Monday, October 29, 2012

Penistone, Hazlehead, Dunford Bridge, Langsett, and Stocksbridge.

I travelled all the way by train to Penistone today, changing services at Meadowhall. It's longer than going by bus, but it's certainly more comfortable...and I didn't know what time the buses went from Barnsley to Penistone.

At Penistone I popped into the town to buy something to eat and drink for later, and then found the Trans Pennine Trail. This long distance footpath goes along the route of the former Woodhead Railway Line and so the walking was very easy out to Dunford Bridge, the point where the trail leaves the old railway because of the long tunnel under the Pennines...which is blocked.

Pretty much the first thing I noticed as I started to walk was a forest of wind turbines on the horizon, some rotating, and some not. The photograph, however, was taken a few miles further on when I stopped to count them; twenty in total; although there aren't that many in the picture.

The first mile or so after leaving Penistone is fairly boring, being either in a cutting or only having views towards housing estates. After about half an hour or so the views opened up and continued to be interesting all the way to Dunford Bridge; with many information boards positioned along the trail adding to the interest.

I made good time and soon reached the site of Hazlehead Station where I ate my sandwiches whilst trying to imagine how busy this quite isolated station must have been; the information board said there were seven tracks here, a branch line leading off to a foundry, a fully staffed station and a signal box.

At Dunford Bridge I turned left, still following the route of the Trans Pennine Trail along a road which leads up onto open moorland. As I got to higher ground I spotted my first reservoir of the day, Winscar Reservoir, where the Pennine Sailing Club is based.

It was getting misty, but a few minutes later, looking down to the left I saw Upper Windleden Reservoir.

I easily found the next footpath which I needed, the section of the Barnsley Boundary Walk which crosses Thurlstone Moors. Along this section I got a closer view of Upper Windleden Reservoir, and briefly, in the distance, Lower Windleden Reservoir.

The path led me to the Woodhead Pass road, which I didn't need to walk along at this point because another path ran parallel to the road, keeping to the moor though. Along this stretch of path there was an unusual buttressed fence. I hadn't seen anything similar before and assumed it must be there to protect the road from deep snow drifts.

About a mile and a half later I was walking alongside the road to reach the roadside café, situated in a lay-by just to the west of the Dog and Partridge pub. I enjoyed a mug of tea and a chocolate shortbread slice, and spent a few minutes chatting with the owner about walking.

I had to walk along the grass verge at the side of the carriageway for a few minutes before reaching the bridleway that leads towards Langsett Reservoir. Since this section is a bridleway, horse riders are allowed to use it and a few minutes later I observed a young girl riding her pony with the rest of her family. It was a very unusual pony; it was white with brightly coloured stripes dyed into its fur.

When I reached Langsett Reservoir, I didn't walk along the water's edge. I chose the path which takes the higher route, still giving me glimpses of the water through the trees.

At Langsett village I had a decision to make, climb up the hill and descend the other side to reach Penistone, or continue going down the valley in the direction of Stocksbridge. I opted for Stocksbridge, because, although it was slightly would be easier.

Walking down the main road was quite scary; some lorries passed very close to me, the draught they created made me feel a bit unsteady on my feet. So, I was glad to reach the footpath which leads onto the route of another old railway line. In the direction I was walking it leads down to the steelworks at Stocksbridge. I couldn't work out where it used to go in the other direction beyond Langsett, even by studying the map.

About a mile later and I could see my final reservoir of the day, the fifth, Underbank Reservoir, not too far from Stocksbridge where I caught the bus back to Sheffield.

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