An early start this morning. I arrived at Sheffield at about 08:15 in order to take advantage of the frequent running and the convenient timing of the number 51 bus.
Things didn't go exactly to plan though since I lost quite a bit of time by standing waiting for the bus on the wrong side of the road; it seems that most of the buses that run along Arundel Gate use a one-way loop through the city centre...this was news to me - there's certainly no mention of it in the printed timetable.
Anyhow, I got off the bus at the terminus at Lodge Moor, walked along the road for a few yards and took the footpath which leads down through Fox Hagg Nature Reserve; such a beautiful place, even though it's so close to a large housing estate. At various locations I could see right across to the other side of the Rivelin Valley, and beyond, and out towards Derbyshire to the west.
I soon reached the car park at the Lower Rivelin Dam; this is where I crossed into the Peak District. I walked along a wide, well-surfaced track along the southern shore - unfortunately the views of the water were often obscured by trees. The pungent aroma of pine was heady and refreshing though; and made the actual act of breathing a pleasurable, sensual experience.
I then took a rather rocky and overgrown path which went alongside the upper reaches of the River Rivelin and came out onto the A57 road right next to the 'Welcome to Hollow Meadows' sign. I crossed the road and then it was a gentle climb across fields to reach Crawshaw Lodge. On the Ordnance Survey map, next to the track at the back of the building, a cemetery is depicted, yet all I saw was a 'Private - No Entry' sign. This track continued onto a tract of high heather moorland and then descended towards Crawshaw Farm, where I ended up getting lost due to a lack of appropriate signage.
After climbing and clambering over several walls, fences and gates I thought I was going to get back onto the path...until I brushed up against a well-hidden electric fence. The two shocks I received were very unpleasant and gave me a feeling of numbness in my left elbow area for about ten minutes. Another wall with a barbed wire fence on top and a slog through a sticky bog and I was finally where I needed to be; taking the path which goes down through Royds Clough.
I then walked along country lanes and footpaths leading across grassy fields until I noticed a brick chimney lurking in the bottom of a small valley. Looking at the map, this appears to be a location called 'Stopes.' There were some lovely viewpoints looking down into the valley at several places along this section: it seems that Bradfield Parish Council is very good at providing seats in all of the best spots.
A path that I chose went alongside the perimeter fence of the mill/works at Stopes; it was then more country lanes, farm tracks and footpaths across grassy or muddy fields until I came down into the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail, about a mile from its start. This is familiar territory for me and I knew it wouldn't be too long until I'd reach the Café in the Park. I think I was too late for a hearty meal, so made do with a pot of tea, a toasted teacake and a sticky flapjack. I noticed that Bradwell's Ice Cream was on sale; I'd already spent nearly £5 and thought it would be greedy and extravagant to order some...I did feel like I was letting the side down though.
It isn't far from the café to Malin Bridge, and then the shops at Hillsborough, where I got the tram to Meadowhall, and then the train back to Doncaster.