Life, photos but not the universe

Expanded version of previous two posts. (you can just look at the pictures if you like)

I’m trying to work out exactly where and when we’ve been for the last two and a half weeks.  Do forgive me if some of this seems familiar.  I think I already wrote a post about some of it.  But there are place names you need to know – really – and naturally, a few more pics.

Dimly, I remember returning, exhausted and hobbling, from a very busy and enjoyable weekend which involved visiting an lovely old pub with a thatched Cruck Barn at Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales and a wander along the banks of the River Nidd which is worthy of note if only for its name.  Like Glasshouses, Smelthouses and Blubberhouses and the Timbles, Little and Nether, through which we passed.   We went to a fabulous restaurant in Leeds and I got to wander round the City  for a morning.  Best of all, we spent time with Barney’s sister and her daughter who are two of the nicest people we know.

This was followed by a journey across the Dales to Lancaster where Eldest lives, and then back into Yorkshire to visit the waterfalls at Ingleton.

Now my lovely sister-in-law fully understands that at least one of us walks best on flat ground at a very steady pace with frequent stops for photographs.  My equally lovely son also understands this but as the veteran of many triathlons and similarly grueling and lengthy endurance events, his understanding is of a completely different order.   Despite warnings about the length and severity of the walk and the drizzle which was falling with increasing wetness, he was confident that his aged parents and his beautiful and delightful Italian girlfriend would find the four and a half hour walk up one gorge, across a stretch of moorland and down another gorge easily manageable.    In fact most of us did manage it but I was saved the second half of the walk by the interposition of a road between the two gorges.  At this point, knowing that my knees and feet would not survive a downhill version of the uphill march we had just made I decided to wait by the road while the others descended and then returned with the car to fetch me.  As we had already done a two hour scramble and had apparently covered at least two and a half (often vertical*) miles I felt my honour was more than satisfied.  What’s more, as it was a typically beautiful wooded gorge with a number of splendid waterfalls and a ‘force’ at the top, I’d taken a sufficient number of photos to make me feel that the effort had been well worth it  and while I waited I was able to hobble (with a lot of  squawking and muttering) down as far as the first waterfall and back, have a short but cordial conversation with an elderly local and her dog and a longer but slightly exasperating conversation with a passing tourist and his family and take a number of photos of harebells, sheep and distant changes of light across the valley above the falls.

Later, we went to an Italian restaurant in Carnforth (better known for its station than its Italians) and ate delicious things and were entertained by the owners (who had, on previous occasions been charmed both by Eldest and by his lovely girlfriend and thoroughly enjoyed telling us their life story*)

Since then, we’ve rushed off with only a brief pause to repack and regroup, for a week on the boat, which was also very lovely and also exhausting.  This time, we were accompanied by a dear friend, who has terminal cancer, and his wife.  He’s too weak to do much walking or any locking but was able to steer from time to time so it fell to me and his wife to work the locks***, fortunately not too many – a route had been chosen which didn’t include Heartbreak Hill, aptly named for its many locks (29?) but did include an idyllic journey along the Macclesfield Canal and the Peak Forest Canal.   Glorious views across the Pennines, lovely treelined stretches and many rather imposing and splendid old mills.  We found another wonderful Italian restaurant rather surprisingly tucked away on the outskirts of Marple near the top of another flight of locks which we didn’t have to negotiate but were able to admire on the short walk to the restaurant.  Should you ever be in Marple and wanting dinner, I recommend Dolce Vita****, close to lock four, and a wander to the top of the flight where there is a magnificent example of a crossover bridge, designed to allow a horse, towing a narrowboat, to cross the canal without needing to be unhitched.  This is such a clever, elegant and photogenic design that you’re lucky only to have to see one or two photos of it.

Goyt Mill

Pennines from the Peak Forest Canal

Anyway, after this we might have been ready for a short break but there was the small matter of a visit from Youngest and all her family and Mr Youngest’s sister and her family.  We haven’t seen this couple since Youngest’s Ice wedding in Lapland but on that occasion, we got on so well that the opportunity to see them again couldn’t be missed (they live in the very far  frozen North of England – further even than Eldest or Sister in Law) .  The only difficulty being that we had exactly one day to arrive, unpack, prepare bedrooms, clean the house and do all the shopping, before they arrived.  It was a bit chaotic even before the gas ran out in the middle of preparing dinner (which was already running seriously late – nothing at all to do with everyone except me, going to the pub for a ‘quick’ drink before dinner nor the fact that one of the absent drinkers was also the head cook).  The dumpling cook  however, remained at home and it was gratifying that all the dumplings were eaten even though some of the beef stew was leftover.

Briefly returning to the Macclesfield Canal near Marple, I stuck my head out of the galley and look what I saw!  *Waving*  (you need to click to enlarge in order to read it)

Yay!  the new gas bottles have arrived.  I can put the camping cooker away.

* Vertical, with lumpy bits.  If you look at the google map link and zoom in, you can see the path up the left hand gorge and how it sweeps across to the right, through a farm and past another small group of buildings before descending through the left hand gorge.  I made it all the way to the second lot of buildings!  I am impressed with my endurance!

**She had hoped that when she married an Italian chef, that she’d be swept romantically away to live in Italy but instead, he moved to England and they have owned no fewer than 10 restaurants all over England.  I think she’s still hoping to get to live in the most romantic country in the world one day – perhaps when they retire : )

***Yes we could have steered but she finds it unnerving and I find it dull and stressful.  We both preferred shortish spells of enormous effort and a bit of time spent on shore occasionally chatting to other boaters.  And the feeling of virtue engendered by doing Exercise!

****Dolce Vita is at the top left hand corner of the map and the top of the flight of locks is near the bottom left corner.  You can see the junction of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals and the crossover bridge there too.  What you can’t see is the steepness of the hill alongside the locks – they’re all quite deep locks and I think the total fall in that section is about 50 feet.  Aah, and the distance from the top lock to Lock four is about 520 feet.*****

*****Why on Earth am I doing this?  Must be something to do with travelling up and down so many steep hills recently, in the company of an anorak .  Well, if you’re interested and you know how, you can work out the steepness.  ******

******Oh bother.  I must be turning into an anorak myself.  If I work it out using the method described by a lot of geeky bike people on Google, it comes to a gradient of 10.2%.  What on earth does that mean?  And WHY am I doing this?

September 14, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. You had me at the first photo.
    It only got more endearing and lovely.

    And I do appreciate your knees and back and wholeness making the climbs…and not making the climbs. Wow… And that is one serious bridge that I could fall in love with quite easily–and think I have.

    But that first photo…..

    You find the most incredible things around you.
    I like your eyes. They see.
    And that’s an awesome things from any angle–

    Too cool!
    Goin’ for another big look!

    Comment by Mel | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  2. Fascinating, thank you, Mig, but what happened to the promised ‘I was supposed to be grandbaby minding’? I was looking forward to some useful tips for when this activity comes our way in a couple of weeks. There comes a time when carrying infants on shoulders and making floppy-eared rabbits out of handkerchieves palls both for minder and mindee.

    Comment by Christopher | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  3. Ah, that first photo I can’t claim to have found by myself Mel. One of Barney’s many interests is old buildings and I was firmly driven to it, let out and pointed at it from many angles. I did think it had a disneyish quality though – don’t think Barney fully appreciated that.

    Um sorry Christopher – the clue is “I was supposed to be”. However, when I post the post which I’m afraid you’ll find disappointing as it stands, I’ll add a few bits. I never considered carrying the infant on shoulders – not my shoulders anyway as they’re too high for my arms to reach when laden with an infant!

    Comment by letouttoplay | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  4. I met my GLW the lovely Mrs Rine on Carnforth Railway Station 12 years ago. It had gone downhill a bit since Brief Encounter but fortunately Mrs Rine made up for it.

    Comment by Rog | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  5. How romantic Rog.
    Barney and I stayed at the Station hotel there a few years ago and had an interesting experience involving sausages. Not at all romantic.

    Comment by letouttoplay | September 15, 2011 | Reply

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