Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rutland Water

Walked: 31 May 2008
Distance: 14m

Walking the full circuit of Rutland Water was a bit of a whim. I knew that I would be in the area and had packed boots, water and coffee, but had only intended to walk a few miles and find out what opportunities there were for walking around the reservoir.

At the Lyndon Visitor Centre where I popped in to buy an OS map, I was told that the circular walk (minus the peninsular) was 17m. I was a bit unsure whether I'd get around before dark, but it was such a beautiful day, and once I'd started, turning back before the half-way point wasn't really an option!

I've now Meandered the route and find it to be 14m, which fits with the 5 hours I was walking.

The signposts at the peninsular claim that that loop is an extra 7m, so there's a potential 21 mile walk there for another day.

The shop didn't have the OS map, and I'd usually feel uncomfortable about walking anywhere without the 1:25000 to refer to, but the reservoir has a surfaced path all the way round, with so much signage it almost feels like a guided tour.

It did annoy me a little that there are so many health and safety signs around the place, but this one did make me laugh.

The flowers are just going off the horse-chestnut trees and these cute baby conkers have started to form:

This is the dam at the eastern end:

The village sign for Egleton reminds me of the Edvard Munch painting the Madonna with the sperms swimming around the edge. I'm not sure that these shapes are meant to be sperms but one does have a wiggly tail.

The route below was created using Google maps and Meander.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Meindls are dead, long live the Asolos

I don't normally go out when it's pouring with rain, but I'd arranged to help risk-assess a new walk which is part of the WHI scheme, for which I volunteer.

A colleague has organised a new WHI walk around Hilton (South Derbyshire). It'll start soon and be on the first and third Wednesday evening of each month, starting (and finishing!) from the Hilton Brook pub at 6:30 folks!

It was great timing as I needed a nice short walk to start breaking in my brand new boots!

According to this blog, my ratty old boots have trodden at least 684 miles of South Derbyshire and beyond! Some of it very muddy, some of it scrambling up hills.

I had to concede that they'd bitten the dust as I nursed a blister last time out because the slowly-growing split (that you can see in the top photo) was allowing the left one to fold differently and dig in. A look at the soles, however, tells me that a) they're worn down past the tread in places and b) I've been supinating (or anti-pronating) which means walking on the outside of my feet a bit.

Note how the tread on the heel is worn right down on the outside but not the inside.

When I had some knee trouble last year, I started walking with a stick, took a look at the soles of my boots, read a bit and decided that my supinating was causing the trouble. If you walk on the outside or the inside of your foot, then it twists your knee. Try rocking your foot gently from the outside to the inside and feel how much your shinbone twists!

Even though I've tried to correct the habit, wearing boots worn on the outside hasn't helped, I guess, and so I'll be keeping a close eye on the tread of these new ones!

The old ones are Meindl 'Jamaica Lady'. I tried on a brand new pair of JL's, which unsurprisingly felt just like the old ones. They've certainly done me some service and I'm very happy with them, but they are listed as being suitable for more gentle work than I've given them. It was obvious when trying on new boots that the slightly heavier-duty models gave more support around the ankle, had stiffer soles and some felt decidedly more comfy around the foot.

My new 'Asolo Flame GTX' boots got a rave review from LFTO ('Trail' and 'Country Walking magazines'). Time will tell whether they get a rave review from me, but it's looking good so far.

I went for the man's version because a) they felt more comfy on my wide feet and b) the lady's version comes in heinous colours - WHY???

The soles are as stiff as a board, they fit very well, feel great around the foot and hold the ankle really well. After a few miles splashing through puddles in the rain, my feet were very warm and dry!

(Yes, boot manufacturers, I'm still angling for some sponsorship or some freebies!!)

This is them after just a few miles in very soggy Hilton.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Distance: 22m
Walked: 25 May 08

For posterity, the first two pictures here feature the cooling towers at Willington. Although I find the huge grey shapes ugly, I have become comfortably familiar with the landmark. At several places you can see both Ratcliffe power station and Willington cooling towers marking (very approximately) the eastern and western extremes of the beautiful district of South Derbyshire.

While idly flicking through this month's Heritage News, I discovered that they are not only no longer in use, but could soon be destined for demolition.

A recent attempt to have them listed has failed, meaning that their future is uncertain.

On to the walk. Today was sunny, but very windy. The may blossom is just going off, some of it turning pink or cream. The lambs are getting bigger.

The route follows part of the Trent and Mersey canal which runs parallel to the Trent valley. It also takes in historic Repton and Anchor Church caves.

I love May

Distance: 11m
Walked: 18 May 2008

I love May. I love the May blossom covering the hedges like a heavy dusting of snow. I love laburnums dripping with yellow flowers, I love the warm bright sunshine. I love the vivid green colour of the countryside. I love that everything is growing very quickly.

The second picture shows elderflower budding up ready to flower, alongside some holly. Holly grows very slowly, but in May it puts on a few leaves. I've never noticed this before, but when the new leaves sprout, they're soft and fluffy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Combs Edge - little-known Peak District views

Walked: 5 May 2008(Mayday Bank Holiday)
Distance: 10 miles

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd arranged a day walking in the Peak District with friends. An Austrian friend has been staying here for a year - the year is nearly over and she was keen to see the best of our countryside.

Having settled on the bank holiday, I was keen to find somewhere not swarming with my fellow walkers, so I thought Combs Edge might fit the bill and it did!

It was difficult to draw a route that would suit experienced and less experienced walkers, but the 10-mile route seemed fine. We allowed plenty of time, and took plenty of stops.

The first part of the walk is along the Goyt Valley, a level walk alongside the reservoir, before climbing the opposite side of the valley, from where we had a fantastic view of the valley we'd just walked along, as well as the high spots that we had yet to climb. Notably the site of an old fort, which looked so high and so far in the distance.

We descended into Combs, which is a pretty village, before making the steep climb to the fort.

That was the half way point and made a great spot for lunch.

Most of the second half of the walk follows the contour of the edge. Despite being so high, it was very boggy and not such pleasant walking. The views did compensate though.

On the previous exploratory trip, we'd picked a route down from the edge which was a bit steep, and had to explore a bit to find a more gentle descent which met a footpath. It was still a bit tough and exercised muscles that don't normally get much use.

It's easy to pick up the Midshire's Way which takes you back to the car park by the reservoir.

This was the second time that I've arranged a walk for a group of friends. Despite being a very happy solitary walker, I thoroughly enjoyed the organising, the company and the walk itself. A very enjoyable benefit of going as a group was the couple of drinks and a pub meal we treated ourselves to at the end.

Friday, May 02, 2008

First bluebells, 2008

Rog took me out on the pretext of a quick stroll before lunch, knowing that this display of bluebells had already started in South Derbyshire. I didn't, until greeted by this amazing sight:

The young bluebells look remarkably like asparagus spears:

Another surprise was meeting these rather young foals.

Distance: 12m
Walked: 13 April 2008

This was an exploratory trip to find a quiet corner of the Peak District to take some friends to on Bank Holiday Monday. I hope I've found it - the views are just wonderful, even on a dull day like this one, and it seems to be reasonably unknown.

We did 12 miles, but some of it was worth cutting out, leaving about 9 miles to walk on the day.

No detail for this one - I want it to myself on Monday!