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23rd September 2016
Present: Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, Mike Melia, Aidan Moy, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle
Following the previous Monday’s return from an excursion to Vienna, the number of attendees arriving for today’s outing was severely depleted. Those having travelled to Vienna appeared, albeit somewhat superficially, to have made a remarkable recovery from their hedonistic three day break. Many of today’s absentees had attended a walk organised by Alan the previous Friday that had shadowed today’s walk.
Our luck was in today from a meteorological perspective: a temporary ridge of high pressure had moved over the United Kingdom from the Azores resulting in fine sunny weather for much of the day until later in the afternoon when a cold front sucked in a layer of cloud.
Robert’s walk incorporated some pain inducing ascents that were inflicted upon us and helped to sow within us the seeds of regret nurtured from a diet of alcoholic largesse over in Vienna.
The route to Sowerby Bridge took us by the Calderdale Way over Crow Hill and to the stone monument Churn Milk Joan and on to Luddenden Dean.
We arrived at the Cat i’th Well – a Timothy Taylor abode at around 14:15 and we took the opportunity of a well earned rest. Shortly before our arrival, we had completed yet another harrowing Holmes’ ascent and sauntered into the best room of the Cat to be greeted by a roaring open fire. Your correspondent wondered whether it was just he who was feeling a tad warm around the collar. A cursory glance over at Dave, whose face was drenched in rivulets of perspiration, provided the necessary evidence that others too were feeling the heat in more ways than one. After being served with pints of Golden best and Strongbow, we quickly headed outside into the beer garden.
We continued on a high level route for our return to Sowerby Bridge.
We arrived in Sowerby Bridge at 16:45 and made a beeline for the Hog’s Head Brew House where we enjoyed some fine ales and ciders.
Our final port of call was the Bull On The Bridge Hotel and Sowerby Taps. It was during our visit to the Sowerby Taps that we came within a whisker of suffering our first group fatality. Your correspondent had sought advice from Robert regarding directions to the station for his return journey back to Manchester. Robert stepped out side of the basement bar to ascend the steps to ground level to give directions whereupon a full pint of bitter came crashing down from the entrance above to the Bull hotel. If not for Robert’s remarkable agility in sidestepping the beer filled Exocet, it surely would have made near lethal contact with his head. For all his fleet footedness, he nevertheless suffered the inevitable heavy drenching from a beer shampoo. He vented his palpable anger by verbally cursing those thoughtless beer- drinking smokers stood above who were responsible for kicking over the glass. Profuse apologies descended from above, which had the desired effect of removing the wind from livid Robert’s sails.
The group thanked Robert for a classic Yorkshire outing.
: OCOT Friday 15th July 2016 Hayfield and Lantern Pike
This months trip is a 7/8 mile moderate circular walk from Hayfield up to Lantern Pike.
The pubs of the day are The Lantern Pike Inn ( during the walk) and The Royal Hotel and The Kinder Inn in Hayfield. The Royal Hotel sells food also The Pack Horse does food.
Please meet at Manchester Piccadilly at 10:30 am in order to catch the 10:49 up to New Mills Central (11:15 ). We also need to catch a bus (Stagecoach 358) up to Hayfield from New Mills Central. If your over 60 a Wayfarer ticket will suffice. A day return ticket from Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central is £7:10 and the bus ticket will be approximately £4:00 ( Depending where you travel from it might be worth purchasing an under 60 Wayfarer but of course if you partner up a Northern Rail Duo could be purchased, think you all know the score now. As always please purchase a ticket in accordance with your personal circumstances.
The group may have a pint in New Mills before returning to Manchester.
Times of trains back to Manchester Piccadilly are 19:30, 20:03, 20:30.
Please contact me either by email or on my mobile 07949550751 if you have any enquiries.
13th May 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Robert Brown, Dave Burrows, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Graham Fildes, Andrew Goff, Steve Goff, John Guest, Adi Hammond, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, Sue Largee, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Paul Morrell, Dave Nichols, Noel O’Toole, Julie Sprigg, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle, Mike Worthington
Alarm bells were beginning to tinkle and members began to get twitchy as they assembled at Chorlton Street, enjoying the warm sunshine yet becoming increasingly aware of the absence of the coach hired by Goff and Son Limited, in association with O.C.O.T., as the time passed 09:30.
It turned out that any fears were unfounded as the coach duly arrived a little later together with father and son on board. Boarding commenced almost immediately. Today’s payload consisted of 22 members. At around 09:40, following some momentary hesitation by Andy, our driver for the day, as to his optimum exit strategy from Manchester city centre, he duly elected to head towards Portland Street by hanging a right off Chorlton Street followed by another sharp right and heading eastwards up Portland Street making a beeline for Lever Street which would in turn take us towards Oldham Road towards the M60 and M62 motorways.
It was a largely uneventful journey that took us into Ilkley town centre. That said, there were one or two mildly harrowing moments as we narrowly avoided bridges with low load limits. Andy duly engaged his mental agility by performing some quick arithmetic around load calculations, whilst simultaneously navigating his way along narrow lanes taking care not to inadvertently crush any badly parked cars. With around ten tons of unladen coach weight inflated by a conservative estimate of an additional two tons of payload, he probably erred on the side of caution therefore to avoid a particular bridge displaying an eight tons maximum weight limit. It proved to be just one of the many advantages of being driven by a transport professional of several years standing (no offence to Chris intended).
It could have been considered by some as an unfortunate coincidence that we selected a coach parking space immediately adjacent to a school sports playing field that was hosting a rounders match consisting of teams of young adolescent girls. Matters weren’t helped when everybody stood by the side of the coach after disembarking, looking intently over at the playing field (Julie and Sue excepted). A casual observer could have been forgiven for arriving at an inappropriate conclusion when looking at the gathering of assembled silver foxes. John Guest and Dave Burrows joined us at the parking spot, having made their own respective ways to Ilkley. Dave had decided once again to bring along his executive ‘man bag’. Presumably, not yet wanting to fully relax his grip on the reins of his erstwhile role with H.M. Inspector of Taxes, his bag likely as not, contained the case notes pertaining to David Cameron’s ongoing recent tax avoidance peccadillo in connection with Blairmore Holdings. In Dave’s opinion, perhaps Mr Cameron does have a case to answer.
We duly set off on the circular trek, the weather now having turned to overcast skies and a nagging northerly wind. Barely ten minutes had elapsed before fractures began to appear in the group. Bizarrely, Tony headed into a local butcher’s shop. But for what your correspondent asked him self? Perhaps a ‘T’ Bone steak? A tasty piece of rump steak? Or a Barnsley chop for his evening meal later that day? Yet others disappeared into a local sandwich shop presumably having neglected their forward planning regarding the making of their own sandwiches. Several minutes later, we were reunified and continued a gradual ascent along Old Keighley Road towards Ilkley Moor.
We journey on towards Cowper’s Cross, Whetstone Gate and up to the Trig Point. A short break ensued before we resumed in the direction of the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle. After visiting the Lower Lantham Dam, we headed towards the Cow and Calf public house. There we enjoyed a selection of bitters and ciders.
After emerging sometime later, we continued towards Darwin’s View and from where we made our way to Ilkley town centre. Our opening port of call was the Crescent Hotel. Members enjoyed Copper Dragon, Citra and Voodoo Mild from the Great Heck Brewery. Aspall’s cider was also on offer.
The Daleside Hotel was the next port of call. Featured bitters here included: Dragon Slayer (Wharfe Bank Brewery), Timothy Taylor Landlord, Saltaire Blonde and Ilkley Dale (both from the Ilkley Brewery). Symond’s cider was also on offer.
Our final port of call was the Flying Duck. We enjoyed a wide selection of bitters from the Wharfedale Brewery.
The group thanked Alan for another superb north Yorkshire trek.
15th April 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Robert Brown, Steve Carey, Kevin Clarke, Marie Collins, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Graham Fildes, Steve Goff, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb (evening), Alan Larsen, Kevin McDonough (evening), Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Paul Morrell, John Nelson, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Elsa Sawczuk, Steve Sawczuk, Tony Statham, Linda Staunton, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
Following a slight day at Bolton’s Trinity Street station because of several late attendees we set off later than intended for the 125 Ribble Gold service to Horwich. Thankfully, as we boarded at the bottom of Great Moor Street in Bolton’s town centre, the bus was way below its intended capacity and was able to accommodate the entire payload of twenty eight adults. Kevin Clarke introduced everybody to his sister Marie, today being her inaugural attendance.
Following a brief bus journey, we disembarked from the bus on the Horwich border at St George’s Lane close to the Jolly Crofter’s public house. Under leaden skies we gradually made our way in the direction of Wilderswood slowly making our ascent towards Rivington Pike. Upon our arrival we had a break for lunch. We all felt the keen, cool northerly wind as we began to cool after perspiring from our arduous climb. A significant number of visitors were milling around the site of the Pike presenting us with a slight problem of finding seating whilst we ate our lunch.
Our next port of call after lunch was Pigeon Tower from where we began to descend towards the Chinese Gardens. Continuing our descent we progressed towards Rivington Hall. One or two members of our party, including your correspondent, had nostalgic memories of the courtyard outside the Upper Barn at Rivington where we used to attend motorcycle meetings on Sunday afternoons. Our target now was the Bay Horse in Rivington village and we quickened our pace in an attempt to avoid the rain, which was now beginning to increase slightly in its intensity. The Bay Horse, prima facie, appeared to offer a decent range of bitters. Upon our arrival, your correspondent asked Noel for his choice of bitter. He elected to opt for the Wainwright’s but as the glass landed upon his table and as his eyes alighted upon it, he performed a rapid volte face whilst simultaneously exclaiming that it looked like something that he’d passed earlier that day. Upon an inspection by your correspondent and, as he peered into the glass, he advised Noel that if that was the case, he needed to arrange a consultation with his general practitioner toute de suite. Upon the return of the ‘sample’ to the landlord, his silent acceptance of it and the offer of a New World replacement served as an implicit assignment of a ‘guilty as charged’ judgement. The Wainwright’s and the New World appeared to be the only bitters on offer together with Thatcher’s as the cider offering.
We left the Bay Horse to continue towards Lower Rivington Reservoir and Liverpool Castle. The walk ended at the Crown Inn in Horwich town centre. Several members departed for home at this stage whilst one or two others entered the Crown Inn. The majority however made its way towards The Brewery Bar, owned by the Blackedge Brewing Company Limited, which was a short walk towards the direction of Bolton. Once inside the Brewery Bar, there was an agonising choice of bitters to be had including: Brewsmith Gold, Brewsmith Mosaic (Brewsmith), Black, N.Z.P.A., Ginger, American, Blackedge Craft Keg (Blackedge Brewing Company). The range of ciders included Thistly Cross, Abrahall’s and Thunderwing Molly. Mike Whittle, not wanting to look a ‘gift horse in the mouth’ gleefully collected a free pint, from a landlady who was strongly focussed on customer service, after he accepted her apologies for handing him two thirds of a pint which she conceded was from the ‘bottom of the barrel’. Upon our arrival at the bar it was noted that a heated, glass fronted, pie oven was adequately filled with a selection of pies that were to soon to disappear with unseemly haste. Kevin McDonough at one point looked quite distraught, being torn between visiting the bar for a second order of a pie and servicing the nagging demands of his bladder. The latter took priority but before departing, he placed his order with Noel who was in turn also placing a further order for pies. Noel, however, was soon to report a minor calamity: there was an order placed for three pies (Kevin Maximus, Minimus and Noel) but only two remained in the oven. What to do? As Noel looked over in Kev Minimas’ direction this was the question etched into his face. Magnanimous as ever, Kev Minimas made the ultimate concession: he withdrew his order. Altruism in its purest form! Apparently though, all was not yet lost. A white knight emerged from the background in the form of one Mark Nutter. He had learned of the pie eating triumvirate’s pastry predicament, and, before Kev Maximus had returned from the water closet, had offered one of his own pies that he’d not eaten from his earlier lunch. With his offer though came a qualifier – caveat emptor! Mark’s pork pies on offer were about a third of the diameter of those on display in the oven. However, that notwithstanding, Mark’s pie was placed on Kevin Max’s plate whilst Kevin Min performed a quick reversal of his earlier altruism and plonked the other two oven pies on his and Noel’s plates. Kevin duly returned, sat down and began to focus with some earnest on the contents of his plate. He casually remarked to Noel on the size differential between his and the other two pies. Noel, thinking on his feet, and looking at Kevin po-faced, claimed that the reason for this was that Kevin’s pie had been in the oven for some considerable time and that the reduction in size had been attributable to a significant loss of moisture from the pastry, in a pathetic attempt to offer some rational explanation. Whether it was the cumulative effect of several pints of alcohol or Noel’s completely unconvincing reworking of the laws of physics, Kevin happily picked up the miniscule offering and was about to launch into it before he was summarily halted in his tracks. Kevin Min told him the earlier story before he had taken his first bite and returned the original oven pie to his plate.
Mark was heard lamenting over the absence of members wearing official attire.
The group thanked Alan once more for an imaginative and entertaining outing.
13th to 15th March 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Sylvia Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Annette Statham (Monday), Frankie Statham (Monday), Tony Statham (Monday), Debbie Thomas, Dave Whittle, Mike Worthington (Monday)
History was in the making during this year’s spring short break as we were introduced to our inaugural member of the canidae family or perhaps more recognisably known as canus familiaris. Frankie, to his credit, given his very brief introduction to such a large family of homonidae, was impeccably behaved during Monday’s trek. With barely a single whimper or whine, he scampered up the hills and ran down the dales with only a brief respite for his lunch which, most unusually for the canine palate, included a Bakewell slice kindly donated by Sylvia which he wolfed down with great gusto. During his walk, because he only had minimal clearance between his lower torso and the muddy ground, he accumulated considerable splashes of mud on his belly and so, to spruce himself up, was treated by Annette to a natural power wash – a fast running stream that we happened to chance upon. He almost completed the entire walk but his short legs were unable to endure the final few miles and so, with great reluctance, he decided to avail himself of the train service for his return to Castleton and was accompanied by Tony, Annette and Sylvia.
The previous day had seen members begin to arrive from around 09:30 onwards at our four locations of accommodation: The Swiss House, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn, The Bull’s Head and the Causeway House Guest House where Larry and Mark had arrived on the previous day. Your correspondent had been accommodated, along with several others, in the Swiss House where we were met by the elderly sisterly double act: Martha and Mary. It quickly became apparent that of the two, it was Martha who “wore the trousers”. An illustration of her feisty personality was painted for me as I was summarily admonished by her for loitering outside the kitchen’s water closet awaiting Adrian to finish his morning ablutions. I was given a verbal tongue lashing and told to wait in the reception area.
When everybody had assembled, we headed out of Castleton towards Hollins Cross. Our seven miles trek took us trough Lose Hill and into Hope where we seized the opportunity of an early afternoon break at the Cheshire Cheese pub. We enjoyed an impressive range of bitters: Bakewell Best (Peak Ales), Moonshine (Abbey Dale Brewery), Barnsley Bitter (Acorn Brewery), Farmer’s Blonde (Bradfield Brewery) and Addlestones Cloudy Cider. Upon our departure we bid farewell to those members electing to watch the Manchester United match in Bakewell that afternoon which apparently, was the nearest location to Hope, of a pub authorised to broadcast the game since the rights were acquired by British Telecommunications plc. From Hope, we continued onwards to Lose Hill Farm, duly returning to Castleton.
That evening, we collectively enjoyed an evening meal at the Bull’s Head. The meals had been forward booked earlier in the day by Secretary Larsen. Upon our arrival at Castleton, his carefully laid plans had been thrown into disarray by the late arrival during the day of Tony and Annette who had ordered alongside the pre-booking. Thankfully, Colin’s calming influence pacified the pub management which was becoming increasingly incensed over the late changes to the order. Following the meal we visited The Castle and The Nag’s Head.
The fine weather continued into Monday. After a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast we set off for a ten miles hike that took us out of Castleton on to Old Road and on to a climb up Mam Tor, along Rushup Edge and continuing on to Barber Booth, Edale and Hollins Cross returning to Castleton. We had a mid afternoon break in the Rambler’s at Edale. Here, we enjoyed Cheshire Cat Blonde (Weetwood), Farmer’s Blonde (Bradfield), Rambler’s Gold, John Smith’s and Hereford Dry cider. Conversation turned at some stage to a discussion over the pub’s restaurant menu. The choice of a Barnsley Chop appearing under the main meals section provoked heated debate. Secretary Larsen voiced some scathing commentary lambasting the trend for modern pub restaurants to elevate fundamentally simple meals by assigning them flowery descriptive nomenclature such as Barnsley Chop and Grimsby Gammon and then subsequently increasing the meal’s profit margin by some eye watering percentage. The pub management was likely as not hoping and praying that he hadn’t appeared on the premises under the guise of a newspaper restaurant critic.
That evening, schisms began to materialise within the group with different sub groups electing to visit restaurants of their choosing with the proviso that everybody reconvened later at the Cheshire Cheese for the evening’s quiz organised by Dave Dalton.
Tuesday morning’s breakfast at the Swiss House was noticeably livelier than Monday’s. A minor altercation occurred at the breakfast table, which was expertly handled by Kevin Maximus following an accusation levelled at him by Martha, the governess, of misplacing the key to the front door. The key apparently had not been lodged in its usual place - on the inside of the lock - from the night before when Kevin had returned following his traditional evening ritual of a tobacco nightcap. Kevin quickly realised the gravity of the predicament he had created for himself. He meekly explained to Martha his rationale for depositing the key where he did because of his fear that any later returnees may not have been able to gain entry because of a lockout due to a key being lodged on the inside of the lock. Martha in her inimitable magisterial manner, grudgingly accepted his explanation and interpreted Kevin’s innocent explanation as a quasi admission of guilt, perhaps in much the same way as a school headmistress would have when admonishing a recalcitrant pupil for not having completed a piece of homework. Unknowingly, and most fortunately for her, she narrowly avoided a diatribe from Kevin as, sitting adjacent to him at the table, I could see him visibly bristling at her unbridled effrontery. Your correspondent too narrowly avoided an earlier spat with Martha over his modus operandi of the toaster. In an attempt to avoid the calamity of burnt toast, he made a premature ejection of its contents in order to make a visual check of his toast’s progress. Unluckily, hovering behind him in his blind spot, Martha stepped out of the shadows and castigated him in an overly loud voice so as to maximise her sadistic enjoyment of his crushing embarrassment as she reprimanded him for not using the toaster’s eject button when undertaking such a manoeuvre. Red faced and visibly chastened, he warned others about committing a similar assault against Martha’s toaster.
Following the depositing of luggage in vehicle boots, we began a closing three miles hike out of Castleton taking us towards Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Pass, Winnats Head Farm, Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Old Road, returning to Castleton. The weather that morning had changed dramatically. The sunshine of the previous two days had been replaced by low hanging cloud and air that was pregnant with moisture.
We had a final meeting in the bar of the Cheshire Cheese where Colin gave his traditional oratory and the group took the opportunity to thank Alan and Robert for their input into organising and policing the treks and Colin, for his planning, administration and organisation of the accommodation and meals
19th February 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Robert Brown, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, John Guest, Adi Hammond, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, David Lamb, Colin Larsen, Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Mark Nutter, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
The sight of the human congestion as your correspondent boarded the 10:49 Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton service at Hazel Grove was testament to this route’s popularity. He was fortunate to spy an empty seat as he carefully navigated his way around young mothers and children’s buggies. The unmistakeable conversational din emanating from the carriage accommodating the tightly packed O.C.O.T. membership rose above all other ongoing passenger conversations. It was only seven or eight minutes later following your correspondent’s boarding when we arrived at Disley station.
We headed along Red lane from the station to access Lyme Park near its main entrance. The main hall was our focus as we walked towards the Cage. Shortly after midday we seized the opportunity for a lunch break in the park’s refectory area close to the hall. Thankfully today, we avoided the ignominy of having tortious accusations levelled at us for trespassing on private catering grounds by over zealous members of staff as we sat down to enjoy our sandwiches and drinks.
Soon after lunch, we joined the Gritstone Trail through Knightslow leading to an ascent up towards the Bowstones at which point we departed from the park. We proceeded along the top outside the park walls to Dale Top before descending to the Keepers’ cottages. We continued through a valley to Shrigley Road. A further short walk brought us to the Macclesfield canal. Our pace began to quicken as we closed in upon our first hostelry of the day – the Boar’s Head at Poynton. It was therefore a crushing disappointment to discover that the premises were closed. We all agreed that the landlady’s/barmaid’s behaviour was highly incendiary as we spotted her at the first storey window gesticulating with her hands which we interpreted to mean her abject refusal to allow us access to any liquid refreshment. Or perhaps alternatively: “Abandon all hopes all ye hoping to enter here!” Amazingly too, when our circumstances were viewed through a finance prism, she also failed to recognise that an economic windfall for her business was in the offing on this quiet Friday afternoon.
We finally faced up to reality and made a volte face returning in the direction from where we had arrived. We returned to the park through Haresheads Farm and the Gate At Four Winds (Windgather) and then continuing towards the main hall. By this time, several members had begun to reach the limits of their physical endurance. Robert on learning of this made an immediate executive decision (to the best of your correspondent’s knowledge, his first in forty years of unblemished local government service) to prematurely curtail the walk and return to Disley toute suite.
As we journeyed along towards Disley, we chanced upon the spectacle of a large group of teenagers playing a somewhat unruly game of football. We commented that it was good to see such youthful sporting spirit. Waves of nostalgia washed over Kevin as he walked past. It took considerable effort on his part to resist the temptation to become an active participant of the game by offering his vast repository of refereeing experience. Had he done so, the youths would have been completely oblivious to the fact that no matter how inferior the quality of their playing may have been that day, they would have been completely immune from the potential issue of any coloured penalty cards. Your correspondent has it on sound authority that Kevin, perhaps uniquely so in football refereeing circles, has managed to sidestep the issuance of a single coloured card throughout his entire refereeing career.
Progressing along Hawthorn Drive, the trail by the main road, we returned to the park’s entrance and then towards Disley along Red Lane.
We wasted no time in dropping anchor at our opening port of call, the White Horse. Bitters being served that day included: Trooper, Unicorn, and Robinson’s Dark and the cider Stowford Press.
Our second establishment was the White Lion, that was still basking in the afterglow of its 2015 accolade of Pub Of The Year. It was a just award when adjudged against the evidence of its available bitters that day: Horster, Woodforde’s Wherry, Amber Bitter from the Otter brewery, White Queen from the Tatton brewery, Hopster from the Tweed brewery, Yorkshire Blonde and Glaslyn.
The Ram’s Head was to be our final destination. The bitters on offer here were: Sharp’s Doombar, Wainwright and Black Sheep. The cider was from Aspall.
The group thanked Robert for an invigorating and thoroughly enjoyable outing.
Secretary Larsen wishes to serve advance notice to members that the excursion to Ilkley/Otley scheduled for Friday 13th May 2016 will again engage the chauffeuring services of Andrew Goff and his coach transport facilities.
15th January 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, David Lamb, Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Kevin McDonough, John Nelson, Dave Nichols, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Steve Sawczuk, Neil Shortland, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
It was fortuitous indeed that the timing of today’s outing would be aligned to a temporary ridge of high pressure. It would be the first occasion during the last two months following wave after wave of Atlantic low pressure systems, that the barometric reading was around 1,020 millibars. The north west of Manchester had endured plummeting temperatures during the previous night. The atmosphere was frigid on the Adlington platform as Alan and your correspondent awaited the arrival of the Manchester contingency.
We departed Adlington station, after several minutes delay waiting for the arrival of the Manchester train service, greeted by bright sunshine and, as we made our way along Rotary Way to Anderton we were soon made conscious of the benefit of sub zero temperatures as the previous day’s soft mud had solidified, sparing our booted feet from a soaking.
Steady progress was made as we headed towards The Shawes, Lower Rivington Reservoir and onto our first break at Rivington Bowling Club. Upon our arrival, members began to form sub groups with some electing to patronise the café bar and others remaining outside to enjoy their sandwiches. One particular group chose to sit at a table positioned at the perimeter of the bowling green. It wasn’t long after making ourselves comfortable at one of the many wooden tables, that we observed the resident green keeper heading towards us. We were to quickly learn subsequently that this wasn’t to be a social visit from him to jovially pass the time of day with us. He wasted no time in inquiring of us whether we had purchased our sandwiches from the café. We countered that we had prepared them prior to our arrival. He retorted, rather irritably: “In that case, I would prefer that you didn’t consume them alongside the green, availing yourselves of our seating facilities and not having visited the café.” It proved to be no defence that we were the only patrons at the green and that a significant proportion of the group had purchased food and drink from the café. He added further that if he turned a blind eye to this episode, it might well prove to be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ and that others would soon begin to ‘abuse’ the facilities in a similar way to our selves. We assessed that the gentleman was utterly implacable and that discretion was the better part of valour and so we bid him farewell. We continued our refreshments on the outer boundary of the club away from the keeper’s view.
We shortly continued on our way alongside Anglezarke reservoir to Healey Nab. The steady rise in the ambient temperature began to gradually make the ground underfoot become somewhat treacherous. A rising number of bleating voices were beginning to be heard as some members discovered to their dismay that their boots began to fail as the watertight seals started to allow the thoroughly unwelcoming ingress of muddy water as they progressed along the boggy terrain. Those two dreaded words, “Trench Foot”, were at the forefront of members’ minds as the squelching of boots became quite audible.
During our descent into Chorley town centre and somewhere between Healey Nab and White House farm, we negotiated a field that could be best described as water logged. The depth of the water, given just a conservative estimate, must have been between six and twelve inches. Harrowing moans and agonising groans were beginning to reach a crescendo as we headed out of the field to the comfort of a trail, the surface of which, had some form of an aggregated surface. A scream emanated from the rear of your correspondent as he was exiting the field. Turning quickly around, I was greeted by a pitiful sight that will stay with me for the foreseeable future. I was faced by the forlorn image of one, Mike Melia, drenched from chest to toe in putrid bog water. The water had penetrated deep into his clothing, which was hardly surprising following reports that had been received that he had fallen a multiple number of times. And yet; for all his tribulations, his stoicism was unwavering. His stiff upper lip and overall stalwart demeanour - reminiscent of an example of the humble Tommy from early last century floundering around in the trenches at Ypres - was a sight to behold. Mike: we salute you!
During our approach towards Chorley town centre, our collective thoughts were directed towards Mike. What was he to do now? He would clearly be debarred from entry to any licensed premises given the state of his extant attire, leaving him with the unappetising alternative option of an early return home. Mike, renowned for his ability to think laterally and outside of the box, had already crystallised in his mind a neat little solution to his predicament. Walking along the high street, not far from Chorley, he made a hasty left turn into a charity shop: namely, Cancer Research. In due course, he emerged with a two or a three piece outfit for around a princely sum of £10. A pitfall of far greater magnitude would be required before Mike would be denied his evening’s entertainment around Chorley town centre.
We headed towards our first port of call: The Crown. We passed the Shepherds’ Hall bar and, as we headed towards The Crown, several renegade members opted for the former, led almost militarily by Colin. We were to discover later a revelation that Colin, probably caused by advancing years, is developing an increasing, noticeably intolerant and hardening attitude towards the mundane and mediocre offerings at certain licensed premises: the Crown unfortunately, was now the present target in the crosshairs of his ire.
Following our sampling of bitters at the Crown: 4TS, Brewdolph (Dunscar Bridge Brewery), Mucky Duck and Chestnut Red, we had to confess that we were distinctly underwhelmed by the quality of the offerings. We reluctantly doffed our caps towards Colin in recognition of his astute choice of hostelry but demurred towards his uncharacteristic lack of sociability.
We duly joined Colin and others in the Shepherds’ Hall where we enjoyed bitters including: Darkside (Spire Brewing Co.), Freak Show (Great Orme Brewery), Dark Mild (Bank Top Brewery), Wobbly Bob (Phoenix Brewery) together with ciders, of Apples and Pears and Thistly Traditional.
Several members visited the Wetherspoon’s bar located nearby.
Our final port of call was the Malt and Hops where the choice of bitters was: White Prussian (Elland Brewery), Wobbly Bob, White Witch (Moorhouses Brewery), Rat Hole (Rat Brewery) and Northern Hemisphere Hopped Ale (Lancashire Brewery).
From here, we made our way home in two tranches with some members electing to leave on the earlier train.
The group thanked Alan once again for another splendid and entertaining outing.
13th November 2015
Present: Clive Benson, Syd Bennett, David Burrows, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Bill Flanagan, Steve Goff, Peter Holmes, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Mike Melia, Kevin Jordan, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Aidan Moy, John Nelson, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Neil Shortland, Linda Staunton, Dave Whittle
A sizeable gathering assembled at Manchester Victoria station for the 10:26 service to Leeds.
We wasted no time after out arrival at Leeds City station. The inclemency of the weather that day provided the necessary incentive to head towards the city centre hostelry Whitelocks where we enjoyed Thwaites, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, John Smiths and Stowford Press cider. In complete contrast to our last visit earlier in the year, the seating was today at a premium. We were all impressed with the architectural character of the premises.
Following our exit from Whitelocks, we were shepherded by Alan to the city centre bus stop for our service to Otley. David B offered some well-intentioned advice to Alan at the stop in an attempt to curtail the journey to Otley but quickly realised his error and proffered a hasty retraction but not sufficiently so in order to head off Alan’s tongue lashing.
Once aboard, it was a straightforward, uneventful journey into Otley. Little did we all realise at that point that it was to prove to be a harbinger of a fateful later return journey!
Upon our arrival in Otley, we immediately navigated our way to the Old Cock. Here, we were treated to Theakston’s, Manchester Bitter, Lancashier Gold (Hopstile Brewery) and Boggart’s Brewery bitter.
Soon after our Cock withdrawal, we were beginning to realise the prodigious density of public houses located within the relatively small town or village of Otley. The residents of Otley must have a very impressive ratio of bars per capita. On the debit side of Otley’s community balance sheet, the local NHS trust probably has its work cut out having experienced an above average influx of patients with cirrhotic livers amongst the local populace.
We quickly arrived in the Junction Inn, which was a short walk down the road. Once again, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Best bitters made their presence known, alongside them were Adnams, Ghost, Robinson’s, and Symmonds cider. As we settled down, conversation soon turned to the middle aged lady sat adjacent to Andy. Whispered voices were asking: “Who is she?” and “What is that lothario Andy up to?” Soon, it quickly transpired that the supposed “femme fatale” was Julie, an ex Manchester City Council colleague known to some of the longer serving erstwhile City Treasurer’s department employees. Sadly, your correspondent’s arrival at the Council was a tad too late to have met her acquaintance. For your information, intended for anybody not present on the day and who never had the pleasure of working with Julie, she held a role in the then Accounts Payments section managed at the time by the illustrious Tony Smethurst.
We duly departed from the Junction and accompanied by our ex colleague Julie, our next stop was The White Swan. We were greeted here by a Sheffield brew: Kelham Island Easy Rider together with Timothy Taylor, Spectre, and Somersby cider.
From a consumptive perspective, we were now well and truly in overdrive mode as we eagerly headed towards the Horse and Farrier for our next port of call. Here, we were faced at the bar by a choice of: Mary Jane, Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker, I.P.A., Otley Gold, Okell (Isle Of Man) and Isle Of Man Malt.
Our final resting place was to be our return to the Old Cock as its position adjacent to the local bus station proved to be optimal for our return bus journey to Leeds.
The return Leeds bound journey proved to be anything but uneventful. We were partly through our return journey when an incident occurred, involving one of the passengers. It quickly became clear that it was a medical emergency whereby a passenger was unable to move after passing out onto the bus floor. It should be pointed out that the cause was not inebriation. At this time, we were not unduly alarmed as Alan is renowned for incorporating appropriate contingencies into all of his project planning. We sat debating between us what the nature of the emergency might be. We were all quietly hoping that our journey would quickly resume as other emergencies may soon have begun to emerge as the effluxion of time continued, given the consumption levels of alcoholic beverages earlier that afternoon. It quickly became apparent that our journey was not about to continue any time soon. Potential bladder emergencies were quickly becoming a mere sideshow as the realisation began to dawn upon us that there was now more than a realistic prospect of not returning to Leeds in time for the return journey home. All the prior planning and organisation of £6 return tickets to Leeds; and for what? We would, if things continued the way they were, be shortly faced with an additional £15 outlay or thereabouts for a ticket home. The fickle hand of fate can indeed deal a cruel blow to the best laid plans. Suddenly, when all hope of salvation appeared to be lost, our fate turned in a more favourable direction as paramedics arrived and the ailing individual was taken from the bus. A hushed gasp of hallelujah was audible around the lower deck as the bus’s engine started and the gearbox was engaged. The question on everybody’s lips was: “Will we make it?” It was “doable”. Just! But, by Odin, it would be tight! The driver was advised by the intoxicated collective at the rear of the bus not to ‘spare the horses’! Each set of traffic signals that we passed was literally collectively willed by all of us to turn or stay green. For some inexplicably bizarre reason and more than likely caused by a state of intoxication, this brought to mind a question put to your correspondent on his driving test some decades ago. He was asked at the time about the colour sequence of automated traffic signals. The question put to him was: “Which colour follows a green light?” Your correspondent’s answer drew a raised eyebrow from the examiner when he heard the plaintiff reply that I’d never hung around long enough to ever find out! We finally arrived in Leeds city centre with minutes to spare. Your correspondent’s sole thought was now to keep Alan and David D in his field of alcohol fogged peripheral vision – lose both these two and he knew it would represent game-over!. It appeared to be the sole thought of others too – the innate primeval instinct of ‘safety within the herd’ in all of us was rapidly coming to the fore. We half walked and half ran back to the station hardly caring about moving traffic at Pelican crossings. Unbelievably, with two or three minutes to spare, the welcome sight of the station came into our blurred focus. Incredibly, we were dealt yet another blow by the cruel hand of fate as we checked the electronic display board of departures and realised that our platform was on the far side of the station and which meant a hike up two flights of platform stairs. Taking two stairs at time and narrowly avoiding serious injury, the fear of failure became palpable amongst us. Almost falling down the stairs to the platform, as we arrived we were notified by the electronic display sign that the train was ten minutes late! One or two members, I recollect, promptly burst into tears. An emotive moment indeed. Alas, our ordeal was not yet over for at least one individual. Word quickly went viral that Kevin Maximus was missing and was believed to have disappeared while in active service on his return to the station. Where was he? Dave D exited the station in an attempt to track him down. He returned shortly with a disconsolate look on his face: his search was unsuccessful. Thoughts of the erstwhile Lord Lucan began to spring into people’s minds. Eventually, Kevin returned under his own steam. Somehow, after disembarking from the Otley Flier, he lost sight of us in the ensuing melee. By this time, the train had been delayed yet further by several minutes so Kevin was able to recompose himself in readiness for the journey back to Manchester.
Everybody extended its gratitude for another excellent beery excursion from Alan.
Steve Goff, Kevin Jordan, Larry Johnson and David Lamb boarded the 8.46 from Manchester to Windermere on Saturday 28th December. I joined them at Bolton. Introductions were made to David, whom I hadn’t previously met A pleasant journey passing waterlogged fields saw the Five arrive at 10.27. During the journey, KJ proved that he must have had plenty of Christmas crackers as the quality of his jokes was underwhelming. In fact, KJ went on to be the focal point of most things that happened during the day. After a brief visit to Booths to allow Larry to purchase the obligatory Rennies, we set off towards Bowness. We attempted to visit an exhibition about Ambleside and Auschwitz during the war, however, the Library was closed. It was a pleasant day and I certainly didn’t need the number of layers I was wearing. As we approached the lake, KJ became increasingly agitated. We had been talking about lake crossings and cruise trips, trying to ease him into the idea. But, KJ is not a sailor and he wasn’t having it. Large numbers of swans and Canadian geese massed around the lake edge, whilst people fed them. Many children were observed being chased by hissing swans which were intent on eating a whole child rather than an old crusty cob. Our stroll took us around the lake, through a small coppice and out to the car ferry. Having seen the ferry in action KJ agreed to the short crossing. Ignoring the pedestrian route, Steve was almost decapitated by the bright yellow descending barrier that he didn’t see!! 50p one way. Pity Colin wasn’t with us to negotiate a return fare. Having disembarked safely we strolled around the corner – pointing out the lack of public house or café. Various ideas were discussed about pooling codger pensions and opening a welcoming hostelry. Waiting for the return ferry, we marvelled at the views and size of the lake; remembering that our codgerette, Julie did in fact swim the bloody thing. She rose even further in our estimation as we discussed how cold she must have been and how knackering the swim was. Larry rang Julie to confirm which route she actually took. Turns out she swam nearer the Ambleside end. The Ship Inn on Glebe Road was our first hostelry. Jennings’ Cumberland ale being the first pint. (Sorry, KJ drinks lager but I don’t know which one). I had prepared a list of the pubs I intended to suggest, but this wasn’t on it. The quality and price were both fine and I will visit again. Heading back to Bowness, we stumbled across The Stag’s Head. Never been in before and it didn’t show up on my t’internet search of good ale pubs. But undeterred we entered. A large roaring fire with a convenient empty table greeted us. Moorhouse ales were on sale. Sadly the barman had had a humour bypass. Very grumpy unwelcoming and miserable. (he was about 25!!) I used my new cask ale app. For those with app phones, download it. it helps find cask marqued pubs and has a scanner for you to record your visit. A modern day trainspotter’s delight. Also, once you have visited 100 bars you get a free pint! Ignoring the White House, which seemed to be a restaurant rather than a pub our thoughts turned to food. So, one more pint. This was taken at the Royal Oak. Coniston Bluebird being taken. As well as sweets from the bar. Steve was told off for taking more than one. Another roaring fire. Larry and KJ conversed with fellow music lovers, with Larry playing name that tune with a lady who had northern soul tunes on her phone. Carrying on an old tradition; when KJ went to the toilet, I put a large log in his bag. It was rather large and KJ rumbled me straight away. From here we went to the chippy. The fourth pub and location of KJ’s first spat was the Hole in t’ Wall. Mostly serving Robinsons ales. We overheard KJ raising his voice with the young chap behind the bar and saying something like “your havin a laugh”. Turns out he was charged £4 for a pint of lager. As we sat and discussed the merits of dick turpin, we agreed that £4 was steep. But KJ then confessed to simply asking for lager and he was actually given a pint of strong Czech lager so £4 was probably about right. With time pressing, we had to bypass other targets and set off at a fairly rapid pace up Lake Road towards the station. The final stop was The Ellery up in Windermere. Not sure what the beer was, but yet again KJ fell foul of the bar staff. Paying with a £20, the barman only gave change of £10. When pointed out he apologised, said it was a mistake but “there is no need to look at me like that”. Can anyone imagine our dearly loved KJ giving anyone a dirty or threatening look?? Having observed final score we marched to the station to board the 5.06 back to Manchester. Once on board, KJ produced a glass from his bag, saying having been ripped off twice he was getting his own back. Not sure which pub is now one glass short A great day out, fine weather, good beers and great company. Watch out for the next Five go to….. Kind regards Mark
16th October 2015
Present: Clive Benson, Robert Brown, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, John Guest, Steve Goff, Robert Holmes, Kevin Jordan, David Lamb, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Sylvia Larsen, Barry McGuinness, Dave Nichols, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Elsa Sawczuk, Steve Sawczuk, Neil Shortland, Julie Sprigg, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle
Viewed from a strict economic standpoint, it would have hardly been the most risible of occasions for the typical member as his or her eyes first alighted upon the rail fares for the journey to Staveley when making ticket purchases. At £23 for a return journey, with no meaningful financial recognition afforded to those who decided to purchase tickets in advance, the pecuniary pain inflicted must have been barely tolerable for most.
It was therefore immensely gratifying to see the number of attendees swollen to a heady twenty-two as we assembled upon the platform at Staveley shortly after disembarking from the slightly delayed service when it arrived ten minutes late. We set off from the station and in the direction of Dales Way to lead us towards Fell Plain, Borwick Fold and High Fairbank and the promise of a prompt arrival at our midday watering hole – The Watermill at the village of Ings. Waves of nostalgia washed over us as we entered the bar area, with fond memories of previous visits and a former overnight stay at the hostelry. Your correspondent observed several tear stained faces around the lounge as recollections were resurrected of memories of his rendition of a medley of memorable piano pieces played one evening during the short break. It would be perfectly understandable if expressions of shock were voiced today at the news that, contrary to popular belief at that time, he did indeed continue to hold onto his full time employment role. Unbelievable! Members appeared to enjoy the offerings at the bar with bitters including: A Bit Er Ruff, W’Ruff Night, Isle of Doks, Collie Wobbles, Windermere Blonde, Loweswater Gold, Dog’ Th Vader and Shihtzu Faced. Ciders of Stowford Press and Old Rosie were also on offer. Julie extended her apologies for her early departure shortly after arriving at the bar and from the remainder of the day’s activities, as she had to rendezvous with her husband for a pre-arranged camping break in the area.
Upon leaving the Watermill, we continued the walk towards Staveley through Hugill Hall, Hugill Fell, Browfoot Lane and Scroggs Bridge. Shortly after our arrival at Barley Bridge, we proceeded towards the Old Mill Yard in Staveley village to visit the Hawkshead Brewery Tap. An extended range of bitters were welcomed by the weary walkers: Lakeland Gold, Hawkshead Red, Brodie’s Prime, Windermere Pale, Hawkshead Bitter, New Zealand P.A.*, IPA, White IPA, Hop Black, Crooked Staves Key Lime and Great White. (*Apparently news was received on good authority that Alan, the walk organiser, had suffered the ignominy of a fall somewhere in the bar area. It remains somewhat unclear as to the cause of his humiliation. The more churlish amongst us may have attributed it to the specific gravity level of the N.Z. P.A. whilst others of a more charitable disposition may have put it down simply to physical exhaustion from the walk.)
Our final destination, after leaving the Brewery Tap, was the Eagle and Child. Upon our arrival, we caught sight of the two Roberts enjoying the pub fayre together with Colin and Sylvia sat together on a table positioned adjacent to the front facing windows. They had clearly enjoyed their cuisine observing the sated looks upon their faces. The low lighting levels immediately caught our attention as we entered the pub’s lounge. The level of lumens was so low that there was scarcely sufficient light to rearrange the gloom. On reflection, we must have located the bar using some form of primeval innate radar. However, once visible, the range of beers did not disappoint with an eclectic variety sourced from the Barngate Brewery. Whilst enjoying our drinks, a coterie of some of the far right conservative element of the membership voiced its displeasure at the lamentable lack of adherence to the formal dress code. For those dissentients amongst us - who are deemed culpable - they may wish to tilt their heads towards the oncoming headwinds that are beginning to blow to sense that they may be heralding an imminent crackdown on dress standards.
Some disappointing news was received from the contingent that caught the 20:03 return train service. Owing to an earlier than anticipated arrival at the station, it elected to opt for the train to Windermere and then a return journey to Oxenholme. However at Oxenholme, the Virgin** service was fifteen minutes late. The devastating consequential effect of that was that the Preston service connection was missed and the next service being at 21:59. A fateful decision was then taken to remain on the service to Wigan North Western with a view to catching a 21:28 service at Wigan Wallgate. However, despite a valiant, coronary thrombosis inducing sprint to the Wallgate station, the connection was missed. Unfortunately, that now meant that the 21:53 slow service was the service to Manchester Victoria. Its eventual arrival at 22:40 resulted in a band of exhausted codgers having to make alternative travel arrangements. One word would probably eloquently encapsulate this sorry state of affairs: “shafted”!
**(Another depressingly familiar instance of the Virgin group demonstrating its near infallible positioning in its ability to wrest control of the national lottery from Camelot at the next opportunity and operate it itself, as surely evidenced by the way it performs on its rail responsibilities: a lottery using the term in its purest sense.)
Once again, everybody extended his/her gratitude to Alan for another splendid walk.
Annual General Meeting
Secretary Larsen wishes to give forward notice of the annual general meeting which is scheduled for 18th December at The Queens Arms Country Inn located at 1 Shepley Street, Old Glossop (http://www.queens-arms-hotel-old-glossop.co.uk/). Following ruthless negotiating tactics with the proprietor, a deal has been thrashed out for an admirable £15. Colin successfully managed to wring a £2 discount from an opening bid of £17. The intention is for us to assemble in the privately reserved first floor dining area at 18:30. Colin proposes to begin collecting contributions for December’s soirée at this coming Friday’s 13th November visit to Otley Would members please therefore furnish themselves with the necessary liquidity to assist Colin in defraying the overall cost.