I arrived home late yesterday afternoon from my holiday on Anglesey; weather-wise the eight days had been a bit of a mixed bag, with two days of rain and a day-and-a-half of grey cloudy sky, but the other days were full of sunshine and blue skies and also quite hot. Other than a few weekenders who arrived last Friday and left on Sunday the camp site was very quiet and I was the only one in the field where I’d chosen to pitch – the peace and quiet were absolutely blissful.
The start of the holiday wasn’t without it’s problems though; if I’d thought that getting a rip in the side of the tent a couple of weeks ago was a disaster then this was a catastrophe of Titanic proportions. I’d got the tent up and was in the process of pegging out the guy lines when it decided to give up the ghost completely – there was a horrendous ripping sound and a huge – and I mean really huge – tear appeared right along the top. The tent was definitely dead this time but luckily I had a back-up plan, which will be explained on my other blog, so it didn’t affect the holiday too much.
My out-and-about days produced plenty of good photos including various animals, birds and flowers, and I even found a couple of places which I’d never been to or seen before. I finally found a beach I’d been looking for for several years and at another beach I managed to get myself cut off by the tide, though fortunately I was able to wade the few yards back to dry land. The dogs had to swim though, and while Poppie was okay with that Sophie wasn’t too impressed. On Monday, armed with a tin of black paint and a couple of artist’s brushes, I took a walk to Tyger’s memorial stone near Rhoscolyn and repainted the faded lettering engraved on it – I really needed a finer brush but it didn’t look too bad, and no doubt by next year it will have faded again so I can do it better next time.
A couple of the grey days were spent on the unsuccessful hunt for a new tent and on one of the days I got a free meal and coffee at the Morrisons cafe in Caernarfon. I also visited my cousin, who I managed to track down at my second attempt, and I spent a good couple of hours with him and his wife, catching up on our respective news over a coffee or two. The sunny days produced some lovely sunsets and glorious colours in the late evening sky and the bedtime dog walks were spent rabbit spotting as there were loads of them hopping about round various parts of the camp site. Early morning yesterday saw me walking the dogs along the nearby beach and at only 6.30am we had the whole place to ourselves; after breakfast a final fling before packing up to come home was a photography walk round Parys Mountain.
With well over 200 photos taken during the eight day holiday, and the hot sunny days making up for the dull ones, my much-needed time away was very enjoyable in spite of the tent giving up the ghost at the start. My back-up plan had worked out well enough that the demise of the tent didn’t really spoil things so all in all it was a good holiday. Now all I have to do is sort out my photos and update my other blog – it may take a while!
I returned home yesterday afternoon after a weekend away at the Elvaston Castle Steam Rally just outside Derby. Always the early bird I was on the road by 5.15am on Saturday, arriving at the show ground just after 7am. Weekend camping for the rally is actually on four huge farmer’s fields across the road from the show ground, and while most people camp in the two fields closest to the entrance I prefer to be in a quiet corner out of the way, so after checking in with the camping stewards I made my way over to my favourite spot near the far end of the far field.
It was while I was putting up the tent that disaster struck but I’m not going into detail here – I’ll save that for my camping blog, when I finally find time to update it. As well as all the usual stalls and attractions at the rally there was camel racing (which I thought was rather boring but it would have been okay for kids) and Winged World with some very colourful parrots and cute little owls. The weather was gloriously sunny and warm all weekend and I was able to get out and about with the dogs and the camera, especially on Sunday when not only did I walk round the show ground but I also went for a lovely walk along the nearby canal – and even though my step challenge has officially finished I surpassed myself that day by walking a total of six miles and 21,339 steps!
With the opportunity to catch up with various camping friends, and friends from years ago who live nearby, plus a walk round the castle grounds before setting off on the journey home, it was a very enjoyable weekend, and already I’m looking forward to doing it all again in July next year.
Although I’m not sure that ‘ambling’ is the right word as I usually walk at quite a reasonable pace. The latest long walk was done a week ago on a gloriously sunny (and hot) day, and I must admit that if I’d known beforehand just how far I would actually go I probably wouldn’t have chosen that particular route on that particular day.
Anglezarke reservoir is just beyond Rivington, and as I’ve recently explored the Rivington area on two separate occasions and it must be about twenty years since I’d last been round Anglezarke I thought it would make a good dog walk and also add to my daily step count. The reservoir was reached by taking a minor road off the road leading to Rivington village; just before the turn-off for the car park the road went uphill to a lay-by and viewpoint high above the reservoir and as I’d never been up there before I went to take a look.
Next to the lay-by was a very pleasant and well kept grassy area with a couple of benches overlooking the reservoir and several people were chilling out in the sunshine or just sitting looking at the view. And what a view it was; although there was a heat haze on the horizon I could see for miles and it was well worth a few photos.
From the view point I drove back down the hill to the car park and my walk started from there. A stone wall separated the path from the water but after only a couple of minutes the path veered to the right and took me through the remains of a small quarry. I remembered that the last time I went round there all those years ago the quarry had quite an open aspect but now it was quite overgrown with trees and bushes, although it was still very pleasant to walk through.
From the quarry the path went back to the waterside for a short distance before veering off once again and taking me uphill through a densely wooded area which seemed to go on for ever and had no view of the water. After a while the path went downhill and crossed a narrow stream before going back uphill and through another wooded area, though eventually it went downhill once again and I left the trees behind, emerging onto a tract of open grassland with a good view across to the west side of the reservoir.
Unfortunately the open land didn’t last long and I was back into woodland again, with a steep bank of trees separating the path from the water. It was so steep in places that it was an almost vertical drop of about 30ft so for safety’s sake I put Sophie back on the lead. Eventually the path brought me out onto a minor road which took me across the north end of the reservoir and disappeared round a bend to who-knows-where. Just on the bend I picked up the path again and I was back through more trees though this time reasonably close to the water, which enabled me to get a shot of the lovely old waterside house I’d just passed the back of.
After a while the path led up through the trees and I came to a gate into a small field; there was no sign telling me which way to go so I assumed it was straight on, and sure enough at the far side of the field was a kissing gate which took me out onto a farm track. And that’s where I began to feel confused. I have an extremely good memory for places I’ve previously been to, even if it’s been many many years since I last went, and I was sure that on my last walk round there I was able to walk close to the water at that point. I certainly didn’t remember having to go up through the trees and cross a field to a farm track, and as I walked along the track the unfamiliarity of it convinced me that I was right. There were sheep in the fields though so maybe that was the answer – where once I would have been able to walk close to the water access is obviously now denied if the land is used for livestock. It was a very pleasant, if rather hot, walk along the track though and I did get a couple of nice photos.
Eventually the farm track turned right but there was a bridle path which went straight on, and a notice on a nearby post told me that ice cream, lollies and bottled water were available at the farm at the end of the path. That sounded good to me, and as I was going that way anyway I thought I may as well stop for some refreshment. Two ladies were operating a stall just outside the farmhouse gates, with the proceeds of any sales going to a local hospice; the ice cream turned out to be various Magnums, which I have a great liking for, so I chose a Classic one and chatted to the ladies while I ate it then bought a small bottle of water to replace the one I’d shared with the dogs while we were walking round.
After Sophie and Poppie had slurped copious amounts of water from the dog bowl near the stall I set off again, down the farmhouse driveway and onto a tarmac lane. A little way along was the high bank and wall of the reservoir so wanting to be back near the water I climbed over the wall bordering the lane and made my way up to the top, where I was greeted by a great view across to the far side.
At the far end of the wall my way was blocked by a thicket of trees so I had to go back down the bank, scramble over the wall at the bottom and pick up a sheep track of a path which followed the contours of the reservoir on my left. On my right was a large open tract of grassland dotted with trees which were all green except one not far from the path – this had a white trunk and branches which stuck almost straight out, and it was completely bare except for one bit of green growing out from near the top.
A bit further on the path became separated from the water by a tree-shaded stone wall and not far ahead I could see a group of sheep mooching about with their young ones – thank goodness both dogs were on the lead. Strangely enough though, most of the sheep didn’t seem to be bothered by us and carried on calmly grazing as we went past, though one mum and young one insisted on blocking the path for a while before moving out of our way.
A little way beyond the sheep the path ended in a set of crude steps up and over a stone wall and I was back on the road which passed the bottom end of the reservoir and eventually took me back to the car park. It had been an enjoyable walk but in the heat, and with the distance being greater than I’d thought, it had also been a very tiring one so it was a relief to finally get back to the van. There was one thing I wanted to do though before I left the area – I wanted to get a shot of the view from up at the view point but with an empty bench in the foreground, which I hadn’t been able to get earlier as someone was occupying both benches. So I drove back up to the view point and I was in luck – one bench was unoccupied so I got my shot, turned the van round and headed for home.
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s on an exploration of Rufford Abbey ruins and gardens, and discovering some strange and wonderful sculptures along the way.
A gloriously warm sunny day a week ago saw me heading off with the dogs and the camera on a two-part walk to explore the terraced gardens and the old castle at Rivington. I left the van in the same car park as when I walked up to Rivington Pike a couple of months ago but this time instead of taking the steep rocky path on the left I took the one on the right. It was still a bit rocky in places but nowhere near as ankle-twistingly bad as the other path, and being more of a gentle incline meant the walk wasn’t as strenuous.
Conceived and financed by soap magnate William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme), one of the town’s most famous sons and founder of Lever Brothers (now Unilever), the gardens were designed mainly by landscape architect Thomas Mawson, with work spanning a 17-year period up to 1922. Features of the gardens included lawns, terraced pathways, stone staircases, a boating lake, waterfalls, Japanese lake, several summerhouses and pavilions and the Pigeon Tower.
After Lever’s death in 1925 many of the buildings gradually fell into disrepair over the years and were eventually either fenced off or demolished, though the remains of several of those can still be seen. In 2014 the gardens were named by the BBC Countryfile programme as one of Britain’s Best Lost Gardens and in early 2016 the Rivington Heritage Trust secured £3.4million from the Heritage Lottery fund to improve, revitalise and maintain the gardens and their features.
The first thing I came to on my walk was Lever Bridge which crossed the main pathway through the gardens. The design is based on a bridge which Lever had seen while on a trip to Nigeria; with one large arch crossed by six smaller ones it’s known locally as Seven Arch Bridge. A minor path and several steps led to the lower end of the bridge, and the bridge itself consisted of a series of wide shallow stone steps leading up to a steeper flight of steps with a stone summerhouse at the top.
At each side of the summerhouse were steps leading up to the roof but these had been blocked off by railings, so to get to the path above I had to climb up the steep bank nearby. A hundred yards or so to the left I came to what was once the swimming pool/boating lake, though as it wasn’t that big I would have said it was more of a large pond than a lake. It was obviously an area that the conservationists hadn’t yet got round to tackling as the banks were overgrown with vegetation and there were broken tree branches and bits of rubbish floating in the weed-covered water. It didn’t look pretty, and the photo I took was deleted almost immediately.
Beyond the far end of the pond was a triple-arched wall which didn’t seem to serve any purpose, and an arcaded loggia with steps up to a rooftop platform although these, like the summerhouse below, were blocked off by railings. Steps from there led up to another summerhouse and a pavilion and even more steps, steeper this time, finally took me to the Pigeon Tower on the lane at the top. Just beyond the long wall of the Pigeon Tower another path branched off from the lane and took me back down the terraces to a large open area which would once have been the Great Lawn and a tennis court, both overlooked by similar-looking summerhouses.
From there I wandered down and along various paths until, at the bottom of a short flight of steps, I found myself overlooking the lake in the Japanese garden down below. The garden was created in 1921-2, inspired by a visit William Lever had made to Japan in 1913, and at one time it featured three Japanese-style pagodas though these have long since been demolished and only their stone bases now remain. The lake looked very attractive and certainly deserved a few photos.
From the lake I gradually made my way via various paths and steps to the main path and headed back to the car park. About halfway along the path split into two with a bench at the junction so I sat for a few minutes just taking in the view. Immediately in front of me was Lower Rivington reservoir, which was where I was now headed, and in the hazy distance right over to the west was the coastline of Formby and Southport; without the haze I would have been able to see Blackpool tower and the Big One at the pleasure beach a bit further north.
From the car park I drove down through Rivington village and parked at the beginning of one of several tree-lined paths which took me on a pleasant walk to Lower Rivington reservoir and Liverpool Castle. The original 13th century Liverpool Castle on Merseyside was situated just west of what is now the Liverpool One shopping centre and leisure complex, though by the early part of the 18th century most of the fortification had been destroyed or demolished. The Rivington replica was commissioned by William Lever in 1912; it was purely and simply a folly, never intended to be fully completed as it was meant to look like it had been there for many years. Unfortunately construction work stopped when Lever died in 1925 and the castle never reached the stage he’d envisaged.
A wide path took me round the side and the back of the castle and after negotiating some steps and a steep-ish slope I found myself on a sandy but stony ‘beach’ at the side of the reservoir. I walked along until an outcrop of trees barred my way then turned and retraced my steps – and for the second time in just over a week Sophie, the little dog who hates water, surprised me by running in and out of it and playing her own little game. She didn’t swim – maybe that was going a bit too far – but she did go in further than just her paws.
Eventually I left the reservoir, made my way back round the castle and took the long wide path back to the van – I’d been wandering round for a total of over two hours and it was time to go home for a brew. When I checked my step counter late that evening I’d completely smashed my 10,000 steps daily target and done a total of 11,894, the majority of them while I’d been roaming round Rivington. It just shows what can be done when you have a camera, two dogs and some lovely sunny weather!
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where colour abounds in a series of village gardens near Boroughbridge in Yorkshire – I just wish I could get my own garden looking like some of those!
It was another gloriously sunny spring day and though I had several things which needed doing at home I ditched them all in favour of going out on a long walk with the dogs round Entwistle reservoir, a place I hadn’t been to since this time last year and which was only just over six miles north of home. Designed by a local land surveyor and constructed in 1832 the reservoir dam is 110 metres long at the crest and 108 feet high and it was, back then, the highest in Britain. The reservoir itself contains almost 750 thousand gallons and coupled with the nearby Wayoh reservoir satisfies about half of Bolton’s need for drinking water.
My walk started from the car park at the south end of the reservoir and at one end of the dam; a wooden gate led to the waterside path and it wasn’t long before I got my first three shots. A large pine forest bordered the reservoir, separated from the path by a stone wall, and alongside the wall benches were set at intervals. As I headed further west the reservoir got narrower, finally ending in a shallow stream crossed by a wooden bridge.
The path split into two by the bridge, with one part running alongside the stream and disappearing into the pine forest; I walked a little way along and took a couple of shots of the rocky stream before retracing my steps and crossing the bridge. Another path ran alongside the far side of the stream, this time bordered on both sides by bright yellow gorse bushes, and it looked so attractive I couldn’t resist walking a little way along that one as well, then back at the bridge again I continued my circuit of the reservoir.
Close to the bridge was a wide grassy area with a couple of benches, an ideal place to have a picnic or just chill out in the sunshine; from there the path ran close to the water’s edge for quite a distance, and with bluebells and gorse growing along each side it was really attractive. Eventually the reservoir widened out again and after a while it became separated from the path by a stone wall; there were several small grassy and rocky areas right by the water but it seemed that this part was used by the members of a private fishing club so there was no access for the general public.
After a while the path veered away from the water and took me through a wooded area, skirting round a small creek where another stream flowed into the reservoir, before taking me back to the waterside. Several trees along the next stretch had branches growing over the path and down over the wall at intervals, making lovely green archways to walk under – and it was only after I’d got home and put my photos on the pc that I realised I’d taken an almost identical shot to one I took last year.
Eventually the path ended at the dam and a road leading up the hill to Entwistle village; with no wish to go into the village I took one final shot from the dam and headed back to the van. It had been a good walk of about three miles and very enjoyable in the sunshine, but now it was time to head home for a much-needed brew.
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this time she’s exploring the Rio Arade estuary in the Algarve – do pop over and join her to see some beautiful and stunning views. And I hope you’ll agree with me when I say the very first photo definitely has the ‘wow’ factor 🙂
Another gloriously warm and sunny afternoon saw me out and about with the dogs and camera again, this time along the Radcliffe to Bury section of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal. My walk started from the car park of the Last Orders pub on the A665 leading into Radcliffe; a short flight of stone steps led down from the car park itself to the towpath and I’d only gone twenty yards or so when I got my first shot, followed by a second one within another twenty yards. A bit further on was an old railway bridge in faded red paint and with lettering on the side, though I couldn’t quite make out what it said until I got closer to it.
The footpath over the bridge was part of a much longer path known locally as the ‘banana path’ (opinions seem to differ as to why it’s called that) and the slogan on the side of the bridge was one of the more obscure ‘artworks’ on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Designed by New York-based artist Lawrence Weiner, one of the central figures of late 20th century art, the slogan is one of several in various locations around the world and is supposed to represent the artist’s attempt to understand the nature of water. Now I wonder, just how many minutes did it take him to think that one up?!
From the bridge the towpath was bordered for much of its length by hawthorn trees which had recently come into bloom and were giving off their lovely scent. I love the smell of hawthorn and often think it’s a shame that some enterprising perfume manufacturer doesn’t develop a fragrance like that; I’m not normally a perfume wearer but if there was a hawthorn one I’d have bottles of the stuff.
Across the far side of the canal open fields were dotted with sheep and cows, while in the far distance ahead and high up on the hills were the wind turbines of Scout Moor windfarm, the second largest onshore windfarm in England. As far as countryside goes I wasn’t that far from civilisation, there was nothing remarkable about my surroundings and there weren’t a great many photo opportunities as much of my route looked the same, but in the warm sunshine and with the sound of various birds in the trees it was a really pleasant walk.
Eventually I came to another bridge and the high bank of Elton reservoir over on my left; I’d reached the outskirts of Bury and I knew from cycling that way years ago that I would soon be approaching an industrial area and there wasn’t much canal left, so I left the towpath and followed the nearby lane over the bridge and up to the reservoir. Elton Sailing Club was nearby and there were several yachts in the process of going back to the clubhouse so I snapped a quick photo then set off on a clockwise circuit of the lake.
Away from the reservoir bank and over on the far side the land became flatter with several places where I could leave the path and get to the water’s edge so I decided to let the dogs have a paddle. Poppie however didn’t stop at just a paddle, she was so eager to get into the water that she slipped off the sandy edge and ended up swimming in water that was deeper than she’d expected. Sophie as usual stuck to just getting her paws wet but it wasn’t long before she too had an unexpected dip.
A bit further along from there the path veered away from the water and skirted a small creek with a stream running into it. The stream was crossed by a wooden bridge and I’d just stopped to take a photo when SPLOSH – Sophie, running around like she normally does, had misjudged the end of the bridge and fallen straight into the stream. And for a little dog who absolutely hates water she swam very well and was soon scrambling back up onto the path. So I ended up with two very wet dogs but I knew that by the time we got back to the van they would both be dry again.
As I got near to the sailing club the path became private so I had to continue my walk along the lane behind the clubhouse, then once I got back to the point where I started my circuit of the reservoir I made my way back over the canal bridge and down to the towpath to head back to the van. A few clouds had started to gather by then so the sun disappeared briefly a couple of times but by the time I got close to where I’d left the van most of them had cleared away, so I got one last shot before I climbed the steps back up to the car park.
At least I didn’t have to put two wet dogs in the back of the van, they’d both completely dried out on our way back from the reservoir and once they’d settled down I didn’t hear a peep from either of them all the way back home. It had been an enjoyable walk along a very pleasant stretch of the canal and it was one which I’ll probably do again in the not-too-distant future.
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s continuing her exploration of Bath – do pop over and join her for some architecture, quirkiness and a rhubarb and cherry slice or two.