I have no words….

I’m deeply shocked and saddened to have just read this in today’s local paper –
                                                                            SLAUGHTERED
A GANG of youths are believed to have shot and killed a swan at a Bolton canal. The RSPCA and police are investigating the incident, which is said to have taken place on Tuesday afternoon in Little Lever.
Kayleigh Taylor arrived at the scene at around 2.30pm and talked to an eyewitness who had seen the group shoot the bird. Miss Taylor, aged 20, said: “I spoke to a man who had seen a group of youths shoot the swan for fun at 2pm then walk off. They were aged between 16 and 18. “Hopefully someone will know the vile group.”
She added that she had been left ‘devastated’ and said that the male swan and its partner, which was sitting on a nest, had lived on the canal for at least 15 years. Swans mate for life and Miss Taylor said the female has been left ‘very distressed’.
Little Lever swan
Miss Taylor, from Radcliffe, said: “The people who did this haven’t just killed one swan, they have potentially wiped out an entire family as it will be extremely difficult for the female to hatch her clutch of eggs alone.” She urged people to be extra vigilant along the canal and report anybody carrying guns or acting suspiciously.
Miss Taylor said the eyewitness believed the bird was shot with an air rifle.
The RSPCA confirmed that it was called to the incident. A spokesman said: “A woman contacted us on Tuesday afternoon to report the death of a swan in Little Lever. We understand the swan was shot and we will be looking into this incident further. “We would be really concerned if this beautiful bird had been killed deliberately and would like to remind members of the public that it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and, if prosecuted, offenders can face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.”
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said that they were called on Tuesday afternoon to reports of youths shouting. Around 10 youths aged between 16 and 18 had gathered around the banks of the canal and when police arrived they discovered the dead swan.
None of the youths were still in the area when police arrived.
I’ve seen this pair of swans myself several times over the last few years when I’ve been walking the dogs along the canal, in fact I got a lovely photo of the two of them while on my New Year walk in early January this year. Without writing something totally unladylike and unprintable there are no words to describe what I think of the callous low-life(s) who did this. Instead I can only cry – cry for the dead swan, cry for his mate, and cry for the possible loss of any potential young ones. Sometimes people can be so cruel.
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Back after Easter

I arrived home at 3.45pm this afternoon after quite a mixed weekend in more ways than one. Weather-wise things could have been better; the days were mainly dull, grey and cloudy with rain showers, heavy at times and prolonged during the nights, though there was a reasonable amount of sunshine on Saturday but a bitterly cold wind to go with it. Then of course Sod’s Law decreed that today, when I had to pack everything up and come home, it turned out to be glorious all day.
The changeable weather didn’t stop me from getting out and about though and with the exception of an intended canal-side walk I did everything I wanted to do and more besides, including going on a llama trek high up in the Berwyn mountains. I also suffered a few minor irritations, one of which was an unexpected and upsetting encounter with the most obnoxious, verbally aggressive and rude woman I’ve ever met, though fortunately neither that nor any of the other things spoiled the weekend for me.
I’ve taken a total of 223 photos over the four days, though some of those are duplicates so once I start sorting them out that number will be whittled down somewhat. As this isn’t a camping blog I’m only putting a couple of them on here, the best of the rest will find their way onto my other blog once I start writing about the weekend. So here’s a taster of things to come – eventually – over on my ‘tigermousetales’ blog, although the llama trek, which I did yesterday, may possibly feature on here as a Monday walk.
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Felin Uchaf camp site
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Bala lake
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Eddie and Kubera

A walk in two parts and some more local history

A few days of gloriously sunny and warm weather just recently has seen me out and about again with the dogs and the camera, and for the second time in three weeks I parked in the San Marino restaurant car park three miles from home and walked up the rough steep path to the top of Winter Hill. Since my previous walk up there I’d found out about a couple of cairns which I thought might be worth a photo or two so I was on a mission to find them, but first I wanted to find the trig point on the highest part of the hill.
Just beyond the stone gate posts at the top of the path a tarmac lane on the right took me past a handful of single storey buildings belonging to the tv transmission station; the lane ended abruptly with another single storey building but just before it I spotted the trig point on my right about fifty yards from the lane itself. I had to negotiate a grass bank and a fair bit of sloppy ground to get to it – the whole area is, after all, mainly peat bog – then with a couple of shots taken and a few minutes spent taking in the views I returned to the lane and headed back towards the tv station.
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Looking north east
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The highest point of Winter Hill – 1,496ft above sea level
The expanse of moorland stretching from Winter Hill itself has several summits which are classed as hills in their own right and the cairns I was looking for were on Crooked Edge Hill towards the south west of the moor. I’d walked quite a way down the road past the tall tv mast before I saw the cairns on top of the hill in the distance; they looked like they were miles away but in reality they were probably less than a mile from the mast so it didn’t take long to reach them, though I was rather disappointed when I got there as they looked nothing like I thought they would.
The cairns are actually known as The Two Lads, though just to confuse the issue for some reason there are three of them. I’d seen pictures of them on a couple of websites and they seemed to be well built with a good shape to them but in reality they were just three heaps of stone which looked like a builder’s wagon had dumped a load of rubble, although the larger one did still retain some of its shape. Presumably they have fallen down over time because people climb on them. Details of them were recorded in 1776 and 1883 and a local historian at the time described the two smaller ones as marking the graves of two orphaned children of a Saxon king who was killed in battle near there, but another story says they are the graves of two young boys who got lost in a snowstorm on the moor and died of exposure. No-one seems to know which story, if either, is true.
Concrete facts about the cairns are very hazy and seem to differ depending on who has written about them, and there seems to be little or no knowledge as to why there are three when they are known as ‘Two Lads’, but back in the late 1980s the larger one was the subject of a ‘battle’ between local people and the authorities. Over the years it had gradually collapsed and was in ruins but in 1988 a ‘mystery man’ started to rebuild it. This task was taken over by an amateur historian who restored it to its former glory and also added 4ft to its height, but the council claimed it was dangerous and pulled it down. Local people were up in arms about it and rebuilt it in 1989 but the council promptly pulled it down again, and thereafter it became known locally as ‘the Yo-Yo Cairn’.
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The Two Lads, looking south west
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Looking back to Winter Hill
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The ‘Yo-Yo’ cairn still showing some of its original shape
Having completed my quest to find and photograph the cairns I made my way back across the rough ground to the lane and headed back towards the tv mast and the path back down to the van. I’d read somewhere that if you look up at the mast while walking past it looks like it’s actually falling down – I tried it but it didn’t move an inch!
The second part of my walk was a trek up to the top of Rivington Pike, another of the hill summits to the south west of the moors. I could have left the van in the restaurant car park and just walked right across the top of the moors but it was quite a long way there and back so I took the easy way out and drove part of the way via the moorland road from Belmont village to Rivington village. About half a mile from Rivington itself a short lane took me to a car park on the lower slope of the hill and from there I had a choice of two paths. Looking up at the top of the hill the left hand path seemed to be the more direct one but it wasn’t long before I began to wish I’d maybe taken the other one.
If I’d thought the path up the side of Winter Hill was rough this one, although a lot wider, was much worse. It was steep and winding, strewn with ankle-twisting rocks across its width and had high banks on each side, and it looked more like the course of a river rather than a public footpath. It didn’t seem to put off any cyclists though and a few of them went past me on their way back down. After quite a lot of climbing the path finally came to an end and joined a lane which crossed the side of the hill on the level, offering a welcome respite before I tackled the steepest part of the hill.
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Looking back down the path
A short distance along the lane was the Dovecote Tower, known locally as the Pigeon Tower, which was built in 1910 by Lord Leverhulme as part of his extensive Rivington estate. A 3-storey building, with each storey being just one single room, the floors were linked by a solid stone spiral staircase running up the spine of the building; the first two storeys housed ornamental doves and pigeons while the top floor was Lady Lever’s sitting room/music room. This had windows on two sides giving views over a nearby boating lake, and an ornate fireplace with Lord and Lady Lever’s initials engraved in a circular pattern above the family motto.
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The Pigeon Tower
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Looking north west with the Fylde coast on the left horizon
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Another view north west with Preston on the centre horizon
When I got to the steepest part of the hill I was happy to see that as well as the stone steps going straight up there was also a wide path winding its way to the top so that’s the way I went. The summit of Rivington Pike is 1,191ft above sea level, giving far reaching views in most directions, and the Pike tower is Grade ll listed. Built in the early 1700s as a hunting lodge it’s 16ft square and 20ft high with three windows and a door, though these have been blocked up to prevent vandalism. The single room originally had wood panelled walls, a cellar underneath its stone flagged floor, and a fireplace and chimney, and although the chimney no longer exists the fireplace is still there.
Lord Leverhulme originally gifted the land and the tower to the local townspeople but it was later transferred to Liverpool Corporation as part of an agreement for water supplies. Unfortunately the tower was neglected and the corporation planned to demolish it in 1967 but after a public outcry and legal action the land was transferred to Chorley Council and the tower was restored in 1973, with further work being completed in the 1990s. The land, currently owned by United Utilities, is a very popular place for walkers and many local people still continue the old Easter tradition of walking up to the tower on Good Friday.
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The route to the tower
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On the way up via the easy route
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Rivington Pike tower
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Looking across to Winter Hill
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Rivington and Anglezarke reservoirs
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Looking south with Manchester on the left just below the horizon
It was lovely on top of the hill in the warm sunshine and I could have stayed there for ages just looking at the views but time was getting on and I still had some shopping to do so reluctantly I had to go. The rocky path back down to the car park was no easier going down than it had been going up and I had to pick my way carefully in several places; it took a while but at least I got back to the van without twisting or breaking anything. Back at home the dogs curled up in their beds as soon as we got in and I didn’t hear a peep out of either of them for several hours – and I must admit that after all that walking about I slept well that night too.
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My walks – part 1 on the right, 2 on the left with the driven route in blue
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this time she’s been enjoying some lovely spring weather on one of my favourite places, Anglesey – and her great photos are urging me to go back there myself soon.

A permanent ‘lodger’ and a room upside down

Back towards the end of January Michael came back to stay for a few days, but due to certain circumstances the few days turned into several weeks and he’s still here. Then one evening last week, while he was at work and not long after I’d arrived home from my own work, four large boxes and several black bags of his stuff were dumped in my front garden – it looked like his temporary stay here had become permanent. Of course I couldn’t leave everything in the garden so it was all stacked in my living room until he had time to deal with it all.
Now I don’t know about anyone else but when you live mainly alone for eight years in a 3-bedroom house your own stuff tends to breed and accumulate in various places, and the wardrobe in Michael’s room was full my ‘I probably won’t wear it again but it’s too good to throw away and I still like it’ stuff, including all my old dancing gear – leotards, glittery costumes, Latin American dresses, ballroom shoes, ballet shoes, tap shoes, various exotic (and even erotic) outfits from my nightclub dancing days in the 90s, and other accessories I couldn’t house elsewhere, plus access to the wardrobe itself was blocked by my large gym-spec treadmill. So far Michael hadn’t needed or wanted to use the wardrobe but with the arrival of all his stuff it looked like things would have to be re-arranged to make room for everything else.
I started the major sort out last Sunday afternoon, and what an afternoon it turned out to be. Michael’s room isn’t exactly the biggest, it’s an odd shape and there isn’t a lot of floor space, so the sort out wasn’t particularly straightforward. First I had to move a bookcase-sized cabinet to gain enough room to get the treadmill through the door; the cabinet was dragged onto the landing and left outside my own bedroom door, then the treadmill was pulled out. That wasn’t without its problems though; as I pulled the machine through the bedroom doorway I also had to negotiate an awkward corner and at one point it was completely stuck, tilted to one side and with one of its legs part way up the wall. I freed it eventually though and it was put in its new home in a corner of the landing near the bathroom – thank goodness I have a large landing in a square U shape otherwise I don’t know where I would have put it. Next I pulled all my dancing gear out of the wardrobe; there was so much of it that it took ages to sort it all out but finally the wardrobe was empty. With the carpet vacuumed I dragged the cabinet from the landing and put it back in its place in the bedroom then brought the bags of Michael’s stuff from downstairs and dumped them on, and at the side of, his bed for him to sort out later.
Once I’d finished my afternoon’s efforts I sent Michael a text – “The good news is, you can get into your room and the wardrobe is now empty, the bad news is, you can’t get into your bed!” Back came the text – “Not a problem, I can sleep on the floor!” He was actually only joking when he sent that text, but as it turned out that’s exactly what he did. I met him from work at 6pm and we went out for a meal, then when we got back he made a start on sorting out and finding a home for all his stuff, but it wasn’t exactly a simple task. Because everything had obviously been packed very haphazardly he had to open all the bags to find things, and he ended up with so many clothes, shoes and dvds on his bed that it looked like an explosion in an Oxfam shop. He hadn’t a hope in hell of getting everything put away by the time he went to bed so he had a choice – dump it all on the floor and get into his bed (and the following morning risk standing on, and possibly breaking, something that mattered) or leave it all where it was and sleep on the floor. He chose the second option, which seemed to be the easiest, so I found him a very thick king size duvet which he could double over and use as a mattress, a couple of pillows and a warm fleece blanket, and he bedded down in the space between the side of his bed and the chest of drawers.
Believe it or not he slept like that for three nights. After working a full 12-hour shift he’s understandably fairly tired when he gets home so sorting out all his stuff has been a slow process, though it’s finished now and he’s back to sleeping in his bed again. It’s good to have him back home again permanently though, even if I did turn half my life and my house upside down to accommodate him; he may be a bit of a pain sometimes even though he’s an adult, but at the end of the day he’s still my son and I love him to bits.

Sometimes dogs can be so embarrassing

An email ‘conversation’ with my blogging friend Eileen recently triggered the memory of a rather amusing but embarrassing dog-related incident which happened some years ago. It had nothing really to do with the subject of our emails but now having thought about it I can’t seem to unthink it, so I’ve decided to share it instead.
Back in April 2003 my then partner acquired Sam, a 4-month old German Shepherd/Border Collie cross. He was a lovely dog and right from the start he got on well with my dog Sugar, but he was a bit of a clown and not exactly blessed with intelligence, though he was also very loveable and often a great source of amusement with the daft things he did. As he grew older and Mother Nature gave him raging male hormones he would ‘hump’ anything he could get his paws round – chair legs, table legs and gate posts to name but a few, and it caused great hilarity one evening when he tried to hump the wrong end of one of the cats. Needless to say, the cat in question wasn’t best pleased!
Now while his antics may have seemed funny to us while we were indoors they were rather embarrassing if we were ever in company, especially if the people we were with also had a dog, so eventually the decision was made – a trip to the vet’s and Sam came home minus two bits of his anatomy. It did calm him down quite a lot but not completely, and every so often he would still get the urge to hump something if he could get his paws round it.
A couple of years later we were camping in North Wales with my partner’s brother and sister-in-law and their dog Bru; the weather was glorious so one particular day we decided to take a picnic and drive to Bala lake. The car park there is right by the lakeside and in certain parts of it it’s possible to park within a few yards of the water’s edge so we found a suitable place next to a shingle beach and settled in to enjoy the day. The water there was very shallow for quite a distance out and the three dogs really enjoyed themselves racing in and out after sticks and stones thrown for them.
It was while we were setting out our picnic that we realised Sam had gone missing; he couldn’t have been far away but with no response to our calls my partner and I went to look for him. It didn’t take long to find him – he was in the shallow water about fifty yards along the lake shore in the next little bay, and in full view of anyone who may have been looking he was humping a big black dog whose owner didn’t look particularly happy. I wasn’t sure if the black dog also being a male made the whole scenario better or worse but we apologised to his owner, and as I waded out to get Sam I really wanted the ground to open up and swallow the pair of us, especially when my partner then said to the other guy “He couldn’t do any harm anyway, he’s had his nuts off”!
Back at the car though, my partner and I couldn’t keep straight faces as we told Alan and Louise what had just happened and we all had a good laugh about it. Sam did eventually grow out of the humping habit but that day was never forgotten and we laughed about it a few times over the years. Sadly Sam is no longer around but many of his antics will always be remembered, even if they were a source of great embarrassment at the time.
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Sam
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Bala Lake

An unusual present and a nice afternoon

I don’t suppose there are many mums who can say that they got two packets of hot dog rolls, two packets of teacakes and a packet of sandwich rolls as a present on Mother’s Day but that’s just what Michael gave me yesterday morning. Yes, my son definitely has a daft sense of humour! He actually works where these things are made so he often brings stuff home for me and it’s not the first time he’s given me things as ‘presents’ – a couple of years ago I got three packets of crumpets and a toastie loaf for my birthday!
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Fortunately those weren’t the proper present(s). Along with a lovely card he’d actually got me chocolates, a dvd, a book, and a lovely pot of pink chrysanthemums in a pink basket which looks nice on the unit in my pink bedroom, and he also took me out for a meal – well I took us out as he can’t drive but he paid for the fuel to get there. We took the dogs and went to St. Annes on the coast, had a nice walk along the beach followed by a lovely meal in the Beach Terrace Cafe (one of my favourite eateries for many years) then another walk along the beach before returning home.
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The weather was glorious and although there was a cool breeze blowing along the beach the sun was fairly warm so it was a very pleasant afternoon, and all in all I had a really nice day. We don’t really make a fuss about Easter so the next special occasion is my birthday in June – maybe I’ll get lucky and get a packet of bagels or some spiced fruit bread for that one!

If ever there was a time to feel bad….

It was this morning. Why? Because I stood on Mouse. Yes, it probably sounds funny, and it looks funny now I’ve written it down, but it wasn’t at the time and I felt awful.
Now there are many ways to describe Mouse – peculiar, odd, a one-off, affectionate, funny, totally mad but also totally adorable, she’s all of those things and more, and she’s very much the favourite out of all three cats. This morning when I was getting ready to go out she was lying on the landing floor in a patch of sunlight near the bedroom door, but by the time I came out of the bedroom again I’d completely forgotten she was there and I stood right on her. Of course her natural reaction, along with the howl of pain, was to retaliate with her claws and they swiftly connected with my left ankle, but within seconds she had forgiven me and lay there purring away while I stroked her to say sorry.
It must have been ten minutes later when I noticed a couple of small streaks of fresh blood on the carpet where Mouse was lying – I must have injured her in some way and I was mortified. It seemed like I may be making a trip to the vet’s but a thorough inspection found the cause of the blood – a small nick about halfway along her tail. Other than that she was okay so the wound was given a quick clean up with a damp cotton wool ball and the problem was sorted. I’ve checked her tail a couple of times since then and thankfully it’s absolutely fine, showing no more signs of having been trodden on.
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As I type this Mouse is sitting in one of her favourite places, on the rail at the top of the stairs; she’s probably already forgotten that I stood on her this morning but she’ll be getting an extra treat with her supper tonight to make up for it.

A walk up Winter Hill and some interesting facts

After several days of damp, dull and dreary weather which wasn’t exactly brilliant for dog walking, last Wednesday was a complete contrast with bright sunshine and a blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. It was far too nice to spend the whole time doing housework so at lunch time I drove myself and the dogs three miles up the road to do something I hadn’t done for almost twenty years – walk up to the top of Winter Hill.
Winter Hill is part of the West Pennine Moors above my home town and close to Belmont village, and in years gone by has been the site of mining activity, murders and several air disasters. At 1,498ft above sea level it’s also been home to a broadcasting and telecommunications site since the mid 1950s; currently owned and operated by Arqiva (formerly NTL Broadcasting) the tv mast up there is the second tallest mast in the UK and can be seen from many miles away. There are also a number of other much shorter telecommunication masts around the summit for mobile phones, professional mobile radio users and emergency services.
My walk started from the car park of the San Marino restaurant on the A675 at the outskirts of Belmont village. About fifty yards along from the car park and across the main road a wooden kissing gate signified the beginning of the path and I was glad I’d changed into my wellies when I got out of the van – the ground near the gate was wet and very muddy and there was no way to avoid it, but fortunately it became dry just a few yards further on. Right from the start the route took me on a steady climb up the hill, and though I’d started off with my jacket on the warm sun and the uphill walking soon had me taking it off and tying it round my waist. It wasn’t long before I left any road noise behind, and as there was no-one else around the only sound came from various skylarks and lapwings as they flew above the moorland; it was lovely and quiet and I stopped several times to take in the views and enjoy the peace.
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On the way up
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Looking towards Belmont village
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Looking north east – San Marino in the centre, Delph reservoir in the distance
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Looking north
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Belmont village and reservoir
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Getting close to the top
Finally at the top of the hill there was a fence and another wooden kissing gate to go through, and a tarmac road leading into oblivion down the far side of the hill. Just at the other side of the gate were the two original stone gate posts, one bearing a plaque placed there on the 50th anniversary of a plane crash near there in 1958. A Silver City Airways charter plane was flying from the Isle of Man to Manchester when, due to thick cloud and navigational error, it crashed close to the summit of the hill and disintegrated on impact, leaving only the tail section still recognisable as part of an aircraft; thirty five people died and seven, including the pilot and air stewardess, were injured but survived. Other crashes in years previous to that have included several Spitfires and Hurricanes, and in September 1965 an RAF De Havilland Chipmunk flew into the hill in low cloud, fortunately without serious injury to the crew. The last crash up there occurred in October 1968 when a Cessna 172 force-landed on the west side of the hill.
A little way down the road from the gate posts was the tall tv mast surrounded on three sides by single storey buildings, and on the wall of one of these was the original plaque in memory of the victims of the 1958 plane crash, which came just three weeks after the Munich air disaster. Almost opposite the tv station was Scotsman’s Stump, an iron post with a plaque erected in 1912 in memory of a young man who was previously murdered there. His killer, a 22-year old collier from Belmont, was originally found guilty at local court but at a second trial in Lancaster he was found not guilty.
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50th anniversary plaque
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Original plaque
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Scotsman’s Stump – replacing a tree planted in earlier years
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Standing close to the tv mast and looking up towards the top I tried to hazard a guess as to how tall it was – at least 250ft I thought, but how wrong I was – it’s actually 1,035ft. No wonder it can be seen from miles away! The original mast, which came into service in May 1956, was much shorter at only 450ft and though it was eventually dismantled and removed it could still be seen on the hill for many years after the tv services were transferred to the current mast.
Now covering a population of about 6.3 million people across the North West and into North Wales the current mast was constructed in 1964/5 and came into service in 1966; tubular in design it’s 9ft in diameter and engineers can ascend the inside of it to carry out any maintenance work. It also carries a series of bright red aircraft warning lights which swing inwards for maintenance and these make the mast visible in the dark for miles around.
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Winter Hill tv mast – it’s taller than it looks
From the summit of the hill on a clear day it’s possible to see Manchester city centre, the airport, Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, Southport, Liverpool, Snowdonia in North Wales, the Irish Sea, Snaefell in the Isle of Man, Blackpool tower, the Cumbrian mountains, the Peak District, the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales, but unfortunately it was rather hazy in the distance just then so visibility was limited. With nothing much on the west side of the hill other than a vast expanse of moorland, and knowing that the road down would take me miles out of my way, I left the tv station behind and made my way back down the hill by the same path I’d gone up. If anything going down was actually harder than going up; the path was extremely rough in places with many deep ruts and pot holes so I had to watch where I was putting my feet. A twisted ankle could have been a distinct possibility but luckily the three of us managed to get back to road level without any accident or injury.
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A very rough path
Back at the van I changed out of my wellies and towelled the dogs down as they’d just got dirty going through the muddy patch of ground near the gate, then I drove the three miles back down the road to home. My walk hadn’t been a particularly long one but in the warm sunshine it had been very pleasant in spite of the steep and rough terrain, and as Winter Hill is more or less on my doorstep I’ll try not to leave it another twenty years before I go up there again. And of course, this being the UK it’s done nothing but rain since that day so I’m glad I took the opportunity to do the walk while the weather was nice.
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My walk, from yellow spot
This week  Jo’s Monday Walk shows the delights of the charming Italian walled city of Lucca where there’s scenery, ceilings, and even a smiling lion – it looks lovely, and just the thing to brighten up yet another damp and dreary UK day.

Making plans for Easter

A couple of days ago I finally got round to doing something about my Easter camping weekend and after much thought and weighing up various pros and cons I decided to go back to the quiet little site in North Wales where I spent last Easter and August bank holidays. A quick phone call to the lovely couple who own the site and I was booked in on pitch no.8, the same one as last year, from Good Friday until the following Tuesday. My pitch won’t be available until 1pm but I don’t mind that too much as I can spend some time in Llangollen en route.
Plans for the weekend – subject to changes and weather permitting – include driving up Horseshoe Pass, visiting a country house, a castle and a huge car boot sale, and a walk along the canal, and maybe if the sky is clear enough I’ll let the dogs pull me up the steep hill above Llangollen to Castell Dinas Bran. The MOT is due on the van at the end of this month but I don’t forsee any major problems with that, so once I’ve got the all-important certificate in my sticky little paw I’ll be packing in the camping gear. By the time Easter comes round it’ll be seven months since I camped in Norfolk last September but it seems like forever so I’m really looking forward to this – and keeping my fingers crossed that the weather gods will give me lots of blue sky and sunshine for the whole weekend!

A walk round Parys Mountain

This is a walk round the fascinating and unusual landscape of an old copper mine, which I did a couple of years ago while on my regular summer camping holiday on Anglesey. I’d driven past part of Parys mountain a few years previously and thought at the time that it looked like a huge ugly blot on the country landscape, but after reading a photography book about Anglesey and seeing a photo of an old windmill somewhere up on the mountain I was now on a quest to find that windmill and take my own photo of it.
My walk started at a rough-surfaced and rather pot-holed car park just off the road, and a short distance from there a wide footpath went both left and right. I’d seen the windmill in the distance as I drove up the road but once I reached the car park it was out of sight, so not knowing exactly whereabouts on the mountain it was I decided to take the left hand path and work my way round in a clockwise direction. After a couple of minutes I left the main path and took a narrower one winding up and round the mountain through a rough terrain of grass, rocks and loose stones, and as I climbed I was glad I was wearing my trainers – anything less on ground such as that just wouldn’t be sensible. Eventually the old windmill came into view and the path widened out again – another few minutes and I was at the highest point of the mountain.
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Information board in the car park
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The windmill comes into view
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Almost identical to the book photo
The Summit Windmill was built in 1878 in the hope of reducing pumping costs for the ever-deepening mine shafts, and it was unique on Anglesey in that it had five sails; in later years it was connected by a system of flat rods to a steam engine at the head of a 270ft shaft nearby. I was quite surprised to find that the inside of the windmill was accessible on two levels and though there was nothing to see in there the view from outside was good – I could see for miles across the Anglesey countryside, with the Menai Straits and Snowdonia mountains in one direction and Amlwch and Point Lynas lighthouse in the far distance in front of me.
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Snowdonia in the distance
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View towards Amlwch and Point Lynas
Continuing in a clockwise direction I wound my way gradually round and down the mountain; there were many paths going in various directions and they all offered the chance to explore the mountain at length but it was very late in the afternoon by then so I didn’t want to stay up there too long. It was hard not to linger though; with such a fascinating landscape and diverse range of rich colours there were photo opportunities everywhere I looked and the camera was getting some serious use.
As I got further round the mountain I came to the huge open cast area which, in the late 18th century, was deemed to be the largest copper mine in the world. It was a very barren area and it reminded me very much of a strange and rather desolate lunar landscape or maybe somewhere from Lord Of The Rings, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to see Dr. Who’s Tardis landing somewhere nearby.
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From the information board at the viewing area
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Open cast area
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Open cast area with remains of underwater volcano on the right
Further round from the open cast section I came across a large lake and several smaller lakes and ponds; the water in the large lake seemed to be very clear but that in the smaller lakes bore testament to the zinc-and-copper-rich landscape in which they lay.  Hawthorn bushes and clumps of buttercups and other wild flowers were dotted here and there, so with much more greenery around the area it didn’t look quite as desolate as the open cast section and it was hard to believe that all this was halfway up a mountain.
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One end of the large lake
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The end of the walk – looking back
From the lakes the footpath was wide and straight and with the final few photos taken I continued my downward route, eventually arriving back at the car park. Distance-wise I hadn’t really walked that far, maybe just a mile or so, but this walk wasn’t about the distance it was about what I’d seen. I had to admit that I’d been surprised and somewhat amazed by Parys Mountain; it was far from being the blot on the countryside I’d previously thought it to be and in its own way, with its unusual landscape and diverse range of colours, it was strangely beautiful. I knew I hadn’t explored as much of it as I could have done so it would certainly be one place I would return to in the future.
Parys mountain map
My walk, clockwise from yellow spot
Linking this with  Jo’s Monday Walk where she’s still in Florence – do pop over and join her for a walk round some fascinating gardens with some fabulous views.