Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Early Morning Stroll Round My Neighbourhood

Nearly two hundred years ago George Boole went for a walk in Doncaster and had an idea which would lead to the development of almost every piece of modern technology.

I live quite near to Doncaster town centre but there are a couple of parks nearby. I've got all of my Christmas shopping done, it's a lovely start to the day, and so I thought I would have a walk to Town Fields, by far the largest of the local open spaces.

I reached a point where several paths converged and suddenly thought of George Boole. The article which the link takes you to isn't very detailed; but anyone with an interest in computers will easily understand how walking and Boolean algebra or logic and Boolean search operators are directly linked to walking - it's all about choices and decision-making.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bakewell, Rowsley, Pilhough, and Stanton Woodhouse.

I was checking the Ordnance Survey map covering the White Peak area the other day, looking for any reachable villages or hamlets that I haven't visited yet; and Pilhough seems to be just about the only one. [Actually there's also the Chatsworth Estate hamlet of Dunsa, located down a dead-end lane with no footpaths leading off anywhere....maybe I'll visit there later - I don't like re-tracing my steps on a walk though.]

I started today's walk in Bakewell, walking up the hill towards the old station, now on the Monsal Trail walking and cycling route. As I climbed higher some lovely views looking towards the golf course opened up.

I continued beyond the station though, taking the footpath that continues uphill, briefly crossing one of the fairways of the golf course, and then struggling a bit through muddy ground up through woodland to a country lane at the top of the ridge. 

I then turned right along a farm track which leads to the wide open grasslands of Calton Pastures; one of my favourite places in the Peak District because it is so completely different to anywhere else else in the National Park.

I think Calton Pastures wouldn't look out of place in the Prairies of Kansas - I've never been to Kansas, but these are the results of a Google Images search and some of the photographs do look quite similar.

After crossing the Pastures I walked through woodland, and then forestry tracks down to Rowsley. I walked straight through the village and headed for the country road which leads up to Pilhough. Unfortunately Pilhough was a disappointment, just consisting of a few houses positioned at a crossroads. There were some nice views from the elevated location though, both northwards looking towards Haddon Hall, and southwards towards the Derwent Valley.

I turned left at the crossroads and walked along the road that leads towards Stanton Lees, but took the first path which dropped down towards the river, and back to Rowsley to catch the bus to Sheffield.

When the bus arrived I knew there might be problems later although there were only myself and another passenger onboard. It was only a 30 seater; not enough capacity if a lot of people were to get on at Chatsworth House or Bakewell...or there's a large walking group waiting at a bus stop.

By the time the bus left Bakewell it was absolutely full, in fact the driver drove straight past a small group of hikers at Baslow.  It's only an hourly service, so they would have had a long wait; there's a nice cafĂ© at Nether End though, where they were waiting. They might have been able to get back to Sheffield via Chesterfield - assuming their tickets were valid.

As soon as it started the long climb up to Owler Bar the bus was struggling; the engine was blasting out a loud, high-pitched screech which bounced about inside my sinuses. I found this to be very unpleasant, even physically painful and nauseating. Things got worse on the bus later though.

It wasn't long until the vehicle was travelling at not much more than walking pace and violently lurching back and forward like a demented bucking bronco.

My knees were tightly wedged against the back of the seat in front, they soon started to go numb and then hurting me - they're still sore now several hours later. Before I reached Sheffield, not only were my knees sore, but I'd pulled a muscle in my neck and hurt my lower back; my bum went so completely numb that I could have shit myself without noticing.

As the bus dropped off passengers in the suburbs of Sheffield, for the first few stops a young woman with a toddler in a pushchair who was standing at the front of the bus because there was nowhere else for her to go, had to get off to let the other passengers disembark, and then get back on to continue her journey - obviously this procedure was causing the bus to be running late.

What an incompetent way to run a bus service; I knew this type of thing would happen when TM Motors decided to combine two of their routes into one service...and only use vehicles with a relatively small capacity.

By a long way, today's bus journey from Rowsley was the most unpleasant, and painful, I've ever been on. When I got off the bus in Sheffield I was walking like an orang-utan with painful piles and a throbbing hangover. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lodge Moor, Stanage Edge, and Hathersage

I got an express train to Sheffield; it was busy as usual, standing room only. I'd forgotten to take my travel pass out of my wallet before boarding, a task that requires the use of two hands. The train was travelling fast and lurching from side to side by the time the ticket inspector reached me and asked to see my pass. I'm not very good at keeping my balance when standing up on buses and trains and was frantically holding on to the overhead handrail; at least I could reach it, two short women in front of me couldn't. I twice tried to take the pass out of my wallet, but on both occasions I stumbled into another passenger. I had managed to extract my wallet from inside a zipped pocket, but that was as much as I could manage. I told the ticket inspector that she'd have to get it out for me, which she did, checked it, and then put it back in my wallet with a smile. 

It was sunny in Sheffield City Centre, but when I got off the bus at Lodge Moor it was quite misty, with some threatening clouds approaching; it didn't rain though and the weather improved drastically only about an hour or so later.

I walked along the road for a few minutes and then took the path which eventually goes to Redmires Reservoirs. Just beyond the small group of houses which were built for the water company's staff who work on site I took a photograph of a field of what look like randomly placed hatches leading  to some sort of underground chamber; I've seen similar structures at Ladybower Dam.

I continued through some woodland which looked like a few trees had been blown over during the recent storm, passing a spillway which I suppose could have just as likely have been used as a bobsleigh run.

I reached the reservoirs' access road and noticed that contractors were working at the site of the middle of the three reservoirs; I think they were draining it.

At the far end of the metalled road I climbed up the track which leads to Stanedge Pole and then Stanage Edge. There were several dozen conspicuous large white bags filled with heather brash, for the re-seeding of Bleaklow according to the notice I read, pinned to a post. I suppose the bags would be transported there by helicopter.

I'm not convinced about the wisdom of scattering heather on the summit of Bleaklow, or neighbouring Kinder Scout as I noticed in the summer; surely the beauty of these two places, the two highest parts of the Peak District, is that they are totally unique and unlike anywhere else in the country. Why not just leave them as they are, black, barren and beautifully terrifying?

As can be seen by the shadows in the photograph, the sun had broken through the mist by now, and for the next two hours conditions were absolutely perfect for photography. 

I stopped for a few minutes to eat my sandwiches at Stanedge Pole and then continued to Stanage Edge; it's not far....by the way, the inconsistency in the spellings, Stanedge and Stanage, is as used by the Ordnance Survey on its maps. To my left there was a stile providing entry to the Access Land; I noticed that part of the wording of the sign informing people that it was Access had been carefully painted over - precisely the information informing people that they are free to roam wherever they wish in this part of the Peak District. This censorship and deliberate obfuscation by the Peak District National Park Authority is appalling...I certainly don't approve.

I lingered and took dozens of photos as I walked along the top of the Edge; unusually, for most of the time I was on my own and so could jump from rock to rock, or splash in the pools, without fear of admonishment or embarrassment...and I could get all the best camera angles.

Apart from taking photographs of the stunning scenery, I also spotted an interesting, and rather confusing sign. Because of the location of the studs or rivets, it looks like that there's a problem with dogs on roller skates. I think it's actually imploring owners to keep their dogs on leads...but it's certainly not obvious to me.

By the time I reached Hathersage it had clouded over again; I'd arrived in time to catch the 13:29 bus. It was quite early, but I'd done enough walking for the day; my bronchitis was causing me to start coughing quite a lot...and I'd run out of throat lozenges.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Matlock Victorian Market With Justin

Last Saturday I visited Bakewell Christmas Market on my own and managed to have a good look round the town, walking up to the churchyard and along the riverside path for a few hundred yards. Today I went to Matlock's Victorian Market with my friend Justin who's slightly disabled and quite unwell at the moment; he needs to walk with a stick and is always tired and thirsty [he's diagnosed as being pre-diabetic.] Therefore we kept our walking to an absolute minimum.

When we got off the bus at Matlock we were both feeling a bit uncomfortable; I needed a pee and Justin needed something to eat and drink. The Crown pub would meet all of our needs but it was packed...nowhere to sit down; so we walked along the road to where the public toilets are...and a fish and chip restaurant. I dodged the traffic to cross the road to use the toilets at the entrance to the park and Justin went straight in to the restaurant. Several minutes later when I arrived to order my fish and chips Justin was already sat down at a table, his eyes closed in ecstasy with a can of Coca Cola clasped to his lips. 

Justin had thoughtfully placed his walking stick across the seat opposite, ready  for me to sit down. As I approached with my meal two people who had finished their meals and were sitting next to him got up and left. For a few minutes there was an empty seat next to both myself and Justin; maybe one of us should have got up and moved to the other side of the table so that we were sitting right next to each other. It was difficult for either of us to get up and then back down again because of the cramped layout of the tables and chairs...and so we didn't bother -  we were as comfortable as we could be where we were. 

A couple of minutes later two women, aged in their fifties I should think, sat next to Justin and myself. It was obvious they were uncomfortable because they kept looking around for when other seats might become available. As soon as possible they were off and we had the empty seats next to us again. Justin immediately went off on a bit of a rant - he was offended by the women doing this and wondered why they might have behaved this way. He asked me a couple of times; I knew perfectly well why the women didn't want to sit next to us, but I refrained from answering until we'd left the restaurant. The woman sitting next to Justin, and directly opposite me was distressed because, due to the confined space, my right knee was wedged tightly up against her left thigh.

The festive market was held in Hall Leys Park as usual, and was uncomfortably crowded like last year. We weren't interested in any of the Christmas tat, just the food on offer. We made a beeline for a stall which was selling food suitable for a mediaeval banquet; I bought a rabbit pasty, a mixed game slice...and a squirrel pie! I haven't a clue what squirrel tastes like though; so that was a leap in the dark. There were even more exotic delicacies to be had, crow pie, badger pie, and hedgehog pie. Like the squirrel pie, they were quite expensive and so I didn't buy any more. Justin was less adventurous, just buying a game pie, a wild hog and apple pasty, and a mixed game slice too.

After leaving the market we looked round the shops in the town; there are eight or nine charity shops which we were both keen to visit.

Travelling on the bus back to Sheffield we got talking to a pensioner; I think this was the highlight of the day for Justin.