For photos of previous years, please see the Menu on the left.
A small but select group of ramblers assembled in the car park at Lowther castle on a grand morning with blue skies and mild conditions. Our guide was Ian Jack, a Director of Lowther Estates with responsibility for managing and developing the estate woodlands. Ian's Cat. 2 route was all on estate roads with one long, but gentle climb of about 100m which took us through some of The South Park not normally open to the public. He was a mine of information on the history of the Lowther Estate with its many characters and, of course, its trees. The value of dead trees to the general environment was explained with a sprinkling of technical information on the various bugs and bacteria which inhabit them. The Park - which only forms part of the Lowther Estates - contains a variety of landscapes at different stages of development with man-made features which reflect it's history. There was once a huge deer park and Ian explained how deer were initially hunted using nets and subsequently shot through holes in the walls of the park when guns came along. The gardens are currently being restored by a charitable trust after the castle was closed and declared a "ruin" in the 1930s. The last and probably the best known resident was Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale, also known as "The Yellow Earl" because of his favourite colour. He started The AA, which is why it's corporate colour is yellow. Similarly he was President of Arsenal Football Club - who play in yellow of course. He was a great sporting figure with greyhounds and horses, which were regularly exercised in the Park and created The Lonsdale Belt in boxing. However, his spending eventually largely bankrupted the estate, resulting in closure of the castle. The route culminates in a stunning vista at the head of the climb which takes in Blencathra (recently sold to an Indian millionaire) and the Lake District fells round to The North Pennines, including Cross Fell (highest point on the Pennine Way). A fitting conclusion to a very rewarding ramble for which we are very grateful to Ian. Douglas, Chris' Assistance Dog, enjoyed himself, once again finding something brown and smelly to roll in (see photo)! Many thanks, Ron
THE EGRETS WAY – 25TH SEPTEMBER 2014 This ramble came about as the result of the opening of a new pathway linking the two pretty villages of Rodmell and Southease in East Sussex, near Newhaven, earlier in the year which we attended on behalf of DR who supported the project in its initial stages. It is eventually hoped to link up with Lewes by continuing the path as it is at present. It is a flat and easy ramble of about 5 miles through the beautiful East Sussex countryside of rolling hills, reed beds, cattle feeding in the fields and the lovely white cliffs that abound in this area. 9 scooters and 3 walkers turned up including Sue, the Secretary of the Ouse Valley Cycle Network which was set up to mastermind the Egrets Way project. We were also particularly pleased to welcome John and Judy, long standing members of DR, who haven’t been able to get to many rambles recently, and Celia with Phoebe the chocolate Labrador and not forgetting Nomi – super to see her out again after not being too well over the summer. It is great to welcome all who come but it is very rewarding to meet new faces and see old friends again. We started off with coffee and cakes at the YHA which is at Southease Station, and proceeded over the bridge that crosses the Ouse and onto the pathway itself, which follows the R Ouse for a good way through lovely open landscape. The weather was perfect and we had the “big” skies that are so famous in E Sussex. A good picture of Colin keeping two gates open at the same time and also taking a photo of Bob taking a photo of him!! We got to Monks House at about 1 o’clock and entered the garden by the side gate. It is a lovely peaceful garden and interesting house, and this is where Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Set entertained each other in the early part of the 20th Century. Well worth a visit. We then trundled up the very pretty village of Rodmell with its roses round the doors and the ancient cottages and buildings. It also has a lovely old church that Sue and Colin and Paul had a peep into, we will explore that next time. The journey back was linear but we were entertained by a plane doing a few stunts, of course, I arranged that specially for the day! We got back at about ten to four and had more cakes and cups of tea in the YHA, which is very modern and welcoming. In all, a very enjoyable day with great company which is what disabled rambling is all about – to get us all out into the countryside and have a jolly good time! Thanks to all who came and to all who couldn’t make this time because of holidays – your chance will come as we hope to put this ramble on again next summer and visit the two ancient churches that are on the route, one at Rodmell and one at Southease. Val.
The lovely September weather deserted us as we met in the woods by Wyresdale Hall for the last Tramper Trek of the season but it did not dampen our spirits. Wyre Council brought loan scooters and in the quaint gardens around Apple Tree Café we found the ‘Lords’ and the ‘Ladies’ then we were all set to go. We followed tarmacked lanes around Nicky Nook fell the drizzle impairing the view but not our spirits as we followed the track down into the woods. The leaves have not quite turned or fallen yet so the trees provided a dry lunch stop. From here the track became steeper and rougher but all eight Trampers managed the route without incident. A five mile circular route brought us back to the café for tea, cake and a nostalgic chat about the previous Tramper Treks. The good news is there will be more next year! The first one in April, please watch the website calendar where there will be details as soon as we have them. Eileen
From the same car park as our first Devon ramble, we headed south along the line of the former railway to Morwellham Quay, a restored port on the River Tamar made famous as the location for ‘Edwardian Farm’ one of a series depicting a year in the life of farms in bygone times. In the last mile to the quay we dropped steeply 450 ft to sea level – and had to climb back up this later!
Starting with a visit to the railway legacy of Meldon Viaduct, spanning the West Okement river valley at a height of 120 feet, we then went back west along the Granite Way. This is the track-bed of the former London & South Western Railway. Leaving this we climbed steeply along the Two Castles Way to the high moorland of Sourton Tors, where in the 1870s ponds were formed so that winter ice could be cut and sold to the Plymouth fish trade. Unfortunately not a successful enterprise as a series of mild winters was followed by the introduction of refrigeration. Continuing to the Trig point on the summit gave spectacular views all around. Thanks to rangers Rob Taylor and Bill for their assistance and information.
Although the landscape around Challacombe appears wild and natural, this quiet moorland farm has been inhabited and cultivated for thousands of years. Over time, people have changed and shaped the land; terraced the slopes, constructed boundaries to divide it up, carved out the streams, erected monuments on the hilltops and built in the valley. Min, the amazing lady who, with her daughter Naomi and son-in-law Mark, farms this remote area, was, as ever, delighted to welcome us and extended an invite to all members who would like to return. Ranger Bill Allen was a font of knowledge, imparted as we rambles up to the Golden Dagger tin mine then into Sousons Forest. Lunch was at the delightful Runnage Bridge and the return via a little used path in the woods will be forever remembered by some of our members!
From the centre of Princetown we followed the course of the branch line railway that once ran to Yelverton on the Plymouth to Tavistock line. We passed several disused quarries including Foggintor which supplied the stone for Nelson’s Column and King’s Tor which was used in the construction of London Bridge in 1903 (the one now in Arizona). Here, at our lunch stop, we saw several perfectly finished Corbels which were never used
Dartmoor has long been used to train our armed services. A whole series of tracks criss-cross the area to service this training but are all brought together at the Dartmoor Ring Road (or Loop Road or Circular Road) Once open to all traffic, it is now only used by the military and by walkers. The surface is a mixture of tarmac, fine gravel and rough gravel. Today it was suitable for Cat 2 scooters as the one ford we had to cross was shallow. The Ring road also gives access to Dartmoor’s highest peak at 2,037ft – High Willhays and the adjoining Yes Tor which is only about 6ft lower. We left those for another day. Most of the route out was a steady climb but there was 500ft of climbing in the last 1 mile before lunch at OP 15 (Observation Point). Downhill almost all the way back. Many thanks to Ranger Ian Brooker for all the information he provided.
Lacking wood, peat was the main fuel on Dartmoor. The damage caused to the landscape can still be seen at the Rattlebrook Peat Works. The tramway used to take the Peat to Bridestowe station via a combination of horse drawn trucks and a railway formed our route today. At one time, a Naphtha works at Rattlebrook distilled the gas produced from the peat to produce candles, mothballs and gas for lighting. Our ramble began at the excellent Fox & Hounds and rises steadily past Great Nodden hill to Coombe Down. Cat 2 up to this point. Here it executed a hairpin turn and passed between Woodcock Hill and Great Links Tor. The track now become quite difficult but just over the brow of the hill we were rewarded with a view of the remains of the Rattlebrook Peat Works. From here a track led to the ruin of Bleak House - unfortunately only one walker got to the remains of this remote outpost. Many thanks to ranger Rob Taylor for imparting his wealth of knowledge.
It was copper mining that made the Tamar Valley internationally famous in the 19th and early 20th century. The whole of the Tamar Valley was transformed through mining and the work that followed, such as the construction of transport networks and quays. The mine chimneys now form part of the local scenery, as well as hidden quays, overgrown tracks, half-visible mine adits, and barren hillside spoil-tips – all waiting to be discovered on this circular ramble.
SOUTHERN REGIONAL RAMBLE – CREAM TEA RAMBLE, NEW FOREST, HAMPSHIRE. We knew the day was going to be a success when Rosie and John Norris turned up at least 20 minutes early, what a lovely surprise that was, they will never hear the end of it!!!! We had a good turnout of 9 scooters and 1 powerchair, driven excellently by Richard. The weather was a bit overcast but DRY, that’s all we ask after all. The first half was over quite wild forest which is really lovely and we all enjoyed that very much, especially as we had a Forest meander (stream) to cross either by water or bridge. Water is much relished by one in particular of our members, Arthur, it makes his day. This time was very near the edge to say the least, but he was helped by Geoff David to extricate himself from near submergence, good job he has Capn Power’s TWS!!!! A light lunch was had overlooking a little valley and we then made our way to Acres Down Farm. This is a commoner’s working farm and they also have a campsite for tents and selected motor homes, it is in an isolated position and the cream tea they provide is really delectable. 2 scones, cream and homemade jam each, a pot of tea, and to round it off a very big slice of a selection of 6 home made cakes. All at a very reasonable price of £5 each. The photos show a colourful scene and it was really good fun. It is in an area very popular with bird watchers and some of the group went up a steep little hill to have a look at the heathland where quite a variety of birds of prey hunt. It is also a wonderful view from the top of the hill for miles over the forest as far as the eye can see. The return trip was on cycle paths and tracks so was relatively unchallenging, but after a very satisfying cream tea was just right. Again, we had a little stream to play in and the inclosure is a particularly nice one, sometimes we find that these inclosures can be a bit straight and a little boring but this one is very nice with some hills, streams and nice views. We got back to Bolderwood car park very late at about 5.30pm, but we all had a really good time, a cream tea ramble is always popular – so roll on next year, some ideas are already forming for another one in a different area. Thanks to all those members who travel such a long way to attend the regional rambles, it is greatly appreciated and we do our best to give you a super time. Best regards to everyone, Val
SOUTHERN REGIONAL RAMBLE HEATHER TRUNDLE, SHATTERFORD BOTTOM, NEW FOREST – 23RD AUGUST 2014 This was a new route through an area of heathland, ancient woodland and inclosures – principally to see the heather in bloom but also to savour the lovely atmosphere and forest landscape along the way. The New Forest offers much diversity of views and the rambles are, almost without exception, a delightful and rewarding experience for all. We started off from the car park at Shatterford with an attendance of 15 scooters and 5 walkers, including (for the first time and after much arm twisting) my daughter, Wendy, and her husband, Steve. We proceeded along a rough-ish path to Shatterford Bottom, a boggy area but there is a boarded bridge and walkway over the bog, and usually we pause and watch the dragonflies and damselflies flitting over the pond which is there, however, the sun had gone in and so had the pondlife and as we had just negotiated an area of fairly tricky sand everyone was pleased to go on into the wood and have a pause and little coffee break, so the dragonflies were given a miss this time!! We then proceeded through this lovely old wood and had to limbo under a tree that had fallen over the path. On the reccy we had to saw a branch off this tree in order for the ramble to proceed and we were watched with interest by about 8 lads who very sweetly offered to lift our scooters over the tree, but we explained that removal of the branch was essential for our ramble. Reccies can be a lot of fun, as well as a challenge and you meet some super people along the way. From there we proceeded through the wood, fairly tricky in places but we managed, and into the inclosure that leads through Denny Wood. In this inclosure there is a lot of insect life – dragon and damselflies and butterflies of many species and also we usually see some deer and we were lucky enough to see two or three this time, as well as about 5 ponies and their foals grazing. We found some nice logs for the walkers to rest on for our lunch stop. Then on up past Denny Lodge, a Keepers house, and through another track into some woods that leads back onto the heathland on the return route to Shatterford car park. The heather was just “going over” but we still got the fragrance from it as we passed. Once there some of us did a further “loop” over quite uneven and rutted ground across the road from the car park, this leads across a large, open plain where sometimes up to 100 cattle and ponies graze, and in the past we have seen grass-snakes and lizards run across the path. It then goes into another ancient and peaceful wood, Matley Wood, this area is impassable in the winter so we have to make the most of the summer and early autumn. Shatterford is next to Beaulieu Road Station and this is where the New Forest pony auctions are held and 7 of us later had a light meal in the Drift Inn – Drift is the name they call the rounding up of the ponies for sale as well as branding, veterinary attention and tail trimming and the drifts are a spectacular sight with the Verderers on horseback herding the wild ponies into the pens. The weather on the day was sparkling and sunny, but quite fresh – but perfect for this ramble. It is on my list of “favourites”! It was great to have so many there – many thanks to all and hope to see you next time – which is................The Cream Tea Ramble on the 5th of September. Regards to all, Val.
Today’s Regional Ramble started at Knott End at an early 9.30. Five Trampers arrived from Wyre Council with two Rangers by ten o’clock and after a few phone calls it was clear there was a bug about and one member of the Disabled Ramblers was in hospital. So the four of us set off along the River Wyre until we could go no further. Then across the golf course – it was Lady’s day as it was Thursday. Then onto the salt marshes, along sea defences, onto farms and forgotten tracks leading to a disused small gauge train track known as the Pilling Pig. We carried on along tracks and lanes in a circular ramble back to the car park at approximately 2.15. The weather gods smiled on us; just small burst of rain on us but as we were in are cars the rangers got very wet loading up their Trampers. A big thanks to Duncan and his team. Cheers, Andrew Cross.
Leaving from the Dutch style Ashdown House built in 1662 by Earl William Craven as a house fit for the queen he loved, Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, we wandered through the deciduous woodland of the estate before taking to Green Lanes leading to the Ridgeway and Wayland’s Smithy where we were well entertained by National Trust ranger Andy Foley with the legends of Wayland as well as the archaeological findings from the Barrow. A wonderful lunch spot. After lunch we returned to the Ridgeway traveling west before heading south alongside an enormous field of wheat. This area was an airfield in WW2. Passing back through the Ha-ha the long drive back down the Avenue was enlivened by Sue J and Sue R having a race on their Supersports – brought on by memories of the original use of the Wenman Trophy as a prize for the fastest crossing of the Ridgeway end-to-end over two days as told to us by Wenman’s salesman Bob Owen who came on the ramble with us. The race ended in a draw. Moving on to Warnage Wood at Wadborough, we located the area of trees dedicated to the memory of Mike Longbottom. We were delighted that Mike’s daughter, Georgina, and a large group of her friends and family were able to be with us as Mike’s friend Tom Bindoff gave us a moving insight into the life of Mike. Then to the Cross Keys to celebrate an excellent days rambling.
RR Tarnbrook Fell 24th July 2014 What a magnificent day, clear blue skies and a gentle breeze just look at those photos! Eleven scooters and an army of walkers set off back along the tarmacked track we had just driven up. Where was Duncan taking us. The narrow road was a leafy lane following the course of the river which was more rocks than water. We passed a house built in 1870 and one undergoing restoration over a couple of miles it makes you wonder what it was like to live in such a remote area before electricity and other mod-cons. The rangers provided us with a vehicle escort up the next lane as it was a little wider and we might meet a car. We did, just the one. After a short rest in the shade of farm buildings we headed out on to open fells. We had now been going for about three miles and the absence of trees, bushes and other cover was being noted. We could see Blackpool Tower someone mentioned, a lot of use that was (for a call of nature) given it was 40 miles away at least as the Hen Harrier flies. Yes we did see one! Well three altogether. The shooting lodge was our lunch stop and provided some shade this time, on my last visit, in the same week six years ago we huddled in there for warmth and to get out of the wind and rain. That day 19th July 2008 we were in danger of hyperthermia today it was sunstroke. That is Britain for you totally unpredictable. Rob Foster met us at the shooting lodge and explain why he was walking around on open moorland with a television aerial. In his job as gamekeeper for the Duke of Westminster he had to raise grouse for the shooting season. He rings the young female birds with a transmitter and then tries to locate them with the aerial. It has its limitations in that grouse are ground nesting birds and the hills get in the way of the signal. When we were in this area six years ago the hen harriers were being blamed for the lack of grouse. Rob explained that he had managed to improve the stock of birds considerably once it was found that the young birds were dying because of tics from the sheep. The sheep were treated they spread the treatment around the moors and this protected the birds…or something like that anyway he now has a good stock of grouse ready for the glorious 12th. The long slow drag up to the shooting lodge had taken its toll on some of the batteries. The spare Trampers were brought into play and the truck was sent for in case any gave up completely. We completed 9 miles over beautiful moorland tracks and we would like to thank the Duke of Westminster and his Estate staff for allowing us up on the moor. Special thanks to Duncan Byrne, Ian Clarke and the Wyre Valley team without whom we could not have had this memorable day. Eileen T
"It hadn't occurred to me beforehand, but this was the ideal ramble for non walker companions … Dave's wife spent the morning in Hidcote Gardens, and we caught up with her for lunch. While she was enjoying the gardens, the rest of us were climbing up out of Ilmington village and onto the Downs. We quickly gained enough height to catch a breeze, so an otherwise hot day was just right, and some great views began to unfold. Before heading for Hidcote Gardens, we stopped at Foxcote House, where we were treated to coffee and biscuits in the beautiful grounds. Many thanks to Nigel and his team. After an uneventful descent into Hidcote, although we did notice how steep and rocky it was … we found the NT gardens at their very best. We managed to get around without side swiping too many fellow visitors, before stopping for lunch beside a Ha-Ha, which kept the sheep at bay but didn't block the lovely views out over the surrounding countryside. The return to Ilmington was fun too, the aforementioned steep and rocky path leading to a bit of towing, but luckily we had all prepared ourselves for the effort before leaving Hidcote, at the Ice cream kiosk. So, a great day out made even better by the good company." Many thanks to Bob, Paul, Bernard, Val and Mike for the photos. Eileen S
Roman Road Ramble. RR 004. July 22nd. After the ferrying of two scooters, by Clive H. to the top car park, the ramble commenced in brilliant weather, (again!) This ramble had been in my mind for several years, being long interested in all things Roman, so I was well-pleased to get it off the ground at last. We were a party of six on scooters, plus four supporters,two dogs, and two strong back-up men for emergencies if needed, Clive and Malcolm. Slowly, but surely we gained height on the rough 'n rocky 'Road to Rome.' We weren't going that far luckily, so speed wasn't our priority, 'slowly' suited us fine ! Regular short stops cooled the motors on this hot day. A coffee stop at the path junction, where we could see the track to Drum, (previously summited in Sept 2012, by one of todays ramblers.)was very welcome to all, dogs included ! Too soon for some we started again, but we'd done the worst of it now, only more bumpy bits and several easy fords, normally, but not today. We stopped at the gate, as some battery readings were worryingly low, for lunch, and turn-around point. Despite this, everybody got back ok, safe and sound, and happy with the ramble.Another successful mission ! Great views of Puffin Island, Menai Straits, and golden sand-banks emerging from the wonderful blue sea. Wow ! Terry
Beddgelert Ramble. RR 003. July 21st. With a good weather report to boost confidence, six scooters and riders, seven staunch supporters, and two dogs, set off from the car park in good spirits. Bumpy to start, but no problems. A short stop at scenic Llyn Llewellyn for a drink and photos, then steadily uphill to our turn-off point for our high-point of Bwlch ddyddwy-elor (427m) The last section of this climb was the trickiest bit, as it was a bit wet and rocky, narrow in places, but with fantastic views of Snowdon's summit (3,560ft), clear for once, across the valley. Great place to eat a well-deserved lunch! To the other side, beautifully tranquil Cwm Pennant, and the distant Irish Sea. Wonderful ! What a day ! Good descent too, happily NO heroics ! Many thanks to Barbara H.,and Malcolm C. for their technical assistance. Terry
RIPARIAN RAMBLE – 14TH JULY 2014. As with all rambles we were hoping desperately for good weather – and luckily, it was perfect!!! 12 scooters and 4 walkers started off at the car park of The White Swan pub, right alongside the river and very popular in the area with locals because of the beautiful river flowing alongside. This is an area set in suburbia, but you would never know as it seems much removed from that. The River Itchen flows to Woodmill Canoeing Centre where there are sluice gates which diverts some of the river into salmon pools and the rest flows on down to the Solent. We had a lovely peaceful trundle along the footpath to Woodmill, this is very near to the Southampton Uni Campus but again there is no sign of the surrounding buildings associated with Universities. To our joy there was a Mr whippy here so that was a bonus straightaway. Then across the small road, excellently marshalled by our walkers and with great co-operation from the oncoming traffic, into the other part of the park where the Itchen continues its journey to the sea, this length of the river is tidal and fortunately the tide was in or otherwise we would have had very smelly mud banks to look at instead of sparkling water and various canoeists, a paddle boarder (new one on me), and on the way back some little boys swimming. This is Riverside Park and has been planted with trees and shrubs to make it a very pleasant and relaxing environment, there are about 6 play parks dotted about, a skateboard park, a narrow gauge train runs at weekends, a pitch and putt course, plenty of wildlife such as swans, one black swan among them, ducks, pink footed geese, coots, moorhens etc. Loos halfway round too – what more could you want? This continues to Cobden Bridge and a group of shops known as The Triangle, my own childhood neighbourhood, and then it really is suburbia! Here we turned round and circumnavigated the edge of the park back to the skateboard area where all the chaps did awful things on the ramps, much to the amusement of the lads gathered there on their bikes. It was fun, but scary! Then, another Mr Whippy and back to do the final loop around a very large lily pond, sadly all the flowers were over but it must have been a beautiful sight when they were out, there were many coots and chicks walking over the lily pads. Then back to the White Swan where we had a table booked and 13 of us had a drink and a meal. A really super day and everything went so well it was unbelievable! Thanks to all for coming and now we have the Heather Ramble to look forward to on Saturday 23rd August. Val
What is happening in Lancashire. July 9th Disabled Ramblers are pleased to have been able to play a small part in the annual AONB conference which is being run this week from Newton Rigg College in Penrith. Today was a field trip to Caton Moor on the north side of the Forest of Bowland, Disabled Ramblers were privileged to have had an outstanding ramble on this moor in 2011. On that day we parked at John Taylor’s farm and we were treated to excellent ramble with tea and cakes in the barn after. Two Tramper routes have been mapped out as a result of this visit and the routes can be downloaded from Lancashire CC website. The parking for these routes is further up the road closer to the wind turbines. This area is of special interest because of the variety of uses the land has been put to. There are eight windmills generating power above a moorland landscape that is home to hardy sheep and cattle. The views from this open aspect make it an ideal location to just go for a picnic and enjoy the vista of the Lakeland fells and Morecambe Bay or get the boots out and go for a real hike. Local businesses have had to adapt to the changes in the way we manage land; after a stretch on the moors the folks from the AONBs moved on to visit sustainable holiday cottages and visit the privately owned grouse moor where we will be doing our regional ramble on 24th July. The delegates hope to go back with fresh ideas on how best to manage their own areas in the various parts of the country. Tarja Wilson said to them that from feedback she has received since Lancashire businesses made their facilities all inclusive, they reckon that for every disabled person that comes, four abled bodied people accompany them. Looking at it negatively they would have lost five customers . The day highlighted the need for continual maintenance when the radar lock proved difficult to open. Would Andrew and Eileen be limited to looking through the bars! Out came the trusted Tramper tool box and Andrew was able to free the lock. We have made the local papers again with the Lancashire Evening Post (July 7th) doing a piece on our Arnside Knott visit. We hope to have more on that shortly. Eileen Tomlinson Pictures Andrew Cross
A ramble through this ancient Forest taking in many of the smaller tracks as well as the wide roads through the area. Easy going with plenty of rest options. Many ancient oaks planted specially for the construction of warships centuries ago still exist and have their own names – Big Bellied Oak, Queen Oak, Saddle Oak and Spider Oak for example. We will visit some of them and admire their wonderful shapes. Look out too for rare lichens and fungi, Hawfinches, Redstarts, Nightjars and Red-tail Kites. There are 11 different species of bats known to visit. Situated on an undulating chalk plateau high above Marlborough on the extreme north east edge of Salisbury Plain, Savernake consists of 2,300 acres of mixed woodland managed by the Forestry Commission but is privately owned by the Earl of Cardigan – the only privately owned forest in Britain. Not many photos as we were caught in a downpour in the afternoon.
We treked across Salisbury Plain from Woodhenge to Stonehenge. The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was Stonehenge a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.
Nine Barrow Down is a ridge overlooking the Isle of Purbeck, with Corfe Castle in constant sight. There are panoramic views over Poole Harbour on one side and wide sweeping sea views and Swanage on the other. This is a linear route but journeying back gives a stunning view of the spectacular landscape of the Purbeck Hills. Some fairly steep, grassy slopes make this a possible 2+. The going is good on tracks apart from this.
This was a ramble over the heathland of Middlebere Heath near Studland Bay on the Purbeck Hills. A very varied ramble through woodland and meadows, with a diversion for coastal views. The iconic Corfe Castle is in constant and ever changing sight. Just the beginning was a little tricky – so we took a different route.
This ramble took us from Langton Matravers, a little village in the Purbeck Hills, through meadows, valleys, cliff top and into quarries, with glorious coastal views from over the surrounding area and looked down onto Dancing Ledge a bay famous in the locality, and the coast - towards Swanage one way and St Aldhelm’s Head the other.
More than 3 metres tall, Ana (Ainhowe) Cross is the tallest and possibly the finest of the 37 crosses on the North York Moors. At one time, Ana Cross stood almost 8 metres high but over the years, faced with the battering gales that can sweep across these moors, has toppled over on several occasions - in fact it has only just recently been restored in the last couple of years. Starting from Lastingham Grange Hotel, we climbed gently onto Spaunton Moor, past Ana Cross to the top of Rosedale Chimney Bank for lunch where one member spotted a rare Ring Ouzel. We returned the same way to enjoy a cream tea at the hotel. Many thanks to the owners of Lastingham Grange for providing the parking and the North York Moors Rangers for their invaluable support over the last two days.
From Saltergate Car Park overlooking the Hole of Horcum, we followed part of the Tabular Hills Walk into Dalby Forest. The route was flat on a good track with some potholed sections. As we were right on the edge of the escarpment, there were great views to the north over Blakey Topping (created, some say, when a giant scooped up earth thus forming the Hole of Horcum. He threw it at his wife but missed and where it landed became the curious Blakey Topping).
Well, what a day! So much happened it is hard to know what to tell you. Those of us camping at nearby Wood Nook campsite had to get the three loan scooters to the start - so that was a bit of fun at 8am. Then Vic found that his Tramper had not been on charge all night so he stayed behind to get some more charge. One couple turned left instead of right and so arrived late. But all this was nothing compared to what was to come. The ramble started with a visit to Threshfield Quarry which is being reclaimed and opened up to the public. Roger, an enthusiastic member of the local group, took us high up into the quarry to view the enormous hole left by the removal of the limestone. Unfortunately, this meant that we set off after a coffee & loo stop back at the cars already down to 80% battery. Malham Moor Lane is 4.5 miles straight up a 1:7 hill - which might have had something to do with our power consumption too. Entering the moor proper, our lunch stop was wonderfully situated for panoramic views accompanied by the calls of the lapwings, skylarks and curlew. Crossing Malham Moor presented little difficulty (except being more uphill) and so we arrived at Mastiles Gate where Mastiles Lane enters the moor. Here ranger Michael gave us a short insight to this ancient trackway which was used by the Romans, the Monasteries and the Drovers before being almost destroyed by 4x4 vehicles. Now Mastiles Lane is a peaceful lane connecting Kilnsey with Malham for walkers. It is STEEP & ROCKY – but downhill! Our gallant band of ramblers took it in their strides down to the sheep pens where our route turned right to return to Threshfield. Before doing so, we took stock of the power left. It was decided that four of the scooters had too little juice left to complete the route and so, together with one of the walkers, they continued along Mastiles Lane to Kilnsey. This meant arranging a pick-up by car and so one of the rangers set off ahead of the group to pick up her car and collect the ramblers from Kilnsey. Unfortunately she did not know the way and so ranger Michael had to go with her most of the way across the moor and then back again to be with us. This section of the moor proved to be the most difficult with steep rocky sections where John helpfully said “we are over the worst” only to find a harder section ahead. At one point a rock must have pushed itself out of the ground as one rambler found his scooter turning over sideways “in slow motion”. Help was soon at hand and both were righted with no damage to either man or machine (except for a crack in Vic’s newly restored cowl which had cushioned the fall). All the way from the start two heroines, Flora and Leslie, had been on either side of the FSU (toilet trailer) pushing it uphill and steadying it through the boulders to help conserve Liz's battery. However, the power in Liz’s scooter ran out just ½ mile short of the downhill section back to the cars. So the trailer was moved to Vic’s scooter and on we went with Flora still pushing Liz’s scooter. And then came the message over the radio “The gate is locked” - and so our cars were blocked. Although the rangers had arranged with Roger that the gate would be left open, someone had locked it. Trying frantically to find Roger’s phone number produced no result and so ranger Mohammed made his way to the quarry to sort this out. In the end Roger turned up 5 minutes after the gate was re-opened by the workers who had locked it. All that remained was for John to shuttle scooters between Kilnsey and Wood Nook campsite much to the amusement of the bar staff at the pub in Kilnsey. After only another 2 hours of sorting kit out John was able to open the fridge and get stuck into a nice bottle of white wine at 9pm. Thank goodness the weather was fine! An excellent day. Many thanks to all involved.
Thursday 5th June. 6.5 miles Cat 3+. Our ramble over the Duke of Devonshire's Bolton Abbey Estate proved to be rather exciting. After braving the perils of a short section of road, we climbed up to pasture where the track became quite boggy (it was raining) and a herd of bullocks had to be moved from our path. Then up into the woods where the steep and muddy track led up out onto the start of the high ground. After pushing on into the teeth of the rain and wind for some time, we stopped for a coffee break and our Rangers decided that it was too risky to continue. So back we went through tracks even more rutted and muddy. However, it was the last section of pasture that sorted out the different machines and riders as some of the photos show. The afternoon turned bright and dry so an enjoyable ramble was had along the banks of the river.
Tuesday 3rd June 5 miles Cat 3. Arnside Knott is a limestone hill that rises to 159 metres above sea level (522ft). Now owned by the National Trust, the area is home to a wide variety of wild flowers and butterflies, and gave us fine views over Morecambe Bay and the surrounding countryside. Another fascinating day organised by Eileen, Andrew and Traja and assisted by several experts. Most of us took the high road to the summit of Arnside Knott while some took the middle way to the Cowslip Meadow but all thoroughly enjoyed the day. What is the old ruin of Arnside Tower? Was it a Peel Tower or just a private home?
Monday 2nd June 6 miles Cat 3 Passing through Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, some members were privileged to spot a pair of Marsh Harriers. Crossing the road we entered Trobarrow Quarry Nature Reserve, home of the first production of Tarmacadam which was used on Blackpool Front. Our team of experts were keen to point out the range of fossils on one of the faces. Then on past Hawes Water to Gait Barrows for lunch and a splendid view of the rarest of British plants -the Lady's Slipper Orchid. Many thanks to Eileen & Andrew of the Disabled Ramblers and Tarja from Lancashire Countryside Service and the army of experts who made today so enjoyable.
Wyre Forest, in Wyvern (a creature similar to a dragon) is home to some of the oldest coppiced oaks in the country. It is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including, particularly in May, woodpeckers, pied flycatchers, wood warblers, tree pipits and cuckoos. Our ramble was on forestry roads with 350ft of hill to climb.
A ramble through what remains of a secret wartime air base where thousands of people lived and worked in the 1940s to enjoy a masterpiece in landscape design which was 'Capability' Brown's very first. Our circuit of the estate began with a stop at the Ice House before descending through the Evergreen Shrubbery to the Temple Greenhouse. Passing under the Dry Arch Bridge to the Lake we saw the site of the Boat House before stopping for coffee at the Island Pavilion. Sabrina in her Grotto watched as we passed on our way to the Punch Bowl Gates where we left the main part of the estate before re-joining it at the Carriage Splash, our lunch spot by Croome River. Passing the Park Seat we ascended to the ridge where we overlooked RAF Defford where RADAR was developed in WW2. Home shrubbery led us up to the Rotunda to see how its plasterwork has been saved by the use of hair nets. Then down past Croome Court and up to the Church of St Mary Magdalene where a guide told us some of its history. Finally we returned to the Visitor Centre, housed in the RAF Sick Quarters, for a welcome cup of tea – and cake!
A circuit of Eastnor Estate on the Western slopes of the Malvern Hills. From the Wood Yard we went past Golden Gates lodge and climbed gently along the Ridgeway to Walm’s Well. Then into News Wood and Gullet Wood to the Obelisk. A downhill run of 400ft in a mile lead us back into the Deer Park and a final stretch across grass back to the start. A splendid day enjoyed by all who would like to thank the Eastnor Estate for allowing us around their grounds.
From Swinyard car park we climbed past Pink Cottage to a difficult rocky & steep pinch-point leading out onto Hangman’s Hill and glorious views across the Midlands to the East and Herefordshire & Wales to the West. We continued along Broad Down before descending under Millennium Hill and Herefordshire Beacon to British Camp where we stopped for lunch. A mile-long section of pavement took us down to Little Malvern Priory where we followed a war-time track to Underhills Farm. What had been a muddy section across Shadybank Common and Berrow Down took us back to our cars. View the route here: http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/ODgxODk0
A vintage aerodrome and an agricultural college form the surprising setting for this leisurely ramble. They were preserved in memory of an RAF airman killed on a training flight in 1940, and feature on our route through wooded countryside. The Shuttleworth museum includes many working vintage aircraft and active restoration work.
Over 1000 deer from nine species graze this historic parkland of 3,000 acres. They include herds of red and fallow but also the Milu deer, introduced from China in 1894 to save it from extinction. Our route takes us across their grassy plains and sheltered woodland and provides wonderful views - when the mist isn't down. However, the mist did make for a very atmospheric day.
Southern Regional Ramble at Farley Mount, near Winchester, Hampshire Easter Monday 21t April 2014 This ramble was lucky all the way, the days either side of Easter Monday were very wet and cold in Hampshire, but on the day of the ramble it dawned with beautiful sunshine. 9 of us attended, and full marks to everyone for finding the start point which was difficult as it was in the middle of nowhere, and up little lanes. We all got all there in the end!! It started off with a visit to Farley Mount, a monument on a hill with a panoramic view of the whole of central Hampshire, as impressive as Beachy Head in fact, and is in memory of a horse which in 1734 took its owner to racing victory a year after falling into a chalk pit whilst fox-hunting. Appropriately, it was called “Beware Chalk Pit”!!!! We then went on down the Clarendon Way into Parnholt Wood, which is privately owned, and is a carpet of bluebells – it was beautiful, and the landscape around this area is very spectacular as we were perched on Beacon Hill looking down on a medley of fields many planted with yellow rape, so as well as the scent from the bluebells there was all the other fragrances around us as well. We met some lovely people who were thrilled to tell us they had seen a programme that morning about people like us, (our BBC Breakfast clip), so were even more thrilled when we told them they were actually talking to some of the people who were on the programme. I offered my autograph, but no takers!! We had lunch in the wood, then went down a very muddy and wet track to Farley Chamberlayne, a little hamlet in the middle of fields of various crops to a 12th century church, St John’s. Some of us went in for a look round, the roof had very impressive beams and it’s amazing to think a building can survive that long. So the ramble was a very good mixture of landscape views, woodland, going through fields and a farmyard, and we all really enjoyed it. Just as we got back to the cars it started to rain a little, but on the whole we had fine weather. Great fun, and thanks to all for coming and not moaning (too much) about the difficulty in finding the car park (all part of the fun?). Val
The sun came out for Regional Ramble number 2 for the Lancashire group. Five Tramper riders and five walkers set out from Cobble Hey Gardens, a working farm set high up in the Lancashire hills. One of the Farm buildings has been converted into a very popular café - surprising as it is miles from anywhere. The farm is geared up for children of all ages and as well as sheep (with lamps), pigs (with piglets) there were small kids with two legged kids taking them for a walk on leads! There must have been goats somewhere? After all that excitement we were out over the fields along an ancient green lane with only birdsong to be heard. This area is being cultivated with reeds to provide the habitat Lapwings thrive in and there were plenty of those. There were lots of hares running about and the wild flowers are now changing from the daffodils to bluebells and primroses with many other species such as the wood anemones that carpeted the woods further on. A beautiful route with lots of history, some of the farms dating back to the middle ages. We would like to say thank you to Duncan and his team, the Wyre Rangers who organised it and Ian (Lancs. Ranger) who led the walk. If you are thinking of visiting the area the Trampers can be booked anytime through Cobble Hey. Eileen
3rd April 2014. 6 miles Cat 2. A splendid day exploring the delightful Sutton Park, a real gem that will repay numerous visits. Set in the middle of an urban landscape, the park is so large that there is no sight or sound from the surrounding area. There are no large brown tourist signs to the park and the park itself is without any signs at all. Just a peaceful oasis where the bird song is the loudest sound you can hear. Thanks Jane for arranging a delightful day out.
Wyre Estuary Country Park at Thornton Cleveleys was the first 2014 official Regional Ramble for the Lancashire group. Four Tramper riders and four walkers enjoyed a bracing ramble along the shores of the Wyre Estuary, heavy cloud meant we did not have the warm sunshine of the day before but the daffodils and blackthorn blossom brought smiles to our faces. Peter, our knowledgeable leader, gave an interesting account of the rise and fall of the area as we walked around Wyre Country Park. The first surprise was this beautiful area had once been the council tip! The landscaping, children’s play area and outdoor education centre with it bee hives, bug hotel and willow sculptures gave no hint of this. As you can see from our photos today it was just us and the hardy dog walkers and we appreciated the warm room that was made available for us to eat our lunch. Yes another surprise – no huddling up to the hedge …we were given hot drinks and a comfortable seat to eat our sandwiches before setting out on part 2 of our ramble. This took us south along the shore on a good even path with little sheltered viewing areas for a walker to rest and watch the tide fill the bay until it resemble an enormous lake. This is a very peaceful area to visit. Eileen
First Warwickshire Regional Ramble- Friday 28th March 2014 Friday dawned as a balmy spring day in the Cotswolds- a great relief after the extremes of the previous week. As we gathered in the car park of the Howard Arms in Ilmington, it was good to look forward to the first ramble of the year. Ten of us set off through the back lanes and paths of Ilmington, a very pleasant village, enjoying the spring flowers and birdsong. A steep, and very quiet, lane out of the village led us up past fields of sheep and lambs. Although it was still misty, it was possible to catch glimpses of the fields and valleys below. From here we made our way to the Foxcote Estate, a privately owned property where Eileen, our leader, had organised access to the terrace behind the house, not normally open to the public, where we had a spectacular view of carefully tended formal gardens set againt the backdrop of the Cotswold landscape. Here we had lunch, our experience enlivened by peals of thunder echoing over the valley. After lunch we made our way over muddy bridle paths and country lanes back to Ilmington, accompanied by further thunder and a rainbow. Finally we gathered for a very welcome cup of tea on the terrace at the Howard Arms, now bathed in sunshine.
BURLEY, NEW FOREST, 16TH JANUARY 2014. Winter rambles are always challenging, it’s always quite an effort to make yourself get out into the cold, but this year has been so wet it’s even more difficult to get motivated – however, 5 of us did turn up for this ramble – which is usually one of the simplest there is locally, as it is dead flat being the site of an old railway track (unless you go off piste and then it is very hilly!). At 9am I did phone round to say I would understand if no-one wanted to attend, as in Hampshire we had a really torrential downpour at about that time, but everyone was en route so the ramble was on!! We met in the car park in the middle of Burley, a pretty little New Forest village, only to find part of the car park was under water – good start! Once unloaded we proceeded up the village on the pavements and partly on the road for approx ¾ of a mile, hazard lights, headlights and high viz in use, to the rather more remote car park from where we go down a little track to the old railway cutting. As you will see from the accompanying photos – there was water everywhere.