Greater Manchester 2021: Part Three
19 November 2021
Today was a slow starter, due more to physical necessity, rather than just bog standard tiredness. I awoke to limbs that were aching terribly… My thighs, my upper arms, and the pectoral area of my chest in particular, were horrifically painful, and I can only guess it was due to the extreme workout some 36 hours earlier. As I gingerly moved out of bed, I also noticed heavy bruising to my right leg from the knee down – oddly, not the one that felt like it was going to give way as I walked yesterday. Dear me, I was falling apart.
My aim for today was to get to Pingot Quarry Waterfall, and after finally getting a bit of signal, I managed to plot the route – a mere 20 minutes or so away. The drive was easy, although the country park that the quarry was in had a height barrier, so I had to carefully reverse back out and park in the road. I walked the rest of the way – following Google maps… which, funnily enough, gave me the wrong route – so a very kind lady guided me to the correct path. The fall was pretty to the eye, but I didn’t feel my photos could do it justice. I really struggled here, and ended up just getting token shots from every angle I could get to, rather than ones that showed this fall off to its best. According to the lady, winter, after a good freeze, was when this one was really at its finest. ‘Its beautiful’ she had said, ‘with icicles and frozen water everywhere’.
As I finished, it was still only 2pm, so I considered doing two locations that were both very close to each other, and here, and then possibly returning home. I was a little concerned this pain would be just getting worse over the next couple of days, and I may end up a little immobile.
The first, and closest, was Tandle Park, so I headed straight over. With two locations to try, I had no time to waste – the sun was due to set at 4. Again Google maps failed me, this time trying to make me do a half hour walk around the edge of the park. ‘There’s got to be a quicker route’ I wondered, and simply followed a path right through the centre of the park. Sure enough 10 minutes later I was at the war memorial. My last two targets were both man made, but as I arrived at the top of the hill I instantly saw that this one lacked greatly, looking horribly flat against a very grey and cloudy sky. However, across in the far distance my eye was caught by the silhouette of Manchester City against bright cloud, with a much heavier and blacker cloud looming over the top. To the far right were gorgeous sunbeams, but they hadn’t quite reached the city yet. I quickly got the camera out and snapped a series of pictures as the sunbeams slowly eked their way across – and then faded before hitting my target. It was SOOOO disappointing!! (see header pic) I waited a while just in case the beams might reappear, but the cloud behind the city dimmed, and the rays never did return. Having this hill all to myself, I thought I might wait it out a little longer just in case something nice might happen. As I looked to my right I spotted a bright patch of sunlight on the field next to me and suddenly realised that it looked to be heading my way. I quickly repositioned myself to see if the light might capture the war memorial as it raced across the field towards this spot. Just as the set up was done, it did! The sight looked incredible against the moody sky, but really weirdly, within seconds of it lighting up, 8-10 people suddenly appeared out of nowhere and stood in my scene. Now where did this lot just come from?! The sun lingered for a bit so I was able to take a number of shots. I planned to layer them all so I could edit all these people out, especially since one young man seemed particularly set on being in the photo. He surreptitiously glanced across at me and stood by the trig point for an extended period of time in a mildly unnatural manner… not a giveaway at all 😂!! As the sun beam passed, the people quickly disappeared again – it was quite funny to watch! Talk about the sun getting us Brits out. 😂 The final photo though, looked wonderful!
I too packed up. I had just over an hour for my last location and at least a half hour drive in that timing. I hiked at speed, got to the van and hit school traffic all across the route, then, just 4 minutes away, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a motorway. Although frustrated, I was really pleased to note how close this last location was to the m62, since it meant getting home wouldn’t involve me crawling through any city traffic. Gotta look at the positives right?! Once back at the spot I was supposed to be, I parked at up at the nearby Sainsburys. I’d realised that I could grab a quick run and gun meal and fill up with fuel just before my long trip home too. Things were working out perfectly. The walk to Heaton Hall Temple was a little longer than I thought, but looking at the sky, I wasn’t sure if the sunset would flare anyway. I hot-footed it over regardless and 13 minutes later arrived at my last location. I noticed straight away, that even if the sunset had of kicked off, unless it was an entire sky, the direction of this structure would never have allowed me to capture the colour. With 5 minutes to sunset however, I still had enough light left to grab some photos of this spot – even if they were just record shots for a future effort here. I quickly scouted the location and realised that in reality there was only one position that truly favoured the building so I set up and took several shots. The sky did pick up to my left, and way up in the odd patches of thin cloud above me, I could see the upper cloud was a lovely pink. Through my viewfinder however, the cloud was a heavy and a very grim grey. I moved closer, tried various shots, and repositioned a couple of times before I realised the sun had finally set, the afterglow timing has passed, and that the light was going rapidly. Interestingly however, the whole of the grey sky had a really beautiful pink tint to it at this point. In fact, it had all gone to such a beautiful and subtle shade that I actually wanted to take a sample to a paint shop and ask for a ‘pot this colour please’… on a wall this would look gorgeous! I took a few more pictures in this light, hoping the shade would pick up on the camera sensor, but looking at the back of the camera, I wasn’t quite so sure. Best I could do was hope that once I got it on my pc, it would show up!
Once done, and with the light now dimming fast, I made my way back to Sainsburys, quickly sorted myself out with the food and fuel I needed, and then started the drive home, satisfied that I had another county explored – albeit only a few of the possible sights I could have visited.
I have since heard that Greater Manchester is going to charge for diesel vans, lorries and a selection of cars from July this year (2022)… the whole county. This has put a real dampener on further plans, and made me feel quite sad, because that will pretty much exclude me from all the possible locations here in the future. Inner cities I can understand… but a WHOLE county?! I really hope this isn’t going to be a new trend across the country… how many small businesses will be crippled by costs and forced to shut down, and how may others will divert costs to the already strained consumer so they can afford to do this? Sad times.