Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fox House, Upper Padley, Grindleford, Leadmill, Shatton, and Bamford Station

My first walk in the Peak District for over a month due to various commitments I had, bad weather and conditions underfoot, and the railway line to Sheffield being closed on Sundays due to engineering work.

Another failed attempt to reach Foolow to have a look at the sinkhole; I had to get off the bus early at Fox House, just about the first opportunity I had. The bus was very crowded and I was wedged in tight and was in a lot of pain; there was very little legroom for me and certainly no space to manoeuvre my knees into a more comfortable position.

As I stood up to get off the bus and make my way to the front, my right knee collapsed...not a good way to start a day's walking.

The views from Fox House are spectacular; this wasn't the direction I was heading today though.



I crossed the road and entered the Longshaw Estate and headed for Padley Gorge. At the head of the gorge there's a roadside parking area; every other time I've passed there there's been one or two ice cream vans, but today there was a hot food vendor. Maybe he paid more to Derbyshire Dales District Council for the licence. 

I thought I might get some good photographs as I walked down through the woodland; the lighting conditions were good and in places it's like being in a fairytale enchanted forest, with gnarled and writhing trees,  [ sometimes creaking as I passed ] moss-covered boulders, a very eerie and ghostly light, and the constant sound of tumbling water. My photography skills weren't up to the task though - I think I'm much better at distant, widescreen, panoramic landscape shots...not the close-up arty stuff.

I was surprised at how busy it was; I know this is a popular area easily reached from Sheffield, but you would think that I'd be able to find a quiet spot for a pee...it took me a while though.

I soon reached Upper Padley and the Old Station Café where I tucked in to a massive serving of egg and chips; the chips were piled that high that they kept falling off my plate. I would have ordered a full cooked breakfast, but I'm under doctor's orders to limit my intake of greasy fried food - it's not good for my acid reflux erosive oesophagitis.

It took me twenty five minutes to eat my dinner, without stopping. I then walked down the road to Grindleford and took the footpath that goes across the meadows alongside the river. This was a bit of a gamble on my part; the area is obviously a flood plain and could well have been difficult walking conditions. It was okay though; still a bit muddy and boggy in places, but much better than the conditions underfoot on some of my recent walks, in the Peak District and elsewhere.

There are some lovely views along this section of the walk; the countryside still looking very green.






The last mile or so to the road at Leadmill is easy-going - a track suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

I suspected that for the next part of the walk I would have to take a higher route, staying well away from the river - the last time I was here I had to actually walk in the River Derwent whilst holding on to overhanging trees for balance...other people just use hiking poles though.

I turned left and walked along the road for a few yards and then took the road which leads to Abney. It was a bit of a climb until I reached the first available footpath, leading down to Broadhay Farm. Yet again, some lovely views of the Hope Valley to enjoy.



Just before reaching Broadhay Farm the path leaves the farm track and climbs uphill through woodland. This was probably the most challenging climb of the day and so I stopped for a rest, and a break, at Callow Farm at the top. I was soon joined by another hiker, who I subsequently found out was called Dave and was a volunteer ranger...and had an acid reflux cough just like me - so we had plenty to talk about as we continued walking together for the next two miles.

We parted ways at Shatton Lane End, he was continuing up to the Surprise View car park...still a substantial walk, and I just needed to walk a few hundred yards to the bus turnaround opposite  Bamford Station. I only had to wait ten minutes for the bus...and it was on time. It got delayed at Fox House as thirty five students boarded; I think they'd been on a course at Parson House Outdoor Centre and then had a meal at the pub...they certainly hadn't been hiking, yet they weren't dressed as if they'd just been for a meal and a drink.

The Cleethorpes train arrived at, and departed from, Sheffield Station on time...and arrived on time at Doncaster. Just as I was about to get up as the train was approaching Doncaster, a fat, middle-aged man walked past me with his trousers, and his red underpants around his legs, just above his knees, and getting lower. He was obviously struggling to walk, yet made no attempts to hold up his trousers with his hands. Two teenage girls standing next to me burst into fits of laughter and one tried to take a photo. I tried so hard not to join them in their giggling, I really did - and I wasn't quite as loud. I made no effort to reach for my phone though, it was difficult to get at...and anyway it's only an inexpensive one, and the camera is rubbish. 

By this time my camera was in a rucksack.