Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bakewell Christmas Market 2013

The original plan for today was that my friend Justin would be joining me for a day out to Bakewell.; but he had to cancel at short notice. I hadn't put up any sandwiches or planned a route for a walk and so I enjoyed a day wandering around the alleyways and courtyards of Bakewell on my own, taking plenty of photographs in the bright sunshine.

As soon as I got off the bus I headed for the river where I took plenty of pictures of the old bridge; it was well lit by the low sun.

I then visited the toilets to enjoy the Christmas decorations.

I knew the Local Farmers' Market Shop is nearby and so popped in there to get myself a treat; a rabbit pie and a game pie.

I'm not sure how local some of the produce actually is though since I noticed all sorts of exotic food on sale there.

I spent the next hour just wandering and idling around the town. There are a lot of beautiful courtyards in Bakewell, which I wanted to photograph. Unfortunately, even though it was a sunny day, the courtyards remained in shadow all day - this is the only decent photo...and I can't work out which courtyard it is.

There are a lot of interesting independent shops but it seems that the largest retail premises in town are now occupied by Costa Coffee, fortunately located down a side street right on the edge of the main retail area.

It was then time to have some fish and chips and eat them down by the river. There were a lot of birds there, all expecting to be fed some scraps, one particular hunch-backed gull was very noisy...and very persistent. It was unsuccessful with me, I ate absolutely everything that was in the box.

Despite there being no snow it was still a lovely Christmassy atmosphere; every building was festively decorated and lit up, and there was music everywhere - the most notable being the singing and dancing animatronic Father Christmas and the undertaker wearing a Santa hat, who was cranking his barrel organ whilst staying in character...completely morose..

I returned home an hour before I'd intended to because it was getting very busy. Even at the earlier time there were still over a dozen people waiting for the bus. One particular men seemed quite distressed; as he got on the bus and showed his ticket or pass to the driver he asked, "Will this get me out of this Hellhole?"

I've never heard Bakewell described this way before. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tickhill and Harworth

What I would class as another local walk today, even though we strayed into Nottinghamshire.

Although I'm the official walks leader for the All Together 4 Autism group here in Doncaster, it was in name only today. I don't know the Tickhill area and so we relied on Nicki, a local resident who's a member of the group, to take the lead. The walk was safe and easy; only about four miles down country lanes and farm tracks - yet still very muddy in places though. It was a pleasant change not knowing exactly where I'd be going on a walk; very nice indeed.

We gathered at the Millpond, just outside the castle gatehouse; quite a picturesque spot.

We did a loop out to Harworth, just over the boundary in Nottinghamshire, passing through Styrrup Hall Golf Club, keeping to the footpath of course, then skirting a housing estate before heading back towards Tickhill.

Apart from the golf club and a couple of short sections of road walking the terrain was mainly country lanes, farm tracks, ploughed fields, a meadow...and something I've never seen before; giant bamboo, probably used as a bio-fuel. Someone suggested it might be elephant grass.

Including a fairly lengthy stop to eat our sandwiches, the walk only took three hours; when we arrived back at the Millpond the area was very busy with people feeding the birds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tearooms and Cafés in the Peak District

When on my walks I regularly pop in to tearooms or cafés for a bit of something to eat, a sit down for a few minutes, or just to shelter from the rain: most villages in the Peak District have somewhere suitable.

Here are my brief reviews and observations about the places I've visited:

Grindleford Station Café: Located in the old station building, this famous, or infamous if you prefer, café, is well-known and generally well-loved by hikers and cyclists for its quirky hand-written signs stuck up everywhere and its somewhat abrupt, verging on rude's all part of the experience though.

Massive portions of simple English food served up at reasonable prices, certainly nothing fancy here though; a log fire in the corner and no variations to the set menu don't ask.

Outside Café, Calver [now under new management/ownership - I don't know its new name though]: I visited last month for the first time since the change of owner; things were pretty much the same as I remembered from previous visits though - basically the same menu, maybe the prices a little bit higher. I usually have a cooked breakfast here, whatever the time of day; and a large mug of tea. Very popular with cyclists due to its location at a busy crossroads.

Village Green Café, Eyam: I had a cream tea here and enjoyed the best marmalade I've ever had. It was home-made by the proprietress; I complimented her on the food...she was rather embarrassed though.

Eyam Tea Rooms: Located in an old pub, so plenty of room for quite large parties. The food was okay, but nothing special; my choice of marmalade with my scone surprised the waitress.

Café on the Green, Baslow:  A lovely location and very handy for the buses. I had what was definitely the best shortbread I've ever eaten here.

Cintra's Tea Rooms, Hathersage: Possibly my favourite tearooms in the Peak District. Wonderful gardens at the back and basically an art gallery upstairs with the work of local artists on display, and available to buy.

Old Hall Tea Rooms, Hope: Located in an annexe to the pub; very welcoming to walkers and cyclists.

[Also in Hope I visited some other tearooms, just around the corner on the Edale road. I can't remember the name of this establishment though; I checked on Google Street View, but couldn't see because the canopy was down]. I only stopped for a pot of tea here the once.

Hassop Station Café: Situated on the busy Monsal Trail footpath and cycleway. More work by local artists on display, and for sale, here. Able to cope with large groups I should think. There's always a large selection of cakes.

The Old Smithy Tearooms, Monyash: Located in a small building and rather cramped. A bit expensive, I think I remember.

Postcard Café, Low Bradfield: Appropriately named, this is the smallest café
I've visited, consisting of just two, or maybe three tables squeezed into one end of the post office and general store.

The Vines Restaurant, Calton Lees: Located inside Chatsworth Garden Centre. The last but one time I visited I was extremely annoyed at how early they had put up the Christmas decorations and displays.

Forge Dam  Café, Sheffield: [Fulwood, I think]: Inside an old scout hut, moved to its current location. Cheap and cheerful. A lovely spot and very easy to reach on public transport.

Café at Arkwright's Mill, Cromford: Nothing special, but nice pot plants on every table outside.

Massarella's Café, Rowsley: Situated inside the Peak Shopping Village. Probably a bit expensive; on my last visit I only had a pot of tea and a toasted teacake but the home-baked pie and the roast chicken smelled delicious.

Hobb's Café, Monsal Head: The only establish I've visited where I felt unwelcome. I was told I was eating outside...and that was it.

The Hollow Tearooms, Little Longstone: Certainly the poshest establishment I've visited; located in the dining room of a large old country house which is currently a bed and breakfast with lovely wooded gardens at the back; I needed to ring a large brass bell to summon service...certainly something a bit different.

Cooper's Café, Edale: Nothing special...and quite a limited menu too.

Scarlett Rose Coffee Shop, Bamford: Situated inside High Peak Garden Centre; I had a pot of tea; I can't stand coffee.

Rose Cottage Tea Rooms, Castleton: Located in an old cottage in the centre of the village. Rather expensive I suppose, but there's a lovely garden at the back with several fruit trees [I think.]


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Baslow, Chatsworth Park, Beeley, Rowsley, Churchtown, and Darley Dale

Quite an easy walk today, just down a section of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way from Baslow to Darley Dale...with a couple of diversions when I ended up on the other bank of the river, that's all.

I got off the bus at Baslow with about twenty other people; members of one of the Sheffield walking groups - fortunately they soon went off in another direction.

Although I've walked past it quite a few times, I'd never noticed before that this sign doesn't have an apostrophe, therefore the meaning is somewhat different to that intended...or maybe not; maybe the parking restrictions have no legal standing.

It's easy walking through Chatsworth Park, passing Queen Mary's Bower and the old mill as I followed the river downstream...and, of course, not forgetting the House itself.

Chatsworth Park was lovely today, showing off its autumnal colours.

I arrived at Beeley and took a photograph of another sign, this time the 'barter board' at the Devonshire Arms pub: I've never seen one of these before.

More stunning views as I continued southwards towards Rowsley.

At the Peak Shopping Village at Rowsley I popped in to Massarella's Café for a pot of tea and a toasted teacake. The home-baked pie, roast chicken, and even Christmas dinner looked and smelled delicious, but I resisted; the prices seemed a bit high...and I couldn't really spare the time - the length of daylight is quite short at this time of year.

A couple of months ago I failed to find the continuation of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way at Rowsley, but I was successful today after being advised by a member of an online walking forum. There's no wonder I missed it last time though, I needed to get within about six foot of the fingerpost sign until I saw it, right next to an industrial unit.

I was soon walking through woodland, right next to the river, but never out of earshot of the traffic on the adjacent busy road. I  passed the northern terminus and depot of Peak Rail and then was walking across grassy fields typical of a fluvial flood plain.

I was surprised at how quickly I got to Churchtown; I checked my watch and realised that if I walked up to the main road at Darley Dale I'd be able to catch the earlier bus. Thinking that at this time the bus wouldn't be as crowded as the later one since it was a bit early for most visitors to be leaving Chatsworth House I increased my pace slightly, just to make certain of catching it.

My assumption was correct; only half a dozen people got on at Chatsworth. About a dozen got on at Bakewell though, and since the bus only had a seating capacity of thirty it was quite full by now.

Arriving back at Baslow there were a lot of people waiting for the bus, all twenty members of the walking group who had got off at the same time as me earlier. The bus was packed to absolute capacity; my knee was so so tightly wedged up against the thigh of the woman sitting next to me that I could feel my pulse surging...or maybe it was hers.

The train back to Doncaster was nearly as crowded, but not quite. It only consisted of one carriage, and therefore by some definitions it's not a train at all.

When I got back to Doncaster tickets and passes were being checked, not just once though, but three times; and I was forced by crash barriers to walk the long way round. The third person who checked my pass was standing quite close to a police officer; as I was waiting, loud enough so that I'd be heard  I asked if the police officer would be strip searching me.

The police office didn't seem to like this comment and blocked my way and then threatened to arrest me; I dared him to and held out my wrists for him to handcuff me. He declined...I wonder why?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Conisbrough Hill Top, Firsby, Micklebring, Clifton, and Conisbrough

Only a local walk today; not because my knee's sore after Wednesday's fall, but because I was a bit tired after after two late nights...meeting friends in Leeds last night and going to the theatre in Rotherham on Friday night to see a heavy metal, gothic, Victorian freakshow, circus, burlesque, and cabaret performance called 'The Circus of Horrors.'

I got off the bus at Hill Top and walked along the road for a few yards before turning off down a path which goes by the side of a very secure compound which was surrounded by high railings and a barbed wire fence. There were what looked like a watchtower/guardhouse and sensors on the approach road making this place seem like a location straight out of a James Bond film. I've no idea what it is, there might have been a sign on the main road, but I don't recall seeing anything memorable. 

The path veered away from the railings and went deeper into the wood. Over to my left I noticed a cliff about thirty foot high; something that is quite common along this section of the Yorkshire Magnesian Limestone Ridge.

There were occasional clearings in the woodland where I could see all the way to the horizon.

The path then continued across a field recently planted with what I would say were mangels; but to be honest it looked more like sugar beet - but I don't think that's a winter crop...I'm really showing my ignorance here.

The path across the field was very muddy and I was glad to get down onto the farm tracks and lanes in the hamlet of Firsby, which strangely, is only depicted as a farm on the online Ordnance Survey map that I downloaded.

I did a short detour to Firsby Reservoirs, which are now disused and are either a nature reserve or a country park, it didn't say on the sign at the entrance. 

I then climbed up out the valley. The footpath goes along the edge of a field; I kept stopping and turning round to enjoy the view towards the west behind me. Right on the horizon I could see the Holme Moss transmitter; you need really good visibility to be able to see this from anywhere locally - it's just over the boundary in Cheshire, as it was prior to local government re-organisation in 1974...and always will be be to me since I stick to the traditional county boundaries. Officially it's now in Derbyshire...Cheshire sounds so much further away though.

More muddy fields to cross until I reached the M18 motorway. The path joined a track which I walked along right next to the motorway for a few hundred yards before walking through a tunnel passing under the carriageway, and continuing to Micklebring. I washed my boots in an ice-covered puddle to make myself a bit more presentable in case I called in the pub; this surprised me a bit, I didn't think it had been quite so cold overnight - I had noticed frost on the ground in sheltered areas earlier on though.

I didn't walk past the pub in the village, so that decision was taken care of; what I did pass though were two neighbouring houses, one flying an Australian flag and the other a black and white Union Jack. I've no idea what the latter signifies or represents; I've spent a few minutes researching online and am none the wiser - maybe it's just some sort of friendly sporting rivalry.

I then headed straight for Clifton Hill, the second highest spot in Doncaster at 466 ft above sea level, but the most prominent, with extensive all round views. The highest point is located a couple of miles away at Fordoles Farm near to Maltby, there's nothing to see there though - just a trig point in the middle of a field.

It was a short walk through some woods and then I arrived at Clifton, a village, which despite being so close to Doncaster, I've never visited before. It's not particularly pretty, but there are some nice houses there.

Just as I arrived at the village I noticed this sign; I wonder what the missing words might be?

I couldn't find the path which leads down to Conisbrough, I think it had been blocked,  and so navigated by line of sight, walking across a couple of fields and then along the old railway embankment. I could see on the map where I needed to be, I could see it in the landscape ahead of me where I needed to I just went straight ahead; the only obstacle I encountered was a small ditch which I needed to jump across.

I soon joined the proper footpath; it passed under a dismantled railway bridge on the disused line. There was some useful graffiti sprayed onto the masonry; I'm assuming that the path to Conisbrough wasn't blocked when this was done. 

This path came out onto a country lane at the back of Crookhill Park Golf Club, not really where I wanted to be, but only a walk of about a mile down into Conisbrough where buses go to Doncaster every ten minutes or so...even on a Sunday.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Edensor, Great Longstone, Hassop, and Baslow

I caught the Reading train to travel to Sheffield this morning as I quite often do; there was no room for reading or for doing anything else though today. It was crowded, as it always is at this time, but was especially crowded today - I was tightly wedged in the space near one set of doors, together with another seven passengers. There wasn't enough room for me to take off my rucksack without poking out several people's eyes...even if I could find any room on the floor to put it. As the train moved I had to steady myself by holding on to one of the internal doors, pushing up against it with the palm of my hand, unfortunately it looked like I was some old pervert making a move on the young girl standing right next to me. She understood the situation though and never said a word; I suppose it was better than me keep bumping into her.

It was very hot on the bus travelling from Sheffield to the Peak District, but not quite so hot when I got off at Edensor; it was mild all day though. I took a few photos in the village; each of the houses is built to a different design - it's an interesting story.

In many villages in the Peak District local residents put out tables at the side of the road, selling local produce which people purchase by means of an honesty box. Someone was selling parkin, fudge, and jam this morning.

I walked through the village, then up a lane and along a country road. A few minutes later I was startled by heavy gunfire, several volleys of it coming from not too far ahead of me. As I'd assumed, it was a shooting party; I took a photo of the temporary notice that had been hung on a tree; luckily I wasn't heading that way today.

The next section of the walk was downhill along a rocky track that had turned into a fast flowing stream due to the recent rainfall. There were some nice views looking down towards Bakewell, but Bakewell didn't photograph well today in the mist - this tree did though.

Just before reaching the road which I needed to walk along for a few yards before climbing down to reach the Monsal Trail, I stumbled on some loose rocks and fell. I know how to fall properly so as to minimise any potential injury and so the only consequences were a ruined pair of trousers and a a bit of grazing and a couple of small cuts on my left knee...and most likely some juicy bruises showing up tomorrow.

I stopped to eat my sandwiches at one of the picnic tables just before reaching the old station at Hassop and called at the café to finish off with tea and cake; and to inspect the damage to my knee, and clean up the wound a bit in the toilet.

I continued along the Monsal Trail for a while and then crossed the fields to reach Longreave Lane at Great Longstone. I then walked up to the junction with the road that goes to Hassop and had a decision to make. Should I continue with my planned walk taking in Rowland and Pilsley, or should I take the quickest possible route back to Baslow? Although my knee was fine I didn't want to fall again and possibly re-open the wound and introduce an infection, and so I decided on the latter option...additionally, the sooner I got back to Doncaster, the more likely the NHS walk-in medical centre near to the railway station would still be open, and I'd be able to get my knee looked at; just a quick cleaning up of the damage with some antiseptic.

I was hoping to get to Baslow to catch the 13:40 bus: I saw it passing through the village as I was only a couple of fields short. I had nearly an hour to wait for the next one and so popped in to the Café on the Green for a mug of tea and some shortbread. It was possibly the best shortbread I've ever eaten; buttery and quite moist...absolutely delicious. I told the proprietress and she told me that it was home her. I always compliment people on good service or a nice meal; I also complain a lot though when I'm not satisfied.

Back home in Doncaster, I walked past the Flying Scotsman Clinic, as it's known. It was still open and so I went in. I was informed that it's not actually a walk-in medical centre - the nearest one of those is in Rotherham.

When I got home I smeared some antiseptic cream on my knee, and threw away the ripped trousers.