Saturday, September 14, 2013

Blackwell, Chelmorton, Flagg, Sheldon, Ashford-in-the-Water, and Bakewell

I got off the bus at the crossroads and walked down the lane to Blackwell and then continued along a short section of the Pennine Bridleway, soon leaving it though to head for the A6 road. I had difficulty finding the actual spot where the footpath intersects with the road; not the only problem I'd have with access to footpaths today. I quickly and carefully walked along the grass verge at the side of the carriageway for a couple of hundred yards before turning right and heading down the road which leads to Chelmorton...eventually. The route that I intended to walk, although not in a straight line - and with a deliberate detour so as to not be walking quite so much on the road, looks still to be about a mile shorter than that used by road vehicles.

According to the Ordnance Survey map there's a footpath that goes straight through the farmyard at Calton Farm, you'd never know when you get there though, there's no signpost and no obvious route for a footpath. There were three or four men working in the farmyard; and I was ready. I held my map in my hand, correctly orientated, and confidently strode forward: not a word from them, I think they were just contractors who had nothing to do with the farm. After I'd passed a few buildings I spotted a fingerpost sign and followed it, soon to be confronted with a deliberately blocked gate (even though there was a yellow arrow indicating a footpath on one of the gateposts...it looked like someone had tried to remove it though.) I looked around and spotted an alternative route, using an adjacent gate which was open.

The path continued across grassy fields to Topleyhead Farm, where the footpath was much more clearly indicated. Although a bit cloudy when I first got off the bus, it was now quite warm and sunny and so I found a sheltered place facing south to eat my sandwiches: I didn't get to finish them though because a few minutes later it started drizzling. I had the remainder of my sandwiches, and my chocolate chip cookies, at Chelmorton during another sunny interval.

The next farm I passed was Chelmorton Flatt Farm, which looks as though it might by a stud farm, or stables now. I might be completely wrong with my assessment, but it does have an attractive wrought iron sign at the end of the lane.


Somewhere along this section I climbed over a decaying stile which collapsed as I put my foot on it, I kicked a couple of pieces of the shattered wood with nails attached into a ditch...the farmer or landowner can deal with the consequences. 

I walked along the road for a few yards and then took the path which loops around the base of Chelmorton Low. I had a road to cross and then, as I thought, a metal gate to open to continue on my way. Where I was walking is actually a bridleway and so I assumed it would be maintained to a higher standard than a footpath...but not deliberately blocked by a farmer. The gate was secured to the gateposts at both sides with strong string and rope. It looked like the hinges had worked lose and maybe it would have been otherwise unsafe; unfortunately it was blocking my way and there was no alternative route provided. I tried climbing over it but there was a metal grille attached which meant that I couldn't get any grip or contact with my boots, it was also wobbling, and there was rusty barbed wire everywhere. Drastic action was needed; I wrestled with the gate for a few minutes, shaking and twisting it and kicking the gateposts with my boots. Eventually there was enough room for me to squeeze myself through, stepping over and twisting like a  demented ballerina in a slow-motion action replay.

I reached the pub at the top end of the village at about 12:20; it wasn't open yet, I was too early. I think it might have opened at 12:30 though. It's a pretty pub and so I took a photograph.



I walked along Church Lane which is designated as part of the Midshires Way. There are some impressive drystone walls to be viewed from here; I've just checked online and they are examples of mediaeval strip fields.



I continued along the road and then across more grassy fields to reach Flagg; a very long linear village. I came out towards the lower end of the village, but still had about half a mile of the village remaining before I struck out across the fields, heading towards Sheldon. 

I would have liked to have visited Magpie Mine, but there wasn't enough time; I headed straight for Sheldon instead, pausing to take a photograph of the pub with a rude name.



Just beyond Sheldon I found a slightly different way to get down to Ashford-in-the-Water, and then took the familiar route along the riverbank to Bakewell. I seem to have finished several walks at Bakewell this summer. I suppose the next time I'll actually be staying a while will be when I go to the Christmas Market with my friend Justin. Because of his disability, this is the only chance he gets to see the Peak District.