5th Feb: Timbersbrook and The Cloud
Better a carpark that's closed than a pub that's not open! Our leader directed us to a better parking spot anyway so all was well to start. The cream of the Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers (9 of us) then enjoyed an excellent walk from Timbersbrook. In the morning we spent some time exploring several paths on the slopes of The Cloud with fine slightly misty views in different directions over the surrounding countryside. We then climbed to the trig point for our coffee break where we encountered a man with a tall mast talking loudly into his radio equipment, possibly to Australia. There was also a small dog energetically trying to dig his way there. Leaving the entertainment it was all downhill to the very welcoming pub (Coach and Horses) on the outskirts of Timbersbrook. With immaculate bad timing we left the pub just as Wales were about to kick off their rugby game against Italy. Our leader Brian, being Welsh, probably assumed his team would do better if he wasn't watching them. And so it turned out. The afternoon was a pleasant walk back to the cars, avoiding the worst of the mud that was lurking on most ot the paths to trap the unsuspecting rambler. Thanks Brian (and helpers) for enduring all the mud on the recce so that rest of us softies didn't have to go home with dirty gaiters.
Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers contribute to BBC urban walking feature
Representatives from the Stoke/Newcastle group joined the BBC News Media and Arts Correspondent, David Sillito, and a recording team for a short walk along the Cauldon Canal and a discussion on the pleasures of urban walking. The focus of the recording was Dan Raven-Ellison who is currently walking across all of the UK’s 69 cities and 15 national parks and has said that Stoke was full of surprises. Dan wears a headset while walking to record his brain activity, collecting data to help illustrate how landscape influences our mood, health, and happiness. When asked to suggest an interesting city, Dan said that Stoke had been full of surprises..
The much-edited recording appeared on BBC 1’s Breakfast show on Monday 30th January at approximately 6.52 AM. If you are interested, you can currently access the program at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08c3k4p/breakfast-30012017 where you can fast forward to the relevant part.
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!
17th Jan: Gun Hill
While doing a recce over Gun Hill, as the sun was setting behind me I caught this amazing shadow of myself, spread out towards the Roaches.
15th Jan: Walking in a Winter Wonderland
This was Ian Swift's walk.....well let's now re- title it ...Trudging in a January Wetland! Eleven brave souls turned up at Whitmore Village Hall for the start of the 12 mile walk around Maer Hills. There was originally talk of mutiny and going for breakfast at a nearby hostelry or even having a day out at Dagfields. However the rambler genes in us all said we are not wusses, and so we all donned on every waterproof garment we had and set off. The rain persisted and so did the banter. We enjoyed a cosy, dry lunch stop in a pub in Ashley where we had a snug to ouselves. Then back out into more heavy sludge, slurry, mud and rain. Ian had done his homework and made notes about the history and burial of Josiah Wedgewood at Maer Church. Unfortunately for him, he gave us a choice of a ten minute detour and speech or carry on up the hill. We all seemed to turn into hill sprinters whilst Ian stood, wet paper in hand. Never give a rambler a choice especially when it's pouring down!
Another enjoyable day out.
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.
Read more: 7th Jan: Bus walk
4th Dec: Christmas lunch
The weather was dry and sunny as 35 of us left the Rose and Crown at Stanley on a 5 mile walk.
Area AGM - Sunday 27th November
The nicely decorated Christmas-themed Burntwood Memorial Community Hall for the Area Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 27th November was pretty much packed with members from most of the 15 Staffordshire Ramblers Groups (approximately 85 members). We all settled down to the usual mundane, and predictable, election of officers for the next 12 months after enjoying a choice of two walks – 7 miles or 5 miles – in mild sunny weather, for those who arrived to take advantage of them. Well organised by the Chase & District Group – the cakes, tea & biscuits were excellent. After the main business was over, an interesting talk was given by Anne Walker of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Incidentally, vacant posts on Area Committee are: vice-chairman, countryside officer and publicity secretary.
Richard & Anne Clamp
Rambling Away Eggheads victory features in local and national press
The success of Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers team 'Rambling Away' on the popular BBC TV quiz show 'Eggheads' has been featured in both the Stoke 'Sentinel' newspaper and the current edition of the Ramblers 'Walk' magazine.
The Sentinel article was published on 9/11/2016 and is currently available at http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/newcastle-ramblers-we-went-on-eggheads-and-won/story-29877724-detail/story.html.
Ramblers members will find the Walk magazine feature on page 20 of their Winter 2016 edition of Walk.
The team of Susan, Doreen, Pete, Rob, Richard and Stephen would like to thank their colleagues for the kind messages of support they received.