The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Wensleydale Bash.

Fourteen experienced hikers had been invited by Martin and Sue Bamfield to join them in the take over of the wonderful Eastfield House in Leyburn North Yorkshire for a weekend of banter with some walking thrown in for good measure.
Apart from Martin and Sue and Sheila and I, the party consisted of Conrad, Mick and Gayle Blackburn, Graham Brookes, Humphrey and Mary Weightman, Mike and Marion Parsons, Sue Oxley, Ali Ogden, Richard and Jennie Craven.

Friday evening's meal was wonderful, provided by Martin, consisting of luxury fish pie, meat or veggie lasagne. I think most folk had all three.
The evening passed all too quick and i wished i had taken a few more bottles of Holts Two Hoots.

I was particularly interested in Mike Parson's new venture which he with the help of others is putting together. Its basically about training the trainers on outdoor fabrics. It's far too much to go into detail here but check out the facebook page to get a better idea.

Saturday, 12 of us drove to Redmire station from where our walk started. Martin had the route and i made the mistake of not downloading the map onto my iphone. Having paid the OS to have the UK at 1:25,000 i never checked my downloads. Hence, i just had a red arrow on a white screen. I learned a lesson today.

Wensleydale is superb walking country, wide open expanses of agricultural land enclosed by undulating hills with exposed scars intersected by peat coloured rivers with stunning falls. Castles and pretty villages.
Looking out across Wensleydale.
We had our first meander in the village of Redmires but normal service was quickly resumed when a footpath sign was spotted a little further on.
Apedale Beck was crossed by a sturdy footbridge and led across fields to Bolton Castle. It was quiet here, no hordes of visitors, no cars or voices, just the aroma from the rising smoke from numerous chimneys.

I was suffering with a dodgy knee, the cause is still under debate, could it be worn out cartilage or is it arthritis? The jury is still out. However, it isn't pleasant. I decided against my better judgement to use walking poles. This is the first time i have ever walked with them and will probably/hopefully be the last. What i noticed from the off was that i couldn't be bothered releasing myself from the pole straps to get my camera out to take pictures as and when. All rather frustrating. Its the learning curve you know.

It was a dry muggy sort of day but with lots of dark clouds intermittent with bright. Some times it looked as though it was about to pour down whereas at other times you could sunbathe.
We had a quick break for coffee at some point north of Carperby. 
Down beyond Carperby we crossed the River Ure and decided lunch was about due and following that another meander, so it was duly taken. I think we should be called the Backwards Walking Club. Meanders are fun though and should always be included somewhere within a walk. In fact they should be compulsory.

A huge steep hill (cough) led us into Aysgarth. A lovely village and worth a visit. We entered and left quite quickly, it may have been due to the plague, i'm not sure.

 Addlebrough
 Ominous clouds.
 Dropping down to Carperby.
Sue, astride the Ben Samualson, Bambury Mower circa 1900.
 (Two images above.) Due to another very impressive meander, which you really had to have been there and done it to appreciate that this meander was a catagory "A".
 We stumbled upon this fine mower. There seems to be a growing number of agricultural vehicle lovers amost the blogging community so a little history here won't go amiss.

The mower was built by a splendid chap called Ben Samuelson in his factory, The Britannia Works at Bambury in Oxfordshire. This chap was a special person, way before his time. He looked after his workforce in ways that puts todays rich company owners to shame. The wages he paid to employees was double the average in the area, he looked after the welfare and education of the families. And visa versa they looked after him too, producing 650 of these machines as well as numerous other pieces of agricultural equipment per month. They were so well made there are still many examples of this horse drawn mower to be found up and down the country. We saw two on this walk alone.
This one dates at about 1900-1905.

The above image shows two Fordson type N tractors dating from around 1937. Its a shame that they are in a graveyard and not being restored. I wonder how much i can get them for. (Just kidding Sheila). Just to the right is another Samuelson mower.
This is what they could look like restored.
Anyway i have started a meander of my own here. So back to the walk.
Just before we got to Aysgarth upper falls we crossed a camp site where a motor home had become bogged down. The arrival of a dozen willing hands must have been a sight from heaven. But we looked the other way and walked on.
Of course we didn't, we tried our best but it was to no avail, we couldn't get it out of the grass. A restored Fordson would of though.
The falls were busy with visitors as its on a roadside and there is a cafe. A few photographs and then away from the bustle we went.
Aysgarth Upper Falls
The Upper falls lacked a bit of power due to the good weather recently but the lower falls were a bit more spectacular, good force and sound.
 Aysgarth lower falls
 Sheila and I, photo taken by Mick Blackburn.

 The group shot off, heading downstream, we hadn't realised until we were last 2 standing. Getting back onto the footpath we spied and caught up with Conrad and within a minute or two saw the disappearing heads of the group. At this point Sue caught us three up, she too had somehow gone astray. This was not classified as a meander.
The sun came out and blue skies made for a warm afternoon. Castle Bolton was bathed for a few minutes, just enough for myself and Mike P to get a photo.
The group, well ahead must have been chatting because some went the wrong way and had to backtrack which allowed us slow coaches a chance to catch up. A couple of high stiles had to climbed and i slipped on the downward step and clobbered my sore knee, it had to be that one didn't it.
In a bit of discomfort i soldiered on.

Approaching Redmires our path had a sign which said "NO RIVER CROSSING HERE". Well that was all it needed for the advance party to see a bit of a challenge. Off we went to find the river. When we got there, Apedale Beck, it was hardly in spate so Martin, Sheila and I splashed through the knee deep pools, Graham B decided he wanted a bath and so belly flopped into the cold throwing his rucksack into the water just for good measure.

The rest, decided to use the bridge which was about 20yds further up stream. Wimps thats all i will say. So i ask myself "why the sign saying no river crossing here". PASS.

With only a short distance from our start point i didn't empty my boots of the water but squelched my way back.

All in all a cracking walk in good company and now hungry enough to enjoy evening meal in Restaurant 13 in Leyburn. I will not mention the Apple crumble, because i said i wouldn't mention the Apple Crumble again!!!!

Here's our route. 20.4km.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finding the Manchester, Bury Bolton Canal.

Up to a few months ago i had never even heard of the Manchester, Bury, Bolton canal. In fact, asking my friends and neighbours, neither had any of them, except one who had been taken there on a day out with his photography club.

I contacted the society and enquired about getting a guide book. Well worth the money at only £4 plus p and p. It is, or rather was, a well used canal mainly ferrying coal but today most of it is in a sorry state and parts of it are filled in. However reading the book and learning about it's life triggered me into exploring what i could find of it in the Manchester City centre area.

As a brief intro, the canal was opened in 1790 between Bury, Bolton and Agecroft. The link from Agecroft to the Irwell in Salford, just on the outskirts of Manchester, wasn't completed until 1808.
It was built to take wide beam boats with wooden containers for ease of extraction.

Setting off on the south bank of the River Irwell, I first came to what I  thought was a dry dock next to the Victoria and Albert Hotel. It turns out that this is the start of another canal, the Manchester and Salford Junction canal, now unused and its route is mainly underground. It was built in 1839 to link the Manchester Bolton Bury canal and the River Irwell with the Rochdale Canal.It goes from here under Granada Studios across town and exits close to The Bridgewater Hall. It was closed in 1922.
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, the River Irwell is beyond the open lock gate. This section was rejuvenated when the adjacent Victoria and Albert hotel was built.

My route onwards was blocked by high fencing and a huge amount of work was underway. It was right where I had intended to go and I was a bit miffed that I couldn't get onto Prince's Bridge. It turns out that a new "Ordsall Chord" as its called is being built to join the railway line from Victoria Stn via Oxford Rd Stn to Piccadilly Stn. It's a huge undertaking but why the need for solid fencing which stops the general public from viewing progress is going a bit far. It seems to be the norm in Manchester to have these restrictive fences on all new works.
The link HERE is worth clicking on.

Within the budget for the Chord is also provision for a new pedestrian/cycle bridge which will cross the River Irwell underneath the railway bridge.
 The River Irwell, high fencing stopping pedestrian progress on the left. The new rail Chord will be going above the new yellow pedestrian bridge replacing Princes Bridge. 

 Construction ongoing of the Ordsall Chord.
The entrance to the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal is under the left arch. This is as close as i could get to seeing it in relation to the River Irwell.

I was determined to find the canal, I had to walk quite a diverted route onto Ordsal Lane where I managed to glimpse the canal and the first lock, again it was behind large screens and fencing but i managed to squeeze the camera through a gap. I had no chance of getting down to the canal itself. Across the new road more of the same fencing denying access to the public towpath.
The entrance to the River Irwell from the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal. 

Again, not giving up I did another detour onto Oldfield Rd where once more on both sides of the road enclosing massive building works, more high solid fencing. From the advertising fixed to the fencing i assume that thousands of new homes are to be built waterside with funding from China.
To my amazement I found a small access gap where the fencing had not yet shut off. Some workmen in high vis gear and hard hats watched my every move but didn't stop me getting down to the canal. It wasn't the old canal but a modern new section. It turns out that this section from the River Irwell up to Oldfield Rd was rebuilt and opened in 2008! I must admit that I don't remember reading or hearing anything about this development.  But here it was and I managed to walk the majority of the new towpath.

The old canal, just before its entrance or exit into the River Irwell used to turn north east into Canada Sidings and Canal Street Sidings which were rail goods yard. Although this area has now been bulldozed and cleared and behind high fencing the branch has not been reinstated. There also used to be a run off channel for when the canal water became too high. This channel or culvert, I am not sure which it was, may also be missing.
The junction between the canal and river is also in a slightly different location than the original was. The original can still be seen with a bit of investigation but I couldn't get near to take a photo.

This new section of canal ends at Oldfield road, the old Outwood, Oldfield and Crescent warves completely filled in and beyond that as it follows the railway past Salford Crescent Station for about 3.6km (2.25 miles) until you get to Park House Bridge at Agecroft.

LNWR bridge and canal tunnel under the new ring road.

Looking South East Into Manchester.

Looking North West from Ordsall end.


 Looking North West towards Oldfield Rd.


Winding Hole.

Under Oldfield Road.
 Algae growth.

 Looking South East. The building work and security fencing made access to the canal almost impossible. The area must have been a hive of activity in the hay days. Here three large wharves unloaded boats full of coal and stone primarily. 
Who goes there!

At Park House Bridge I joined the towpath proper. Some water was visible but mainly the canal is overgrown with bulrushes. The towpath is in very good condition and looks like it has been laid fairly recently. It had started to rain, quite heavily and prolonged and waterproofs were required.
Just about 5 minutes after joining the towpath a Kingfisher flew past, low and fast, a fantastic sight.
It was too fast to get a photo unfortunately.
The old canal proper, with towpath access at Park House Bridge.


 When we reached this point, SD 804013 it looked like a new road was being constructed. There was also construction excavators on the opposite bank. We thought it odd.
Our chatter woke many Greyhound Dogs which started barking loudly, loud enough to wake the dead we thought as we passed the Jewish cemetary.


Passing underneath the A6044 brought us into a section where the canal had more water. It was quiet, eerily so. No people, no birds, no cars, no sounds at all and then we heard a few dogs barking from Mayfield Kennels and a sign which gives "keep out" a stronger meaning.


The rain had stopped and the day had turned into a pleasant one. The towpath became muddier and the canal more and more overgrown. A number of paths headed off into the Clifton Junction area and then once across the aqueduct with the River Irwell below us, we lost the canal completely. Lots of fences prohibiting access to land, and the way forward not obvious. At this point we decided that we had done enough for today and so headed back along the banks of the Irwell which was a pleasure to walk along. 

Coming to the end of this section of canal.
The disused aqueduct that carried the line from Clifton to Radcliffe. its now a footpath and one to remember for another day.



The River Irwell from the canal aqueduct.
The Irwell from the footpath.
 It was an interesting day out and good to do something on our doorstep that we didn't know was there. The canal section through Salford is going to be a big job to re-instate and i am doubtful it will be done in my lifetime. However the section from Salford to Clifton should be easy enough if the funding is there for it. We are looking forward to doing the next section which i am led to believe is mainly in water with lots of interest along the way. Can't wait.

Some further reading:-
 Canal plan here.
Canal routes here.
Wikipedia, history. here.
Manchester Bolton Bury Canal Society. Here



Friday, September 30, 2016

'uddersfield to Marsden - along the Narrow Canal.

Thursday 29th September 2016
Walking with Terry

After the debacle we had with public transport a couple of weeks ago when we went to Adlington we took some Librium and set off again for Manchester by bus. From home its only 8 miles but it took us 1 hour 10 minutes. How folk do this on a regular basis commuting to work is beyond me and i think i would be seeking help from a psychiatrist.

Anyway we got to the re-vamped Victoria train station, and what a nice job they have made of it btw, in good time to get tickets to 'uddersfield and a coffee from the tax dodgers, you know who i mean.

On time and direct we were in 'uddersfield by 10.30am. It must have been 10 degrees colder  than Manchester, everyone dressed for winter and it was spitting with rain and blowing a hooley.

 Huddersfield's wonderful railway station with added water feature.
Heading south or down hill, the town was quite busy and although i had promised myself a bacon butty upon arrival, i wasn't going to queue up for it, and Gregg's was packed to the door.
The wind was bitterly cold and once out of the protection of the buildings it was almost blowing us over. 
We reached the narrow canal at lock 3, adjacent to the Kirklees College. The clouds were getting darker and no sooner had i taken the photo below did the heavens open. With blue sky around we took shelter under a tree rather than don waterproofs and as it happened this was to become the theme of the day. Only on one wide open area did we get caught out.
 Kirklees College with a rain shower approaching.
 Approaching the Longroyd railway viaduct. Opened in 1899. Clouds looking ominous.
 The Brittania fabric mill. 
Still operational and the weaving looms could be heard through the open windows. 

 Milnsbridge with the new-ish canal side apartments.
Just passed this point there was a huge Police presence, lots of vans and the regional marine unit. What looked like forensic units, all masked up. I didn't take photographs for obvious reasons and we guessed that maybe a body had been found in the river Calder, but that might be just our imaginations.
The Calder passes under the canal and since our last visit here a new path had been installed down to the weir which is quite impressive.



 Appleyard Bridge and locks.
 Going dark again as we approach Titanic Mill, now apartments.
 Dad, what are these two looking at.
 The section of canal from Linthwaite to Slaithwaite, (pronounced Slowit) is sheer delightful to walk but today quite a few sections were very low on water.
 The smell of cooking was too much to resist and tummies were rumblin', so we popped into the Lock 22 cafe and had FEB (full English Breakfast) with coffee. Wonderful, very friendly cafe and good value.
 Terry was eyeing up the Empire brewery and wondered if they had any free samples. The barrels outside were empty. There used to be a floating tea room along this section but it's not here today. We wondered if the Bakery cafe next to the Brewery had seen it off. Shame because it was a nice experience to have tea on the boat.
 A bit of blue sky followed us for a while and the sun made an appearance for us to enjoy. In the centre of the above photo is a solar powered flow meter, so they must get quite a bit of sun here. You don't see these meters very often.
 A fine walk up to Sparth reservoirs brought us to within distance of the train line to Marsden where we saw our train passing by. We had missed it by about 10 minutes and so would have to wait another hour.

 Going up the Marsden flight of locks.
 Getting to the station and having to wait 50 minutes for the train we did the only thing left to do and that was to visit the Railway Pub. Now we wasn't looking forward to this because last time it was a keg pub with no real ale but surprise surprise, they had 5 or 6 real ales on. Say no more, what time is that train.
Inside the railway Pub at Marsden. Outside it was horrible, gale force winds and spitting rain, we might be here some time.
We did just over 12km.

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