A Scenic Walk in Manly

On our final day in Sydney we took the ferry from Circular Quay across the Harbour to the seaside resort of Manly. On one of the headlands at the entrance to Sydney harbour it has beaches facing both the Harbour and the open sea.

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The ferry journey takes about half an hour and gives a great view of Sydney from the water

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Arriving in Manly, our plan wasn’t to spend time lounging on the beach, but to follow part of the Manly Scenic Walkway up on to the North Head, one of the headlands that form the 2 km wide entrance to Sydney Harbour

We set off along Manly Beach where groups of schoolchildren were taking surfing lessonsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a strong offshore wind and the sea was quite rough. The lifeguards were broadcasting stern warnings for bathers to stay within the flags or the beach would be closed.

We followed the coastal pathOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApassing artworksOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand local wildlifePC012643.JPGalong to Shelley beach, a more secluded inlet with calmer watersPC012647.JPGWe than began the climb up into the wilder country on the on North HeadIMG_4059.jpg

 

 

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Although only a short distance from “civilisation” it felt as if we were going up into the “bush”

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Due to it’s strategic position overlooking the entrance to Sydney Harbour, there had been military installations on the North Head for a good part of the 20th Century. We soon cam across evidence of this – abandoned gun emplacements.

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We carried on following the path through the bush

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A little further on we reached the Modernist style former army barracks

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Our route took us straight across the parade ground

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Today, the buildings are occupied by a private school and various small businesses, including an art foundry

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We stopped for a while to look at some of the art works on display.

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Carrying on through more bush

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views of Sydney opened up

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A short distance further on and we reached some more former military buildings where the North Head Visitor Centre is located as well as a café, so we stopped for a brew overlooking Sydney Harbour

Rejuvinated, we continued on with our walk, the route taking us along Australia’s Memorial Walk, a paved pathway with five monuments to remember the major military conflict periods in Australia’s history.

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Carrying on through the bush towards Fairfax Lookout at the end of the headland and looking out over the Harbour and open sea

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Having reached our objective it was time to head back. We could have followed the loop and walked back down to Manly, but we cheated. There’s a road up the North Head and there’s a regular bus service, so feeling hot and a little tired, we waited a short while and hopped on the next bus that took us back to Manly and the ferry back to Circular Quay.

 

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A walk through the Plantations

 

IMG_5002.jpgYesterday much of Wales, the Midlands and Southern England were struggling to cope with heavy snow. In Wigan it was a bright, sunny, if cold winter’s day. After being stuck inside for a few days I decided to get out for a walk through the Plantations and Haigh Country Park.

We’re lucky to have this amenity on our doorstep. I only have to walk to the bottom of our street to start a pleasant walk along the river and through woodlands.

Haigh Plantations are an area of woodland bisected by the Leeds Liverpool canal covering about 250 acres. They were laid out in the 1860s over land damaged by mining activity by local cotton workers who were put out of work due to the Lancashire cotton famine caused by the American Civil War. Today they’re part of Haigh Woodland Park.

Starting off walking along the River Douglas and past the flood relief dam at the bottom of Coppul Lane

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Up through the woods to the Lower Plantations

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The bridge over the Leeds Liverpool Canal

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Up through the Middle Plantations

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Past the Lodge by the gate on Hall Lane

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Carrying on through the woods past the Swan lake

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and then the Lilly Pond with it’s fountain

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Leaving the park, a short walk along the metalled road by the main car park, looking over towards the West Lancashire Moors

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Then cutting down Sennicar Lane

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Then back over the canal

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Looking over the fields towards Standish

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Past the old house on Wingates Lane

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and the old foundry

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I walked up Leyland Mill Lane and then down the main road past the hospital down towards Wigan town centre before heading home.

Bondi to Coogee Walk

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I’m going to divert from writing up my recollections of our recent holiday in Australia in sequence. It’s grey, cold and miserable outside, and so I’m going to go through my pictures of hot, sunny beaches in Sydney to cheer myself up.  I think some of my regular readers feel the same!

To be honest, I’m not a beach person. I soon get bored sitting on the sand, even with a good book to read. But I enjoy walking along the coast – beaches, cliffs, salt marshes etc. That’s much more my style. So on the fourth day of our stay in Sydney, we caught the train from the Town Hall to Bondi Junction and then took the bus to the famous Bondi Beach, our plan being to take the coastal path over to Coogee. It’s a classic Sydney walk and one I’d done before.

On the previous occasion, it was a grey day when I set out, turning sunny as I got nearer to Coogee. This time it was hot and sunny from start to finish

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Setting off along the bay

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Some expensive houses up on the cliffs

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Looking along the coast

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Swimmers and surfers in the sea

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Around the headland we came to Tamarama Beach

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Where we stopped for a drink while enjoying the view

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A little further along we reached Bronte Beach

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Waverley Cemetery – unfortunately the residents can’t enjoy the view!

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Clovelly Beach, a safe beach for swimming

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Carrying on along the coast

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passing more expensive houses

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Approaching Coogee we passed the memorial to the Bali bomb victims, a number who came from this area

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Finally we arrived at Coogee. Time for an ice cream!

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A walk through the Rocks and Miller’s Point

Visiting the tourist office we picked up a number of leaflets featuring historical walks around Sydney. So, after our wander round the Royal Botanic Gardens, we decided to complete the afternoon by following one of the routes that covered the historic working class areas of The Rocks and Miller’s Point.

We started off by climbing the old steps up to Cumberland Place part of the network of  streets and laneways that formed the heartland of this old residential area.

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From Cumberland Place we could see the backs of the preserved row of houses, Susannah Place.

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This row of typical working class houses, built in 1844, have been preserved and are now a museum. Visits are by timed guided tours and as the houses are small, numbers are limited. Unfortunately there weren’t any places left on the final guided tour of the day so we decided to return, which we did the next day.

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Continuing with walk we had a look at the site of an archaeological dig across the road from Susannah Place by the side of, and underneath, the YHA building. The dig exposed remains and foundations of hundreds of houses, shops and hotels which were all crammed into a small site.

Carrying on, we passed the first of several tradition pubs on the route.

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There was another a short distance along the road – with signs of modification evident as part of the “gentrification” of the area.

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Carrying on, passing through a tunnel under the expressway that leads to the Harbour Bridge, a short climb took us to the top of Observatory Hill.

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The hill was the site of Sydney’s first windmill, but it  became known as Observatory Hill after an astronomical observatory was built there in 1858. Like at Greenwich in London, the observatory has a time ball on the roof. Every day at 1pm the ball, which is visible to ships in the harbour below, is dropped to signal the correct time, which would have been vital for mariners to synchronise their chronometers in the old days of navigation by “dead reckoning”.

There were great views down over the harbour.

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Leaving the observatory we descended the hill on to the road below passing some typical Victorian houses.

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We were now in Miller’s Point, an area of old 19th century sandstone and early 20th century red brick structures created by the Sydney Harbour Trust.

The walk leaflet tells us

Thousands of men were employed cutting a deep swathe through the sandstone to create a two-tiered roadway system serving the new Walsh Bay wharves. The Trust then in-filled the new landscape they had created with utilitarian brick houses, shops and pubs. After that, building practically halted.

We passed another pub

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and another one!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Built in 1836 by former plasterer William Wells as his home, the Lord Nelson obtained its liquor licence in 1841, one year before the town of Sydney was proclaimed a city. This makes it one of the oldest pubs in Sydney.

Then past another one, this one built in 1843

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Across the road we cut down an old alley, which once led to the waterfront, which rook us down to another historic area, Paddock Place.

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It was here where an outbreak of bubonic plague started in 1900

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These are the excavated remains of the “plague houses”

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Carrying on we had a view of the Harbour Bridge

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Past more old houses

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and an old urinal – Clochemerle style! (These were common on Sydney streets in the early 20th Century)

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Following the route we arrived back in the Rocks, passing the converted former warehouses

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During our walk the cloud had cleared and when we reached the harbourside we were greeted with a much sunnier view of the Opera House.

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On the marshes at Dartford

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I’ve been down to Dartford in Kent with work 4 times since July this year, staying 2 to 3 nights each time in the Premier Inn to the north of the town.  Dartford’s probably best known for the crossing – a high level bridge south bound and a tunnel north bound) over the Thames which forms part of the M25 outer London ring road (although the crossing itself isn’t officially part of the motorway). Dartford itself is nothing special – just an ordinary working class town. Traffic can be awful though, due to proximity to the crossing.

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As the town is within commuting distance of London, with trains to London Bridge, Charring Cross and Victoria, there’s a lot of new development both in the town and on the outskirts to the north. The latter is the “Bridge” development – with industrial buildings and housing estates built on reclaimed marsh land, just south of the Thames and the former power station and north of the ring road. This is where the Premier inn is located where I was staying.

During my latest stay, starting to become stir crazy, I managed to get out for a walk. I’d spotted a number of lakes as I’d been passing through the estate and Google Maps indicated that there were paths alongside the water. So that’s where I went.

It turned out to be quite pleasant and tranquil on an autumn evening. I even spotted some tufted ducks out on the water (too far away to get a decent photo with my phone, unfortunately).

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There’s a special bus only route through the new estate (the Fast track route that goes from the town centre to the Bluewater shopping mall). I spotted some art works next to a couple of the bus stops that I passed during my walk.

 

Monsal Dale

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The last day of our short break in the Peak District, we’d planned to go out for a walk. I had a few routes in mind but decided to “suck it and see” depending on the conditions. When we woke up it was raining, but the forecast was that it would clear before the afternoon so we would need to restrict ourselves to a shorter walk as I was working the next day and didn’t want to leave it too long before we set off for home. So after picking up some bacon and a few other items at the Chatsworth shop, we drove over to Monsal Head, a famous Peak District beauty spot.

We parked up by the Monsal Head Hotel – the large car park soon fills up at the weekend but there was plenty of room on a Monday morning. It’s in an elevated position looking over the Wye Valley at a spot where the Wye, flowing eastwards, encounters a band of harder rock and is forced to make a sharp turn southwards, carving its way through a of limestone ridge.  Until the 1960’s a railway line from Derby to Manchester ran westwards along the valley over the Headstone viaduct and through a series of tunnels. Today the railway route has been turned into a walking and cycling trail – the Monsal Trail. From the viewpoint we looked down over the viaduct and the valley.

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Despite being a somewhat grey day, overcast with middling visibility, it was still a stunning view.

We walked along the trail some 26 years ago carrying my daughter, who was then a baby less than a year old, in a baby carrier strapped to my back. I remember her hitting me on the head to try to make move quicker! Since then the trail has been improved and the tunnels opened up so that you can walk or ride through them during the daylight hours.

Without a definite plan in mind, we decided to follow the trail westwards for a few miles and see where we ended up, so we took the path down from the viewpoint by the hotel down to the viaduct. This was the view looking north west along Monsal Dale

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and south west, downstream.

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We followed the former railway track, taking care to avoid being run over by bikes! It was reasonably busy despite being a Monday morning in early Autumn.

Views down into the valley itself were rather intermittent as the track was lined by trees that blocked the view for much of its length. Eventually the rather attractive Georgian buildings of Cressbrook Mill came into view.

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Despite being a peaceful valley today, at one time, during and after the Industrial Revolution, Monsal Dale was a hive of activity with the river powering cotton mills at Upperdale, Cressbrook and Litton and with lime kilns further west in Chee Dale.

The first mill at Cressbrook was built for Sir Richard Arkwright in 1779 but this burnt down in 1785 and was rebuilt by his son in 1787. The large Georgian building visible from the trail is an extension built in 1814.

IMG_2881Just after the viewpoint we entered our first tunnel.

IMG_2883IMG_2926 Emerging at the other side there was a view down to very pretty part of the valley known as Water-cum-Jolly

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Soon we were back inside another tunnel, emerging and looking down over Litton Mill. We climbed up the path to the top of the tunnel to get a better view

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Built in 1782 Litton Mill became notorious for the poor treatment of the workers and apprentices – and that’s during a period when workers didn’t have an easy life, to say the least!

At that point we decided to retrace our steps, walking back through the tunnels before descending down into the valley at the deserted train station at Upperdale.

We crossed the river over to the small settlement. The distinctive blue/green paint telling us that the former famm and mill worker houses were now owned by the Chatsworth Estate. The larger house was a Band B while the other buildings had been converted to rental properties. Very attractive they looked too.

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We followed the road for a short distance and then took a path that took us back over the river

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and then under the viaduct and along the river south west from Monsal Head

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Looking back towards the viaduct

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We carried on walking down the valley beside the river

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We didn’t follow the river all the way to the A6 but a short distance after the weir crossed over a bridge to the other side of the river and then followed the path that rose steeply up through  he wooded flank of the valley,

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eventually emerging back at Monsal Head

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We stopped a short while to admire the view and then it was time for a brew in the courtyard outside the pub next to the Hotel.

Up on the moors

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Last Saturday, after a tough few days at work, I decided I needed to get out for a walk. It was a warm day and we probably haven’t got many of those left this year!

I wasn’t able to get out to the Lakes or Dales so decided on a walk closer to home. So it was off to White Coppice to set off up Great Hill and Anglezarke.  It’s a walk I’ve blogged about before but here’s a few pictures from a pleasant day up on the moors.

Starting and finishing at White Coppice near one of the lodges that used to supply water to the mill that used to be there many years ago.

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Past the picturesque cricket pitch

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Then up onto the moors

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