Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bridle Path - Mt Pleasant walk: 20 April 2014

Gateway to Colonial Canterbury...the Bridle Path

Once again the weather has played havoc with my tramping plans. I had organised to go for a trip to the Arthur's Pass area, unfortunately yet another storm made this impossible. As the weather on the Port Hills was good I decided to do an extended walk closer to home. I walked up the Bridle path to Summit Road and then along and down Mt  Pleasant and back to my car.
Lytellton as seen from the apex of the Bridle Path, Port Hills Canterbury

 The Port Hills are the closest range to the city, they are covered in tracks and routes for walking, cycling and tramping. The "Hills" are visible from all parts of Christchurch and are one of the many reasons this is such a great city to live in.

Map of Bridle path

Here is my car at the car-park at the bottom of the path, the track climbs for 450 metres from this spot up to a road which runs along the crest of the Port Hills.  It would be about 2 kms from the car-park to the summit, following a track which zig zags up the hill side. An alternate is too take the gondola to the summit and then walk down the track, the gondola terminus is right next to this car-park.

The car park at the Heathcote Valley end of the Bridle Path

The first section of the track is quite steep, gradually the gradient eases as you approach the top of the track. This is a popular walking and running route, as evidenced by the number of people I encountered as I walked the track.
Beginning of the Bridle Path in the Heathcote Valley
The Bridle Path is the original route over the Port Hills, it was first used by the early settlers in the mid 1840's. It is quite steep and periodically needs to be repaired due to erosion and general wear.The track was built to transport the settlers and their chattels over the hills from Lyttleton, the closest port to Christchurch.  It has been in constant use ever since.

Information panel detailing history of Bridle Path

Since the earthquakes of 2010/2011 there are significant rockfall hazards on all tracks on the Port Hills. In fact a person was killed by falling rocks on this very track, this is the explanation for the below sign. There are several spots on this track where there are rock cliffs in close proximity to the track.
Rock fall warning on the Bridle Path
You can see portions of the Summit Road as you make your way uphill, this is the closed section of road which runs under the gondola cables. Although most of the road is open there are still sections closed by rockfall from the earthquake. You can see why a lot of debris rolled down here, the volcanic rock of the hills literally fell to pieces.

View towards Mt Cavendish fromthe Bridle Path
The condition of the track is OK, it was a bit muddy from the recent rain but presented no problems.
Muddy Bridle Path Section
There were a number of slips on the track, here a 50 metre section of bank has slid down onto the track.
Bridle path heading for the tracks apex on Summit Road
It was a lovely day for a walk, slightly cloudy and not too hot, it makes a change from all of the rain.

Heathcote Valley and Pegasus Bay  from near Summit Road

Slightly rougher section of the track, it is around this area that a person was struck by falling rock during the February 2011 earthquake. There are low cliffs about a 100 metres above this point, obviously some of the rock cascaded down onto the track. Tragic!
Bridle path, 3/4 way up
An informative sign about 3/4 of the way to the top, it shows the track and a panoramic view of Heathcote valley.

Bridle Path information panel near the tracks apex

There is a great view from the top information board out over Heathcote valley, the view stretches all the way to the Kaikoura ranges and Southern Alps.

Pegasus Bay and Heathcote Valley from the Bridle Path
The bottom terminus for the gondola is to the left centre of this photo. This is the view from the top of the track where it meets the Summit Road.
Christchurch gondola terminus at the Heathcote Valley end of the Bridle Path
A view of Heathcote from the Summit road, there were 10-12 people milling about checking out the scenery.
Heathcote Valley, Christchurch
From the rest area at the top of the track Lyttleton harbour lays spread out below you, the Bridle path continues down into the harbour making a traverse of the hills a possibility. A lot of school groups will walk over the track from the Lyttleton side to Heatcote valley, in fact I did a trip like this in High school. The trip would take about 2 hours in total.

Diamond harbour, Mt Herbert from the apex of the Bridle Path
Here is a closer view of Diamond harbour and Mt Herbert, there is a track which runs right up the middle of this slope all the way to the Mt Herbert Summit.

Diamond harbour, Mt Herbert from the apex of the Bridle Path

View of Lyttleton Harbour from the apex of the Bridle Path
Looking to the south-east you can see Gebbies pass and the ocean near Birdlings flats.

Towards Gebbies Pass from the apex of the Bridle Path

View due North from Summit Road
The Summit track mostly runs parallel to the road, it is poled and runs along the crest, up to the gondola and then onwards along the ridges. Mt Cavendish is the location of the top terminus for the gondola, from there you can follow the tracks to east and west.

View towards Mt Cavendish
Looking back from half way up the hill, you can see the road, shelter on the apex of the Bridle path and the track itself. The Summit walkway follows the road around to the right, eventually you will reach Cashmere and Victoria park.
To the East, summit road and Bridle path
The gondola crosses the road in the centre of this photo, the road has been cleared but is still closed due to the danger of rockfall.
Gondola crossing Summit road

Track to Mt Cavendish, part of the Christchurch 360 Trail
I stopped for a rest at a nice seat near this track junction, you go up to the gondola and right to continue following the walkway.
Track junction, up to Gondola, right to Mt Pleasant

Christchurch gondola top station from the Summit Walkway
Here is a view to the east from the seat at the track junction, the hill in the distance is the crest of Mt Pleasant.
View to East towards Mt Cavendish from near the gondola
Once you reach the low saddle between Mt Cavendish and Mt Pleasant you can follow a farm track or walk along the road. As it was quite muddy I decided to follow the road.
Mt Cavendish, North East side from saddle
The road is very quiet as there is no through traffic, mostly MTB people and rock climbers coming to scale the cliffs near here.  
Climbing summit road, Port Hills
Below are a series of panoramic views of the surrounds from the same spot on the summit road:
View back towards gondola/ Mt Cavendish

View towards South West over Canterbury Plains from near Mt Cavendish

Glorious Canterbury, to the North West from near Mt Cavendish
This is one of the sections of the summit road which has not (and probably never will be) reopened, as you can see a lot of rock fell down during the earthquakes, it is surprising that nobody was injured.

Summit Road: Rock fall as result of earthquakes

View down Heathcote valley from near Mt Cavendish
I stopped for lunch at a memorial seat near the road, it was really great sitting and contemplating the city while I enjoyed my tasty pate lunch. Take lots of water with you if you decide to walk along the Port Hills, as there are no supplies to hand.

Hey folks...Jon eats lunch on the Port Hills!
Tasty pate /cracker lunch near Mt Cavendish

Jon with the 1000 yard stare!
There was a small group of rock climbers plying their trade near the seat, looks like some good climbing if that is your thing.

Rock climbers near lunch spot at Mt Cavendish

Estuary, Mt Pleasant Spur from the Summit Road

View out North towards Southern Alps from near Mt Cavendish
I started back along the road, after about a kilometre you reach the high point on the ridge and can get your first clear view out to the East. The spit of land in the centre of the photo is South Shore, with the long golden crescent of Pegasus Bay stretching away to the north.
I live in a beautiful and remarkable place.
View due East from Summit Road on from Mt Pleasant Spur

View due East from Summit road, Godley Head area.

Long view of Pegasus Bay from Mt Pleasant Spur
I followed the road for about another kilometre, then headed down Mt Pleasant road. Eventually you reach the Heathcote valley, from Ferrymead you walk around the bottom of the hills back to the car-park, this is all on roads and footpaths.
View towards Estuary mouth from Mt Pleasant Spur

It was a great excursion, although I didn't get to go where I had originally planned it was still a good walk (4.5 hours). I will be doing more trips on the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula as the weather tends to be better here when it is raining up in the mountains. There are lots of interesting and moderately challenging trips to be had, and they are really close to home. Bonus.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Tramping Food: Eating like an ANZAC

A tramping meal idea: ANZAC Trench Stew

When I first joined the Army back in the late 1980's we were still supplied with food very similar to that used by ANZAC soldiers in the First World War. Among other items we had cans of "wet" food such as meat and vegetable stew, spaghetti and meat balls, corned beef, and beans and franks.

I came across a recipe recently that was an exact copy of one of the meals we commonly used to make for ourselves while out in the "field". This recipe dates from 1915, and was in a book I am reading about the Great War.

Troops about to tuck into Rations, Field, Chicken x 1....

 It had obviously been passed down through generations of soldiers from the Great War up to the 1980's. Sadly gone now, Kiwi troopers now eat from Meals Rarely Eaten (MRE) style retort pouches....

Anyway, here it is:

The Trench stew as cooked...yummy!

Finest Trench stew

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Number of servings: 3 - 4
Serving suggestions: For authenticity, allow to cool and serve with a cup of ice cold stewed tea while 5.9" 'Wizz Bangs' explode around you.....(mud, stench and fly swarms optional)

Modern version of canned Corned Beef

WW1 period Beef and Vegetable stew can

  • 1 turnip (or parsnip/potato, whatever you can find on a local farm)
  • 2 carrots
  • Small tin corned beef (Palm brand is the best)
  • ¼ stock cube (beef/chicken/vegetable)
  • one or two biscuits (optional: WW1 Army biscuits were so hard you had to break them up with a stone or the butt of your rifle. They were a cross between a digestive biscuit and a cracker)
  • 1 pint of water (that's about 300 mls)
  • Dried onions, Tobasco sauce, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste (all modern additives)

Typical Great War field rations, those white things are hard tack biscuits...

Cooking Method
  1. Put the water on to boil
  2. Slice up the turnip and carrot
  3. Add to the boiling water
  4. Add the stock and stir then leave for 10 minutes
  5. Mash up corned beef and add to the mixture
  6. Add the biscuits and stir (optional)
Give it a try, it is actually very tasty!