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WI Walk: Old Ellerby (3.8 miles)

Saturday, 31st August 2019

Our monthly WI Walking Group walk today and we did the Old Ellerby walk that we usually do when the Bluebells are out.  It was nice to do the walk in a different season and, already, the signs of autumn are here - berries in the hedgerows and conkers on the trees.

Sheltered from the wind at the start of the walk

Exposed to the elements a short while later!

Not that you can see it but this is a pic of the white stag at Burton Constable Hall

Conkers and autumnal leaves

My favourite view of the whole walk - coming down Roe Hill

Hope the rain holds off!

Lovely leafy lane 

After the walk we headed to Skirlaugh Garden Centre for the mandatory cuppa and scone (except I had a cheese and onion toastie).

The walk was good training for our upcoming annual walking weekend at Cober Hill.

Parking: At the end of The Green, Old Ellerby (free - space for 2 considerately parked cars only)
Distance: 3.8 miles
Max Height: 93 ft
ViewRanger Track

Thanks for looking 😊

Shropshire : Gay Meadows and Abbey Gardens

Sunday, 25th August 2019

Headed down to Shrewsbury to visit relatives today.  After lunch I managed a very short waddle along the bank of the River Severn which has been opened up again now all the building works have finished.

The walk itself was probably only half a mile (if that) but I took a couple of pics and counted it as part of my Mile A Day challenge.

English Bridge

Reclaimed stonework in Abbey Gardens

Re-opened riverside path
There's no ViewRanger track as it was an "out of the door" walk.

But thanks for looking anyway 😊

North Yorkshire: Not Quite Blakey Topping (5.3 miles)

Tuesday, 20th August 2019

This is the first "proper" walk I've done in ages.  And I suffered and had to cut it short.  I can't believe how my fitness has dropped off.  Granted, I'm only just recovered from a horrible cough and summer cold so maybe that had an impact on my stamina.

Anyway, even though it ended up being a shorter version of my intended walk I really enjoyed it and it was just what the doctor ordered.

I parked up at Saltergate Car Park and paid my £2.50 for all day.  I don't think that's bad at all.  I got my rucksack sorted, shoes on and ViewRanger locked on and tracking and set off the short distance along the very busy A169 before taking a right-turn along Old Wife's Way which I think is part of the 48 mile Tabular Hills LDP.

Turning off the busy A169
 A nice, easy start to the walk - although I did wonder how my tendon would fare on such a hard surface (so far, so good).  It wasn't long before I came across a gate with (now I'm looking at the photograph) a walker's gate to the left of it.  I was too busy reading the MoD sign telling me that I mustn't do this, or that or the other and that I'm being watched, sniffer dogs and Police will get me if I stray off the PRoW. 
Entering MoD perimeter land
 Their solution to keep me on the correct track was a simple one....
Thank goodness I'm not going through there!
 Yep.  Just plonk some cows in the fields.  Guaranteed to dissuade any walkers from straying off the path!

The track went on forever and I was mildly aware that it was heading gently downhill - which meant I'd have an uphill finish.

Before long, I spotted my goal for the day - Blakey Topping.  I was expecting it to be full of purple loveliness (that'll be heather for normal folks not obsessed) but I'm either too early, too late or it's not a high enough altitude:
First glimpse of Blakey Topping
A little further along I took a zoomed-out pic.  Once you know it's there, it really does dominate the views:
Blakey Topping again
 Randomly, there is a National Trust sign for Crosscliff Brow and the Bridestones.  I didn't want to go as far as the Bridestones having seen them several times before but I did need to be heading along the Brow.
National Trust Sign
 So far, the only heather I'd spotted was on Levisham Moor above The Hole of Horcum and I was feeling quite deprived by the lack of purpleyness.  My luck was to change, albeit briefly:
Finally, a little patch of heather
 It doesn't seem as bright as normal - I think it's the Ling(?) heather that's out at the moment and not the deeper coloured other heather that I can't remember the name of.  I did find a small sprig of the deep cerise heather in a sheltered spot so maybe it's not properly time for it yet.

Eventually, I left the Old Wife's Way track and headed along a wooded single track path, although I am still on the Tabular Hills path. 
Pointless gate
 This little patch of woodland was full of butterflies.  Most of them flittered off when I got near but I was lucky with this one Peacock butterfly shade-bathing on a fern:
Peacock Butterfly
 By now, I was looking for a left turn off this main path which headed diagonally down the side of Crosscliff Brow.  It was a bit "blink or you might miss it" to find and it was only because I spotted some stone gateposts in the bracken and some trodden down grass leading to them that I decided that must be "it".  Imagine my "chuffedness" when I checked ViewRanger and I was absolutely spot on!  So down into the dingley-dell I headed.:
The beginning of my descent of Crosscliff Brow
 What a wonderful patch of ancient woodland.  The tree branches were heavy with moss, the trees themselves all twisted and gnarly.  It reminded me a little of Padley Gorge in the Peak District.

The path headed steeply downhill and I was glad the ground underfoot was dry.  What I wasn't glad about though was it was about now I realised I'd left my walking staff at home.  I really could have done with it here.

Down, down, down I went until I entered the conifer plantation of the northern edge of Dalby Forest:
Less pleasant conifer plantation - Dalby Forest
 It was eerily silent.  Not a bird was chirruping, no wind blowing, no cracking of twigs and "things" that snuffle through the undergrowth.  Nothing.  My tinnitus was deafening me!  Conifer plantations seem "dead" like that.  I'm not a fan.

Eventually I passed through a gate and reached Crosscliff Beck.  Now, I was imagining a nice babbling brook.  Mebby some Salmon leaping up it and a Kingfisher or two darting about.  Nope.  It was one of those becks you can hear but you can't see.  Brilliant.  And I had to cross it.  To add insult to injury, the path sort of disappeared and I bushwhacked through head high bracken.  Looking at my ViewRanger track afterwards, this was indeed the correct thing to do and I crossed the beck at exactly the right spot after scouting about a bit to see if there was a bridge, plank of wood, something, ANYthing to indicate I was on the right track.

After crossing though, it all went a bit pete tong.  The newly erected fencing doesn't match with what's on the map and I followed a sheep trod for a while which ran parallel with the beck.  The thing is, I was looking back at Blakey Topping and thinking "I need to be taking a sharp left soon to head up Thompson's Rigg".  I guess I got a bit impatient of following a pretend fenceline, or maybe the sheep-trod petered out and turned into a boggy mess so I had a little looksee at the map and decided that, to join the track on Thompson's Rigg I needed to go a bit off-piste and plodge across the scrubby moorland.  Being near the beck and the moorland rising gently upwards away from me, I had no line of sight of anything but scrubby grassland and a few sheep. So, I decided to walk on a bearing across it all until I reached the track I was wanting to be on (I hoped the track would actually exist as many moorland tracks don't).

As I crested the brow of the hill I still couldn't see any sign of a track but I could see a tree in the distance so I put my compass away and aimed for that.  I could see a dark band of different grasses stretching across the moor and sort of thought that might indicate the track I was looking for.  I wasn't wrong. 
Looking back from the track to the woodland I walked through
 Now I was on the track I could see Blakey Topping straight ahead, just where it was supposed to be.

I decided to get a bit arty-farty and use the self-timer thingy on my camera for an "action shot":
Me, walking along Thompson's Rigg towards Blakey Topping (in the distance)

Blakey Topping without me spoiling the view!
Despite having only done a couple or so miles, I was starting to flag a bit so I stopped for a bite to eat ...healthy, healthy.... chopped up apple.  I was saving my cheese and sarnie spread wrap and cuppa for the top of the hill.
Harebells - my snack stop view
 So far, my tendon wasn't playing up but my feet felt fatigued.  Bruised somehow is how they felt.  I can only attribute this to not doing much walking recently as they feel like this at the chippy if I've had a couple of weeks off.

Worse though, was my legs.  They felt shot.  I can't believe how lack of walking hills for any length of time really has a negative effect.

I looked up at Blakey Topping, now looming above me.  I took one look at the path snaking its way up the nose of it... and decided I wasn't up to it.  It was too soon after my cough/cold and I simply wasn't fit enough.

I made the decision to not climb the hill and continued on towards Newgate Foot.  I passed the standing stones and tried to figure out what they were all about.  Allegedly the remains of a stone circle, I'm more inclined to think they're the remains of some sort of gateway structure:
Standing stones at Newgate Foot
After following the wrong track towards the farm buildings, I spotted this.  It's out of date but I assumed it was regarding the paths around Blakey Topping.  It isn't.  It's about the forestry tracks through a spur of Dalby Forest.  It's a good job I'd decided not to do the hill because I'd have gone up the track this was attached to!  Ha, well I know for next tine when I return:
You can't walk here
There were a lot of Sandmartins flying around here.  Further along is the National Trust sign for Blakey Topping pointing me back up from whence I came.  I checked my map and ViewRanger and realised I'd just basically trespassed all over a farmer's field!
National Trust sign for Blakey Topping
 I finally reached Newgate Foot farm and was confronted by a badly constructed metal fencing system.  I checked and double checked my map to make sure I was supposed to be walking through the yard (yes I was) so I unhitched part of the fencing ... and the rest of it collapsed!  It clattered noisily to the floor and I very possibly went bright red with embarassment!  I took a moment to rebuild it and continued on my way.

As I rounded the corner I was greeted by two equine heads peeping over stable doors so I went over to give them a pet.  They seemed quite focussed on the nearby farmhouse and I assumed it was nearly feeding time.

I successfully navigated the next metal fencing without causing chaos just as farmer chappie came out to see to the horses.  I thought I'd best "fess up" about the fencing ... he didn't seem surprised!  Oh the embarrassment!

It was a fairly stiff uphill back to the Old Wife's Way track and I needed a few stops for my legs.  But I was pleased that I'm no longer wheezing or struggling to get my breath, and boy did I gulp in some big lungfuls of fresh air!

Back on my outward track it was the steady, gentle uphill plod back to the car.  The cows had vanished from the gate but I did spot a female Wheatear sat on a fencepost.  She allowed me to chase her up the track for a fair old distance before deciding she was too far from home.
Female Wheatear
I returned to my car (disappointed to discover the ice cream van had gone) and sat and had my food and flask before setting off home.

Although it wasn't quite the walk I intended to do, and there wasn't much in the way of heather to get all excited about, it was a smashing little walk.  I'm really pleased that my tendon didn't give me any gyp whatsoever and that my breathing is what I'd call normal again.  Just need to work on the leg and foot stamina now!

I will be back to do the other part of my walk and get to the top of Blakey Topping.

Parking: Saltergate Car Park (£2.50 for over 4 hours)
Distance: 5.3 miles
Max height: 939.8 ft

Thanks for looking 😊

WI Walk: North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve (2.1 miles)

Saturday, 3rd August 2019

Well.  I can confirm I did absolutely NO walks last month so I'm well behind with my Challenge365 Mile A Day For A Year project.  The weather has been far too hot for me with record breaking temperatures of 38.7 degrees C.  Around here, we topped out at a mere 35 degrees but the heat of the wind made even walking in the shade a waste of time.  Even paddling in the sea was horrid due to the lack of shade on the beach and the heat of the wind.

Aaaanyway, for the past couple of weeks I've had an awful cold which went onto my chest, resulting in feeling like I was breathing through a soggy sponge and I very nearly didn't go today because any kind of physical exertion makes me cough and I just have no energy.  But, I knew this walk would be a short, gentle walk with lots of stops at each of the bird hides so I decided to make the effort.

We walked around the perimeter of "Middle Ground":

Outline map of the Nature Reserve

Looking across "Middle Ground"

More "Middle Ground"
 There was a Kingfisher flitting around here.  Luckily, our guide had a really decent monocular and got it set up so we could have a proper look.  With the naked eye, all we kept seeing was that quick flash of blue/green but through the monocular it was a wonderful sight!

Spot the frog

Flies on Mallow

Cinabar moth caterpillar

Arty-farty pic of Rosebay Willowherb

I think the red flowers are Scarlet Pimpernel

Spot the Peacock butterfly


More Kingfisher spotting on Far Lake

Flooded (intentionally) grassland - a different kind of habitat
By the end of the walk I felt a lot better in myself but needed to sit down in a cool place and have a bite to eat and a cuppa..... so we stopped off at The Potting Shed in North Cave!

Great choice of walk Mo and our really knowledgeable tour guide made it a really interesting walk.

Parking: North Cave Wetlands car park
Distance: 2.1 miles
Max height: 38 ft

Thanks for looking 😊

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