Friday, 28 December 2012

Running (Strictly Style!) - 27th December

Sir Bruce: Although this is a last run of 2012, it's also the 1st of the new season.
Anton will be performing the post–festive jog along the muddy canal towpath, a 55 minute, 7km slowstep.

Sir Bruce: Here he is in training!
Finishing a very wet Great North Run – in my road running era – in 1980?
Sir Bruce: Well done indeed – marvellous to see such enthusiasm in the rain! Over to you Len.

Len: I like to see the contestants having a go – and you certainly did that for me.
Yes, it could have had more balance and flowed more but for a first run it was a solid beginning to the season. Well done son!
Bruno: Anton – you dark horse – going out at 3.30pm in the almost dark.
A slowstep of slithering simplicity safely shuffled. Go for it – you know you can do more!

Craig: Your steps were lumpy and stacato, you completely stopped at the benches
for a stretch and slipped several times. However, you showed more movement on the return. Not a complete disaster darling!

Darcy: Plenty of enthusiasm for such a difficult first dance. I would have liked to have seen  more poise in the upper body, work on your core will help.

Sir Bruce: Plenty of suggestions there – off you go.

Tess: Craig said 'your steps were lumpy and stacato'.

Me: I can agree to that – I was uncertain how it would go after the festive fun. The return section was better and I felt more at ease coming back. I can certainly improve.
Tess: The scores are in!

Craig – 5 ; Darcy – 6 ; Len – 7 ; Bruno – 7

Sir Bruce: Til next week then, keep running!!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Early Winter 2012 – Ice and Anticipation!

We've had one spell of cold weather, sufficient to ice the Marina pool over. With prolonged sub-zero temperatures, the marina turn off and drain the water supply pipes as these run under the pontoon and are therefore vulnerable. We topped up our tank (about 170 gallons) and have an electric fan heater we leave on frost protection – a benefit of being on mains hook-up in the Marina.

2cm thick ice

Boatman's Cabin fire lit

Having enjoyed this year's Carol Concert playing with Rode Hall Silver Band, we headed to Durham to stop with our Northern Woollies.

The occasion (apart from the exchange of the families' presents) was to enjoy our Grandson's nursery Nativity Play – held in the local church and excellent it was too.

The whole of the nursery group; children, parents, grandparents, helpers and friends walked through the driving rain to their warm and welcoming village hall for a cup of tea and Christmas bites.

And then a special Christmas visitor arrived and gave out a seasonal present to each Nursery child – being an educational establishment – FC brought a book (and chocolates)!

For us adults, we had the pleasure of sharing the excitement of the little ones, and memories re-kindled of past enjoyment at this great time.

So, in anticipation of the festive occasion, I wish you all a Happy Christmas, wherever you are and whatever you are doing!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Early Winter 2012 – Wintry Walking!

As 2012 comes to a close, there has been time to get some walking done. Sometimes by myself and others with the Ramblers.

On a blowy day in late November, I walked up from Sutton on the Macclesfield Forest 'Horseshoe'. The first climb is up Tegg's Nose and then having dropped down the east face, climbed steadily up through Macc Forest to Forest Chapel for lunch.

  Forest Chapel – originally from 1673 and rebuilt by the Victorians in 1834, in sandstone with Kerridge quarry roof slates.

The porch makes a great stop-over place for a bite to eat and a coffee – often in the company of other walkers!
My route then threaded back into the forest and climbed up to the top Standing Stone car park. On the road corner is the 'Walter Stone'.

This route then takes the ridge across to Shutlingsloe and back down through the forest, back to the car at Sutton. I reckon I covered about 11 miles (including the 2 miles from Sutton to the hills) and climbed about 1380 feet.

Looking up at the climb up to Shutlingsloe at 1660ft.

Having joined the Ramblers, I met up with them in Kerridge for a loop around Rainow on one of our cold and sunny days.

In Cheshire, you are never far away from canals – here we used the Macclesfield Canal to get the distance around Bollington.

Looking north at Bollington Wharf – our old mooring – with the impressive Adelphi Mill on the left. Cold and icy!

Just a little further on, the striking chimney of Clarence Mill with the ramblers ahead

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Early Winter – Out and About

Now we are back in the Marina, I have more easily followed my range of leisure activities!
The joys of retirement?!
As a member of the local Audlem Ramblers, we went down to the Wyre Forest. We came across the unexpected sight of a falconer's bird of prey caught by it's jessie's on a barbed-wire fence.
The guys cut the bird free

Chris holding the freed bird of prey – a peregrine?

As winter slowly arrives, there have been some great sunsets – a benefit of the open aspect of the Marina. Here is a view looking west across the pool.

Overwater Marina gets used as an easy launching location, on this occasion for the Land and Water contractors who have been working on some piling to tidy the pound below Lock 4 on the Audlem flight of locks.

Lifting off the boat sledge

Onto the lorry – now on it's way to the Montgomery Canal at Welshpool
There is easy (though muddy) access from the Marina, via Bridge 82, to the canal towpath.
Here I had the pleasure of catching the tug “Taurus” ticking along with a Gardner 2LW – heading for the Marina for a mooring.

The same day, I walked up to the Audlem Top Lock, where they are replacing the lock gates.
A new lock beam awaiting installation

Health and Safety fencing obscure the renovation work

Friday, 9 November 2012

'From the Archives' – How It All Began - 1990?

This post is about the past – from the Archives!

We had moved to Macclesfield and Chris was working with a colleague who had a boat.
Also, just down the ginnel lived Sally and John – we had met them via similar aged children at the local school. John had a boat.
So, in the summer of 1990, the plan was hatched to borrow Colin's boat –called Noggin – and set off from Macclesfield in convoy with John and Sally on their boat - called Shed's Gone.

My previous links with canals had been as a boy fishing in the canal near Uxbridge (presumably on what I now know to be the Grand Union) and most recently, using the towpath as a convenient (level) route for training runs.

So, with our bags of gear, we drove to Mr.Massey's Farm where Noggin was moored, complete with key. As we walked along the field edge where was the deluxe, spacious narrowboat that Colin had described, …?

And so we opened up the 23 foot long Shetland Cruiser and piled on board– that is, Mum and Dad, three teenagers and two Collie dogs.

The rest is a happy blur of warm memories as we cruised the Four Counties (with only one rainy day – in Stoke!)

John's Shed's Gone moored ahead of Borrowed Noggin
[Shed's Gone was a 34ft Springer - great little boat!]
We seemed to have loads of time and got down to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port, meeting up with my parents in Chester.

Photo taken by my Father - already featuring on eldest son's Facebook

The following year, the weather was also brilliant and we borrowed the boat on several occasions to cruise up and down the Macclesfield Canal.

Noggin and Crewe at Higher Poynton on the Macclesfield Canal - sunny days!

And so our love of canals was born – a big thank you to Colin for letting us use Noggin and to John and Sally for 'teaching' us the ways of the 'cut'.
By a year later, both my parents had sadly died and our share of the estate was an unexpected gift – in sad circumstances. My Mother and Father had met us in Chester, all squashed into Noggin and having so much fun. I'm sure they would have approved of our purchase with the inheritance money – yes, you've got there – a narrow boat!

And that's another story or three …?!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Mountain Marathon

Mountain Marathon – the Howgills 27/28th Oct
Sedbergh Event Centre

This posting has nothing to do with canals though a lot to do with water!

Sometime back in March, Daniel and I agreed to have a go at this year's Mountain Marathon.
Having entered we learnt it was to be on the Howgills (seen on the right from the M6 after the Kendal turning) – one of my favourite areas where I have competed several times (a long time ago!).

Dan and I had got together just the once in May to walk over the hills near Llangollen and thereafter agreed to prepare through individual training.
We are no strangers to the rigours of the Mountain Marathon – I have competed in 13 such events and completed 9 of them, having got injured/run out of time to finish in 4.
Daniel and I have done 3 together, though the last Autumn one was in 1993 and the last Summer one in 2003!

My pre-event training mainly consisted of walking with the Ramblers and a couple of solo walks to build time on my feet to the 6 hours needed. I also did some gentle running, mainly on the Isles of Scilly and along the canal towpath.
Daniel has run in London, building up from nothing to creditable hour long runs.

We travelled up on the Friday in our motorvan and got a good pitch on a car park. A great advantage given how wet it has been.
The Event Centre was based in the Sedbergh School and the first job was to get our kit out and checked off on the Team Sheet, we were Team 1340 – doing the Medium Score Class.

Duly checked in, we had a walk around the Town and discussed team tactics in a bustling local hostelry.
  Van parking for the weekend

As predicted, Saturday's weather was bright and cold with a frost, even in the town. It was also quite windy! The start was some 2 miles away and the walk was a welcome stretch.
Waiting at the Start
Just before our Saturday Start at 9.40am

Our Medium Score Class required us to navigate on the mountain to control locations to collect as many points as we can and get to the overnight camp within the 6 hour time limit. Having got our maps, the route is basically up!

Dan catching his breath!

Sunny and cold - me catching my breath!
First big climb and a photo! It was frozen on top.
Looking back to where we've come from

Dropping down to the road crossing after 4 hours

One of the rivers we crossed
 At the end of Day1, we had collected 100 points and although made a navigational mistake, got back in 5 hours 30 mins – an overnight position of 194th. Not bad given we had walked most of the way, covered about 12 miles and climbed about 4,500ft.
The overnight camp is something to behold with tents everywhere – and the occasional plaintive shout when someone can't find their way back from the water/toilet point.
Tent city
Well earned rest after a cup of tea!
Hey up! We got 'selected' for a kit check!
We passed of course!
After a night of little sleep, the cold, cramp and the rain – yes it's Day2 and a ReadyBrek treat for the 5 hours back! We set off at 8.17am.
And it rained and rained!

That's where we're going!
Unfortunately, I made another navigational error in my orienteering and we used up valuable time trying to find a low point control and failing. Having moved on, we needed to keep an eye on the time.
Make no mistake, these are big mountains and it was a tough day weatherwise.
Having climbed up to approach a control, we needed to contour round and then disaster!
The sole of my right shoe ripped off and was u/s.
The decision was to head for home – putting both socks on the shoeless foot, I hobbled back. At times slipping and at times falling!
After a time check we knew we were going to finish within the 5 hour limit and began to relax a little.
Alas poor Woollie, I knew him well … .
  Heading back

The finish was in sight and we jogged and slithered (me) down to cross the line in 4 hours 32 mins with only 55 points – it gave us a Day2 position of 184th.
We had covered about 11 miles and climbed about 3,400ft.
So elated at finishing with a score and a position – and yet frustrated by orienteering errors and the shoe disaster – we didn't get a final photo?!

Overall, our 155 points gave us 194th out of 209 entries – a Bronze Certificate.

We both know we have it in us to do a lot better – by getting fitter so as able to run more and climb better; carrying less and better kit; getting some orienteering practice in and, a decent pair of fell shoes! Til next year!

A big thank you to Daniel for believing in me and being a good teammate – it may be a surprise but we count in the Vets and came 79th Vet Team!

This is the toughest test of mountain orienteering – and we did OK.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

On Top of the World – or at least Shutlingsloe!

Daniel, our lad, and I have entered this year's Mountain Marathon! Seemed like a good idea at the time – and the time is this weekend!

For preparation, I have been doing some walking with the Audlem Ramblers and last week with the East Cheshire Ramblers. I also did the loop I used to run when with the Macclesfield Harriers.

It was last Friday and I couldn't have picked a better day. Having dropped the car off for it's pre-MOT assessment(it failed!), I then walked out from Macc along the canal up to Langley and took it from there.
Gurnett Cottages, where James Brindley was an Apprentice
Plenty of water in Tegg's Nose Reservoir

First climb of the day – up Tegg's Nose, about 550 feet

Looking south, across to Shutlingsloe
The views from the top of Tegg's are wonderful and you look down onto the Cheshire Plain. There is a good view of Macclesfield and one of the Astra Zeneca works at Hurdsfield.

The route necessarily has some road in it though soon sets across to the Lamaload Reservoir (Bollington water supply). I took a break in the valley to get some food down before the climb up to Shining Tor, which at 1834 feet is the highest point in Cheshire.

  Good morning – from one woollie to another!

Climbing the 740 feet up to Shining Tor
The day was clear and quite warm with good views although a little hazy.
Reasonably good under foot meant my pace was consistent!
Looking over to Shutlingsloe from the top of Cumberland Clough
Cumberland Clough – down I go!
By now, I was tiring and needed to stop several times on the last climb up the steeper slopes of Shutlingsloe – a climb of about 650 feet from the road?
The Trig point on the top of Shutlingsloe, looking north, where I had come from!

A view down, across High Moor to Macclesfield Forest
However good a walk on the fells, it is always good to get back down safely – and so I walked back into Langley. Quite tired by now, I waited at the bus stop when an old colleague from my rugby days offered me a lift to the garage.
Alas, the car had failed the pre-MOT assessment!
Still the walk had been a good, solid piece of preparation for the Mountain Marathon.
I had covered about 15 miles all told with a good 2,000 feet of climb. It had taken six and half hours. Will it have helped for this weekend efforts – we'll have to find out?!