Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ladybower Reservoir, Alport Castles, and Hope.

I caught the number 273 bus again today and got off at the Derwent War Memorial, about a mile south of Fairholmes Visitor Centre. I walked up the road for a few minutes to reach the car parking area from where the footpath starts...and noticed that there's actually a bus stop at this location: I could have saved myself a few hundred yards walking it seems.

The path leads up through a conifer plantation; the climb is quite long, but not too strenuous. I soon reached open country and then continued walking in a north-westerly direction. On a much clearer day the views along this section would be spectacular; however all was not lost; for a couple of minutes or so the elements co-operated to present a quite impressive view of the Woodlands Valley, along which the Snake Pass road is routed. There was a constant, subtly changing tableau of light and movement created by the low cloud, swirling mist, occasional sunbeams and spots of speckled light and brightness, all churned up by the strong breeze. It's a pity my camera couldn't capture a decent image; unfortunately my photographs turned out rather bland; never mind though, some I took later on are good enough to publish.

The next part of the walk took me across Rowlee Pastures. Most of this section is paved with flagstones and so is easy going, unlike the next section, the area around Alport Castles; which was quite difficult and challenging.

The region where Alport Castles are situated is the location of an ancient landslip; you don't need to be a geologist to fathom this out - it's obvious what happened; a half a mile section of the gritstone edge sloughed off and fell several hundred feet into the valley.


The area got its name because several of the rock formations look like castles; the most spectacular one, which you can see in the left of the photograph, is called 'The Tower.' Several people were struggling to reach the top of it; I don't know if they were successful...I didn't hang around; it was raining, and I was in quite an exposed location when I took the picture. You're not actually supposed to climb anywhere in the Alport Castles area because the rocks are unstable.

I needed to get down to the bottom of the valley, and since the grass and the rocks were wet and slippery, and I'd already fallen over once, I decided not to tempt fate any more and so got down onto my bottom and used all fours to safely get to where I needed to be. Writing that though, I would have preferred to be on the other side of the barbed wire fence I found to be blocking my way. I soon managed to climb over it though, at a spot where it crossed the remains of a drystone wall.

It was easy enough to find the path which leads down to Alport Castles Farm, and then continue along the track to the Snake Pass road.

I crossed over the main road and then walked along another well-maintained track; however, I did have to use this ford to get across the River Ashop: I judge that the water was about five inches deep...and fast flowing.



A few yards further on and I noticed another seemingly abandoned military vehicle (A few weeks ago I saw what looked like a tank or armoured personnel carrier near Hathersage, that was actually a prop used by a film production company.)



It was a steady climb up across Blackley Hey. The bridleway seemed to have been improved, yet it actually made it more difficult underfoot for hikers; it was quite painful walking on the limestone chippings. I attempted to make my way using a more comfortable route on the peat; probably creating more erosion and doing more damage than if the surface had just been left alone.

When I reached Crookstone Barn I turned right, then left, and descended through a lot of bracken to eventually arrive at the Edale road. I then took the path which goes under the railway bridge and comes out further down the road, nearer to Hope. I continued along the road into the village. Two buses were due, the 272 and the 273: the 273 was expected five minutes earlier, yet it was the 272 which arrived first. It was nearly ten minutes late - I think another 'fun run' in Sheffield caused the delay.

I don't think they're funny at all.