Monday, 27 October 2014

26/10/14 - The Road to Wigan Pier

Walk from - AA Walks through History
Distance - 9 Miles
Geocaches - 10

Two members of the family are having an adventure today.  Ellie's is the most important, starting a new job placement tomorrow and moving into her new home today.  I make the most of being a removal man and start the journey early to investigate the North.

I have not been to Wigan before.  After the journey up, I check into Facebook at McDonalds at 10am and get references to make sure I order a McPie.  Things meat and pastry related are taken seriously in this neck of the woods.

Pies are taken seriously
This was seen on more than one Vehicle
My walk takes me from Wigan Pier, themed around George Orwell's book on bleak conditions of the working man in the 1930s.  Having frequently seen the brown signs from the M6, I have often wondered what Wigan Pier is.

Curiosity satisfied, as once I work out Wigan's one way system, I park up there.

Wigan Pier
Looks like a nightclub.  Sure it is not.
Trencherfield Mill
Park up at Trencherfield Mill

I set off on the walk.  First cache in Wigan is found instantaneously under a seat, next to the canal.  And its the Leeds Liverpool Canal that will provide the route for the first 4 miles or so.

Leeds - Liverpool Canal
Keep the Canal on the Right and you cannot go wrong
Blogfans will know that I am not a massive fan of canal walking, although this one is rather nice, as they go.  It is devoid of rubbish, beer cans, dog muck and tramps - which is a vast improvement on the canals of the West Midlands and London.  In fact, the only thing to watch out for are the mad mountain bikers.  By the time the walk is finished, I have frequently wished they had stuck to the mountains.

Its all up hill, meet a T-Junction at Top Lock (cache number 2 found) and then cross over a green bridge into the grounds of Haigh Hall.

Crossing into Haigh Hall
Take me into Haigh Hall
The Hall has a country park attached - complete with lots of walkers taking a stroll and a miniature railway.  It also has geocachers - as one of the many conversations I have today is with someone who spies my GPS and asks "Are you caching".

Ellie is going to find the locals very friendly.

Soon the Hall is revealed in all its architectural glory.

Haigh Hall
Haigh Hall
Views over the DW Stadium
Offering Views over the home of Wigan FC - DW Stadium
A lovely path around the back of the Hall takes me back to the canal and into another part of the Country Park - Haigh Plantations.  A high cache volume is evident - only gaps in the muggle walkers presenting a problem with finding.

Autumn in the Woods
Autumn is time to walk Haigh Country Park
Eventually I am delivered back to the canal for a 2 mile repeat of the outward leg.  Arrive back at the car and make myself respectable enough to meet my daughter's new landlord.

Timing is impeccable as I get to the house at the same time as the ladies.  Two cars worth of Student's clothes and shoes are installed on site and we head off to the Robin Hood in Orrell for something to eat.

Good luck Ellie - we are sure you will be happy here.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

25/10/14 - No Dogs

Walk Inspiration - Stage 17 of the Millennium Way
Distance - 4 Miles
Caches - 9

A short, yet delightful walk for my monthly ramble on the Millennium Way.

Back to Hockley Heath and park up at the pub.  The Wharf Tavern has a massive car park, outdoor seating and a board advertising special lunches.  Perfect, with an added bonus that it provides access to the canal.

We will be back
Typical canal walking, though eerily deserted.  Two caches at drawbridges.

Canal in the Sunshine
We leave the canal after only after a mile and enter the grounds of Packwood House.  An unexpected delight and its always nice to find something unknown and of historical interest.  This is a Tudor Farmhouse in the hands of the National Trust.  They seem to be getting a lot of visitors today.

Packwood House
Packwood House Ahoy.
Packwood House
Orimur Morimur on the Sundials - We have risen and we have Set.  Thank Google.
As it is a National Trust building, Sonia is convinced there will be Cafe selling cakes.  She tries the main house but there is a sign say a) you need tickets and b) no dogs.  We walk on.  One of the outbuildings has been converted into a teashop and all is well in the world.

Tea Stop
£8 worth of Tea of Biscuits
The toilets are fenced off and access is only possible through the Cafe.  An elderly lady rambler first protests "On No - How do you get to the loos" and when I explain, complains more vociferously that "This is unacceptable - my feet hurt".  We leave her to her detour.

A stretch of road walking, grabbing some nice and easy caches along the way and then we reach the next architectural highlight, with the Millennium Way taking us through the beautiful grounds of Church Farm.

Church is this way
Church at Church Farm
And here it is, in the middle of nowhere
Unfortunately, the Millennium Way takes us back to the start along the roads.  Things get worse as it starts to rain - so the autographer camera has to get put out of harms way.

A final cache of the day back in the Village of Hockley Heath.  You know you are in the posh part of Birmingham when the two shops nearby offer the installation of Swimming Pools and the "Cleaning of Fine Clothes".

So walk over, interesting artefacts from history looked at and to the pub.  Sonia walks in and asks if Dogs are allowed.  You know the answer from the name of the blog.

Thank the lord for the National Trust and their lovely tea.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

18/10/14 - Smell My Cheese

London Loop Stage 11
Start - Elstree and Borehamwood Station
End - Cockfosters
Distance - 10.5 Miles
Caches - 5
After a busy three weekends, I am back on the walking trail, adding another leg to the London Loop.

There is a ritual associated with these trips.  Due to the cheap rail tickets requiring an early start, refreshments are made the night before.  Malt loaf for breakfast, turkey rolls for lunch and a luxury sausage roll for a treat.  All made on the Friday night, wrapped in foil and left - with my car keys so I don't forget them - in the fridge.

Leave at 6:30am for a very busy 7:40am to Euston.  Carriage B is mental - with an army of men getting drunk and making an almighty racket.  Despite my reservation, I take Carriage A and settle down to a nice coffee and open up my Malt Loaf.

Smell my cheese
Oh Dear - I appear to have mistakenly packed the Stilton
One of the more unusual breakfasts.

Everything else with the journey goes swimmingly and thanks to going via Kentish Town, I alight at Elstree and Borehamwood station 30 minutes earlier than anticipated.

Friendly Face
Nice to be greeted by a friendly face
Cache 1 is found instantly, up on the Station Bridge.  The walking can commence and its roads all the way Scratchwood, which provides some fine walking through the woods.

Autumnal in Scractwood 
One of the great things about the London Loop is the signposting.  It really is near impossible to get lost, with the green arrows continually pointing the way.  The Hertfordshire locals have added local information to aide the weary loopers.

Superb Signage
Accurate Signage
I'm now 3/4 of the way through the path and I can say with some assurance that the worst bit of walking is on this leg.  On exiting Scratchwood, we are forced to walk about 1/2 a mile down the A1 to get to an underpass to walk the 1/2 mile back up the other side.  This is not pleasant.

From the golf course on the other side, the London Loop shares a stretch with the Dollis Valley Greenway.  Its starts off with some fairly uninspiring country walking through fields - with nothing much to look at - and gets progressively deteriorates as it skims a rough looking housing estate in Barnet.  There are a few caches to break things up.

Little going for this stretch of the Loop
Decide to cheer myself up with a lunch break in a park in the shadow of Barnet Football ground.  Open rucksack and am instantly surrounded by three dogs who have obviously been attracted by the smell of ripe cheese.

The owner calls one off by shouting "Arthur - Stop Poncing", which I am not sure is in the Barbara Whitehouse book of dog training.

More road walking and then suddenly things take a massive improvement for the better as I reach the delightfully named Monken Hadley.  The Loop does this sometimes - bores you to death and then suddenly reveals a gem of a location and introduces you to something unexpected.

All is revealed on an information board.  The location of the "Battle of Barnet" in the War of the Roses and also the home of Dr Livingstone.

It's also very pleasing on the eye.  A delight to walk through.

Dr Livingstone
Dr Livinstone's Cottage
Dr Livingstone
Hadley Green
Very Pretty Church
Enthusiasm restored, I walk through the woodland of Monken Hadley Common with renewed vigour.  A couple of caches are bagged before being delivered to the outskirts of Cockfosters, complete with a perfectly placed pub.

End of this Stage
Just what is needed.
Tube station is over the road, where I share a trip back to the capital with a mixture of Hull and Arsenal Fans who are cutting it fine.  It's 2:30pm.