Death and Transfiguration

When a man, or a woman, gets to a certain age, a lot of brain-time is spent on the questions, “What, exactly, is the point?” and “What, exactly, are you trying to achieve here?”

For example, what is the point of The Static Rambler? When the idea was first discussed, it seemed an exciting thing to do, something that would give meaning to an idle life. We had, of course, identified a niche market, and thousands of static, and not-so-static, ramblers would enthusiastically log in and contribute.

It would soon be a valuable and comprehensive guide for disabled people who wanted to get into the countryside.

Sometimes ideas work, and sometimes they don’t.

A report from the executive committee has been passed to me, anonymously, and I quote from it here, with some explanatory comments of my own.

It has been decided, after exhaustive consultation, that the company needs to react, proactively, to the needs of our customer base, and to the demands of the Market, by adjusting its marketing strategy, by subsuming the Static Rambler brand intoLife on the Edge of a Soup Plate, as soon as possible.

In this way, our core business would be strengthened, and the Static Rambler brand would be maintained. Customers who use The Static Rambler would still be able to access the walks, through specific pages on Life on the Edge of a Soup Plate.

(What this means, is that The Static Rambler will cease to exist as a separate website/blog, but will still be available, in a simplified format, as a page on the menu bar of Life on the Edge of a Soup Plate.)

So folks, due to the demands of the virtual market, this is what will happen. If you are interested in The Static Rambler, please go to https://stevehobsonauthor.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

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Worcestershire: The Wren Trail, Wyre Forest

Distance: 1 mile

Grade: Easy

This walk was submitted by Penny. Thank you.

Location: near Callow Hill, West Worcestershire

It is a Forestry Commission path, and this is their description:

This all-ability route meanders its way through larches and oaks and past the curly whirly tree sculpture.

To make your walk more interesting and enjoyable we have changing information on 16 boards around the trail, reflecting the forest and its wildlife in different seasons.

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West Yorkishire: Hey Green to Hatter Lee

Distance: 5 miles from Marsden. From Hey Green, it is less than a mile to Higher Green Owlers, but it feels further!

Difficulty: Easy on the top, but v diff to severe in places.

Links with: Tunnel End to Hey Green; Berry Greave and Fairfield.

 

This walk begins at Hey Green, where there is roadside parking, though, if preferred it can start at Marsden railway station, following the walks Marsden to Tunnel End and Tunnel End to Hey Green.

From outside the ornate gates to Hey Green House, climb the hill up Blake Lea Lane. As we have noted before, a lea, or lee is the name for temporary grassland pasture, so this was maybe black grassland, or grassland belonging to a man called Black (Old English Blac).

IMG_3897

The lane climbs steeply, up two hills, which you will not get up unaided. Don’t even think of asking someone to push you up – they will let you go and cackle madly as you roll to you death.

The steep road to Banktop

The steep road to Banktop

It is so steep that I have to get off and walk, using the scooter as a walking aid. If you can do this, it will save your battery and motor, and strengthen you legs. If you can’t, you will need to use the car to get up here.

But, if you can get even part way up you can look down to the old packhorse bridge, where the old trail to Rochdale crossed the river, and the view will open out with every step you take. The packhorse bridge, by the way, cannot be reached by wheelchair. It is known as Eastergate, which has nothing to do with Easter, but was a toll gate owned by a woman called Esther. The OS map calls it Close Gate.

Banktop

Banktop

When we emerge on to the little plateau that holds the farmstead of Banktop the open skies and the wind feel wonderful. Banktop is no longer a farm, and has been turned into houses, but it was obviously a big farmhouse, with a courtyard and outbuildings.

Here the land is open to the weather, the broken walls like bones, the long heaves of the moor like the soft folds of thighs. It feels marvellously liberating for someone who is normally confined to houses and streets and wheelchairs.

After a short distance, the narrow road drops a little to the white farmstead of Lower Green Owlers (the name “Owlers” means alder trees, a tree of wet ground).

Lower Green Owlers

Lower Green Owlers

Immediately after the house, there is a rough track rising to the left. Climb this for a sense of height and remoteness, to the area known as Hatter Lee. There is a farm here called White Hall, and here the path forks to the left. Eventually, this track goes to the high reservoir of March Haigh (means boundary pasture), but I’ve not as yet got past White Hall Farm.

The track down from Hatter Lee. Be careful,use you legs!

The track down from Hatter Lee. Be careful,use you legs!

Please contact us with details of accessibility beyond White Hall.

I don’t think you could be pushed up here, and, even for a rugged scooter, I would grade this section as v diff or severe! Be prepared and willing to turn back.

Returning to the bottom of the track, at Lower Green O(Owlers, you can turn left and on to Higher Green Owlers. Higher Green Owlers has a date stone of 1610, and it used to be a remote “mini micro” brewery. Who were the customers?

This section is graded Easy, but I have not been beyond the farm.

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West Yorkshire: Berry Greave and Fairfield

Distance: 2/3 ( two thirds) mile

Difficulty: Mostly Moderate, but Difficult through the farm

Links with: Tunnel End to Hey Green

Circular walk, starting and finishing at Tunnel End crossroads.

From the crossroads, go along Waters Road till you reach a gate on the left, which leads into the Nature Reserve. To get easily through the gate, go slowly and as close to the left post as possible.

Keep as far left as you can

Keep as far left as you can

Turn right on the wheelchair-friendly path, and continue till you reach a gate on the right, leading to the road.

Turn left on the road, then immmediately turn right, up a lane that gets progressively steeper. Unless you have a powerful scooter, you will need help here, or you will need to walkl a bit to lighten the weight. Use your wheelchair or scooter as a walking frame.

As the lane nears the crest of the hill, thgere is a lane running off to the left. You are probably too tired at this point, but the lane is short and pretty, and you get a lovely view down the valley from the group of houses, called Fairfield, at the end. The track continues across the moor from here, but it is not accessible.

The turn to Fairfield, coming from the other direction

The turn to Fairfield, coming from the other direction

Looking down the valley from Fairfield

Looking down the valley from Fairfield

At the top the lane turns right and flattens out. There is a handy bench here, on the left, where you can get your breath back, and enjoy the view across the valley to Pule Hill. The hill you are on at the moment is Huck Hill.

After you have recovered your customary sang froid youi can continue along the road, which remains fairly level although the surface deterioates. Go slowly and carefully.

The view from the bench to Pule Hill

The view from the bench to Pule Hill

When the road bends right and left you are at Berry Greave Farm. Keep following the road. Ahead of you now is the hill Scout Top.

The road to Berry Greave, with Scout Top ahead

The road to Berry Greave, with Scout Top ahead

Pass through the group of houses at the foot of Scout Top, follow the bend to the left, then take the first track on the right. This looks like a private path to a house, but is, in fact, part of the Kirklees Way.

When you get to the farm gate, go through and turn immediately left, in front of the cottage, andout of the yard through the gate ahead.

Now just follow the path down and across the field to the Tunnel End pub, where you need to cross the cobbled yard to the road, thus completing the circle. Turn left to return to Marsden.

 

 

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West Yorkshire: Tunnel End to Hey Green

Distance: ½ mile by Route 2; 1 mile by Route 1

Difficulty: Easy. Route 1 is Moderate due to long hill

Links with: Marsden to Tunnel End; Hey Green to Upper Green Owlers; Berry Greave

 

This starts in the car park at Tunnel End, where you can gorge on coffee and cake. Walk up the road until you come to the open space in front of what used to be the Tunnel End pub. There are now two possible routes, which can be combined into a circular route. If you want to do thi8s, I advise turning left and walking clockwise, via Ainsley and White Lee, because the hill uses less electricity this way round, if you’re using a scooter.

Route 1 Via White Lee

This involves some walking along the pavement by the side of the A62, which is noisy and fast, but it has open views over the valley to Huck Hill and Green Owlers.

Ainsley and Pule Hill from Ainsley Lane

Ainsley and Pule Hill from Ainsley Lane

When you turn left just before the pub, you will be going along Ainsley Lane, with views down to Tunnel End on your left. The lane climbs quite steeply to the left to emerge on the main road (Huddersfield to Manchester). Turn right onto the pavement, and keep going.

Private Road to Hey Green

Private Road to Hey Green

Down to your right is the hamlet of Ainsley (Anne’s meadow), and after that you will see a transport café on your left. The rising ground to your left is the northern shoulder of Pule Hill. The next group of houses is White Lee, and here you turn right down a private road to the right. There is a gate here with a cattle grid, but you can get round it through the gate on the right. If you are on a scooter, go through slowly.

IMG_3719Now trundle down the road, enjoying the views and the peace after the main road. There is very little traffic here, but cars will be going slowly because of the speed bumps. There is a right-angled bend to the right, and the road becomes rough. It is passable, but go slowly. At the bottom of the road, you will cross the bridge over the Colne, Hey Green House will be straight ahead (it was the home of a mill owner), and you will turn right along the shady road, the river to your right and the huge stone wall to your left. Note the blue plaque on the wall by the small iron gate.

Hey Green

Hey Green

Keep going, past the cottages on your right, till you come to a gate on your right. Go through the gate and onto a wheelchair-friendly path that follows the river.

View westward from the Hey Green private road

View westward from the Hey Green private road

You have joined up with Route 2.

 

Route 2

I

Tunnel End pub. Sharp left to Ainsley Lane, left to Waters Road, right to Reddisher Road and Marsden

Tunnel End pub. Sharp left to Ainsley Lane, left to Waters Road, right to Reddisher Road and Marsden

n front of the pub at Tunnel End turn left along Waters Road, till you come to a gate on your left Go through the gate into what some call The Reservoir, some call The Swamps, some call The Nature Reserve, some call The Flood Plain. The lip of the gate has eroded, but is still negotiable in either direction if you keep as far over to the left as you can.

Keep as far left as you can

Keep as far left as you can

Go right along the path, so the boggy land is on your left. Keep following the path, past wooden benches, a gate out to the road, a tiny bridge, a picnic table, and on till you get to the gate at the end of the path, which is where you join up with Route 1.

Picnic table. Some close access to the river here for the intrepid

Picnic table. Some close access to the river here for the intrepid

This walk complets your ramble up the Colne Vally from Slaithwaite, a total distance of about 4 miles.

 

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Leicestershire: Bradgate Park

Bradgate Park, in Newtown Linford, is the ancestral deer park of the Grey family, of Lady Jane Grey fame, that has been given to the people of Leicester.

On warm days in the summer, it does, indeed, feel very much like a park, rather than open country, particularly along the course of the Lin stream, where children still fish and families still picnic. Get away from the stream, however, and you are on your own with the bracken, the deer, and the skylark.

The main route through is easily accessible, from the car park at Newtown Linford, by the church, along the course of the stream, to the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s house, and then on to the far side of the park at Cropston Reservoir.

Bradgate House, the ruins of Lady Jane Grey

Bradgate House, the ruins of Lady Jane Grey

If you want to just do this lower routr, go outside of holidays and week-ends.

If you are more adventurous, and have a powerful scooter or strong pusher, you can turn up any of the routes up to the left, but be prepared to turn back, as not all routes are passable. If you can, get to the summit of the Park, at the Victorian folly tower o9f Old John, where there are superb views of most of Leicestershire.

The rock outcrops in the Park are pre-cambrian volcanic, and are amongst the oldest rocks in the country.

The oak trees you see along the lower path are also extremely ancient. They were here when Jane was executed in 1554. Her gamekeepers beheaded the oaks in the Park, to commemorate her death, and this is why they have grown so twisted.

The beheading of Lady Jane Grey in 1554

The beheading of Lady Jane Grey in 1554

 

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Gloucestershire: Forest of Dean at Yorkley

The Royal Forest of Dean, on the border of Gloucestershire and Wales, is a wonderful place to explore if you’re in a wheelchair or on a mobility scooter that is just a little bit rugged. It is one of the few areas of ancient woodland in England, and was the special preserve of the King, so he could indulge in his passion for hunting without having his picnics ruined by wandering serfs and vassals.

Forest track, near Yorkley

Forest track, near Yorkley

Much of the forest is managed by the Forestry Commission now, rather than the king, and these days they have developed a much kinder approach to their woodlands than was true after the Second World War. The Commission now welcomes people and wildlife into the woods, and you are able to wander for miles along forest roads and tracks.

These trackways are so extensive that it is unnecessary to specify any route in particular. You can drive along any road and find dozens of forest tracks, all of which are worth exploring.

Forest cottage

Forest cottage

We have just got back from a week in a cottage in the middle of the trees, near the village of Yorkley, on the south-east edge of the Forest. Here, you can find silence, solitude, and real darkness at night, all difficult things to find these days.

Wheel yourself down any of these paths and you will experience that strange forest-thing – a world where every step creates a new view and, at the same time, where every view is the same. This is why it is easy to get lost in a forest, and why it touches a deep and ancient heart of fear in us all.

Even the footpaths can be followed

Even the footpaths can be followed

If you move slowly and quietly, you may well see wild boar. If you ask locals, they will have seen hundreds of them just where you were walking. Last week. I didn’t see one, but then, my eyesight is not too good, and it gives me an excuse to go back!

 

 

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