Visit to Hurst Castle

During our trip to Bournemouth, on the Tuesday after Christmas, we went for a visit to Hurst Castle. It is an English Heritage site but is locally managed by Hurst Castle Ferries.

We parked near Milford-on-Sea and walked over Cut Bridge and then walked along the Hurst Spit towards Hurst Castle.

It was a bright sunny day but with it being winter, the sun was low in the sky.

Isle of Wight Needles

Hurst Castle was originally built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses. It was completed in 1544.

The castle was modernised during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870’s when the enormous armoured wings were added, making it the largets coastal fort in the world. Two of the huge 38-ton guns installed in the 1870’s are still in their casemates.

During the Second World War, Hurst Castle was equiped with quick-firing gun batteries and searchlights.

We payed a visit to the Castle Cafe in the castle for some refreshments. The ‘boys’ said that the cake was really good but unfortunately there were no gluten-free options so I didn’t get any.

Within the Castle walls, there is an exhibition by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers at Hurst.

Hurst Lighthouse
Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle was used to imprison Charles I in 1648 before he was taken to London for trial and execution.

Paul Atkinson, a Franciscan monk, was sentenced to ‘perpetual imprisonment’ for practising Catholicism, spending 29 years at Hurst sleeping on a slab of slate until his death in 1729.

Following our visit of the Castle, we had to walk back down the spit to where we had parked the car.

As we were walking back along the spit, the sun started to go down and gave a wonderful sunset.

The Castle is well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

A Short Walk Along Hengistbury Head

Sarah and I were visiting my brother Chris in Bournemouth over Christmas. Boxing Day brought us a cool but fine day to work off the Christmas Day excess. We decided upon a short walk along Hengistbury Head.

On arrival, it was clear that many others had eaten far too much too and had the same idea. It was very busy.

Hengistbury Head is a headland between Bournemouth and Mudeford that juts out into the English Channel. It is also a local nature reserve.

It is possible to get from one end to the other via a variety of means. There is the local land train, or the ferry, and there are a number of trails.

Christchurch harbour

We started along the main thoroughfare, but it was so busy that we decided to walk along the shore. This was mainly shingle and a little more difficult, but still fairly easy going. It provided us with some pleasant views of Christchurch harbour.

At the far end is Mudeford sand spit, and the walk took us about thirty minutes.

There are a number of beach huts at the end of the spit, and apparently these are some of the most expensive in the country.

If you take a short detour from the main path and make your way between the beach-huts, behind these there is a sandy beach from where you can look out over to the Isle of Wight.

Isle of Wight in the distance

At the Head wee had intended to enjoy a cup of tea at the cafe or even something from the store next to it. However, it was too busy and since the queues were out of the door we might have been waiting awhile.

So, we turned around and headed back. This time we followed the main path which is well tarmaced.

The Head is home to a wide variety of animals and fauna, and there is a visitor centre where you can find out more about the area (and there is lots more that we left undiscovered).

This was just a brief visit, but the journey out and its return ensures you manage to cover a few miles. There are alternative walks taking you around the back of Warren Hill (or even up it!) and which follow part of the Stour Valley Way. Whichever route you choose Hengistbury Head is an ideal place to visit for a short walk for all the family.

A Gawsworth Christmas Cycle Ride

It was a cool and slightly damp morning as fifteen Stockport Community Cycling Club members met at Bramhall Library on the final Sunday before Christmas for a ride to Gawsworth. I was leading the ride, and Sarah was the back-leader (and chief photographer!).

Leaving Bramhall we set off through Woodford.

And on to Mottram St Andrew.

A steady climb then took us up Hare Hill and towards the outskirts of Macclesfield.

This was proving a lumpy ride!

From here we cycled through Broken Cross.

Eventually we reached Gawsworth. This is a village we have skirted the edges of many times before, but usually we somehow seem to miss out the picturesque centre.


Club photo in Gawsworth

After leaving Gawsworth we picked up local national cycle network route 70 and made our way towards Henbury.

This continued our lumpy ride.

Lunch was taken at Flora Tea Rooms. Our arrival didn’t start well, for in spite of pre-booking they hadn’t reserves a table for us (though they had reserved a table for another group) and it was busy. That said, once we had been squeezed in, the rest of our stay was excellent. The service and the food were great!

Refreshed and back on the road after lunch we headed for home and cycled towards Alderley Edge.

I had planned that we take an adventurous route down Swiss Hill, but on witnessing the slightly wet road surfaces throughout the day I judged it wiser to keep to the main Macclesfield Road. That proved a worthy descent in to Alderley village too.

From here we made our way along the edge of the village and Wilmslow.

And back towards Woodford.

The final part of the journey saw us weave our way through Bramhall and back to the start.

This had proved a lumpier ride than I had expected. That said this was an enjoyable 30 mile winter warmer. And everyone seemed to agree.

You can view our Gawsworth route below:


St George’s Christmas Tree Festival 2016 – Including an SCCC Tree

The cancelled Cotebrook ride

Sarah and I arrived at Winsford Marina where we were due to lead a Stockport Community Cycling Club ride to Cotebrook. Sadly, due to frosty conditions (it was -3 degrees at the time) we decided for safety reasons it wouldn’t be wise to continue. It is always difficult cancelling rides, and the decision for this one in particular could have gone either way. However, mindful that a ride leaders primary responsibility is not the safety of the cyclists we erred on the side of caution. This was borne out on our drive home where the journey was a mix of sunshine and deep fog!



One of our cyclists had ridden to the start and as can be seen he arrived in a rather frosty state.

A frozen Neil

We decided on a quick visit to the Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre cafe anyway for a morning cuppa.



Then we headed for home.

St George’s Christmas Tree Festival

Not cycling meant we arrived back early and this gave us an opportunity to visit the Christmas Tree Festival at St George’s Parish Church with our fellow cycling club friend Andy. After all, one of the Christmas tree has been provided by Stockport Community Cycling Club.

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Sarah and I have attended the Christmas Tree festival before, but Andy hadn’t. And it would be good for us to revisit the festival, for each year the trees are different.


There are always a wide range of themed trees.

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Of course the main draw for us was the Stockport Community Cycling Club Christmas tree put together by Jim and Barbara.

Stockport Community Cycling Club Christmas tree

It was proving a hit with the younger audience too as parents were asking them to find the bicycles!

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Having spotted most of the bicycles we moved on to trees by local companies and support groups such as St Anne’s Hospice.

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It wasn’t just Christmas trees.


There were a large number of community groups presenting Christmas trees of all types too.




This one for the younger ones featured Percy the Park Keeper.



We were in a church so there were a range of traditional Christmas themes included as part of the presentation.


These two were certainly different. The snowman was made out of plastic cups, and the Christmas tree was knitted.

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After looking around the 80 or so Christmas tree we decided to relax for a while with a cup of tea.


And then it was time to head back home. This is always a great little event. And well worth a visit next year if you missed out this time around. Indeed, it is well worth a visit each year whether you have been before or not.





A Quick Trip to York

After a 10 mile run on Saturday morning, we took a quick trip to York. We had got a really good deal on a hotel and I had quite a few ideas of things that I wanted to do there – York Minster, the Railway Museum, the city walls to name a few. We stayed at the Elmbank Hotel which was only about a mile from the centre of York.

Our room was one of those off the courtyard.

Having checked in to the hotel, we walked into York for a bit of a look around.

Having had a bit of a wander around, Andy fancied a local pint. We went to The Falcon Tap which had quite a selection of beer for him to choose from.

After his local pint we went to the Kapadokya Turkish Restaurant for something to eat.

It was whilst we were waiting for the food to arrive that Andy surprised me and asked me to marry him! There was no ring but that would be part of the agenda for Sunday.

The start of the Engagement

The restaurant was a lovely place with really great staff and wonderful food. We couldn’t have picked anywhere nicer!

On Sunday we decided to walk into York and get breakfast there at a place called Your Bike Shed, which we had passed on the Saturday. The place was great and the food was wonderful!

After breakfast we went for a walk around the town walls. They were quite busy as it was Remembrance Sunday.

They must have heard that we were going as there was a parade!

Having watched the parade, we went over towards the Minster.

We stopped off at the Museum Gardens, which were lovely.

We were in the museum gardens when the cannon sounded for the silence. It was a lovely place to pause and consider those who had fought on our behalf.

York Observatory

After a brief wander around, we continued off to look at York Minster. It was rather busy there with the Remembrance Service that was taking place.

We decided to go and look at the Treasurer’s House, which is a National Trust property.

Having had a good look around the Treasurer’s House, we went into York and had tea and cake at a little cafe there called Chloes of York.They had some really great cake there.

Feeling refreshed, we did a little shopping and managed to purchase a rather nice engagement ring. There were a lot of jewelers with some huge price tags!

Having found a nice ring, we went back to the Treasurer’s House for some lunch. It was there that I started to wear the ring that we had purchased.

My lovely new ring!

Leaving the Treasurer’s House, we had a last wander around York.

Our last stop was the at The Last Drop Inn which is a York Brewery pub, where Andy had another local pint.

It was then time to head for home for some further celebrations and to speak to the family. It had been a wonderful weekend and nothing like what I had been expecting!