Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rowsley, Stanton Woodhouse, Stanton Moor, Darley Bridge and Darley Dale.

I'm quite impressed with my new camera; it's easy to use and takes very clear pictures with very naturalistic colour rendering. The photographs I've included with this blog post were taken with it - I had a few problems with re-sizing the images though so that they're suitable for uploading to the blog server.

Today's walk began at Rowsley: by the way, I've finally checked online for the correct pronunciation...and it's 'Roseley.'

I crossed over the River Derwent, then took the lane with the bridge over the River Wye, then continued along the track leading towards Stanton Woodhouse. This section is initially level and easy-going, but then gradually starts to ascend out of the valley. There are some lovely views here, looking northwards along this stretch of the Derwent Valley, and westwards towards wooded hillsides; and the lighting conditions were just about perfect. This is where the banner photograph was taken; and many more, as I experimented with various settings and functions on the camera.

The hamlet of Stanton Woodhouse clusters around a small manor house and is quite isolated, and beyond this point the walk continues through heathland interspersed with copses.

The weather was lovely all day, and very mild for the time of year. By this stage I had already realised I was wearing too many layers of clothing, but there was really nothing I could do about it...but sweat. I was glad of my isotonic drink though. On the label it said it was 'mixed berries flavour;' but on the list of ingredients the only natural ingredients I could find were extracts of black carrots and hibiscus - two flavours I 've not tried before. The drink was pleasant enough though.

The next photograph was taken as I was looking back towards Stanton Woodhouse.

I had to climb a bit to reach the road, then took a path past some old quarry buildings and continued up through woodland to eventually reach the eastern edge of Stanton Moor.

I soon reached the Reform, or Earl Grey Tower, which is merely a nineteenth century folly, built to provide work for local labourers I think. I walked for another fifteen minutes or so and came down off the moor just to the east of Birchover.

I could already see the footpath sign indicating where I was going next, downhill across a camping and caravanning site, which was empty; maybe even closed for the season.

Next I re-traced the route of part of an earlier walk, in the opposite direction though, to reach Darley Bridge and then Darley Dale.

I had about fifty minutes to wait for the next bus and so popped into one of the shops for something to eat, which I ate whilst sitting on a bench. It was still nearly half an hour for the next Sheffield bus as I crossed the road to go and wait for it; however a bus that was going to Bakewell arrived, so I got on and arrived just in time to catch the Sheffield bus from there, (a different service) just as the last passenger to get on was paying his fare.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Hucklow, Bretton, Eyam, Stoney Middleton and Calver.

Today has ended up being an expensive day for me; I broke my camera. I cracked the viewfinder screen, but wasn't aware of doing it at the time. Even though there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground, I certainly didn't fall over or bump into anything; the only thing that I can think must have caused it is when I was climbing over a stile or squeezing through a gap in a wall. I shall have to buy a new camera before my next walk: it will be an inexpensive one though, because there's a fair chance that I'll end up breaking that too.

The walk began at Great Hucklow with partially overcast skies and the threat of snow, which never actually arrived though, and within an hour I was enjoying uninterrupted sunshine.

I walked along the road in an easterly direction towards the gliding club and Bretton, then taking the track that leads to Bradshaw Lane. After only walking a few yards along the track I noticed some substantial ruins of a group of stone buildings. To me it looked as though it could be the site of an old mine; the location certainly deserved an information board and a seat.

The lane leads onto the road which goes to the hamlet of Bretton; just a pub, a closed-down youth hostel and a few farms. I then headed northwards and walked towards Bretton Clough, the views from here were spectacular with woodland in the foreground and the snow-capped hills of the northern Peak District in the distance. The photograph I've actually selected was taken from a bit further along the walk though; looking towards Stanage Edge.

And then a bit further...

I didn't descend into the clough, I chose a path which stayed on higher ground and looped around to cross Eyam Moor, arriving on Sir William Hill Road just to the east of the transmitter.

I then walked down the road into Eyam, calling at Mompesson's Well. I took a couple of photographs of the information board, but I was casting a shadow onto it and the problems with brightness and contrast makes it difficult to read the text - so I haven't posted the details, which should be easy enough to research online.

The last few yards down into the village were through woodland, and then, after a couple of hours with no problems on the moors, I was struggling with the slippery roads and pavements as I headed towards the tea shop for something to eat.

I tried to time my departure to make sure I'd not miss my bus at Calver. The footpath to Stoney Middleton has some lovely views; it was at this point that I discovered that my camera was broken. I could still take photographs with it, but couldn't see what I was taking.

Finally, I  needed to jog part of the last mile along the road into Calver; the bus was a few minutes late though.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Calton Lees, Beeley Hilltop, Robin Hood and Baslow.

I glimpsed my first snow of the winter today: as I was sitting on the bus travelling across the moors towards Fox House the sunlight was illuminating the remnants of last week's snowfall on the higher ground of Kinder Scout and the Great Ridge. There was, however, no snow underfoot where I was walking today; it was just a bit frosty and icy.

I got off the bus just beyond Calton Lees and walked up the lane to Beeley Hilltop. The sun was at just the right angle to light up the countryside and cast dramatic shadows in the direction of Chatsworth Park. This photograph was taken looking towards Edensor Church.

Not far beyond Beeley Hilltop the lane deteriorates and becomes nothing more than a bridleway. After about a mile I reached the boundary of access land and walked across Beeley Moor towards Hob Hurst's House. The site is very disappointing, but the information board explains everything.

It was then a steady descent along the western fringe of Gibbet Moor. The Chesterfield road soon came into view and I noticed a footpath sign. When I was close enough to read it, it was going in the direction of Robin Hood. The footpath wasn't marked on the map, but it was well established and so I decided to follow it.

I was aware that there was quite a substantial beck at the bottom of the valley, just below and before the road. No footbridge or even stepping stones were indicated, but I wasn't concerned because these features quite often don't appear on Ordnance Survey maps.

When the path reached the beck it continued following the bank, becoming quite overgrown in places. It wasn't long until I could see the Robin Hood Inn, just a few yards away; but I couldn't reach it because a deep ditch, a fast flowing beck, a tall drystone wall with what looked to be barbed wire on top...and a road, were all in the way.

I had planned to continue beyond Robin Hood and visit Nelson's Monument and the Three Ships rocks on Birchen Edge and eventually finishing the walk at Calver. Obviously I needed to change my plan; the weather had become cloudy by now and a few degrees colder than when I set off, and so I decided to continue towards the northern perimeter of Chatsworth Park and then catch the bus at Baslow Nether End.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shatton, Abney Moor, Leadmill and Hathersage.

Today the weather was showery and windy, as forecast. This didn't spoil my walk though, it's all part of the outdoors experience. What did spoil my walk though was when the elastic in my underpants snapped, causing me to feel a bit uncomfortable - if I'd had a pair of scissors or a knife in my rucksack I would have cut them free.

I got off the bus at the end of Shatton Lane and walked through the village, seeing it in its entirety for the first time. Just before the deep ford I turned left and walked up the byway  that leads to the transmitter on Shatton Edge. On a much clearer day than today there are gorgeous views from along this part of the route.

A few minutes after passing the transmitter I took the path that leads across Abney Moor, a route I don't remember ever having walked previously. Enjoying the bleakness of the moor and the rushing wind I just wandered aimlessly, following sheep runs and occasionally, footpaths I suppose.

After a while I headed for the highest point and could work out exactly where I was - just above Offerton Hall. I found the path that leads down to the country lane and then descended further across fields towards the River Derwent. I had noticed earlier that all of the becks seemed to be in spate, and when I reached the river, the option of taking the short route back to Hathersage by crossing over the stepping stones wasn't viable at you can see. They were actually several inches under water.

So...I followed the river downstream to Leadmill, then walked across the fields to Hathersage, where I popped into the café for a meal consisting of eggs, sausages and chips. I wasn't that impressed; the service was slow and the portions small. The small portions meant that I didn't have to rush too much in order to make sure that I didn't miss the bus.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rivelin, Redmires Reservoirs, Porter Valley and Endcliffe Park.

Although today was quite sunny, it was also very windy, and so I altered the original route of my planned walk to keep to low ground as much as possible. Quite a bit of time was spent in the Porter Valley, going all the way downstream to Endcliffe Park - only two or three miles from the city centre.

Yet again the early train to Sheffield was cancelled and so I had to catch the bus. Fortunately I arrived at Sheffield with a few minutes to spare.

The walk started at the Norfolk Arms at Rivelin, no longer a pub now though. I walked a few hundred yards along the road towards Hollow Meadows until I reached a sign for a farm with a name that appealed to me...with my name being Lee.

All sorts of images came into my head.

I then entered Wyming Brook Nature Reserve, following the path upstream. After a while the line of the path that I'd chosen became rather overgrown and littered with slippery moss-covered rocks. I was struggling a bit and so headed for higher ground through woodland consisting mainly of silver birch trees, which had trunks which were just the right girth for me to grab hold of and drag myself forwards and upwards.

I soon reached open moorland and took a short detour to photograph the Head Stone, quite an impressive rock. Its location is rather disappointing though and I couldn't find a decent angle to take a picture from.

It wasn't long until I was walking along the path which goes alongside the water conduit which leads to the upper of the three Redmires reservoirs. I sat and ate my sandwiches on a bench right next to a small stone tower which must be something to do with the reservoirs. Whilst I was here a woman passed me with a large black dog which was trotting like a horse.

A short section of quiet road followed and then a concessionary footpath going past some houses and then fields and more short sections of road until I reached the toposcope at the head of the Porter Valley.

This photograph was taken from this area whilst I was walking along Fulwood Lane, looking towards Sheffield.

The rest of the walk was a gentle descent alongside the River Porter, calling en route to Endcliffe Park at the Forge Dam Café where I had an all-day breakfast. I thought it was bit expensive, but the service was pleasant and efficient.

I left the route at the park gates on Eccleshall Road where I caught one of the frequent buses into the city centre. I had a short walk down the hill to the railway station from Arundel Gate though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miller's Dale, Wheston and Bradwell.

Due to a change in my regular weekly schedule I was able to fit in an extra walk today. Although still not fully recuperated from Sunday's walk I decided to take advantage of the good weather forecast, even though the day turned out to be far more hazy than I'd hoped for. It was mild and dry though, and neither foggy nor windy, so it was okay.

The walk started at Miller's Dale, this time climbing up the other side of the valley than I'd done a couple of weeks ago. It was less steep, not as slippery, and not as high either, so I only needed to stop a couple of times for breath. Underfoot it was good walking, due to this being a bridleway and a section of the Limestone Way.

Once I'd reached high ground I was progressing quickly, well aware of the fact that it would be dark by four o'clock and I had over eight miles to cover. It was an almost straight, level track for the next mile and a half to Wheston, with only a short stretch of country lane. Just before I reached the village it seemed to be the brightest part of the day; I turned round to admire the view behind me and noticed these trees which seemed to look rather threatening, as though they were attempting to reach out and grab me.

The next section was entirely along a country lane, but I made good time to Mount Pleasant Farm on the main Chesterfield to Stockport road. Just beyond the farm I could look down into Peak Forest, which appeared to be much larger than it's depicted on the Ordnance Survey map. At this point I also noticed a strange feature on a distant hill; it looked like a gaping hole. I got my binoculars out, and indeed that's what is was. Just before writing this post I checked online, and it's known as Eldon Hole, a deep cavern with many interesting tales about it. It seems only experienced cavers are able to explore it though.

A few minutes later I turned right onto the path that leads to Bradwell, across an area of old spoil heaps: not an unpleasant area to look at though. By now I was looking at my watch and wondering if I'd arrive in time to get some fish and chips. It was too late though when I got to Bradwell, the chip shop had been closed for over ninety minutes; it seems to have rather limited opening times.

I was hungry though, and so went into one of the shops and bought some sausage roles and jam tarts which they were selling cheap. It was a bit of a wait for the bus, and so I sat on a bench and enjoyed my food; attracting a few strange glances no doubt.

The bus arrived about ten minutes late and so I thought I'd miss the express train at Sheffield. It was late I was able to catch it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moscar Moor to Hathersage.

Most of today's walk was done in thick mist, apart from the highest point of the walk at the northernmost end of Stanage Edge and the last mile walking into Hathersage.

I got off the bus at the county boundary on Moscar Moor and headed towards Stanage Edge. Instead of walking along the top of the Edge as I did the last time I was here, I decided to take the path which leads along the bottom of the cliff and then across the moor.

After stopping to eat my sandwiches in the sunshine I descended onto what the Ordnance Survey map identifies as 'Moscar Moor' but I've always known as 'Hathersage Moor.'  It wasn't long until the mist enveloped me, but the path was well defined and I made good progress. However, the line of the path soon became indistinct, and since I couldn't see any identifiable landmarks I had to start using my compass and head due south to where I knew the road was. The heather had  recently been burned back and so it was easy to just walk in a straight line with few deviations.

After about twenty minutes I could make out some trees ahead of me and a few yards closer I could see parked cars; I had arrived at the parking area at Dennis Knoll. I had to climb over a fence to get to the track which leads to the road though; obviously I hadn't come off the moor at the point where the footpath does.

The next stretch was a gentle descent to Green's House where I passed through a gate on wheels which was very easy to open, unlike last week when an unhinged gate fell on me.

By now the mist was clearing and so I took a few photographs. This one shows  the location of  Brontë Cottage, so named because of the Jane Eyre connexion with the area.

It was then a very pleasant walk into Hathersage with the sun getting stronger all the time.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Miller's Dale, Priestcliffe, Taddington, Ashford-in-the-Water and Bakewell.

Not a good day for public transport.

My day got off to a bad start when I arrived at Doncaster Station and saw a coach parked in the car park; I went into the concourse and the departures board was showing a bus replacement service for the first train to Sheffield. As usual I'd arrived early and had time to walk over to the bus station and catch the 07:45 X78 bus. Although it's an express service it still takes 75 minutes to reach Sheffield: it was a few minutes late and so I missed the 273 bus.

So a change of plan was enacted; the next suitable bus was going to Buxton and so I decided to do a walk from Miller's Dale that I had already planned to do soon.

As I was waiting to get off the bus I could see that one of the information notices was bilingual; printed in both English and Gaelic. Obviously this bus had  previously been used in the Scottish Highlands.

It was still very misty as I began the walk, and it didn't start to clear up until mid-afternoon. I began by walking up some steep steps through woodland; this would otherwise had been very slippery at this time of year with the fallen leaves on the ground. Once I'd reached the top it was open fields and then a country lane to the hamlet of Priestcliffe.

Just beyond Priestcliffe I had a painful accident. I was attempting to open a metal gate which unfortunately was unhinged, and as soon as I pulled at it, it started to fall towards me, just clipping my left thigh as I tried to get out of the way...I now have a very tender bruise there.

I rummaged in my rucksack for my torch so I could safely cross Taddington by-pass; a busy stretch of dual carriageway - one of only a few in the Peak District,    I should think.

Because of the poor visibility, it wasn't a good day for photography; but I did manage to take a photograph of a rather pretty milepost in the village.

The next section of the walk was along another lane and then a footpath which led down a pretty valley, which isn't named on the map. I was soon down to the A6 trunk road; and had to walk along it for about a mile, switching on my torch again. The oncoming cars seemed to move into the middle of the road to give me space in plenty of time, so I'm assuming it has a powerful beam.

At what looked to be a fish farm or hatchery, I left the road and walked along a very easy riverside path to Ashford-in-the-Water, popped into the village shop, and then continued to Bakewell...where the bus to Sheffield was ten minutes late. There seemed to be a lot of extra traffic on the roads, so I'm thinking that maybe there was a major event at nearby Chatsworth House.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fairholmes, Ladybower, Thornhill and Bamford

Today I travelled on the new 273 bus service for the first time. It leaves at the same time as the 242 service which it replaces and travels the same route to Fairholmes; but continues on to Castleton.

At Fairholmes I walked southwards along the road which follows the eastern shore of the reservoir. There were several spots where I stopped to take photographs of the marvellous autumnal colours.

After about a mile I reached the footpath which leads up onto the moors; it is quite steep in places, but not at all difficult. There were stunning views down towards the reservoir and valley from most of this section of the walk. I took many photographs, but I think both my camera and my poor technique somehow didn't do the views justice; and so I haven't included any of them.

I continued along this high level path until I reached the Ladybower Inn; the official beginning of the Snake Pass road. The food smelled delicious and I was certainly tempted, but there were some very smartly-dressed people sitting at the tables outside, and some very nice cars across the road in the parking area; and so I thought the better of it, covered in mud as I was.

By now I was aware that I needed to pee but knew it wasn't far to the Heatherdene car park where there are toilets. I was walking along the road which leads towards Bamford when I saw a toilet block; the toilets were locked though. I noticed that this building was also used to sell fishing permits, and so assumed that these toilets must be for the exclusive use of the anglers, who must be issued with keys.

The car park was less than a hundred yards further on. As in most places in the Peak District that I've visited, the toilets were very impressive, with drinking water supplied and somewhere to wash the mud off your boots. Public toilets are located in most of the larger villages, and at several isolated car parks as well.

The next photograph was taken from near to the car park.

I crossed over the dam wall and took a picture of one of the bell-mouth spillways; according to several online sources the largest in the world.


Most of he final part of the walk back to the bus-stop near to Bamford Railway Station was along a minor road and then a short section of the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail. Rather unusually, the bus was over ten minutes late.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bradwell, Leadmill and Hathersage.

After getting lost among the ginnels and snickets of Bradwell I eventually found the lane which leads up to Bradwell Edge. It soon petered out into a muddy well-churned bridleway which was steep, slippery and hard work. Within a few minutes my trousers were caked with mud, my fleece well splashed and my hair even caught some.

When I reached the top it was much easier going; walking along a fairly level track. By this time the weather was beginning to improve, and half an hour later when I was walking across Shatton Moor the views of the Hope Valley were magnificent; the autumn colours were perfectly illuminated by a low sun. From this location I could see Mam Tor and the Great Ridge and even as far north as the Ladybower Reservoir, with a boat on it. Much closer, in the valley below, I could see Hope Cement Works, from this angle looking like a fairytale castle. In the photograph the cement works is on the far left of the image.

Here are a couple of pictures taken as I approached Leadmill, only about a twenty walk from Hathersage, where I decided I'd better not pop into the tea rooms because of the state I was in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fox House, Totley Moor, Longshaw Estate and Back to Fox House.

My first circular walk. At Fox House I walked a few hundred yards back along the road towards Sheffield and then took the footpath which leads in an easterly direction across Totley Moor. It was easy going, being fairly flat and a well-defined path.

It wasn't long until I had distant views of the western suburbs of Sheffield, unfortunately spoiled today by the hazy weather conditions. I stayed on high ground and looped back across the moor taking a more southerly route, heading for what looked like a rather impressive cairn. When I reached it though it was something I haven't come across before, a combination of cairn, grouse butt and shelter; marked as an enclosure on the Ordnance Survey map when I checked.

A few minutes later I stopped to eat my sandwiches near to the remains of a drystone wall and noticed a strange insect which looked like an elongated beetle - it was an inch and a half long. I've never seen anything like it before and wonder if anyone can identify it?

I then passed near to the trig point on Totley Moor and about a mile later reached Lady's Cross; which is rather disappointing.

It was then a short walk over to Longshaw Lodge where I was hoping to stop awhile for a pot of tea and a bit of something to eat, but the place was too busy...I would have missed my bus. I stopped for a while though and sat on a conveniently situated millstone to admire the view of Higger Tor and Carl Wark; and to look forward to my stew which would be simmering in my slow cooker at home.

Just out of curiosity I looked through the windows of the pub at Fox House, and it was very busy in there too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fairholmes, Howden Moors, Brightholmlee and Wharncliffe Side.

This morning I had to catch the bus into Sheffield because the railway line was closed for regular track maintenance. Fortunately I'd already checked online and was able to leave the house a few minutes early.

Although it was forecast for bright and sunny weather, when I arrived at Fairholmes it was drizzling and murky; it didn't affect my photograph of the east tower of the Derwent Dam though.

Both this dam, and the Howden Dam further up the valley have impressive crenellated towers.

The weather was still cool and cloudy as I climbed up onto Howden Moors; this is a climb of about 1,000ft in altitude, and so I appreciated the conditions...which unfortunately were unsuitable for photography.

By the time I'd reached Back Tor though the sun had broken through the gloom and I was able to take some photographs of the erosion-sculpted rocks.

The next section of the walk was across open moorland and bog, but was easy because most of the route was paved with natural flagstones, which had been placed there since my previous visit a couple of years ago; and further on the path became a trackway. For a couple of miles I was keeping pace with a hiking group from the University of Nottingham: their pace was quite a bit quicker than I was used to...but I enjoyed the challenge.

Next there was a short section along the road and then I took the bridleway that went through the Canyard Hills, an area of several dozen unusually shaped hillocks and troughs. I haven't come across anything like this before in the Peak District and wondered if the hillocks might by spoil heaps from early mining operations; or possibly a landslip. Well; my curiosity got the better of me; I've googled the location and according to English Nature's website the Canyard Hills are the best example in England and Wales of a type of landscape known as 'ridge-and-trough' or 'tumbled ground.'

By now something on the horizon had caught my eye. It looked like the site of a rocket launchpad, even when I looked at it through the binoculars; the only explanation I can think of is that it might be scaffolding that's been put up as part of the construction process for a new transmitter.

The rest of the walk was along country lanes, looking down onto Broomhead Reservoir, passing through the hamlet of Brightholmlee and arriving at Wharncliffe Side with only five minutes to wait for the bus.

The train I caught back to Doncaster was one of the few that actually went non-stop; going straight through the station at Meadowhall. It was packed as trains usually seem to be on a Sunday; I had to sit on the floor in the wheelchair space - I did have more legroom there though.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Bus Timetables.

Here are scans of all the bus timetables for services from Sheffield going into the Peak District. They are valid from the end of October 2011.

Route 65: Sheffield to Buxton. Pretty much unchanged as I can tell.

Route 214: Sheffield to Matlock. No major changes.

Route 215: Sheffield to Matlock (Sundays Only). Some services only going as far as Bakewell. Not much different to current timetable.

Route 218: Sheffield to Bakewell. No buses continuing to Buxton. No Sunday service.

Routes 273/274/275: Sheffield to Castleton/Bakewell. New routes; actually providing a slightly improved service along the A57 and up the Upper Derwent Valley to Fairholmes.

Route 272: Sheffield to Castleton. Basically, no change.

I think we have come off rather well, with only a loss of service provision to Buxton via Ashford-in-the-Water, and the cancellation of the 181 to Hartington - which I think is a summer only service anyhow. Personally, I'm very pleased about the new services which have replaced the 242...I feared that this route would be cancelled altogether; at least during the winter months.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ashopton, Crook Hill and Eventually to Hope.

Well...this hasn't happened before - I had to stand all the way on the bus to today's destination. Ashopton doesn't really exist anymore, most of the village was abandoned when the valley was flooded by the waters of Ladybower Reservoir in the 1940s; only a few scattered farmsteads remain.

I got off the bus on the main A57 road and walked across the viaduct to try and get some good photos; the lighting conditions were poor though - it was dark and murky and didn't really brighten up until lunchtime.

However; this picture turned out alright I suppose; the water was very still and reflected the shapes of the hillsides like a mirror.

Not long after crossing the viaduct, which takes the road over the northern arm of the reservoir, I turned in to the road which leads all the way up the Upper Derwent Valley, but soon found the first footpath that leads up towards Crook Hill. I was hoping to get good views of both arms of the reservoir from here, but unfortunately the summit isn't high enough. There are good views looking back down towards the viaduct though.

There was a bit of a climb up to Crookhill Farm and then a long section across grassland; including a brief diversion to the summit of the higher peak of Crook Hill.

I  walked alongside a pine plantation, then reached open country with stunning views, and soon descended to reach the Snake Pass road.

Next I had to climb up the other side of the valley, through another pine plantation to reach Hope Cross and then follow the Roman Road down to Hope; arriving with plenty of time to pop in the shop and enjoy a soothing pot of tea at one of the tearooms.

The journey on the bus into Sheffield was uneventful, however the journey on the train to Doncaster was very uncomfortable. There were only two carriages and we were packed in like sardines, having to stand in the aisles and gangways; so much so that the guard announced that the first class compartment had been declassified to allow a few extra people to sit down. The system for first class passengers to claim a refund seemed rather complicated and unfair though.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Darley Dale, Darley Bridge, Birchover, Alport and Bakewell.

At the end of next month many bus services in the Peak District are likely to be cut back due to Derbyshire County Council reducing its level of subsidy. I read online that services to Matlock could be particularly adversely affected; so that's why I chose today's walk...Darley Dale is only about three miles from Matlock.  

I got off at the parade of shops at Darley Dale; which turned out to be a couple of stops short of where I needed to be. So, I just walked down the road towards Matlock, past the church and park and then turned down the road towards Darley Dale; walking over the level crossing  next to the railway station on the Peak Rail heritage line.

After crossing over a pretty stone bridge over the River Derwent at Darley Bridge I continued along a lane towards Birchover, which then petered out into a track; the section through woodland being one of the few climbs on this walk.

I soon entered open country, with expansive views to the left down into the valley, and more pastoral views over to the right. I reached a farm which had a sign prominently sited which stated something like 'Danger. Wild animals. Do not Approach. Keep to Footpath.'

I was intrigued and wondered what it might refer to; all I could see were some chickens. happened. I'd just passed some farm buildings when only a few yards away, standing leaning over a gate, right next to the footpath, was an ostrich which was taller than me. I didn't approach it to take a photograph.

The route I'd chosen skirted to the south of Birchover,  going by a detached part of the village where it looked like a few council houses had been built.

I then walked along the road to the pretty hamlet of Eagle Tor, then continued for a few hundred yards further before taking the footpath leading towards Youlgreave; sometimes spelled and pronounced 'Youlgrave' by locals.

Yet again I didn't enter the village, denying myself the opportunity of welcome refreshments. I turned right into Bradford Dale; a short, but pretty dale which leads to Alport.

From Alport I walked along the right bank of the River Lathkill, climbed up through the woods to reach Haddon Fields and followed easy-going paths right back to Bakewell; arriving in plenty of time for the bus.

The bus was only a small bus, with a seating capacity of about  thirty I suppose. It was already quite full, having travelled from Buxton, and after picking up its passengers at Bakewell it was full to capacity, with several people having to stand all the way to Sheffield. I was fortunate to get a seat, but as some people moved down the bus to get off, I pulled a couple of muscles trying to move my feet out of the way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cutthroat Bridge, Low Bradfield, Loxley, Malin Bridge, Hillsborough...and Three Reservoirs.

Today's day out walking involved something a bit different; travelling on the tram from Hillsborough to Meadowhall Interchange - a place that probably doesn't get many mentions on Peak District hiking blogs.

I got off to a bad start with the bus being half an hour late to take me to the beginning of the walk at Cutthroat Bridge; a location which got its gruesome name due to a murder four hundred years ago. More recently a body with its throat cut was dumped in the lay-by there about fifteen years ago.

I took the path which goes to the east across open moorland, running parallel with the road I'd just travelled along in the bus. After a few hundred yards the road dips out of sight and it was a lot quieter.

After having a few problems following the route of the footpath through the farmyard at Moscar House I soon reached the road which marked the county boundary - even though there was no sign there. I continued along this road and when I reached the crest of a hill caught my first view of Boot's Tower and Strines Reservoir.

The tower is a folly built by the local landowner in 1927 to provide employment for the estate's stonemasons; I think it actually adds something to the landscape.

I soon left the road, turning left along the route of the Sheffield Country Walk, dropping down into the grounds of Sugworth Hall. The footpath here is quite interesting as it passes through a tunnel which has been hacked through a large, dense thicket of rhododendron bushes; it is very dark in here, but quite magical though...I almost expected to see a fairy sitting on a branch.

It was quite a few minutes until I saw the sunshine again; by now I was in the open field where Booth's Tower is situated, so I walked up to it to have a close-up look.

The next section of the path was through mixed terrain, looking down at first on Strines reservoir and then Dale Dyke Reservoir. Dale Dyke has a tragic history: the current reservoir isn't the original one, an earlier one was constructed, but even before completion it burst its banks, causing the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 which killed 245 people.

The route down to Low Bradfield, where I stopped for refreshments, was along a country lane. After passing through the village I then walked along the northern shore of Damflask Reservoir; my third reservoir of the day.

Sheffield Sailing Club is based here.

Only a few yards after passing the dam wall I had left the Peak District; I was walking along a minor road at this point and there was no boundary marker.

I turned off the road at the hamlet of Stacey Bank, walking down a steep track towards the River Loxley. The rest of the route of the walk was along the banks of the Loxley, first passing a location called Storrs Bridge, which seemed to consist entirely of derelict factory buildings. Once beyond this point though, the landscape is pleasantly rural all the way to Malin Bridge.

Technically I think I passed through the Parish of Loxley, even though the village is at the top of the hill. Of course, Loxley is famous as supposedly being the birthplace of Robin Hood, known as 'The Earl of Locksley' in the stories.

Another mile or so I was at Malin Bridge and walking through the streets to catch the Meadowhall tram at Hillsborough Interchange. There are plenty of trains going from Meadowhall to Doncaster, and I didn't have to wait long for one.

Wildlife I saw today, without even trying - a rabbit and a grey squirrel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Litton, Cressbrook, Litton Mill, Monsal Head, Ashford-in-the-Water and Bakewell.

For the first time since I started writing this blog nearly a year ago I was let down by the buses; the number 65 service to Buxton departed twenty minutes late this morning from Sheffield bus station.

I arrived at Litton and walked across the fields towards the western rim of Cressbrook Dale; with  the final mile or so right at the edge being through woodland. I entered a part of the village of Cressbrook I hadn't visited before, and then walked along the road and down a track to what is now the pretty village of Litton Mill. The mill buildings are converted into executive flats, but this place has a sad history; in the nineteenth century young orphans from the neighbouring cities were sent here as forced labour - frequently suffering abuse and being treated no better than slaves.

I crossed the footbridge over the River Wye and stopped a while to look at the large trout and busy ducks; and thought about the history of this beautiful; yet so tragic.

There was a short climb up onto the old railway track which is now the Monsal Trail, soon passing through Litton Tunnel, and then Cressbrook Tunnel.

I paused, and rested for a few minutes on Monsal Viaduct and then climbed up through the woods to Monsal Head. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn't get as breathless as I feared; it seems that my bronchitis is currently under control.

The café at Monsal Head is rather disappointing. It has a limited menu more appropriate to a teashop. I had to settle for a pot of tea, and toast with marmalade -  I couldn't wish for a better view though; the photograph was taken only a few yards away from where I was sitting.

It was a simple walk across the fields, and later along a track, to Ashford-in-the-Water, followed by a short riverside section into Bakewell, which I had to rush a little in order not to miss the bus back into Sheffield.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bradwell, Coplow Dale, Little Hucklow, Great Hucklow, Eyam, Stoney Middleton and Calver.

After getting off the bus at Bradwell church I walked south along Bradwell Dale. It was drizzling and murky, and with the tall trees and overhanging rocks it was very dark as I was walking along the road; so I put on my brightly-coloured anorak and took out my head-torch and held it so that oncoming traffic could see me.

I soon left the road behind and was steadily climbing up Green Dale and then across the fields to the hamlet of Coplow Dale.

The short path to Little Hucklow was overgrown with nettles and thistles. Even though I was wearing long trousers my legs still got stung by the nettles; it's fortunate that dock plants always grow in the same places that nettles do. After rolling up my trouser legs and giving my skin a vigorous rub with a couple of dock leaves to ease the stinging, I walked through the village, continued along the road and then took a track which leads to Great Hucklow.

I then took a route that bypassed Grindlow and Foolow, across typical White Peak countryside of grassy fields, sheep and drystone walls; arriving in Eyam to discover that it was the final day of the well-dressing celebrations.

This is a photograph of one of the 'Plague Cottages' - these green plaques, listing the names of the inhabitants who died during the plague outbreak in the seventeenth century are all over the village.

It was at times a difficult descent down to Stoney Middleton, due to slippery stones underfoot along certain sections; away from the main road many parts of this village are very attractive - such as this row of stone cottages.

Finally, there was a walk of less than a mile to Calver, where I arrived with plenty of time to enjoy a ten-item all-day breakfast at the café.

The bus arrived on time; it was a very old double decker, which really struggled going up the steepest hills, not travelling much quicker than walking pace and making some very unhealthy noises. To be honest, it didn't sound much better going downhill into Sheffield.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fox House, Longshaw Estate, Upper Padley and Hathersage.

I chose today's walk specifically for a couple of reasons; I wanted to experience the heather at its best and to try one of the large breakfasts for which the Station Café at Grindleford is famous.

I wasn't disappointed with either.

I got off the bus at Fox House and within seconds was walking across the heather moorland at the back of the pub.

I wandered around for a few minutes, then crossed over into the Longshaw Estate; lingering for an hour or so in Padley Gorge and the area of Bolehill Quarry. Whilst  here I experimented with taking some close-up photographs of objects that interested me because of their shape, texture or the  lighting conditions - here are a couple.

I was soon at the café, and ordered a breakfast; indeed it was large - I needed both hands to carry the plate. I then walked over the railway bridge and took a photo of Grindleford Station, complete with old-style semaphore signal...I'm surprised they're still used on this stretch of track; after all it's the main railway line between Sheffield and Manchester and is very busy.

A fairly straightforward walk along a track to Hathersage Booths then followed, then along the road to Hathersage, but soon taking a footpath across a field and along the back of some gardens to arrive at a part of the village I hadn't seen before.

I passed by the bakery and couldn't resist popping in. Something called an 'Australian Slice' took my fancy; it was nothing more exotic than dark chocolate and coconut, but was delicious.