Black Pudding Gaiters

Hiking, travelling, gear



Manchester Runway Trail

Today’s walk was something a little different, rather than majestic mountain ranges and vast vistas, the views would be of aircraft….lots of aircraft.

At 9.30am, I parked up in the Styal country park/Quarry bank mill car park. According to the website the car parking charges are £5*, however, when I arrived the booth was unmanned and I parked for free.

After a quick scout round in case there was a Pay and Display machine hidden away, I left  the car park the same way I drove in then, taking  a road to my left, headed North, with the Quarry Bank Apprentice House to the left.
IMG_1861I spent a little bit of time looking around this part of Styal which was built  in the late 1700s by  Samuel Greg for those working at his mill.

After passing the two churches,  I headed in to Styal Woods and on to  the North Cheshire Way.
I later discovered the North Cheshire Way is a Long Distance Path (71 miles) starting near my home in Wirral, past the airport and on to Disley Station in the Peak District. Might be one to complete in the future!

This part of the route is a pleasant woodland walk following and occasionally crossing the River Bollin. There is a fairly steep climb up the steps to cross the river at Giant’s Castle Bridge.
Emerging from the trees, passing a field of cows, I could here the distinctive noise of a couple of jet engines powering up. Up until now, it was difficult to visualise a large, international airport was just the other side of the trees.

I must admit my aviation nerdyness got the better of me and I did leave the path, waking up a grassy embankment to take a look over  Runway 2 05R/23L.  Unfortunately all aircraft movement was on the far runway, Runway 1, 05L/23R but I still got some great views of the departing aircraft (unfortunately, arriving aircraft were just a bit too far away).
Virgin 747 take off

Returning to the North Cheshire Way, I continued until I reached a roundabout.
To the right is a dual carriage way passing underneath the runway, however, the route continues almost straight across this fairly busy road.

Manchester Airport
The raised grass section just off the road looks over towards the airport and is a good spot for photos.
Continuing along part of the walk allows you to  get right up close to the runway, albeit from the other side of a high metal fence.
The path passes around one of the airport’s fire station and follows along the entire length of the runway.

I left the North Cheshire Way at the end of the runway, taking a right to towards the landing lights. Manchester airport landing lights

The path swings round to the opposite side of the runway. There are no views of the runway on this part of the walk but you do have departing aircraft fying just a few feet over head at the location marked ‘1’ on my  route map

The path  joins a quiet road which continues in the direction of the runway before crossing the River Bollin. I took a  right,  following the river through the tunnel , beneath the runway.
This brought me out near the fire station and I retraced my steps back towards the roundabout on the main road, however, rather than return following the river  I stayed closer to the perimeter fence, climbing an embankment to look right across the airport.


The runway path stopped at Altrincham Road which I followed in to Styal, a picturesque village with thatched cottages and cosy pubs.
After taking a right on to Styal Road, I took the footpath at the end of Holts Lane back to Quarry Bank Mill.

The GPX file for this 9.5 mile/15km walk is available to download


* Prices August 2016

La Palma Pt 1 (Ze Planes, Ze Planes)

I had originally planned to do the Dales way in the middle of March 2016, however, after a bit of number crunching, discovered I could do a full week somewhere far warmer for around the same price and so I packed my bags and headed to Los Cancajos, La Palma.

Thursday 10th March 2016
It was a very early start for the 09:15 Thomsons 737-800 flight from Manchester to La Palma.
View from hotelAfter landing at the the small airport, it only took about 5 mins to reach the H10  Taburiente Playa hotel.
I was allocated room 110 on the first floor. A  good sized room with a balcony over looking the pool…. and the departing aircraft!

The weather was cloudy but fairly  warm so after unpacking I ventured out for a stroll to one end of town then back towards the beach.  Los Cancanjos is a very small town so can be covered in a very short time.  There are a handful of restaurants, bars and a Spar which (unusually for La Palma) opens late on a Saturday and is also open Sundays.  Sadly the town’s shopping centre has seen better days with only a few units open.

Back at the hotel for food.  The buffet dinner was nice. Salad,  paella, chorizo,  wrinkled potatoes, mojo sauce  and a banana for desert. Bananas soon became a frequent addition to most meals!
I had to take the key card to dinner to pay for any drinks.  A member of staff, sat by the door, takes a copy of the room details on to a slip then the total amount is paid at end of holiday at reception. This works well and saves having to carry money to dinner. The same process is used when getting drinks from the bar.

After a 04:30 start, an early night was in order. The quietness and  black out curtains in the room ensured a good night’s sleep.

Friday 11th March
Huge choice at breakfast. My meal included banana smoothie, cheese balls, bacon, scrambled egg, bacon and beans  (no black pudding!). Cava was also available for anyone fancying a glass of bubbly with breakfast. The freshly made omelettes were also quite tempting.
Today, I took walk to the capital city,  Santa Cruz.
Taking a right from outside the hotel, I stayed on the road, avoiding a climb up several steps from the beach.  The road becomes one way and runs alongside the beach. At the roundabout I took a right on Calle El Fuenrte, moving away from the shore and passing the military buildings.
The road continues past a number of car show rooms, Cupalma, a large banana distribution building and some sort of gas works. After passing these, the road  becomes a more pleasant tree lined avenue with the beach to your right.

At the edge of town is the port and bus stops which can take you further out around the island.  I headed up the main, mostly pedestrianised shopping street, O’Daly, containing a mix of shops; clothing, souvenir, supermarkets etc.
Around half way up is the Plaza Espana and the Church, Iglesia de El Salvador . It is also worth taking a small detour to the market on Avenue el Puente . Here, you’ll find stacks of sugar cane, local bananas and papayas. I purchased 40g of saffron for the extremely reasonable price of €4.

Ship and EnanoReturning to O’Daly, I walked to the Plaza De La Alameda.
At the road junction is the wooden replica sailing ship the Barco de la Virgen,  home to a naval museum.
Just in front of the boat is the Enano statue. This character is found on a lot of the souvenirs from the island and is even celebrated during the ‘Dance of the Dwarves‘ event.

Taking a right at the road junction, I headed to the seafront and followed the road down towards the small castle, the  Castillo de Santa Catalina, which was built in the 17th century to fend off pirate raids. There isn’t really much to see around the castle but it was free to enter.

Crab in rockpoo I meandered my way back to Los Cancajos following the same route I took to get here. I took a  break on the craggy, volcanic beaches for a spot of ‘rock pooling’. Plenty of crabs to be seen!

In total the round trip was around 9 miles. The route I took can be downloaded as a GPX file.


Saturday 12th March

Start of mont brena path
Start of walk 18.1

After fueling up at breakfast and armed with my La Palma Walking Map,  I left the hotel.  Heading north along the road towards Santa Cruz, turning off to climb the steps heading up to El Cantillo restaurant.  Two lines are pained on the wall, one yellow, one white, marking the path 18.1 to San Jose.

The path heads South West, over the LP2 road by the bus stop continuing towards houses. Near the car parking for the houses, the path leaves the road and rises steeply to the LP 204 road. Given that La Palma is apparently the World’s steepest island, most walks have a fair amount of climbing!

Follow the road to the entrance of Parador Nacional hotel,  past the hotel’s gardens and through the  car park.  Round the back of the hotel, the route joins Calle San Jose, the road south  to San Jose.
Most towns in La Palma have a Spar shop and San Jose is no exception. I popped in to load up on more drink then continued south to the end of town.

Take the right hand turning on LP 206 out of San Jose (with the white houses to the right) , leaving the road on the right hand side to continue on path 18.1. Away from the village, the  views now consist of trees and tropical plants.
walk to Montana de Brena Cross another road, the LP202, towards Montana de Brena  You can continue on the route south or take a detour to the viewpoint (it’s the same route up to the peak and back)
It is worth making the effort as the  the 565 metre peak offers some great views over the eastern side of the island.
Also on top of Montana de Brena is the Millennium Cross which joined the cross erected to commemorate the arrival of the 20th century, in 1901.

After wandering back down and continuing south, past a bbq area with play area and toilets.  18.1 continues along a quiet road before turning  off towards the pleasant but hilly town of Mazo. Luckily it was all down hill from here.  It was along this road I stopped to pick some ‘wild’ oranges by abandoned building. Lovely!!

Centre of Mazo villageIt is worth taking a short wander around the town to see the old buildings such as the town hall before heading to the church. Here the route becomes path 17 heading North East towards Playa del Hoyo passing banana plants….lots of banana plants!
Playa del Hoyo this isn’t much of a beach, just a car park with a restaurant. I stayed on the road, walking up to the airport where I popped in for a coffee and to use their free wi-fi to keep up with the Tranmere Rovers game!

737 Aircraft La Palma airportLeaving the airport, I followed the road back towards Los Cancajos heading under La Palma’s runway. The route has a pedestrianised walkway to the side of the road for most of the way apart from a stretch past the tunnel but the road is fairly quiet.

About half way along I stopped at the airport viewing area, Mirador del Aeropuerto.  The elevated point  gives a great view across the entire runway.
Leaving the viewing area,  take the right hand fork for the road back down to Los Cancajos and the hotel.

Download this route from my ViewRanger site.

Part 2 – Muchas Volcán


I have visited Austria on a few occasions. I was only 5 or 6 years old when I spent a week in Kitzbühel in the Tyrol region.
Other visits have been day trips, once to Salzburg taking the bus from Germany and on other occasions, wandering over it’s border with Slovenia. I returned for a ‘proper’ holiday in 2014.

Red Bull Air Race Matt HallAs a pilot, I love anything aviation which makes a great excuse for travel.
I have visited the Air and Space museum  in Washington DC and  decided the Air Show was a good reason for traveling to Singapore, however, most of my miles have been racked up watching the Red Bull Air Race.

I’ve followed the RBAR around many countries, including some places I’d never dream of going to otherwise, such as Detroit and Rotterdam.
In 2014, the RBAR was visiting Spielberg in Austria….cue another  holiday!

22nd October 2014  
I arrived at Manchester airport after a long drive following an accident on M56 and checked in to the flight for Munich.
The earlier flight in to Manchester was late arriving which  probably explained our speedy one hour thirty flight time. Despite this quick flight, I had very little time in Munich before boarding the  Embraer e195 for the short flight to Vienna.  The weather here wasn’t great, rainy and a 25 knot wind gusting 45, luckily straight down runway rather than across!

At Vienna airport, it’s a short walk to the station for the CAT train in to the city centre.

My hotel Ruby Sofie, was  five minutes walk from station.  From the CAT station turn right to Marxergasse, the hotel is on the left after the Magic shop.
In room amp
My room, 528, was an odd shape. There was a sink by door, a desk at end of corridor and the bed was round a corner. I think this odd design may be due to an emergency exit being behind my room. Not having another guest room next door meant I could put tunes through the provided Marshall amp at decent level (-:
Yes, an amp in the room to plug your phone/tablet in. You could even hire a guitar from reception! The hotel also provides a Samsung tablet  in the rooms. This contained hotel information, radio and some games.

The  bed was very comfy and the gap between the inner and outer windows made for a great fridge!
One strange design feature was the glass wall separating the bathroom from the main living area. Luckily I was travelling alone!

VIENNAAfter unpacking, I took a walk around town. It was night time and very wet, not the best way to see a city but I managed to tick off St Stephen’s cathedral, the Imperial Palace and the Opera House.

Decided on a trashy meal from Spar which could be stretched out  for breakfast the next day (the hotel was room only.) I wasn’t going to be trudging round in the rain looking for a meal!

It would be unfair to comment much on Vienna,  I can only recommend the fantastic rail system and the hotel I stayed at. Just a few hours on a dark, wet October night is not the best way to see Vienna.

 23rd October
I’d already booked my trains online and the journey was to be made on specific trains with reserved seats, always the best option when you have luggage to carry.
The first train got in late so it was a dash to find the platform, got there with seconds to spare.
I had window seat next to luggage rack and I was glad of this spot as the train soon got high in to the hills, offering some great views.
The Railjet train included a small cinema showing kid’s cartoons and each carriage had moving maps showing the time to the next stop, very useful when you don’t really know where you are.

DSC03529We arrived in to Leoben just after mid day. It was a short walk from the town’s only station to the Falkensteiner hotel.
Luckily, despite my early arrival, the room was ready for me. The good sized Asian themed room had a balcony overlooking a park and river.
Like the other hotel, there was a window between the shower and bedroom this must be an Austrian thing!

As I mentioned earlier, the RBAR is a great way to visit towns and cities which would not otherwise be on the holiday radar.
Leoben is one such place, predominantly a University town and also the industrial centre of the area, but, for me, it was the ideal location, close enough to Spielberg to attend both race days (needless to say, closer towns got booked up quickly),  available  a good price and a few options for walks on the non-race days.

View to LeobenAfter a quick coffee from the room’s Tchibo pod machine, I walked round grounds then headed North, over the river following it down to Winkelfeld Strasse then East on Schiessstat Strasse, dropping down to cross the river at Pionierweg.  At the end of the road, near the Aldi, I walked  South towards Karntner Strasse, crossing over to continue South until the  road ended and the path into the woods began.
Initially I continued South to the first junction of paths. Here I went North then followed the path round to the West eventually reaching the remains of the 13th century castle at Massenburg,  The view point which offers great view of town and the large Gosser brewery.
I headed back down, zig zagging around town, ending up in Leoben City Shopping mall.
As with my other walks, the GPX file of this route is available to download

After a quick shower, I headed down to dinner. Normally, when I travel alone, I don’t like too much fuss at meal times but there weren’t too many options and to be fair, they didn’t turn a hair at me turning up in jeans and trainers and I wasn’t made to feel uneasy despite being the only lone diner in the room.
To give an idea of the quality of food; the starter was salmon mouse (cue Monty Python quotes) with corn relish and bean sprouts. Next up was curry foam soup.
Main course was turkey stroganoff with spätzle (a sort of small egg noodle) and leeks.
Dessert was semolina with sweet pesto and mixed fresh tropical fruit.
Nice and surprisingly filling but if that wasn’t enough there was also a bread and salad buffet.

The post meal walk was just around town, lots of other people seemed to have the same idea, wandering going nowhere. Not much around apart from student garage bar

24th October
Fantastic spread at breakfast, Salmon, roll mop herring, freshly baked bread, salad and cold meats with tabasco….for starters!

Discovered that you only get two free pods for the coffee machine and I used both on the first day….
Ho hum stocked up on pop and bottles of water before heading off on a days walk.

Path 605 to Schollinger

Leaving the hotel, I went towards the train station then  South down Zetenschlag Strasse, continuing at the traffic light junction on to Mautgasse before taking a right on to  Kamtner Strasse.
After crossing the railway, it’s then a right on to Kerpey Strasse for about 100m where a left takes you on to Am Galgenberg. The footpath is on the left a short distance down this road heading South West. I followed the power lines to the junction with Rappoldweg, taking the left hand path.
Continue on this route at its junction with the nature path, passing a tiny church.

Some great views over to the mountains.

I kept on the path heading West, taking the right  near the group of buildings coming out of Neiderunweg then a left left headed West in to Schollinger.
I  stayed on the road as it turns to head North up to the junction where a left leads to  Tanzbergweg.
Turning right at the next junction,  I eventually reached St Peter Freinstrein passing through the village before taking a right near the fire station on Schulstrasse.
Near the railway line, head South on the footpath then continue on the roads parallel to the railway line towards the industrial area. SkullThe steel works here apparently are Europe’s biggest producer of rails (as in train tracks)  I also passed a large area owned by Colas, presumably used for storage .Various items there including a  giant skull!
I left the roads, joining a path above the town cemetery before coming back on to Am Galgenberg then back through town to the hotel.

This walk is available for download.

11 degrees. Some cloud but dry, that’s the main thing!
Afterwards, I went to the Aldi Hofer for some supplies. This shop is open at 7.40am (!) closing at 8pm, however it does not open on Sunday. An alternative shop is the Spar at  the train station is  open until  9pm every night incl Sundays and opens 6am..handy!

Sat 25th October
Red Bull Air Race day and weather looking good!

Early breakfast then took the 08.21 train to Knittelfeld.  This train goes up to St Michael then back on itself toward Knittelfeld.  €16.60 for return (in Oct 2014)

After leaving Knittelfeld station, I took the number 3 bus from just outside the station. Thankfully the driver kindly let me know when to get off on Triester Strasse, from there  was then a short walk North up Verbindungsweg to the Spielberg Red Bull Ring.

Air Race at Red Bull Ring Spielberg Austria
Spot the Air Race!

Lovely hot sunny weather. Better than most air races held in summer! Unfortunately, the Brits didn’t do well in today’s qualifiers, finishing quite far down the field.
The Austrian pilot, Hannes Arch had the  best run of the day.
There were various other activities as well as the Air Racing during the day both on the ground and in the skies.

Once the events had finished, I took bus 1 from  the road I left the bus earlier in the day. Only couple of minutes wait for the bus and just 7 mins to wait for the train to Leoben from platform 3 at 18.07

Sun 26th October
Took breakfast with the Red Bull sky diving team and the Blanix gider team this morning!

Decided to walk from Knittelfeld station rather than get the bus, this only took about 40 minutes. The gpx file for this 4 mile walk can be downloaded from ViewRanger

The fantastic weather and beautiful scenery helped make this a great race day.
Unfortunately, British pilot Paul Bonhomme just missed out on the final 4, finishing 5th. Much to the local’s disappointment,  Arch blew his chances of winning not only race but also the World Title  finishing 4th.
Martin Sonka  took first,  Nigel Lamb second and Nicolas Ivanoff 3rd meaning Brit Lamb took title.


Bit of a wait for bus back but nowhere near as bad as could have been considering (if i read time table right) there are only a handful of buses per day.

Started at the Falkensteiner  Leoben
Beef Starter

Back to the hotel for dinner; starter of beef with toast and red horseradish followed by soup with strudel. Main course was beef goulash served with dumplings. The meal was finished off with apple tiramisu decorated with  physalis which seemed appear every where every meal!

 27th October
Early start,up before 6. Unlike many hotels I’ve stayed at in the past, no problems getting an early breakfast, I got to the dining room a little before 6.30 but it was fully open.
Check out painless in fact despite being 7am,  three people on reception even at this early hour.

I arrived at the station for the 07.15 train to Bruck which did mean around 30 min for next train but better than rushing and missing it.
Someone was sitting on my reserved seat but found another easily and made myself comfy,  plugged my tablet in to the plug socket and made the most of the free wifi
It was a short walk to change for the s1 to Mitte then the modern Vienna CAT to airport.  Lots of room on this train with space for luggage although could check in at station.

Sadly there wasn’t much to do at the airport especially airside, so little infact everyone ready to board the aircraft long before boarding time so got off reasonably on time for the first flight in to Germany.
Wow, Frankfurt is a massive airport! Landed at Terminal A then faced a long walk to Terminal B.

So, in conclusion….a great holiday I would never have considered if it wasn’t for the Air Race.
Leoben isn’t a big tourist destination but there is enough for a few days here if you enjoy walking. The transport links mean it’s easy to get around and it’s reasonably well priced.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I returned for another Air Race in the future!

Yorkshire’s Best Black Pudding (and a few sports cars!)

Elvington Everyman Racing Aston MartinNot long back from a quick trip to Yorkshire.
The main reason for going was to participate in a Super car Driving Experience at Everyman Racing in Elvington.

Despite the fog, it was a fantastic morning!
Got the chance to drive an Aston Martin, Ferrari and, my favourite, a Lamborghini.

Victor aircraft Yorkshire air museumThe track is next to the Yorkshire Aviation Museum so it would be rude not to pop in.
To be honest, I thought the £8  entry free was a bit steep but we spent a few hours looking around the exhibits which include a Halifax, Spitfire and Tornado.
Some of these aircraft can be seen from the track, rather distracting (-:

My first night was spent at the lovely Fifth Milestone Cottage a few miles outside York, not far from the Park & Ride and a short drive to the Elvington track.
Dinner was taken at the Windmill pub, a few minutes walk down the road. A pork and apple burger topped with black pudding & pepper sauce proved to be a tasty choice!

The next night was spent at the Woolly Sheep Inn, Skipton.
This pub with rooms is situated right in the heart of Skipton.  Breakfast was taken here along with an evening meal. Black pudding was on the menu again, this time with braised belly pork and bbq pork fillet. Very nice!

So, after two consecutive meals containing black pudding and wondering what to do with the last day of the short break, I concluded it might be an idea to track down the best black pudding in Yorkshire.
I didn’t have far to go.
One of the two branches of Keelham farmshop is located just a mile or so outside of Skipton and is home to the black pudding voted ‘Best in Yorkshire‘ in 2013  Their black pudding with haggis is also very good and worth a try.

Keelham Farmshop is definitely worth a look if you’re around Thornton or Skipton. They have a very good range of products ranging from locally produced fruit, veg and meat to beers and wines all at a reasonable price

Yorkshire Black Pudding Keelham farm shopI found the black pudding a bit denser  with more body than it’s counterpart from the other side of the Pennines. I think this may be down to more oats and/or barley in the mix.

Many would argue that the best black pud comes from Bury in Lancashire or Stornoway but the Yorkshire stuff is still extremely good!

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