Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kelstedge, Tansley, Lumsdale, and Bentley Bridge

I woke up this morning with a painful twinge in my lower back, obviously restricting my movement. Maybe I must have pulled a muscle last night clapping too enthusiastically at the ballet. Northern Ballet's first visit to the new theatre in Doncaster was amazing and was well appreciated, and enjoyed, by a full house. I must admit that I enjoy ballet even more than walking.

Today's walk was therefore an easy one, mainly along country lanes and across fields.

I got off the bus at Kelstedge and walked down the hill towards Ashover, taking the first footpath on my left; being careful not to approach too close to the village and going to areas where my map coverage ends.

The weather forecast was for it to be a bit murky in the morning, but brighten up by mid-afternoon; the first part was correct but the second wasn't - it stayed murky all day, spoiling many good opportunities for taking photographs.

The countryside at the start of the walk was quite pretty though and I think these two pictures are okay.

The most difficult part of these section was when I'd arrived down in the bottom of a valley and had to cross the infant River Amber; I could use the stepping stones, or the 'Tarzan' rope swing. I chose the former; they were actually very easy...the steep climb up steps cut into the hillside through woodland which followed was more difficult.

At the top I was walking along the edges of fields, across grassland, and occasionally through more wooded areas, but most of the time I had extensive views to my left of Ashover and the Amber Valley...with Ogston Reservoir in the distance.

Just before I reached the road which leads to Tansley I had to cross a field with cows in it. I'm always wary when I'm near to cows because they can get quite aggressive at times; these animals just seemed to be puzzled - they were keeping their gazes on me though.

A few minutes later I arrived at a crossroads and noticed signs advertising two garden centres, one of which was in the direction I was going. There was an ice cream van parked there and so I bought an orange juice lolly and sat on a comfortable grass verge to enjoy it.

Not long after I'd stood up and started walking again I came to Scotland Nurseries and Garden Centre [and Café] and popped in for a cream tea at the café.

Not much further along the road there was another garden centre, the third in a very small area.

I walked through Tansley, through the centre of the village and then the track which leads to Lumsdale, past some very pretty countryside.

Lumsdale is an amazing place, somewhere I have been looking forward to visiting for a long time. The entire valley is a series of linked mills, all ruined now of course, and weirs and waterfalls. Despite being spoiled for me by the poor lighting conditions, a very flat and uninspiring light not suited to photography at all, and it being busy with several dozen people I was still not disappointed with my visit at all. I would have spent longer there if I could have explored on my own.

I took a lot of photographs and some have turned out not to be too bad; I've had to convert some to black and white and adjust the contrast and brightness though.

In my dreams I reckon that Lumsdale would be an excellent location for a future Indiana Jones film, with its extensive overgrown ruins, steep and twisty steps, inaccessible caves, rocky overhangs, narrow precipices, noisy and powerful waterfalls and deep splashpools, shear-drop weirs, picturesque ponds...and potential danger round every corner. I had the tune and the lyrics to the chorus of the 1990s pop song, 'Dr. Jones' by Aqua bouncing about in my head as I was enjoying myself here.

I'm actually quite an Aqua fan; I was early on in their career, seeing something much more profound than the mere bubblegum pop tunes and the corny comedy videos that they served up at the time. They've moved on a lot now, still performing live regularly. Lene, the female lead singer is really very sexy and now performs in the style of a hardcore bondage porno rock diva.  

During the journey home on the bus and the train more of my favourite Aqua tunes were in my head, 'I'm A Barbie Girl,' 'Cartoon Heroes.' 'All Around The World'...and....wait for it...'F*ck Me Like A Robot.'

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve

Another short local walk with my support worker; to Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve and along the river bank.

We went to some of the higher and more remote parts of the reserve...and got a bit lost, having to scramble down a steep slope to get back down to the main footpath.


When we returned to the car we noticed that there were four boats tied up at the public moorings, all of them with women's names; I could only capture three of them in a photograph.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Visit To Mansfield And Welbeck Abbey

The weather didn't brighten up until mid-afternoon so I went in the car with Siobhan, my support worker, to Mansfield; somewhere I'd not visited in over twenty years. We went in the museum and looked round the charity shops - I bought a couple of shirts for only £2 each.

As forecast, the weather improved during the afternoon and so we called at Welbeck Abbey on the way back to Doncaster. The abbey isn't open to the public, but there's a large garden centre, a farm shop, a café, and an art gallery.

The art gallery is a lovely building, part original and part a re-build by the look of it. There wasn't much on display, mainly modern pieces of jewellery and pottery. We were able to touch some of the exhibits; I particularly liked the feel, weight, texture, and balance of a metallic 'feeling ring' - a term I've never come across before.

I turned round a corner and walked along a corridor and was confronted by a door that wasn't a door at all; I don't know if this was an exhibit, or not....I had to take a photograph though.

The farm shop was quite large; I bought a couple of rabbit pies.

We had a look round the garden centre and craft shops; we could have taken longer but wanted time to linger in the conservatory area of the café where we ate our cream teas.

Not a walk at all; but I like to be active on a day out and so must have covered at least a couple of miles...maybe more.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Clod Hall Crossroads, Robin Hood, Freebirch, Linacre Reservoirs, and Chesterfield

The weather was generally nice and bright today, but spoilt by a cold wind - something's that's happened a lot recently. I got off the bus at Clod Hall Crossroads, two miles north of Baslow and in the middle of nowhere on the main road that crosses Big Moor. I looked at my watch to check the time and it had taken me just over an hour since the train left Doncaster - not all my connections on public transport are this good. I walked along the road that leads to the footpath to Wellington's Monument...where the Highland cattle were waiting for me- they love posing for the camera and seem to know where to stand and what positions to take for the best results.

I then took the path that leads down through the woods to the main road and then back up the other side of the valley, and then gently down to the 'Robin Hood' pub; it wasn't due to open for another forty minutes when I got there and so my plans for a pot of tea had to be abandoned.  Along this section of the walk I was fascinated by a tree that looked like a giant marine/reptilian/insectoid mutant alien.

The next section of the walk was a stretch of about a mile and a half along the road to the hamlet of Freebirch; I don't like walking along roads, but sometimes it can't be avoided. At Freebirch navigation became a lot more difficult since I was no longer within the boundary of the Peak District National Park and the signposting of footpaths wasn't always as clear as it needed to be, especially in this area where there are a lot of criss-crossing footpaths. 

Just beyond Birley Farm the view towards Linacre Reservoirs was stunning; totally unexpected and unlike anything else I've seen in the Peak District. The view reminded me of some of the photographs of the Blue Mountains in Australia, near to where my sister lives.

The approach to the Linacre Reservoirs is very pleasant, along a verdant valley and then through woodland carpeted with flowering bluebells and wild garlic at this time of year; I could obviously smell the garlic, but I thought I might have just whiffed a bit of the scent of the bluebells...although I'm not sure if bluebells have a scent though.

Beyond the reservoirs I walked through more woodland, across fields and through a park and along some streets until I reached Chesterfield Town Centre. I had planned to finish at the church and take a photograph of the 'Crooked Spire' but as I was passing the bus station I noticed that the Sheffield bus was waiting at the stand.  I scanned my pass as usual as I got on, but as I was taking my seat another passenger said he had noticed that my blue plastic wallet which was given to me when my pass was first issued over five years ago is falling apart and is held together with yellow insulating tape. He gave me a new one, one of several which he had in his hand. I noticed that, like my old one, it was a blue South Yorkshire PTE one, yet Chesterfield is in Derbyshire, so he couldn't have picked them up at the information centre at the bus station....very strange; I thanked him and he went to the back of the bus.

At the railway station at Sheffield I nearly got on the wrong train, the Saturday only infrequent service to Cleethorpes via Retford...not the much more frequent train that goes to Cleethorpes via Doncaster. It was fortunate that the guard was standing on the platform explaining the situation to people; it's rather unfortunate that the wrong train departs at 16:01 and the right train departs at 16:10...from the same platform.

I'm glad I got on the correct train though, a group of women wearing very revealing clothing got on and had been standing next to me on the platform. A couple of them were wearing fascinators - maybe there's a race meeting at Town Moor.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sandall Beat Wood and South Moor Wood

Another short walk with my support worker today; it's better than just sitting in the house or the garden. We travelled just over a mile in the car to Sandall Beat Wood and extended the walk to take in parts of South Moor Wood, an area that is mainly the grassed over former spoilheap of Markham Main Colliery at Armthorpe.

There were thousands of tadpoles in the ponds.

We climbed up to the summit of the landscaped spoilheap, it's not that high, maybe a hundred foot, but there are all round views in almost every direction.

The gorse was past it best by now, but the broom was in full blossom.

Not a bad walk at all...and it's only a couple of miles from the town centre.

On the way back to the carpark I spotted a couple of grey squirrels; they were too quick for me to get a photograph. The frozen lobster that I bought for a fiver at Lidl on the way home was a lot slower though.