at the very head of Nantcol; there is just enough room for 2-3 cars (my thanks yet again to the Nuttalls' guide to the mountains of Wales for some out-of-the-way parking). This is below the well-known Roman Steps route to Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. However we took the other path which starts there and leads up on to the west ridge of Rhinog Fawr. All signs of paths disappeared on the ridge and we spent a while slogging through heather. As the ground started to rise again more significantly we picked up a track. This was fortunate as by then we were in cloud.

There was a steady but not a difficult climb to the top of Rhinog Fawr. The Nuttalls say that this offers a wonderful prospect of Snowdonia. Unfortunately we had to take them at their word. We couldn't see a thing.

The Nuttalls also that the path down starts off as "encouragingly clear" but soon disappears. Actually we were following it quite well, even when it started plunging steeply. Positively Tryfan-esque in this respect. There is however a fairly flat section where it disappeared altogether and it took us ages to find the merest scrape to follow when it plunged down again. Nevertheless, and largely by following the wall, we made our way into Bwlch Drws Ardudwy; it had taken us an hour.

I consulted the Nuttalls again. There should have been a clear path up Rhinog Fach. We went eastwards a way but no sign so we went back. Eventually we found a stile (in the middle of a sizable area of flooded ground) and went up from there. It offered a path to the summit but it clearly wasn't the Nuttalls path). It climbed up roughly and often with heather growing across it to hide the rock beneath. It was really hard work although there was consolation in the unnamed tarn in Cwmhosan which made a pleasant lunch spot (the sun having come out as we dropped off Rhinog Fawr).

A lot more of the same sort of climbing up to Llyn Hywel which looked superb with Y Llethr behind it. However the path wasn't too obvious from there. We looked at the climb up through the scree of large boulders and decided to go for it. It felt very safe all the way but it was about 500 of near-vertical ascent and truly knackering. Andrew, being younger and fitter than me, led the way. However as he sat waiting for me at the top (which was 50-100ft below the summit) he was also watching the mist descending on to Y Llethr. I had just joined him for the final ascent when it enveloped us so yet again we had no view from the top (and it was pretty cold too)

Back down on the proper path. It really goes down into the col between Rhinog Fawr and Y Llethr, which is on a ridge above the lake. However we found a path down which led us along the edge of the lake (and in places in it) before returning to our path from Bwlch Drws Ardudwy. Back there we had the easiest walking of the day as we went down the Roman Steps to the car.

The Rhinogs certainly lived up to their reputation for rough walking. We'd only done about 7 miles (as the crow flies) but it had taken us almost 7 hours and we were both drained. I am now truly envious of those peolple walking the Cambrian Way as they have tp do 20 miles across the Rhinogs in a day (or camp out) because there is no accommodation near the path.

We should have walked on the Sunday too but the weather forecast was dire. We left early to look round Portmeirion and then high-tailed it home as the rain started in earnest.

Photos                Map


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