20130806-B_2nd Half – Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk

20130806-B_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk.

2nd Half – Thor’s Cave to Alstonefield via Wetton and Hope Dale.

When : 6th August 2013       Who : Me and my family

20130806-46_Village Green - Alstonefield

Where : The Peak District, White Peak Area, Staffordshire (I think) roughly between Ashbourne and Buxton.

Start + End Point : SK 132,556

Full Circular Walk Distance : Only Approx 5.25 miles (8.5 km)

(Thor’s Cave – Alstonefield, via Wetton and Hope Dale : Approx 2.75 miles (4.5km))

Significant heights : See end of 2nd half diary for details.

Map : Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map OL 24 The Peak District White Peak Area.

Summary : Not a long walk, but with lots of interest, taking in two villages, a country pub (or two depending on timings), a cave to explore and fantastic views over The Manifold Valley …. Oh and lots of opportunity to extend the walk if you want.

If you click on a pic’ it should hopefully launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream – At least I hope so because I’m trying a new way of attaching the images.

This post is the 2nd time for this method – Please let me know if it works?

20130806-28_Looking down into Manifold Valley (from Thors Cave)This is the follow-up diary to the 1st half of the walk, where we’d walked from the charming village of Alstonefield, passing through the smaller village of Wetton to reach Thor’s Cave spectacularly situated above The Manifold Valley.

So, if you’ve found this diary first, you might like to dip into the first half diary before continuing with this one …..

20130806-24_Thor's CaveWell, as interesting as Thor’s Cave is and as beautiful as the views over The Manifold Valley certainly are; all good things must come to an end, and we knew it was time to move on when we were enveloped by a large party of Cub-Scouts, Leaders and Helpers, who were, I discovered in conversation, camping quite nearby. Not that I have any problem with Scouting, it’s a splendid and arguably very under-valued and historic organisation in the fabric of our society. Nope, it was time to move-on purely because of the space limitations. We’d seen what we came to see (and the noise levels had increased somewhat too, to be honest), so we moved off, retracing our steps, at first descending on the main path and then branching right on the smaller path we’d come on earlier.

20130806-34b_Pathside flowers - Near Thors CaveThis next paragraph is going to be quite short and brief, because the next section of the walk was retracing our route exactly all the way back to the village green in Wetton, and so it was :

  • Small path skirting the hillside (lots of path-side flowers),
  • Cross the wall to re-join Thor’s Lane (track),
  • Up the track, rising steadily, all the way to the road (avoiding the imaginary beasts),
  • Road walking along School Lane (saying hello to the hens again, still free ranging),
  • Down past the church, through the graveyard,
  • And, arrival at the benches on the green (for another short break).

From here there was a little more road walking, heading along Buxton Road briefly, turning first right into a side road, to meet another minor village road (The Mires ?), crossing over to pick up a footpath across a few small fields and then emerging onto the slightly larger Ashbourne Road. 20130806-35_Crossing fields - to the east of WettonJust down the way, near the junction with Ewe Dale Lane, we crossed to pick up another footpath heading out onto rich grassy pastureland. This felt quite a departure from the tracks and roads recently followed; I do like being off-roads on a country walk. We were now heading roughly south (well a little east of south) and, after crossing several fields reached yet another minor road, this one oddly named “Wall Ditch”. This we 20130806-37_Dropping into Hopedalecrossed straight over to follow another similar path crossing more fields until turning left (at a cross-road of footpaths) dropping down to Stanshope Lane. Again, we crossed straight over the road, where the terrain changed again.

A pretty little dry-valley dropped ahead of us swinging attractively first to the left and then to the right, dropping into a larger part of the valley of Hopedale. Although easy going in the dale itself the valley sides were steep and useful only for grazing sheep.

20130806-38_Cottage at Dale Bottom - Hopedale

We 20130806-40_Black+White Striped Cowwere on this path for a very short time, before meeting another minor road (attractively called Hope Dale Hollow) where we turned right. We were quite taken by some small furry black and white cattle here-abouts. Not the normal run-of-the mill Holstein Friesian black and whites seen in dairy herds, no these little cattle were coloured with black front and back ends and a broad single white band round the middle (young Belted Galloway or Belties perhaps ?).

A very short distance further on we came upon a picture perfect cottage (a large one at that) with a superb cottage garden. It really encapsulated the image of an English country cottage, and, with the charming and very accurate name of Dale Bottom.

20130806-41_Cottage at Dale Bottom - HopedaleWell, we’d had it easy, heading downhill for some time, but that was about to change. Just past Dale Bottom we had to turn left onto a path rising up the side/through some scrubby woodland. I say rising, it really is quite steep, not a very long section, but the contours on the map are so close together they kind of merge into a single brown splodge. It was a 20130806-44_Drystone wall - near Alstonefieldcase of putting head down, taking several deep breaths, and putting in a bit of work! Although strenuous, it didn’t take long to emerge above the scrubby area into much gentler but still rising pasture land.

We were back in the land of grassy fields bounded by dry-stone walls and with our destination, Alstonefield, in the distance. The final few fields (passing near the church off to our right) were easy, the gradient diminishing as we went and all of a sudden we were back at the village green, near the car, where-upon we changed foot-wear and headed off to our digs for the night; The Navigation Inn, at Bugsworth Basin, Buxworth, Near Chinley (roughly mid-way between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge.

20130806-43_Almost Hidden Church - Alstonefield     20130806-47_Canal reflections - Bugsworth Basin - Buxworth

And finally, some info, about the amount of “climbing” done on the whole walk, by “climbing” I really mean the noticeable ups – as roughly measured by counting contours on the map. So:

Alstonefield to Wetton :-  Alstonefield is at about 280m above sea level and Wetton at 300m, so a nett gain of only about 20m. However, there is some undulation in the countryside between the two villages with the most significant uphill bit from Windledale Hollow up to Wetton being approx’ 60m height gained, but it’s over a reasonable distance so not at all steep really.

Wetton to Thor’s Cave :- Thor’s lane is all downhill and then once over the wall at the end of the track t the ground is a bit uneven/roughish and with some uphill gradient as the path skirts around the hillside to join the path climbing steeply out of the Manifold Valley, with a final little rise up to Thor’s Cave.

Thor’s Cave itself :- A bit of an uphill scrabble to gain access to the cave, and then a negotiation back down again. More slippy-slidey than controlled descent when the rock is wet.

Thor’s Cave to Wetton :- This is now a repeat of the notes above, to get back to and rejoin Thor’s Lane (Track), more down than up. Then a steady uphill bit along the lane gaining about 30m in height by the time Wetton village is reached.

Wetton to Hope Dale :- Gently undulating country, mostly down-hill, to reach the final easy drop into Hope Dale.

Hope Dale at Dale Bottom to Alstonefield :- The first section is steep, approx 55m height gained to reach the top of the scrub wooded area, and the another 25m of height up to Alstonefield village with the gradient easing rapidly, the final bit being almost level.

20130806-45_The George - Pub in Alstonefield

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20130806-A_1st Half – Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk

20130806-A_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk.

1st Half – Alstonefield to Thor’s Cave via Wetton.

20130806-46_Village Green - AlstonefieldWhen : 6th August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District, White Peak Area, Staffordshire (I think) roughly between Ashbourne and Buxton.

Start Point : SK 132,556

End Point : Same as above (‘cause it’s a circular)

Full Circular Walk Distance : Approx 5.25 miles (8.5 km)

This half : Alstonefield – Thor’s Cave, via Wetton : Approx 2.5 miles (4km)

20130806-44_Drystone wall - near AlstonefieldSignificant heights : See end of 2nd half diary for details.

Map : Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map OL 24 The Peak District White Peak Area.

Summary : Not a long walk, but with lots of interest, taking in two villages, a country pub (or two depending on timings), a cave to explore and fantastic views over The Manifold Valley …. Oh and lots of opportunity to extend the walk if you want.

If you click on a pic’ it should hopefully launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream – At least I hope so because I’m trying a new way of attaching the images – The first time for this method on this diary – Please let me know if it works or not ?????

 We’d booked a three-day short break in the peak district (two nights stay at The Navigation Inn at Buxworth) and we’d roughly planned the itinerary as following :-

Well, I’ve already written some diary blogs about days two and three so, to complete the set, this diary write-up details (a little belatedly I’m afraid) Day-One :-

We started off by traveling north to Ashbourne via Motorways and A-roads. Once at Ashbourne we picked up the A515 towards Buxton and then after a few miles turned off left and found our way into Alstonefield on attractively twisty-turny minor roads: dropping steeply into and then out of Mill Dale crossing the famous River Dove en-route.

20130806_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor's Cave-Wetton-Alstonefield Circular Walk

20130806-45_The George - Pub in AlstonefieldAlthough really not much to it, Alstonefield is a pretty little village, and includes a country pub (The George) and out front is a small, roughly triangular, village green with a smattering of farms, stand alone homes and terraced cottages nearby. It was on one of the roads here-abouts that we parked up as considerately as possible, donned boots and raised our day-sacks onto backs. Then, after I’d done a quick appraisal of the map to find my (and therefore our) bearings we set off in a roughly 20130806-01a_Alstonefield VillageWesterly direction (down what I think might be a part of Church Street or maybe Post office Road) but I can’t find a map to 100% confirm this).

On our right was a charming row of terraced cottages, complete with climbing roses and other plants on the walls, and pretty hanging baskets in full bloom. At the end of the road we crossed a larger road to pick up a path (still heading west) and headed out into the beautiful countryside that is The Peak District, our route aiming for the village of Wetton.

The Peak district is really split into two distinctive areas

  • The dark Peak (in the north) plus the eastern and western edges that are dominated by gritstone and peat moorland and are generally more rugged and harsh compared to The White Peak.
  • The White Peak (in the south) is generally softer in appearance where much is given over to grassy pastureland for the rearing of sheep and cattle, the underlying rock is limestone and as such is pretty much free draining and the landscape features dry valleys and steep sided dales such as that of the River Dove (crossed by car on the way to Alstonefield) and The Manifold Valley (The farthest point of our walk today).

20130806-02_Dry Stone WallOne major feature of the White Peak is the countless number of small fields, bounded by limestone dry-stone walls. The walls are complicated to construct (no mortar is used) and take ages to build – it’s a real skill ! ….. There are literally thousands of these walls dissecting the landscape, dividing the area into small parcels of land. It’s impossible to imagine just how many man-hours 20130806-04_Squeeze Stile near  Alstonefield(or years) it would have taken to build them all from scratch. We would cross quite a few of these fields on the walk, often negotiating the lines of walls via squeeze stiles, so called because of the narrow gap allowing humans to pass through relatively easily, whilst preventing any livestock (even lambs) from getting to the other side.

In one such field (near Furlong Lane) a small collection of lambs were completely unfazed by the four of us walking across their “home”. I say lambs, but they were quite well grown and two of them were obviously fed up with eating the plentiful grass all around them, as they were pawing at an overturned feeding trough, 20130806-05_Hungry Sheepdesperately trying to right the plastic tray. They were obviously thinking there may be some kind of tasty morsels underneath. In the few minutes it took for us to pass by, they almost succeeded in their quest, and maybe they would have done if they’d worked as a team, but ultimately they failed, the trough staying stubbornly up-side-down. I suppose they would just have to return to eating the green sward just like their compatriots elsewhere in the field.

The path here rose to join the very minor road of Lodge Lane, where, instead of crossing straight over, we turned right for a very short distance to Brook Lodge, sat at a sharp bend in the road (Lodge Lane becomes Furlong Lane here). Here we turned left into and then up a track cum path, bounded on both sides by some more dry-stone walls, albeit looking a bit worse for wear in places. 20130806-06_Walled Green LaneThis “green lane” rises up in a shallow valley called Windledale Hollow. After a few hundred yards or so, we had to leave the lane, crossing the left hand wall into the corner of a field and then heading across the middle of the field rising as we went, our heading a little north of west. As we moved on through several more grassy fields, the path swung left in a long curve, so that we were heading a little south of west when we reached a minor road (Buxton Road) just on the outskirts of Wetton.

We now had a little road walking to do, entering the village passing a mixture of farms and homes as we went. One such home, with traditionally 20130806-08_Garden Gargoyle Sculptures - Wettonstriped lawns had some rather striking and very un-traditional sculptures carved out of wood and “planted” in the garden. Some folk have a very odd sense of aesthetic, but I suppose it takes allsorts and the larger than life gargoyles certainly brought a smile to our faces. Just up the road a short distance however, the gardens were much more as expected with fragrant roses and other cottage garden plants enhancing the village 20130806-11_Bench - Village Green - Wettonappearance. A little farther on, we reached a very small village green completely dominated by a large tree and a circular wall “planter” … Happily there were a number of wooden benches conveniently placed for weary-legged walkers to park their bottoms. This we did as this was an ideal place for a break on our journey and a bite to eat.

Drinks wise, the pub (Ye Olde Royal Oak directly across the road) was just too tempting to resist. We were lucky to get served however, as they were about to close for the afternoon, but as we had crossed the threshold the 20130806-10_Ye Olde Royal Oak - Wettonland-lady was happy to serve us (a pint of locally brewed ale, a lager, a sweet cider and J20 was the round) and they were equally happy for us to carry them back across the road to the bench we’d chosen on the green. The only instruction was to “please place the empty glasses somewhere near their entrance door” because they were locking up and “going out” for a while. Just a couple of minutes after they’d turned the key and driven away, another party of walkers came past, only to be disappointed the pub was now shut. I’m sure there was an envious glance or two over towards us, sat as we were with our recently purchased refreshments.

Once our thirsts had been quenched, our hunger sated and our legs rested, we moved on, taking a path through the nearby church grounds/graveyard to emerge onto another minor village road (School Lane). We turned left, 20130806-14_Spikey plants in rusty gutterwhere-upon our son realised he’d left his walking pole behind and we allowed him to run (at a sprint) back to the green to retrieve them. Whilst waiting, I “played” at taking some “arty” narrow depth of field photo’s of some spiky plants growing in a very rusty length of guttering. My lovely girls (wife and daughter) meanwhile simply stood and chatted, which continued after son had re-emerged, just at a trot now instead of the manic pace of earlier.

We set off again, heading south-westerly on School Lane, pausing briefly to say hello to a brood (or peep / clutch ?) of hens, free ranging on the roadside and atop more dry-stone walls. At the end of the road we needed to bear 20130806-17_Hen - Wettonright for a very short distance (Leek Road) to reach a junction with a farm track. This is where it could become a little tricky if you are doing this bit of the walk. The OS map shows a footpath heading off from this junction into a field, and there is indeed a finger post pointing this way – BUT – we ignored this, instead following the farm track itself which is a permissive way heading gently downhill – The easiest and most direct to Thor’s Cave. In fact if you zoom in close enough on “streetmap” (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=413500&y=355500&z=120&sv=alstonefield&st=3&tl=Map+of+Alstonefield,+Staffordshire+%5BCity/Town/Village%5D&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf ) it labels this as Thor’s Lane (Track).

I’m quite happy walking with a little gentle conversation, but my family after a period of time tend to get a little, errrmmm, “silly” with their observations (the field next to us magically gained several hippopotami, various other wild creatures and if memory serves me right, some elves, goblins, orcs and even a wizard and some hobbits hiding amongst the hummocks and hollows). They also like playing word games and singing songs – even making them up as they go along sometimes – Thor’s Lane thus became an impromptu stage for various renditions and adaptations of The Worsels “I’ve got a brand new combined harvester” sang at quite a volume interspersed with laughter and delivered complete with long grass seed-heads jauntily poking out from their mouths.

20130806-24_Thor's CaveAt the end of the track, a path of sorts heads off (after crossing the wall on the right) over some roughish terrain eventually rising as a narrow (and a little muddy) pathway swinging around the right hand side of a hill. This soon spectacularly emerges high above The Manifold Valley, our little pathway merging with a much larger track rising steeply out of the valley. It is often very busy here, and today was no exception as we merged into other gaggles of people, either ascending or descending the hillside. Despite the earlier singing of my family, it was quite a shock to the senses really – Humans really are very noisy animals when congregating together. Anyway, the reason for the popularity of this spot was soon reached – Thor’s Cave.

20130806-28_Looking down into Manifold Valley (from Thors Cave)This is almost a must-do on the list of things to see in The Peak District. The cave is large but needs a little scrambling (or at least scrabbling) to gain access into it and this alone would be interesting enough, but its position suspended high above a bend in the beautiful Manifold Valley enhances the viewpoint to well beyond the ordinary. Our kids headed up into the mouth of the cave, whilst my wife and I were quite happy to stand on a small flat bit of land, a bit like a wide ledge, just enjoying the vista.

Well, I’m going to break off here, just to linger and enjoy the views a little longer. The second half of the walk diary continues on a new post if you’d like to carry on reading.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

Test post – Trying new way to add/link photo’s

  • Hope this works, if it does  it’ll save having to posts lots of “live” photo posts and then link/delete etc.

Large

Medium

Medium but in a line of txt http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7376/12000379624_0b8c609105_n.jpg to see how it emerges.

well lets see. G.

That didn’t work very well, so let’s try a different way :-

mmmmm now to see it live ???

Nope, so try another way :

20131116-17_Rusting Door Latch

I’m so bendy it hurts

I’m so bendy it hurts

Jodie, the author of http://imsobendyithurts.wordpress.com/ made a comment on one of my posts – but didn’t give a link to her blog …. I’ts worth a look see as it’s about Walking with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. A blog of her journey to fitness while taking park in the 2014 kiltwalk. ( http://www.thekiltwalk.co.uk/main/events-and-fundraising/upcoming-events/the-loch-lomond-kiltwalk-2014.html )

20140110_Happy Walking – A conversation by email

Hi everyone,

Well after what seems far too long, here’s my first post of the year ….

A little while ago, a person from the Rugby area contacted me by email, (about one of my Lawfords walk posts). It’s always nice knowing that someone has not only happened upon my stuff, but even nicer when they’ve read a post and then either commented via wordpress or contacted me directly. So, just thought I’d share some of the conversation that grew from that first contact (names etc. removed), as it goes to show how all kinds of peeps and of all abilities can enjoy and get enthusiastic about walking as a great past-time. so here goes :-

28th Dec 2013 :-

Hi Gary, being a novice and late starter of doing country walks can you tell me do all your routes have right of way and we wont be chased off the land?? i would like to do The Lawords route but unsure.

29th Dec 2013 :-

Thanks for contacting me, sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday. Virtually all of my routes are on rights of ways (Public Footpaths, Bridleways, Byways, etc. …. Personally I feel very uncomfortable when finding myself off rights-of-way. The exception is in wilder country when in designated open country. The Lawfords walks I’ve done are all on rights of ways and featured in several books of walks covering Coventry and Warwickshire. The only bit on the Lawfords walk that could be considered non-right-of-way, is immediately after crossing the Avon and then the mill race at Little Lawford, where I have walked on the drive between the buildings in order to access the track down to the ford. It’s only a matter of yards though and if you’re not comfortable doing this there is a path that heads up to the tarmac’d road north of the ford.

The only place locally where you might find I’ve been on non-rights-of-way is the area south of Potfords Dam Pool/Cawston Woods – The path is always ploughed up and field boundaries have to be used. Also, over the years all the farm tracks have been used around there by dog-walkers and the like but in recent times there have been signs going up warning about trespass and the like. Perhaps the farmer has changed and is being a little more pedantic these days, but until he marks the proper route, then you’ve got to find the best route possible.
The best advice I can give is to buy the local 1:25,000 OS map and follow the words written onto the map before you set out. I never walk purely on anybody’s written route descriptions – I always rely on my maps. I hope this helps, but if you have any more questions, I’m happy to email or comment against a particular blog post …. or, if you email a phone no. I would be happy to talk. Best regards and happy walking, Gary
29th Jan 2014 : –
Brilliant, thanks Gary…went over to Go Outdoors today for the said OS map…and came away with a new base layer, a mid layer, a new coat for Jill my wife…and the map.!! worse than going to Wilkos…
29th Jan 2014 :-
Welcome to the world of walking …. As with all hobbies there always seem to be new gadgets and the latest technology especially in clothes and boots. I was in “Go” yesterday with my wife and she bought new walking trousers and a fleece top.  If you’d like to meet up we could maybe do a local walk together ? TTFN.Gary
30th Jan 2014 :-
Hi Gary, that sounds good, thank you, give me a while to work up to a descent level as we have only just started. So far it seems 6 hours planning route, 1+ hours walk, 2hrs. cleaning boots!! all good fun.

4th Jan 2014 : –

Hi Gary, went on a good walk on Monday 30th. Harbro Magna, Easenhall across a few very muddy fields, towpath to Cathiron and back up to H. Magna. Quite hard work for us with the mud. Good walk tho…but got home and realised I had dropped my Mob phone and sunglasses..DOH!! fell out when I was checking map. Retraced steps next day and found both in a field of sheep next to Oxford canal towpath..How lucky.The main reason I am emailing is to ask you if you could recommend any good walking books or literature of Walks around Rugby. Even tho I have bought the 222 O/S map the details are still pretty small to read, I am experimenting in scanning parts of the map and blowing them up to read en route.

7th Jan 2014 :-

Great that you found a good walk …. I have passed through Cathiron before, on foot, by car, and  a long time ago by double kayak.

 As for losing things, I’ve done something similar with belongings in the past [most notably a leather clad hip flask on the north Devon/Somerset coast path – Never did find it – and it was full of a decent malt ! and sun-glasses and the like.
My fave way to suss out a walk is by trying to make up my own routes on the map, looking for natural links and trying to avoid roads where possible. However, when I’m feeling lazy or in a bit of a hurry, the four books I always return to are the ones noted below …. they’re really little more than booklets, but if the walks are good enough to be published and sold, then they’ve got to be OK I think :-
I have a couple of Coventry Evening Telegraph Books dating to the late 80’s/early 90’s by Brian Keates … Entitled “Evening Telegraph Country Walks” and are based in a big circle centered on Coventry.
The other two that are written in the same way are:-
Country Walks In The Rugby Area (2003) and More Country Walks In The Rugby Area (2007). Both are by Jim Watson and published by THISWAY BOOKS. They cost me under £5.00 each.
All the routes range from about 3.5 to 7 miles and really none are very strenuous (we haven’t got many big hills around us have we) … what I tend to do, is use the books to get an idea of an area worth going to, be it a nice view, pretty villages, or points of interest. Then, reviewing with my maps, I then decide whether to follow the route exactly, adapt it or maybe extend it somewhat. I’m confident enough to add bits on or chop bits off as I go, on the fly so to speak, whilst on the walk itself. In some cases two walks in the books may overlap, and so make for a longer figure of eight route.
Another book that I’ve bought and dipped into occasionally (and intend to do more from) is the “A Coventry Way Circular Walks” … The Coventry way is a big circular route taking in Brinklow nearest Rugby, Meriden farthest away in the west, Bedworth to the north and Stoneleigh in the south. The book has a series of circular walks that all link up so that the full way can be walked eventually.
Another way I sometimes plan my walks is for my wife to drive me out to somewhere and then I walk home in a linear route or occasionally leave home heading to some pre-arranged pick up point (a pub maybe) and get picked up from there. On several occasions over the years I’ve tried to do one of these linear routes when away on a family holiday … the sense of discovery and feeling of journey can then feel much more rewarding.
8th Jan 2014 : –
Excellent, thank you Gary for all that info. That will steer me in the right direction (no pun intended)!! last weekend, we were short of time on Sunday so we opted for a shortened walk and avoided the muddy & soaked fields around Pailton to Monks Kirby. enjoyable though. More research to do, thanks again. Best foot forward.

ps my son and his wife went up Glencoe and Fort William for a week over Christmas and New Year, bit extreme for me nowadays. Fantastic photos from that trip.

And just to finish,

I hope anyone dipping in gleans a little info. and – if there’s anyone else that would like to contact me, please do, I always try to respond as soon as I can. TTFN, Gary