Saturday, August 23, 2014

Magpie Mine and Lathkill Dale with Chris from Leeds

Today's walk wasn't about the exercise, or enjoying the beautiful countryside, or mapreading, or companionship; the whole purpose, and the only purpose of the walk, was to ensure a victory for Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. They've lost in their previous six finals and on each occasion Chris saw it live, either on TV or at the stadium: he needed to do something to break this run of consecutive defeats for his beloved he thought the solution was to get as far away from the rugby as possible - go walking with me in the Peak District. The ploy worked, Leeds won 23-10.

Chris was waiting for me in the car when I got off the bus at Fox House. We drove to the small parking area at the head of Lathkill Dale, just short of Monyash. We started by walking along Bagshaw Dale, a short dale that runs just to the north of the village, then turned north and then east to reach Magpie Mine. There were a lot of stiles and cows in fields along this stretch.

We struggled to locate the correct approach to Magpie Mine, but eventually got there by opening some gates that were only on latches, and walking across the fields.We ate our sandwiches in an elevated position next to the winding gear and then spent a few minutes exploring the entire site...I'm convinced that so much much more could be done with this property.

It was then more fields, and more cows, until we reached Over Haddon, where we were looking forward to having a drink sitting out on the terrace at the Lathkill Hotel and enjoying the lovely view. This wasn't to be though; it was obvious that we weren't welcome there, going by the signs plastered all over the doors and windows stating 'NO BOOTS. REMOVE BOOTS BEFORE ENTERING.' In other words, this venue is now an upmarket gastro pub which doesn't want dirty hikers polluting the environment. It's their pub, so it's their choice: this is my blog though, and it's my choice to write about it - maybe I should have taken them at their word and removed my boots, exposing everyone inside to my toxic socks...and banging down my boots on the bar (this wouldn't be as dramatic as I might hope though since they weren't muddy at all.) 


It was more cows, and a few sheep, until we reached Conksbury Bridge and the river. We then walked up the dale back to the car, I mentioned the ruins of Mandale Mine to Chris...but absent-mindedly walked straight past it. We could see the ruins of Bateman'e House from the path and so didn't miss that. We climbed down the ladder into the shaft and I struggled a bit with cranking the handle which powers the dynamo for the lighting; I initially tried to turn it the wrong way.

We arrived back at the car at 4:15, which just left enough time for Chris to drive me into Bakewell, where I caught the bus back to Sheffield.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bakewell, Rowsley, and Darley Dale.

(Including the tale of the notice on the wall at Chesterfield and the memorial plaque with a hidden cloaking device)

I was intending to catch the 08:40 bus from Sheffield to Kelstedge this morning. It arrived at the stand at 08:15 and the driver let us get on straight away. I thought it might be the 08:10 service running a few minutes late, which only goes to Chesterfield, and so asked the driver. This was probably a mistake because he wouldn't let me use my concessionary travel pass, claiming that I could only use it to the Derbyshire boundary. I know this not to be the case and so clarified things for him. He didn't believe a word I said, but since there was plenty of time he agreed to phone up the depot in Chesterfield. Naturally, they sided with him saying that there's a notice produced by Derbyshire County Council pinned on the wall in the office stating that disability passes can't be used in Derbyshire until 09:30. I explained to him that that only applies to Derbyshire residents; residents of South Yorkshire enjoy an enhanced entitlement.

No joy...I still couldn't get on the bus. There was still enough time for me to march off to the travel information centre and explain what had happened. They agreed with my understanding of the validity of South Yorkshire passes in Derbyshire and two members of staff came to the bus stand with me. The bus driver still wasn't prepared to let me get on; the woman from the enquiry desk even phoned up the depot and explained...but no; I wasn't getting on the bus.

We all returned to the enquiry desk at the travel information centre and team leader Anita (who I need to thank for her polite and efficient service) phoned up the head office of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to check if there'd been any changes: overhearing her side of the conversation it sounded like they were telling her pretty much what I had been claiming all along...that Derbyshire County Council has no authority to change the conditions of use of the concessionary travel passes of South Yorkshire residents. The local authorities in South Yorkshire pay money to the bus operators for us to be able to travel for free before 09:30 on local services which start in South Yorkshire, but go to neighbouring counties.

The person on the other end of the phone suggested that we fill in a form, including the time, the service number and who was contacted, and what they said...and my personal details of course. I should get a written response within seven working days with details of what SYPTE intends to do. I want them to take down that bloody notice at Chesterfield Depot...I think they're all members of a secretive cult there that worships notices produced by Derbyshire County Council: if there was a Roman name for Derby, I'd be able to come up with a new word to describe this nefarious activity...unfortunately the Romans didn't settle anywhere near Derby. 

So, I caught the next bus which went to the Peak District, the 218, and got off at Bakewell. I didn't realise it was the second day of the Bakewell Show until I got there. I crossed over the footbridge over the river, intending to take the footpath that goes right next to the show ground; my way was blocked by a burly security guard. This path is marked as a definitive route on Ordnance Survey maps and I don't think the organisers of the show have any right to block access. The guard was probably a contract worker, and not likely to be local, so I thought it wouldn't be worth the hassle...there was another route I could take.

I crossed back over the bridge and took a photograph of some of the dozens of padlocks that have been attached to the railings; I think lovers place them there and then throw the key into the river...not very pleasant for the trout in the River Wye I should think.

I decided to leave town by walking along Coombs Road. It was very busy though with Park and Ride Buses, Horseboxes, policemen, stewards, and dogs. I did notice where I could have easily got in without paying....I think I would have needed to put my mapcase in my rucksack first though

Once I reached the viaduct it became a lot quieter; probably because the metalled road surface runs out here. There were some lovely views here as I gradually climbed uphill, soon to be joined by a walking companion from Darley Dale who stayed with me for a few minutes; he had had to change his travel plans due to the chaos caused by the show...he was planning to go to Buxton.

We parted ways at the head of the valley, yet a few minutes later I was talking to a couple of walkers who were unsure as to if the route we were walking along was a public right of way since its not marked on any maps. I assured them that it is a right of way, and that it's not marked as a footpath, bridleway, or byway on the maps as  it's technically still a road, being the old route between Bakewell and Rowsley - this is what my previous walking companion had told me anyhow. They seemed to be amused when I told them that it might be a BOAT; a byway open to all traffic.

I popped into the Peak Village shopping centre at Rowsley for a pot of tea and a slice of apple pie and then continued along the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail to Darley Dale. Quite near to the car park at Peak Rail's depot at Rowsley South station I noticed a memorial plaque incorporated into the gravel surface of the footpath. The name of the man being commemorated was clearly visible. I took a photograph; there's nothing wrong with the photograph...except that the name's vanished!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rowsley and Chatsworth House with Chris from Leeds

Another walk with Chris, my friend from the Leeds Asperger's Group. The weather was awful, it rained all day - I would have chosen to stay at home if it was just me who'd be walking.

As usual we met up at Fox House; Chris was waiting for me when the bus arrived. I got in the car and we drove down the hill to Grindleford...on our way to Rowsley. Chris mentioned that the car needed some petrol and so I said that there's a garage at Calver - there are actually two though. We pulled into the first of the garages but couldn't get to the petrol pump because a partially dismantled combined harvester was stuck in the way; completely forgetting about the much larger garage just a few hundred yards down the road at Calver Crossroads I directed Chris back the way we'd come, to the garage at Hathersage. My mind has been tired today; I've probably not been getting enough sleep - I had a thirty minute nap just before writing this blog post.

We arrived at the Peak Village Shopping Centre and parked there. The route I chose for us was to go upstream alongside the River Derwent to Calton Lees and then across the parkland to Chatsworth House, where I used the impressive toilets featuring tiles depicting various local scenes....I persuaded Chris to go and have a look too.

We then re-traced our steps and filed off towards Queen Mary's Bower where we sheltered beneath the arched Bridge leading to the gatehouse - sitting on some steps with our feet placed in the dried-out moat.

Our next destination was the pretty estate village of Edensor, where I photographed a charming display of high quality home produce (biscuits/jam/chutney/pickles) offered for sale, just placed on a grassy area a few yards from the house. Payment was by a honesty box: I've seen this in other Derbyshire villages too, Foolow and Sheldon come to mind...there might have been others.

We left the village by a flight of steep steps which leads to open grasslands. It was a steady climb up to the wood at the top of the ridge.

There was more open grassland at the other side of the wood and then a descent to the hamlet of Calton Houses.At this point I'd already decided to curtail our walk and take the shortest route back to the car - I was sick of the rain.

We continued down the valley using a farm track and then walked back along the river to Rowsley, using the same route as on the outbound journey. Chris didn't notice this until we had nearly reached the car. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Visit To Clumber Park

Yesterday I went to Clumber Park with my support worker. We walked around the lake, probably three miles in total. I was tired after the previous day's walk to Hooton Pagnell...and she isn't capable of walking any further.

Although it's quite near to Doncaster, I've never been to Clumber Park before and I was pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Group Walk to Hooton Pagnell

Phoenix Park, Hooton Pagnell, and Frickley Park

A perfect day today; lovely weather, the most people so far on a group walk, and a visit to Hooton Pagnell - at times described as the prettiest village in Doncaster, the prettiest village in South Yorkshire, or the 'Queen of Villages.' I certainly took plenty of photographs.

We met up at the car park at Phoenix Park, Thurnscoe - somewhere those of us travelling on the bus could easily get to. It's a short walk up to the giant aluminium charm bracelet which has become established as the new symbol of the village, depicting various aspects of coal mining. We posed for the first group photo of the day here.

It's a climb of about 200ft to the summit of Phoenix Park, which is the landscaped spoil heap of the village's former pit.

The next section was along the track to Stotfold, then alongside a field and through the woods to reach Hooton Pagnell.

The first thing that you see when you enter Hooton Pagnell from this direction is the impressive gatehouse to the hall - another opportunity for getting a good shot of the whole group...except me of course.

Next to the gatehouse is the church and churchyard, accessed by some steep steps. There are a couple of seats in the churchyard, with a lovely view over to the gatehouse and its fairytale turrets, massive wooden doors and pretty delicate pantile roof....but there are three much larger seats further into the village, next to the war memorial.

In the far corner of the churchyard we were able to see a glimpse of the original mediaeval gatehouse and some of the hall's crenelation; unfortunately my photographs were out of focus.

We left the churchyard through the lychgate.

We soon arrived at the war memorial and stopped to eat our sandwiches. There are no public toilets in the village and so it was agreed to visit the pub to use the facilities...and some of us bought soft drinks as well, which we drank out in the sun in the rear courtyard.

Earlier, as we were walking up to the church I noticed that the clock was showing the wrong time, something that's never happened before when I've been visiting Hooton Pagnell. The plan was to stay in the village until just after three o'clock so that we could listen to the carillon chiming; obviously, it wouldn't be chiming today, so we didn't have to linger at the pub.

We explored the rest of the village, and I took some more photographs.

We left Hooton Pagnell by a footpath which requires you to climb down some more steep steps. The path towards Frickley Park is mainly across fields. The section of the walk through the parkland was about a couple of miles until we turned off at a difficult to find footpath with led across more fields back to Stotfold.

As we were approaching Stotfold there were some lovely views of the Yorkshire, or Southern, Magnesian Limestone Ridge, which Hooton Pagnell sits atop.

It was only a short walk then back to the car park.