Monday, January 28, 2013

Longshaw Lodge to Baslow

Although the weather was much better yesterday, I ended up going walking today because the trains weren't running to Sheffield yesterday.

Today's walk is one of my favourite routes; I've done it several times before, but never when the conditions have been so wintry.

I got off the bus at the next stop after Fox House and walked along the gravel driveway to Longshaw Lodge, where I went to the toilets...and stopped awhile to take a picture of what I assume to be a quite old plaque explaining some of the history of the building.

As soon as I left the areas accessible to vehicles and was on footpaths it was obvious that I'd need to use my new ice grippers: although the snow and ice was rapidly thawing, there was still quite a lot of it about. I bought my grippers from a shop called 'Clas Ohlson'. It's a Swedish firm, and I'm assuming that if their products are manufactured for the Swedish market, they'll be adequate for using in the Peak District. I've previously purchased my rucksack, head torch, flask and heat pads from them and have had no reason to complain or be disappointed yet. The ice grippers are certainly sturdier and better designed than the pair that disintegrated last week...and a damn sight easier to put on and take off too. In the photograph you can see that I've taped up my laces with parcel tape; it's what I do to stop my laces snagging and eventually working loose as I'm walking through the undergrowth.

The path through Longshaw Estate is just over a mile and then I needed to walk along a short section of road. There was a wide grass verge and so I didn't need to take off my grippers though.

I was soon on the path leading to Froggatt Edge where my first stop was at Stoke Flat Stone Circle where I observed that someone had placed an offering to the gods; only a penny though. On other occasions when I've been here there has been rather more money in the hollowed out bowl on the top of the main stone; additionally there have been offerings of costume jewellery, beads, flowers and food.

The views from the top of the Edge are spectacular, but were spoiled today by the not-so-good visibility  There are plenty of interesting rock formations, so I concentrated on photographing those instead.

Occasionally I'd look to my left towards the expanse of Stoke Flat hoping to see some deer. I was fortune to spot four in the distance; the first time I've seen any at this location. Much closer; hiding amongst the rocks and boulders were several Highland cattle: it's a good job that they're very placid.

By now it was already drizzling a bit, although the weather forecast wasn't predicting rain for more than an hour yet. This was incentive enough for me to increase my pace to make sure I'd definitely arrive at Baslow Nether End in time to catch the next bus: after the really severe bout of flu I've just recovered from the last thing I need to be doing is walking in the rain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Calver, Hassop, and Bakewell.

I couldn't resist the chance to get out in the snow today. I was hoping it would be sunny too, but the weather forecast wasn't very accurate; the sun didn't come out until I'd nearly reached Bakewell and finished the walk.

As usual, the train to Sheffield on a weekday was overcrowded, probably even more so than usual because of delays and cancellations. I ended up sitting on the floor of the first class vestibule area: I had already rehearsed what I would be saying to the guard if he was going to insist that I move...but I never saw him. [The guard on the return journey back to Doncaster from Sheffield didn't inspect the tickets or take any fares either, and the driver stepped out of his cab and seemed to be having a pre-arranged meeting with several railway staff on the platform at Doncaster.]

As soon as I got off the bus at Calver I put on my ice grippers. I needed them today, and they were very effective: there was a couple of inches of lying snow and plenty of black ice about. Unfortunately the grippers didn't last out the day: they disintegrated as I was walking along a long stretch of metalled road just beyond Hassop. I probably should have taken them off for this stretch, but they are even more difficult to take off than they are to put on...and anyhow, some of the most dangerous areas underfoot are where snow and ice has been compacted on ungritted country roads.

The first part of the walk, along Bramley Wood and then Bank Wood has good views ahead and to both the left and right - it's a sort of ridge that I was walking along I suppose.

I soon reached the road that goes down into Hassop. There were some roadworks just beyond the church and this meant that by careful timing I could stand in the middle of this normally busy road and take some photographs of the building from a favourable angle.

As you can see, the church is quite unusual: it was built in the early nineteenth century as a private chapel for the Catholic members of the Eyre family.

I left Hassop on the Great Longstone road and after about half I mile I found the path that goes along the perimeter wall of Hassop Hall and heads across open fields to Toll Bar House. I then walked along the road for a few hundred yards, passing under the old railway bridge, where I noticed an old milestone had been renovated: however it is no use to anyone since the only lettering that can be read is 'LONDON' - it doesn't indicate in which direction London is, or how far away it is either.

At Rowdale House I took the footpath that leads up through woodland and then across high pastures to eventually drop down into Bakewell.

At Bakewell I had a meal of fish and chips in the restaurant above one of the fish and chip shops: from my table I had a good view of Portland Square and the 'Bakewell Pudding Factory.'

After having my meal the sun was still shining as I spent a few minutes walking down by the river before I needed to catch the bus: I wasn't alone though - there were a lot of  noisy birds eager to be fed...but not by me!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eyam, Housley, Great Longstone, and Hassop Station.

I hadn't planned to go walking today but I received an early morning telephone call from my brother saying he isn't feeling very well and so won't be visiting me. I'd nothing else planned for the day and so decided to have a few hours walking in the Peak District.

My map was already folded for this walk which I planned whilst I was ill with the flu last week as an exercise in something to look forward to, but  I hadn't put up any sandwiches; fortunately the baker's shop in town opens at eight o'clock...and it's on my route to the railway station.

   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

I got off the bus at Eyam and, after going to the shop, I headed straight  for one specific location; somewhere I'd never visited before on my regular walks in the area - Cucklet Church. During the time of the plague in the seventeenth century, Rev. Mompesson, the parish priest used to hold church services at this location - a natural landscape feature: an open cave, or a natural arch...I'm not sure how to correctly describe it. Even now, three and a half centuries later the 'church' is still used one day a year; on the anniversary of the Reverend's birthday I think.

Next to the Tourist Information Barn, on the village green, there's an unusual and interesting seat with a lot of text on it to read.

The site of Cucklet Church seemed to be guarded by Highland cattle: I've only ever seen these animals with horns before... they still looked familiar though...and they do have the placid temperament and the desire to pose for the camera that I always associate with this breed. [UPDATE/CORRECTION: I've been informed that they are Hereford cows]

In order to get some good photographs I had to scramble about quite a bit on the slippery limestone: I'm not claiming the shots are particularly good, but they well illustrate the location and the landscape features.

I noticed a path going through woodland further down the valley but couldn't work out how to get there. Nothing was marked on the map and so I didn't know where it led to anyhow, so I decided to walk back to the village: It's only a few hundred yards.

I then walked along the snicket that climbs up through a couple of small housing estates and then I found the path which leads towards Housley. It's obviously that this path has been diverted to go around the location of an old quarry: there's a concessionary footpath which you can take to get good views of the quarry face, which is regularly used by local climbing enthusiasts. I did climb over the stile and walked a few yards to the edge of the workings and took some photographs; the sun was at the wrong angle and so they weren't very good.

The path continues in a westerly direction for about a mile and then comes out onto the main road which comes up from Middleton Dale. I had to walk along the road for about ten minutes until I reached the hamlet of Housley where I took the path that leads across fields to Longstone Moor.

It's a gentle climb up onto the moor, with wide-ranging views opening up behind you. I stopped several times and looked back to identify prominent features such as Mam Tor, Wardlow Hay Cop and the Barrel Inn at Bretton.

Longstone Moor was surprisingly busy, with a couple a groups of hikers enjoying the fine winter weather. I was going to snap some photographs of the individually isolated and windswept trees that always seem to attract my attention, but I noticed that my camera's battery was low on charge, and so thought I'd save my last few shots for something more interesting.

I certainly did find something more interesting in Great Longstone:  a bus shelter with a colourful mosaic on the wall.

From the village it was only a short walk down a lane to reach the Monsal Trail, and then a further twenty minutes or so of walking to arrive at Hassop Station where I bought a pot of tea and a scone, timing my stay there so that I'd arrive to catch the bus at Pineapple Farm, about a mile north of Bakewell, and not have too long to wait.

To conclude with, I'm including one final photograph: it's one I took of the interior of the train coming back to Doncaster. This is the dirtiest train I've ever travelled in: there were also at least three police officers on the train too - I think both situations probably had something to do with football hooligans.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's Not The Norovirus.

Although there's been a lot of reporting in the media about the norovirus outbreak in the country there seems to be a rather nasty strain of flu going around Doncaster...and I've caught it.

Since Sunday I've been feeling rather unwell; I started with a headache and violent sneezing, then shivering and sweating at the same time, sometime later I had painful joints and muscles, and now it's progressed to an annoying dry cough accompanied with shortness of breath and a sore upper chest. I think these last symptoms might be a touch of bronchitis, which I'm vulnerable to after a dose of  the flu - I hope this isn't the case though because it'll most likely last for several weeks and will seriously curtail my walking activities...I popped out to the shops this morning and was absolutely shattered when I got back home, so things don't look promising.