Sedbergh

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We arrived back in Sedbergh after our walk up to the Calf just before 4 o’clock ready for a refreshing brew (and, possibly a cake!). While we were loading our rucksacks into the boot of the car a couple of coaches drove into the car park.. We’d better be quick, I thought, or we’ll not get in the cafés if we have to compete with 80 so day trippers.

We found a small café in the main street. The Three Hares  turned out to be a good choice. It was very pleasant, a little quirky and the tea and cakes were very good – and good value – I queried the bill as I thought they’d undercharged us, but they hadn’t. Their lunch menu looked interesting and they serve evening meals on Friday and Saturdays with a changeable, imaginative menu. Worth a try if we’re down that way over the weekend I think.

It was a good job we got there quickly as there weren’t many tables and those that were free after we had placed our order soon filled up. After that there was a procession of people trying to find a seat or looking in the window and walking past. We found out later that it was the only café open in the town. There were others, but they were all shut. At least one of them only being open 3 days a week.

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(Two cafés – both closed)

After finishing our brew we went for a wander around the small town. There were a number of interesting looking shops but they were all shutting up. They all seemed to only open at 10 and shut at 4:30. Even the tourist office shut at 4. There were a lot of disappointed looking day trippers wandering around the streets and sitting on benches waiting for time to leave! It was a good job it wasn’t raining.

Although today Sedbergh, which is only a few miles from Kendal, is in Cumbria, until 1974 it was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. That explains why it is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Historically, other than agriculture, the main industry was the production of woollen garments. Knitted clothing, including hats and socks was produced in workers’ own homes from yarn produced in nearby woollen mills, and then were sold on by local merchants . That industry is long gone. Today, the main employer is the public school which dominates the south end of the village.

It’s a small town which very much feels that it’s been left behind by the 21st Century.  We were able to walk around almost all of it in about 20 minutes.

The parish church dedicated to St Andrew dates from the 12th century, although, like many old churches it has been restored over the years. We didn’t have chance to have a look inside.

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The buildings were predominantly stone cottages, many of them clearly quite old.

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Like Kendal many of the older dwellings are clustered in “yards” – narrow lanes off the main street, running more or less perpendicular to it.

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The buildings here were both places to live and to work. This is a very typical example of an old worker’s cottage in, appropriately enough, Weaver’s Yard

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Never buildings at the north end of town which we passed on our way to and from the fells were also built in stone

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or with vernacular features, like the porch on this more modern house

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Sedbergh calls itself England’s official Book Town inspired by Hay on Wyre. There are a small number of dedicated book shops, but most other types of shops also had a selection of second hand books on sale.

All in all a very pleasant, attractive little town and it would be worth spending some more time there. It would be a good base for exploring the area and the fells and hills in the vicinity. And it would be interesting to have a mooch around the shops – providing we visited after 10 and before 4 or 4:30 on a day when they’re open!

Among a Huddle of Elephants

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We’ve been treated to a few days of warm, sunny weather this week – a true taste of summer. So on Tuesday a decision had to be made – stay in the office stuck behind the computer preparing and revising some course notes or take the day off and get out for a walk. No competition, really. The work wasn’t urgent, it could wait. The hardest decision was where to go. The Lake District beckoned but during the peak holiday period it was likely to be busy, so we decided to go for a walk in an area on the north eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, close to the Lake District – the Howgill fells.

I’ve passed these attractive grassy hills many a time driving up the M6 between Kendal and Carlisle and on the train to Scotland and always felt that I’d like to get up on the fells, so Tuesday was our opportunity.

The Howgills aren’t dramatic mountains like you find in the Lake district. They’re rounded, grass covered hills cut through with deep valleys. But they have their own beauty.Alfred Wainwright in his book Walks on the Howgill Fells and adjoining fells provides an excellent summary of their attractions

“The Howgill Fells ….. are sleek and smooth, looking, from a distance, like velvet curtains in sunlight, like silken drapes at sunset; they are steep-sided but gently domed, and beautiful in a way that few hilly areas are …… The compactness of the group is emphasised by a remarkable concentration of summits, often likened to a huddle of squatting elephants …..”

We plumbed for what’s probably the most popular route, from Sedbergh at the southern end of the fells up along the ridge leading to The Calf, the highest point in the Howgills. Historically in Yorkshire (along with the southern half of the fells), following local government reorganisation in1974 the small town (a village, really) was transferred to the newly formed county of Cumbria.

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We parked up in the car park in the centre of the village near to the information centre, donned our boots and set off for the fells.

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There was a steep climb up above the west bank of Settleback Gill

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but we were soon up on the grassy fells. Other than a fence that crosses the range on Calders there are virtually no man made boundaries on the top of the fells which gives a real sense of freedom. It’s an open access area too, so you’re free to roam and although there are plenty of clear paths many of them aren’t marked on the OS maps.

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The route to The Calf was effectively along a ridge punctuated with a series of rounded peaks. We had the option of by-passing the first of these, Arant Haw – at 1989 feet just short of being able to call itself a “mountain” – but decided to tackle it anyway.

From the summit there were superb views of the surrounding fells. Unfortunately there was a heat haze which obscured the main Lakeland peaks although looking south we we could make out the hills of the Yorkshire Dales.

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After eating our sandwiches we set off again towards our next objective, Calders. This involved losing some height before climbing a steepish slope up to the summit.

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More great views to either side of the path

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The view from the bottom of the climb up Calders

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We made it to the summit, which at 2211 feet is only a little lower than The Calf itself.

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There was a hazy view over the Yorkshire Dales and I could just make out the summit of Pen-y-Gent in the distance

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After a brief stop to take in the views and some refreshment – it’s important to keep drinking on a hot day – we set off on the path towards the Calf. Most of the serious climbing had been done now. Again there were views over the nearby fells to either side of the path

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It didn’t take too long to reach the summit of the Calf. It was a little bit of an anti-climax as the summit is a flat plateau which doesn’t have definite peak.

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but there is a trig point marking the high point – 2218 feet – and a small tarn.

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After taking the obligatory photos and more refreshments we set off back to Sedbergh. Although it is possible to work out a circular route this would have extended the walk by several miles and we’d decided to head back by retracing our footsteps – well, more or less as we decided to bypass Arant Haw on the return journey.

The route wasn’t a disappointment as different views opened as we worked our way back towards our destination.

This was the view from the top of Calders, our path clearly visible with the hills of the Yorkshire Dales in the background.

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As we approached Settlebeck Gill and the descent from the fells we could see Sedbergh down in the valley.

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We spotted a para-glider circling Winder as we descended.

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Not far to go to Sedbergh now. A brew awaited!

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The bottom of the fell

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On the track back into the village we passed these fellows sheltering from the sun

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Rough Fell sheep one of the three breeds of sheep native to Cumbria.

Soon we were back in the village. We dumped our rucksacks in the boot of the car and set off in search of a café. Another enjoyable walk, somewhere we hadn’t visited before, but a brew was needed!

Loggerheads and Moel Famau

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Driving down towards Ruthin a few weeks ago, en-route to our short break in south Snowdonia, the road cut through a pass in the Clwydian range of hills. An AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Although I’ve driven through these attractive hills many times in the past, I’ve never explored them , and we decided that after our holiday we’d have to put that right. So on Saturday we drove over to North Wales to go for a walk up to the highest of the hills – Moel Famau.

Checking out the AONB website we decided to follow the circular route starting from Loggerheads Country Park, which is a few miles south of Mold and only just over an hour’s drive from home (traffic on the M6, M56 and A55 willing!)

The weather was a little mixed. It was overcast with some short lived rain showers and the occasional period of sunshine. But overall not a bad day for walking. The light was very flat, however, so not so good for photography.

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We parked up in the country park and had a quick brew in the excellent café. It was busy with a group of cyclists, indulging in what looked like a very tasty cooked breakfast.

Refreshed, we set off, initially along a quiet country road

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but we were soon on a footpath through the fields – a glimpse of our objective above the trees.

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Our route took us through a forest – initially along a narrow path amongst the vegetation

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After a climb up through the forest we came out onto open moorland with our objective ahead.

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A short, steep final climb and we reached the summit, crowned with the Jubilee Tower – a ruined monument built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of George III.

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As the highest point for some distance there were excellent extensive views over the Clywdian hills, over to the coast, across to Liverpool and beyond with the mountains of Snowdonia on the horizon to the south.

Looking over the Clwydian range

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Down towards Ruthin

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looking over Moel-y-Gaer Llanbedr, one of several of the iron age hill forts which are dotted along the Clwydian Range.

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Although the Snowdon range of mountains was obscured by cloud, looking south we could make out Cadair Idris, which we’d climbed only a few weeks before.

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After spending some time taking in the views and finishing off our sandwiches, we started our descent down a steep path to the west that cut sown through heather covered moor land with views over the Clwydian hills

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After a short while we reached a bridle path which we followed back down towards Loggerheads.

Looking back to the summit of Moel Famau

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It was a gradual descent over relatively easy ground (with a short boggy stretch)

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with views over pleasant countryside

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At the bottom of the hill, after walking along a short stretch of a quiet lane we took a footpath through a field, across a bridge over the River Alyn and up a slope, reaching the Leete path which would take us back to our starting point.

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The path follows the former course of an artificial watercourse which drew water from the River Alyn near the mill at Loggerheads and carried it three miles to Rhydymwyn along a much shallower gradient than the river itself, meaning that for most of it’s length the Leete was well above the river bed. The water was needed to drive water wheels used to pump excess water from the lead mines that lined the valley, providing a reliable water supply particularly during the in summer, when the river itself vanishes into swallowholes in the limestone riverbed.

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We passed several former mine entrances as we walked along the path

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eventually reaching the Country Park

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We passed a wheel pit which had originally housed a waterwheel used to drain water from one of the mines

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Eventually we reached the Florence café and “tea gardens”. It was a pleasant afternoon so we enjoyed a pot of excellent tea sitting outdoors before returning to the car for the drive home.

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Sculpture on Salford Quays

To celebrate it’s 10th anniversary in 2010, the Lowry commissioned a number of artists to work with local people to create a number of sculptures that are located around Salford Quays. The sculptures are meant to represent aspects of the history of the Quays – at one time the third busiest port in England. The project – Unlocking Salford Quays – was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Nine Dock by Mor (a team of experienced landscape architects, public artists and spatial designers) celebrates the history of what was, at one time, the largest and most important of the Docks in Salford

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It opened in 1905 and was home to the passenger and shipping company, Manchester Liners. At over half a mile in length 9 Dock was big enough to hold 10 large container ships, enabling the Port to remain internationally competitive.

The dock is quite different now – with the Lowry on one side and the concrete and glass structures of Media City on the other.

My favourite work was Casuals by Broadbent.

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The work comprises large scale representations of dock workers union cards, which were needed for them to qualify for work on the docks. However, they were casual labourers and had to turn up to the docks in the morning while the employers selected which particular individuals they would employ that day. The rest returned home disappointed, without a wage. Unfortunately, we’re effectively seeing a return to such awful practices with the growth of the so called “zero-hours contract”.

A number of former dockers and their families gave interviews for this project and some of them are featured on the individual “cards”.

This is Erie’s Rest by Ingrid Hu

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The sculpture, which is decorated with ceramics showing drawings of dockers at work, is meant the ebb and flow of the Canal. The artist was inspired by stories of an ancestor who claimed to have walked on both the Canal floor during its construction, and the Canal surface when it froze to ice.

Where the Wild Things Were by Unusual, was created with the involvement of children from Primrose Hill Primary School, Langworthy Road Primary School and Seedley Primary School.

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It takes the form of giant blades of elephant grass which are meant to suggest places beyond the Canal, where ships sailed to and from. Each steel base is engraved with drawings by local children, who imagined the landscape and wildlife of far-off lands.

Factory Girls by David Appleyard celebrates the women workers of Metropolitan Vickers, once the largest factory in Western Europe.

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The forms are inspired by products made at the electrical engineering firm in Trafford Park. Each enamelled figure is named after a former employee.

Just down from the Casuals sculpture, there was a large collection of objects representing the type of good, materials and equipment that would have been found on the quaysides during the hey day of the docks. They’re very realistic and look as if they had been left behind when the docks were finally closed.

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They’re not part of the Unlocking the Quays project and I couldn’t find any information on the artist. However they’re a pertinent reminder of the decline of a once important, major industry in Salford and how the area has changed.

Salford Quays

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Despite being about 40 miles from the sea, at one time Manchester was the third buiest port in England. This was due to the Manchester ship canal, opened in 1894, which allowed ships to sail almost into the city centre. However, their heyday didn’t last long. With the move to containerisation in the 1970’s the Port of Manchester began to decline as larger vessels couldn’t get up the canal, and they finally closed in 1982.

The biggest docks on the ship canal were in actually in Salford, covering 120 acres of water and 1,000 acres of land.  After their closure a substantial proportion of the docks were purchased by Salford Council and redevelopment began in 1985 under the Salford Quays Development Plan. Improvements were made to infrastructure and water quality and the derelict docks were developed for leisure, cultural and commercial use.

The first landmark building – the Lowry, which contains theatres and art galleries – opened on 28 April 2000 followed by the Imperial War Museum North, designed by Daniel Libeskind, in July 2002 (although that’s actually over the water in Trafford).

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Residential property has been constructed on the waterside

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and the most recent development is “Media City”, which spans both sides of the canal and it’s tenants include the BBC and ITV

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After we’d had a look round the Lowry we had a mooch around the quays, looking at the buildings and bridges and snapping some photos.

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Syzygy

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On Sunday “Dad’s Taxi” was in operation ferrying one offspring to see another. To avoid running backwards and forwards twice in an afternoon, we decided to spend the afternoon at Salford Quays as we hadn’t visited for a while.

First stop was the Lowry to see the current temporary exhibition – Syzygy – which features works by Katie Paterson.

Katie Paterson was born in Glasgow in 1981 and studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 2000-2004 and at the Slade School of Art from 2005- 2007.

Paterson’s artistic practice is cross-medium, multi-disciplinary and conceptually driven, with emphasis on nature, ecology, geology and cosmology. (source)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the blurb on the Lowry website wasn’t entirely clear about the theme of the exhibition and the nature of the works and the only image was of a row of clocks on the wall. Entering the galleries we could hear music playing – the Moonlight Sonata – but it didn’t seem quite right.

We soon discovered that the works in the exhibition were inspired by science, particularly cosmology. So as someone with a scientific education it was of particular interest.

The music was a recording of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata that had translated into Morse code, transmitted by radio, bounced off the surface of the moon and received back on earth. The code was then transposed back into a player piano scroll and played back on a grand piano in the centre of the gallery on a. As some of the radio waves had been absorbed by the Moon’s surface, there were gaps in the recording. A simple idea, but I thought it was interesting and if visitors thought about it they would perhaps learn that radio waves can be absorbed by surfaces.

Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon)

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On the wall behind the gallery there were a row of clocks. At first glance you might think “what’s the point of that?” Looking closer they all seemed to be telling different times, although the minute hands were all in the same position. On closer inspection it could be seen that each clock had a different number of hour marks – only one with the “correct” number – i.e. 12. This work was entitled Timepieces (Solar System).

Here, each clock represents the number of hours that must pass before each planet in our solar system experiences a full day – that is, one full rotation of the planet equates to two revolutions of the clock face. Setting us up for a comic double-take, at first glance each clock looks as it should; but only the Earth clock takes 12 hours to circumnavigate. The clock for Saturn performs one round of the face every five and a half hours, Jupiter every five, while Mars needs only a small adjustment of the Earth clock, for it is just 20 minutes out, and Neptune requires an extra ten minutes.

An interesting idea that should make viewers think about the representation of time and how the meaning of something as simple as the length of a day changes with context and how something familiar to us, like an hour, is actually a human construct.

On the floor in one of the other galleries there was an object that was clearly a meteorite. A sign told visitors they could touch but that they shouldn’t attempt to move it. Well if they did they would have injured themselves. It was iron and very heavy.

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This work was Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky, 2012. It was a  meteorite, but it had been melted and then re-cast back into a new version of itself – essentially using the original meteorite as the raw material to make a model of itself.

When it first fell, the meteorite was made up of recognisable elements and compounds, but in configurations never found on earth. On melting and re-solidifying, the molecules reformed into their common terrestrial arrangements. While the eventual cast looks identical to the original meteorite, it is profoundly, yet invisibly, different. It has been naturalised, by Earth standards.

So, while outwardly identical to the original, structurally and chemically it has been transformed by the recasting process. As someone who studied Chemistry, this was interesting. 

My favourite work in the exhibition was Totalitya mirrorball suspended in one of the galleries turning and reflecting points of light around the room.

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There were10,000 images of solar eclipses printed on the mirrorball which were reflected onto the walls, floor and ceiling.

The images depict almost every eclipse that has occurred since records began, and have been collected from all quarters of the globe, most from photographic sources, although there are some drawings from before the invention of photography.

The term Syzygy comes from astronomy, and is used to describe an alignment of celestial bodies. At the opening, Paterson said: “It’s a coming together of planets in space and time, and relates to how most of my work deals with Earthly time and cosmic time, and our relationship with heavenly bodies and the wider cosmos.”

Standing inside the room, watching the points of light swirl around the surfaces was quite disorientating.

Other works included All the Dead Stars – a stellar map showing the locations of all known dead stars, and Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, a video piece showing three records cast from glacial meltwater, slowly melting while replaying recorded sounds made by the very glaciers from which the ice discs were made.

Some of the other works didn’t work quite so well for me, but another one,  Future Library which was a very interesting project, represented in the exhibition by a couple of drawings.

A forest has been planted to serve as the source of paper for a literary anthology to be printed in one hundred years’ time – the implication being that thinking literally about the materials one uses is the only responsible way to act when complex and occluded networks of production and distribution make it impossible to tell the real impact of one’s consumption. The trees have been planted within an existing forest in the environs of Oslo, its future secured by a forestry commission and a board of trustees. And as the trees grow, so will the Deichmanske library in Bjørvika in Oslo, with an archive box, containing a manuscript contributed by an invited writer, added each year.

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No one, not even Paterson, is allowed to open the archive boxes and read the manuscripts until the work is complete and that will be in 2114

Margaret Atwood has produced the first work for this library and the second has been written by David Mitchell. Apparently all authors will be given a copy of the completed anthology. Unfortunately many of them won’t be around to receive their reward!

So, for us, it was a very enjoyable exhibition. A pleasant surprise. I’m not sure every visitor will agree, but the concepts behind the works are very interesting if the visitor takes time to think about them.

Oh, and what about the title of the exhibition? Syzygy – a made up word? No, it’s an astronomical term used to describe an alignment of celestial bodies.

Up on the moors

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday so in the afternoon we decided to make the short drive over to Anglezarke to take a walk up on the moors. This was my stomping ground when I was a teenager. I spent many an hour up here, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own walking our pet dog. It’s a wild, desolate place, only a few miles from several south west Lancashire towns and a good place to be on a sunny afternoon.

We parked at the viewpoint overlooking Anglezarke Reservoir, with views right across the Lancashire plain down to the sea. Visibility was reasonably good and we could just make out the Welsh and Cumbrian hills on the horizon.

Taking the path from Jepson’s Gate we passed the remains of the ruined Neolithic burial at Pikestones.

 

The going was muddy underfoot s we decided against “yomping” through the boggy peat over to the Round Loaf tumulus and instead made our way over to the memorial to the Wellington bomber that crashed on the moors during WW2

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where there’s a great view over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

We crossed over the river and followed the well defined track up onto the moor

There are several ruined farmhouses out on the moor. It must have been a lonely and desolate place to live, especially during the winter months.

There are limited opportunities to create a circular route on the moor.  There’s a good circular walk up along a ridge to Great Hill, on to White Coppice and back along Anglezarke Reservoir, but it’s a long walk and time was limited, so after a few miles we turned round and retraced our route back along the track.

Reaching Lead Mines Clough we decided to follow the river down the valley

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eventually reaching the road at Allance Bridge where the River Yarrow enters the Yarrow Reservoir.

A short stroll along the road and then we took the path up through the bracken back up to the car.