Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hickleton, Harlington, Mexborough, Old Denaby, and Hooton Roberts

I had quite a late night at Rotherham Civic Theatre last night, singing, clapping and stomping my feet along to a Queen tribute band; so...only a local walk today, taking things easy but still taking advantage of one of the last days of summery weather this year.

Hickleton was looking resplendent in the morning sunshine as I took some photographs of the church and churchyard. The first one shows the 'Hickleton Skulls', displayed in the lychgate - they have a macabre message from beyond the grave for all of us. The Gothic style lettering is difficult to make out, and my photograph isn't very clear either, but it reads, 'Today for me, tomorrow for thee.'

I left the churchyard and went to try and get some photographs of Hickleton Hall, but it's all blocked off because of building work to convert it into executive apartments.

Slightly disappointed, I walked down Barnburgh Lane and then turned left onto the bridleway which leads to Barnburgh Crags, or Barnburgh Cliff as it they are also sometimes called...not by locals though.

Although it was still quite early I settled down at one of my favourite spots, overlooking Barnburgh, and ate my sandwiches; I was hungry, having skipped breakfast earlier.

Barnburgh is a pretty village, but is best known for the gruesome legend of Sir Percival Cresacre and the wild cat ...a salutary lesson for us all to bear in mind after a night out on the town.

There a far-reaching views further along this path, of the Dearne Valley and as far as the Pennines over to the right, and as far as the Vale of York and the Aire Valley power stations to the left. The photograph shows a rather photogenic burnt-out tree stump and the distant view of the Pennines. 

Looking in the other other direction are four recently constructed wind turbines. Some people think they are beautiful...some people don't.

The track through the Crags ends at Hangman Stone, the location of another gruesome local legend. I walked down Hangmanstone Lane for a few yards before joining St. Helen's Lane, a broad track running along the bottom of the cliff, then dropping down into Harlington, where I had a Diet Coke, sitting outside in the warm sunshine at the Crown Inn.

Next, I walked through the village and along Mill Lane to arrive at the River Dearne. I was walking on the top of the levee by now, and a bit later on along the embankment of an abandoned railway. Since this section is part of the Trans Pennine Trail, a long distance cycleway, it was busy with cyclists weaving their way in and out of the walkers.

I arrived at the road, and followed it for about a mile into Mexborough, nowhere near to the town centre though. I remembered that there was a way down through a housing estate to the canal lock and a footbridge over the railway. I hadn't printed out a map, but wished I had; I got lost in a series of fiendish cul-de-sacs - I backtracked and found another route I knew which required me to pass through a very low access tunnel going underneath the railway embankment ..I wasn't on some sort of urban exploration expedition now though - it is the definitive route of the footpath. [Because of the rucksack on my back I had to bend even lower than expected.]

It's a pleasant walk to Old Denaby, mainly through woodland. The village is quite long and it took me few minutes to walk from one end of it to the other, where the footpath leading up the hill towards Hooton Roberts starts. It's quite a steep climb, but the views from the top are good; but I think those on the other side of the hill, going down the track towards the valley just before reaching Hooton Roberts are even better.

My bus didn't turn up at Hooton Roberts, and the following one was five minutes late; as I was waiting three buses went in the other direction to Sheffield.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spitewinter, Uppertown, Two Dales, Darley Dale, and Churchtown.

I got off the bus at Spitewinter, just about the highest point on the road from Chesterfield to Matlock, and certainly my favourite place name of all the villages I've visited on my walks.

I walked mainly across fields, going downhill, to reach Alicehead Farm, where the footpath was quite overgrown with bracken, brambles, and nettles. I crossed the road and then walked down a farm track to Dryhurst farm. Just beyond the farm buildings my way was blocked by a herd of cows in a field, one of which seemed to be expecting me to climb over the stile and then sit on her back....and then do...I don't know what. I only able to take this photo after she'd briefly retreated for a bit; but...she was soon back and I had to do something.

Some of the cows were making a bit of noise and so I thought I might as well do the same.

' goes,' I thought to myself as I tried to communicate, "Moo, moo, moo, moocow, moocow, moocow...move, move, moooove!!!"

No effect at all. I had to get serious now and bring on some onomatopoeia...and some plosives. "Bang, bang, bang...pap-pap-pap...boooom!!' Surprisingly this worked, and continued to work for the entire herd as I crossed the field

I reached the hamlet of Uppertown and walked down the lane towards Hodge Lane Farm, but took a couple of short footpaths which allowed me to bypass part of the metalled road on this section.

There was nearly another mile of road to be walked before a reached open country, crossing grassy fields to arrive at Flash Lane. I passed a couple of farms selling fresh eggs and then took the forestry path going down through Wayne Piece, I think it's called. There are a couple of clearings down here and there are pleasant views towards the west.

Before reaching the bottom of the track I turned left and took a narrow, but well-maintained lane towards the road that goes down to Darley Dale. I took a photograph of the trees in the distance from here, which were showing the first signs of autumn.

I walked along this road for a bit before locating the well-hidden footpath which leads downhill to the lovely wooded valley where the Sydnope Brook flows. I was briefly startled by a sleek and stealthy animal running across the path in front of me; it emerged out of the water and was low-slung and quite slender, and very athletic, about a foot, or maybe eighteen inches long with jet black fur. Possibly a stoat, ferret, pine marten or weasel I should think.

I continued down the road to Darley Dale at the bottom of the valley, visiting the toilets and the shop: by the way, these toilets aren't shown on the Ordnance Survey maps.

I passed Darley Dale Railway Station; it's not somewhere you can buy a ticket to - it's a stop on the Peak Rail heritage's always well-presented though.

The final leg of today's walk consisted of me turning right just beyond the station and walking across the fields to Churchtown, a location which looks to be the oldest part of Darley Dale.

I then walked up to the main road and waited for the bus back to Sheffield. It arrived on time, but was delayed at Chatsworth House when several people, most likely Chinese visitors I should think, presented their Sheffield PlusBus rail tickets to the driver, who refused to accept them, stating that they were only valid in South Yorkshire. He finally relented when the one in the group who spoke the best English explained that the tickets were accepted this morning when they travelled out from Sheffield in the other direction.

A few more people got on and then the ticket machine broke down and the driver had to phone the depot or office for instructions. It could still issue some tickets, but not all. He was given his instructions and we were on our way. I don't think he had any more problems because everyone seemed to present a day ticket, a return ticket, or a concessionary pass.

I had a few minutes to wait for the train at Sheffield; the Bridlington train today. As I was standing on the platform a man sprouting an over large gold tooth approached me and asked me what date it was. I said I thought it was the twenty seventh today; as I was looking at my watch to confirm this he said that most people don't know what day it is and walked towards another platform.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monsal Head and Miller's Dale Area Walk With Chris and Simon From Leeds

Monsal Head, Upperdale, Cressbrook, Litton Mill, Miller's Dale, Blackwell, Priestcliffe Ditch, Brushfield, and Little Longstone.

I caught the bus to Fox House, where only a few minutes later Chris and Simon picked me up in the car, and we drove to Monsal Head. We parked on the road leading out of Little Longstone and walked up to the seating area to enjoy the iconic view of the viaduct and the valley below. I pointed out the landmarks and where we would be walking later.

We then set off down the steep path through the woods, towards the Headstone it is officially called: more views to enjoy here and photos to take before we continued down to the road at Upperdale.

We walked along the road to Cressbrook, found the concessionary path which goes along the riverbank, first passing the impressive crenellated building which once again appears to be a café; only opening at weekends at the moment though.

The next section of the walk is particularly beautiful in my opinion, especially Rubicon Wall at Water-cum-Jolly Dale. The photograph could be a lot better, the light was very flat though.

As we were walking alongside the River Wye I stopped a couple of times to point out a few quite large rainbow trout - there were many more to see at Litton Mill later on as we crossed the footbridge over the river...a lot more, really a lot more; dozens of them.

As we passed the buildings of Litton Mill, now converted into luxury apartments and holiday cottages I mentioned a bit about its sad history; we were told a lot more at one of the environmentally-friendly and vandal-proof crank-up information speakers located on the Monsal Trail.

We climbed up onto the Monsal Trail and continued towards Miller's Dale, spending a bit of time exploring the first of the old limekilns.

Inexplicably, at this point we briefly lost Simon; thank god for mobile phones.

We had our sandwiches at Miller's Dale, and I had an ice cream too, sitting on one of the seats placed on one of the old platforms. On every other visit here I've had to make do with sitting on the platform's danger of being hit by a train though.

Our exploration of the second, and far more impressive, complex of limekilns was rather more extensive. I used my headtorch  so we could go right inside of the chambers. We then doubled back a few yards and climbed to the top of the kilns to look at the mechanism for loading the kilns with wood right at the bottom, and then alternative layers of coal and limestone; part of the process of making quicklime.

We stopped and watched the abseilers dangling from the next viaduct and then walked  across some pastures and then grassy fields, climbing up quite a steep hill, until we reached Blackwell.

We continued walking on the road through the hamlet of Priestcliffe Ditch, bypassed Priestcliffe by taking a footpath that runs parallel to the road that goes through the village.

It was then more fields until we reached High Dale, a rare dry valley in the Peak District.

The settlement of Brushfield was looking particularly attractive on our visit today; I think most of the flowers are dahlias.

We walked across more fields and pasture land, passing a bullock that Simon was a bit nervous about, and then descended back down to the Monsal Trail again and had a rest on the viaduct as we discussed our plans. We had turned off the Monsal Trail further west before reaching any of the tunnels; both Chris and Simon were keen to walk through one of the tunnels, and additionally Chris wanted to set off back to Leeds a bit later so that he would avoid all the problems associated with the end of the Sheffield Wednesday football match being played at Hillsborough. was decided; we would walk through the Headstone Tunnel and then take the footpath back to Little Longstone, from where it was only a short walk back to where the car was parked.

I was dropped off at Hathersage; it saved Chris the extra few miles of going to Fox House, and I was able to go to the toilets in the village and then buy a carton of milk to drink from one of the shops. 

My bus arrived on time, but the traffic was busy going into Sheffield City Centre; I've just checked, and Sheffield United were playing at naturally Sheffield Wednesday were playing away today.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Blackwell, Chelmorton, Flagg, Sheldon, Ashford-in-the-Water, and Bakewell

I got off the bus at the crossroads and walked down the lane to Blackwell and then continued along a short section of the Pennine Bridleway, soon leaving it though to head for the A6 road. I had difficulty finding the actual spot where the footpath intersects with the road; not the only problem I'd have with access to footpaths today. I quickly and carefully walked along the grass verge at the side of the carriageway for a couple of hundred yards before turning right and heading down the road which leads to Chelmorton...eventually. The route that I intended to walk, although not in a straight line - and with a deliberate detour so as to not be walking quite so much on the road, looks still to be about a mile shorter than that used by road vehicles.

According to the Ordnance Survey map there's a footpath that goes straight through the farmyard at Calton Farm, you'd never know when you get there though, there's no signpost and no obvious route for a footpath. There were three or four men working in the farmyard; and I was ready. I held my map in my hand, correctly orientated, and confidently strode forward: not a word from them, I think they were just contractors who had nothing to do with the farm. After I'd passed a few buildings I spotted a fingerpost sign and followed it, soon to be confronted with a deliberately blocked gate (even though there was a yellow arrow indicating a footpath on one of the looked like someone had tried to remove it though.) I looked around and spotted an alternative route, using an adjacent gate which was open.

The path continued across grassy fields to Topleyhead Farm, where the footpath was much more clearly indicated. Although a bit cloudy when I first got off the bus, it was now quite warm and sunny and so I found a sheltered place facing south to eat my sandwiches: I didn't get to finish them though because a few minutes later it started drizzling. I had the remainder of my sandwiches, and my chocolate chip cookies, at Chelmorton during another sunny interval.

The next farm I passed was Chelmorton Flatt Farm, which looks as though it might by a stud farm, or stables now. I might be completely wrong with my assessment, but it does have an attractive wrought iron sign at the end of the lane.

Somewhere along this section I climbed over a decaying stile which collapsed as I put my foot on it, I kicked a couple of pieces of the shattered wood with nails attached into a ditch...the farmer or landowner can deal with the consequences. 

I walked along the road for a few yards and then took the path which loops around the base of Chelmorton Low. I had a road to cross and then, as I thought, a metal gate to open to continue on my way. Where I was walking is actually a bridleway and so I assumed it would be maintained to a higher standard than a footpath...but not deliberately blocked by a farmer. The gate was secured to the gateposts at both sides with strong string and rope. It looked like the hinges had worked lose and maybe it would have been otherwise unsafe; unfortunately it was blocking my way and there was no alternative route provided. I tried climbing over it but there was a metal grille attached which meant that I couldn't get any grip or contact with my boots, it was also wobbling, and there was rusty barbed wire everywhere. Drastic action was needed; I wrestled with the gate for a few minutes, shaking and twisting it and kicking the gateposts with my boots. Eventually there was enough room for me to squeeze myself through, stepping over and twisting like a  demented ballerina in a slow-motion action replay.

I reached the pub at the top end of the village at about 12:20; it wasn't open yet, I was too early. I think it might have opened at 12:30 though. It's a pretty pub and so I took a photograph.

I walked along Church Lane which is designated as part of the Midshires Way. There are some impressive drystone walls to be viewed from here; I've just checked online and they are examples of mediaeval strip fields.

I continued along the road and then across more grassy fields to reach Flagg; a very long linear village. I came out towards the lower end of the village, but still had about half a mile of the village remaining before I struck out across the fields, heading towards Sheldon. 

I would have liked to have visited Magpie Mine, but there wasn't enough time; I headed straight for Sheldon instead, pausing to take a photograph of the pub with a rude name.

Just beyond Sheldon I found a slightly different way to get down to Ashford-in-the-Water, and then took the familiar route along the riverbank to Bakewell. I seem to have finished several walks at Bakewell this summer. I suppose the next time I'll actually be staying a while will be when I go to the Christmas Market with my friend Justin. Because of his disability, this is the only chance he gets to see the Peak District.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fairholmes, Ladybower Reservoir, Ashopton, Yorkshire Bridge, Bamford, and Hathersage

At the third attempt I managed to get to Fairholmes in the Upper Derwent Valley; the train from Doncaster to Sheffield was on time today. I did still get off to a bad start though, I forgot to pack my bottles of pop in my rucksack and so needed to buy something to drink at Sheffield station.

As I was walking towards the bus stop I stopped to take a picture of the Sheffield skyline today; the light was just right.

The number 273 bus was a few minutes late today; if this had been the case when the train from Doncaster was late I would have been able to catch the bus. At Fairholmes I visited the toilets and then tried to take some moody photographs of Ladybower Reservoir looking into the sun from a shady area...this didn't work at all though.

I then located the path that goes back down the valley through the woodland, close to the water's edge. After a few minutes I was able to take some photographs looking upstream, with the sun at my back.

As I was walking I was easily overtaken by a man who was harnessed to a very large dog - it seemed to be pulling him along at a far greater pace than any jogger would be running at.

For part of the route I was able to walk on the beach, right at the water's edge: I didn't dip my toe in because with it being a reservoir the water can be very deep even quite near to the shore, despite the water level being obviously quite low at this time of the year.

As I was crossing over Ashopton Viaduct, which carries the Snake Pass road over the reservoir, I nearly fell over onto my back as I tried to take a photograph of a low-flying Spitfire straight overhead...but I missed. 

There are some lovely views just beyond Ashopton, I think this one is my favourite.

I enjoyed a lollipop at the Heatherdene car park then walked along the road towards Bamford. By this time the sun had gone in and it was quite chilly, so I popped in to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn for a warming pot of tea. There's a lot to look at in this pub; plenty of paintings and photographs, historical farming implements and old household articles. There is a particularly impressive collection of tankards and chamber pots hanging from the rafters.

Next I decided to take a slightly longer route today so that I wouldn't have to walk along quite so much of this stretch of busy road; up a narrow country lane to open countryside, followed by a pleasant footpath going back downhill across fields.

I finished off the last of my sandwiches sitting on the benches at the village green in Bamford and then took a series of footpaths and country lanes to Hathersage; yet again there were some lovely views, this time of the Hope Valley, but the weather was really quite overcast by now.

The bus at Hathersage was fifteen minutes late and in his rush to make up lost time the driver forgot to stop at the church to let a passenger off. The frail old lady was very angry as she was forced to get off at the next stop, making a very rude gesture to the driver. A few stops later he deliberately didn't stop to pick up a couple of passengers who were clearly signalling for the bus to stop.

I don't think we made up any of the lost time; it didn't matter to me though because I still had ample time to catch the fast train back to Doncaster.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Animal Ski Jacket

I was looking in the charity shops in Sheffield on Monday hoping I might find a suitable coat for hiking in the winter. I was looking for something brightly coloured, warm, and with plenty of secure pockets.    

I was instantly attracted to a red coat in one of the shops; it was everything I was looking for...and more, maybe too much. It was only £7.99 though and so I bought it. 

It seemed to have some strange extra features that I'd not come across before: well, that's because it's actually a heavy-duty ski jacket. It seems to be unused - the detachable hood is missing though.

In truth I don't think I'll be using it on the moors, it's too heavy; it's designed to keep me warm when the temperature outside is -30 degrees centigrade...far colder than it ever gets in the Peak District. I might end up overheating.

It's very smart and comfortable though, so I'm sure I'll be wearing it round town.