Star Trekk 2019

Walking beneath the stars

Each year Queenscourt Hospice organises the Star Trekk” sponsored walk in order to raise funds. For a town with a population of only around 90,000 there is generally a good turnout, this year for example, at least two thousand people participated in the walk and raised tens of thousands of pounds for a very worthy charity.

The routes are generally easy to follow – what with us all adorning luminescent orange t-shirts and there’s always some clowns with pink hair!

Chris and I did this last year and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the event. There can be no denying that we set off at a blistering pace, I’d estimate that we were easily hitting 3.5 – 4.0 miles per hour for the first quarter of the walk.

This year the event took place on the 17th of May, which I am sure was a little bit earlier in the year than last year. As far as the pace goes, there was only one difference… we never actually slowed down! Seriously I’ve walked (marched / cantered!) with the East Lancs LDWA (not for bloomin’ long I hasten to add) on one occasion and the pace was practically identical.

Thankfully the route had been chopped, well, in as much as it was a completely different route. Last year we went as far north as Churchtown in our 8.5 miles (ahem, yeah right) walk. This year in our 6.5 miles (seriously, who is doing the measuring and why are they not looking at said measurement?)  race around in the dark we headed off to Meols Cop via Scarisbrick Road (and yes I do appreciate that most of the world won’t know to where I’m now referring!) before dropping down Southbank Road and then veering off into Birkdale. I’d been looking forward to this section as I’ve not really done a lot of walking around this area and I had all sorts of anticipations about the streets being full of rowdy supporters and well-wishers and y’know a kind of carnival atmsphere. There were a few but it was a little bit disappointing, still rain had been threatened all night (we got the odd thirty seconds worth of splash) so this had obviously had an impact.

I have to say this, the marshalls, and there are scores of them, do a wonderful job of not only making sure everyone knows where they are going, but also in keeping people’s spirits up. This is no mean feet as probably half of us had done a full day’s work, woolfed down our evening meal, put on the most god-awful, offensively coloured t-shirt and then gone marching around with the odd smattering of rain until late in the evening, on a Friday! I’m pretty sure that takes some dedication to a cause, but i don’t remember hearing anyone moan. Even when one of the marshals at Kew roundabout decided to tell us that we were just short of half-way around. I’d have lied and said ‘over half way now‘, well nobody needs to know that actually means ‘you still have over half-way to go...’.

No matter, as far as I know, we all made it back (in two hours and twenty minutes in our case) and will have raised considerable funds for Queenscourt Hospice.

And…the pub was open long enough for us to get a pint in! Result!



Yorkshire Three Peaks Itinery

Planning for the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk

So, even though I’ve been thinking this through since 2015, I think it’s now time to get all super organised about the day including:

  • What to eat
  • When to eat
  • Where to take stops (should be the same as the previous point really)
  • At what time I should be at which point.

I’ve been saying to myself that I want to do this in a minute under the allotted twelve hours. If I did then it would be great but if I did it even faster, given that I am a good few kilos heavier now than I was in 2015, that would be amazing. Outside of the twelve hours would not be a disaster in itself…I just want to try and avoid this. Is my timing relistic? I think so.

It’s important that I eat on the day, but none of this Chicken Caesar Wrap nonsense because you never feel like you’ve consumed anything. I don’t want to end up bloated but I do want to feel as if I’ve given myself a fighting chance. What I believe I have going for me is stamina. I’ve picked up a lot of stamina thanks to doing these long walks home. Admittedly there has been no hill climbing between Ormskirk and Southport and it’s true that other people will fly on past me whilst ascending Pen-y-Ghent. But, I did get up Blencathra, on a quite warm day and I’d say that route was as tough as Whernside from Ribblehead if a couple of miles shorter!

What to take and Where to take it!

  • Avocados – 3, (need 2 but take 3 just to be certain).  1 at the start, 1 at Bruntscar
  • Bananas – 3, 1 at the start, 1 at Bruntscar, 1 at Frodo’s steps
  • Cans of red Bull: 2,1 at  Frodo’s steps 1 on the drive home).
  • Bounty bars – 2, 1 at Nether Lodge, 1 at Bruntscar.
  • Energy gels – 6. 1 at various points on route.
  • Coconut water – 1 carton  for Simon’s Fell Breast (the col after Ingleborough summit).
  • Steak Pie / Bake – 1 at Nether Lodge
  • Melon slices – 1 pack for Simon Fell Breast
  • Brazil nuts  – 1 pack for the entire walk.
  • Water – 1 Bladder’s worth and two bottles.


  • Additional pair of socks to change over at Bruntscar if possible / if not then at Simon Fell Breast.
  • Portable charger for phone.

If all goes well I should be at the following:

Place nameTime due here
Set off06:30
Top of Pen-y-Ghent08:00
Whitber Hill08:50
God's Bridge10:00
Nether Lodge10:10
Ribblehead Viaduct11:00
Top of Whernside13:15
Philpin Lane14:30
The Hill Inn14:45
Humphrey Bottom15:30
Frodo's Steps15:50
Top of Ingleborough16:30
Simon Fell Breast16:45
Sulber Nick17:05
Horton Train Station17:45
Back at Car18:05
Screen capture of Nether Lodge on the OS maps
Nether Lodge will be my main rest and feed spot as Ribblehead can be a bit bedlamic!

The rear wall hanging baskets.

Two more hanging baskets.

Two more hanging baskets. I’ve got to say that while I am on a really strict plant budget these have to take something of a back seat. There will be precious little money spent on plants for these two, oh and there is another wall trough to go with these which will then replicate the arrangement around the front. This in itself is not bad news, I have seeds and the site is quite well protected from frosts and extremes of weather. Currently there are emerging Gladiolus bulbs in the right hand one – I obtained about forty-five of these then discovered they were not frost hardy! The left hand basket has already found some tennants in the form of the seemingly ubiquitous Pansies (or are they Violas, memory is unclear at this precise time). It has crossed my mind that I could choose from any of the bulbs listed below:

  • Snowdrops.
  • Crocus.
  • Scilla.
  • Chionodoxa.
  • Daffodils.
  • Tulips.
  • Fritillaria.
  • Anemone blanda.

But, to be a bit more precise with the planting, i.e. to ensure that the taller plant will be at the back of the display and the smaller at the front. On top of this (i.e. in the middle) I could add some annuals or even have another try at growing Cyclamen Herderifolia from seed – ohhh I like that idea, apart from the fact that I won’t see anything for most of the year!

Ah decisions and consequences!


My little Thanksgiving Cactus

Photograph of my Thanksgiving Cactus from Ainsdale's Aldi.
Recovering well after being ousted from Aldi!

Here’s the Thanksgiving Cactus I bought for just £3.00 from Aldi (the then new one) in Ainsdale last December.

As is normal with store-bought plants, I got him when in flower, took him home then into work where the little sod duly lost all of the flowers over a period of less than one week!

It would appear that he’s now recovering as there are signs of leaf growth.

If you notice a slight blue hue behind the plant that is because I have a USB light on it to try and get the plant as much light as possible – the windows in here are large and let in a fair amount of light, alas this can make my colleagues screens unviewable and we have to draw the blinds.

This is a Schlumbergera truncata (I think) and he has a companion (to be featured later) who is an Easter Cactus – Hatiora gaertneri, there is even talk (from myself mainly!) of me completing the set and somehow obtaining the seemingly ubiquitous (at Christmas) ‘Christmas Cactus’ – Schlumbergera x buckleyi. 

Oh it’s fun to be an obsessive collector!

The information for this post was garnered from: Desert Plants of Avalon


My little Aloe

Photo of a small Aloe Vera
The Little Aloe Vera.
Photo of mystery succulent
Sin nombre…the unnamed succulent!

Just a little post to introduce this cute and charming chap: this is an Aloe pup that I took from the parent a good few months ago.

He’s thriving in this tiny pot and should be repotted at the end of summer. Currently he lives on my office desk where there is less chance of Pepper eating him. He has a cutting from a Christmas Cactus and a weird cacti / succulent (photo to the right>>>) for immediate neighbours.

Personally I think he’s ace!

Trees, an update

What’s what and where?

Well I think it’s about time that everything got a bit documented and seeing as trees were at one time all that I cared about, here goes.

The plan is to keep all of the trees in the more shaded back garden. Why, because last year I bought a number of Acer Palmatums and most of them are now dead or at least in some kind of dormancy, the Atropurpureum suffered badly from leaf burn and I think it may never come back, although it does still resist being gently pulled from the ground.

Photo of four little Acers
Four little Acer Palmatums
Photo of a Sycamore sapling
The ‘big’ Sycamore continues to get bigger.

This year I have bought five more Acer Palmatums, two ‘Butterfly’ one Going Green, one Orange Dream and another Atropurpureum – although a lot smaller than last year. Two of the ‘Going Green’ variety and one ‘Butterfly’ did survive last year’s scorching, so here’s hoping that they have a better showing this time around. Elsewhere, the big Sycamore (it’s about eighteen inches tall) continues to thrive, the trunk isn’t very wide but at least it looks healthy and has now been joined by a considerable amount of seedlings (curtesey of next door’s giant) which are spread across about four of five pots and even the scrub area on the border of ‘No man’s land’. I want to keep as many of these seedlings as possible.

A photo of the poorly Elm
The sick Elm and a happy Acer ‘Butterfly’
Photo of the Mint Julep Juniper
Apologies for the awful photo

The transplanted Elm from the front garden appears to be bouncing back from its massive pruning and has been joined in another pot by an Elm which was being engulfed by Ivy. Alas, on inspection tonight this refugee is not looking in good health, the leaves are all crispy, I think a good watering every single night for the next week will be called for if the poor little blighter is to stand any chance.

Photo of the Pyracantha
Settling in nicely now, the Pyracantha even flowered this year.

The Pyracantha which I bought from Asda last year has flowered and is looking in fine fettle, I occasionally search ebay for a semi-cascade bonsai pot for it, as of yet, nothing affordable. I aim to try and source some Hawthornes for the collection, either wild seedlings or I may buy one intended for hedging and start to train it. I did grab a couple of Horse Chestnuts from Hesketh Park but I think these were suckers and the transplanting process has not left them in good nick…when will I learn to be a bit more gentle. The same goes for the Acer Palmatum, Weeping Willow and Popular cuttings that I took, did I know there was going to be a minor heatwave this weekend whilst I was out galavanting on Blencathra?

I have thrown the seedlings which were in the heated propagator into one of the shaded beds…if they take, they take and I have sown all of my Giant Redwood seeds in my micro-propagator (a former blueberry muffin case) at work!

That leaves just one tree – the cascading Mint Julep Juniper around the front, it needs full sun so I can’t really bring it into the shade garden and will just have to be extra vigilant with regards to the searing heat of the front garden.

Just an update

So here’s what I’ve been up to for the first four and a half months this year on the walking front.

Photo of some red cabbages growing in a field
Nom, cabbages!

January: Not a lot apart from an 11 miles walk through Marshside, Banks and Churchtown one Sunday afternoon. Actually this was a really enjoyable walk and I got to see lots of vegetables like leeks, cauliflowers and cabbages growing.

Photo of Pendle Hill
Sorry it’s been so long since I was last here.

February: Another failed Amble attempt as I managed to do just about six miles of a circuit of Winter Hill and Noon Hill – just wasn’t up to it this day. One week and a day after this I was pleased to be at Pendle for the first time in over a year to tick off Stang Top Moor and Pendle Hill during a wonderful double header. Later on in the month a quite horrible traversal of Birkdale Cop ruined what had been quite a nice and sunny walk home from work that has so far been the furthest one at 11.5 miles according to Google Maps and notably more according to Fit bit!

March: On the 15th I walked home from work…that was more or less all that happened walking-wise in March.

Should I be worried that there are large plumes of smoke billowing from the back of this place.
Photo of Blencathra
The mighty Blencathra, a new favourite

April: Again not a busy month, plenty of four and five mile urban walks but nothing to report other than one enormout walk home from work which took in all of The Moss from Drummersdale Lane up to Moss Lane. Then a week later I went back to Pool Hey later and did the section up to Moss Lane and then up to Banks via Longmeaneygate and back through Marshside and Fleetwood Road, coming in at a whopping 15.3 miles!

May: so far I have bagged Blencathra with Sue and Karl. And now Chris and I have completed our second Star Trekk walk!