Pennine Way, December 2017

Photos :- here

Working in a University means that work oscillates with a termly frequency, and the end of each term usually arrives with a crescendo of stressful proportions which needs to be dissipated as soon as possible. My cure … run to the hills!

I love coming up with new routes and prefer to use public transport to facilitate them. I particularly fancied a long bog-trot to start the holiday season and where better than the Pennines?

Having recently covered Kinder and Bleaklow I decided to start with Black Hill and work my way Northwards – a decent run would see me finish somewhere North of Blackstone Edge. I set myself a minimum target of Littleborough and an optimistic finish of Hebden Bridge (34 miles). Plenty of exit routes should things not work out.

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The Wall

RatRace’s The Wall event is, essentially, a 69-mile road race with a short cross-country section in the middle. Starting at Carlisle Castle at 7am, competitors have 24 hours ( plus two grace hours ) to make their way via a well-signed route to Newcastle.
The event is very well organised, yet quite expensive (Early-bird rate was £175 in 2016). In retrospect I would say it is good value for the fee and I would recommend it to anyone who has the capability to cover this distance in the time required.

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North York Moors 100

An LDWA Hundred. Whatever the route, it’s 100 miles and each one needs ticking off. There will be hills, so they will need climbing. There are 16 checkpoints so thought needs to be given to diet and timing. And thought needs to be given to gear. I spent a long time packing my S-Lab 12 pack, so that it balanced right and everything I needed was to hand. Maps had been prepared, GPS files loaded and I knew how to use all my devices to do the task needed.
All I had to do now… was do it.
I bade Helen farewell and the mass of 500 or so runners and walkers set off at 10am from Malton School. I like my own space so I try to keep as far up the field as I can. OK, the gazelles soon disappear but it’s not long before we average runners start to form clusters and I fall in to a space between two of these. This is ideal for me. The route is good and quick – lots of lengthy stretches without stiles or major hindrances – and it’s not long before the drinks stop at Checkpoint 1 is upon us.

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Tenerife, Vilaflor to Parador

My walk on this day, near enough a walk I did three years previously, took me from Vilaflor along the GR131 to the summit of Mt Guajara, on the rim of the caldera – a climb of 4800 ft over 10 miles. The route then drops down to the crater floor and the Parador hotel which is also the bus terminus. The time constraint of having to catch the 4pm bus back down puts a real imperative into the walk.
As usual I walked up the hill from Golf del Sur to Las Chafiras to catch the 111 bus which runs along the motorway, stopping only at bus stops constructed in laybys between sliproads at motorway junctions – a very clever idea. The motorway was very busy at 7.30 am, people returning to work after the Easter weekend, but I still made Los Christianos in time for a coffee at a cafe opposite the bus stands.
Titsa bus 342 leaves the Guagua Estacion at Costa Adeje at 9.15am and arrives in Los Christianos around 10 minutes later. There are the usual mix of passengers – mountain bikers (with their steeds placed in the hold), hikers, day trippers as well as locals of Arona and Vilaflor. Bono cards are not valid on this service and the fare to Vilaflor was just over €3.

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Tenerife, Anaga Walk, Good Friday procession

Up early, 7:15 bus. Time for a coffee at Santa Cruz bus station ( good café). Tram through city is very enjoyable. Everywhere looks sleepy…Good Friday. I’m off to the North-eastern end of the Island – the Anaga mountains – which always seem highly rated but I never visited. I also wanted to see the Good Friday procession in La Laguna, so I had to do my walk and be back down in La Laguna by then.My starting point was Carmen Del Cruz, reached by taking the tram to the interchange at La Laguna from Santa Cruz.

At La Laguna the bus interchange needs watching out for but the station itself easy to navigate. Bus full and noisy, mostly walkers by the looks. Standing room only – wooden walking sticks.

Leafy suburbs, green covered hills. Not like the South at all.

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Tenerife Coastal Walk, Easter, 2017

Established over a number of visits now, a walk I like to do on arriving on Tenerife is this coastal walk from Golf del Sur – where generally we are staying – around the Southern tip of the island and along the promenades of the main resorts of Los Christianos, Play de Las Americas and Costa Adeje – finishing at the main bus station. This provides a walk of great contrasts – the first two-thirds is rough cactus-strewn land, undulating and meandering wildly and with a couple of steep ascents and awkward descents – all in (usually) very hot weather. One meets a few people on this section but generally no more than half a dozen. This all changes once the main resorts are entered and the delightful promenade assaults all the senses!
Leaving Golf del Sur by the footpath by the marina one skirts the Amarillo golf course whilst hugging the shoreline. You soon reach a small lake cut off from the sea by a narrow strip of rocks across which you must pass before the route follows the main dirt road that winds its way in and out of the bays. There are usually a number of unofficial campers along here and it’s useful to have an ultrasonic dog deterrent with you – just in case. The first objective is clear – Montana Amarillo – a volcanic crater the colour of rich caramel – which lies dead ahead. There are routes over it (by entering the caldera and climbing onto the right-hand side of the rim), or round it to the left under the cliffs (which follows the shoreline very closely – so watch the tide) or round to the right, which is by far the easiest.
Whilst the top affords good views in all direction the descent into Costa Silencio should be taken with care.

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Mahler 4 from Berlin

Spellbinding Mahler 4 from Berlin this evening, with expressive and searching singing from Camilla Tilling. This is Rattle’s last season with the BPO before moving to London, the Barbican and the LSO in September 2017.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall is superb, and available on all devices and most TVs. Whilst a £12 per month subscription may seem expensive it does give you access to an archive of 100s of concerts, stretching back to Karajan days. There are live broadcasts of each concert in the BPO season and they really do make you feel you are there. Occasionally there are interval talks and eventually the concert is added to the archive. Indeed, I shall have to wait for this particular concert to be added as I had to miss the Ligeti Violin Concerto in the first half – an outstanding and unusual work featuring a chorus of ocarinas at one point!

The sound quality is superb (best fed through your hifi or home cinema system) and if you look very closely you can see the fixed cameras at strategic points around the platform. These are remotely controlled and switched as in any event broadcast, and the cueing is generally spot-on. In this Mahler concert the balance of the woodwinds and solo horn in the Scherzo was beautiful and the huge tutti at the end of the Adagio truly powerful. Rattle’s expressions as the controlled the balance were fascinating to watch, and the individual members of the orchestra are now becoming familiar faces.

On a final note, in the App version (IOS and Android) you can download archive concerts so you can watch them whilst travelling and not need any form of internet connection.

Llandegla Roundabout (Cycle ride)

(44 miles, 2400ft) Nobody likes conceding a DNS – ‘Did not start’ – on an event. I had entered today’s Anglezarke Amble, a 24-mile stamina-draining bog-trot, but after the Labyrinthitis attack of the last week or so I decided to do something not quite as strenuous. The last two days had seen no dizzy spells and I felt in fine form when getting things ready for the ride this morning so I decided to head out to Llandegla.
Today’s route I’d done a few times before and decided to leave it more or less the same. There’s an optional hilly section in the middle of the outward journey as my route crosses the Northern end of Hope Mountain and this does skew the statistics somewhat.

The weather outside looked chilly and grey, the forecast the same:- a few spots of rain and a NNE wind of around 10mph. Despite having a generally good network of cycling routes the leaving of Chester on bike is a problem if one has to cross the River Dee as there are only a few crossings- 2 road bridges and 2 footbridges, and the former are both busy. I threaded my way past the Amphitheatre and crossed the Grosvenor Bridge, heading out through Lache towards Lower and Higher Kinnerton. This is a quick road, slightly downhill, then flat until Higher Kinnerton when the road climbs steadily. I take the road past Pigeon House Farm to bypass Hope and then take the hilly section mentioned earlier, via Pen-y-parc.
This descends to join the A5104 when, after turning left, the road climbs steadily over 3 miles from 136m to 308m before dropping slightly to the crossroads at Rhydtalog from where the A5104 climbs to 341m.

Today there was snow on the grass verges and the distant hills were all white, merging into a drizzly haze. At Llandegla my route turns East and today this meant into the wind. There was sleet in the air but not enough to hinder vision and I was soon at the Llandegla Fishery, where there is an excellent café. I usually end up at the Llandegla Outdoor Pursuits centre but I’ve been there many times recently, so decided to stop here for a change.

Hardy Anglers at LLandegla Fishery

A few hardy anglers were braving the cold and a few more were in the café. The menu is superb, coffee good and the French fries brilliant. In fact there were so many in my portion I had to have my scone wrapped for eating when I got home. This a place I need to come back to with the Staff Association walking club – right up their street!

Great cafe at Llandegla Fishery

Continuing along the A525 I cut the corner by taking the B5430 down to Coedpoeth. Here the fun begins – a lovely descent on the B-road continues (with care) through Coedpoeth until the turning on the right to Nant Mill arrives suddenly. Now the fun become excitement as the route descends with twists and turns through the very pretty Clyweddog valley thrusting you quite quickly into the suburbs of Wrexham.

The route northwards is now uneventful apart from roadworks on the Marford Hill which inserted a hiatus into a usually bumpy descent.

I entered Chester from Ecclestone and over the Handbridge. It was raining steadily now but not too cold, but the warmth of home and the promise of the uneaten scone were eagerly looked forward to.
So, no Anglezarke Amble – I have done that many times – but a wonderful ride more than compensated.

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Part 1 on Strava

Part 2 on Strava