and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out, and you always have a signal. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Two bike rides near Fordingbridge

The first in Boxing Day was about six miles of gentle riding pretty much along the Avon Valley, towards Ibsley and Harbridge.
We returned later to sketch the church.

Cold but bright.

The second on Dec 27 2016, probably just over ten miles?
From Fordingbridge and up to Whitsbury, with its large stud farm, and entrance for visiting mares . . .  imagined by Harry as elegantly dressed for the visit to the local gentlemen . . .

Then down to Rockbourne of Roman Villa fame, and back via Sandleheath. We were not tempted to see if the Augustus John produced better coffee than fish and chips. Ok, we must have hit a bad day a couple of years ago!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lamport and Draughton

Thursday 08 Dec 2016. 10 am. With Maureen and Gordon. 5.6 miles. Some muddy fields, but we have seen worse!  Weather a little drizzly to start with, but the sun emerged occasionally before we finished the walk.

Time seems to be standing still in this part of Northamptonshire, judging by the church clocks.

We leave  Lamport  at about 10am - or 3.05? . . . 
From Lamport we walked along the pavement next to the A508 towards Harborough , then took the bridleway to our left downhill to the Brampton Valley Way.
Sheep on the bridleway down to the Brampton Valley Way
 We turned right along the dismantled railway track, crossing the A508 once more and continuing for about a mile. 

Mosaics - and plenty of benches along the old railway
We left the Brampton Valley Way , turning right just after an old footbridge, a short distance before Draughton Crossing. We headed slightly uphill across a field planted with a crop. the path was clear and not too muddy. Then we kept to the edge of the next field for a while, but had to brave another muddy patch just before Draughton. The way was not clear at the end, but there is a stile in the top left corner, before reaching Home Farm. Another stile took us onto the Maidwell Road into Draughton. We went straight ahead to the church, and had a break and snack in the church porch.
One hour later in Draughton - it's 3.15!

Refreshed and ready for action after a break

I'm not sure what this flowering shrub is.
 We followed the road out of the village, and turned right when we came to a footpath sign.
The first section of this was no problem, but we had to cross another large field, with no signs that we could see, in order to reach a fairly busy stretch of road near Short Wood and Shortwood House.  We turned right along the road, then left along a byway past a house of barking dogs.

There were glimpses of fairytale countryside through hazy sunshine - very pretty.
A lovely view if you could see it better
We turned right near the top of a slope along a pleasant wooded path, before following field edges to the road into Lamport. We turned right and followed our noses back to the car.
A path through the woods returning towards Lamport.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Harringworth, Shotley, Wakerley, Barrowden, Harringworth.

With Marta on a murky day - we saw the sun, veiled by mist, briefly! This is the same walk as on October 31st 2016, but in reverse, checking a few details of the route. For some reason it seems to have been over 8 miles this time.

We had a sandwich in the Community Shop at Barrowden.
Yes, it's definitely a red kite.

The vegetation around Barrowden Mill pond has been cleared

A duck with a topknot? A doodle?

Harringworth- Barrowden-Wakerley- Shotley- H'worth

Monday 5 December 9.20 am. With Harry, Maureen, Gordon and Eddie. The walk covered mostly the same ground as the walk on November 8th 2016. 7.3 miles. Fine though not as clear as last time. A frosty start but some fields were muddy later. 

Lots of fieldfares in evidence, as well as a heron and red kites. 

We started the walk by turning left from the road past the stables, and crossing the field full of horses.
The path continues by the Welland, crossing Turtle Bridge, and later the disused railway line, before tackling the drag up the fields to Barrowden.

We rewarded ourselves with cake and coffee at the table near Barrowden duckpond. The ducks had a little ice free area to swim in.

We went along Mill Lane and followed the Jurassic Way path past the pond, before crossing the footbridge over the Welland.

The path crosses the field, and then there's a bridge under the disused railway. The track leads to the main road through Wakerley.
We turn right and follow the road round until we reach a metal gate with a stile next to it after the last farmhouse. We take this path, with a minor diversion to avoid a very muddy field where sheep are feeing on the remains of the crop. At the road we turn right and walk for a short distance before turning left along a bridleway - it's the first surfaced track, though the bridleway sign is no longer clear since it was chopped with the hedge cutter.

We continue to the bridleway above Shotley with views of the viaduct, and follow the Jurassic Way down hill into Shotley and then Harringworth.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kings Cliffe and Apethorpe

01 December 2016, 10.07 am.  With Maureen. 7.4 miles. 220 feet of ascent. Glorious weather, cold and bright. Some places were muddy underfoot as the ice melted.

Similar route to this one from three and a half years ago, but slightly longer.

View of Kings Cliffe church from Morehay Lane

Kings Cliffe housescape in the sun

Maureen enjoying the weather

Ok, the red kite didn't fly away immediately, but the camera focussed on the tree in the foreground . . .

. . . so I tried to get nearer, but branches obscured the view.
No third photograph, the bird flew!

Apethorpe's castellated water tower

A larg herd of deer, watching us watching them.

The weather front approaches
A fine walk in excellent conditions. Much enjoyed.
The icing on the mudcake was a flock of fieldfares flying from the bushes on the last half mile or so. Too small and quick to snap.

Empingham circular via Normanton

Monday 28 Nov 2016, 9.40 am.  Just Norma and me today. We had glorious weather, cold and sunny, with little wind. 7.5 miles.

The walk was the same as this one, but in reverse.  We had to negotiate six or seven stiles, but conditions underfoot were good, and as always the views over Rutland Water excellent.

We arrived at the cafe in Normanton car park soon after it opened at 11, finished walking arounf 12.30 pm, and drove to Wellies cafe at Rutland Garden Centre for lunch - sandwich and salad.

We saw lots of small birds with pale undersides in one of the fields - too small for fieldfares we thought - could they be corn buntings or meadow pipits? They had a fluttery up-and-down sort of flight.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fineshade - Kings Cliffe - Blatherwycke

With Maureen. 10 am Thursday 24 November. Dry but cold and cloudy. Just over 6 and a half miles. Surprisingly little mud or bog. The route is the same as this one.

From car park at Top Lodge, we walked through the cafe building and turned left, following the main track. Keep straight on past the Westhay Wood sign, ignoring all turns until you reach the wood yard above King's Cliffe.  We walked along the road downhill to the village, and crossed the main road. 

We took the path parallel to the main road, between it and the Willow Brook. It continues past allotments, and through a couple of fields and then to a footbridge over the brook. Keep the stream on your right until you reach Alders Farm - the path is clearly marked.  
We had to cross a ploughed field at this point, though it was pretty firm underfoot.  After this we kept along the hedge until the path divides. Follow the left-hand branch through the break in the hedge and along to Blatherwycke Lake.

We passed some young trees which should look good in autumn in a few years. The path continues, with clear signs. 

A rather fine building and the church lie to the left of the path.  The path itself leads to the southern end of the village of Blatherwycke.

We turned right along the road - in one of the gardens was this white peacock.
We had a fairly brief break on a seat on the far side of the bridge.

Our route continued along the road past Glebe Farm, and at the second turning to the left, the footpath leaves the junction and is clearly marked across three fields, then follows the edge of a fourth field round to the corner of Lynn Wood, where it joins the Jurassic Way from Wakerley Woods.

Fineshade Abbey stables came into view, and a field with Jacob's sheep.  We took the path uphill towards a small building, climbed the stile and followed the narrow path between two fences - with views of the ornamental lake. This path was a bit muddy.

The well-signed path heads across the meadow, into the woods and finally through a field until you reach the road from the A43 to Top Lodge.

We finished our outing with lunch at the Top Lodge cafe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Along the Roaches

With Harry. Saturday 19 November. Very cold and windy, snow on the ground, sun in the sky. Some very boggy sections on lower footpaths, but a very satisfying walk all the same.
About 8 miles, with about 1000 feet of ascent, to a high point of around 1657 feet (505 meters).

When we woke up on Saturday morning there was plenty of snow on the ground, and the moon was playing hide and seek through the mist. After breakfast the mist had gone, and there was a hint of sunshine. 

We were staying at Anroach Farm, and set off along the drive/track, then turned right along a boggy footpath.

Clouds mimicking the shape of the rocks

A hardy horse

Across the boggy path
We headed southwest toward Gib Tor Rocks. 
From the rocks we followed the road west to a junction where we took the track to Moss End farm. Just before the farm our path branches off to the left going downhill between two walls. It was very muddy - not great!  When we reached the valley we found the footpath sign "To Roach End" - but still the conditions were not easy.
Onwards and upwards
We crossed the brook and climbed gently up to Roach End, (403 meters high)  where we met the road, crossed over and began the walk to the summit (505 meters). This part of the walk was cold and windy in parts, but underfoot conditions were much better, and the views were magnificent, with Tittesworth Reservoir to the south, and the dish of Jodrell Bank Observatory to the west on the Cheshire plain.
Tittesworth reservoir
 We even found a sheltered spot behind a large rock for our coffee break. 
Plenty of people up here on such a fine day to be out. There's parking space at the other end.
Up on the ridge is Doxey Pool - I was not tempted to dip my feet in today!
Legend has it that this pool is inhabited by a mermaid called Jenny Greenteeth , also known as the blue nymph. She fell in the pool on a foggy day whilst walking along the top of the Roaches. Ever since that day she has been enticing unsuspecting victims down to the pool and to their watery grave. . .

Looking down southwards

From the southern end of the Roaches
We passed groups of rock climbers, groups of walkers and the odd group who didn't look quite prepared for the conditions and were finding it tricky. If you wandered from the path the terrain was pretty rough and steep. 

Once on the path the way down to the road was straightforward. There is a tea room about half a mile towards Upper Hulme but we didn't visit it today.  
Hen Cloud - to the south of the Roaches
Instead we decided to head back following a footpath north and slightly east which meets a minor road where we turned right. We passed a couple of footpath signs and another road joined us from the right. At the junction with yet another road, near Newstone Farm we picked up a footpath which took us pretty well north all the way to Gib Tor Farm.

The terrain was rough, and boggy in places, but I have rarely met a patch as boggy and impossible to avoid as the last few yards before we reached the road at Gib Tor Farm.
Luckily it was less than a mile back to base from there, but it has taken two days for my boots to dry out! I'd do it all again, but would take spare socks next time.