Saturday, March 30, 2013

Calver, Stoney Middleton, Eyam, Highcliffe, Leadmill, and Hathersage.

I was fortunate that I wasn't in a rush to catch my bus at Sheffield this morning. The train almost overshot the platform; a short one carriage train and the longest platform at Sheffield Midland. This meant that I had what seemed to be like a walk of several hundred yards back along the platform...and then when I finally reached the main concourse area, the most convenient doors for accessing the bus station were blocked by an advertising hoarding.

As I was travelling on the bus I noticed that there was still a lot of snow on the ground - especially the higher, more exposed areas. It was fine when I got off the bus at Calver Crossroads though, and I walked along the road to Stoney Middleton. The sun was shining and was just at the right angle to illuminate a particularly attractive cottage as I walked by; if it wasn't for the snow you might think it was in the Mediterranean somewhere.



I then walked over the fields to Eyam, the snow being quite deep in places; I noticed that there were some deep footprints where people must have sunk in up to their knees.

The views along this section are always nice though.



As I entered Eyam I greeted the milkman: he wasn't using a milk float though. (We haven't had our milk delivered in Doncaster for many years.)

I then climbed up towards Highcliffe, passing another Peak District alpaca farm. The higher part of this footpath was quite slippery, and so I put on my ice grippers; which then remained on for most of the rest of the walk. At times later on in the day snowshoes would have been more useful though. 

I passed a couple of gates; easily stepping over one because the snow was deep, but compacted...but nearly tripping up over the next one.




I walked along the road to Highcliffe and then continued  towards Bretton. This road, like all of the roads I walked along today, had been ploughed, but snow was piled very high at the side...much higher than I am tall...and looking quite precarious in places. 

I turned off the road before reaching Bretton and took a track to the right. Farm vehicles had been using this track and so it was easy to walk along, but as soon as I arrived at a point where several footpaths and bridleways met I knew I would have to modify my route: the path that I had intended to use was blocked by three foot of snow. So, I climbed over a stile next to a locked gate and went along another farm track, which then became merely a footpath across fields which were quite deep with snow in places, but just about passable. It was hard work though walking through 18ins deep snow, made slightly easier by using the deep footprints already made by other walkers.

A few minutes later I reached the western edge of Eyam Moor and the snow was even deeper, and after a while I was really struggling - each step was such an effort.  I noticed that the snow on the lee side of the wall next to the footpath wasn't anywhere near as deep and so when I found a spot where the difference between the height of a snowdrift and the top of the wall was at its lowest, I made a beeline for it, and with the combination of a Fosbury Flop inspired jump and a commando-style roll I ended up in a clump of heather on the other side of the wall - just where I wanted to be.

A bit later on I had to negotiate a stretch of undulating snowdrifts, each about twenty foot high; scrambling up to the top and sliding down the other side on my backside.  I reached the bottom of Bretton Clough at Stoke Ford and then followed various paths to Leadmill. The snow was still quite deep in places, and some stretches were icy; but I coped okay, reaching the road at Leadmill unscathed.

I arrived at Hathersage twenty minutes before the bus was due, just as a few snow flurries started falling.