December Derring do's



Sunday December 2nd. Lune Valley Ramble.

17 miles from Lancaster. Leader: Ruth Redmayne.


12 people assembled in Rylands Park in Lancaster on a fine but frosty morning for the Lune Valley Ramble.  The route follows the River Lune from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale.  Having crossed the river to the south bank by the millennium footbridge, we proceeded along the disused railway under the canal and the motorway to Crook of Lune, where we met up with a couple of local walkers who joined us for the remainder of the day. 
The path from Caton follows the north bank across water meadows and patches of woodland with superb views of Ingleborough on a crisp clear winter's day.   Lunch was taken by the Loyne bridge at Gressingham and we arrived in Kirkby Lonsdale at about 3:30 in time to buy a hot drink before catching the bus back to Lancaster at 4:15.


Thank you to John and Mark for the photos.



Wednesday December 5th. Out on a Lymm.

15 miles from Altrincham. Leader: Richard Nelson.



A beautiful, bright and sunny winter’s day, exactly to the specification ordered by the leader when he agreed to do a walk in December, welcomed our eight intrepid walkers to the Clock Tower at Altrincham Bus/Tram/Train station. The Group Walks Secretary had sent out an email to members strongly encouraging them to use the tram. Good advice, but advice which he didn’t follow himself, much to his regret, as he later struggled home through the commuter traffic.


We set off from Altrincham Interchange and weaved our way along footpaths through what used to be goods yards, leading to the historic ‘Goose Green’, home of Costello’s Bar, the Dunham Massey Brewery Tap, and Trafford Pub of the Year 2012. More of which later. The bar was closed but some of our group still stared through the glass in desperation, hoping that a pint might be served.


Passing along Regent Road, we paused briefly to view the Blue Plaque on the side of The Grapes pub to the 161 men from 70 houses (29 of whom lost their lives) in Chapel Street who volunteered in WWI. This was once known as the bravest street in Britain, now it is just a car park!


We turned into Norman’s Place, named not the more illustrious member of our party, but after the local landowner. This is now a conservation area, (not wishing to imply that our Norman needs to be conserved), of late Georgian and early Victorian houses.


The Narrows, formerly the ancient burying track to Bowdon church, led us onto a public space called the Devisdale. One of our party, Viv, remembered being given the day off school to attend the Altrincham Agricultural Show which used to be held here. It is now mainly used by dog walkers.


On the far side of this we admired the small public gardens of Denzell House (1874) and crossed the A56 onto a path leading across Dunham Forest golf course, once part of Dunham Massey Park. The Golf club was established in the early 1960s to serve the South Manchester Jewish Community who faced tacit prejudice against joining other clubs.


Dunham Massey Hall is famous for its deer but they had heard we were coming and kept a safe distance, probably because the annual cull had taken place recently. Just a heron here today. We took the opportunity to use the hall’s facilities and have a drink break before making our way through Little Bollington, across the teeming River Bollin and onto the Bridgewater Canal.


We headed west and left the canal at Agden Bridge where the group stopped to admire a mid Victorian cast iron water point case that is a listed structure. Someone irreverently suggested that it would have been sold for scrap round their way.


Crossing the fields we headed uphill - well, hilly for Cheshire - for the landmark Oughtrington Church. The views from the ridge were truly amazing with Peel Tower on Holcombe Moor and Winter Hill being clearly visible as well as the monstrous Beetham Tower in Manchester. Norman generously awarded a point to the leader for arranging a walk from which the hills of Lancashire could be seen.


We followed footpaths and tracks to Lymm Church which overlooks Lymm Dam.  A traditional rush cart is still brought up to the church from the village each August. The Dam is a very beautiful place at any time of the year and attracts the good people of Lymm to come out in their finery on a good day. On one of the recces for this walk our leader spotted more top of the range outdoor gear than could be contained in a branch of ‘Cotswold’. Well it was a bit chilly and one does need one’s North Face Summit Series and Mountain Equipment down jacket to tackle such conditions for a Sunday constitutional.


Here we took our lunch on the benches overlooking the Lake where wildlife abounds. A brave squirrel took the title of our walk seriously as he nibbled bark suspended above the lake. As we continued around the Dam, our Norman regaled us with tales of how his parents used to bring him here as a child on a seat on the cross bar of a tandem. He remembered seeing soldiers training on a zip wire and being entertained as some didn’t make the crossing and fell into the lake.


Lymm was famous once for its Fustian Cutters but now is more a dormitory for Manchester and Warrington and has more restaurants and bars than the fustian cutters would recognise. It has an ancient market cross in the centre whose steps have been worn away by countless backsides.


We took Pepper Street out of Lymm to a footpath running alongside the Bridgewater Canal, returning to Oughtrington. Points were deducted here because the path was waterlogged. We passed through the hamlet and across the fields towards Heatley. Here two of our party had a silent weep at the site of the Railway public house where they had misspent so much of their time at the folk club that used to be located there.


Here we joined the Trans Pennine trail and followed this for about 2.5 miles, crossing the Bollin Valley long distance path. At the point where we joined the trail, some of our group stopped to inspect Heatley & Warburton Railway Station opened in 1853 and closed in 1962. Thirst got the better of us so we stopped briefly near one of the bridges for an afternoon cuppa before joining the Bridgewater Canal towpath across a permissive path.


We came off the canal at the Bay Malton pub, crossed the canal bridge and walked along the rood for half a mile. A sudden left turning took us along a very ancient path which is on the line of the Roman Road from Manchester to Chester. Crossing the town boundary we took a right along a path through a modern estate to John Leigh Park which we crossed towards Loreto High School and headed straight for Costello’s Bar, thankfully now open. Here we were forced to sample the delights of ‘Big Tree Bitter’, ‘Cheshire IPA’ and ‘Ruby Sunset’; the perfect end to a great day’s walking.


Thanks to John Jocys, Steve Blackshaw, Viv Pike and Martin Banfield who all took part in reconnaissance for the walk.





Christmas Cracker     Sunday Dec 16th 2012

Attended by 50 Christmas Elves

15 miles

Ldr : Norman “Santa” Thomas


What a strange phenomena traipsed around the West Pennine Moors of Rivington on Sunday December 16th “Santa Claus” Thomas leading fifty of his Christmas Elves and three husky-cross sleigh pulling dogs. “If that’s Father Christmas I’ll eat Barbara’s hat” said John and Geoff which they duly did towards the end of the walk – and her earrings as well!!


The Christmas Cracker is one of the highlights of our social calendar and this was one of the best ever. At just after nine we thought we were going to fall one short of Norman’s coveted “fifty walkers” target as Hilary did the head count at the Top Barn and tallied just 49. Then in flew a breathless Shelley from Holmfirth to save the day and give us the magic half century.


The magic was to continue. The weather was superb, the views stunning and the company as good as it always is. We climbed to the Dove Tower and traversed Winter Hill to the television masts in a swirling mist but as we descended to Two Lads for a morning break it lifted and the winter sun came out. After a zigzag down through Wilderswood we turned right along the bottom reservoir and headed to our new Christmas Cracker lunchtime venue, Rivington Bowling Club. Sadly after many happy years at Bob’s Smithy they were unable to accommodate us this year and Norman had had to find an alternative. As you can understand not many hostelries jumped at the opportunity to cater for fifty sweaty, muddy walkers, their dogs and who won’t pay more than a fiver for their Christmas meal!


The Bowling Club did offer to look after us and have we landed on our feet! It was the perfect venue – the food was good, the service excellent, plenty places to sit, toilets for the ladies – they even laid on a bowls match for us to watch! We were joined here by one or two fair-weather walkers, most notably Peter “Man Sniffles” Haslam, but more importantly Betty, Edith and Alma with the mince pies and date and walnut cake. It was memorable. You just feel that the Bowling Club will be our Christmas venue for many years to come.


Despite the temptation to stay and watch the bowls “Santa” Thomas rallied his elves and we moved on with another six miles to do. After circumnavigating Anglezarke Reservoir we arrived back at our cars by about three thirty.


To cries of “have a great Christmas” we all departed into the dusk. There’s one thing for sure – it couldn’t have got off to a better start – well done Norman!


John Bullen


(for those not in the know – Barbara’s hat was chocolate!)       





Photos by Mark and Hilary


Sunday December 30th. Morecambe Meander; 28walkers and two dogs.

12 miles from Morecambe. Leader: John Bullen.



This walk was blessed with the presence of a Christmas Angel, lovely Jan Baddeley. Two elderly gentlemen had turned up and when they started to find the pace a bit tough, Jan dropped back to look after them and from then on never left their side. When they eventually lost contact with the main group she flagged down a passing car and arranged a lift to the pub. Once there she got them sat down and got their soup. Moving on she looked after them again on the walk into Lancaster, helped them across the road, made sure they got the right train, got sat down and got off at the right station. When we last saw her she was helping them get out of their wet gear and into the car! What an angel! It’s what Christmas is all about.       


I was chuffed to bits with the turnout for this walk – thank you everyone! We were well supported by our friends from the West Lancs, Heidi the dog kept us all amused and making a debut appearance was Smokey, Andy and Patrick Griffin’s new dog.


Anyway enough badinage, what about the walk? To say the walk along the Morecambe promenade and into Heysham was bracing was an understatement. With the waves rolling in as high tide approached we had to steel ourselves against a lashing wind, driving rain and even at one point light hailstone. Thankfully it abated long enough for us to have a fairly comfortable coffee break at the lovely St Peters Church in Heysham.


From here we braved the waterlogged fields to cross over inland to the River Lune estuary, the lane approaching our lunchtime stop of the Golden Ball under water with the high tide. How wonderful it is to see this marvellous old pub in business again, restored and upgraded. Warmed by the tomato and basil soup they did for us we set off for Lancaster. In the city we had a look at the superbly maintained castle, nipped down to the canal for a glimpse at the cathedral then back to the railway station for the 3.05 to Bare railway station. From here it was a short walk back to the start at Happy Mount Park.    


Happy New Year everyone.





Thank you to John, Andy and Tom for the photos.