Monday, October 29, 2012

Penistone, Hazlehead, Dunford Bridge, Langsett, and Stocksbridge.

I travelled all the way by train to Penistone today, changing services at Meadowhall. It's longer than going by bus, but it's certainly more comfortable...and I didn't know what time the buses went from Barnsley to Penistone.

At Penistone I popped into the town to buy something to eat and drink for later, and then found the Trans Pennine Trail. This long distance footpath goes along the route of the former Woodhead Railway Line and so the walking was very easy out to Dunford Bridge, the point where the trail leaves the old railway because of the long tunnel under the Pennines...which is blocked.

Pretty much the first thing I noticed as I started to walk was a forest of wind turbines on the horizon, some rotating, and some not. The photograph, however, was taken a few miles further on when I stopped to count them; twenty in total; although there aren't that many in the picture.

The first mile or so after leaving Penistone is fairly boring, being either in a cutting or only having views towards housing estates. After about half an hour or so the views opened up and continued to be interesting all the way to Dunford Bridge; with many information boards positioned along the trail adding to the interest.

I made good time and soon reached the site of Hazlehead Station where I ate my sandwiches whilst trying to imagine how busy this quite isolated station must have been; the information board said there were seven tracks here, a branch line leading off to a foundry, a fully staffed station and a signal box.

At Dunford Bridge I turned left, still following the route of the Trans Pennine Trail along a road which leads up onto open moorland. As I got to higher ground I spotted my first reservoir of the day, Winscar Reservoir, where the Pennine Sailing Club is based.

It was getting misty, but a few minutes later, looking down to the left I saw Upper Windleden Reservoir.

I easily found the next footpath which I needed, the section of the Barnsley Boundary Walk which crosses Thurlstone Moors. Along this section I got a closer view of Upper Windleden Reservoir, and briefly, in the distance, Lower Windleden Reservoir.

The path led me to the Woodhead Pass road, which I didn't need to walk along at this point because another path ran parallel to the road, keeping to the moor though. Along this stretch of path there was an unusual buttressed fence. I hadn't seen anything similar before and assumed it must be there to protect the road from deep snow drifts.

About a mile and a half later I was walking alongside the road to reach the roadside café, situated in a lay-by just to the west of the Dog and Partridge pub. I enjoyed a mug of tea and a chocolate shortbread slice, and spent a few minutes chatting with the owner about walking.

I had to walk along the grass verge at the side of the carriageway for a few minutes before reaching the bridleway that leads towards Langsett Reservoir. Since this section is a bridleway, horse riders are allowed to use it and a few minutes later I observed a young girl riding her pony with the rest of her family. It was a very unusual pony; it was white with brightly coloured stripes dyed into its fur.

When I reached Langsett Reservoir, I didn't walk along the water's edge. I chose the path which takes the higher route, still giving me glimpses of the water through the trees.

At Langsett village I had a decision to make, climb up the hill and descend the other side to reach Penistone, or continue going down the valley in the direction of Stocksbridge. I opted for Stocksbridge, because, although it was slightly would be easier.

Walking down the main road was quite scary; some lorries passed very close to me, the draught they created made me feel a bit unsteady on my feet. So, I was glad to reach the footpath which leads onto the route of another old railway line. In the direction I was walking it leads down to the steelworks at Stocksbridge. I couldn't work out where it used to go in the other direction beyond Langsett, even by studying the map.

About a mile later and I could see my final reservoir of the day, the fifth, Underbank Reservoir, not too far from Stocksbridge where I caught the bus back to Sheffield.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sheffield Railway Station To Fox House.

At the end of June I walked the Meanwood Valley Trail in Leeds with a friend who's from Leeds; so today it was time for me to reciprocate and show him what I consider to be the equivalent walk in Sheffield - from the railway station out to Fox House, via the Porter Valley. Unfortunately it doesn't have a name though as far as I know...of course it's a much nicer walk,  my friend even admitted that.

I had planned to walk through the old cemetery but got a bit confused with the roads; so we walked along Ecclesall Road until we reached the entrance to Endcliffe Park: from this point the walk really begins, with nice parkland, industrial heritage and then open fields...and finally, high moorland.

I was surprised at how quickly we reached Forge Dam Café; a lovely spot.

I was hoping to at least stay and have a cup of tea, but my friend was on a schedule: he needed to meet his wife at the Meadowhall shopping centre later. So, after stopping briefly to eat our sandwiches on a nearby seat we continued on.

Our next pause was at the toposcope at the head of Porter Clough. We could clearly identify the plumes from the six observable power stations in the Aire Valley and the Trent Valley...and the TV mast at Emley Moor. I estimate the visibility to have been over thirty miles; pretty good, but still a bit too hazy to see the Humber Bridge or Lincoln Cathedral, which are both included as landmarks. In the other direction, to the west; the only landmark identified is Chicago!

Beyond this point we entered the Peak District and were walking across open fields, quite muddy and boggy in places, and then across Houndkirk Moor...with a gentle descent down to Fox House.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Castleton, Edale, Ollerbrook, Nether Booth, and Hope.

It was sunny all the way to Hathersage this morning; but beyond, the entire Hope Valley was shrouded in mist. As the bus passed by Surprise View the view up the valley was amazing; with the sunlight glistening off the mist it seemed as though there was a massive lake, or reservoir that just wasn't there before - with small islands of higher ground protruding above the mysterious, hidden entirely new, but fleeting, topography to enjoy.  It's a pity I was on the bus; I didn't try to take any photographs because I knew they wouldn't be very good; and I only had a few seconds anyhow. Several people had stopped their cars and were busy with their cameras though.

Unfortunately, by the time the bus reached Castleton the mist was already lifting and so I wouldn't be able to enjoy anything as truly spectacular as I'd seen about half an hour earlier. I walked through the village and soon became caught up in a group of about three dozen eager and excited students on a field trip. Fortunately they weren't heading in my direction and so I didn't need to change my plans.

I walked in a westerly direction, pausing several times to admire the views of the mouth of Winnats Pass (as shown in the header photo), and  Mam Tor and the landslip. At first my route was flat and across grassy, and sometimes sodden, fields: the last few hundred yards up to Hollins Cross is much steeper though, firstly climbing through bracken and then utilising a paved trackway to the top. Hollins Cross is the lowest point along the Great Ridge; it's still quite high though, requiring a climb of about 700ft.

At Hollins Cross I sat for a few minutes to eat my sandwiches and appreciate the view.

It was still quite early, but I could already see that half a dozen paragliders were in the air: a couple of hours later when I stopped for another break I counted thirty three.

The route down to Edale is very pleasant, passing through a variety of landscapes, with many photographic opportunities. I've not visited Edale for nearly twenty years and so was looking forward to spending a bit of time there. My first port of call was the café at the railway station. I didn't buy anything; the place was empty and looked rather sterile and uninviting - the high prices on the menu didn't help either. I knew there was another café further up the hill and so wasn't too disappointed at the time.

I had a quick look round the Moorland Centre and then headed for the other café in the village. I was to suffer disappointment here too though; I arrived too late for a cooked breakfast...and there wasn't anything else substantial on offer. I bought a mug of tea though, and ended up lingering for quite a while because I was enjoying overhearing the man sitting at the next table telling his friends about his recent trip to the Ukraine.

I  walked a bit further up the hill until I reached the path that leads towards the hamlets of Ollerbrook and Nether Booth. I then needed to walk along the road for a few minutes before taking the well-maintained track that goes past Carr House and eventually comes out onto the same road I'd previously been walking along...only nearer to Hope.

Although it was a lovely day, I was aware of how waterlogged it had been underfoot at times, and remembering that the path alongside the River Noe always seems to be muddy, and I was muddy enough anyhow, I decided to stick with the road the rest of the way back to Hope - something I haven't done before anyway.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blackwell, Flagg, Monyash, Over Haddon, and Bakewell.

I got off the bus at Blackwell and walked through the village, one of the few reachable villages I hadn't yet visited. It's nothing special, but within a couple of minutes I was enjoying the best accompaniment of birdsong I'd heard all year; I could distinguish, but not identify, at least four different species.

I continued along the lane and then crossed over the main Buxton road, using a short section of the Pennine Bridleway before taking a footpath leading across a boggy field. I then  reached some sort of recycling plant that was constantly buzzing and continued in a southerly direction until I arrived at a country lane just to the east of Chelmorton. I should think that this section was the highest point of the walk, and a field full of cows seemed to be triumphantly proclaiming the fact; I've never heard such noisy cows; several of them seemed to be lowing in a syncopated rhythm somewhat reminiscent of a mill or factory...I'm glad I wasn't in the field with them.

When I reached the road I turned left and soon spotted the footpath I was looking for; running almost parallel to the road that runs through Flagg. I briefly entered the village and turned down the road leading to Monyash. The path I took to reach Monyash went across open fields  and was flat and easy going.

I had only visited the eastern end of the village previously, and so most of Monyash was new to me. I knew there is a quite well respected café here, and so went in for a mug of tea and a scone.

After finishing my refreshments I walked along the lane that leads past the village pond. The pond is by far the most picturesque I have photographed in the Peak District so far.

I continued along the Limestone Way and then took the footpath which leads down Fern Dale into the upper reaches of Lathkill Dale.

The walk along Lathkill Dale, although a little rocky in places, isn't too difficult, and seems to be a safe challenge for young children....there were several families out in the fine weather enjoying themselves today.

I walked up the steep road to Over Haddon without once having to stop to catch my breath; a big improvement on the last time. I didn't linger; I had contemplated visiting the pub, but decided to head on towards Bakewell instead, arriving there with enough time to enjoy some fish and chips down by the river.

The bus journey back to Sheffield took a bit longer than scheduled. There had been a traffic accident just beyond Fox House and the police had set up a roadblock and were re-directing traffic. When the bus got to the head of the queue the police officer must have decided that the double-decker was too large to turn round, and too large to stay where we were, blocking the road: and so he let us through. A few hundred yards further on we saw a motorcyclist receiving medical attention at the roadside from an ambulance crew.