Who's the Bloody Leader, Then? (17/03/2012)
Six South Manchester members and Norman from South Pennine met at the Morrison’s Store in Chapel, to hear the normal pre-walk sermon from our Leader. Breakfast over, and after snivelling about his poorly leg and how the walk came to be named, we set off towards Chapel Station. A nice bright sunny day promised, and ‘de-caping’ became the order as the party trudged up to the imposing Castle Naze. ‘Surely we just walk up the path to the old fort’ asked one disbeliever. No, there were other delights to be had, and on we trooped, via Rye Flatts Farm, to reach the Shooting Cabin and Bothy perched high on the top of Combs Edge. Half past tenses were taken here, a lovely peaceful spot with a babbling brook and skylarks for company. Next stop was Castle Naze, and we all quietly wondered just what the Iron Age folk were defending up on this lonely spot. Apparently, agricultural land was at a premium, and they had all legged it up there to start growing their spuds (in Iron Age Europe?!! – Ed.) and such. We were indebted to John for these and other wise snippets.
A two-mile leg along the minor road followed, with Dove Holes and its Bull Ring Henge the next target. Strange that none of the group (including the leader) had ever visited this interesting spot, as we must all have passed it many times (actually, anyone who’s walked the 10 Church Challenge has, but coming the other way - Ed.). Lunch was taken here, with two Jack Russells providing the entertainment, one clearly training to be a trapeze artist. However, the smell of beer must have been on the wind, as Quentin rounded up his flock and headed out towards Sparrowpit, taking in a short section of the abandoned tramway, which once reached Bugsworth Basin. Culture, aha, I’m steeped in the stuff! The predicted pub arrival time was 14.00; guess what, we arrived at 13.55; not bad eh? Guest beers were on offer so those partial to a glass or three (John/Frank/Duncan/Quentin) settled down in little heaven, marvelling at the beautiful simplicity of Sparrowpit (Spar in the Pit, as our Leader explained the hamlet’s origination). Heaven had to finish some time, and as Q was starting to hobble, an escape route was offered for consideration. Thankfully it was accepted, and five miles later we were back at base, via the hamlets of Bagshaw and Blackbrook.
Not quite the 18 miles as per Strider, but more than our hobbling leader had expected to accomplish. Nice weather, nice company, and a few nice interesting things to see. So “Who’s the Bloody Leader Then?”; easy, that little fella up front with a hobble, a story, and hopefully a big smile on his face.
Duncan took a few photos before his battery ran out: