Sunday, July 29, 2012

Great Hucklow, Abney Grange, Bretton, Highcliffe, Eyam, Stoney Middleton and Calver.

I got off the bus, crossed the road and walked up the bridleway which goes towards Great Hucklow Wood, passing by the school en route to the road which leads to the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club.

Although not marked on the map I noticed a footpath which might give me an early view of the airfield. Indeed it did, as soon as I reached a convenient viewing location I saw the last seconds of a glider's approach and landing; somewhat obscured by trees though.

I was able to capture images of another glider just lying on the grass (I'm assuming this is perfectly normal) and the windsock and weather station...I'm guessing.

I walked along the road for only a few seconds and then took a footpath which went across fields, down into a shallow valley, which seemed to be the head of Bretton Clough. At this point I was able to observe the entire process of a glider being launched; at first I heard the noise of an engine as the winch which drags the tether was started. I wasn't sure what was happening, but a few seconds later I noticed a glider only a few feet above the ground being pulled and hoisted by the tether. A few seconds later it was high in the air and the tether was released and fell back to the ground using a small parachute - I was quite relieved by this actually, since I was only in the next field. I managed to take a few photographs.

I then walked past a recently-disused pumping house, well hidden away right in the bottom of the valley, and continued back up the other side to join the narrow road which leads to Abney Grange. I took a footpath just before reaching the first building and was in a field with a flock of sheep; for some reason they all started to rush towards me; I would have been scared if they were cows though...I've had several bad experiences with cattle - on one occasion nearly being chased into the River Nidd, near Pateley Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales.

I descended back down into the same valley which I had crossed earlier; this time it was much steeper and deeper. To my left I could see an area of unusual landscape features; in the foreground a range of small parallel ridges, and further on, a series of steep, conical hillocks. I don't know what could have caused this disruption; possibly mining spoilheaps or a old landslip.

I climbed up the opposite bank of the clough a few yards and then took the path leading eastwards and was soon walking along the crests of these ridges, and then winding my way around the bases of the conical hillocks; when I was younger I would have probably climbed to the top of the larger ones.

A few minutes later I climbed out of the clough, utilising an easy path which had stone steps for part of its length. At the top I walked across fields and found the line of the footpath...which goes right next to a house at Bretton; literally going right by the front door.

It was only a short walk to the Barrel Inn, the highest pub in Derbyshire, where I bought a soft drink and enjoyed it on the patio area out front - I was alone, but the beer garden at the back was quite busy.

Just as I was finishing my drink it started to rain; there were a few short showers today, so I popped inside for a few minutes until it had stopped. I then walked down the road towards Eyam, taking a photograph of a lovely roadside display of ox-eyed daisies, which I know as 'moonpennies'. The yellow flowers are really pretty too, but I don't know what they are though.

At the hamlet of Highcliffe I followed the track which goes down to Eyam, but after a few yards I took the footpath which leads down to a dell and then through woodland to eventually arrive at the Town Head area of the village.

I walked through Eyam, and briefly popped into the courtyard of the craft centre... noting for future reference that were toilets there. I soon reached the tearooms and had my first cream tea of the summer; the waitress commented that she thought it strange that I had asked for marmalade...I've never come across this before, I always thought it was quite common - just a variant on jam.

I then walked along Mill Lane to Stoney Middleton, a route I haven't taken before, and arrived at Calver Crossroads about five minutes before the bus was due - it was few minutes late though.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tideswell Dale, Litton Mill, Cressbrook, Upperdale, Asford-in-the-Water, and Bakewell.

Some people boarding the number 65 service this morning en route would have been slightly confused when a Doncaster Park & Ride branded bus turned up. The vehicle was quite small with limited legroom, in contrast to the usual double-decker. I was quite squashed and uncomfortable for part of the journey and needed to do some stretch exercises when I arrived at my destination. 

The toilets and carpark at Tideswell Dale are right next to the bus stop. It didn't take long for me to walk along the mile or so of the accessible trail to reach the road that leads to the pretty hamlet of Litton Mill.

I then walked along the concessionary footpath towards Cressbrook, noticing the sign just before reaching Rubicon Wall at Water-cum-Jolly Dale.

I thought there was a good chance that I might be needing to use the diversionary footpath....and I was correct; the path was flooded to a depth of about eight inches - it looked as though the water had been a lot higher though.

I wasn't disappointed though; I haven't walked along the high level route to Cressbrook before and always enjoy covering new terrain.

I continued along the road to the small settlement of Upperdale and then took the footpath leading up to the Monsal Trail. I remained on the Trail for only a few hundred yards before descending to the valley bottom again just before the Headstone Viaduct near Monsal Head and headed downstream along the bank of the River Wye.

It wasn't long before I could hear the roaring noise of the weir; I have never seen it looking so spectacular; complete with spray and foam. I couldn't get a really good photograph because there were too many people around: this section of the riverbank is very popular with families enjoying picnics.

It's about another mile to the carpark at White Lodge. I was hoping to find an ice cream van there, but was disappointed. I went to the toilets though. These facilities are composting toilets and so there isn't a flush - there are detailed instructions and explanations though.

I then took the footpath which leads through Great Shacklow Wood to Ashford-in-the-Water. When I reached one difficult section where you need to basically crawl along a stony riverbed and then climb up between some rocks I met a couple who were considering turning back. I told them I have walked this route before, and that although it was much wetter than on my previous visits, it is perfectly passable. So...they continued; we walked together for a couple of minutes until I found a sunny spot to finish off the last of my sandwiches.

The path continues through the wood and then gently descends down to the riverbank.

The last few minutes of this section are along roads until reaching Asford-in-the-Water where I had a quick drink of Diet Pepsi sitting outside the pub and then popped into the shop because I noticed that they sold Bradwell's Ice Cream - my favourite. I asked for my favourite flavour, lemon curd, but they didn't stock it - so I had cherry Bakewell flavour instead.

I timed my stay in the village so that I could have a leisurely walk along the riverbank into Bakewell.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Miller's Dale, Chelmorton, Taddington, Sheldon, and Bakewell.

The bus was re-routed round Sheffield City Centre again today; this time the cause was hundreds of jogging women all wearing pink. I was only ten minutes late arriving at Miller's Dale though.

I walked down the lane, over the bridge and climbed up through the woods to soon reach the Monsal Trail. I turned right, headed over the viaduct and quickly arrived at the old railway station where I went to the toilet, bought a cup of tea and ate my sandwiches.

Just a few hundred yards beyond the station there are some very impressive ruins of limekilns. I climbed the path up to the top and took a photograph, and then explored the bottom, where you can actually go right inside. The pictures I took inside didn't come out very well; but the view you get from the Trail is spectacular...somehow reminiscent of something the Aztecs might have built.

The Trail then passes over a bridge which is very popular with abseilers; I don't know far down the drop is, but there were at least a couple of dozen people there in organised groups today.

I then saw a notice stating that the Monsal Trail will be closed to all users on August 1st and 2nd due to the Park & Ride scheme which will be operation for the Bakewell Show - I think they run buses along the route.

Next up was Chee Tor Tunnel, and then two much shorter tunnels, Chee Tor Number 2 Tunnel and Rusher Cutting Tunnel; both short enough so as to not require any lighting.

I got off the Monsal Trail at Blackwell Mill Cottages and walked down the track to the carpark at Topley Pike; the furthest west point of the walk, and the furthest west I've been on my walks since I started writing the blog. Through the trees to my right I could first hear, and then glimpse, one of the long quarry was rattling a lot, so I assume it was empty.

I crossed the main trunk road and then took the footpath which skirts Topley Pike Quarry. The quarry is well screened and there is some nice countryside here. Along one section the path climbs steeply out of the valley and I had to be careful because there were a lot of limestone rocks: limestone is always slippery, even when dry.

I then walked across meadows, fields and tracks until I reached Chelmorton, a village I have never visited before; and hadn't even heard of until planning the walk a few days earlier. The last few hundred yards into Chelmorton are part of the Midshires Way; a long distance footpath I didn't think I'd be walking along today. Along this section I also noticed that the word ENGLAND had been placed on the hillside. The lettering was large and had probably been formed by removing the topsoil to expose the limestone underneath. It wouldn't be that prominent from a distance though...maybe it's not finished yet.

I didn't go right into the village; I turned left and walked uphill, stopping briefly for a glass of Diet Coke/Pepsi at the pub across from the church.

The house next to the pub had what I would consider to be a linguistically interesting name.

'High Low' is a fairly common topographical name in Derbyshire though.

I then had a steady climb up a lane and then walked across open grassy fields to reach Taddington. I didn't walk along the main road, but turned right, along a minor road and then a path heading in an easterly direction towards Deep Dale.

I descended into Deep Dale and then climbed up the other side; fortunately it isn't its deepest at this point. A level path alongside grassy fields comes out just before Sheldon. I barely entered the village, taking the first path on my right; signposted towards Magpie Mine. I didn't visit the mine; I've been there before and it was getting quite late.

In the vicinity of Magpie Mine there's a dense network of criss-crossing footpaths. I managed to navigate myself across this section and ended up on a lovely stretch of unchallenging footpath across gently rolling pastoral countryside until I reached the road which goes down into Bakewell, where I arrived with enough time to visit the toilets and buy some refreshments.

In conclusion, it was a lovely day; the weather was mainly sunny, and certainly not too hot; the walk was at least twelve miles long, probably one the longest walks featured on the blog...and I certainly ventured the furthest west since I started writing about my walking in the Peak District.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ashopton, Hope Cross, Edale End, and Hope.

I got off the bus and walked over Ashopton Viaduct; the cold wind was very noticeable, and my two shirts and thick fleece were barely adequate...later on, it was even colder on higher, more exposed ground; and then it started raining.

The day started well though; I was soon climbing up to higher ground to get good views of the viaduct and reservoir; it became much murkier later on though.

It's several months since I've made this quite steep, if not too challenging climb, and certainly noticed a significant improvement in my level of fitness: if it wasn't for my stopping to take photographs I possibly could have managed the entire climb of about 450 foot without a break.

The path skirts to the north of Crook Hill and then I took another footpath looping back to the south and heading down to the Snake Pass road through woodland. As I was leaving the area of access land I noticed this sign which doesn't make it very clear that this is where for the rest of the way you need to stick to the footpath - I had to pause and check my map to make sure I was in the right place. I think the wording needs re-phrasing a bit though - it's not obvious that this is actually a right of way.

I then needed to walk along the major trunk road for a few minutes; something I would have preferred not to do, but there was no other way. I soon reached the footpath though, and walked down to the River Ashop and then up the other side of the valley through a dense pine forest to reach Hope Cross. If it wasn't for the low cloud and drizzle, the views from here would be impressive.

I then continued towards the ford at Jaggers Clough and then took the concessionary footpath through Backside Wood. To my left, looking up towards Hope Brink, in places I could see that large areas of the hillside were covered in purple foxgloves.

I popped into the information barn and emergency shelter at Edale End. This resource is always well-maintained, with plenty of up-to-date leaflets and information.

By this time I was wary of the time, knowing when the bus departs from Hope. I'd had enough of the miserable weather and so just wanted to get home. It didn't take too long to reach the Edale road and then I walked across fields next to the River Noe, along the road for a few yards and then along footpaths back to the village, walking over a footbridge which crosses over the railway line which goes to Hope Cement Works.

Travelling eastwards on the bus it was obvious that the day had been much drier in Hathersage, and it might not have even rained at all in Sheffield. When I got off the train in Doncaster it was actually sunny; my timing was perfect though, as I walked past the butcher's shop just outside the Frenchgate Centre they were selling off produce at reduced prices - I bought four whole cooked chickens for a fiver - they should last me a few days.