Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bakewell, Over Haddon, and Ashford-in-the-Water

There was plenty of lying snow as I travelled on the bus to Bakewell, even at altitudes as low as some of the outer [and higher] suburbs of Sheffield. Although there wasn't any snow at all at Bakewell I knew I wouldn't be disappointed as I set off on the walk - yey with hindsight maybe 'disappointed' wasn't the correct word to choose.

I walked along the river towards Haddon Hall, choosing a concessionary path which goes right alongside the river bank; a route I hadn't walked before. It was very muddy in places, but easily passable. Just before reaching the main road I caught my first glimpse of Haddon Hall; there would be better views of the hall later as I walked across Haddon Fields; when I stopped and looked behind me.

The photograph I've chosen was taken along the section of concessionary footpath...and it's not in black and white!

From the road it's a steady climb across Haddon Fields to Over Haddon. as I climbed higher, the snow got deeper, but never deeper than a few inches.

As I approached the village there were good views down into the lower reaches of Lathkill Dale; the River Lathkill was the widest I've ever seen it - filling up the entire bottom of the valley. There were a lot of tracks in the snow going across the field just before the eastern approach to the village, most likely caused by sledges, and maybe snowboards. I specifically looked out for what might be tracks caused by someone skiing...but I didn't see any.

I walked the entire length of the village and took the first footpath on the right. I was soon steadily climbing again - and the snow was now maybe six inches deep. I was aware at this time that my thigh muscles were beginning to ache.

I arrived at a road where a family was unloading items from their car. I was intrigued, and so sat on a stile in the next field to have a rest...and soak up some of the sunshine. They soon approached me and then continued on their way, all three of them, all adults, dragging plastic sledges behind them. 

I few hundred yards further on I reached the highest point of today's walk, well over a thousand foot above sea level. The snow was at least a foot deep up here, sometimes it even came up to my knees. It was hard work plodding along, even in other people's footsteps. But the navigation was easy, the route of the paths was obvious where other people had previously walked - I hardly ever looked at my map today.

I came to a point where I had to make a choice...and I made the wrong choice today. I could have followed the actual route of the path, using the stile as the family members now several hundred yards in front of me had, or I could use an open gate, needing to walk through some much deeper virgin snow. I find it difficult and quite painful climbing over some stiles when my thigh muscles are tired, and so I opted for the latter option. This proved to be a big mistake: the virgin snow didn't support my weight at all and I sank in to a depth of several inches above my knees. The next few steps were going to be hard work; even harder work than I imagined as it turned out. On the third step my left groin muscle twanged and I couldn't move. I have never experienced pulling a muscle like this before; it's usually a gradual process.

I was stuck. I thought about the situation, and how I could still manage to walk by using different muscles and re-distributing my weight. I thought about walking sideways and this worked very well - I got down to the road safely and was then able to walk down the road to Ashford-in-the-Water without too much discomfort...utilising a fairly normal gait.  

Ashford-in-the-Water is a pretty village, this is the best photograph that I took.

By the time I'd reached the village I'd already decided that I wasn't going to walk back to Bakewell. I was glad to discover that I'd only have fifteen minutes to wait for the bus. It was nearly ten minutes late though and I missed my connection at Bakewell. This wasn't much of a problem since there was a bus going to Sheffield only fifteen minutes later.

When the bus arrived I was pleasantly surprised; it was the most modern bus I've ever travelled on. There was onboard wi-fi and USB sockets for computers. There was also an electric scrolling noticeboard which showed what the next stop was, and an automated voice which announced them - although some of the pronunciations were a bit unusual.

I say 'well done' to TM Motors for introducing these buses to their newly branded 'Peak Line 218' service, using the byline, 'The Rolling Hills of the Peak District.' On several occasions on this blog I've had reason to criticise TM Motors for their old and decrepit buses; so it's nice to be able to praise them for once.

No-one seemed to be using the wi-fi though.

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