Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fox House, Upper Padley, Leadmill, and Hathersage.

I chose today's walk for a couple of specific reasons. First; my bowels were a bit delicate when I woke up this morning and so I didn't want to be too far from some toilets, and there are public toilets at both Fox House and Longshaw Lodge - and I'd be able to use the facilities at the café at Grindleford Station later. The second reason for today's location was that after all the recent rainfall I was hoping that Padley Gorge would be spectacular; and I wasn't disappointed - the waterfalls and cascades were well worth the visit.

I had planned to get off the bus at the Surprise View Car Park, but the bus overheated and broke down at Fox House. There was an obvious burning smell all the way up the hill from Sheffield; and even as the vehicle was idling whilst I scanned my pass into the ticket machine as I was boarding, I could hear a loose panel rattling somewhere.

As he was waiting for the engine to cool down the driver mentioned that it's now the responsibility of the cleaners to make sure that a vehicle is roadworthy before it leaves the garage. I think this is silly, expecting unqualified staff to be so flexible and's probably dangerous too. Later on, a much more flexible use of staff occurred at the café though, when one of the waitresses was required to put a couple of logs on the fire.

My intended stop was only half a mile down the road so I got off the bus at Fox House, walked along the path that goes at the side of the road to Toad's Mouth and  then took a path which goes along the bank of the Burbage Brook for a few hundred yards. I have never seen so much water in the brook and therefore knew that further downstream, in Padley Gorge, it would be spectacular.

I then walked across the moor to Surprise View. The view westwards up the Hope Valley was lovely, with the low on the horizon sun perfectly illuminating the scene before my eyes.

I then rather aimlessly wandered around the site of Bole Hill Quarry, which after a hundred years since its closure has now well and truly been returned to nature. There are some lovely views, both in the distance and close up of the quarry faces, many interesting remains of buildings and the industrial landscape...and a lot of silver birch trees.

After having fun climbing down and then scrambling back up the various quarry faces and spoil heaps I then followed a path which took me half way down Padley Gorge; I knew I wouldn't get lost - I could hear the roar of the water in the distance.

I continued down to Upper Padley and had a cooked breakfast at the station café as usual and then walked down to Leadmill where there seemed to be even more water in the fields than there was on my previous visit a couple of weeks earlier.

It was then only a short walk into Hathersage where I had enough time to pop into the garage shop and buy a flapjack.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Calver, Cavendish Mill, Eyam, and Stoke.

There were some lovely views at the start of today's walk as I took the footpath that goes to the north of Calver Peak. The views looking towards Stoney Middleton were perfectly illuminated by the sunshine.

The views continued in the direction of Grindleford too.

As I climbed higher I even caught a glimpse of the mist that was still lingering down by the River Derwent; the photographs I took weren't any good though.

This section was very easy to walk, as was the next section along the quarry track going westwards until I reached Black Harry Lane, which is a bit of a climb, but nothing too challenging. At the top of the lane I turned left and followed the path which goes alongside some retaining earthworks which have something to do with the quarry.

There was a bit of activity in one of the workshops at Cavendish Mill: I read somewhere that quarrying and the processing of minerals no longer takes place here...but there was still a lot of heavy plant secured there.

I headed down the new road which goes down to Middleton Dale. This road isn't depicted on my map...but I was aware of its existence and so wanted to explore a bit. Towards the bottom I got some spectacular views of the rocky pinnacles, caused by historical quarrying, which line both sides of the valley. From one particular vantage point I briefly imagined that I might be viewing the location of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World.'

I crossed the main road which goes along the bottom of the dale and climbed up the footpath at the other side. In places this path was a bit dangerous because of the slippery autumn leaves...and the long drops as well, should I fall!

At the top of the cliff it was a short walk across fields and then down lanes into Eyam, where I headed for the 'Eyam Tearooms' at the far end of the village. They were closed today though and so I went in the Village Green Tearooms instead. I've not been in here before and found the choice on the menu to be rather limited; and some items weren't even available anyhow. I ordered a pot of tea, a toasted teacake with butter and lemon marmalade, and a slice of Bakewell tart. When I told the young waitress that it was the best marmalade I'd ever tasted she told me that her mum makes it. Her mum was clearing the table behind me and was rather embarrassed. Maybe I ought to have been a bit embarrassed a few minutes earlier myself when I had a bit of an accident.  As I was pouring the last few drops out of the teapot I tipped it at such an angle that the lid fell into my cup, making a loud noise and causing quite a splash all over the tablecloth. For a few seconds all conversation ceased as everyone looked in my direction...I looked at my map for solace.

As I left  Eyam I noticed that the sky had partially clouded over and it was a bit chilly. I walked past the Riley Graves, where a family is buried - victims of the plague which killed so many people in Eyam, and  continued down to the main road at Stoke Hall where I caught the bus back to Sheffield.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Matlock, Matlock Bath, Upperwood, Snitterton, Oaker, Darley Bridge, and Darley Dale.

Today's walk began with me walking through the park at Matlock and then climbing up to Pic Tor. I was hoping to get some good all round views, but it was still quite misty and the only photograph I'm happy with was one taken of the war memorial in silhouette as I faced the sun.

I then continued towards High Tor, with good views looking down into the valley. Just below the summit there was a short section of footpath I specifically wanted to walk along; it's known as 'Giddy Edge.'  It's a narrow path, in places cut right into the rockface: there's a handrail to use on the more difficult stretches...and it's definitely needed, and because it's so narrow and passing would be dangerous, it's a one-way footpath - the only one I know about.

I soon reached Matlock Bath; it was looking rather forlorn at this time of year - hardly any of the shops were open. I continued along the road and had a quick visit to Masson Mills. I didn't stay long because I wasn't able to view any part of the working mill; there were just a few shops and a café. If I wanted to look round shops I would have stayed at home in Doncaster.

I crossed over the road and found the path that starts as a series of steep steps going up the hillside. I soon came across something I wasn't expecting, it isn't marked on my map; a mineshaft that wasn't blocked off and appeared to have easy access. I rummaged in my rucksack and found my headtorch and ventured into the darkness: the mine consisted of a well-hewn tunnel about five foot high. I had to stoop slightly but had no problems getting about fifty foot in I should think. The tunnel seemed to go on for quite a bit further, but the roof appeared to be getting slightly lower and so I turned around and headed back towards the daylight. If I was younger and more supple, and had a hard hat and some knee pads I probably would have ventured further. It was quite pleasant inside the mine; I didn't feel claustrophobic in any way and the temperature was a good few degrees warmer than outside.

I briefly passed through Upperwood before continuing northwards. In the fields above Bonsall I was having difficulty walking across areas of churned soil which had frozen: I was simultaneously slipping and tripping up - I think I need to find a new word to adequately describe this predicament.

Along this section the local wildlife seemed to be ganging up on me; a squirrel nearly as big as a cat missed me by only about two foot as it jumped from one tree to the next and then a couple of fields later I was almost rugby tackled by a hare.

The next place of interest was the old mine in Jughole Wood. I was aware of this mine and had passed nearby on a couple of previous walks, but didn't have the time to look for it. I easily found it and went in about half way: it's quite large but there isn't anything particularly interesting to see - there are no stalactites or stalagmites...and no obvious mineral formations. Like the other mine I visited though it appears to be quite safe and would be a bit of an adventure for small do need sturdy boots and a torch to visit both sites though - and if you want to take any photographs you'll need a better camera then mine.

I walked downhill to Snitterton: en route I spotted some unusual farm animals in a field. I couldn't make out if they were were either  cows or calves, or sheep. After studying the photographs I took I still can't decide - unfortunately they were quite far away...what do you reckon? You'd think I'd know the difference between cows and sheep though.

I briefly entered Oaker before climbing the hill at the back of the village. The highest part of this section is a pleasant ridge walk.

I was concerned that I might miss my bus and end up waiting almost an hour for the next one, and so I jogged most of way back to the bus-stop at Darley Dale - I arrived with nearly ten minutes to spare...not long enough to risk walking  to the shops and catching the bus at the next stop though.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Moscar Moor, Hathersage, Leadmill, and Bamford.

The train was late departing from Doncaster this morning; we did eventually set off after a delay of fifteen minutes. The guard announced that we were due to arrive in Sheffield at 08:53: my bus was due at 08:52 and so I had to plan an alternative walk, catching a later bus. Fortunately there's another bus heading for the Peak District only ten minutes later, going along a different route.

Although it was quite sunny in Sheffield, when I got off the bus at the county boundary on Moscar Moor it was raining; almost horizontally due to the strong wind. The weather forecast was for an improvement before lunch; half an hour later the rain had stopped, and the sun was shining well before I reached Hathersage.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no snow where I was walking; I did however soon see my first snow of the winter on the flanks of Bleaklow in the distance.

I headed southwards towards Stanage Edge, but took the path that goes along the bottom of the cliff; it was slightly more sheltered...but still windy and exposed. On the path down to Dennis Knoll I encountered my first people of the walk, a group of sturdy fellrunners heading uphill.

By now the sun was shining and Stanage Edge was looking magnificent: it was a shame that it was behind me, but this gave me an excuse to make frequent stops to admire the view and take photographs.

I arrived at Hathersage just before midday and headed straight for Cintra's Tearooms where I ordered a cooked breakfast, served with a pot of tea [with an additional pot of hot water - enough for four large cups in total] and a plateful of toast, complete with butter and marmalade.

I made my way out of Hathersage on Station Road, popping into the baker's shop for an apple turnover. I was soon at Leadmill and noticed that several fields were flooded; I thought my way ahead might be flooded...and I was proven to be correct in my assumption.

I crossed over the bridge and took the path that goes along the riverbank. It wasn't long until the path was flooded.

I found a stick to gauge the depth, and estimated it to be about 18 inches; just a bit too deep for me. However, I noticed some prominent exposed tree roots on the bank and used these to secure a footing; meaning that I could avoid the deepest part of the water and only ended up wading through about a foot of the River Derwent. I've watched all of the Indiana Jones films and I don't recall Harrison Ford ever having to do this.

By the way, for those of you who know the area, the photo was taken after I had successfully passed this obstacle - the sun was at a better angle facing this direction.

There are some lovely views along the next section of the walk; the photograph shows Bamford Edge and Win Hill.

I continued along the path to reach the bottom of Shatton Lane, and then walked along the road back to the bus-stop at Bamford station.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Matlock Victorian Christmas Market

Another trip out today with my friend Justin: he's taking advantage of the fact that his mum is in emergency respite care whilst her medical assessment is undertaken.

As the bus arrived into Matlock we could see that the market stalls set up in the park were already busy. We got off the bus and went straight to the toilets, where we had to wait a few minutes to pee - this hasn't happened to me for many years.

First of all we had a look round the stalls that had been set up outside. It was sunny and we enjoyed the experience, especially lingering in spots where we could listen to the organ music or watch one of the displays. A few minutes later we entered the two large marquees where most of the stallholders were located. It was very busy inside; we both felt a bit uncomfortable in the crush, and certainly had to limit our time at the stalls we were interested in because people were constantly pushing to get past us. Justin is slightly disabled and he walks with a stick and has a limp, and at times I was concerned that he might fall over.

Before looking for somewhere to eat we visited the antiques centre on Dale Road. I'm not at all interested in antiques, and never buy anything there, but this is my favourite shop in Matlock. It's a rabbit warren, or Aladdin's Cave,  of interconnecting rooms on different levels, each one piled high with a jumble of second-hand treasures, and a few genuine antiques I suppose, stashed away in dusty display cabinets.

We then found a pub to have a meal; there don't seem to be that many in the town though. I had a jumbo mixed grill, Justin had the steak. We had to wait over half an hour for our meals - the place was packed. The meals were worth the wait though.

For the final hour or so we looked round the shops; mainly charity shops and butchers. I bought three pies; a pork and apple pie which I ate on the bus travelling back to Sheffield - it was delicious: a 'hunter's pie' and a 'fellmaster's pie' [I think] to consume tomorrow and the day after.