Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lodge Moor, Hollow Meadows, Dungworth, Malin Bridge, and Hillsborough.

I got off to an early start this morning; I arrived at Lodge Moor at 8:40. The number 51 is a frequent service, every ten minutes I think; so there's no hanging around at the bus station...it actually departs from Arundel Gate though. Just over an hour from Doncaster Railway Station to the edge of the Peak District on public transport is very good; although I did have to stand for most of the way.

I walked along the road for a few yards, stepping on an old Sheffield Corporation manhole cover.

I soon crossed over the road and took a path at the side of a pub which loops to the south and eventually returns back to the road about half a mile further on. Part of the path crosses some playing fields; this location is very exposed, but since it was a clear day I could see all the way to the northern horizon , where I could identify two of the three Aire Valley power stations.

At the end of the playing fields I spotted the first grammatical error of the day, but no model aircraft though; there were only early morning joggers about at this time.

I walked along the road to the car parking area and took the path which goes along the edge of the woodland and then walked across the open moorland, heading directly for the Head Stone as soon as I could see it.

From certain angles I think that the Head Stone looks like one of the Moai on Easter Island...or maybe Homer Simpson.

I then descended to the A57 Road at Hollow Meadows and climbed up the other side of the valley to reach Rod Moor, before passing a couple of farms on my way to the road which eventually goes to Lower Bradfield, I think.

I then took a fairly steep path down steps to Ughill Wood, then found myself climbing out of this valley to reach the Dungworth road. Today's walk was quite undulating: I lost count of the number of valleys I climbed in and out of.

I noticed a house with a very unusual roof as I was leaving Dungworth. I'm assuming the tyres were used to stop the slates or tiles from blowing off.

The footpath I needed is at the back of this house; it goes across heathland and through some wooded areas before reaching the River Loxley at Rowel Bridge.

The last couple of miles to Malin Bridge, and then Hillsborough, were along the bottom of the valley. Not too far from the shops at Malin Bridge I was annoyed by the sight of the second grammatical error of the day. I wonder what the legal consequences concerning compensation would have been if I was run over whilst taking this photograph?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sponsored Walk To Sprotbrough.

I've just got home after leading the Autism Plus sponsored walk  to Sprotbrough; going out along the river via  Newton, and calling at Cusworth Hall on the way back to town - a total distance of over eight miles, which was quite a difficult challenge for one or two on the walk.

Being in charge of twenty one people was a bit of a challenge for me too, making sure they were all safe and had a good day out; marshalling them across roads, pacing the front runners so that the straddlers weren't left behind, pointing out interesting things and deciding how long to stay at the pub, and later at the tearooms, were all new experiences for me.

We left the Autism Plus centre on the edge of the town centre and then walked through the town, over North Bridge and down to the lock where we followed the footpath which goes right past the prison; which we passed just as at was exercise time for the inmates.

At wasn't long until we were walking among trees at our side of the canal; it was still quite industrial on the other bank though. The situation soon improved and it was open countryside on both sides of the water just before we reached Newton.

There are several nice cottages there.

People had the opportunity to abandon the walk here after two miles, but no-one did. 

We continued along the riverbank (not all of this section of the River Don is canalised), passing under the two railway bridges and then the A1 motorway before reaching Sprotbrough where we stopped to eat our sandwiches, or visit the pub: some of us needed to use the toilets and the only ones are in the pub. I had time for a pot of tea, which I enjoyed outside in the sheltered beer garden with some of my fellow walkers; some stayed inside the pub and the others sat on the seats or on the wall down by the water.

We were running ahead of schedule and so had time to visit the weir - an ideal spot for a group photograph. My photograph here is just the weir, or 'Sprotbrough Falls' as we locals call this location.

The next section of the walk was the most challenging for those who weren't regular walkers; first climbing up several dozen steps through a wood and then along the edge of a field to reach the higher part of the village; walking passed one couple who where struggling I commented that's why it's called the 'Don Gorge.'

A short stretch along the road was next, and then across fields to Cusworth Hall, with the last few yards being a relatively steep climb up the lawn to reach the house...where the tearooms and toilets were.

We were able to linger for a bit longer at the hall, time for another pot of tea and a scone, before the final stretch back into town, arriving over half an hour ahead of schedule.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cutthroat Bridge To Hope.

I got off the bus and walked alongside the road for a couple of minutes until I reached the stile for the access land on Bamford Moor. For the first half a mile or so the route was a track, but I soon broke off to the right, walking over dead bracken, down into Jarvis Clough. This was easy today, but at the height of summer when the bracken is taller than me, this won't be the case. 

I jumped across the beck and climbed up the other side of Jarvis Clough. As I reached the top I caught my first glimpse of the water in Ladybower Reservoir: further on, the views were lovely.

At just about the most inaccessible point of today's walk I came across this notice:

I'm not sure what someone with a dog is supposed to do when they read this; kill their dog maybe? I didn't see any canine carcasses though.

The path then gradually descended towards the road. I first had to pass by a phalanx of tree monsters guarding the approaches to a magical forest inhabited by grotesque goblins from a Central European fairytale.

I have never seen so many twisted and contorted trees in the same place; every one of them was like this.

A few minutes later I reached the road, right at the side of the commemorative monument, and then continued down to the foot of the dam wall, crossing over the River Derwent on the road bridge. I then climbed up past the old railway, walking through woodland and meadows: my friend Justin disturbed me as I was lying on the grass enjoying the sunshine, phoning me to tell me about a change of plan for our regular pub meeting in town next week.

The last couple of miles was a steady downhill walk across fields. Both of the caf├ęs in Hope were full; there were no empty seats inside or outside, so I popped in to one of the tea rooms for a quick pot of tea and a Bakewell tart before catching the bus back to Sheffield.

It was quite a brief walk today; the best of the weather had passed by one o'clock, as forecast, my knee was hurting me a bit, and I was tired after a late night last night, meeting up with friends in Leeds.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Matlock Green, Starkholmes, High Peak Junction, Cromford, and Matlock Bath.

As I was waiting at Sheffield Bus Station I noticed my favourite bus pass by; yes, I do actually have a favourite bus. It's a TM Travel double-decker, which sometimes, like this morning, only displays the letters BOB on its destination blinds: no service number or destination town - just the colloquial diminutive version of 'Robert.' 

About an hour and a half later I got off my bus at the bottom of the hill at Matlock Green; a couple of stops before the town centre. I walked along the road for a few yards before I located the footpath which leads up the hill, across fields and pastures. It wasn't easy to find, there's no sign and the track I needed to take looks like it leads to a garden centre.

As I walked along here the sun was at just the right angle for perfect views of Matlock, a couple of miles away.

I lingered awhile to take some photographs, but soon arrived at the Wards End area of Starkholmes, located at the edge of the village. I then walked up the steep winding road until I reached Hearthstone Lane; a single track, tarmacked road which goes to Hearthstone Farm - which seems to be more like a hamlet. This was the highest section of the walk and there were still significant amounts of snow piled up at the side of the road. Further on, when I was walking along a section of footpath enclosed by high hedges, I had to walk through the remains of several deep snowdrifts.

I then walked down through the woods, past Lea Bridge Mill, and along a short stretch of road to reach High Peak Junction. Just before reaching the mill there was a field with three large horses in it. One of them was standing near to the stile in the corner of the field and although not actually blocking my way it was far too near for my liking - well within kicking range. I know that you should never walk behind large animals and so paused awhile to assess the situation. It was then that one of the other horses approached me and so I patted it on the head. This seemed to attract the attention of the horse which was causing me the problem, and it too started to walk in my direction; giving me the opportunity to climb over the stile.  

High Peak Junction is the site of an incline railway where goods from barges on the canal were transferred into waggons, which were then hauled up the hillside by stationary steam engines. Everything is explained on the Wikipedia page:  

There is a small interpretation centre inside the two railway brake vans which are located there.

I then walked along the canal towpath towards Cromford, and popped into Arkwright's Mill for a lemon curd ice cream. There was a steam traction fair being held in the village market place...and some very unusual, and possibly dangerous, animals on the loose in the millpond area. 

Being careful not to get too close, I had a look for these crocodiles...and I thought I'd found one...

...but I think it was only a duck-billed platypus.

I had more luck with some of the other exotic wildlife though. On the next tree there were a couple of small koalas...and an upside down teapot.

A few seconds later I saw another unexpected sign; this time it seems that cats have the ability to hold up traffic.

A very strange place indeed, Cromford. 

I then walked up the hill at the other side of the valley. When I reached the last building as I left Cromford I was slightly puzzled and perturbed by this sign when I thought it read 'Destruct' - it was only when I got close up that I realised that it actually is 'Obstruct.'

I climbed up through woodland, then skirted the edge of a quarry and continued across meadows and back down through more woodland, and a lot of steps, to reach a very busy Matlock Bath where I bought some fish and chips and then caught the bus into Matlock.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bolsover Castle And Sutton Scarsdale Hall.

Today I visited two English Heritage properties located in a part of Derbyshire I haven't visited before; Bolsover Castle and Sutton Scarsdale Hall.

I don't have an Ordnance Survey map covering the area, so I downloaded one from the internet; as well as a bus timetable and a route guide for a circular walk from the castle to the hall, and back.

There was a spectacular view of the castle as the bus entered Bolsover: I was really looking forward to this visit after reading so many positive reviews online. I arrived about twenty minutes before the castle opened to the public and so I had a quick look around the town. Bolsover is a very pleasant, small market town; most of its buildings are made of the same type of sandstone as the castle, and there are several quaint pedestrianised streets and courtyards. I popped into a shop to buy a sandwich and a chocolate truffle bun. This was the heaviest bun I have ever held in my hand; it must have weighed the same as a small cannonball - it was delicious though. 

According the the location maps that I found there are meant to be four lots of public toilets in the town centre - I couldn't find any of them and had to wait for a pee until I reached the castle.

Bolsover Castle isn't a typical mediaeval ruined castle; it dates from the seventeenth century and was more of a stately home than a castle...there was an older fortified castle on the site though.

Here's a link to the castle's Wikipedia page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolsover_Castle

Here are some photographs I took.

I spent nearly two hours walking around the castle. The audio commentary was very interesting and lively, and there's a bit of clever technology used which synchronises your commentary to the images being projected onto the wall in one of the rooms; the beer cellar.

With the map and the written instructions in hand I then set off for Sutton Scarsdale Hall, which I had spotted from the castle's battlements. It's about three miles away, but because of the imprecise and confusing directions, and old map which didn't depict the new bypass and an industrial estate, I walked considerably further.

The walk isn't particularly attractive, mainly across fields and down country lanes and farm tracks. By the time I got there the hazy sun which was attempting to break through the clouds as I was exploring the castle was nowhere to be seen. It was quite murky now, and a few degrees colder.

At one time Sutton Scarsdale Hall would have been very impressive, but it's only a shell now. It's quite a sad story how this happened.

I didn't stay very long; there wasn't that much to see, and there was a funeral being held in the church, right next to the ruins.

The walk back to Bolsover was much quicker since I didn't get lost - there were a couple of recently ploughed fields to cross though. It's always annoying, and hard work, when the farmer doesn't drive his tractor along the alignment of the footpath so that walkers are able to use the tyre tracks.

I arrived back at Bolsover thinking that I'd only have a few minutes to wait for the bus. I checked the timetable just in case though, and was glad that I did; the Sheffield to Mansfield service only runs every two hours - many small villages in the Peak District have a much better service than this.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Castleton, Pindale, Bradwell, Shatton, and Bamford.

Today is the second consecutive day that I've been out in the Peak District. I went on the train to Manchester yesterday, along the Hope Valley Line; seeing some familiar locations from a slightly different perspective.

Here's a photograph I took when the train was stopped at Hope station.

I decided to use my free travel voucher for Northern Rail, which I got several months ago when I was delayed for nearly two hours at Wakefield Westgate station.

I've recently joined English Heritage and so thought I'd visit Peveril Castle at Castleton today; an English Heritage property. Several stops after leaving the bus station, some passengers, students most likely, got on the bus and said, "Surprise please" to the driver - this isn't as strange as it may sound; it's just that one of the locations along the route is known as 'Surprise View.' It does make me smile though when someone says this; and maybe one day the driver will actually surprise someone.

The castle opens at ten o'clock, and I was the first visitor of the day. Peveril Castle is everything a ruined castle should be; stark, austere, threatening, perched precariously on the top of precipitous crags and the only access being up a steep zig-zagging path.

I took plenty of photographs on the way up to the keep, and from inside the building looking out towards the stunning countryside, but it was quite hazy and I'm not happy with the results. I have decided to include a shot of one of the garderobes, the castle's toilets. Interestingly, the word has the same origins as 'wardrobe.'

Whilst I was inside the keep I let my imagination run away with me. The building is very atmospheric; ghostly shadows were poking their way through the haze as the noise of ravens flapping and cawing, planning some unimaginable atrocity, echoed around the hollow shell of the keep, as, down in the village the church bell tolled its foreboding rhythm, summoning the dead to rise, or the living to enter through the gates of Hell. It certainly reminded me of a Hitchcock film, or a Hammer House of Horror production.

My visit to the castle lasted about forty minutes. I returned to the village and then walked along the road towards the hamlet of Pindale. Before leaving Castleton I managed to stroke three cats, none of them seemed particularly sinister though: as I said "Good morning" to the final one a woman in a cottage garden across the road responded - I responded to the cat.

I passed Pindale, then walked by Hope Cement Works and down into Bradwell, where I was way too early for an ice cream from Bradwell's of Bradwell ice cream shop. I had to make do with a  sandwich and a carton of milk from the Co-op shop.

Next I climbed up to Brough Lane, a track popular with mountain bikers. As I walked near to a farm I learned something new; that moles use shovels to make their molehills - I took a photograph to prove it.

The next section, across fields towards Shatton had a surprise in store for me, and I didn't ask for one on the bus; patches of deep snow I had to walk through - there was no obvious way to walk around.

I had timed things well for a brief visit to the coffee shop at High Peak Garden Centre where I had a pot of tea and a warmed scone served with butter and jam. I've not tried a warm scone before; it seemed to make it more moist though.

My day was slightly ruined when the bus was over half an hour late. This is a rare occurrence though: the bus services in the Peak District are usually very reliable.

Today's walk was a short one, maybe only five miles. I was a bit tired after going to Manchester yesterday and walking what I should think was quite a distance exploring the city centre.