Sunday, May 29, 2011

Adventures on your Doorstep

I've been taking it easy this weekend staying at home and avoiding the traditional bank holiday traffic jams. I was still in need of some sort of an outdoor fix so Chris and I dusted our bikes off in the hope of finding some adventures close to home.

The Trans-Pennine Trail runs close to where we live so we started by heading west towards Carrington Moss. The area is ideally suited to cycling and walking because of the network of paths that criss-cross the varied habitats. There is woodland, heath, open grassland and marshy areas with ponds.

Close to Altrincham we found the towpath of the Bridgwater Canal, which soon led us to grand estate of Dunham Massey. The grounds cover nearly 200 acres most of which pasture-woodland with ancient oak trees and fallow deer.

After weaving our way through the exclusive suburbs of Hale and Bowdon we crossed the River Bollin, gatecrashed a mini 'Crufts' dog training event then hurried away through dense woodland near the M56 motorway.

After winding our way along Cheshire's narrow country lanes we arrived at the sleepy village of Rostherene. The churchyard that overlooks Rostherne Mere made for a perfect place to catch our breath and take in the view across the lake. All of the excitement had developed quite a thirst so we then headed for Tatton Park for a welcome coffee stop.

All too soon we were seeing the last of the rolling Cheshire countryside as we trundled over Bucklow Hill and made good our escape back to our urban comfort-zone that is south Manchester.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keswick Mountain Festival - A blustery affair

Last year's event was held in glorious sunshine but this time the Cumbrian weather had something different to say. On Thursday and Friday tents, marquees and other temporary structures were being assembled in readiness for a weekend of sporting activities, side shows and the pedaling of associated clobber.

Saturday went smoothly enough and the crowds braved the strengthening breeze as as a few blustery showers paved the way for more persistent rain that continued late into the night.

By Sunday morning the main festival site was a scene of devastation. At first, the main marquee was a little ragged but looked  as if it might survive.

By 10am it had come crashing down and was being hurriedly cleared away. Let's hope for better weather for the event next year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stormy Rhoscolyn

It seems that last month's weather was more typical of June and now that we are in the merry month of may, April has jumped in with wellies on. Sunshine and blustery showers dominated the weekend as Dave and I spent a weekend on Anglesey at the pretty village of Rhoscolyn.

On the way to north Wales we visited our friend Ray who has recently retired. He has been making good use of his spare time setting up a workshop and making 'Greenland style' paddles. Ray is an excellent craftsman and his paddles are of unquestionable quality.

We arrived at the campsite just in time to get the tents up before the next squally shower came in.

The strong northwesterly winds left us few options for paddling, so we launched at Four Mile Bridge soon after high tide and followed the ebbing waters towards Rhosneigr.

We then followed the beautiful craggy shores, rock-hopping all the way back to Rhoscolyn.

Finally, on Sunday we found that the persistent winds had brought surf to Sandy Beach.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Anglesey 'Symposium'

The word 'symposium' strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of many sea kayakers. However, I don't really mind it all that much. This is because the word has its origins in the times when Greek scholars would get together under the guise of exchanging wisdom, whilst actually just having a right old knees up!

The relentless easterly breeze tried its best to spoil things and some plans had to be altered but blue seas and brilliant sunshine won through.

Photo: Olly Sanders
I spent plenty of time rock-hopping and exploring caves whilst trying out the new Aries from P&H Custom Kayaks.

Off the water, the symposium base at the Anglesey Outdoor Centre was a hive of activity with retailers and manufacturers peddling their wares. Evening talks and slide shows, and the newly refurbished Paddlers Return Bar completed the festival atmosphere as beer-fueled tall tales ran late into the night.