The Mullaghanattin Horseshoe walk

The panoramic view from the summit of Mullaghanattin. The Dingle Peninsula is visible in the far distance.

To the south of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in County Kerry are a jumble of mountains which include some of the highest in Ireland but are well neglected as they are generally hard to get to and involve a car journey via narrow lanes.

The last part of the drive in to reach Mullaghanattin.

The Mullaghanattin Horseshoe appealed to me and this was a walk that didn’t disappoint on my recent visit to Ireland. There is limited parking at the start point which is at a road junction. Donning boots I am bitten by horse flies – one of the main problems on this trip to Ireland. First of all I have to back track along the road I had just driven and one thing that has concerned me is that at the last farm several Jack Russell dogs had come out barking at the car as I drove through. I am now about to face these dogs on foot. I have my walking pole at the ready as I march silently through the farm and indeed the dogs came out barking but thankfully seem quite harmless. Nearby, there are several caged dogs which might have caused more of an issue. In the process I seem to have set all the dogs off barking along the valley. I press on to a point where I intend to take a good track into the hills which leads some way up to gain the eastern end of the ridge. Nearing the track, a four by four turns up and heads very slowly up along the track into the hills. I am now concerned that I might be turned back by a farmer as the laws of access in Ireland are quite vague as some farmers welcome walkers whilst others certainly don’t want you on their land. As I ascend the track, the four by four is ascending slowly away ahead of me only to park where the track ends. Over the next mile I think about how I will enter into conversation with the farmers and think it best not to mention anything about whether it alright to walk here. Instead I opt to talk about the weather in a friendly manner and ask them the best way to gain the ridge. This ploy works a dream and happily I am soon on my way to the south eastern end of the ridge.

The south eastern ridge leading up towards Mullaghanattin.

This is trackless countryside as I head generally northwest along the very undulating ridge and following a fence line much of the way. I reach a secondary summit at 594 metres before making a steep ascent onto the eastern end of the ridge leading up to Mullaghanattin. This part of the walk gives some very rewarding walking with the rocky summit curving away ahead of me.  It doesn’t take long to get to the impressive 773 metre summit which is crowned with a trig point and what a view there is. It is virtually cloudless with the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks prominent to the northeast and countless peaks around me. It is quite windy on the top so I chose a spot just to the south to have my picnic lunch in the bright sunshine.

The spectacular ridge walk leading to the summit of Mullaghanattin.

On the summit of Mullaghanattin with the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks behind. Time for a spot of lunch.

The ridge walk ahead of me to start off the afternoon.

Spectacular scenery on Mullaghanattin with a view towards the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.

I have several peaks to cross ahead of me for the afternoon leg of the walk. It is initially a fairly steep grassy descent to a col before climbing steeply to Beann North Top. The col is punctured by quite a rocky gully on the north side which you are on before you realise that it lies on your path. I skirt to the left before winding up the steep slope. Beyond, Beann North Top, a high level broad ridge leads up to Beann at 752 metres.  Beann provides some easy high level ridge walking along the line of a fence with the highest point about midway along.

The view back along the route I had taken with Mullaghanattin in the foreground.

The summit ridge along Beann with the view towards Kenmare River.

After a stop to take a few photographs I descend veering south to another col before ascending to Beann South Top. From here I have from past reports about this walk  not to descend southeast as there had been disputes with a farmer but instead to head south to reach a track where I can turn east to get down to the valley.

The view west from Beann with countless remote summits in west Kerry.

The view on my descent is dominated by the rocky peak of Finnararagh.

I set off south over increasingly rough countryside and follow the line of a fence for some distance. In places smooth sloping rock brakes the surface but this is at quite an incline to walk down. Lower down, tussocky grass is a bit of an issue but I can see my intended track ahead of me even though it takes awhile to get to it and involves crossing a couple of fences. Indeed the track does lead down to the valley but the route doesn’t agree to what is shown on the map. Within a large but fairly rough field I opt to cross it rather than following the track on a winding route which initially goes uphill again and hence cutting off a big corner. Lower down, I have to pass through a field of cattle not knowing if there is a bull in the field. The law on cattle is probably different in Ireland. After scaling a couple of gates close to but out of site of farms, I am relieved to join a lane which leads back to the car to complete a superb day in the mountains.

 

 

 

Glencoe’s hidden peaks

Setting off along the track towards Meall Lighiche our first peak of the day. Our route would take us from right to left up the ridge.

The drive from Glencoe Village along the A82 to Crianlarich is arguably one of the best drives in the British Isles and all the better if you are a passenger in a car. I’ve driven this route many times and it is always a section of the journey I look forward to. Most of the peaks in the area I have climbed and its now just a case of ticking off those last few. One such peak is very much hidden from view and one only gets a tantalising glimpse as you set off up the road from Glencoe Village.
Set well back and along the valley through which runs the Allt Muidhe stands the very steep Sgor na h-Ulaidh, a Munro which rises to just shy of a thousand metres.
For Nick Wild and me, it was our last full day in Fort William on a recent trip to the Highlands and on this walk we would combine a climb of the Corbett, Meall Lighiche summit also.

With the promise of a fine day we park near the foot of Glencoe and take the private road up the valley of the Allt Muidhe. Reaching the buildings at Gleann-leac-na-muidhe, an official diversion takes us on a path looping to the south and during my prior research on this walk I was aware of this. Beyond, we rejoin the track for a short distance.

Our first objective is the Corbett of Meall Lighiche which involves crossing the Allt Muidhe and thankfully the water is quite low. Ahead lies a slope up to meet the northern ridge over Creag Bhan. For once it is quite warm as we toil up the north facing steep slope. We eventually reach easier ground where we veer right to follow a line of metal stakes to the 772 metre summit. To the southeast, the climb up to Sgor na h-Ulaidh looks quite a challenge.
After a short break we back tracked and descend to the col at Bealach Easan.

The north face of Sgor na h-Ulaidh and the prospect of a steep ascent ahead. We would ascend diagonally from the middle of the photograph across to the right shoulder which is just in the shade as seen here.

An almost birds eye view down Glen Creran from our lunch stop.

We are now confronted by a steep ascent of more than 400 metres. My research on this ascent indicates to keep well west of crags on the northern face of the mountain. Nick and I set off diagonally up the steepening slope and further up we zigzag our way up the steep grassy slope. At an area where the ground is less steep we stop for our lunch with an almost aerial view down over Glen Creran. For once it is pleasantly warm and there is no need to move off in a hurry.

The view west from the top of Sgor na h-Ulaidh over the spur of Corr na Beinne.

From the top of Sgor na h-Ulaidh, the Corbett of Meall Lighiche 772 metres is well below us.

The route ahead over the satellite summit of Stob an Fhuarain (centre), from where we would skirt left over the lesser summit on the left of the photograph before descending.

Nick enjoys the afternoon sunshine with a view down Glen Etive.

When we do set off, we have a further steep ascent to the western spur of Corr na Beinne. From here, the gradient eases with a much easier ascent to the top of Sgor na h-Ulaidh 994 metres. We sit awhile on top admiring the views. Another couple of people reach the summit whist we are there. They had ascended from the Glen Etive side.
Setting off after a good break we descend northeast before climbing over the satellite summit of Stob an Fhuarain (968 metres). From here we head north over the lesser top of Aonach Dubh a’ Ghlinne. It was now time for the descent and we strike out westwards down a moderate slope. It was relatively easy but the path along the bottom is very uneven and rocky and so progress is slow. We later rejoined our outward route and it proves a very pleasant walk back long the valley in fine afternoon sunshine to reach the car.

The walk back down the valley. A fitting way to complete the day.

Nick’s Viewranger statistics. Distance 9.93 miles. Altitude gain 4332 feet. Average speed 1.18 mph.

Farthest southwest

A panoramic view at Dursey Head. Offshore is The Calf (centre) and The Cow (right).

It’s the last place where the sun sets in the British Isles on December the 31st and it is a land where a few hardy souls eke out a meagre living working the thin soils on this windswept and tree less island. The only fixed connection to the Irish mainland is via a cable car which looks little more than a workman’s hut slung on wires which plies to and fro across the Dursey Sound all year round. Well it sounds like a good place to visit.
I first came here in 1980 with a few friends and ventured out across the island on a rather dull and damp windy day. On that occasion we didn’t see much but here I was again with an opportunity to explore Dursey Island in depth on what I hoped would be a better day.
I’m leaving a very sunny Glengariff on a warm summer’s morning for the drive along the southern side of the picturesque Beara Peninsula. Now, what’s this? Within a few miles of setting off the bright sunshine has been replaced by a soft Irish morning and it’s the first time I’ve had to use windscreen wipers on the car since my arrival in Ireland about two weeks ago. This is not on the weather forecast today!
As I drive through Castletown Berehaven and onwards to the end of the road at Dursey Sound, the cloud has settled well down on the hills and a thick drizzle has set in. Having driven this far I am not likely to be in the area for many years to come so rain or shine I opt to go for it.
One’s first impression of the cable car is a bit overwhelming. A little box hanging on cables high above the Atlantic. At either end are two tall steel structures which have taken on a very rusty look.

Dursey Island Cable Car. Viewed during the afternoon. The morning was too misty for any decent photographs. Is it me, but does the tower look a tad rusty? The cable car can be seen as it passes through one of the towers.

It’s €10 for the return trip on the cable car and even on a dull morning like today there is a small queue. With a maximum capacity of six persons you can work out how long the wait is going to be as the round trip by the cable car across the sound takes fifteen minutes. Now for the downside; Residents on the island take priority on the cable car and can jump the queue and furthermore they are carried free. On the small exposed platform a small group of tourists clad in brightly coloured waterproofs are waiting their turn. At least it is just drizzle but I can imagine you could get jolly wet just waiting for the cable car.
After a forty minute wait which can be passed by chatting with other tourists and listening to their experiences in Ireland we are off. With the cable car just attached to the cables every time someone boards the cabin it sways outward from the platform.
Silently we are moving with a gradual ascent to pass through the first steel tower before our ‘little box’ lurches over the grey waters of Dursey Sound. If you wish, you can look down between the slats in the floor to see the grey waters far below. The cable car is not only used for passengers but you might have to share your little confined place with a few sheep. Inside are pasted details in the event of an emergency including the use of a two way radio or how to use the seventy five foot long rope ladder which allegedly will stretch down to any rescue boat should the worse happen. Alongside is a copy of Psalm 91 which one of the group takes great delight in reading out.

Heading west on the lonely road towards Ballynacallagh.

Safely on the island, it’s time to decide where I am going. My plans is to walk the four and a half miles one way to Dursey Head via the island road and return along the spin of the island, which is another four and a half miles and as the hill cloud is well down I wisely opt to follow the road west. Surprisingly enough there are several cars and four by fours on the island, none of which would pass their MOT as most vehicles are rusty and have wings or bumpers missing to say the least.
I set out on the minor road which crosses the island. I seem to recall that on my visit in 1980 that this was just a mere track. The population of the island hovers around a half dozen. You’ve got to like remoteness if you want to live here as there are no shops or facilities and you can be cut off from the outside world for days on end.

A restored house in Ballynacallagh. I like the way they have done the stonework.

About a half hour walk brings me to the first village of Ballynacallagh which comprises of a few houses clustered together and some quite recently renovated. Here and there are dotted many other properties now only stone shells with roofs fallen in. This reflects on a once much larger population a century ago. There was a castle here once and in 1602 it was a garrison of the O’Sullivan Beare family. About this time the island was attacked by the English murdering all three hundred islanders.
I press on, soon passing through the next village hamlet of Kilmichael. The road continues and gradually climbs along the steep hillside with a steep slope plunging to the Atlantic hundreds of feet below whist above me the hillside disappears into the mist. Someone with a sense of humour has erected some road signs along the next section and I pass a bus stop sign and a sign indicating a speed limit of 100kph. As the road contours around the highest hill I get a view to the western end of the island and the last settlement. It looks so bleak even on a summer’s day with a line of ruinous houses dotted along the south facing slope and one lonely lived in farm at the far end. This place is called Tilickafinnal and is certainly a place to get away from it all. Head in the same direction southwest and your next landfall would be Florida! At least now the weather is showing signs of improving and the cloud is slowly lifting, which I hope will provide a rewarding walk back along the spine of the island.

The road continues west and mist still clings to the higher ground. hopefully it will lift by the afternoon.

I wouldn’t really want to do 100 kph on this road. There is no barrier and the Atlantic is 400 feet below you.

The last village of Tilickafinnal consists mostly of long abandoned houses but there is a lived in farm at the far end. This is what you call getting away from it all.

I pass the last farm and now I am on bare hillside with vegetation growing little more than a couple of inches. It probably blows here most of the time but I am being blessed with a calm day and the sea is quite smooth. Now the area is famed for whale and dolphin watching but knowing my luck I have never seen anything in my lifetime.
There are a few day visitors around most of which have ventured to the point where the land starts to descend towards the last headland. I want to press on to the very end. Out to sea are remote rocks which include such names as The Bull which at 302 feet high is crowned with a lighthouse together with auxiliary buildings and is so far out that it doesn’t appear on the 1;50,000 scale Irish Ordnance Survey Map. As it is, I am on an inset part of the map. Nearer at hand are rocks called The Cow, The Calf and The Heifer.

The path leading down to Dursey Head. No more civilisation until you reach Florida!

This is The Bull, a 302 foot high rock complete with lighthouse and auxiliary buildings. It’s quite amazing how they built all this at such an exposed location. So far out in the Atlantic, its even beyond the inset of the 1;50,000 Irish Ordnance Survey Map!

I am nearing the most south western point in the British Isles when coming the other way I quite unexpectedly bump into a member of the East Cheshire Ramblers. John Kummer, who often joins the group of long walks is out walking the Beara Way, a trail which has an extension onto Dursey Island. It’s quite amazing where you bump into someone you know. After a conversation we go our separate ways. A small roofless structure at Dursey Head provides the only shelter but today it is so still that it is just nice to sit out on the cliff top.

The end of the land at Dursey Head. A series of fang like rocks dominate the end of the island. It is here I sat and watched the dolphins and whales whilst eating lunch.

As I reach the very end of Dursey Island the land falls away as a series of ‘fangs’ where the rock strata have been turned on end. A small group of visitors are excited and tell me that there is a school of dolphins just offshore and sure enough I don’t have to wait long before the school break the water. With it being so still, there are no waves breaking and so the dolphins are easy to spot and can be seen swimming just below the surface. Occasionally they rise out of the water to belly flop sending a cascade of water into the air. If that is not enough excitement we next see whales breaking the surface further out and a couple of times they send up columns of spray from their blowholes.
What better way to sit and have lunch whale and dolphin watching from a cliff top and staring out onto a smooth Atlantic knowing that there is no landfall for many thousands of miles.
Well it’s time to drag myself away and head back and by now the weather is improving. The mist has lifted from the islands’ hills and patches of soft blue sky are edging in from the Atlantic. I backtrack initially before taking a good path with marker posts up to the island highest point at 252 metres. The summit has a trig point, together with a prominent but ruinous signal tower. The tower was built as a chain of lookout towers to warn of possible invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.

A good path follows the spine of the island. This view looks back towards Dursey Head.

The Signal Tower and trig point at the highest point on the island. (252 metres).

What a superb afternoon for this walk along the spine of the island and a good path the whole way. Walking at it’s best!

I press on along the spine of the island keeping over all high ground. It is turning a fine and sunny afternoon and the light is almost magical. At the last hill I can see down to the waiting point for the cable car. It’s going to be a long wait and indeed it is. It’s one hour and ten minutes before it’s my turn to join another five tourists for the return crossing to the Irish Mainland. Thankfully it’s dry but there is nobody who wants to enter into conversation, but I think they are all non English speaking people. So how do you spend an hour and ten minutes waiting for a cable car? Well you can calculate the length of time it takes for a return trip. Count the number of people ahead of you in the queue and work out how long it’s going to be before it’s your turn. Secondly hope that no island residents turn up. Watch sheep eat grass – I’m getting desperate now! But what amazes me is that this cable car is unsupervised. There doesn’t seem to be anyone to stop extra people getting on board. Each time the cable car arrives at the little platform the next group of six board  in an orderly fashion, with the first person opening the door and when there are six aboard the last one closes the door and the cable car moves off. I suppose that if the cable car was overcrowded and came to a halt halfway back, not many people would fancy climbing down a seventy five foot long rope ladder!

The three doubleyou’s

Eight East Cheshire Ramblers spent a glorious day on a linear walk walking over The Wrekin. The walk started at Wellington Railway Station where the 10.06 train was taken the short hop to Shrewsbury. Here it was just a short walk to the towns’ Bus Station where the number 19 bus was taken to the start of our walk at Wroxeter.

The walk started by passing Wroxeter Roman City. Lying close to Watling Street, the Roman settlement of Viroconivm was once the fourth largest Roman Settlement in Britain and it is said that it was once a similar size to Pompeii. It is almost unique insomuch that the town never developed after the Roman occupation and so much of the original town is on view today.


A replica Roman Villa has been reconstructed on the opposite side of the road.


St Andrew’s Church was the stopping point for our morning break in the warm sunshine. The church incorporates much stonework, robbed from the nearby Roman site. The present building dates from the Anglo-Saxon period.


Even the gate posts at St andrew’s Church are Roman columns.


Heading out from Eyton on Severn with The Wrekin just visible above the trees.


The group on the summit of The Wrekin. The photograph was kindly taken by another walker on a challenge walk in the area. By now we had lost the sun but the views stretched from Winter Hill in the north to The Malverns in the south.


Mapping the Route on this ‘Wall map’ We came across this at the foot of The Wrekin.

Long walkers weekend in North Wales

It was a fine sunny weekend for the long walkers who spent the weekend based in Porthmadog. The Saturday walk led by Steve Hull involved a linear walk from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. Most off the group travelled to the start by taking a train journey on the Ffestiniog Railway before taking a route often parallel with the railway back to Porthmadog.

The Sunday walk was led by Peter & Georgie Everson and involved a car shuttle between the village of Trevor and Nefyn. This was followed by a walk following the Wales Coast Path from Trevor to Nefyn with some of the group climbing Yr Eifl en route.

Blaenau Ffestiniog lies at the eastern terminus of the Ffestiniog Railway. The town is synonymous with the slate industry and during its heyday was the largest town in the old country of Merionethshire. During the 1860’s and 1870’s the slate industry was booming such was the demand, but the decline came during and after the First World War when many quarry men went to war. Today, numerous tourist attractions have opened up in the surrounding area.


The train arrives at Blaenau Ffestiniog carrying most of the ramblers. The Ffestiniog Railway is 13.5 miles long and was originally built between 1833 and 1836 to transport slate between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog where it was shipped all around the world. The original railway was built on a gravity system and had a gradient of around 1 in 80 most of the way. Originally horses rode on the wagons en route to Porthmadog but then had to pull the empty wagons back to Blaenau Ffestinog.


Plas y Dduallt which translates to ‘The House on the Black Hillside’ dates from the 16th century and is Grade II listed. It is almost unique in having its own private railway platform.


Peter, Georgie and Steve discuss the following day’s walk over afternoon tea at Tan-y-Bwlch Station.


Time for a group photo at an area of high ground west of the hamlet of Rhyd.


This was the panoramic view the group got from the area of highest group west of the hamlet of Rhyd. From left to right, the summits are Moel ddu, Moel Hebog, Nantlle Ridge (background), Snowdon (background but in centre of photograph), Cnicht, Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach.


Almost at the end of the walk with the view from The Cob at Porthmadog towards Snowdon and the Moelwyns group of hills.

Trevor was the start point for our Sunday walk. We parked the cars just above the harbour. Trevor, which lies some distance above the harbour was a quarrying village and only the scares on the hillside above now remain.

Initially we had a coastal walk before a long ascent out of Trevor towards Bwlch yr Eifl.

The summiteers who made it to the top of Yr Eifl 564 metres and well worth the effort for the views. I have drawn a blank on what the metal structure on top of the trig point is. A big metal ‘4’ and smaller letters ‘A’ and ‘H’ attached.

Just east of Yr Eifl on the lower hill named Tre’r Ceiri is an important Iron Age Hill Fort. The fort dates from around 200BC and continued to be occupied during Roman times. The stone walls stand to a height of thirteen feet. Ruins of around 150 houses have been found within the enclosure.

The village of Nant Gwrtheyrn is hemmed in on three sides by steep hillsides and a steep road leads down into the village. It was first occupied by a Romano-British leader who sold out to the invading Saxons and fled to this hidden valley. During the 1860’s the valley had a thriving industry of supplying paving setts for the streets of many cities in the north of England. Today, the buildings in the valley have been restored to a Welsh Language and Heritage Centre.

 

The coastal path southwest from Nant Gwrtheyrn skirts this secluded bay and on our visit  it was a real suntrap.

The secluded little church of St Beuno at Pistyll dates mostly from the 15th century and is named after the hermit St Beuno who found solitude here in the 6th century. It is one of the stopping off point for pilgrimages to Bardsey Island at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula. Coincidentally our visit was timed with the Lammas service when the is lit by candles and the floor is covered in rushes for the service which is held to mark the annual wheat harvest.

Finally can I and on behalf of everyone on this weekend thank Peter, Georgie and Steve for arranging and leading two excellent walks.

Through the Cheviots

The private road through College Valley is a pleasure to walk on this fine day.

One of our less visited National Parks is the Northumberland National Park and late August is a good time to go on a wander into these hills when the heather is in full bloom. A few years ago I had the opportunity to undertake a linear walk through the Cheviot Hill’s which lie on the northern edge of the National Park and border Scotland.

The Cheviot Memorial dedicated to air crash victims in the area during World War II.

Setting out from the car park at Hethpool with my wife and daughter, we head south along the attractive and peaceful College Valley. People have lived in this remote valley since the late Stone Age and during the Bronze Age, when the climate was a bit warmer than now, farmers cultivated the land quite high up and cultivated terraces are still visible. The Iron Age saw much activity with forts being constructed on many of the hills which lie either side of the valley and much later between the 14th and 16th centuries the valley saw much hostilities between the English and Scottish armies.

It’s a fairly late start for the walk but in bright sunshine it is for once surprisingly warm as it is fairly sheltered out of the westerly wind. A surfaced road leads all the way to Cuddystone Hall and the nearby is the memorial to WW ll air crash victims in the area. This is called The Cheviot Memorial and was erected to mark the 50th Anniversary of VE Day. With a number of benches at the site it makes an idea spot for an early lunch stop.

The lane along the lonely valley of Lambden Burn.

For the afternoon we continue up the valley of Lambden Burn and still following a surfaced lane serving a few isolated farms. At Dunsdale, my wife and daughter turns back and I gave them written instructions how they can follow the alternative route via the eastern side of College Burn back to the car. They will then drive to Wooler and have an afternoon tea in a cafe then await my arrival.

Beyond Goldscleugh Farm, most of the walk is now on hill paths.

The heather clad hills east of Goldscleugh Farm. A most pleasant walk into the heart of the Cheviot Hills.

Meanwhile I now press on eastwards but I have set a time limit to reach Wooler. At the isolated farm at Goldsclough, the lane finally runs out. I head east on a path fording a couple of small streams. The path is way-marked but is a bit overgrown with bracken at a couple of points. I am rewarded with a fine purple display of heather which looks really attractive whilst the sun is shining, however by now there is much more cloud around. I walk through the northern edge of a woodland plantation, and much of the area had been felled of trees. An open forest track is joined before turning left to reach a col. A right turn following the course of a quad bike ascends alongside a fence up onto Broadhope Hill where I get views towards the North Sea and up into Scotland.

Following the fence line between Broadhope Hill and Cold Law. Heather burning over the years in square blocks has taken on what looks like a quilted blanket.

The trig point on Cold Law and a few to The Cheviot, the highest point in Northumberland.

Getting away from it all! The isolated cottage at Broadstruther.

Continuing on, I soon join a permissive path which follows a fence all the way to Cold Law and along this section I make good progress over the easy ground of short cropped grass with purple heather but on the way however I disturb many grouse. Many blocks of heather have been burnt at various times making the landscape look quilted. With a short ascent I reached the summit of Cold Law 452 metres and by the trig point, I take a long rest to have a snack and take a look through the binoculars which I have brought along with me. It has clouded up particularly inland with only occasional glimpses of sunshine.

The last ascent  towards Wooler Common on this newly created path.

Heading east and again on a good permissive path, I now pass many grouse butts, but further down I losethe path briefly as the more predominated path veers off in another direction. Crossing a fence I can see my intended path ahead and make for that for the descent into the peaceful valley of Harthope Burn. Some lane walking follows to reach the bridge over Carey Burn and here I take a new path on the left ascending over to Earlehillhead Farm. The warm sunshine has returned for the ascent. Next, I skirt around the edge of Wooler Common to join the St Cuthbert’s Way. This runs down through dense woodland which cloaks Kenterdale Hill. Soon I am walking into Wooler and soon is reunited with my wife and daughter after an excellent walk.

The village that changed sides

A fine autumn morning beside the River Trent with a view towards North Muskham. If you were here prior to 1575, the River Trent would have flowed elsewhere and this would have been meadow land.

The 77 mile long Trent Valley Way follows closely the River Trent as it passes through Nottinghamshire. The path commences at Long Eaton and ends where the River trent meets the Humber Estuary. Over the past few years I have walked much of this path and whereas it won’t be to everyone’s taste, it provides some fine stretches of peaceful riverside walking and passes through some attractive and old villages.

For this walk I am walking the section between Newark upon Trent and Girton. On a previous walk I ended up walking along an unpleasant section of the Newark Western Bypass to get to a convenient bus and this was a mistake that I wasn’t going to make again as this busy road doesn’t have any pavements.

I’m setting out by following some quiet residential side roads through to join the Trent Valley Way to Winthorpe. Winthorpe is a very quiet village with roads leading nowhere other than connecting to the main arteries nearby.

The historic church in the small village of Holme. A fascinating place.

A fine still morning to be cruising on the River Trent near Holme.

In the bright autumn morning sunshine I leave the village taking the lane towards Holme. Once over the level crossing I am soon following the River Trent embankment towards the village. It is great to be out on such a fine morning with hardly a breath of air. The odd patch of stubborn high cloud does obscure the sun for awhile. At Holme I briefly leave the Trent Valley Way to visit the historic church of St Giles. Unfortunately it is locked but from the outside it looks a fascinated building. Holme was once part of North Muskham but a catastrophic flood in 1575 changed the course of the River Trent insomuch it then changed its course to run between the two communities and as a result Holme became a separate parish and is now on the eastern side of the River Trent rather than the west side.
Back on the Trent Valley Way, I continue north following in places an embankment before taking a course a bit further away from the river. I later take a small diversion to Cromwell Lock which is the highest tidal point on the River Trent. The adjacent weir is one of the largest of any such weirs on a British river.

Cromwell Lock on the River Trent and the highest tidal point on the river and yet you are many miles from the sea.

I soon now turn towards Collingham, initially along a track then quiet lane. At St John’s the Baptist’s Church I pause for my morning break. The church is Grade 1 listed and dates from the 12th century but was greatly altered in Victorian times. Again the church is locked but I find a seat in the churchyard but the only downside is the cold shady location.

St John the Baptist Church at Collingham is Grade 1 listed but was locked on my visit.

All Saint’s church in North Collingham is also Grade 1 listed but it appears that all churches are locked in this area.

Heading north through this attractive village I stop at All Saints’ Church which is another grade 1 listed building which too is locked. It was here that I could have caught a more frequent bus back to Newark but I opt to press on to Besthorpe. A good track leads northwest from the Collingham, later passing beside extensive former sand and gravel workings but there are still some active workings. Some of the pits have been turned into what is called the Langford Lowfields Nature Reserve, a joint venture between the RSPB and the contractor Tarmac. It is a lowland wetland habitat with extensive reed beds on which can be found the rare bittern and several other birds including marsh harriers and avocets.

I reach the east bank of the River Trent briefly before turning away to reach Besthorpe. A seat by the village church is my lunch stop but again unfortunately is in the shade. Holy Trinity Church, built in 1844 is unusual insomuch that it is aligned north south rather than east west.

Holy Trinity Church at Besthorpe is unusual in that it was built north to south rather than the customary east west.

The last bus of the day in this area is at the very early time of 14.18pm from Girton and I still have plenty of time to spare and it doesn’t take me long to reach the hamlet of Girton. It will mean a long wait to catch the bus back towards Newark. A quick look at the map shows that I can do a small loop before leaving the Trent Valley Way. I now head further north beside former sand and gravel pits before heading east leaving the Trent Valley Way on a track frequented by gravel lorries. At the A1133 I turn left and soon right onto a minor lane. Here I made a detour to read the Spalford Warren Nature Reserve display boards. This is a rare sand blown heath land with many rare plants and not too dissimilar to the Brecklands in Norfolk. During the WWII the site was used as a munitions dump and visitors are warned to avoid picking up any metal objects.

To get to my bus stop I decide to take the signed path to the south. I soon find out that this is little used and is well overgrown despite relatively new kissing gates. At Tomkins Farm I give up on this path which by now is very overgrown path and I decide head west to the A1133 along the farm drive. By now time is getting on and I am anxious not to miss the last bus of the day. I reach the bus stop with around ten minutes to spare and just time to sit down for a rest and a drink before the early arrival of the bus back to my start point.

Historical walk from Grangemill

Written by Sue Thersby

A recent walk from Grangemill started and finished on the Limestone Way. This is a 46-mile way-marked route through the Derbyshire limestone dales, heading south from Castleton and finishing in the Dove valley at Rocester. Fourteen of us climbed gradually alongside a quarry before leaving the Way itself to take a bridleway, passing Harboro Rocks to the south-west by which time the skies were very promising.

Long vegetation near Griffe Grange.

The group near Griffe Grange walking alongside a new dry stone wall.

We joined the High Peak Trail just before Middleton Top, where we took advantage of the picnic tables for a morning break. Continuing along the High Peak Trail, several information boards told the story of the industrial heritage for which this area is famous. It follows the line of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, one of the world’s first long-distance railways. Descending the inclines, we passed the National Stone Museum, which advertises many activities, such as dry-stone walling and panning for gems, and the Steeple Grange Light Railway, which is an 18-inch gauge line. Here they offer a short train ride through dramatic limestone scenery and also information about why and how the railway was built.

Middleton Top Engine House. One of several historic features visited on this walk.

We reached the Cromford Canal, where goods were transferred to and from the railway onto barges to be taken to and from Cromford Mill. We followed the canal towpath to the mill itself, which was the home of the world’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill, developed by Richard Arkwright in 1771. Arkwright chose the site because it had year-round supply of warm water from the Cromford Sough and Bonsall Brook. He started with 200 workers and built housing for them nearby, one of the first manufacturers to do so. Most of the employees were women and children, the youngest being only seven years old. Later, the minimum age was raised to ten and the children were given six hours of education a week, so that they could do the record-keeping that their parents could not.

Our morning break at Middleton Top

From here, we walked up past another vast quarry then down to Bonsall, which is an attractive, historic former lead-mining village set in steep-sided converging limestone dales. Here we regained the Limestone Way, climbing steadily to Uppertown and on through field paths to Ible and then back to our start point in Grangemill.

The group pose for a photograph at Bonsall Cross.

This article will be published in the Macclesfield Express and is scheduled to appear on the 1st August with the photograph at Bonsall Cross.

Our visit to the Buxton Mountain Rescue

Written by Steve Hull

East Cheshire Ramblers spent a fascinating and informative evening as guests of the Buxton Mountain Rescue team at their headquarters in Dove Holes. The visit began with an overview of the history and current organisation of mountain rescue in the Peak District. The Buxton team is one of seven groups which between them provide coverage of the Peak District, stretching from Oldham and Woodhead in the north to Derby in the south. Each team covers its own area but can call on assistance from the others when needed. Mountain Rescue groups cooperate closely with the other emergency services and provide expertise and equipment which they do not have. The service is purely voluntary, relying on members giving up their own time to train and keep their skills up to date as well as attending incidents. Members can be called out at any time and rely on the understanding of employers to allow them to help in emergency situations.
We were shown much of the equipment that the team has available to enable them to help members of the public in difficulties in hill country. This ranges from the cheap and easily available such as sit-mats and mosquito nets through complex and expensive specialised stretchers up to fully equipped ambulances and headquarters vehicles. The team also carry a range of drugs and other medical equipment to help in emergencies on the hills.
To lend a practical aspect to the visit, Ralph volunteered to be strapped on to a stretcher and into the associated body bag designed to hold casualties in position while they are being evacuated across rough ground.
As well as their own resources the team are able to call on various helicopters to rescue casualties from difficult or remote places when it is essential to get a casualty to hospital quickly.
Another aspect of mountain rescue is searching for missing people. This can sometimes involve the use of dogs in the search.
As can be imagined, this equipment imposes a heavy burden on finances – a stretcher can cost several thousand pounds. It is vitally important that those of us who enjoy activities in the hills contribute to the work of mountain rescue. Donations can be made to the Buxton team on their web page at www.buxtonmountainrescue.org.uk. Our visit raised £110 through initial booking fees and a further £139 pounds from a bucket collection at the end of the evening.
We came away from the visit with heightened respect for the work that the team does in helping to keep us all safe while we enjoy the wonderful Peak District countryside. Our thanks go to Brian who organised the evening (and the meal in Combs beforehand) and to Linda who provided tea and cake during the talk. They also supplied the photographs for this article.
If other members would like to look at the work done by the team, Brian has details of his contacts within the Buxton team. You are assured of an interesting and informative evening.
A shortened version of this article will appear in the Macclesfield Express on the 25th July.

Malham Coach walk

A few photographs from the Malham ‘long walk’ on Saturday 14th July. A great walk led by Brian Griffiths.

Its about time for a scramble. The way ahead involves climbing the waterfall which on this occasion had dried up.

The climb begins whilst others long on anxiously.

A view down into the abyss at Gordale Scar. The long walkers ascended out of this.

The climb continues to reach the plateau.

Heading towards the morning coffee break above Gordale Scar.

The long walkers lunch stop with a view towards Darnbrook.

Afternoon break beside Malham Tarn. (Panoramic view).

Smiling faces as the group walk along Ing Scar.

Making the descent beside Malham Cove.

The view back towards Malham Cove towards the end of the 13.5 mile long walk.