There were three or four trainspotters on the platform at Doncaster Railway Station this morning, paying a lot of attention to a rather sleek, shiny, freight locomotive parked in the engineering sidings. My train to Sheffield was nothing special, just a standard local stopping service operated by Northern Rail. It got me to Sheffield on time though, and that was good enough for me.
When I'd walked over to the bus station at Sheffield I immediately noticed something a bit strange; quite a few attractive young women, students maybe, were wearing brightly coloured, patterned, fluorescent wellies...and not a lot more - just about the legal minimum they could get away with, skimpy two piece swimming costumes or a cropped tee-shirt and lacy, almost see-through knickers. I think one of them might have been a bit shy though because she was only brave enough to wear very short hotpants, which rode all the way up into the crack of her bum.
I'd only been walking for a couple of minutes at Calver when I noticed a dead animal at the side of the road - it looked like a badger...I've never seen a badger alive.
I soon found my path, but noticed a group of hikers ahead of me, so decided to eat my sandwiches early on a hill overlooking the village, from where the views were wide-ranging.
I then continued along the path towards Hassop Common. For most of its length walking along this path was difficult, it was overgrown with brambles and nettles, limestone rubble was underfoot, and I seemed to be always going uphill or downhill. There were some lovely views though.
The road down to Rowland is tarmac though, and a lot easier.
Just before entering the main part of the village I turned left , walking across the fields to reach the Hassop road. At Hassop I rested on the seat in front of the church for a few minutes before joining the first of the two bridleways which would take me to Pilsley.
I had a pot of tea at the pub, the Devonshire Arms. Walking past the post office I noticed that it was closed, and boarded up, yet someone was still tending the hanging baskets.
When I reached the main road I turned right and visited the Chatsworth Farm Shop and bought a slice of mixed game pie (may contain lead shot). It was quite expensive...but Chatsworth has won many awards and claims to be the best of the best..so I'm looking forward to tasting it.
It was only a walk of a few minutes down the road until Chatsworth House comes into view, passing by Edensor first - where there are some interesting cottages.
Today was the first time that I could take a photograph of Chatsworth House without the scaffolding ruining the shot. It really is impressive; the Emperor Fountain is over on the far right of both photographs, I'm not sure if it is, or was at one time, the highest fountain in Europe...or the entire world.
By this time my feet were beginning to hurt me, the first time for many months. My boots were rubbing me...maybe my feet were swollen...I don't know.
I arrived at the bus stop right next to the main entrance to the house in plenty of time. As I was waiting I was aware that no other people were waiting there with me; perhaps only half a dozen, when I would have really expected several dozen. Anyhow, one of the Chatsworth tour guides came over and told us that the bus stop had been moved...just a few hours earlier....so that the buses can now loop round by accessing the coach park, instead of needing to reverse right in front of the House. It's probably a very good idea, but people need to be told about it in advance. Apart from this one employee, no-one else at Chatsworth knew about it, none of the drivers knew about it, and some of the passengers, myself included, didn't know about the change either.
The new location for the bus stop wasn't far away, but by now I was near to the back of a long queue.
The Sheffield bus was twenty minutes late, and in the meantime the driver of the Matlock bus hadn't realised what was going off and so turned around without picking up his passengers. Naturally the passengers weren't best pleased, and one woman in particular was quite distressed. Myself and some other passengers advised those travelling to Matlock to catch our bus, the Sheffield bus, which goes to Bakewell first, and get off there and catch one of the frequent buses to Matlock....however, for one or two passengers their passes or tickets weren't valid for travel by this route.
The driver of our bus phoned up the depot and explained the situation, telling the despacher that the last buses that call at Chatsworth House would be arriving there in just over half an hour and if the drivers didn't pick up the passengers they'd all be stranded...maybe a hundred of them. I was sitting on the front seat and could clearly hear his side of the conversation; he was getting very frustrated because all the other person could suggest was that he fill in an incident report when he got back to the garage and just said that there was nothing that could be done.
I'm afraid it's attitudes like this that make me ashamed to be English at times. I suspect that the vast majority of any potential stranded passengers would be overseas students with a poor grasp of English, and even less of an idea as what to do in an emergency.
Shame on you TM Travel...yet again.
Yet again the bus was dangerously overcrowded after it had picked up another two dozen passengers at Bakewell. Because of the delay though it meant that when I arrived at Sheffield the next train due to Doncaster was one of the few that travel direct, and don't stop at Meadowhall. The journey should have only taken about twenty minutes, but it was nearer to half an hour because we had to wait for several minutes outside the station.