Archive for January 2014

“Twas a dark and stormy October”   10 comments

October half-term week at my parents caravan in mid-Wales is an annual fixture for us. We’ve had some superb weather the past few years with some sunny walks on the beach and in the nearby mountains. Not this year. The weather was cold, wet, grey and miserable most of the time although I was only there for the two weekends at either end.

Still we got out and about so here are a few photos and some words about our little adventures:

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Lots of dark skies and seas to challenge this budding photographer.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

And some wildlife, including a seal who we followed up the beach for 30 minutes as he swam and played in the waves a few metres from the beach. Not bad for photos of grey deal in a grey sea under a grey sky

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Storms arrived to batter the coast along with a little sunshine to brighten the mood

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The following day was dark and bleak with a beach covered in foam and a wind you could barely stand up.

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

The dark skies matched my mood as I had to head home and go back to work for a week while TBF and the kids stayed the rest of the week.

When I returned the weather was, well, much worse, a day of torrential rain while I sat in the caravan and worked. The day after was ever so so slightly better. Torrential rain with the occasional sunny interval. Encouraged we headed out to the Hafod Estate to look at the waterfalls guessing they would be impressive after such a wet spell and indeed they were.

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

Hafod Estate

You can look at a more detailed post from our visit a couple of years back

That evening there was a high tide and combined with strong winds the sea overwhelmed the coast. The car park at the beach was strewn with driftwood where the tide had flowed in over the foreshore. We took another walk along the promenade at Aberystwyth and were stunned to see how much beach was now on the road and the damage to the pavement and railings

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

I’ve been coming down her for most of my life and I don’t recall seeing this happen before. Never ceases to amaze me the power of the sea and the damage that can be done to seemingly solid structures in the spate of a few hours.

As you may know over Xmas and New Year these storms and high tides returned with even more furious force and have pretty much destroyed the same stretch of sea-front. I can only hope that the the local authority can provide the necessary funds to restore this wonderful seafront that has such a special place in my memory. As we strolled along the prom and through the castle grounds we had no idea of the destruction that was to follow. It will be interesting to see the recovery when we return again in March

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

A walk back over the Constitution Hill and back to Clarach for a final stroll on the beach before leaving all behind for the winter

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

Aberystwyth, Clarach Bay

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Football, Curry and Hiking – the perfect weekend combination   16 comments

Past few years since I gave up my season ticket at Manchester City me, Uncle Fester and Geordie Munro have had an annual boys weekend away in Manchester. Tradition dictates a Saturday with a fried breakfast in a cafe, pre-match beers, the match, post match beers (involving visits to pubs from our University days) and then a curry. Sunday is a day for walking in the Peak. A classic weekend combination. This year the weather was kind to us and so were the football (City beat Everton 3-1), the beers at various establishments (a couple too many if I’m honest) and the the curry in West Didsbury. This year I even got my first ride on a Manchester tram so all boxes were ticked.

Sunday was a fine and sunny day and after another fiesta of fried pork products we headed out to the Saddleworth Edges for a walk.

The views across Manchester from Uncle Fester’s place were grand

Manchester, City of Manchester Stadium

Manchester

I’ve not been up here since my university days in the 80’s (a cold, snowy day if memory serves) when we used Public Transport to get about. I must have got the bus to Dove Stone, walked over to Black Hill and back to Glossop to get the bus home. As per one of my recent posts my memory in fact does not serve me well these days so who knows the actual details.

Times have changed though and we drove across this time, parking in a lay-by to avoid parking fees (we’re all prize tightskates) and, as it happened, to avoid a wasted drive into said car park as it was absolutely packed. Seems Dove Stone reservoir is now a well-known and popular spot. There were huge numbers of people and families walking and cycling by the lake shore and the lake itself was crowded with sailing boats.

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

dove stone reservoir, Saddleworth

Our route was to follow the Chew Brook up to Chew Reservoir and then along the western edges to Birchen Clough and Greenfield Brook before completing the circuit past Greenfield, Yeoman Hey and Dove Stone reservoirs. Turned into quite a long walk of nearly 11 miles.

Saddleworth

11 miles

Once we started up the road we left the crowds behind.

Chew Brook, Saddleworth

It’s metalled road so it takes something away from the remote surroundings but progress was easy and after a snack stop at Dish Stone Rocks we arrived at bleak moorland Chew reservoir complete with Helicopter in attendance.

Dish Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

Chew Brook, Saddleworth

After crossing the dam and the soggy expanse of Dish Stone Moss we hit the edge and the walk from here is tremendous, peering down over the reservoirs and across to the Tower Blocks of Oldham and the City centre of Manchester.

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

dish stone moss, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Oldham, Saddleworth

We were also under the flight path into Manchester Airport so I tried a few shots of the passing planes without much success. More practice needed at photographing fast moving objects through a zoom lens

Saddleworth

Saddleworth

We lunched somewhere near Little or Great Dove Stone Rocks and pressed on round the edge.

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

GM left us to head home after we crossed Ashway Clough and me and UF completed the route following Raven Stones to Birchen Clough. This section was airy and elevated and real delight as were the dark confines of Birchen Clough itself.

raven stones, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

The cloughs of the dark peak are some of my favourite places in the UK. It’s a pity that I get to see them so infrequently these days. I think a few weekends up this way are called for

After scrambling down the sides of the many waterfalls, we followed the long return besides the reservoirs. The sun that we lost in Birchen Clough returned and the views of the sun shimmering off the water were sublime.

greenfield reservoir, Saddleworth

yeoman hey reservoir, Saddleworth

yeoman hey reservoir, Saddleworth

As we approached Dove Stone so did the crowds so we pressed on back across the dam to the car without pause to complete what had been a really great walk and top drawer weekend.

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

I await the football fixtures for next season to plan the next boys weekend 🙂

“This is a local post for local people”   8 comments

When you have a new toy you just have to go out and play! Keen to try and use my camera properly I’ve been heading out at every opportunity to learn it’s potential and mine!

A video compilation and some photos from a couple of local walks, one on Merbach Hill and one to Longtown back in September and October. I’ve posted walks a few times for these so if you want read up you can check them out at the links at the bottom of this post

Merbach Hill

TJF climbing trees again

Merbach Hill

Celendine I think?

Merbach Hill

Parasol Mushroom

Merbach Hill

Fungus on a grand scale

Merbach Hill

Blackberries

Merbach Hill

Weird fungus

Merbach Hill

Crane Fly

Longtown

Black Mountains from Longtown

Longtown

Buzzard – again I think?

Longtown, Clodock Church

Clodock Church

Longtown

Holly

Longtown, Clodock Church

Fields above Clodock Church

Longtown

TJS tangles with the overgrown stile!

Longtown

Chestnuts (not bad taken in the shade with a zoom lens!)

Longtown, Clodock Church

Clodock Church

Longtown

Probably a Parasol Mushroom!

Longtown

Funsters

Longtown

Final View

Longtown – March 2011

Merbach Hill – March 2011

Merbach Hill and Longtown – November 2011

The Annual Silverdale Pilgrimage   4 comments

My mate Mark and his lovely TBH have very kindly offered up their splendid home as a makeshift hostel for a friends and offspring gathering every September/October for the past couple of years. Despite the fact that all the kids make lots of noise, lots of mess and eat them out of house and home (the adults behave far more respectfully!) they has continued that tradition and we all decamped there in mid September last year.  You can read Mark’s account on his own blog here and my musical compilation is below

This is the third time we’ve visited and we’ve had some mixed weather. Back in 2011 the weather was pretty grey and dreary but last year it was superb. This year it appeared the ghost of 2011 was back and Saturday was dank and damp. We compensated for this disappointment by eating huge quantities of food as breakfast moved effortlessly into lunch. Feeling bloated we felt that some exercise was required so we dragged as many of the kids as we could encourage out for  a walk.

Lancaster, Ashton Memorial

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

This area is just superb for easy walks with a maze of paths and lots of interesting stuff to explore, woods, coast, small hills, limestone crags and the like. I don’t recall the exact route but I think we went down through Scout Wood and along the coast to Jenny Brown’s Point.

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

I was a happy man as I had a new toy to play with. I take lots of photos when I’m out and I’ve always wanted to take things up a notch to the next level so I decided to treat myself to a DSLR. It’s a Canon EOS 60D with a Sigma 18-250 lens for those toggers amongst you and this was first time out with it. 4 months on I’m still getting used to what it can do and there is so much to learn but I’m enjoying the experience.

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

Down at Jenny Brown’s Point we found some pretty remarkable fossils. Mark was surprised that he’d never noticed these before although we guessed that perhaps the topsoil had only recently been washed away to expose them. I was still trying to get used to my camera and the taking of macro shots so the photos don’t really do them justice but they are superb, many were several centimetres long.

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point, fossils

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point, fossils

We ambled back through Scout Wood just enjoying being out even though it was a pretty colourless outing under the grey skies.

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

Silverdale, Jenny Brown's Point

Back home the eating festival started again as we tucked into a huge (and now traditional) curry feast from the local takeaway and mighty fine it was too.

Sunday brought a much better day and we set off heading for the Limestone outcrop of Warton Crag. Mark has posted about it several times and I drive over it when I go to his place so I was keen to see it.

Silverdale

Silverdale

The local fields were flushed green under the blue sky and we headed across to Leighton Moss, a well known bird watching spot. However, today there was not much to view and I discovered how hard it is taking photos of fast moving insects (dragonflies in this case) with a zoom lens. Practice needed. Still Leighton Moss is fine place just to walk through

Silverdale, Leighton Moss

We walked up to the top of Summer House Hill and pitched up for some lunch as the views were grand. Well they were until we sat down when low cloud rolled in to cover up the views accompanied by a cold wind.

Silverdale, Summer House Hill

Silverdale, Summer House Hill

Silverdale, Summer House Hill

We decided it wasn’t worth the walk to Warton Crag so instead we went a circuitous walk via Cringlebarrow, Deepdale, Yealand Allotment and on to Hawes Water (thanks Mark – I had no real idea where we went after lunch). The sun came out again and pleasant warm strolling returned, the walk enlivened by the Beach Funsters and others getting temporarily misplaced!

Ingleborough, Silverdale

Silverdale, Yealand Allotment

Hawes Water is a fine spot I’ve visited many times now and must be a fabulous spot in spring and early summer when I guess it would teem with life and colour

Silverdale, Hawes Water

Back the house via Eaves Wood for another meal before we reluctantly had to head home. The late evening sunshine gave some fine views from the garden (and attic roof window) as well as a cracking sunset from church next door

Silverdale

Silverdale

Silverdale

As always a huge thanks to Mark and his family for their hospitality and another great weekend to cheer everyone through the post summer blues and impending days (and what wet days they have been) of autumn and winter

“Now what did I do that weekend?”   8 comments

Playing catch up with my blog posts I found some photos on my camera I’d completely forgotten about. This kind of thing is happening more as I get older. Lack of memory for important things due to space taken up by a head full of pointless trivia. I reckon I could survive without the knowledge of which little known British actor did the Schweppes drinks adverts in the 70’s (it was William Franklyn if you’re interested – I know, unbelievably sad) and use that space to remember, let’s say, what I was doing 4 months ago. Or more importantly by way of example, remember to do my tax return on time and not get fined. I’d pay a kings ransom (well at least £10) to get my hands on technology that would allow access to my brain and delete all this useless information and make room for the important things. A brain defragmentation tool.

Anyway I digress. I discovered photos of a weekend at my parents caravan in Wales that I’d forgotten ever took place. Apart from having a beach fire to toast some marshmallows with the kids on the Saturday afternoon I can remember nothing else about the weekend. Judging by the photos we had quite a nice time and the sun shone.

Before we get to that here are some other photos I’d taken and forgotten, of a rather superb sunset taken from my back garden. You would think such a fiery sky would evoke some powerful memories but alas I have no recollection. Well, that’s the joy of photos I suppose!

Madley, Sunset

Madley, Sunset

Looking at the date and time of these photos it would appear that we took a walk on the seafront in Aberystwyth on the Saturday afternoon. No idea what we did in the morning. Without photos it seems I’m a little lost these days.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Later in the afternoon I do remember the beach fire, mainly for the reason of how difficult it is to light a fire on an open beach in the wind. Good fun though and Clarach beach has a huge supply of tinder dry driftwood so once you get it going you’re in the game. The kids enjoyed it and being a bloke of course I had a whale of a time as well – we love playing with fire do us middle aged chaps.

Clarach Bay

Clarach Bay

Clarach Bay

Sunday morning has gone into the recycle bin as well, but Sunday afternoon we must have gone back to Aberystwyth to watch the waves bashing the promenade – well that’s what the photos say.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth

What a great weekend that probably was or must have been…..

Posted January 3, 2014 by surfnslide in Clarach Bay, Family Trips, Mid Wales, Wales

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Summer Holidays (2013!) – A Wrap Up   8 comments

Here we are, a New Year has dawned and as I sit listening to the rain battering the conservatory roof I’m still writing up posts from the summer 🙂

My final report from my summer holidays in France – a mixed bag of stuff that wasn’t worth a post of their own – a wrap up. The video compilation is below for those who prefer some music to my rambling words:

We took a little jaunt up to the Tour de Batere for a picnic lunch. Me and TJS did a walk from here last year

Tour de la Batere

Tour de Batere

The cloud socked in while we driving up there but it made a pleasant change from lunch by the house. It’s one of my favourite spots with the views enhanced by the presence of the ruined tower.

Tour de Batere

Tour de Batere

Me and TJS took a walk in the hills above the Gorges de Mondony. I’d spotted a peak called Roc de Saint Salvador that looked interesting and had a path marked to the top. The drive along the gorge was spectacular with the road hugging the cliff edges with precipitous drops.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

TJS seems to have an unseen other-worldy power that influences my judgement to find the most overgrown paths and he did it again on this day.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

The marked path simply wasn’t there and we spent an interesting hour on steep earthy slopes, overgrown with trees and prickly shrubs before we decided we’d been quite foolish enough. The summit we were heading for wasn’t getting much closer (from the brief glimpses we had through the undergrowth). Just as we were about to head back we emerged on a little open platform of rock with expansive views so we had a second breakfast and enjoyed the surrounds.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

My efforts were further rewarded by the find of an old pair of sunglasses gathering dirt, dust and cobwebs that also provided evidence that I wasn’t alone in believing the paths marked on French IGN Maps. Mind you the kids think I look stupid in said sunglasses but they were free and I’m a prize tightskate so who cares.

After saying a farewell to our hosts at Can Galan we started the long journey home. We stopped off for a half a day of river fun at the Gorges de Verdouble. Great place for a swim and picnic although well-known and pretty busy

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

I wrote up in more detail when we visited last year

And that was about it. We stopped off in the Dordogne for a couple of days. We visited the Chateau de Bonaguil but I left my camera in the car (last years visit here), and took another day out kayaking on the Dordogne. It was cloudy and the hire shop was strangely deserted (it’s a popular pastime). An hour into the journey I worked out why. Everyone else had checked the weather forecast. It started to rain. Heavily. Really heavily. Kayaking in the rain with the family is not much fun but worse was sitting around in the pishing rain waiting for the bus to take us back. Not exactly an ideal day and unsurprisingly no photos. You can check out our trip last year to what a fantastic trip this should be.

On our final day before heading home we relaxed by the river for a couple of hours (these are the only photos I took in the Dordogne!) before a nice lunch and an afternoon of more tree climbing adventures.

Dordogne, Castelnaud

Dordogne, Castelnaud

No photos (forgot camera again) but I can say this course was well hard – we were exhausted when we finished but in good spirits. A fine and fitting end to great trip.

Now, what I have been doing for the past 4 months…..

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