Sunday, April 13, 2014

Langold, Wallingwells, Woodsetts, Cotterhill Woods, and South Carlton

I got off the bus at Langold, at the north end of the village before the bus goes round the housing estates. I walked down the main road, bought something to eat and drink at one of the shops which was open, and then turned off into Langold Country Park. Although the lake is the main feature of the country park it took me quite a bit of time, and walking, to actually find it - there doesn't seem to be any signage.

I walked along the south bank of the lake, and then along the edge of a field (which probably wasn't an official footpath, but plenty of other people had walked this route) until I reached the footpath which I was looking for; going across a recently-ploughed field, which fortunately wasn't too muddy; in fact it was hardly muddy at all.

After crossing the field I reached a small meadow, and then a farm track until I reached the road. I crossed over the road and continued walking in a southerly direction towards Wallingwells, along a well-maintained track. Wallingwells is only a small collection of houses, but the houses are impressive, they're all large detached properties with a lot of land. I even spotted an orchard; several of the locals spotted me too and they all kept their gaze on me until I was out of sight.

I got slightly lost on the next section; I should have turned left, then right, but turned right and then left...but still ended up where I needed to be - in the opposite corner of a large field.

I soon had to cross another ploughed field, and then walked down a track to reach the road at the point where the 'Welcome to Woodsetts' sign is. The next few hundred yards was the only significant climb of the day, maybe 150 foot, taking the path which goes right next to the gardens of some recently built houses. At the top I turned right along an access drive right next to Lindrick Golf Course. There were more large and expensive houses along here, including one called Nirvana, which I'm convinced is the headquarters of some sort of free-love and chocolate cult.

Yes...there is medium-range missile launcher defending the property, fortunately it's not pointing towards Doncaster.

I took one of the paths across the golf course to reach the main A57 road. Signs have been kindly placed in strategic positions to inform you which way you need to look as you walk across a fairway.

I had to wait for a couple of minutes to cross the busy trunk road to reach the rest of the golf course on the other side. I continued walking straight ahead, then turned left through a wooded area...and was soon back at the A57 again. I crossed back over; this time I didn't have to wait as long.

I was still walking through the golf course, which was looking at its best with all the gorse in flower.

I passed through the hamlet of Cotterhill Woods and then walked along field boundaries until I reached the road. After a few hundred yards my footpath was to the left; there wasn't a sign, yet there were two pointing to the footpath going in the opposite direction. Even though the track appeared to be leading to a large farm I had confidence in my mapreading skills and proceeded. When I reached the large farm it looked like it was a stud farm or stables; there were certainly a lot of horses...and picket fences.

It was easy going until just before I reached South Carlton: I had to cross a field of rapeseed and there was so much pollen in the air that I could see it, and taste it. Almost instantly I was sneezing and my eyes were runny; this was the worst my hayfever has been in many years - fortunately it had cleared up by the time I reached Doncaster.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ranskill, Wiseton, Drakeholes, Mattersey, Mattersey Thorpe, Mattersey Grange, and Scrooby

Today was the first local walk I've done since the validity of my ENCTS travel pass was reduced, meaning that I can no longer travel for free on the train to Sheffield in order to reach the Peak District.

I caught the Retford bus; it departs from my local bus-stop and so I didn't have to walk into town. I got off at Station Road, Ranskill; for some reason unknown to me this is the only bus of the day which turns off the main road to serve the stop before reversing and continuing on its journey southwards. It did save me a couple of hundred yards walking through a bland housing estate though.

It was so cold today, more like the middle of winter than the beginning of April; it was quite sunny for long periods though and so decent conditions for photography.

I walked over the level crossing just about a minute before the klaxon sounded, the red lights flashed and the gates were lowered, and so I thought I might as well hang around to photograph the train. Well, what a pathetic effort...this is all I got - I completely missed it.

(This is the East Coast Main Line, and the trains travel very fast...that's my explanation/excuse.)

Beyond the level crossing the metalled surface is replaced by a gravel and limestone chipping surface leading to a small industrial estate; not very attractive to walk along. I soon reached open countryside though and was walking across meadows and along the edges of fields, passing a particular colourful clump of gorse.

At Wildgoose Farm I spotted a Landrover which made me wonder whether I needed to worry about more than just geese;  they can be quite vicious.

I arrived at Idle Valley Country Park next, an extensive area of artificial lakes, which looked like flooded gravel pits to me, but there's no mention as to what they are on the website. For several hundred yards I was basically surrounded by water on all sides, the terrain was very exposed in places and this was the coldest I've felt on a walk in a long time....I did stop to take some photographs though.

For about a mile I then walked across a recently-planted field; the soil was black, it must be very fertile. Just before reaching Clayworth I started  walking along the towpath of the Chesterfield Canal; passing Wiseton before reaching Drakeholes, which I would imagine on a warm summer's day when there are plenty of barges moored there would be quite attractive. I was pondering whether or not to have a pot of tea, or even a meal, at the pub, but I needn't have bothered - it was closed and boarded up. I was approached by a man who asked me if I knew who the owner of a motorcycle parked on the towpath might be; I told him I didn't know and I'd never been there before. He asked me where I was from; when I replied "Doncaster" he appeared to get in quite a state because he seemed not to be able to make up his mind as to whether I was, or should be, a local or not.

I walked along the road towards Mattersey, but took a bit of a diversion along a footpath which meant I had to climb up a hill and then descend back down to the village; in places where it was wooded it was quite reminiscent of some areas in the Peak District, and very unlike Nottinghamshire.

I walked through the village, then along the road to Mattersey Thorpe, and the lane to Mattersey Grange before continuing across the fields to Scrooby; one section was very I was happy!

By now I could hear the noise of the frequent trains again and soon arrived at the pedestrian footpath that crosses the railway. As I approached the gate allowing access to the tracks I could see a southbound train approaching; I managed to photograph this train, and I'm quite pleased with the result.

Before I could reach for the latch to open the gate another train approached, this time travelling northbound; I waited until it was too close and the photograph ended up out of focus.

I arrived at Scrooby with ninety minutes to wait for the next bus back to Doncaster. This wasn't going to be a problem, there's a pub there where I could have a meal - unfortunately, the chef was ill so I had to make do with a pot of tea, a diet Coke or Pepsi, and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. I was the only customer in the pub; I busied myself by writing notes for this blog post and admiring the large collection of shotgun cartridges on display.

I'd been in the pub for about twenty minutes when the young barmaid arrived and I was entertained by overhearing her and the landlady gossiping about the lovelives of everyone they knew. Is this all that women talk about when they're together?  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Travel Pass Update

Well, it looks like the protests against the restrictions placed on the use of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme here in South Yorkshire have begun. On Monday, the first day that passes were no longer valid on the trains, a group of over a hundred disabled and elderly passengers got on a train and refused to pay; and it looks like people are actively protesting online...and I've just signed an online petition.

It's not as though a lot of money is involved; the amount that the PTE is saving is only about £300,000 per year  - peanuts really, only about 15p per resident of the county.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Walking Group: Sprotbrough, and Conisbrough Viaduct

Today was the second time I'd been walk leader for the autism group here in Doncaster.

It wasn't a good turn-out, there were only eight of us: the walk had to be rearrranged for a later date, it was Mother's Day, and the clocks went forward an hour - so there were probably plenty of excuses. It only being a small group probably made it easier for our new member to get to know people though.

We started at Lower Sprotbrough, down by the canal, and then walked by the row of cottages, passing the old village well.

(The weather was a bit hazy, but excellent conditions for walking, if not for photography.)

We took the high path which goes behind Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve; the views along this section are much improved now that the overhanging trees have been felled to allow access to the overhead electricity cables.

Next we took some quite steep steps down through woodland to join the main riverside path.

We soon spotted our second boat of the day; a quite nice cruiser.

We had several stops for a breather on today's walk, one of them was at the bottom of Conisbrough Viaduct, in preparation for the climb up the path to the top.

Half way up, at the side of the path, I saw my first butterfly of the summer; a tortoiseshell.

Once we'd reached the cycle track which crosses the viaduct we stopped for lunch at a group of large boulders which had been placed there to stop cars from making the crossing. After finishing eating we were soon able to enjoy stunning views of the Don Gorge and Conisbrough from a height of about 100 ft above the river: there are no photos because it was still quite hazy - I took a few, but have decided not to use them.

We soon located the footpath we needed which goes through woodland and leads to the main Doncaster to Sheffield road, passing close to Warmsworth Water Tower.

We walked along this road for a couple of hundred yards before taking a footpath which went through an abandoned farm, across fields, and then down through more woodland, quite steep in places, until we passed under the railway line and then descended further right down to the riverside path, where there were some convenient boulders to sit on for a group photograph; I appeared in this the back.

A couple of minutes later we had some fun scrambling over some more boulders; we subsequently found out that this wasn't necessary because there was a gate we could have used. Of course it was necessary to scramble over large boulders!

We didn't have far to go now, and none of us was struggling, so we made a short detour to have a look at the newly constructed fish ladder at the weir.

Ten minutes later we arrived back at the car park; a couple of us continued up the hill to the bus-stop. A bus back to town was due in five minutes, and it was on time.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Too Tired

I had intended to go walking today but I'm too tired after two successive late nights at the theatre, sitting quietly all evening and then yelling "Bravo! Bravo!" at the end of Verdi's opera Nabucco at Sheffield City Hall last night, and dancing in the aisles to an Abba tribute band at Wakefield on Saturday night.

Today's walk would have been the last walk when I would have been able to use my English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass to travel for free to the Peak District; it's a lovely sunny day and I'm rather disappointed not to be taking the opportunity to be walking in the dales, or across the moors. I do feel rather fatigued though; it's probably the cumulative effect of the tablets that I'm taking for my acid reflux erosive oesophagitis - I bought some multivitamin and iron tablets this morning and I'm hoping these will help. 

I'll still be able to use my pass for travelling to local destinations, and I've already got plenty planned to last me throughout the summer. One local area I've not really explored much is North Nottinghamshire; Doncaster has got good bus services to Worksop and Retford and so I should be able to easily reach Clumber Park and Cresswell Crags.

I'm hoping that I'll still be able to manage an occasional walk in the Peak District; a couple of acquaintances who have cars have mentioned the possibility of getting out on the moors for a bit of walking.