Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ashopton, Low Bradfield, and Oughtibridge.

My regular bus-stop wasn't in use this morning because many city centre roads were closed for the Sheffield Half Marathon, and so I had to walk down to the bus station. Fortunately I had plenty of time, but might well not have. The bus driver got lost trying to find his way around all the diversions and the journey to Ashopton took twice as long as it normally would have.

I could have a good long therapeutic rant about this situation, but I won't; this blog isn't the place for it...I'd certainly appreciate some comments from road runners who find their way to the blog though.

Most of he village of Ashopton is now submerged beneath the waters of Ladybower Reservoir; the few farms and houses which remain were the properties located higher up the valley side. The views of the reservoir from the track which goes past these buildings are impressive though.

The track is quite easy to walk along, a bit stony in places I suppose, but no long or steep climbs or descents. As I moved further away from the reservoir there were spectacular views of Win Hill behind me; unfortunately spoiled by overhead electricity wires and pylons.

Just beyond Moscar House the path reaches the road which leads towards Strines Inn. It was about a mile and a half until I reached the pub, stopping for a pot of tea next to the impressive floral display outside; being rather concerned though about a very inquisitive peacock which must live there; I heard some strange, and quite frightening, squawking noises from behind the main building which must have been the rest of the flock.

I continued on my planned route by walking a bit further along the road through a wooded section, and then took a track which led down towards Dale Dike Reservoir. I didn't take the footpath that goes right down to the reservoir, but chose a track along higher ground, assuming I'd be able to enjoy better views.

There was then quite a bit of walking along the road until I reached Low Bradfield and took the opportunity to pop in to the Post Office Café [as I refer to it] for another pot of tea...and some toast this time. The village was very busy; quite a few people were watching a cricket match being played, and there was a long queue for ice creams.

As I left the village I had no difficulty in finding the correct footpath, but got slightly lost later on and ended up doing quite a bit of a detour, passing a group of who I assumed to be illegal immigrants, living in a cow shed and hay barn; part of an abandoned farm.

Another section of road, only a short one this time, and then I was walking across Onesmoor. On the map it looks like open moorland, but it's actually a wheat field.
I'm intrigued about its likely pronunciation - is it pronounced with a 'w' sound, or not?

The final section of the walk was through woodland; I stopped in a sunny glade to take a picture of a stunning broom bush on my way down to Oughtibridge.

I didn't have very long to wait for the bus; it only went to the tram terminus at Middlewood though, meaning that I had to catch the tram to Meadowhall and then the train back to Doncaster.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Surprise View and Hathersage.

Today it was unseasonably cold, even compared to the rest of this year's awful spring; it was also damp, dark and misty...but not actually raining.

It was good weather for slugs though; at three and a half inches in length, this must have been the longest I've ever seen.

The weather did brighten up later though, and for about an hour around lunchtime was sunny and quite warm.

I got off the bus at Surprise View car park and walked a few yards along the road in the direction of Hathersage and took the first footpath which led to the bottom of Millstone Edge; the dramatic wall of rock which can be clearly seen high on the horizon from down in the village.

If the visibility had been better I would have been able to get some really good photographs looking down along both the Hope Valley and the Derwent Valley. It was far too misty and so I didn't bother with the long shorts; but this one looking in the other direction towards the edge is okay.

At first the path is very well defined, obviously due to a large number of climbers using it, but as I got further away from the road it became narrower and eventually led up to the top of the cliff. This short climb was as near to mountaineering as I ever want to experience: I was bent over, using my hands to steady myself and grabbing onto trees and boulders for support, and having to carefully place every step I took.

I took a break at the top and then continued along the path which runs along the edge of the moor, eventually coming down onto the Ringinglow road. I then walked down Callow Bank, which had a series of notices posted at its entrance informing people that it is now closed to motorised traffic: I can't imagine anything other than motorcycles ever being able to get down there though.

At the bottom of Callow Bank I took the footpath which leads off to the right, back up to the road, further on; and then walked along a rather circuitous route along a road which eventually leads down into Hathersage.

I took the track which leads to Kimber Court Farm; when I got there I thought I'd inadvertently stumbled upon a secret UN military base. There were several old humanitarian aid shipping containers, portable toilets, what looked like an underground bunker...and a camouflaged armoured vehicle guarding the whole operation.

I naturally took several photographs, but couldn't see what my zoom lens had captured until later. It seems that the farm is where the props for a forthcoming film '8 Acre' are being stored. I've included a link to the trailer; it looks like some type of politically-incorrect satirical comedy set in Derbyshire.

It's a short walk mainly through woodland back to Hathersage Church, where I then took a footpath leading northwards, away from the village, towards Stanage Edge. I only went as far as just beyond North Lees where I managed to find a ruined chapel which is marked on the map. Not much remains; only an archway - which I think has been re-built.

More ruins soon followed; this time an old water mill in a pleasant woodland clearing.

Finally; the route back to Hathersage is gently downhill, mainly along well prepared tracks...but with a couple of short sections across boggy fields.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rowsley, Beeley, Calton Lees, Calton Houses, and Edensor.

Today didn't get off to a good start: as I was pulling up my trousers in the gents' toilets at Sheffield Railway Station my buckle broke off my belt, and so I had to do an emergency repair with the lanyard from my GPS...which I hoped would  last me the day.

Unfortunately, as I stood up to get off the bus at Rowsley I was aware that my trousers were struggling to stay up. I popped into the shop, as I would have anyhow, and the owner cut me a length of string to tie my trousers up with - I also bought a carton of planned. Since the New Year I've been on an informal, unplanned diet, merely cutting back on chocolate, biscuits and cake, and have lost about half a stone; or two inches round my waistline...very noticeable, and yet inconvenient when there's nothing holding up your trousers which are now a size too large.

The footpath was right next to the shop and led up along a lane and then through woodland, quite steep in places; but with lovely views of the Derwent Valley along the lower, more open, section.

I then looped downhill into the village of Beeley. Like Edensor, Pilsley and Calton Lees it's one of the estate villages; situated on land belonging to Chatsworth House. There are many buildings in these villages where all the external paintwork is the same colour, a pleasant blue-green which blends in well with the landscape. I think these properties are owned by the estate, and are likely to be tied cottages for the estate workers...or holiday lets.

Just before reaching Beeley I noticed something quite strange; a 'dead' rodent - it looked like a bat to me - which had somehow been melted onto a gatepost...I'm assuming it was a plastic toy: but someone had spent a bit of time and effort putting it there.

The next section, to Calton Lees, was very flat; along the floodplain of the River Derwent. I stopped to take a photograph of what seemed to me, to be an interesting juxtaposition of a thistle and a dead tree.

The track up to Calton Houses is a gentle climb, followed by a steeper section up to what I judge to be the highest point on today's walk; one of the tumuli on Calton Pastures. I stopped here to eat my sandwiches and admire the view in front of me; without looking at the map I could identify the Hunting Tower at Chatsworth, and Beeley Moor...and most of the route I had already walked.

I continued to the road, just before Ballcross Farm, and turned right and then took the track down into Edensor; where I only had to wait a couple of minutes for the bus: I thought I would have had a bit of time to spare though.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fox House, Longshaw Estate, Curbar, Calver, Froggatt, and Grindleford.

I got off the bus and walked for a couple of hundred yards down the Grindleford road and took the track into the Longshaw Estate. Just beyond Longshaw Lodge, where the information centre, tea shop, and public toilets are located, I took the footpath that forks to the right, and headed for the pond. I've never visited the pond before; it's nothing special, but I did spend a few minutes watching the ducks.

A few minutes later I was walking through woodland and noticed a tree with some strange growth on its trunk; it didn't seem to be causing any problems though.

I then walked across an area which I'd describe as heathland, and then a slight climb across grassland towards Tumbling Hill. I kept stopping and looking behind me because the views were magnificent.

Instead of taking the path which goes along the bottom of the cliff face (I think it's actually an old quarry) I climbed the few yards to the summit and followed the path; which soon merges with the lower path, just before Hay Wood car park.

I then walked along the top of Froggatt Edge, mostly using the main path, a few yards back from the top of the cliff; but sometimes going to admire an interesting rock formation and the wide-ranging view...being careful because of the gusty wind.

At the southern end of Froggatt Edge is Curbar Gap, where I walked along the road for a couple of minutes and then took a footpath down into the village.

Calver is right next to Curbar; I came down onto the main road at Calver Mill, where the 1970s TV series Colditz was filmed, and then walked north along the road to the café, where I enjoyed a very hearty cooked breakfast.

I then re-traced my steps for a few hundred yards and took a footpath leading up through woodland, my only serious climb of the day. At the top there were some grassy meadows where cows and sheep were grazing together. The views of Froggatt Edge and northwards up the valley were lovely; but by this time the sky was much cloudier than earlier.

I came down and crossed over the river and then followed the Derwent Valley Heritage Way to Froggatt, and then Grindleford; stopping to photograph the old stone bridge at Froggatt.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tideswell Lane Head, Ravensdale Cottages, Cressbrook, Upperdale, Monsal Head, Little Longstone, Great Longstone, Rowland, Hassop, and Baslow.

Today I ended up getting off the bus at the same stop as about a dozen members of one of the Sheffield walking groups, and I immediately set off at a brisk pace so that I could get far enough in front of them in order to have a pee out of sight.

The walk along Litton Edge is easy enough, being across grassland; and the views are wide-ranging in most directions. By the time I reached the road which leads out of the village the other walkers were nowhere to be seen, and it wasn't long until I was on the path heading down into the valley - Cressbrook Dale is usually dry this high up, near to its head; but not today...there is certainly no sign of the drought in this part of Derbyshire.

I crossed the quite substantial stream, which is called 'Cress Brook' I suppose, and headed south along the bottom of the valley. Straight ahead of me is a prominent rock called 'Peter's Stone' - supposedly because of its similarity to the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. It is also claimed to be the site of the last hanging by a gibbet in England .

Just a couple of hundred yards further on I saw my first 'early purple orchids' of the year. I haven't seen these beautiful flowers anywhere else except for on the grassy slopes of the limestone dales in the Peak District. They are very striking and I'm sure wouldn't look out of place in anyone's front garden.

The next section of the walk was through woodland: wild garlic was everywhere, and the smell is very pungent. I soon arrived at the hamlet of Ravensdale Cottages and then took the road down into Cressbrook where I paused for a few seconds to admire the old mill and take a photograph. The reason that it's so well maintained these days is because it's been converted into executive flats, just like nearby Litton Mill.

Half a mile further on at Upperdale I usually cross over the bridge and head for the Monsal Trail, and arrive at Monsal Head by climbing up the steep path through the woods. Today I continued along the road though, noticing that some very specific parking restrictions apply along this section.

I wonder what the significance of September 30th is? I'm thinking that maybe there's some event on that day that attracts a lot of people to the immediate area.

The route up to Monsal Head isn't quite as challenging as my normal route is; I was still ready for an ice cream when I reached the top though. I've never seen Monsal Head so busy; there was certainly enough trade for the two ice cream vans; and the pub and café.

I walked down the road to Little Longstone, noticing all the cars parked on the verge, and then walked across the fields to Great Longstone.

It's a pleasant walk across more fields to Rowland, and then Hassop, where I took several photographs of the unusual Catholic Church which looks like an Ancient Greek temple. I couldn't get any suitable angles though and so wasn't satisfied with any of my efforts.

Just beyond Hassop I sat on a grassy knoll for a  while and enjoyed watching a small aeroplane perform aerobatics; it must have been part of the entertainment at an event at the Bakewell Showground.

For about ten minutes I had to walk along the main Bakewell road, something I never really enjoy, and then headed uphill and then gently downhill again into Baslow.

The bus was fifteen minutes late and I had to stand up nearly all the way to Sheffield.