Saturday, October 11, 2014

Walking With Chris: Winster, Bradford, Alport, and Stanton in Peak

It was brilliant sunshine all the way from Sheffield to Fox House, my usual place for meeting up with Chris from Leeds. As the bus approached the highest point of the road all the passengers were able to see that it was still very misty down in the Hope Valley. This was definitely the best temperature inversion I've ever seen; some people looked...many didn't.

Chris had arrived in the car just a few minutes before me so I didn't have to hang around. We drove to Winster and parked in the car park at the eastern end of the village and then walked along the High Street until we found our footpath at the side of the village shop.

Our route began with some 'roadworks.'

Just beyond this point Chris suddenly stopped; he'd forgotten his rucksack [again.] I'd been so concerned about finding somewhere out-of-sight to have a pee that I'd completely forgotten to check that we'd got everything with us.

Chris obviously had to head back to the car; I made my excuses and found some bushes to deal with my call of nature. I did walk back to the village, and had a quick look inside the Old Market Hall, which has been turned into a small local museum. (I didn't fancy continuing all the way to the far side of Winster...and back.)

So; we set off, again, heading uphill across the fields towards Birchover.

By now the sun was poking through the mist.

We bypassed Birchover to the south, passing a couple of lovely cottages - here's a photograph of one of them.

We soon joined the Limestone Way and climbed up on to Harthill Moor. A large group of teenagers was sitting on my favourite rock, and the seat positioned right next to it, so we had to find somewhere else nearby to eat our sandwiches. 

I don't usually bother with the hermit's cave on Harthill Moor. There's not a lot to see, and the entrance to the cave is behind locked gates anyhow. Chris seemed quite interested to see it, and when I pointed out the direction towards a rocky outcrop, it was decided...we'd go and have a look. I wasn't sure of the exact location, but a couple of young boulderers helped us out. I took some photographs of the cave, but they were rubbish; the ones I took of the nearby rocky outcrops weren't rubbish at all though. In the photograph I've included you can see a man's face staring out from the rockface. He looks very determined; I don't think you'd want to mess with him.

It's a slight diversion from the Limestone Way to reach Harthill Moor Stone Circle...but not far. From quite far away though we could see that the local farmer had added a modern addition to this ancient megalithic structure: I wonder what his motive is for doing this.

We crossed the road and continued towards Harthill Moor Farm and then across the fields down towards Youlgreave. We actually arrived at the small estate of what used to be council houses at Bradford, the lower part of the village. I joked with Chris that when he got home he could tell his wife that he'd not really been walking with me in the Peak District, but had instead spent the day just walking to a council estate in Bradford. Bradford Coach Road, which goes along the bottom of Bradford Dale doesn't go anywhere near to Leeds either. 

At Alport I noticed that the telephone kiosk had been converted into a housing for a communal defibrillator; there was another located in the shop at Winster I found out later.

It's a long and relentless climb up the road to Stanton in Peak, and then beyond the village to the access to Stanton Moor; we stopped for refreshments at the Flying Childers pub, probably lingering too long enjoying musical hits from 1978 being played on the radio.

Nine Ladies Stone Circle on Stanton Moor was our second stone circle of the day; I couldn't photograph it at close quarters because nine middle-aged woman were performing some sort of pagan virility ceremony which involved touching their genitalia...I stayed well away. I noticed a three-dimensional pentagram made from twigs hanging from a tree. Chris said it was all 'Blair Witch,'

We arrived back at Winster unscathed just as the second brief shower of the day started...and then finished. Chris drove me back to Hathersage where I only had ten minutes to wait for the bus. Among the passengers getting on the bus was an East European couple who had bought 'Peak Day Rover' tickets but were denied entry by the driver. Even though the tickets cost over a fiver each, they are only valid on First South Yorkshire buses, and not Hulley's Coaches, which was running the service at this time.

As I was showing my bus pass to the driver I said, "This is precisely what's wrong with Britain in the twenty first century." He didn't take the bait. During the journey back to Sheffield I was thinking what I might have done in a similar situation; I'm very confrontational and so would probably have explained to the driver that Hathersage is in the Peak District and I'd spent the day roving, and so my ticket is valid. I'd have most likely got on the bus and challenged the driver to call the police - I think it's probably best for everyone that I'm able to travel for free.

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