Spring into March

A Plod around Rivington's Reservoirs, Wednesday, March 26th, 12 miles

Martin Banfield's report and photos can be found on his phreerunner blog.

Alan Rayner's report and photos can be found on his blog here.


Two Crosses Challenge Event, Sunday, March 23rd, 25 and 17 miles

Article from Bolton News newspaper written by John Bullen
TWO CROSSES EVENT – Sunday March 23rd 2014
One of the North West’s top moorland challenges took place on Sunday with the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association’s Two Crosses Challenge Event attracting 280 entries. Entrants have a choice of routes, 17 or 25 miles, and they can run or walk. It’s not a race, it’s the taking part which counts, although try telling that to some of the leading competitors! The first runner to cross the finishing line for the 17 mile route was a lady and she did so in an amazing two hours twenty nine minutes, followed on two hours forty two minutes by the fastest male runner. For the longer route the first man to finish the 25 mile option did so in three hours fifty four minutes and the leading lady in four hours dead. These are very impressive times considering an overnight torrential downpour made for very muddy underfoot conditions and the weather on the day which was bitingly cold win but with glorious sunshine. Of those out to enjoy the day and to complete the distance in whatever time it took, the final finishers did so in seven hours 19 minutes for the shorter route and nine hours for the 25 miles.
Whatever the weather, whatever the terrain this event is enjoyed by one and all. Checkpoints around the pseudo-orienteering style course serve refreshments with hot food and drinks awaiting at the end. Everyone is issued with a certificate and course badges are available. The whole event is superbly organised and marshalled by East Lancs LDWA volunteers.
Two emails from competitors already received
I really enjoyed the challenge – a well-organised event with friendly people a good route and great food – weather held out, too. This was my first LDWA event and hopefully the first of many. Cheers. Special thanks to all the marshals who were particularly helpful.
Joanne McCabe

Thanks to the East Lancs, you and all the volunteers/Marshall's did a fantastic job today, the food at Entwistle was a sight for sore eyes!
Please pass on our appreciation to one and all and here's to next year!!
Thanks again

Here are few photos for starters. More to come no doubt

Here is Martin Banfield's report on his phreerunner blog. Photos can be found here on picasa.


Green and Growing, Wednesday, March 19th, 14 miles

What a difference a day makes! The sun shone, the daffs nodded in the breeze, and the lambs gambolled in the lush green fields of the Ribble valley as sixteen lucky people enjoyed a genuine spring day.
Leaving Ribchester (Bremeterracum to the Romans) we had a quick photo opp by the Ribble (courtesy of Paul) before striking across farmland to Ribchester Bridge. Once over the bridge we followed the lane past Salesbury Hall before picking up a beautiful path alongside the river to the scenic Dinckley Bridge, where we had a quick break on the beach! A very short stretch of the Ribble Way was followed before pressing on to Hurst Green.
Not to be missed was Stonyhurst College which we approached up the main drive, giving the best views. A rugby competition was in full swing, including drumming and singing (but no haka!), and like us they were enjoying the sunshine and drier fields than of late. We paused at the front entrance for a brief history lesson, and someone added that Arthur Conan Doyle had attended the school, as well as Tolkien’s son, giving Tolkien inspiration for the setting of his stories.
The wooded valley of Dean Brook provided the ideal lunch stop, then further on we stopped for a bit more history at Greengore, a 15th century former hunting lodge for Stonyhurst when it was a private estate. Reputedly Henry VII stayed here on a hunting trip, according to the occupant. Just after this I slipped and landed in the mud and Norman gallantly (!!) led the party on whilst I dried myself off; thanks to the sympathetic few who stayed behind with me.
Then it was on over fields full of lambs, down into wooded valleys, before a brief diversion to look at Dutton Hall (oh no not more history!), then on to look at the historic Church of St Saviour at Stydd and the well-known Stydd Almshouses, built by the Shireburn family in 1728.
It was then a short stroll back into Ribchester and the Potters Barn café for some – and nobody went to the pub, hard to believe I know.
Many thanks to Norman for assisting, and to Paul for the photos.

Photos by Paul Woodcock

Barbara Shelton

Fair Trade Way Part 5, Bowness to Keswick, March 16th, 15 miles

Report still to come but here are the photos from Howard Smith and Peter Steckles:

Lancashire Monastic Way Part 4, Longton to Preston, Wednesday March 5th, 14 miles

10 am outside the Dolphin Inn and 19 pilgrims (and 3 dogs) were ready to set out on this leg of the Monastic Way. My phone rang and the message was that 2 walkers were on a Magical Mystery tour of the area courtesy of the satnav. So the main group set off along the Ribble Way. I waited and the three of us attempted to catch the main group up. We could see them in the distance and we gathered Barbara in as we went (it was a good place for birdwatching) but it was morning break before we all joined together. Barbara’s GPS recorded the walking speed at 3.4mph!

The Monastic Way follows the Ribble Way to Penwortham, so today we left the River Douglas behind, changed direction and we will be on the line of the Ribble all the way to Sawley. Passing the canal and the dock entrance we turned up into Penwortham to visit the site of the Priory there. No buildings remain but the names of the local streets and a nursing home - remember that this was once here. We also visited St Mary’s church on the hilltop; this was the church for the Priory and dates from the 17thcentury.  Preston lies across the river and we crossed over and walked along the embankment before leaving the Monastic Way at the old Penwortham Bridge to begin the return journey.

Lunch was taken in a cemetery where there were plenty of benches for everyone and some very sad stories on the children’s gravestones. Following a mixture of cycle paths, tracks, roads and field paths, we returned to Longton. Afternoon break was at Longton brickworks Nature Reserve where some very docile swans moved off the path for us.   Conditions underfoot were not too bad apart from one truly horrendous stretch of path close to the end. I had mentioned this at the beginning and we had offered to find another way round but encouraged by someone saying “go for it”, we did! And I lost just about every point we’ve ever had! Nevermind, you can’t go home with clean boots, can you?

We were back at the Dolphin Inn before 3.45pm with the mileage being spot on at 14 miles. Yay! Most of the group stayed for a welcome drink in the pub which had a good selection of real ales. Thank you to everyone for coming : the weather was very kind to us and there was plenty of evidence of the coming spring with snowdrops, crocus, gorse, tulips, daffodils and an azalea all in bloom.

Unfortunately my camera batteries ran out so there are no pictures from me on this occasion.

See you all on the next leg.

Hilary Scott


Trails on the Riverbank, Sunday March 2nd, 25 walkers, 6 miles, Leader John Bullen

The “river” in question is the River Weaver down in Frodsham and the “trail” aspect a trek out from this lovely old Cheshire town along the southern bank, a meander along the Trent & Mersey Canal before heading back into town on the river again. Thanks are due to Joe’s Garden Centre for kindly allowing us to use the “facilities”.  

Some five or six years ago the LDWA AGM was held at the Forest Hills Hotel at Frodsham and each March since a bunch of us have booked a two-nighter at the hotel and enjoyed some excellent walking. This year a change of dates in the walks schedule saw a clash so it was decided to make the weekend a club walk. It was well supported with 25 people turning out.  

With reports of rain all over the North West on Sunday we were incredibly lucky and after a short but far from uncomfortable dowsing in the morning we escaped until it came down with a vengeance just as we got back to our cars. Perfect timing!

Being a navigation and at one time the main transport route for the thriving Cheshire chemical and salt industries the River Weaver is full of interest. By coffee time we had passed under the quite breathtaking Stephenson’s Dutton Railway Viaduct to sit on the picnic tables and marvel at the majesty of Dutton Locks. Continuing along the riverbank for a short while to Bartington swing bridge we headed up to the Trent & Mersey before leaving the canal towpath to bypass the magnificent Dutton Lodge Hall.  

Our lunchbreak was taken in the grounds of the Grade 1 listed St Andrews Methodist Church at Aston before down by Chapel Wood, across Sutton Weaver golf course on to the river again and back into town.

It was great to see Ken and Jacqui again up from Devon to join us and we had two “debutants” – Mary a lovely lady originally from Cornwall staying and working a short time in Warrington and “bundle of fun, energy and smiles” Capetown lady, Karin.

and following .... Monday March 3rd,14.5 miles, Leader John Bullen

17 walkers with one new addition, Sue Bothwell from Tarporley

Heading out from Frodsham Town again to the mouth of the Weaver, our first couple of hours was dominated by the industry of Runcorn. We headed to the convergence of the Weaver and the Manchester Ship Canal as it flows out into the Mersey Estuary. Heading across the marsh salt flats, we came across an intriguing small bridge over a ditch engraved “German POWS 1945”. Bathed in beautiful spring sunshine we climbed up Helsby Hill and across Woodhouse to pick up the Sandstone Trail back into our hotel.

A very enjoyable two days, great company, good walks and class accommodation. Thanks to everyone who came along but especially Elaine and all her staff at the Forest Hills for looking after so well yet again. How lovely it is to finish a day’s walk and wallow in that swimming pool, Jacuzzi and steam room.

The Forest Hills have some fantastic offer on at the minute see www.foresthillshotel.com

Congratulations to Ken Noble who won the rowing machine challenge!

John Bullen

Photos from Dave Walsh

More photos from John Jocys on picasa. Click here.