A winter wonderland - even though it's meant to be spring.
Well...today didn't turn out as I planned; not in the least. Nonetheless I still had a great time out in the snow; the deepest snow I've experienced this winter...even though it's now spring. I knew there was a lot of lying snow, even in Doncaster as I set off wearing my ice grippers to walk to the railway station; but I'd checked online and the main roads seemed to be clear. So, I made plans to go walking around the lanes to the north of Hathersage where I hoped the snowy conditions wouldn't be too difficult; I certainly didn't want to be slogging across open country today.
My first change of plan happened when the Hathersage bus didn't turn up: the 273 service did though a few minutes later and so I got on that. I thought I'd get off at Fairholmes and walk along part of the track which goes around Ladybower Reservoir, but the driver informed us that he wasn't going up the valley because of the weather, Plan number three was to get off at the Ladybower Inn and take a low level route to Hathersage and pop into Cintra's Tearooms for something to eat. However, this plan was thwarted too when the bus reached just beyond Rivelin where the road was blocked by a deep snowdrift. Although it hadn't snowed for many hours, and the road had been ploughed and gritted, there was a strong wind which had blown snow from the fields onto the carriageway. Although we were actually out of sight of the blockage, the snow which we could see being lifted was quite spectacular.
After finding out what the problem was, most of us got off the bus. I was the first and jumped straight into some deep snow, almost up to my knees. I decided to walk back down the road towards Sheffield. Some of the other passengers decided on the same strategy, but at the first opportunity left the road and took a footpath leading down to the Wyming Brook Nature Reserve.
As I was walking I stopped once or twice to take photographs or have a rummage in my rucksack, and the remaining passenger who was walking along the road caught up with me, and we immediately got talking. I recognised him, he's usually on the early train on a Sunday when I'm travelling on it, and sometimes he ends up on the same bus as me (like today). Prior to today, we've exchanged the odd few words, but nothing more though.
I found out that he's called Dougie, and, as I expected, is from Doncaster too. We walked together and chatted for about two hours until we went our separate ways at the Rivelin Café. I think I did most of the talking.
I popped into the toilets located at the start of the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail: there was a sign pinned to the door saying that they will be closing on March 31st...so that's the last time I'll be using those. More facilities lost.
Once we got down into the valley and into the woodland it was a lot more sheltered. The trees were heavy with snow and the millponds and dams were frozen...picture postcard perfect.
Along the way I noticed something I hadn't seen before on previous visits; a piece of artwork depicting a chair, placed on an inaccessible island in the middle of the river.
At the café, myself and Dougie said our goodbyes. He continued walking, but I went into the public toilets to wash my hands and then went into the café hoping to buy a hot meal. I wasn't the only one with this idea though; it was packed and there were no empty seats, so I found a bench down by the millrace, brushed off the snow, and sat down and enjoyed my rice pudding which had stayed quite hot in my flask. I rarely take the flask, but I knew today was going to be chilly.
It wasn't far then to walk down to Malin Bridge and the shops at Hillsborough. I walked along the main shopping street hoping to find a café that might be open, but with it being a Sunday none was.
I crossed the road and waited for the tram: it wasn't long until it arrived. With it being earlier in the day, it got very busy with people going shopping at Meadowhall, or going skating or bowling, or to the cinema. I was just going home.