Sunday, March 30, 2014

Walking Group: Sprotbrough, and Conisbrough Viaduct

Today was the second time I'd been walk leader for the autism group here in Doncaster.

It wasn't a good turn-out, there were only eight of us: the walk had to be rearrranged for a later date, it was Mother's Day, and the clocks went forward an hour - so there were probably plenty of excuses. It only being a small group probably made it easier for our new member to get to know people though.

We started at Lower Sprotbrough, down by the canal, and then walked by the row of cottages, passing the old village well.

(The weather was a bit hazy, but excellent conditions for walking, if not for photography.)

We took the high path which goes behind Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve; the views along this section are much improved now that the overhanging trees have been felled to allow access to the overhead electricity cables.

Next we took some quite steep steps down through woodland to join the main riverside path.

We soon spotted our second boat of the day; a quite nice cruiser.

We had several stops for a breather on today's walk, one of them was at the bottom of Conisbrough Viaduct, in preparation for the climb up the path to the top.

Half way up, at the side of the path, I saw my first butterfly of the summer; a tortoiseshell.

Once we'd reached the cycle track which crosses the viaduct we stopped for lunch at a group of large boulders which had been placed there to stop cars from making the crossing. After finishing eating we were soon able to enjoy stunning views of the Don Gorge and Conisbrough from a height of about 100 ft above the river: there are no photos because it was still quite hazy - I took a few, but have decided not to use them.

We soon located the footpath we needed which goes through woodland and leads to the main Doncaster to Sheffield road, passing close to Warmsworth Water Tower.

We walked along this road for a couple of hundred yards before taking a footpath which went through an abandoned farm, across fields, and then down through more woodland, quite steep in places, until we passed under the railway line and then descended further right down to the riverside path, where there were some convenient boulders to sit on for a group photograph; I appeared in this the back.

A couple of minutes later we had some fun scrambling over some more boulders; we subsequently found out that this wasn't necessary because there was a gate we could have used. Of course it was necessary to scramble over large boulders!

We didn't have far to go now, and none of us was struggling, so we made a short detour to have a look at the newly constructed fish ladder at the weir.

Ten minutes later we arrived back at the car park; a couple of us continued up the hill to the bus-stop. A bus back to town was due in five minutes, and it was on time.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Too Tired

I had intended to go walking today but I'm too tired after two successive late nights at the theatre, sitting quietly all evening and then yelling "Bravo! Bravo!" at the end of Verdi's opera Nabucco at Sheffield City Hall last night, and dancing in the aisles to an Abba tribute band at Wakefield on Saturday night.

Today's walk would have been the last walk when I would have been able to use my English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass to travel for free to the Peak District; it's a lovely sunny day and I'm rather disappointed not to be taking the opportunity to be walking in the dales, or across the moors. I do feel rather fatigued though; it's probably the cumulative effect of the tablets that I'm taking for my acid reflux erosive oesophagitis - I bought some multivitamin and iron tablets this morning and I'm hoping these will help. 

I'll still be able to use my pass for travelling to local destinations, and I've already got plenty planned to last me throughout the summer. One local area I've not really explored much is North Nottinghamshire; Doncaster has got good bus services to Worksop and Retford and so I should be able to easily reach Clumber Park and Cresswell Crags.

I'm hoping that I'll still be able to manage an occasional walk in the Peak District; a couple of acquaintances who have cars have mentioned the possibility of getting out on the moors for a bit of walking.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thorne, Stainforth, Kirk Bramwith, and South Bramwith.

Another easy local walk today; I've got a couple of busy days ahead and didn't want to end up being too stiff and sore.

It was an early start and so most of the shops in Thorne town centre weren't open yet as I looked for somewhere to buy something to eat. I found a baker's shop though, and bought the longest sausage roll I've ever seen - well over a foot long.

I then walked down to the town lock and crossed over the bridge to reach the towpath on the other side.

The walking was easy and I made a good pace, stopping occasionally to take photographs though - this one shows one of the marinas I passed.

Just beyond the marina I noticed something floating in the water, which  I seriously thought was a dead body for a few seconds; I think it was actually a mouldy sleeping bag.

A few minutes later the canal passes under the motorway bridge; I noticed what looked like some rather bizarre graffiti as I lingered - no doubt it will have some significance to some people though.

I arrived at Stainforth and popped into a café for a chip butty; it wasn't very nice though, but no-one can truly mangle or destroy a serving of chips slung at a I ate it all.

I crossed over the hump backed bridge and then walked along the northern bank of the canal until I reached Bramwith Swing Bridge where I left the canal and walked down the road to Kirk Bramwith, a village where I could see more sheds than houses...I only entered the outskirts of the village though..

I continued along the road until I reached  another swing bridge over a canal; a different canal though this time - the New Junction Canal [I had previously been walking along the towpath of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal]. I was quite disappointed because I was expecting this to be a lift bridge, a much rarer and more spectacular structure on the canals; the lift bridge was the next bridge to the north, about half a mile away. I considered visiting it, but it would have added an extra mile to my walk, and anyhow I had a decent view of it from where I was standing...and I could see the next lift bridge too.

I turned left onto the towpath and approached the Don Aqueduct, the highlight of today's walk.

I don't drive, and probably wouldn't be allowed to drive if I applied for a licence, because of my Asperger's syndrome and my eyesight problem. However I have piloted an eighty ton barge across this aqueduct on several occasions - it was one of the perks that I enjoyed when I was doing one of my periods of workfare, for a waterways charity based in Thorne.

I crossed over the River Don, using the walkway, and then climbed up and over the canal footbridge  to reach the other side.

It was only a short walk across some scrubland until I reached Kirk Bramwith Lock.

The photograph shows the gangway on the lock gates that I used to get a good position for some photographs, which unfortunately didn't turn out too well because of the cloudy conditions. The gangway was creaking and moving all the time, even when I wasn't walking across it.

I then walked along the towpath back to Bramwith Swing Bridge, pausing to have a chat with one of the boat owners whose barge was moored just beyond the lock.

When I reached the road I crossed over the bridge and entered South Bramwith, just a collection of farm buildings and a few houses...and one house, probably the largest in the village, that was totally covered in ivy and was almost invisible.

The next section of the walk, across fields where broccoli was growing  was probably the most difficult. It appeared that hardly anyone had used this path, despite it being clearly marked with signposts. The plants were about a foot tall and I had to trample them down in places.

I reached the road that leads to Barmby Dun and noticed a bus-stop. Since it was nearly half an hour for the next bus back into town I continued along the road until I found a lane which led to Stainforth, where I only had a few minutes to wait for the bus.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Matlock, Matlock Bath, Cromford, and Wirksworth

After popping in to a shop at Matlock to get something to eat, followed by a visit to the toilets, I walked through the park, over the bridge and along the path to High Tor. There were some lovely views along this section of the walk in all directions, but the best photo-opportunities were behind me, with Matlock being illuminated by the bright sunshine.

The walk to High Tor comes out at the cable car base station; I took some photographs, but it's all a bit untidy at the moment and so I haven't included any.

I'd lingered for so long taking photos and just admiring the view from High Tor that I needed to make up some time, and the quickest way of doing this was to walk along the promenade at Matlock Bath...certainly nothing too unpleasant; I actually like Matlock Bath - I think there's a place for appropriate commercialisation in the Peak District. I counted six fish and chip shops, I forgot to count the amusement arcades; there were probably a similar number.

I continued along the road to Cromford, passing the church; it's not particularly old, but it was looking impressive in the sunlight.

The last building in Matlock Bath, before reaching Cromford is Masson Mills, I went in once ,but didn't stay for long; it's just a shopping complex....and I couldn't even find a toilet.

After a short detour to visit the shops and the toilets at Cromford I found the track that leads up towards the High Peak Trail, arriving halfway up the old incline railway; quite a challenging walk that just seemed to be at an annoying slope that it was causing the top of the little toe on my left foot to rub against my boot - and of course the slope is no respite. 

When I reached the top I thought I would be at Middleton Top, but that was a further mile and a half along the track of the old railway.

The place I'd arrived at was 'Sheep Pasture Engine House.'

There are some nice views from here though; so long as you ignore the two large quarries that are out of camera shot, over to the left.

I had a pot of tea and a scone at the Information Centre at Black Rocks; I didn't climb up to them though - I was concerned about my toe hurting me.

It was easy going along the course of the old railway for the next mile or so...until I reached Middleton Incline - my second incline of the day; the angle of ascent seemed kinder to my little toe this time though. I stopped to briefly chat with three cyclists who were repairing one of their bikes: I asked them if they were going up or down - they were going up the incline, and claimed that it had all been uphill so far today.

Although higher up than Sheep Pasture Engine House, Middleton Top has no sense of being high up...and there aren't any views at all. I was quite disappointed; especially after reading so much about the place.

This is the only photograph I took.

I then walked down the road and took a path across fields which eventually led down into Wirksworth, passing right through some deep quarry workings.

I've not visited Wirksworth before; it looks like it's a decent-sized town. I didn't have time to explore, my bus back to Matlock was due in ten minutes.