Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ladybower Reservoir, Nether Booth, and Castleton

I got off the bus just after it had crossed over the Ashopton Viaduct and turned right to travel up the valley to Fairholmes. I was immediately climbing up steep grassy fields; the first photograph was taken probably no more than five minutes after getting off the bus.


As I climbed higher, past Crookhill Farm, I noticed four large, freestanding, sturdy, white gates seemingly randomly positioned in the field where I was walking. I've never seen this before anywhere, and was puzzled for awhile until I thought that the most likely explanation that I could think of is that they've been put there to protect the farmhouse from avalanches, to dissipate the force of the snow crashing down the hillside. Of course I might be completely wrong and they are actually something to do with the sheep that were grazing on the grass.



Just after I reached an area of Access Land at the base of Crook Hill three mountainbikers caught up and then kept pace with me for a while as we all climbed up towards the northern of the two twin summits. We talked about their gear ratios and where they planned to go for the rest of the day.

They waved goodbye as soon as the path levelled out and then went back downhill. This section of the walk is very easy underfoot, a wide gently undulating grassy path with only an occasional stile or gate - the views are nice as well.



The terrain was good, the views were good, and I felt good, so I jogged for a few short sections along here; only the gentle uphill sections....and I was going to feel even better about my stamina and fitness a couple of miles later.

The path came down to the Snake Pass Road and then continued further down into the bottom of the valley and then up the other side through woodland to reach the open meadows near to Hope Cross. Looking at the map, I calculate that the climb up from Haggwater Bridge is about 350 ft and I did it without once having to stop to catch my breath. I convinced myself that I deserved a break when I reached the top, an opportunity to eat my sandwiches and have a drink. I didn't need to stop though, After the good news on Thursday about my blood test results I was very capable at that moment of powering forward...I felt I was unstoppable - no hill in the Peak District was too high for me to conquer. The diabetes picked on the wrong mug when it picked on me; not only will I defeat it, I will destroy it too...and I will be much stronger in so many ways for having done so.

Just before Hope Cross I reached a junction of paths, I certainly didn't need to refer to my map to check which way I was going.



A few minutes later as I was walking along the track that leads down to the road in the Vale of Edale I took a photograph of the challenge ahead, traversing the Great Ridge.


The climb up to Hollins Cross, the lowest point on the ridge is about 550 ft. I stopped twice on my way up, once when I was struggling opening and then closing a gate, and then further up when a couple with a large boisterous dog was approaching downhill; I stood to one side to let them pass. Maybe I could have done it without these short breaks...I don't know.

It was a steady descent down to Castleton: I arrived at least an hour earlier than expected and just sat at the bus station until the bus arrived. When it pulled in at least a dozen people got off who looked like as though they were here for the Christmas lights and the carol singing in the pubs.

On the way in to Sheffield, travelling down Ecclesall Road, a student got on the bus and asked for a student concession. The driver asked him for proof of status; the student said he had his NUS membership details on his phone. He quickly scrolled through several pages and then showed it to the driver...who was immediately satisfied and let him on. I was sitting quite close to the front of the bus and caught a glimpse of the screen; in large capital letters I could make out the word 'STUD.'

For the rest of my journey home I tried to think of the first four letters of an appropriate word which would work for me...but nothing came to mind.

UPDATE: Someone on Facebook has suggested that the white gates might be used for horse jumping practice. I briefly considered this but thought it would be dangerous in a field that a public footpath crosses. You never know though, that might be precisely what their intended use is. I know absolutely nothing about horses, and have no interest in them whatsoever, and stay well away from them.

Thanks Nigel, for the response though.