Sunday, January 29, 2012

Miller's Dale, Priestcliffe, Brushfield, Hassop Station and Bakewell.

A bad day today for public transport between Doncaster and Sheffield. Although it was misty and not very good conditions for photography, it was fine for walking and I really enjoyed myself - I even took the opportunity to photograph this footpath sign which refers to part of my anatomy.

The were no trains to Sheffield, the regular X78 bus was delayed because of problems with a new ticket machine which needs to scan all concessionary travel passes...and then the bus broke down at Rotherham.

It took over an hour and a half to reach Sheffield, on a service which is supposed to be an express. Obviously I'd missed the bus I was intending to catch at Sheffield, and so had to change my plans.

I caught the Buxton bus and got off at Miller's Dale, walking down the road for a few hundred yards and taking the Limestone Way, up over the hill to Priestcliffe.

I then walked across fields and along the bottom of a lovely little dry valley called High Dale, which reminded me of similar valleys in the Yorkshire Wolds. This section was a joy to walk along; gently sloping downhill with springy grass underfoot.

There was then a short section of road leading to the hamlet of Brushfield, and then a byway of varying standard almost to the Monsal Trail just below Monsal Head - the last few yards down onto the trail is a steep, rocky footpath though.

I walked across the viaduct and through the Headstone Tunnel to arrive at the combined café and bookshop at Hassop Station. I enjoyed a rather nice scone with marmalade, and a pot of tea. I thought it was a bit expensive, but the surroundings were rather posh, and the service polite and efficient.

It was only a short walk into Bakewell where I had enough time to spend a few minutes watching people feed the ducks and geese down by the river, and have a look round a couple of the hiking shops. I didn't buy anything though.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Darley Dale, Darley Bridge, Crossgreen, Bonsall and Matlock Bath.

I got off the bus just south of the parade of shops at Darley Dale, walked a few yards down the road and then took the footpath across fields which leads towards Darley Bridge, using a short stretch of road which has a bridge which crosses over the Peak Rail railway line.

I walked through the village today, right to the church at the top of the hill. From here I followed the road which cuts back towards the hamlet of Crossgreen; which is printed as one word on the Ordnance Survey map, but I'm sure was two separate words when I saw the sign at the entrance to the settlement.

The next section of the walk was probably the highlight of the day, with some lovely countryside and pretty much perfect weather conditions for both walking and photography.

The route first cuts across fields and then climbs a shallow valley which runs to the south of Wensley; then steadily climbs up over undulating fields and grassland. I took several opportunities to stop and admire the views northwards behind me of the Derwent Valley, Chatsworth House and the distant moors. On the map this mile and a half of walking looks as though it might be quite boring; but, believe me, it isn't.

It was then a steady downhill walk to Bonsall, the last few hundred yards being along a country road, where at a junction someone had been having a bit of fun with the road signs...but certainly not helping anyone who might be lost. I've never been to Luton myself.

Bonsall is a pretty linear village with some impressive stone buildings and a historic cross in its former Market Place: I didn't take any photographs though because there were a couple of delivery vans spoiling the views.

For the next section I climbed a small hill, skirted a quarry and dropped down into Matlock Bath; Derbyshire's own 'seaside resort' - even though its probably sixty miles from the coast.

It's quite commercialised, with several fish and chip shops, cafés, pubs, amusement arcades and gift shops. In high season, or on a weekend in the winter it can get very busy, especially on Sundays and Bank Holidays when dozens of bikers will turn up with their motorcycles and park them along the Promenade for everyone to admire. It was nearly deserted today, with most establishments closed; maybe they were much busier yesterday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Short Walk To The Railway Station, And Back Home.

I arrived at the railway station as usual this morning intending to catch the early train to Sheffield; but it was cancelled - and the line is closed all day. Of course I didn't know this in advance, did I?

There was no replacement bus service, no information on the departures board, no posters anywhere...and no staff at the station until well after eight o'clock.

When someone did eventually open up the ticket office, I politely, but very firmly, requested a complaints form...I think he was bit surprised.

So...I'm planning to try again tomorrow, and in the meantime I'll fill in the form and see what happens.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Miller's Dale, Peak Forest, Old Dam and Castleton.

Although the train for Sheffield was powered up and ready to leave, no passengers were allowed to board; it first had to be moved to another platform. To me this seems a rather stupid thing to do, since it's the first departure of the day and obviously not interfering with any other service, yet there must be some logical, easily-explained reason: maybe the Sheffield track couldn't be accessed from the original platform, or the signals and points had been pre-set overnight...I don't know.

Including Miller's dale, I visited six dales today; and walked the entire length of five of them. Monk's Dale starts at the hamlet of Miller's Dale, and is reached by taking the footpath right at the side of the chapel. There's a short climb before you descend into the wooded valley.

The photograph was taken at the top of the short climb; it's actually in colour, but the frost makes everything seem monochrome.

For the majority of this walk I was walking in the dale bottoms. Monk's Dale is mainly wooded and the path is strewn with moss-covered stones and fallen trees; if it weren't for the effects of the keen overnight frost some sections which were very boggy would have made very difficult walking conditions.

After nearly ninety minutes I reached the top of the dale, crossed the road and entered my third dale, Peter Dale, a much shallower and more open dale; and only just over half the length of Monk's Dale. I made fairly quick progress.

Next up was Hay Dale, itself shallower, more open and shorter than Peter Dale. The first two observations also apply to the next dale, Dam Dale, when comparing it to its predecessor - it is slightly longer than Hay Dale though.

After walking along valleys for nearly five miles I arrived at Peak Forest, crossed the main road and took the lane which leads to the hamlet of Old Dam; my first visit there.

Unusually, the toughest climb came towards the end of the walk - it wasn't that difficult though as I steadily climbed across the fields to reach the high limestone grasslands above Castleton and bagged my final dale of the day, Cave Dale; which was a difficult descent today due to the large amounts of water and the slippery rocks.

I had time in Castleton to enjoy some fish and chips this time. By the time I had eaten them the sun had set and it was getting rather cold. As I was sitting in the bus station waiting for the bus I began to shiver and feel a little uncomfortable; possibly because I'd been sweating a lot earlier and my clothes were now damp.

I broke open one of those chemical hand waters: it wasn't very effective though.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Foolow, Housley and Calver.

Today's walk didn't follow the original route I had planned because a couple of footpaths had been closed. The reason they were closed is clear in the photograph; they cross an area of land near to some old flooded quarry workings, and must be deemed to be unsafe at the moment.

I started the walk at Foolow and walked down the road towards the hamlet of Housley; somewhere I haven't visited before - it's only half a dozen farm buildings and houses though. I crossed the main road and took the footpath to the left. This goes in a straight line for over half a mile, something very unusual in the Peak District; and was as wide and well maintained as a bridleway.

I then arrived just to the west of Cavendish Mill; despite its rather grand aristocratic-sounding name, it's a bit of an eyesore actually. I had then intended to turn right and find the first footpath leading over towards Longstone Edge, but I ended up taking the photo where the footpath sign should have been; the next path, a bit further down the road, was no longer there either.

I continued down the road for about another ten minutes until I located a footpath leading across fields going in approximately the direction I required. This took me to a track, and then a path, which skirted to the south of the area which had been closed off; some rather out-of-this-world slurry ponds which seemed to give off a kind of diffused, translucent glow.

At the end of a piece of woodland I climbed up some fields to pass by a farm and then continued along a road until I reached a popular viewpoint on Longstone Edge. From here I took the restricted byway up the hill towards High Rake. I'm not sure if these are still active workings along here or not, but the deep gash in the ground caused by the quarrying is very impressive in its own way; like a miniature Grand Canyon. I took some photographs, but I couldn't get close enough to the cliff edge for the really spectacular angles...I'm a coward!

The byway continued for another mile or so and then I took a path across pastures which gave me some lovely views looking down at Calver and Froggatt, northwards towards Hathersage, and across the valley to Froggatt Edge.

When I got on the bus at Calver I noticed that it had a couple of posters advertising the details of Doncaster's Park & Ride scheme; it must have been used to provide the service at one time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Castleton and Winnats Pass.

Unusually there weren't many people on the 272 bus service to Castleton this morning. The driver was new to the route, and when we got to Bradwell he needed to ask the passengers for directions: since there were only two of us sitting downstairs, and I was at the front of the bus, I volunteered.

Of course it was his first time driving along Bridge Street in the village, which has a very narrow section; here's a short video, not taken by me though.

I have done all of the route of today's walk at various times; some sections in the opposite direction though, but about half of the walk hasn't been featured on the blog yet.

Although it was a lovely sunny day, Castleton was in the shade of the nearby hills when I got off the bus; as it probably is for most of the day at this time of year. I took the footpath across the fields towards Winnats Pass. There were some lovely views; the first photograph was taken from here, and here's another one taken from a few hundred yards further on.

There are some spectacular limestone pinnacles at the sides of Winnats Pass; I took a few photographs, but because the path at the side of the road was in shadow all the way to the summit, none of them was really any good. If ever a place has an appropriate name it's Winnats Pass; the name is a corrupted form of 'Windy Gates' - and that was certainly the case today...the narrow gorge seemed to be acting as a very efficient wind tunnel.

At the summit it was brilliant sunshine and so I took a path across some fields and found a warm, sheltered spot to eat my sandwiches.

After my rest for refreshments I walked for a couple of minutes and then could see the abandoned section of the main road between Sheffield and Chapel-en-le-Frith, caused by the regular landslips that occur on the adjacent hill of Mam Tor.

It's quite dramatic.

It was then a steady walk down into Castleton; but first I made a short detour to the Odin Mine. The narrow boulder-strewn ravine has always been blocked by vegetation on previous visits; but not today. It was a bit of a challenge...and would no doubt be a great adventure for a young boy.

I fancied some fish and chips when I reached Castleton; but as usual, the queue reached out onto the street, and so I decided that I didn't have time.