CV#03 – Sinderland & Carrington Moss

Carrington Moss trig point 23mCV lockdown walk from the door #3.

This circuit uses a section of the Bridgewater Way to reach the woodland park paths following Sinderland Brook westwards to the disused rail trackbed through the Carrington estate. Good tracks enable a diversion around part of Carrington Moss before returning on the trackbed to join the Transpennine Trail by lane to Seamon’s Bridge.

Carrington Moss is a broad expanse of farmland reclaimed from peat bog that is nigh on flat as a pancake. A trig point right in the middle of it is begging to be bagged for its curiosity value alone and a lattice of good tracks enables a very pleasant walk to it.

The narrow path of the disused rail trackbed through the Carrington Estate is not maintained, not a right of way and is not endorsed by any signage, but is clearly quite well known to locals at its eastern end. West of Brookheys Farm, the trackbed is impassable but a walker path is established on the south side of the line.
The line was used by oil trains serving Carrington refinery whose extensive infrastructure can be seen from the trig point and nearby tracks.

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CV#02 – Transpennine Trail, Bridgewater Way & Dunham Massey

Dunham MillThe CV lockdown wears on with another three weeks announced this morning. This week has seen excellent clear sunny weather and we did a 5-mile walk on nearly deserted local leafy roads a couple of days ago. Today was our first chance for a longer walk worth a report.

This local circuit follows the Transpennine Trail west from Seamon’s Bridge skirting Heatley and Oughtrington to Lymm, returning on the Bridgewater Way along the canal to Little Bollington and through the National Trust (NT) park of Dunham Massey.

The buildings and gated gardens of NT properties are closed for the lockdown along with their car parks, meaning a very quiet and peaceful experience in the Dunham Massey parkland, but everywhere else, people were out in large numbers in the very warm sunshine, more than we have ever seen before on this route even at the height of a normal summer. Some deft manoeuvres were required at times to maintain distance on the canal towpath.

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CV#01 – Bridgewater Way & Transpennine Trail

The Mersey and TPTThe CV (CoronaVirus) lockdown has been upon us for what seems like ages but is actually just 2 or 3 weeks now. Public transport is off limits for all but essential travel for everyone, but particularly for us since we are in an at-risk group due to age and I had that pulmonary embolism a few years back that we think weakened one of my lungs.

For the forseeable future it’s quick walks into town for supplies and longer exercise walks from the door, maintaining distance from other people. The idea for this circuit came from a forced (effectively) 15-mile return walk to my regular NHS appointment for an INR checkup last week, it has temporarily been relocated to the main hospital around 8 miles away:- no way would I risk taking a bus confined with other people and the potential viral load in such an enclosed space.

This local circuit follows the Bridgewater Way along the canal to join the Transpennine Trail at the NCN 62 cycle route that meets the River Mersey and returns on tracks and lanes through woodland and countryside to the west.

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Around Dovedale 2-day backpack

Pitch on Dove CragA short 2-day winter circuit of the fells around Dovedale to the south-west of Brothers Water.

Late starts, short daylight hours and bus timetables greatly limit the possibilities for winter backpacks but the forecast was for clear and very cold days that made this little round most rewarding. We packed the microspikes but didn’t need them, it was so cold on the tops that the thick frost encrusting the rocky landscape was dry and crunchy, not slippery at all. The ice was very patchy and easily avoided despite the recent heavy rains, it also helped considerably with the boggy bits.

The culmination of the round as the light was quickly fading was a superb pitch on Dove Crag.

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Aran Ridge south-west 2-day backpack

Pitch on GlasgwmA solo traverse of the Aran ridge from south to north, taking a new approach from the south-west to include Foel Benddin, our only unclimbed Dewey 500m summit in the range.

Foel Benddin is most inconsiderate in its situation and topology: forming a final spur off the southern end of the ridge, it is dauntingly steep on all other sides, difficult to access, pathless and rarely visited or mentioned. This route approaches the ridge around the south-western slopes of the Arans and uses a zigzag forest track on the flank of the hills to gain most of the height, leaving just a short out-and-back to gain the summit.

Conditions were strange on this trip: both days had superb clear views in unbroken sunshine, but overnight the wind increased from almost zero to very strong with gale force gusts over the hills, often making the ridge walking difficult and tiring. The whole route was deserted until I met a handful of walkers ascending the lower slopes near the end approaching Llanuwchllyn.

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Ruabon Moors 2-day backpack

Pitch on Ruabon MountainThe first backpack after a 9-week recovery from the dreaded plantar fasciitis, very nearly healed now.

A 2-day route traversing the Ruabon moors to the north-east of Llangollen, an extensive area of high heather moorland forming the eastern fringe of the Dee hills.

The approach to Esclusham Mountain from Coedpoeth visits the Minera lead mines and skirts the extensive Minera limestone quarries, a geological site that is now an important conservation area at varying stages of recolonisation.

The southern section follows the high level traverse of Eglwyseg Mountain above the superb line of incised crags that we saw from below on our last backpack three months ago, giving excellent views to the west. This section is part of the Llangollen Round and occasionally waymarked.

The final section passes through Trevor Quarry, discovered quite fortuitously, and joins the Llangollen canal for an easy finish in Llangollen.
Both days of this trip were in almost constant sunshine, chilly nights and warm days giving excellent views.

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The Salter’s Way 2-day backpack

Pitch below Tegg's Nose summitA solo 2-day varied linear route based on the historic pack-horse trail of a medieval salt way from its mining source at Northwich on the Cheshire plain to Saltersford Hall in the hills of the western Peak District.

Needing a quick backpack route for a couple of days near to home, I thought of this little known trail that has gathered dust for many years on our books and, to our knowledge, has never been reported. Most of the Cheshire plain section is new territory of low level country walkling, while the Peak District section presents some new paths and some familiar hillwalking landscapes from a different vantage.

On public transport, Lostock Gralam station seemed a better choice than Northwich for walking to the start of the SW: though a little longer, there is a towpath to follow along the Trent & Mersey canal. To complete this backpack, from Saltersford Hall I ascended to the ridge of Windgather Rocks and descended into the Dale of Goyt to join the Midshires Way northwards to Whaley Bridge station.

Northwich, along with Middlewich and Nantwich, are the main towns historically based on the salt trade and the westernmost section of the SW passes a number of working brine pump installations. Other industrial themes both old and new feature periodically on this route.

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Llantysilio Hills & Eglwyseg 2-day backpack

Eglwyseg cragsA 2-day route across the Llantysilio hills to the north of the River Dee, returning via World’s End and the excellent path below the western crags of Eglwyseg Mountain. The Llangollen canal provides an easy and picturesque finish.

A summer solstice backpack for 2019, a couple of days of fine weather was at last forecast after a cold wet spell and this was a most enjoyable trip, revisiting the hills in the west and including some new sections of trail on the eastern side, in particular the full traverse of the excellent path below the Eglwyseg cliffs that hosts a fragment of the Offa’s Dyke Path.

In July 2018 the flanks of Llantysilio Mountain were ravaged by a moorland fire and this traverse of Moel y Gamelin was a sad affair, seeing the charred bare slopes that were once ablaze with the vibrant pinks of heather on our last visit in September 2002. Strategy for recovery is no doubt being discussed at length but full restoration will take years.

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The Cateran Trail 3-day backpack

Approach to An LairigA 3-day solo backpack of the Cateran Trail waymarked circular route through Perthshire and the Angus glens in south-eastern Scotland, a varied low-to-mid level route following old tracks and drove roads used by the notorious Cateran cattle raiders in bygone times.

The original 64-mile (103km) route repeats the initial 7-mile (11km) section from Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally on the return leg. On this backpack I took the documented alternative route variant from Alyth to Blairgowrie via Den of Alyth and Glendams, sometimes called the Drimmie Woods alternative route and signed as such in Alyth, that returns on a direct line and eliminates that lengthy repetition.

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The Dyfi Ridge 2-day backpack

Cribin Fawr pitchA backpack of the Dyfi group of hills, a little walked ridge traverse from Dinas Mawddwy in the east to the A487 summit pass in the west, returning to Dolgellau over the low hill country north-east of Gau Graig via the old restricted byway.

This route was a good choice for a predicted warm and sunny Easter weekend with hordes of walkers on more popular hills and some disruption on public transport in other areas. A noon start meant that we saw a mere handful of walkers on Maesglase and nobody else at all thereafter.

Full report & photos