Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Maps

I sometimes mention my Ordnance Survey maps in my blog reports; I have three that I use for my walking, the 1:25,000 scale Explorer series sheets covering both the Dark Peak and the White Peak, and the 1:50,000 scale Landranger series covering Sheffield and Doncaster.

The mapping and quality of printing on the Explorer sheets is excellent, clearly showing detailed features such as field boundaries, pylons and overhead power lines, types of terrain, and even individual rock formations...all of which really help me to navigate. The only criticism that I have to make concerns the coverage areas; because the point where the two sheets join is the Hope Valley, right in the middle of the area of the Peak District easily reachable from Sheffield, I regularly end up having to place both sheets in my map case.

My other map, covering the local area where I live in Doncaster obviously isn't as detailed...but this isn't a popular tourist and outdoor pursuits area. Of course I can get 1:25,000 mapping with text and features as large as I like online, and then just print off a personalised sheet.

Another online service that I frequently use is Google Maps or Google Earth, for the public transport information, the location of bus stops and the services which stop there.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cromford, Middleton, Bonsall, and Matlock Bath

Another walk with Chris from Leeds; as usual he picked me up at Fox House, and we drove to Cromford.

We walked along the road which leads to Cromford Wharf, the start/end of Cromford Canal, briefly having a look at Arkwright's Mill on the way. We spent a few seconds admiring a barge which was moored on the canal before setting off for High Peak Junction, racing several groups of students who were in canoes on the water.  

There's a small museum inside a couple of guard's wagons to look at, plus toilets and an information centre that is really more geared to selling guide books or refreshments - the information boards are quite good though.

We headed up the incline, it's quite a steep climb, yet perfectly safe. After a few yards we went to look at the catch pit, a wagon that had smashed into the pit was clearly visible, but I found it difficult to photograph it.

I was ready for my sandwiches and something to drink when we reached the top of the incline, although Chris saved his food until we'd climbed up the next incline at Middleton Top where the highlight here for Chris was a full working model of the incline in operation, inside the small information centre next to the café.

We left Middleton Top and continued along the High Peak Trail for a few minutes before crossing over Middleton Moor and descending into the village and then continuing along a lane and down a steep path which was quite slippery in places, to Via Gellia at the bottom of the valley, otherwise known as the A5012 road from Cromford to Grangemill. 

We struggled up the steep hill to the lower part of Bonsall before taking a path that snakes around the back gardens of some houses and leads toward a quarry up on the hillside. It should then have been an easy walk across fields before dropping down into Matlock Bath; however, we got lost and had to crawl underneath some barbed wire. After finding a path we then climbed down some steps cut into the hillside and a couple of steep footpaths finally to be greeted by the aroma of fish and chips - there are several fish and chip shops in Matlock Bath, as well as other attractions for the was quite busy today.

There was to be no fish and chips for me at Matlock Bath today, just a mug of tea. We walked along the road to arrive back at the car at Cromford within ten minutes of the expected time.

Chris dropped me off at Baslow, where there are three buses an hour back to Sheffield on a Saturday in the summer, nonetheless I still had to wait twenty minutes for one. The bus was packed; I was the last person who was able to get on before people started getting off at Sheffield. Naturally I had to stand up for most of the journey, gripping onto the inconveniently and uncomfortably positioned handrails and luggage rack. I usually get off the bus in Sheffield with my leg muscles hurting because of the lack of legroom when I'm sitting down - this wasn't a problem today; I could move my legs as much as I wanted when the bus was arm muscles were, and still are, painful, tender to the touch, and feel very hard and rigid.

There was only a local stopping train due when I arrived at the railway station and so I boarded it. When we reached Rotherham the carriage I was in was totally overwhelmed by a loud, boisterous group of Fulham FC football fans. In no way was any of their behaviour threatening or inappropriate, in fact some of the songs were quite amusing; however they were in the way, blocking the doorway and access to the toilet. They had to stand somewhere though because all the seats were occupied.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Visit To Eyam

A visit to another National Trust property this afternoon with my support worker, we went to Eyam Hall. We arrived in the village and immediately walked into the courtyard area to discover that a guided walk of the village for National Trust members was due to start in the next few minutes - so just enough time for the toilets. The walk lasted for ninety minutes but was more talking than walking; I really enjoyed it though. Eyam is famous as the 'Plague Village' and we told all about how the villagers quarantined themselves to prevent the plague from spreading, but there were also interesting anecdotes about bull baiting, the production of best beef, hanging live animals from a wire and spearing them on horseback, illicit affairs, a sham marriage, a drunken corpse which came back to life, and a sad story with an even sadder ending.

The walk finished at 3:30 which gave us the best part of an hour to look round the hall and the gardens. This was ample long enough; it's only small and there's nothing much to see. It was lived in by the family until only a few years ago and one of the rooms is left just as it was when the occupants moved out. I found this to be a bit strange and unsettling, especially the family photographs, and wondered why the family didn't remove the more personal items.

A trip out with Siobhan wouldn't be complete without a cream tea, or at least tea and cake. We had cream teas today, fairly average fare I would say.

It made a pleasant change for me to visit the Peak District as a tourist and to be able to wear some smart clothes, instead of my usual scruffy walking gear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Foolow, Abney, Offerton, and Bamford

I had planned to finish the walk at Castleton today but because I was having problems with my bowels I cut it short at Bamford. I'm glad I did; the Hope Valley buses were terminating at Bamford because of a fatal traffic accident further up the valley.

So...I got off the bus at Foolow and took some photographs: the pretty little church doesn't feature though because a couple of women who must have been cleaning inside left several brightly coloured buckets and rags outside, spoiling the view.

I left the village by the road that leads to the north, soon passing the ugly scar where the sinkhole that appeared a couple of winters been crudely filled in. Further on, as I climbed higher, walking along the footpath now, there were some nice views.

I reached the road which goes along the top of Eyam Edge, as I was taking a bit of a rest I was asked to take a group photograph of about eight foreign students - I took about half a dozen snaps, just to make sure that there'd be at least one decent image.

It's a steep and difficult descent down to the bottom of the upper reaches of Bretton Clough; I'm always especially careful here - this was where I suffered the worst  sprained, twisted, swollen, and bruised ankle that the radiologist at Mexborough Montagu Hospital had ever seen in his career. 

Safely down to the bottom, well not quite actually, since I took the path which goes parallel to the brook which flows at the bottom of the clough, but about thirty foot up the side of the valley. The reason I took this route, as I always do here, is to get a good look at an unusual landscape feature; a series of steep, conical hillocks, up to about fifty foot high and quite spectacular, especially if you imagine them to be pyramids or giants' tombs and wonder what might be buried inside. I'm not sure what they are, possibly tailings from early mining operations, or, more likely in my opinion, a geological feature known as a 'ridge-and-trough' or 'tumbled ground' landform caused by an ancient landslip.

Not far beyond the hillocks I took the path that leads up to Abney; as I approached a footbridge over the stream I caught a glimpse of a lizard that had been sunning itself before it scampered away into the undergrowth. This was the first lizard I'd seen for nearly thirty years; of course, I didn't manage to get a photograph.

A few minutes later, when walking along the fields above the clough as I was approaching Abney some more animals would get my attention; these four cows guarding the gate which I needed to pass through. The only way I could get them to move was to wave my hiking pole in front of me, and in the air, and making noises that I imagined a Samurai warrior would be proud of.

The heather on Offerton Moor, as everywhere else in the Peak district at this time of year was putting on its best show; it was too much for me though, the heady aroma of the thick purple haze was causing me an Aspergic sensory overload as I swayed from side to side trying to focus my thoughts and vision and not knowing whether to enjoy the heather, or the stunning views of the Hope Valley and part of the Upper Derwent Valley in the distance; to sit down or to continue walking.

I safely crossed the moor and then took the lane which leads down to the river, and then the road. When I reached an abandoned barn I went in to take care of some business; the anti-diarrhoea tablets usually work, but not today though. The serendipitous facilities inside the barn were practical and very comfortable actually; part of an old feeding trough by the look of exactly the right height and angle for me. I have used this barn before and so knew what to problems.

The bus was waiting at Bamford due to the road closure, causing me a bit of panic and confusion as I ran up the hill to the the end I had about twenty minutes to wait until the driver let us on and started his return journey back to Sheffield.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Petroglyphs Of Edderthorpe

Stairfoot, Cundy Cross, Monk Bretton Priory, and Great Houghton.

There were no trains running to Sheffield again today so I caught the Barnsley bus to go on an expedition to photograph the 'Petroglyphs of Edderthorpe.' I discovered these rock carvings by accident about five years ago when walking with my brother down in a dark, deep, damp, and overgrown railway cutting...there are several dozen carvings of varying quality, carved over a period of several decades I should think. They're definitely not easy to find and I think this might be the first time they have been featured anywhere online...I spent quite a few minutes researching the other day.

As the bus passed through one of the estates at Darfield a middle-aged woman got on and asked for a 'return to Darfield from Stairfoot.'; the driver was confused, so was I...I've never heard anyone ask for a return fare to a particular destination like that before.

I got off the bus at Stairfoot, together with the woman who was on the first leg of her return journey, and several other people as well. I crossed the dual carriageway without any difficulty and walked up the road towards Cundy Cross and Monk Bretton Priory. I'd only been walking for a few minutes when I reached the TransPennine Trail; there was a decent view to look at here.

It wasn't long until I reached the priory where I lingered for about ten minutes taking photographs.

I then walked through a short section of Dearne Valley Country Park before the path took me up to the old railway viaduct. There was then a very complicated network of criss-crossing and parallel paths at different heights along old railway routes and meadows next to the river until I reached the particular cutting where the petroglyphs have been carved.

It was very dark down in the cutting and photography wasn't easy; I had to use the manual settings on the camera for the first time and many of the shots were unusable, too dark, out of focus, or over-exposed. These six turned out fine though; the bird glyph is recent, it wasn't there five years ago. 

A few hundred yards beyond the petroglyphs I had to scramble down the side of a bridge abutment; it was steep and a tight squeeze. Once safely down I was walking along another abandoned railway line, which I eventually left to cross over the footbridge spanning the new Grimethorpe road. It was then a short walk over the top of the landscaped spoilheap until I reached Great Houghton. The bus back to Doncaster was due, and so I caught it. I'd had enough for today; my feet were hurting me because I'd spent a lot of time walking on railway ballast and the tread on my boots was very worn. They weren't my best hiking boots, or even my number two pair - they were the first pair I grabbed off the shelf and were quite old and shabby...I won't be grabbing them again though because they're in the bin now.