Monday, June 25, 2012

Kelstedge, Beeley, and Chatsworth House.

After walking about nine miles on Saturday in the Meanwood Valley area of Leeds I was back walking in the Peak District today. I probably walked a similar distance, but today's terrain was much more challenging and I'm feeling rather tired.

I got off the bus at Kelstedge, about four miles north of Matlock, and took the lane heading due west. There are some expensive houses down here and I noticed that there was a large pink Buddha statue in the garden of the last property.

The lane soon petered out into a track, and then a footpath; and was rather overgrown with nettles and brambles in places. For the next two miles I passed, or walked through, a lot of wildflower meadows such as the one in the photograph - the buttercups were particularly I passed Shooters-Lea Farm I stopped to stroke a very friendly cat.

Not long after my encounter with the cat I was walking along a short stretch of road, then grassy fields; and then, due to a lapse of concentration because I was keeping an eye on a herd of cows rather than looking out for the footpath signs, I ended up walking through a deep bog near to Sitchs Plantation. I decided to walk along the edge of the bog, using fence posts for support - I still sank in up to a depth of eighteen inches though. I would have liked to walk diagonally across the deepest part of the bog; I would have enjoyed the challenge, but would have most likely fallen flat on my face and then probably not been allowed on the bus back to Sheffield.

I soon reached Big Bumper Piece, my first area of open moorland for the day, and then walked along the Rowland road for a few minutes before entering access land above Fallinge. I decided to walk along the top of Fallinge Edge, it's not that spectacular compared to the more well-known Eastern Edges further north, but the views to the west, and down into the wooded valley were okay. Walking along here was hard work though; a relentless slog through knee-high heather and bracken.

I couldn't find a way down onto the road and so had to struggle over a wall topped with barbed wire; grazing myself a little in the process.

I hurried down the road into Beeley and arrived just in time for the bus, but when I reached the main road I didn't know which way to turn for the bus-stop. Unfortunately I made the wrong choice and turned right; there was a bus shelter on the other side of the road; but nothing in my direction. A couple of minutes later the bus passed me as I was walking on the other side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic as is standard safe practice.

I continued north along the road, then through Chatsworth Park towards Chatsworth House, which looks a lot better now that most of the scaffolding has been removed.

I arrived at the House and bought a cup of tea and a caramel confection of some sort. They were very expensive, but I needed them - I was feeling rather weak.
I enjoyed my refreshments and then walked to the bus-stop, which is right outside the entrance to Chatsworth House; and the design even ties in with the Chatsworth Estate style of signage.

The bus was nearly twenty minutes late, due to delays in Sheffield caused by the Olympic Torch relay. If I were to write exactly what I think about the Olympics and the inconvenience caused by the torch relay I'd probably lose a few regular followers and the blog would end up being banned by the inappropriate content filters at schools, libraries, and workplaces up and down the country.

As the bus was entering Sheffield, coming down Eccleshall Road, there were thousands of people, and hundreds of police officers lining the route...I just leaned forward in my seat and scratched my piles.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Meanwood Valley Trail, Leeds.

I just walked along this route with a friend from Leeds Adult Asperger's Group.

The terrain and scenery is a bit like the wooded valleys that lead down into the urban areas of Sheffield, the Rivelin Valley, Porter Valley, Limb Valley and Loxley Valley ...naturally it's not as hilly though, but the countryside is fairly open towards Golden Acre Park at the end of the route.

One thing I did notice is that the footpaths are not as clearly marked as they are in Sheffield.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Castleton, Winnats Pass, Bradwell, and Brough.

As I left the railway station at Sheffield this morning I was under no misapprehension that the Olympics start in a few weeks: only a few yards beyond the concourse there were four sturdy outdoor table tennis tables.

I walked to the bus-stop and the bus arrived on time; however I delayed it by a few minutes, and I doubt I wasn't the only one, because my concessionary travel pass didn't scan's a different machine to the ones in Doncaster, and it's a different procedure too.

I'm not impressed with the idea of having to scan the passes: since it's only elderly and disabled people who are issued with them, people who are likely to be a bit slower because of arthritis, rheumatics, poor eyesight or maybe learning disabilities, it just complicates matters...but not always, on the return journey back to Sheffield the driver just let people on.

I got off at Castleton, popped into the shop for supplies, and wandered down towards the Peak Cavern show cave...just to get some photographs of the narrow gorge that leads there.

I then doubled back into the village and went along the path leading towards the Speedwell Cavern at the foot of Winnats Pass. I then continued up the grassy hill to reach Treak Cliff Cavern, which has a panoramic viewpoint.

Just before reaching Castleton's final show cave, the Blue John Cavern, I climbed up a steep gradient to eventually reach the north rim of Winnats Pass.

The views were spectacular; I took a few photographs and then descended down to the road; arriving quite close to the summit of the pass.

I walked alongside the road for a few yards and then took a steep, rocky path which led up the other side of the gorge. A path runs along the entire length of the southern rim and if anything, the views are even better from this side - a bit dizzying at times when you look down.

I continued walking for as far as I could, but eventually a deep ravine blocked my way. I had spotted this on the map and thought it might be an interesting was too much of a challenge for me though. I backtracked a few hundred yards and climbed over a stile I had noticed earlier, and walked across grassy fields, and then along tracks and more fields to arrive at the road that leads down to Bradwell.

I entered the village down a steep hill which brought me to the Smalldale area, where there were some very nice houses. It didn't take long for me to reach the main road which goes through the village, and turn left, walking northwards towards Brough, arriving with nearly twenty minutes to spare before the bus arrived.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Matlock, Matlock Bath, and High Tor.

I watched the weather forecast on TV this morning and decided I'd better stick to the eastern fringes of the Peak District; in fact, I didn't cross into the National Park at all. There's still a lot of beautiful countryside near to Matlock to be explored though.

I got off the bus and walked to the start of the Limestone Way, but only stayed along the route for a few dozen yards before taking the footpath that leads towards Matlock Bath. For about two miles I walked across wildflower meadows and woodland, with occasional views of High Tor and down into the valley.

Some of the later sections were along roads which skirt the higher parts of Matlock Bath. Along one of these roads, high up above the valley, is a rather nice decommissioned chapel, which looks more like a fairytale castle - I was particularly impressed with one of the oriel windows.

A few minutes later I passed beneath the cable cars which go up to the Heights of Abraham.

I had originally intended to visit the mill complex at Cromford today, but couldn't find either of the two paths which lead down to the village. One route seemed to lead straight along the driveway of a large private house and the other I'd identified was blocked by a field of cows and an electric fence - I assumed that this wasn't the correct way either, and so re-traced my steps until I found a damaged footpath sign lying half buried under builders' rubble in a ditch. Every possible direction was overgrown, and since everywhere was soaking wet anyhow after the recent rain, I didn't bother...I went down to Matlock Bath and had some fish and chips.

I walked south along the riverside walk for a few yards, crossed over the footbridge to the other bank, noticing how high and fast flowing the river was, and then climbed up through woodland to the clifftop path.

The views along here are really nice; to the right a scenic valley running parallel to the main valley of the River Derwent - I don't know its name, it's not marked on the map. Further along I caught sight of High Tor, which I would be climbing later. To my left there was woodland and a steep drop, but every now and then viewpoints had been created by clearing the trees and installing sturdy iron railings. The opposite bank of the River Derwent, where the attractions of Matlock Bath are situated, could be seen; right from The Pavilion in the south to the cable car system in the north.

The path gradually descended down to the main car park next to the railway station. The footpath to High Tor is well signposted; leading up through more woodland, with occasional clearings. The viewpoints here were equally as impressive, but they weren't fenced off - they aren't dangerous though; there are benches there and the locations would probably make ideal sites for a picnic.

If the weather had been more pleasant I might have lingered longer; it was cold and dark all day, with frequent drizzle, so I kept up a fairly quick pace down into Matlock, and after catching the bus, and then the train, arrived home in Doncaster in ample time to watch the football on TV.