For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Stow-on-the-Wold to the Inn at Fossebridge

Sunday 31st May

I soon left behind the expensive Stow tourist Mecca this morning having survived the night in the YHA dorm with the only one of ten who snored on the bunk above me.

Out in the country I was going well and feeling fit on improved path surfaces. Terrain is important and hugely varied on this kind of walk but most of the MW is not bad going, but occasionally there are sections of long wet grass with nettles and a tall plant with white flowers that looks a bit like opened up cauliflower. We used to call it "step mother's blossom" but that may not be correct.

I have walked through many of these Cotswolds villages now and you never seem to see anybody. There are immaculate gardens but nobody tending to them or enjoying them. Then there are the very large houses with security gates again apparently lifeless.

I met a dog walker gent at Lower Slaughter who told me about a prosperous p.r. guy who had bought a farmhouse to the north for millions (must be the same guy Gimmer commented about a few posts back) and dismantled it, dug a huge hole in the ground to accommodate a full size swimming pool and then rebuilt the farmhouse stone by stone on top with many other expensive trimmings. This must have cost several more millions - where do these people get that kind of money? Once you have created such a domain I reckon the rest of your life is spent dealing with specialist gardeners, pool contractors, security people, general domestic staff, and many others needed to keep things up to standard. Well if that's what you enjoy ok, but it wouldn't be my choice. I say keep things simple and have more time to pursue your genuine interests.

Two more wealth indicators: for the last two or three days there have always been one or two small aircraft continuously in the sky presumably teaching people to fly, and the constant sound of twelve bores. Today twelve bore shots sounded in the distance every two or three seconds for over four hours - clay shooting I guess, but work out how many cartridges must have been expended.

Here at The Inn at Fossebridge there is no wifi in the rooms, only the bar, but everything else is fine. There is no Vodafone or Orange signals, but the lady let me use the office phone to ahead for tomorrow's accommodation, which for the first time was successful at the first try - bank holiday over thankfully.

Camera photo thing has gone unto rebellion again so photos to follow when I have given thing a good thrashing.

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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Long Compton to Stow-on-the-Wold

I had more interesting chat with the lady at my Butlers Farm B and B over breakfast including a detailed account of cutting and processing silage. There is an optimum date for cutting (19th May I think) for the nutrition value to be maximised. Once the stuff has matured it is tested for its value and the better it is the less the farmer has to provide additional feed. Her family farmed up at Kirkby Mooorside in the Yorkshire Dales and she was full of anecdotes about the old days and very knowledgeable on all aspects of farming. She was also a good cook, super breakfast, loads of homemade jams and marmalade, and in particular a relish/chutney with a hint of chilli which went well with my bacon and scrambled egg.. I could have stayed all day. Shades of Hannah Hauxwell who I met many years ago when I was walking the Pennine Way.

Today was the best walking so far. Early on I was on an elevated ridge (wold) with panoramic views and noticeably fresh air with skylarks singing.

I was getting a bit low on cash but ATMs are rare. I was told that there was a post office at Adlestrop but it was closed - strange hours, opens 1:00 to 4:00.

I stopped there and tried booking ahead for tomorrow. It is a demoralising task. Answer phones, and "Mum is out at the moment, she will ring you back", and many other excuses for ringing back, so when you find a positive result you are not sure if you are burning your boats if you book in case a ring- backer has something better to offer. I ended up speaking to a lady who was out riding her horse. She had no accommodation but texted me with other suggestions which I was not able to take up until, in Stow. There I emptied the Barclays cash machine and then found an Internet café with comfortable, sumptuous leather chairs with Internet etc. It was one of the lady horse riding B and B owner's suggestions that came good and I am booked into the Fossebridge Inn which is along way and also off my route but it is the best I can do.

One of the pubs I phoned who wanted £85 B and B said they didn't open until 7:00pm but would leave the room key in the door for my arrival - not my idea of eighty five poundsworth.

As I wandered out of the café waiting for YHA to open at 5:00 I met a guy who invited me back to his town centre house for a cup of tea ( here I go again Gayle). He was a genuine type and he had walked plenty and was interested in what I was about and also informing me of points of interest on my forthcoming route.

The ambience in the dorm at the YHA is better than I was anticipating, and they do have wifi. I have now come across the road to The Queen's Head where they have made a lamb burger more interesting than disasters experienced elsewhere - 'tis a good little pub with a friendly atmosphere.

My cup of tea aquaintance had recommended the Queen's Head and he was there with another couple the husband being a photographer, so I ended up with my portrait.

Early morning. Going up onto the ridge (wold) from Compton.

Typical Cotswold village

Adlestrop church

In the Queen's Head

My cup of tea man and the photographer with his back to camera. Then with the iPad

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Friday, 29 May 2015

Edgehill to Long Compton

Day 9. Friday 29th May

The Castle at Edgehill was brilliant. The only downside was the number of flights of steep steps to access my castle-top room, the final flight being a tight spiral staircase.

On the way to being shown to that room I tripped slightly on, I think, the third flight of stairs, and the staff member, recognising yet another geriatric grabbed my rucksack and continued up the remaining flights and the spiral whilst I struggled on behind with my rickety knees, and now a dodgy ankle.

I had arranged for a pre-prepared breakfast to take to my room because they only served from 8:00am. I was presented, in the bar, with a plate nearly a foot square with two slices of Chef's munchy cake, grapes, an apple, a bowl of fresh strawberries and raspberries, and a wine cooler containing two pots of fruit yoghurt on ice. If you had given me a thousand pounds I don't think I could have got that lot to my room in one go. The lady manageress took over and arrived with it all five minutes after me. That must have been an heroic carry.

During my meal a middle aged couple at the next table were choosing from the menu. Her main gripe was that all dishes seemed to include one small ingredient she didn't like, then she said, "I would really like to try samphire" then she ordered a rib-eye steak.

In view of breakfast under my control I was walking by 7:15 am. Torrential rain started about 10:00. It was flowing down a road I was on like a river, and passing cars were to say the least a nuisance. Intermittent sunshine, freezing cold wind and occasional small rain showers ruled for the rest of the day - my waterproof and rucksack rain cover remained in use all day.

There were tremendous wide ranging views to the north-west and then varied walking through little villages so pretty with the Cotswold stone, but shopless and lifeless. I reckon there is a whole different social agenda in this deep true blue region. A couple of days back I met a couple who were serious walkers, but lived locally, but only of modest means and they said that anybody like them who had a normal working lifestyle were excluded from the social life in their village. Have a walk through here and you will discover where the power lies in this country.

At Butler's farm I had a great welcome, pot of tea and homemade ginger cake (apparently I got the last piece that hubby had got his eye on). We spent ages using their phone trying to find me accommodation in Stowe-on-the-Wold and I ended up booking the one remaining bed in the male dormitory at the YHA - I'm not looking forward to that, but I can't stay at posh hotels every night, and I doubt if there is anything there less than £100 per night.

When they serve strawberries why do they leave the stalk on for you to remove, especially when it is mixed up with custard or cream - messy!

The Malverns in the far distance I think

Old Roman road

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Fox Hill Farm to Edgehill

Day 9. Thursday

Last night at Fox Hil Farml it was like South Fork. A huge modern house, rows of stables, classy horses in fields surrounding the place, and shiny 4 x 4s parked up. I reckon my room had more area than the ground plan of my own abode at Arnside.

Everything was to a high standard, but the lady was so busy attending to paperwork in her office, scooting back and forth to the stables and speaking to people who I presume were clients whose horses they stable that chatting to me was a long way down the list - she was an archetypal multi-tasker.

A son ran me to the pub which turned out to be nouvelle cuisine, and whilst the food was delicious it was hardly the fare for a hungry walker. There was a phone mix up to summon my hosts to pick me up and a gent at the bar offered to ferry me back. He turned out to be an apparently wealthy farmer owning the farm next to Fox Hill as well as the pub I was eating in and he took me back in his grand Range Rover.

Highlights of today were horse trashed footpaths, a baby badger crossing my path a few feet away before I could bring camera to bear, and a fox crossing the path fifteen yards ahead.

I am now at The Castle Inn at Edgehill, site of the first battle of the Civil War. My bedroom is atop the tower with as extensive a view as I have seen anywhere on this clear sunny evening.

What horses do to footpaths

This young lady is fording the infant R. Cherwell which flows to Oxford and the Thames. We had a pleasant chat. She blamed THE HUNT for the footpaths. I reckon the hunts are carrying on as before - everybody is happy, the antis have got their legislation and the hunters are just ignoring it.

WW2 emplacement. There was a Battle of Britain airfield near here.

This guy markets, guess what - artificial grass.

17/18th century manor house at Ratley.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Flore to Fox Hill Farm (west of Moreton Pinkney)

Day 8. Wednesday 27th May

I called at the village store in Flore this morning. It is run by a likeable and personable guy called Ash and we had a long chat. He came to the UK from Kenya in 1975 with nothing and worked as a postman for sixteen years. He now has this store and a son who is an accountant and a daughter who is a solicitor. As a boy in Kenya he remembered walks in the Rift Valley region with make-do equipment and an abundance of all the African animals which would now be scarce. He became disillusioned with all the corruption in Kenya.

It was not possible to book as far ahead distance-wise as I wanted so today was a relaxed twelve miles or so through varied and interesting scenery.

At Canons Ashby there is a National Trust house with accompanying tea rooms where I dallied.

Further on, coming out of Moreton Pinkney I met a resident lady dog walker and we walked together for ten or fifteen minutes. She had played hockey for Yorkshire, and I think England and had also played cricket - a pleasant encounter.

They call these kissing gates. They are normally wood construction but this is vintage iron de-luxe at the entrance to the churchyard coming out of Flore

Grand Union Canal

Church Stowe church and the Nene valley

Interesting flint architecture in Farthingstone

The National Trust tea room at Canons Ashby

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Photos for previous post

I had a good talk to the camera, the iPad, and the Panasonic app for the iPad and bullied them into transferring the photos.

My living room at Blueberry Lodge

You know when you keep something hoping that "it may come in"

Blueberry Lodge. My apartment wing is hidden behind the righthand wall

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Near Maidwell to Flore

Tuesday 26th May

Last night I noticed in my room at the superbly appointed Blueberry Lodge a feature which summed up the whole experience. The bed head was obviously prone to touching the wall, so the feet of the bed were blocked away from the skirting board. The blocks were two beautifully crafted wooden boxes which had contained obviously expensive Havana cigars. I didn't look to see if they were empty or not.

I had a good breakfast from the supplies in the kitchen then Amanda arrived with a bacon sandwich wrapped in foil. I saved that for later.

It was a happy sunny morning with sunlight catching trees, hedgerow blossom, and fields of rape with particular definition, brightness and clarity.

In Creaton a sign said COFFEE SHOP OPEN. It was run by the United Reform Church. The coffee and freshly baked scone were excellent as well as chat with an ex-pat Scottish couple from Fife which of course was a matter of mutual praise for Bonnie S.

Approaching Great Brington one side of the road was lined with an ancient high brick wall. I discovered this enclosed Althorp, the ancestral home of Earl Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana. I rested on a welcome bench outside the church in Great Brington where apparently some of the Spencer aristocracy also lie at rest, and enjoyed my Blueberry Lodge bacon sandwich.

Just before destination I crossed over the M1. The madness and ridiculous pace of life is always accentuated when you see this after several days of walking through tranquil countryside.

I am booked in at the Holiday Inn at Flore. I've spent over an hour ringing for accommodation for tomorrow night and at the last gasp found room at Foxhill Farm between Moreton Pinkney and Eydon ( more English village names for RR).

After that the wifi function between camera and iPad has gone awry so I can't post any photos for the moment - pity because I got some good ones early this morning.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

Medbourne To Maidwell (Blueberry Lodge, 1.5 miles south)

Day 6. Monday 25th May

Mixed country walking today with waterproof on and off a few times The usual menu of cow trodden fields, crop fields, old country tracks and a bit of Tarmac. The scenery is often expansive with the rolling hills and although there is a sameness it is attractive. I had several encounters with cows with calves, and accompanied by the odd bull - they all seemed benign except for their strange combination of curiosity and nervousness.

I arrived in Braybrooke looking for a bench for a rest and munchies. I found the bench opposite the Methodist church where a lady was busy with a hosepipe unblocking a drain. We shared greetings across the road AND SHE OFFERED ME A CUP OF TEA which duly arrived. Then a local couple dog walking turned up and we had a good chat about my walk which always astounds people, and also about his semi retirement from the world of computers.

Further on I missed a turning off a track and had to improvise to find the tunnel entrance at Great Oxendon. The Macmillan Way follows a disused railway line from here to Maidwell including another even longer tunnel. Glad I brought my headtorch, but it struggled because my eyes took ages to adjust from bright sunlight.

I was booked in to Blueberry Lodge one and a half miles south west of Maidwell at the terminus of a minor road, but bang on the MW. This a huge three sided courtyard building part of which is for holiday stays and in my case B and B. I have a full ground floor suite with living room and kitchen, and a full en suite bathroom. All the interior has been furbished to the highest standards, and in good taste. I was given a lift there and back to eat at the pub in the village.

Expansive views with contrasting crops

Most paths up the side of crop fields are wider than this, but this was not bad walking - typical of the walk so far

Tunnel number one

Tunnel number two

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Manton to Medbourne

Day 5. Sunday 24th May

Last night I ate with my hosts and a couple who have visited the attached caravan site for many years. Good farmhouse home cooking included Dead Shepherd (lamb sort of cottage pie - excellent), and a luscious fruit crumble with oats, and some fine Ruddles bottled beer. Conversation was lively to say the least. My stay at Pheasant's Roost was enjoyable and entertaining.

The scenery has now changed into rolling hills with many varied crop fields. Macmillan Way markers are sparse, but the route is easy to follow. Generally paths have been cleared and generous margins left on crop field edges, and where the path goes through the middle a ten foot wide roadway has been left, so the many moans I have made before about "farmers' fields" have rarely applied so far.

I have the official guide which is badly written: narrative history etc. mixed in with the walking instructions, and often no mention of distance between points. One time we are asked to keep the hedge on our left then, later, keep to the left of the hedge, and then keep to the hedge's left. I think if you visited all the churches they recommend this would take a year. Lessons could be learned from Cicerone Press who specialise in walking guides and have perfected and standardised the best format.

I knew this walk was going to be expensive without any tenting and walking through some of the poshest country in England. Last night I booked ahead to the Nevill Arms here in Medbourne and was told a room for single occupancy would be £99. As I walked today I wondered if they had made a mistake quoting me as for two people. On arrival they had made a mistake and the revised price is now £79, but it is good and worth it for the soak in a large bath, and a menu with some originality even though I did go for fish and chips, but prefaced by a yummy plate of mixed slightly toasted breads and olive oil dip.

I am eating in the bar and there are two blonde females aged perhaps in their thirties conversing with a seventy year old white grizzle bearded, short sleeve shirted male and the three of them are becoming progressively more drunk and making monstrous noise, the man shouting his conversation and the females shrieking back. I cannot guess what the relationship is between them.

Pheasant's Roost

A welcome bench in the middle of nowhere

In Hallaton

The Nevill Arms, Medbourne

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Stamford to Manton (south of Rutland Lake)

Day 4 - Saturday 23rd May

I had an interesting breakfast this morning with Fay's husband at the Dolphin Guest House. He has perhaps the most niche business I have come across: restoring vintage aircraft instruments. We chatted about Sptfires, Tiger Moths and others, and the demanding nature of his clients concerning accuracy and authenticity.

We also discovered that they know Dr. Ruth Livingstone, my fellow blogger Coastal Walker. Ruth had invited me to pop in whilst in Stamford but she has gone back to Wales to continue her journey round the coast. Having set off from Norfolk she is now somewhere in the Gower (clockwise) so she is doing jolly well.

"Calloo callaiy oh framiousj day" i am so happy. Those b. Scarpas made me think there was something wrong with my feet and that walking may be over forever - I had suffered horrible pain on the soles of my feet for three days. The new, cheapo Mountain Warehouse trekking shoes are like having a Saville Row suit, or the difference between riding a bike over cobbles and then on smooth Tarmac. I just can't say how much is the improvement.

More varied walking and so much more enjoyable with comfortable feet.

I felt fit and walked well, albeit much slower than I have in the past. That is a mystery to me because in the populated Rutland area I thought I was marching (not walking) quickly, but then young couples, holding hands, and just sauntering were coming past me. I met and chatted briefly with a number of people today, and at more length with two young ladies on the shore of Rutland Water. They were from Serbia, but arrived sixteen years ago at the age of fifteen. The talkative one had taken various college qualifications and was now fully employed in the travel business;as we talked there was an outdoor wedding taking place on the grassy shoreline all open to public display with some audience participation from passers-by. Up till now I have seen few people walking on my path, but Rutland Water was heaving this bank holiday Saturday.

Earlier I passed through the massive Ketton limestone quarry which fed the equally massive Ketton cement works. The quarry appears not to be in use. I was looking down over a huge area of ponds, hillocks of earth and walls of limestone, apparently being rapidly taken over by nature. There were Shelduck , and Canada Geese with young on the water, and numerous buzzards and a kestrel in the air. Whatever the scar on the landscape it seems to be providing a good habitat for wildlife now, it could be a twitchers' paradise before long.

Pheasant's Roost, my B and B is a farm with a huge modern house built by the owner who us a builder as well as a farmer. His wife greeted me with, "what do you think you are doing walking this Macmillan Way, you must be mad. Sit down and let me get you a cup of tea".

As I explained they are already fully booked, but they have put me in a room converted to a decent bedroom in the back of a barn, with a bathroom attached, and I have just come from a hot soak. They have agreed to feed me, but as they are farmers Mrs said, " I am aiming for 8:30, I'll give you a knock, but come back in the house if you want". They do have wifi but it only works in the house.

Early morning in Stamford

Ketton cement works

A small part of the quarry

Part of the quarry being taken over by nature - that is all quarry nearly as far as you can see and there is as much again on the other side behind the camera

This guy was on my bed when I arrived in my room at Pheasant's Roost

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Thurlby to Stamford

Day 3 - Friday 22nd May

Yesterday a guy appeared from nowhere looking puzzled and asked me a question you don't hear often, " have you seen a swarm anywhere?"

It seems his bees had decided to leave home. I'm not sure what you do with a swarm when you find it, but he was too anxious to enter into conversation, and he was on his way looking up down and sideways.

I was away from the YHA about 6:45 am to the local shop which opened at 6:30. I bought a sandwich for breakfast and asked about a coffee machine in such a way that the lady of course offered to make me a cup of coffee.

Quite lot of Tarmac today but refreshingly more frequent change of scenery.

After yesterday's nine and a half hours I decided to have a short day giving myself plenty of time to find accommodation this bank holiday weekend. I had about twenty names on a list from the official guide for the Macmillan Way. At the tourist information office I was told the town was full. They eliminated all but three on my list they knew were already full. Two of those I phoned and they were full. The third was on answerphone. I walked the five minutes to the address but there was nobody there. I again phoned Fay, (Dolphin Guest Hoise) and she answered at first saying she had no room, but I persisted with my tale of woe and she relented so I reckon I got the last available room in Stamford tonight.

After several abortive calls for tomorrow I had to invoke the tale of woe again and was told they would squeeze me in somehow at The Pheasant's Roost Luxury Guest House at Manton near Rutland Water so I'm wondering how that will turn out.

I had bought a pair of Scarpa trail shoes for this trip at the exorbitant price of £126. They have given me hell. Even with a Sorbothane footbed that I put in the soles are rock hard and my feet soles have been very painful. At Mountain Warehouse I bought a pair of their own brand, waterproof lined with Vibram soles and very good cushioning for £49. The others have been posted home awaiting my complaint to Scarpa, not that I suppose that will lead to any satisfaction.

The River Glen just upstream from the tidal sluice

Clearing weed on the R. Glen

I reckon their tractors must fly

Youth Hostel at Thurlby

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Ship Inn, Surfleet-Seas-End to Thurlby, Lincs.

Day 2. Thursday 21st May

The Ship Inn was good - everything one would expect from a good hotel. I had a comprehensive individual baked fish pie. The only downside was no plug close enough to my bed to plug in the iPhone, oh dear!

Today I walked for nine and a half hours which included half an hour wasted going up the wrong river for quarter of an hour.

All the route so far has been on raised river banks or levees, today following the River Glen. That river ceases to be tidal opposite the Ship Inn where I stayed by virtue of a sluice. Above that it is slow moving, quite pretty and prolific with bird life, but the levees do become a bit boring and tomorrow I will be finished with them heading for Stamford.

Again I only met two dog (Springer Spaniel) ladies who chatted and another guy who walked past me with no intention of speaking. This is a major UK long distance path which so far has been quite well maintained with a few short exceptions. I purposely chose to walk out of school holidays but I am surprised not to see any other serious walkers.

Tonight I am in a private room at the YHA, BUT, make your own bed (putting duvet covers on is one of my all time hate jobs), no wi-fi, no food, not even breakfast, and no shop sales, no towels, don't open until 5:00 pm, just a bed for £35. That was what I paid at my first night B and B which was as good as a three star hotel with breakfast included.

I have walked quarter of a mile to the village pub where I have just had one of those pies with a suet pastry lid which was ok, but there wasn't a single original item in the menu.

Weather has been sunny but windy and getting warmer.

Photos to follow - forgot to bring camera to pub.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Boston to Ship Inn, Surfleet

Day 2 Wednesday 20th May

By the way I notice from a comment I have not said what I am about: The Macmillan Way, 290 miles, Boston, Lincolnshire to Abbotsbury ( Chesil Beach, South Coast).

Boston at rush hour in the morning was hard to bear, but I was soon out onto the levee of the River Witham at first with industrial infrastructure on the other side but quickly becoming more countryfide. This is a huge river but apparently unused by boats - I saw none. Birds and bird calls were prolific and all delight. Egrets, swans, various geese, lapwing, oyster catcher, cormorant and others and a feeling of ever increasing isolation - my only human encounters over about fourteen miles: two bird watchers and some guys working off the route who had a Labrador that tried to follow me for while.

A sign indicated a branch from the levee to follow the Witham for three kilometres to its meeting with The Wash - amusingly the sign warned the unwary that it was another three kilometres for the return. The views over an immense expanse of salt marsh, even to the north Norfolk coast seventeen miles away were impressive. I didn't opt for the diversion..

I had booked a room at The Riverside Hotel some days ago from home by phone. I arrived at 4:00 pm to find they don't open until 5:30 which I was not told when I booked. The place was a dump. An Australian couple arrived in a hire car booked in by Internet and they were similarly annoyed. Their booking confirmation mentioned the opening time, and of more concern to me that "The single room contained the noisy boiler, and one may wish to go for a double at more cost". I had already walked past the attractive looking Ship Inn a mile and a half back. I phoned them, booked a room and walked back there where I am now sat awaiting a meal. I have a massive room with a double and single bed and everything here is proper and comfort.

R. Witham. Still industrial, just out of Boston

Into the country

The salt marshes. Boring to photograph but impressive to see and important for wildlife

The Riverside Hotel where I DID NOT STAY

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Arnside to Boston

Day 1 - Tuesday 19th May

Three train changes. Two of the trains were several minutes late. I just managed to make the connections but it was close.

Arrived Boston 12:18 pm. It was a bit early to go to my b and b so I had a look round and a café snack. Two immediate impressions - the number of people smoking and an apparent majority population of eastern europeans. Practically all conversation overheard was foreign. The surrounding area is devoted to arable/produce/vegetable farming with a big demand for seasonal and casual labour.

The Y-Not guest house b and b was ten minutes walk from the town centre and I arrived at 1:30. This was pre-booked and I had told Mrs McGarry I would be arriving fairly early. There was nobody at home. I rang two phone numbers with no result. At 2:45 I had just written a note to say I was departing to find alternative accommodation when Mrs M phoned. She was back in ten minutes having forgotten about me. She showed me her book which was blank, but she did then remember our phone conversation about my walk etc. I was a bit cross at first but she had obviously made a genuine mistake and she was very pleasant and welcoming with everything in her b and b at a good standard.

A priority job is to get all my tech on charge. I have a backup Nokia pay-as-you-go phone on Orange as well as my Vodafone iPhone and I found I had left its charger at home. I only bought that phone last year from the Orange shop in the Trafford Centre and it appears it is already obsolete. Two mobile shops (the first owned by a nineteen year old Polish guy who could hardly speak English) could not supply me and then I found one of those dubious techy shops where they "unlock" or "jail-break" mobiles which is something I know little about - it all seems a bit subversive.

There seemed to be very few eating places in the centre of town and no proper pubs. Eventually I found The Duke of York over the footbridge. Here again the proprietors had gone out shopping leaving the pub in charge of a guy who could not put wheels in motion for food so I waited and read my book, Borrowed Time by Robert Goddard - Kindle/iPad version. When the landlord and wife returned I had: a pint of Fosters, sausages, mash and giant Yorkshire Pudding, and finishing with chocolate sponge and hot custard all for £10.15 ! 'Twill be different in the Cotswolds I reckon. It was only 5:30 and I was the only customer.

St. Botolph's church ( Boston Stump)

I took a couple of other photos and have taken others when passing through on my Broads to The Lakes walk and it always seems to be leaning. It can be seen for miles around in this expanse of flat arable land.

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Location:Langrick Road,Boston,United Kingdom

Friday, 15 May 2015

Flat out in a Popular

The four kilometre stretch on the A65 from Settle South Roundabout to Long Preston sports bends that boy-racers and born-again-middle-aged motor cyclists may dream of, and for me, an erstwhile boy-racer, there is particular nostalgia.

In 1959 my employer unwisely provided me with a company car - a last of the line sit-up-and-beg Ford Popular before the monocoque chassis was introduced a year later. That last of the line model was unsafe before it left the showroom, with wayward steering, feeble brakes and a windscreen wiper working on air pressure that swept slower as the car travelled faster. There were only three gears - from time to time the gear lever would come out, free in my hand. 

I was the first car “owner” amongst my  climbing friends. We would drive up to Langdale on a Friday evening. With three passengers and four rucksacks stuffed into the boot the lid had to be left strapped partly open.

I discovered I could take all those four kilometres of bends without ever lifting my foot from the accelerator travelling at the car’s maximum speed of fifty-three miles per hour. In those days, travelling towards The Lakes, the next section went through Settle (now by-passed) and up the long hill of Buckhaw Brow. I can remember my father and uncles talking about Buckhaw, which, in their earlier days only gave them a fifty-fifty chance of avoiding a boiling radiator before reaching the summit.

Well, this week my Thursday walk with Pete was changed to Wednesday (favourable versus unfavourable forecasts). The objective was one of my two remaining Marilyns in Region 35 - Ilkley Moor. Pete was often one of the aforementioned passengers back in the 60s so we were on a mutual nostalgia trip as we headed down the A65.

We were able to drive to the end of a cul-de-sac road a kilometre from the trig on Ilkley Moor which was gained by a splendid level path of three foot square sandstone flags apparently lifted from the floors of Industrial Revolution Yorkshire woollen mills.

Back with the car and we took a tour round the edge of the moor for more nostalgia visiting the Cow and Calf rocks above Ilkley. Here we served our time learning to rock climb all those years ago. There is a dramatic vertical crag (The Cow) with an enormous boulder (the Calf) at its foot, the latter perched as if to set off to roll down the steep valley side into Ilkley at any moment. I always had a fantasy of making this happen - it would have been the all time greatest trundle.

By pre-arrangement we finished off by visiting my very good friend M who lives in Ilkley - she was also part of our old outdoory, jazz club Bradford group back in the 60s and we have remained friends ever since (my late wife was M’s best friend). M has always been an accomplished and inventive cook. She told us she had recently bought a cheese and onion pasty which lead her to think about the lack of imagination applied to fillings in such widely available items, and she decided to do her own thing. We were treated to a wonderful pasty filled with a mixture of high quality tuna, spinnach, onion and other ingredients - delicious, and that was followed by freshly baked, still warm, light and fluffy scones with a slight hint of lavender. 

I was given another pasty to bring home and that went down ever so well last night. Thanks M, that was a thoroughly enjoyable get together.


Spotted in Arnside recently - exactly the same, colour and all as my 1959 Ford Popular

My actual car circa 1959/60 - me and Pete stuffing in the rucksacks. A rare photo - not many cameras about in those days

On the way to Ilkley Moor trig

Cow and Calf rocks. The square notch, centre leads into The Quarry. The Cow is prominent righthand end. The Calf hidden by the righthand end of the white marquee below The Cow

In The Quarry

The Cow

The Calf. Ilkley below