Sunday hike around Anglezarke

Anglezarke, White Coppice and Great Hill Circular

I’ve done parts of this walk all seperately, in this area of Lancashire close to Chorley. I’ve taken a nice stroll through White Coppice the little village that once was a busy industrial part of the county. I’ve done a windy dog walk up to Great Hill and back, starting over in Brinscall, and I’ve also parked up at the Anglezarke reservoir for a explore with mum, but this particular time, one of the Bee Sober hikers planned a 15km loop trail linking up all three.

It had been raining heavily the night before, so after a quick fumble with some borrowed gaiters, I finally managed to strap them to my walking boots, double check I had enough snacks & the 3 of us headed off. Having done shorter versions of this walk with my 70 year old mother, it didnt really twig at first that the estimated 2 hours to complete the hike was completely unrealistic, until after closer interrogation from one of the other walkers, our leader admitted he has miscalculated and had based the timings on a trail run and not a casual hike, involving photo stops, lunch and carefully negotiating patches of boggy moorland. Not that any of that mattered, we were all in for the hike regardless, but knowing it was going to take double the time, us ladies on the walk, just limited our water intake, in case we didnt find anywhere discrete enough to pee. (Which reminds me, I must order a shewee!)

The first stage of the hike involves as easy to follow paved road, a babbling brook, remains of a lead mine and a memorial to an air crash in 1943, and a stunning landscape of the lancashire moors beyond.

 

It was then that the borrowed gaiters came into thier own, after bravely following our designated leader across a field of cows, we headed off across the rather wet moorland. First heading for Round Loaf, said to possibly be a prehistoric burial site, its a great spot to stop and take stock of the journey so far. There are amazing views across to Winter Hill and the rest of the moors from atop the mound, and from here you’ll see other hikers on the many other trails that link up in the area, including the Lancashire Way.

 

Next it was across more boggy moorland to join up with the path to Great Hill, where we stopped for a quick lunch. Quick because it was quite windy and it can get quite cold sitting on the stone bench at the summit, but again the views were worth it.

Then it was a slow descent towards White Coppice, when the rainclouds opened, but it made for an atmospheric, misty walk along the quarry and the Dean Black Brook waterfalls.

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Then ignoring the one dead sheep along the side of the path, we headed back round towards Anglezarke, passing the reservoir and back to the carpark, just totalling over 4 hours in all, including our stop for lunch. It was then time to head home for a hot shower and straight into my PJ’s for what was left of  the afternoon, there is nothing like that tiredness that comes with being outdoors for the day, perfect!

 

 

 

 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Once lockdown restrictions began to loosen up over the summer in the UK, I started to make plans to meet up with friends. Living in the North West, we still had limitations on who we could see and where we could go, so after a bit of research, a friend and I decided the massive outdoor grounds that house the Sculpture Park would be ideal.

Situated close to Wakefield, the open air gallery is situated within the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate, currently showcasing sculptures from artists even I had heard of, such as Damien Hirst and Ai WeiWei. In particular I wanted to see Damien’s ‘Virgin Mother’ statue and a gigantic Portugese cockeral by Joana Vassconcelos, which greets you as you arrive at the park.

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Covid has meant the park is run a little differently than before, you can only buy your ticket online, and a lot of the indoor spaces are closed, but with over 80 outdoor sculptures and installations to see, you can easily spend your day visiting just those. But, there are still indoor toilets and a gift shop that you can visit (masks mandatory) and they have converted their cafe to an outdoor take away space.

Tonnes of Covid friendly measures are in place, with one way arrows, hand sanitiser on gates dotted all over the place and the one indoor exhibition space, limits the number of visitors inside at a time.

We had a glorious day, I think my friend and I were just excited to be able to socialise again after lockdown, but there was some truely amazing, unique sculptures that really made you stop and think. My favourites were indeed the Virgin Mother, but I also really liked the Buddha by Saint Phalle, the Rabbit Madonna by Usagi Kannon II and Network by Thomas J Price.

We were super lucky with the weather too, and although it rained later in our visit, we were still able to enjoy a sunny picnic with some sheep in a field, overlooking the lake and it was almost like the virus had just been a bad dream.

I hadn’t paid too much to the indoor exhibit on offer, as I initially presumed it would be closed, but I’m glad we ventured over, as it was truely inspiring. It was curated by the Portugese Artist Joana Vassconcelos, who designed the giant cockeral at the entrance, but other works on display indoors, included the iconic oversized silver stilettos of Marilyn, made out of saucepans, which represented the division between women’s traditional domestic and contemporary public roles and I also loved the ‘Red Independant Heart #3’ made entirely of red plastic cutlery.

 

As far as my first post lockdown adventure went, it was a total success!

Sunday Bridgewater Canal walk

Another Sunday Summer hike this year has been, again with the Bee Sober crew, this time a more gentle 2 hour stroll along the historic Bridgewater Canal. The canal built in the 1700’s is 41 miles in length, covering the area from Runcorn to Leigh near Wigan, via Manchester City Centre.

We all met up at the Stretford metro station, which is right by the canal, and parking is free with a metro ticket. We took our time, soaking up the sunshine, taking photos, passing under bridges, smelling breakfasts being cooked on the many barges parked up and apparently walked past the retired footballer Gary Neville and his family, but I was too busy being distracted by the swimming swams in the canal.

It took about 90 minutes before we reached the centre of Manchester and then about another 30 minutes to find somewhere to eat brunch outdoors, that would allow 6 friends, as the restrictions were starting up again as the Covid 2nd wave was starting to approach. In the end we found a Gino’s grill in the Corn Exchange area with outside seating that we had to ourselves, unfortunately there were no plant-based options, but I had brought a cereal bar with me, so had that with my soy cap, whilst the others had cake, oh well.

It was then a short ride on the metro back to Stretford to pick up our cars and head home. Well recommended if you fancy a nice flat walk, going from fields, to football stadiums to skyscrapers as you get closer to the city centre, where you can reward yourself with a nice lunch.

 

 

Hike to Snowdon Summit

The tallest mountain in Wales, and only second to Ben Nevis in being the highest summit in the whole of the UK. Its only a 2 hour drive from where I live in the North West, and its somewhere I’ve fancied doing for many years. Not because I’ve been a hiker or mountain explorer for years, but so many people I know have already hiked it and by people who I considered no fitter than myself, so I always had it on my bucket list to do.

Many times I’ve had offers or plans to hike it, but they always fell through, plus being an inexperienced hiker, I didnt want to do it solo or with someone even less experienced than me, so I always relied on someone else to organise it and so it never actually got organised.

Until 2020 happened, and a combination of all my foreign trips being cancelled, most things I could do socially had to be outside, (so hiking was No1 on my list) and the first hike I did with Bee Sober Manchester mentioned that Snowdon was planned for mid September. I quickly cleared my calender, booked a single, contact-free hotel room in Llanberis, the town inside the national park and got in training!

We decided we would start early on the Saturday morning, as all of us had arrived the night before, so it wasnt too painful to get up and get to the Pen y Pass carpark around 5.30AM so we could grab one of the limited car parking spaces (otherwise, you’re best to use the park and ride). The majority of the different paths all start from this carpark, so for £10 all day, its well worth it. Plus, there is wifi, handy if you’re co-ordinating a meet up with others, as phone service is sketchy and there’s toilets too.

We set off early to avoid the crowds, which have swamped to Snowdonia since lockdown, as well as to witness the sunrise on our way up, and boy was it worth it.

There are a number of different routes up to the summit and even a train, which I think you have to pre-book, but it wasn’t fully in service due to Covid. We hiked up the Pyg track, then came down on the Miners track, and its a route I would advise any first timers to do. It was completely managable for someone who hasnt done a whole lot of hiking in the last few years and the ascent only involved a bit of a scramble, with a lovely flat path down below on our way back. There’s lots of places to stop, (have a sneaky wee) rest, eat and take in those amazing views, absolutely worth the early start and we were back down by 12 and we looked back on the growing crowds with relief that we had avoided them with our early start. Also, by staying close by in Llaberris, I was having a hot shower and rest by 12.30.