Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Darley Dale, Darley Bridge, Birchover, Alport and Bakewell.

At the end of next month many bus services in the Peak District are likely to be cut back due to Derbyshire County Council reducing its level of subsidy. I read online that services to Matlock could be particularly adversely affected; so that's why I chose today's walk...Darley Dale is only about three miles from Matlock.  

I got off at the parade of shops at Darley Dale; which turned out to be a couple of stops short of where I needed to be. So, I just walked down the road towards Matlock, past the church and park and then turned down the road towards Darley Dale; walking over the level crossing  next to the railway station on the Peak Rail heritage line.

After crossing over a pretty stone bridge over the River Derwent at Darley Bridge I continued along a lane towards Birchover, which then petered out into a track; the section through woodland being one of the few climbs on this walk.

I soon entered open country, with expansive views to the left down into the valley, and more pastoral views over to the right. I reached a farm which had a sign prominently sited which stated something like 'Danger. Wild animals. Do not Approach. Keep to Footpath.'

I was intrigued and wondered what it might refer to; all I could see were some chickens. Then...it happened. I'd just passed some farm buildings when only a few yards away, standing leaning over a gate, right next to the footpath, was an ostrich which was taller than me. I didn't approach it to take a photograph.

The route I'd chosen skirted to the south of Birchover,  going by a detached part of the village where it looked like a few council houses had been built.

I then walked along the road to the pretty hamlet of Eagle Tor, then continued for a few hundred yards further before taking the footpath leading towards Youlgreave; sometimes spelled and pronounced 'Youlgrave' by locals.

Yet again I didn't enter the village, denying myself the opportunity of welcome refreshments. I turned right into Bradford Dale; a short, but pretty dale which leads to Alport.

From Alport I walked along the right bank of the River Lathkill, climbed up through the woods to reach Haddon Fields and followed easy-going paths right back to Bakewell; arriving in plenty of time for the bus.

The bus was only a small bus, with a seating capacity of about  thirty I suppose. It was already quite full, having travelled from Buxton, and after picking up its passengers at Bakewell it was full to capacity, with several people having to stand all the way to Sheffield. I was fortunate to get a seat, but as some people moved down the bus to get off, I pulled a couple of muscles trying to move my feet out of the way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cutthroat Bridge, Low Bradfield, Loxley, Malin Bridge, Hillsborough...and Three Reservoirs.

Today's day out walking involved something a bit different; travelling on the tram from Hillsborough to Meadowhall Interchange - a place that probably doesn't get many mentions on Peak District hiking blogs.

I got off to a bad start with the bus being half an hour late to take me to the beginning of the walk at Cutthroat Bridge; a location which got its gruesome name due to a murder four hundred years ago. More recently a body with its throat cut was dumped in the lay-by there about fifteen years ago.

I took the path which goes to the east across open moorland, running parallel with the road I'd just travelled along in the bus. After a few hundred yards the road dips out of sight and it was a lot quieter.

After having a few problems following the route of the footpath through the farmyard at Moscar House I soon reached the road which marked the county boundary - even though there was no sign there. I continued along this road and when I reached the crest of a hill caught my first view of Boot's Tower and Strines Reservoir.

The tower is a folly built by the local landowner in 1927 to provide employment for the estate's stonemasons; I think it actually adds something to the landscape.

I soon left the road, turning left along the route of the Sheffield Country Walk, dropping down into the grounds of Sugworth Hall. The footpath here is quite interesting as it passes through a tunnel which has been hacked through a large, dense thicket of rhododendron bushes; it is very dark in here, but quite magical though...I almost expected to see a fairy sitting on a branch.

It was quite a few minutes until I saw the sunshine again; by now I was in the open field where Booth's Tower is situated, so I walked up to it to have a close-up look.

The next section of the path was through mixed terrain, looking down at first on Strines reservoir and then Dale Dyke Reservoir. Dale Dyke has a tragic history: the current reservoir isn't the original one, an earlier one was constructed, but even before completion it burst its banks, causing the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 which killed 245 people.

The route down to Low Bradfield, where I stopped for refreshments, was along a country lane. After passing through the village I then walked along the northern shore of Damflask Reservoir; my third reservoir of the day.

Sheffield Sailing Club is based here.

Only a few yards after passing the dam wall I had left the Peak District; I was walking along a minor road at this point and there was no boundary marker.

I turned off the road at the hamlet of Stacey Bank, walking down a steep track towards the River Loxley. The rest of the route of the walk was along the banks of the Loxley, first passing a location called Storrs Bridge, which seemed to consist entirely of derelict factory buildings. Once beyond this point though, the landscape is pleasantly rural all the way to Malin Bridge.

Technically I think I passed through the Parish of Loxley, even though the village is at the top of the hill. Of course, Loxley is famous as supposedly being the birthplace of Robin Hood, known as 'The Earl of Locksley' in the stories.

Another mile or so I was at Malin Bridge and walking through the streets to catch the Meadowhall tram at Hillsborough Interchange. There are plenty of trains going from Meadowhall to Doncaster, and I didn't have to wait long for one.

Wildlife I saw today, without even trying - a rabbit and a grey squirrel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Litton, Cressbrook, Litton Mill, Monsal Head, Ashford-in-the-Water and Bakewell.

For the first time since I started writing this blog nearly a year ago I was let down by the buses; the number 65 service to Buxton departed twenty minutes late this morning from Sheffield bus station.

I arrived at Litton and walked across the fields towards the western rim of Cressbrook Dale; with  the final mile or so right at the edge being through woodland. I entered a part of the village of Cressbrook I hadn't visited before, and then walked along the road and down a track to what is now the pretty village of Litton Mill. The mill buildings are converted into executive flats, but this place has a sad history; in the nineteenth century young orphans from the neighbouring cities were sent here as forced labour - frequently suffering abuse and being treated no better than slaves.

I crossed the footbridge over the River Wye and stopped a while to look at the large trout and busy ducks; and thought about the history of this place...so beautiful; yet so tragic.

There was a short climb up onto the old railway track which is now the Monsal Trail, soon passing through Litton Tunnel, and then Cressbrook Tunnel.

I paused, and rested for a few minutes on Monsal Viaduct and then climbed up through the woods to Monsal Head. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn't get as breathless as I feared; it seems that my bronchitis is currently under control.

The café at Monsal Head is rather disappointing. It has a limited menu more appropriate to a teashop. I had to settle for a pot of tea, and toast with marmalade -  I couldn't wish for a better view though; the photograph was taken only a few yards away from where I was sitting.

It was a simple walk across the fields, and later along a track, to Ashford-in-the-Water, followed by a short riverside section into Bakewell, which I had to rush a little in order not to miss the bus back into Sheffield.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bradwell, Coplow Dale, Little Hucklow, Great Hucklow, Eyam, Stoney Middleton and Calver.

After getting off the bus at Bradwell church I walked south along Bradwell Dale. It was drizzling and murky, and with the tall trees and overhanging rocks it was very dark as I was walking along the road; so I put on my brightly-coloured anorak and took out my head-torch and held it so that oncoming traffic could see me.

I soon left the road behind and was steadily climbing up Green Dale and then across the fields to the hamlet of Coplow Dale.

The short path to Little Hucklow was overgrown with nettles and thistles. Even though I was wearing long trousers my legs still got stung by the nettles; it's fortunate that dock plants always grow in the same places that nettles do. After rolling up my trouser legs and giving my skin a vigorous rub with a couple of dock leaves to ease the stinging, I walked through the village, continued along the road and then took a track which leads to Great Hucklow.

I then took a route that bypassed Grindlow and Foolow, across typical White Peak countryside of grassy fields, sheep and drystone walls; arriving in Eyam to discover that it was the final day of the well-dressing celebrations.

This is a photograph of one of the 'Plague Cottages' - these green plaques, listing the names of the inhabitants who died during the plague outbreak in the seventeenth century are all over the village.

It was at times a difficult descent down to Stoney Middleton, due to slippery stones underfoot along certain sections; away from the main road many parts of this village are very attractive - such as this row of stone cottages.

Finally, there was a walk of less than a mile to Calver, where I arrived with plenty of time to enjoy a ten-item all-day breakfast at the café.

The bus arrived on time; it was a very old double decker, which really struggled going up the steepest hills, not travelling much quicker than walking pace and making some very unhealthy noises. To be honest, it didn't sound much better going downhill into Sheffield.