15th June: Croxton and Ollington Hamlet
Due to an accident on the A50 Brian arrived at the starting point 45 minutes late.To our amazement there were 25 eager ramblers awaiting our arrival. After donning our boots we set of on our way for a 8 mile walk across green pastues and views towards Weaver Hills.
The weather at times was very warm and at lunch time a few of us enjoyed a cool drink at the Raddle near Hollington. After lunch we went over numerous stiles with many of them in poor condition (future jobs for the working party).
From a dodgy start, the day turned out to be a success.Thanks Brian.
7th June: Get the Abbey Habit!
The inaugural 4 mile leisurely walk introduced in this summer’s programme took place on Wednesday in a window of good weather within a week of torrential rains and dropping temperatures. The original route for the walk had had to be changed due to the closure of the canal towpath but Anne, our leader, had devised an imaginative way around this. We embarked on a route which included urban, rural and woodland walking. We began at the ancient historical site of Hulton Abbey which was founded in 1219. Many members of the group were very knowledgeable about its history and significance. Anne had done a lot of research and one of the most interesting facts was about the origin of the ‘Monks Way’. Monks were forced to pay tithes to Leek church and any who did not comply had to travel on foot to the gates of the rival abbey to be punished. The historical theme continued – albeit a bit more recent - with us walking past 3 of the walkers’ primary schools with much fond or not so fond reminiscing!
Our coffee stop was overlooking the valley of the Trent and Cauldon canal and we mused about how the hard industrial scenery of coal mines and pot banks has now been softened by the gentle greening of the landscape. A lunch stop at the end, amongst the ruins of the abbey, concluded this enjoyable and interesting walk.
Photos by Anne
Stoke/Newcastle Footpath Team with their 'stile-ish' new high-vis vests
Photo by Alan Bell
4th June: Sunny Sunday walking via 2 canals
Photo by Anne Clamp
24 happy ramblers left the roadside parking near to Snape's Aqueduct (old A50 Church Lawton) and walked through fields and woods to Scholar Green down to the Macclesfield canal. Waterproofs on/off, on/off, on and finally off as we sat next to Hall Green lock for a coffee and sandwich. Brief rain to cool down both the day and ramblers. At Hall Green, a lock was built to separate the Macclesfield canal from the Trent and Mersey canal because the water coming down the Macclesfield canal, all the way from Bosley Reservoir via the Bosley locks is from over 15km away, and it is precious. So because the Trent and Mersey would not pay for the water the excess goes to a stream, all for a difference in height of 12 inches!! From the lock we continued to the junction with the Trent and Mersey as the Macclesfield passes over it. We descended via steps to the Trent and Mersey and followed it west back to Snape's Aqueduct via 9 sets of double locks and a 30 metre drop in height. It must have been a real trial for the original boats waiting for locks to fill and empty and there was the Harecastle tunnel also on the Trent and Mersey. There was a disappointment at the end, we had to climb a stile, the rest of the walk being all gated. 24 still happy ramblers finished the walk and then most rejoined to The Lawton Arms for a rest.
Summer 2017: Group footpath maintenance team features in the national press
The efforts of Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers footpath maintenance team have been rewarded by a report in the current edition of the Ramblers 'Walk' magazine. Ramblers members will find ‘Like your stile’ featured on page 18 of the Summer 2017 edition.
Alan, the team leader, commented ‘We’re out using the paths every Sunday and just want to give something back’; a typically modest comment from a group undertaking ongoing excellent work that is often not recognised.
28th May: Dove and Marston Montgomery
It 's now confirmed - Alan is a stileophile, The stiles on this walk were many and varied. A few of them were failry easily negotiated. In the morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk through fields and woodlands, along river paths and lanes before reaching our lunch/pub stop at Marston Montgomery where we sat outside in the sunshine enjoying our refreshments. The leader's requests to move on were at last complied with and we then set off again. The afternoon proved more of a challenge for those with dodgy knees as we encountered stiles awkward either by design or through neglect or both. However, all 16 of us survived, mostly undamaged and we had Alan's navigational skills to thank for our eventual return to our cars, as the route finding was a bit of a challege at times. Joking apart, I really enjoyed the walk - well, the coffee break, pub stop, afternoon break and the bits between the stiles!. Lovely weather too. Thanks Alan.
21st May: Double Sunset and Double Scoop! in Dovedale.
Precision timing, good weather, an astro-geographical phenomenon (!) and historical footnotes were some of the themes of Sunday’s full day walk. On arrival we were told that we would be meeting some other ramblers at the lunch time pub stop at 12.31pm. Impressive reconnaissance must have led to such a confident prediction. The walk began with a short but steep ascent of Thorpe Cloud which, for a relatively small pull up, rewarded us with spectacular views of the Dove Valley and a dizzying view of the stepping stones. It was here that the leader informed us of the double sunset viewed from Lin Dale around the summer solstice, discovered by the writer Jeff Kent in 1997.
After our descent we obediently avoided the red flag area where a shooting club were practising. The walk then took us across the varied countryside and landscape of this lovely part of the Peak District with an answer as to why some farmer’s fields have rows of ridges. We were told that these are lynchets – left over from medieval ploughing. Medieval ploughs only had one blade and so would turn over the soil to make a ridge for the seeds to be planted and the furrow would be left for drainage.
On to a coffee stop in the beautiful village of Tissington with some curious ducks, a shoal of copper coloured fish in the village pond and talk of a very good pie shop. We duly arrived at the lunchtime pub stop – sort of at the time predicted - and were joined by two regular Sunday ramblers and their grandchildren. Having young people to accompany us on the afternoon walk was a delight – their energy and questions about the countryside and life in general was refreshing. On to Dove Dale itself and a stop for a delicious ice cream – I have only been on two full day walks but was assured that this happens all the time! A great walk, ably led by some Welsh chap, who I sort of know.
Good luck to Dora on her 100 mile challenge walk in the North York Moors next weekend.
7th May: Alton/Gallows Green
On a gloriously sunny and warm day, Helen led a walk from the Ramblers Retreat that started at the crack of dawn (well, about 09.00). The morning found the ten of us (including Chris from Nottingham for the second week in succession) going what seemd to permanently up hill (or 'up bank' as it seems to be described in this almost northern outpost) - obviously not true, but at my age it doesn't need much of an incline to get the heart pumping. Just prior to the scheduled lunch stop at the White Hart in Alton Helen took us on a small detour to hobbit land, aka the Alton Towers Enchanted Village, via a car park which invited guests to 'put your car to sleep' while enjoying their stay in exotically named accommodation such as the Chocolate Suite. After a pleasant interlude in the pub Helen whipped us into shape, going up more slopes than exist in the himalayan foothills - luckily matching these with downhill bits to allow us (me) to get our (my) breath back. Along the walk we were able to enjoy glorious views, buzzards circling to feast on any fallen ramblers and a herd of deer which put on a display of synchronised cantering as they crossed and re-crossed our path through the Bamford estate, along with mother nature's spectacular display of bluebells and many other flora, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say that they were not ones I stumbled across too often during my childhood in West London.
Overall a very enjoyable walk through varied terrain through woods, along rivers and across fields coupled with unequalled views across the English countryside, not to mention the conversations on a wide range of subjects - the very reason I joined the ramblers on retirement. A big thank you to Helen and here's to many more walks to come.
30th April: South Derwent Valley
Another fine day for a fine walk as Jan Bigley led fifteen of us, including two welcome guests from Nottingham, up and away from Cromford Mill. We climbed steadily through pastures and bluebell woodland with good views down to Cromford and the valley below. In the woods we encountered a 'bat box working party' with men up ladders and a woman in control operating a clipboard. After a few more undulations we climbed up to Crich Monument to experience good views and a bracing breeze. Then on down to the Old Black Swan for our lunchtime break. Eight cask ales were on offer but with another 5 or 6 miles to walk we couldn't do them the justice they deserved. After leaving the pub, strong and stable leadership was required to steer us to our final destination. This was ably provided by Jan but with the added benefit of being aware of the needs of those who were only just managing. We were provided with an ice cream stop where most of us were pleased with the varieties available. We then did a few more ups and downs through fields and picturesque woods before following a flatter green lane back to the village and our cars. Thanks Jan for a really good varied walk.
23rd April: Long Mynd
Fifteen of us joined Tony Ratcliffe in All Stretton, and up we went - then along the Long Mynd moorland skyline past the trig pillar - and down we went - to a fab lunch spot sunning ourselves by a stream in Little Stretton, with two of our party enacting the battle of the stones to see who could get the other the wetter... After welcome refreshments, up we went again - and down - and up - and down. Who said ‘undulating’ could cover more than 2,000 ft of ascent overall? Tony did! Seriously, thanks for a classic walk in amazing scenery when the weather got its act together with glorious sunshine by the afternoon.
22nd Jan: A winter's day on the Roaches
Hubbie Ken led a 10.5 mile walk on Sunday 22nd January. It was a racing start for the 16 of us as the wind whistled round our ears and nether regions on this cold, icy, frosty morning. We stopped at Gradbach to enjoy our mid morning break with snowflakes starting to fall. Ian was quite jealous this was not his Winter Wonderland Walk as advertised as last Sundays walk. We had our pub stop at the Winking Man where a few of us got quite competative at playing Skittles. Both Alans had secret weapons - one was left handed and one had teenage year's experience. It's amazing what hidden skills ramblers have!
After all this excitement we ventured out in to the thick mist to contine our walk via Hazel Barrow, The Blue Hills and to emerge between Hen Cloud and Rockhall. Our last climb was up onto the Roaches Ridge back to our cars. Unfortunately for Ken the Ice Cream Van was not there!!
Not taken from a bird hide, but weather was so cold it stopped the lens fully opening!
18th Jan: Turkey Trot and shorter walks in general
On Wednesday 27 colleagues enjoyed a short four mile walk in Dimmings Dale followed, for those that wished, by some excellent food and banter at the Ramblers Retreat tearoom; a former 19th century lodge. The weather was kind to us and the occasional mud underfoot added to the charm of the day. Great thanks are due to our leader, Malcolm, for both leading the walk and for liaising with the tearoom so we were all accommodated and welcomed.
On the following day the group committee discussed shorter walks in general. This was at the request of some of our more mature members, but it was also felt that some newer members might also appreciate the opportunity to walk shorter distances to ‘get into their stride’. Hence there will be a small number of 4 mile walks within our forthcoming half day calendar replacing, on the odd occasion, our typical 6 mile jaunts. You will find these by scanning the mileages given for each walk in our walks’ programme that is freely available on-line and is distributed in hard copy to all our members. We also ask our leaders to consider whether they might want to lead such a walk in the future.
We do not promise a group meal at the end of every shorter walk, but eating your own packed lunch in a rural setting at the end of a gentle stroll can be a treat in itself!
7th Jan: Bus walk
A crowd of us met at Hanley bus station for Brian's walk through the city. Most had come by bus, but some had driven in and parked.
We caught the bus to Hanford, got off by the filling station and picked up the River Trent to walk into Stoke. Kingfishers are regularly seen on that stretch but we weren't in luck - probably because of all the chattering going on.
We emerged briefly into the streets of Stoke before dropping again, down to the Trent & Mersey Canal. After a coffee stop at Etruria Industrial Museum, our route took us through Festival Park and up behind the ski slope onto Festival Heights. A tranquil walkway, unknown to most of us, led us to Burslem and a friendly pub stop. Since there was no food on that day, the landlord allowed a couple of us to bring in Wright's Pies from the shop down the road. Suitably refreshed, we enjoyed a stroll around Burslem Park, then followed the old loopline into Hanley Forest Park. Two of the group felt obliged to climb the old slag heap to enjoy the view while the rest had a cup of tea from the kiosk.
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