Tuesday, 27 September 2016

ferried across

Very late writing this up (and this is but the tip of the iceberg for 2016 adventures as yet undocumented, so watch this space ....) - but this was our August Bank Holiday exploration of all things Liverpool.

Saturday August 27

We started with a Razzle Dazzle ferry across the Mersey - complete with soundtrack!
A zip around both cathedrals, the Everyman Theatre, the Phil and finally the Picton, where the 2016 Beatles Festival tribute band competition was in full swing and we were besieged with Beatle suited and wigged foursomes!!
 and that evening a spectacular meal at the new (to us) Burnt Truffle in Heswall
Sunday August 28

Then Sunday saw us back on those Liddypool streets, starting with a coffee in Cains Brewery
and followed by a stupendous Sunday Roast at Camp and Furnace
 Then a launch into the Liverpool Biennial proper
Inside the cavernous Toxteth Reservoir
for Rita McBride's laser installation 'Portal'
 Then on to the Welsh streets
  for 'Momentary Monument - The Stone' by Lara Favaretto
and one of the other streets, recently uses as a film set so all painted a menacing black
Loved this old Liverpool Echo sign - the cry across the city evenings from my childhood 'Echo! Echo!'
and so on to Granby Street and an interesting look around the refurbished streets following the 2015 Turner Prize win.
 Then for some, it was a train back to London and a final gaze at St George's Hall
while the rest of us wandered along to see the demolished Futurist Cinema on Lime Street
 then a final catching of the last sun on Moreton shore across the Irish Sea
and the glimmering lights of Liverpool
Monday August 29

Today it was a slow roadtrip back to Sheffield, winding through the Cheshire lanes - first stop the rather magnificent ruin of Beeston Castle
 with it's stunning views across the Cheshire Plain
and it's bright and breezy little cafe which did a great coffee
and finally the very newly restored and impressive Bramall Hall
 with incredible paintings and patterns still evident on the woodwork in some of the rooms

and that, folks, was that - the end of a lovely family whirlwind of a weekend.

One day soon I might start writing up our roadtrip proper - 4,500 miles across America this July.  Or our adventure to Spain by train or our wonderful sunny Eighter's week in Northumberland.  Where to start . . . .

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

on the edge

Great to get in another hike from the first ever Sheffield Walking Festival.  Last week it was Kinder and on Sunday we ventured onto Wharncliffe Heath guided by members of the Wharncliffe Heathlands Trust.

So much history in this area - before we'd even reached this tunnel where the Trans Pennine Trail crossed our path, we'd already passed an ancient Mesolithic site that was settled over 6.000 years ago!
 The paths threaded gloriously through the trees as we plodded upwards
passing many a picturesque pond - used for local industry back in the day and firefighters more recently.  Loads of beautiful huge dragonflies coming to look at us.
Fungi abounded - this one in particular apparently sends the cows and sheep on Wharncliffe Chase into a happy hallucinogenic state!  The amanita muscaria I think it must have been?
and finally we reach the striking Wharncliffe Crags - seeing in the distance the steelworks at Stocksbridge - once home to the famous Samuel Fox umbrella frame manufacturers!
We also learn another amazing fact - Wharncliffe Crags is where rock climbing as a sport first started!   Lots of Victorians used to flock to the Crags in the summer to take the air, high above the pollution of the Don Valley with its steel mills.
The purple heather is just about coming to an end at this time of year, but the landscape was still stunning.  And hidden amongst this scrub are the remains of the Iron Age quern factories.  I remember in 1996 there was a huge fire on this heath and loads of the ancient querns were visible scattered all across heath.  More about that here.
and we also learn that the path we are walking along, along the top of the Crags, is the one mentioned in the opening paragraph of Ivanhoe!!  Of course I knew about the nearby Conisborough Castle connections, but not about Wharncliffe!
So here you go - the opening lines
"In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered bythe river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest,covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleyswhich lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster.The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at thenoble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park, and aroundRotherham."
and the whole of Chapter 1 to read here if you are keen - where there is more mention of Wharncliffe - Ivanhoe Chapter One
It was hard to drag my eyes away from the rocky edge of the crags and the magnificent views - such a glorious day too.
but now we ventured across the heath and towards Wharncliffe Chase
stopping to feed the small herd of Shetland sheep grazing the land as part of the management of the Heath.
 then homeward bound - back along the Crags
 with a final wistful look across the hills
And the end of another brilliant walk.  Hoping the Sheffield Walking Festival is repeated next year - been a great chance to learn more about our amazing 'ourdoor' city, get some exercise and meet some lovely people.
And there's a really good website here with all the history of Wharncliffe Heath and Crags, Stocksbridge and District History Society Archive if you want to read more.