I've decided not to include any photos in today's report; not because I didn't take any, or those I took weren't any good, but because this report will be a long one. A lot happened today and I want to to get it typed up as quickly as possible whilst it's still fresh in my mind.
I got off the bus at Matlock, crossed over the bridge and walked along the Derwent Valley Heritage Way along the riverbank. Looking at the map I thought this section of the walk would be quite industrial and uninteresting, but it turned out out to be a pleasant riverside walk, with the bypass and various factories and warehouses well screened.
After about a mile I took a path which cut across a field, going towards Oaker. I didn't enter the village, instead I took a couple of paths leading across grassy fields which were well populated by cows and their calves. Once clear of the cows I turned on my radio for the cricket commentary. I was a few minutes early; however I was concerned that there might not be any cricket to listen to today...and I might have to cancel the day's walking and get home as soon as possible before public transport would be stopped and the whole country closed down. I thought that the queen had died! The programme being broadcast on Radio 4 LW sounded like a eulogy or an obituary for the monarch: I was glad when the voice of the continuity announcer introduced the start of 'Test Match Special.' Panic over.
I continued across more fields and then along a pleasant valley, Wensley Dale I think, passing just to the south of Wensley and coming out onto the road which leads to Winster. I walked along this road for about a mile until I reached the village, and called in the shop to buy some confectionery.
I left the village by a hard-to-locate footpath which went through the churchyard, and then across a parkland area where a lot of dandelions were growing, joining the Limestone Way for about a mile before turning off for Birchover. Just before reaching this village I explored Rowtor Rocks for a few minutes: I had read that these rocks were quite impressive...well, I wasn't that impressed: there are many more interesting places in other parts of the Peak District.
I called in at one of the two pubs, the Druids' Inn, for a pot of tea and then planned to get something from the shop. I thought that there was a shop in the village the last time I visited Birchover...well, there isn't one there now: maybe there never has been recently, and I was mistaken.
I walked along the village street and took the footpath which leads through the camping site and then up onto Stanton Moor. When I reached the Nine Ladies stone circle it was very busy there; several dozen people were picnicking or playing games with their children or dogs. I felt uncomfortable as I took a couple of photographs: I felt as if somehow I was intruding.
Next I walked through a wood and down across some more grassy fields until I reached the road that leads to Congreave. This road is a steep, narrow, and winding sunken lane with few places to get out of the way of traffic. A rather large four wheel drive vehicle passed me: the driver did have the courtesy to slow right down, but I still needed to breathe in, in order to ensure that the vehicle's wing mirror didn't gouge a hole in my belly.
It wasn't long until I reached Rowsley and had plenty of time to call in the café at the Peak Village shopping centre. I judged that I didn't have enough time for a cream tea though: however, the bus was fifteen minutes late..
At the stop after I got on, a woman and her teenage daughter who was carrying a large floral pink suitcase, got on. The daughter will feature prominently in the rest of the day's events.
When the bus reached Chatsworth House about eighty passengers boarded; most of them being Chinese students studying at the two universities in Sheffield. This is something that I've often observed; the fact that Chinese people seem to love Chatsworth - I think many of them must visit several times during their stay in the area. Despite the driver doing his best to tell them that they couldn't stand up on the upper deck, several of them did...there wasn't any room for them to stand downstairs.
It was fortunate that only two more passengers got on before we reached Sheffield.
As the bus was struggling up the hill from Grindleford, travelling no quicker than a walking pace at times, the engine started to overheat and smoke was filling the saloon: several people were coughing...and I sucked on a menthol sweet, just in case.
Back to the mum and her teenage daughter....
The daughter had a very loud voice and I could hear almost everything she was saying. She was sitting right at the front of the bus with her mum and immediately started talking to the driver, including her mother in the conversation. It was soon obvious to me that she was acting as a matchmaker, trying to set up a date with her mum and the driver, getting them to exchange phone numbers (she seemed to write them down on two pieces of paper.) At times her language was quite risqué when she was hinting at what her mum's preferred sexual activities were. As far as I could work out, the mum and the bus driver were going to meet for a drink at the end of his shift.
The bus reached the top of the hill at Fox House. The stop at Fox House can sometimes get quite busy with hikers and climbers returning to Sheffield; however, there was no room onboard for anyone else today.
We turned the corner and right there in front of us was a broken down 272 bus with steam or smoke billowing out of its engine; the climb up from Hathersage is a long, steep one too. Our driver stopped and explained the situation to the other driver and his fifty of so irate passengers. Some of them weren't happy and charged towards our bus. The driver jumped back on, and fortunately the bus managed to pull away...I feared a riot if we had broken down too.
As the bus descended down into Sheffield the driver seemed to be concerned about the brakes overheating now. As we drove along Eccleshall Road, people were struggling to get out of their seats and reach the front of the bus in time to get off at their stops. The teenage girl took some initiative and took charge, becoming our 'bus captain' - making sure that the driver didn't drive off too early before everyone who wanted to, had got off. Well done to her, both for this, and for acting as cupid for her mum, she made the world a slightly better place for a an hour or so today.
Although a lot of people had got off the bus before my stop on Paternoster Road, there were still a dozen people standing in the gangway and if I'd tried to get off I think I might have had to charge into them to move them out of the way. So...I stayed sitting down until the bus reached the bus station. The walk back to the railway station isn't a long one...only about a couple of minutes.