Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bentley Bridge, Matlock Green, Riber, Cromford, Bonsall, Snitterton, Oaker (or Oker), Darley Bridge, and Darley Dale.

Unusually I spent a bit of time researching for today's walk because there are three locations I specifically wanted to visit; Lumsdale mills, Riber Castle and Arkwright's Mill at Cromford.

The walk didn't get off to a good start though: I got off the bus at Bentley Bridge and found the lane that leads off towards Lumsdale and I was soon in a deep wooded valley which I presumed to be Lumsdale. Maybe it was, or maybe it wasn't; but even with backtracking several times I couldn't find even one of the six ruined mills that I'd read about. They'll have to be visited on a later walk because I was soon at the bottom of the valley, in Matlock Green.

I followed the main road in an easterly direction for a few hundred yards and then took the steep path which goes up to Riber, going alongside a wall, then open grassy fields and finally an area overgrown with bracken. Although the visibility wasn't particularly good, I enjoyed some pleasant views of Matlock from a new  perspective.

My next objective, Riber Castle, isn't a castle at all; it's a nineteenth century folly. In the village there are at least another two crenellated buildings, both of which I spotted before seeing Riber Castle. Eventually I caught a couple of glimpses of the battlements but had to wait until I had left the village to enjoy the best view, as I was walking across the fields towards Cromford.

The path soon descends to the Cromford road, but whilst still quite high up there were some spectacular views of Matlock Bath and the cable cars...yet again, seen from a completely new direction.

The first place I arrived at in Cromford was Cromford Wharf. I popped into the café, but was rather disappointed with the limited choice on offer so crossed the road and had a pot of tea and a cherry scone at Arkwright's Mill...a very easy location to find; it's well signposted.

This photograph was taken from where I was eating my scone.

I lingered at the mill for a while, and then continued into the town centre where I ended up taking  photographs of the most colourful outdoor shop display I've ever seen...and a green padded bicycle with a card placed in front of it bearing a very strange and cryptic message.

The message on the yellow card reads; 'Show me the rejects. Like us on Facebook.' The card attached to the rear wheel has an equally strange message about taking photographs when wearing a specific tee-shirt - I think it all might be part of some online viral marketing campaign.

I then walked along a footpath which runs parallel to the Via Gellia, passing through woodland and across fields to reach the road which leads up to Bonsall.
Despite its Latin sounding name, Via Gellia isn't a Roman road at all; it was named by, and for, a Mr. Gell, the man who paid for the original road to be built.
Interestingly, the fabric known as Viyella was itself named for the Via Gellia, the location of the mill where it was first produced.

It's a long climb up to the top of the village of Bonsall, not too steep though. At the bottom of the hill I noticed another strange message - this time on a bus stop.

There are several paths leading up from just beyond the village centre, going in a northerly direction - I'm not sure exactly which one I took but I reached Salters Lane and then found the path leading me back downhill across fields to reach Snitterton. Along this section I briefly set foot inside the official boundaries of the Peak District...the distance covered is only the width of three fields though.

I then took the road leading to Oaker, or Oker, as it is also written. It seems that no-one can agree on the correct spelling: on every actual sign I came across, the name was spelled differently to how it is depicted on the Ordnance Survey Map. Coincidence? Conspiracy? An organised protest; or just a bit of fun?

By now it was starting to rain and I was glad it was an easy walk back to Darley Dale to catch the Sheffield bus.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lodge Moor, Rivelin Dams, Rivelin Valley, Malin Bridge, and Hillsborough.

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Castleton, Little Hucklow, Coplow Dale, and Bradwell.

After having walked through Castleton from the bus station I climbed up the steep grassy slope at the far side of the wooded area next to the castle, to reach the path which goes parallel with, and high above, Cave Dale. Although not signposted, and a challenging climb, this short section is a footpath, the approximate route being depicted on the Ordnance Survey map: certainly, I've come down here before, and seen other people also use the route.

This path merges with the Limestone Way at the top of Cave Dale. I continued for a few minutes before I reached a junction of five footpaths or bridleways and took a route across Old Moor I hadn't previously walked. I was heading in a south-south easterly direction for about two and a half miles, the route at first being a footpath across grasslands, then a track, then a brief section of country road, and finally a green lane; or 'bridleway open to all traffic' - otherwise known as a 'BOAT'.

I then turned left and took the road that leads to Little Hucklow, a village I haven't really explored before. I noticed something that briefly interested me; a garden gate with a very high step leading up to it. You can see from the photograph that the step is nearly as high as the gate, and the gate looked to be a normal size to me.

It was a short walk along an overgrown footpath to Coplow Dale and then a pleasant walk across fields towards Bradwell, with some lovely views of Bradwell Edge, the Hope Valley...and beyond. I did get a splinter in my thumb though when climbing over a stile; we call a splinter a 'spell' in Yorkshire dialect...I wonder if they use the same word in Derbyshire?

I knew that the route down into Bradwell Dale is steep and difficult because I've previously climbed up it; so I walked along the top lane, passing by what I assume to be the entrance to Bagshawe Cavern - there was a group of people struggling to get into caving gear.

I took one of the paths which leads down into the centre of Bradwell, arriving there at 1:40, hoping for either some fish and chips or an ice cream from the ice cream shop...yes; that's all it sells, and as I discovered, it only opens for a few hours each week. The fish and chip shop doesn't open at all on Sundays...but I'd be able to get an ice cream at two o'clock.

I spent a few minutes reading the information board at the entrance to the small park and then visited the toilets. It's the first time I've used these facilities; on previous occasions they've been closed - like most public toilets in the Peak District they were clean and well maintained and serviced though.

I was waiting outside Bradwell's shop when it opened; Bradwell is the name of the family which makes and sells the ice just happens that their dairy and shop are also in Bradwell.

I was confronted with the entire range of flavours available...nineteen in all. I treated myself to a twin cone, double chocolate chip and lemon curd. Delicious.

The bus was due ten minutes later, and arrived about five minutes late.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Walking Opportunities.

I was surfing the net yesterday and ended up finding out about a new bus route to me, which I can use to reach the Peak District; service 51 to Lodge Moor.

I haven't been aware of its existence before because it departs from Arundel Gate and not the bus station - and it's not included in the timetable booklet featuring services running into the Peak District - it actually stops short of the Peak District boundary by about a this is probably the reason why.

If I'd realised earlier that not all buses serving the City Centre use the bus station, and actually knew where Lodge Moor is, I would have already been using this service; especially since its operating frequency is every ten minutes on weekdays - there have been many occasions when I have been hanging about for long periods of time at the interchange.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Short Walk From Fox House, And A Drive Up The Upper Derwent Valley.

Today I spent a lovely few hours in the Peak District with two friends from Leeds. It was totally unexpected; I received a phone call at eleven o'clock and we arranged to meet ninety minutes later at Sheffield Railway Station. I assumed we would just be meeting up for a drink, or a meal, but when my friend met me he mentioned that they'd come in the car and fancied a quick visit to the Peak District.

We drove to Fox House and walked part way along the carriage track and then returned back to the car park by the high level route at the top of the rocks. Damo has a bit of a limp, and his shoes weren't really appropriate for hiking, but I reckon we did about three miles; and no-one came to any harm.

After a quick drink in the pub we drove to Ladybower Reservoir and then turned up the road which goes up the valley. We stopped at the Derwent Dam to enjoy the view from the observation platform. Conditions were absolutely perfect; mainly sunny, but with dramatic-looking clouds, a strong breeze and occasional drizzle. We even spotted a rainbow. Excellent conditions for photography...but I didn't take my camera.

We continued further up the valley to the Howden Dam, which was overtopping; glistening like a plate of glass in the bright sunlight. The road at this point is narrow and so we needed to travel another mile or so in order to find a spot to turn round. All the time we drove very slowly up and down the valley, drinking in the scenery and listening to Wagner on the car's music system.

We then returned to Sheffield along the A57 road, arriving in ample time for my friends to have a meal before going on to their appointment.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Miller's Dale, Wormhill, Hargatewall, and Hope.

I visited another two villages for the first time today, Wormhill and Hargatewall: there can't be that many left now that I haven't visited that I'm easily able to reach on public transport from Sheffield.

I got off at a familiar location though, the bus stop just beyond the railway viaducts at Miller's Dale.

I walked along the footpath at the side of the river, soon reaching another viaduct, which now also carries the Monsal Trail over the River Wye.

There are plenty of trout which can easily be spotted in the water along this stretch of the river: I think it would have been easier to grab one with my hands than actually land a decent photograph though.

I continued until I reached the footpath which leads up to Wormhill, going through the Chee Dale Nature Reserve. My access was blocked though, the gate was padlocked. Now, there might have been a very good reason for this footpath being closed to the public, but a little bit of information and details of alternative routes would have been helpful. I assume that it's quite difficult to close a definitive footpath that's marked on an Ordnance Survey map, even for a temporary period; due process has to be followed and the proper consultation undertaken.

Never mind though, there was an alternative route that I discovered, adding about a mile to my walk; even though there was a sign reminding me that conditions underfoot might be a bit difficult.

After needing to be careful with some slippery limestone rocks along the way, I safely reached a footpath which I assumed led up through the woods to Wormhill. It wasn't marked on the map, but it appeared to be well-used. As I was ascending this section I was secretly hoping that I might come across a ranger or warder...I had it planned what I was going to say.

I walked along the road through Wormhill, to Hargatewall, about half a mile further. On the map there are several paths shown starting from here, yet I didn't see even one public footpath sign. Do the local residents actually want people to walk in areas that they'd prefer that they didn't?

I located the track that I needed to follow, then walked across fields as I approached the top of Peter Dale. I then continued along the bottom of Hay Dale and Dam Dale, areas I have previously walked.

At Dam Dale Farm I took the footpath across the fields to the main road, just to the east of Peak Forest, walked along the busy section of road, jogged really I suppose; then took the path leading down to Old Dam Lane. Access to this path was quite difficult; the area near to the stile was quite steep and overgrown with nettles and brambles.

I walked down the lane for a couple of hundred yards and then turned right along the track leading to Oxlow Rake, an area of old mine workings. It was then a steady climb up to the open grassland of Old Moor.

I then took the track which soon leads to the road which leads to Pin Dale. I was tormented by some bikers as I walked down Pin Dale. They were having a break at the top of the dale as I reached it, so I didn't linger as I descended. I soon heard their engines and so found a safe spot to let them pass; a few yards further on they stopped again though and I had to repeat the process all over again. I think this was rather inconsiderate on their part.

I then walked down the road which leads to Hope, past the main entrance to the Hope Cement Works, where I noticed that the Edale Mountain Rescue team is now based.

I had time to pop in the shop at Hope. The bus was a few minutes late because of some roadworks further down the valley at Brough. Unfortunately I didn't help the driver's timekeeping - when I pressed my travel pass onto the scanner my fingers were blocking the slot where the ticket comes out...he had to dismantle the machine: fortunately it didn't take too long. I think the reason I ended up doing this is that I was being careful not to block the scanning beam with my fingers; I have done this several times seems that there are some situations where you just can't win.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Walk Along The River

I did a local walk today, from Doncaster town centre and along the river to Sprotbrough, returning via Cusworth Hall.

I led a small group consisting of staff and members of the Autism Plus group recently established here in Doncaster.

We walked through the town centre and then took the steps down to the town lock; taking the footpath which leads past the prison and along the riverbank to the hamlet of Newton. We then continued, briefly walking through woodland and then on the top of the levee as the river curves past Hexthorpe. I pointed out the impressive facilities of Doncaster Rowing Club on the other bank, and then found myself identifying other points of interest along the way: I enjoy walking alone, but being part of a group, and having the pleasure and responsibility of being walk leader is equally interesting and challenging.

We stopped about a mile short of Sprotbrough for a rest and to eat our sandwiches and have something to drink, but we still landed up at the Boat Inn in Sprotbrough: it's a lovely country pub, but I think the food is rather expensive.

Needing to get back into town for four o'clock we couldn't linger for long; we had a quick detour to view the weir and then climbed up some steep steps to reach the main part of the village. The route to Cusworth Hall took us across fields, and as we approached the building, a quite strenuous climb up the hill for another refreshment stop at the tearooms. Yet again, we needed to be mindful of the time, but we even had a few minutes to spare to watch a barge passing through the town lock as we passed over the bridge.

Certainly a different experience for me when compared to walking in the Peak District on my own...but very pleasant - I really enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm for a couple of local beauty spots which were pretty much unknown to the other walkers: one of the staff members was so impressed with Sprotbrough that she is planning a family outing there.

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.