Just like the previous day the morning started off rather dull but it did brighten up as time went on. With only a small cabin bag and a backpack it didn’t take long to pack my things for coming home then I took a walk up to town as there was one thing I wanted to do – get something suitable to leave at the grave. Sometime during the summer Michael had added half a dozen solar lights and only a few days previously had put two vases of fresh tulips there ; Nellie had added a remembrance plaque for Jimmy, the lantern which I’d left there last year was still lit, and with the remembrance plaques Michael and I had put there last year and another couple of flower arrangements, albeit artificial, the plot looked quite pretty, but I still felt like I should add something. Eventually I settled on a bunch of red and white flowers and and a small plaque and made my way up to the cemetery.
Back at the house, and with some time to spare, I decided to go in search of something I’d only found out about since my stay there last year – a stream with man-made waterfalls running through the grounds of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, which I hadn’t seen when I walked round there last November. Having previously promised Trixie that I would take her for a walk sometime I clipped the lead on her, grabbed the camera and off we went ; it was 11.15am and my coach wasn’t until 3pm so I would have plenty of time to walk two miles to the abbey, find and photograph the stream and walk the two miles back again.
All the time I was walking the weather was brightening up until eventually the sun came out and blue sky appeared, and my brisk pace made me so warm that I ended up taking my jacket off and tying it round my waist. I reached the monastery in forty minutes and following Michael’s directions went past the parking area and round into the woods where I found the stream quite easily, and realised that if I’d walked just a little bit further into the woods last year I would have found it then. Being surrounded by trees it was a bit gloomy but I got a handful of photos and made a mental note to revisit, if possible in spring or summer next time.
It was 1.15pm when I got back to the house so I’d only been out a couple of hours, and I hadn’t been in long when Nellie put a dinner on the table for me – she said she didn’t want me travelling home without having had a decent meal even though I told her I could get something at the airport. Michael was out but he came back in time to come up to the bus stop with me – he wasn’t coming home with me but staying on for another week. Nellie said she would come too as she needed to post a letter, so after saying goodbye to Trixie who was curled up on her cushion we all walked up to town together.
Now while I may have had no problems at all on my journey from home to Roscrea the same couldn’t be said of the reverse. The coach to the airport arrived bang on time at 3pm and it was a very pleasant ride up to Dublin although with traffic building up through the city centre the coach was twenty minutes late at the airport, but that didn’t matter as my flight wasn’t until 7pm so I had plenty of time. The delay was actually with the plane itself ; wherever it had come from it was late, and though the departure gate closed at 6.30 there was no sign of any staff or any indication of when boarding would start.
Eventually, just before 7pm, the staff arrived and after a load of faffing about started the boarding process ; I was third in the queue but it didn’t make any difference as everyone had to queue up again and wait for the door onto the tarmac to be opened. Then when we got to the plane we had to queue up again before they would allow us on as they were still trying to clean and tidy up. Finally we were allowed on, and it was obvious they’d only done a quick job as there were crumbs on the three seats and the floor where I was, and probably in many other places as well. Eventually the plane took off forty minutes late and finally landed in Manchester at 8.15pm, but even then my problems weren’t over – and this is where it gets ever-so-slightly stupid.
On my three trips to Ireland last year, on all outbound and return flights and the flight to Dublin a few days previously, passengers have always walked the very short distance from the plane to the airport building but not this time. When everyone got off the plane we all had to queue to get onto a couple of shuttle buses ; I thought maybe the plane had pulled up quite a distance from the entrance we had to use so that’s why we had to go on the buses but in actual fact the plane was right where it should be and the buses just turned in a big circle and pulled up right outside the building! Of course the second bus, which I was on, had to wait until everyone had got off the first one and it had driven off before it could pull up to the entrance – yet another few minutes delay and there were grumbles coming from several passengers. Honestly, it would have been quicker to walk across the tarmac as on previous occasions! I really couldn’t understand the reason for all that at all, and I’ve actually done a very rough drawing to illustrate it – as you can see, I’m no great artist!
By the time I’d got through the airport and done the ten minute walk to the station Sod’s Law decreed that I would just miss a train and I had twenty minutes to wait for the next one. Fortunately it only made three brief stops going through Manchester so I was back in my home town a bit sooner than I expected. With a taxi from my local station I finally arrived home almost eight hours after I left Roscrea; needless to say the dogs were pleased to see me so I took them for a quick walk then made a coffee and retreated to my bed – any unpacking could wait until the morning. I’d had such a tiring and frustrating few hours I just wanted some chill-out time and a good night’s sleep – and with the whole bed to myself I was sure to get it!
After fine but heavy rain which lasted through most of yesterday afternoon and last night today turned out to be gloriously sunny, and with just a light breeze it was perfect for a dog walk. As I had to call at a store which was south of the town centre I decided to stay in that direction and go along a section of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury canal which I’ve been along several times before. My walk started in Moses Gate country park and after doing a circuit of the wildlife lake I made my way via a short bit of road and a footpath to the upper part of the canal.
The canalside path was extremely muddy in many places so I was glad I’d changed into my wellies before I left the van; there were a couple of spots where I had to be careful I didn’t slip and fall into the water but other than that it was a really pleasant walk. About halfway along I came across a pony grazing quietly in a rather waterlogged field, then a bit further on I was greeted by a family of three swans who glided along to say hello; they weren’t impressed by the dogs though and one of them hissed at Sophie. It was this section of the canal where the recent incidents concerning the other two swans had taken place, and other than a few ducks it seems that these three are now the only residents – I just hope that they are left alone to live their lives in peace and tranquility.
Eventually I came to where the canal had been blocked off to make way for a wide bridle path and though I could have gone further I didn’t want to run out of sunshine so I made that my turn round point and headed back the other way, then with one more photo taken I left the canal itself and took a path down through the nearby woods which eventually took me back to the country park.
By the time I got back to the van our rather muddy walk had taken its toll on both me and the dogs – their legs and undersides were completely black and soggy and my trousers, which I hadn’t thought to tuck into my wellies, were wet round the bottom and splashed with mud right up to my knees. It had been a very enjoyable walk though, and both the dogs and the trousers could easily be cleaned up when we got home.
After doing the long walk round Anglezarke reservoir several weeks ago I decided that when the opportunity allowed I would do the much shorter walk round the neighbouring Upper Rivington reservoir, and this decision was reinforced recently when I came across a map of the walk while tidying some papers and magazines at the boss’s house where I clean. The map listed a few points of interest which would be worth looking out for so yesterday I set off with the dogs and the camera to explore.
My walk started on the Rivington Embankment, the road which separates Upper Rivington and Lower Rivington reservoirs – Lower Rivington was constructed in 1856 with Upper Rivington being completed in 1857 and Anglezarke being constructed the same year. Just up the road from the end of the embankment a kissing gate set in the wall opposite Rivington village green took me to a footpath bordering farmland; according to the map a stone face, which had once adorned a local village inn which was demolished in 1903, could be seen on the gable end of a nearby barn but with no barn in sight anywhere I came to the conclusion that it must have been demolished since the map was produced and the face no longer existed. The path eventually took me downhill, across a narrow stream and through a wooded area before reaching more open land where a rough track took me up towards Yarrow reservoir.
Now although I’d started the walk in bright sunshine the once-fluffy white clouds had amassed and joined forces to obscure the blue sky and by the time I’d reached the reservoir the afternoon was looking decidedly dull and grey. According to the map there was a face carved on the front of the drystone wall opposite the reservoir embankment – it was believed to represent a foreman who worked on the reservoir’s construction and had been carved by one of the labourers, but if there was a face there at all it was so obscured by overhanging foliage that I couldn’t find it no matter how hard I looked. I gave up eventually and instead climbed over the gate at the bottom of the embankment and walked up to the top to see what was up there. Constructed in 1868, with the embankment being raised in 1875, Yarrow was smaller than either of the Rivington reservoirs, and with views across to Winter Hill it would have looked quite nice if the sun had stayed out.
From the reservoir a wide track led down through another wooded area and eventually brought me out onto Knowsley Embankment, the road which separated Upper Rivington reservoir from Anglezarke. Nearby, and supposedly worth a visit, were the ‘waterfalls’, the overflow from Yarrow down into Anglezarke, but looking at all the green covering the floor of the channel I would assume there had been no water flowing down there for quite some time.
My walk continued along the road to the far end of the embankment then a wide tree-lined track marked ‘Private Lane’ took me off to the left. Passing a couple of stone cottages I came to The Street, an imposing residence built in the late 19th century for a local industrialist and set in its own landscaped and terraced gardens. The map had told me that close to there was a pet’s grave and though I couldn’t find it at first I eventually saw it, or rather the top bit of the headstone, sticking up close to the top of the steep bank on the right. It was far too steep for me to climb up there for a proper look so that was the third thing to go un-photographed, though I did get a shot of some of the brightly coloured flowers at the driveway entrance.
A short distance past The Street the path emerged onto open land, running first between fields then widening out into a tarmac lane alongside the west bank of Upper Rivington reservoir. A handful of cars were parked along the lane and when I looked over the wall I could see several people fishing from various spots along the water’s edge. A short distance through another wooded area and I was on the road across Rivington Embankment where I’d parked up, then with one quick shot of the village green I returned to the van and set off for home.
To be honest I have to admit that hadn’t been the best of walks as I’d found the wooded areas quite boring, and apart from the reservoir views much of the countryside had been uninspiring. I arrived home thinking that I probably wouldn’t do that one again but maybe it would have been a whole lot nicer if the blue sky and sunshine hadn’t disappeared. It was only a short walk too, just two-and-a-half miles all the way round, so who knows – maybe sometime when I’ve an hour or so to spare on a really nice day I’ll go back and do it again. And as for the dogs, well they are happy wherever I take them.
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where black-and-white buildings, quaint shops and a beautiful old church make for a lovely stroll around Church Stretton in Shropshire. If, like me, you’ve heard about it but never been there then this walk, seen through Jo’s camera lens, gives a lovely insight into the place.
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!