Thursday, May 29, 2014

It Gets Even Better

Not only will I be able to use my travel pass to travel on the train to Sheffield for free from June 8th, thus making it much easier for me to go walking in the Peak District, but I've just been checking the South Yorkshire Transport Forum and noticed that these details had been posted.

Registration Accepted
Service Number: 240
Service Type: Normal Stopping
Effective Date: 20-JUL-2014


Registration Accepted
Service Number: 244
Service Type: Normal Stopping
Effective Date: 20-JUL-2014

Read more:

So, it seems that as from July 20th one existing service is going to be running far more frequently at weekends, and there's going to be a completely new service to Bamford Station as well.

This is very good news...I've written often enough on this blog about overcrowded buses in the Peak District.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Group Walk: Great Houghton and Clayton

The weather was slightly disappointing, but it could have been a lot worse - cloudy and quite dark all day with regular showers and some longer spells of drizzle.

The walk started at Sandhill, the lowest part of Great Houghton. Almost immediately we were walking through quite deep puddles, even though this path seemed to be well maintained.

The next section, where the path wasn't anywhere near as well-maintained, was a lot less waterlogged: we walked along the edge of a field and then climbed up through a wood to reach another supposedly well-maintained track that had many deep puddles.

This track led us back to Great Houghton, but the top end of the village this time - I stopped to take a photo of a sign on a gatepost.

We walked along the road for a few hundred yards and then joined our footpath, walking alongside the edge of a field. We all commented on the numbers of slugs we saw on the ground, and the size of some of them. There were hundreds, if not thousands...and several different varieties by the look of it; thick large black ones, slender long brown ones, and sandy coloured ones (these were the smallest - maybe they were the babies.) I even stopped to point out a small snail riding on the back of a large slug.

We reached a small area of woodland and turned to walk up the hill, stopping at a location called 'The Log' to eat our sandwiches. Normally there are extensive views to the west, but not today - we struggled to see the TV transmitter at Emley Moor, probably less than twenty miles away.

After eating our sandwiches, and a large selection of pastries and confectionery, we continued up the hill, passing a large wood...and then we ground to a sudden halt. Our way ahead would be very difficult across a field of mature rapeseed, so after a few seconds' debate we decided to walk along the field edge. This route was still quite difficult though, walking on uneven ground and having to brush against wet foliage.

For the last few hundred yards, maybe half a mile even, we hadn't been walking along the path and so I was navigating by line of sight, using  power lines as navigational aids.

We reached the road that leads to Clayton without any difficulty, but we didn't enter the village at the earliest opportunity. At this stage one of the walkers bailed out; Eddie had had enough and his feet were hurting him; he decided to walk down the road to Thurnscoe and catch the bus from there. I was confident in letting him do this on his own, he knows the area fairly well.

Bypassing the village, we walked along the back lane and entered Clayton by crossing the field that leads to 'Tea Pot Corner'. By this time, Oliver, the youngest member of our group had eagerly taken on the role of navigator and tour guide...and seemed to be enjoying every minute of it.

I noticed that a couple of the cottages at Tea Pot Corner had appropriate names, 'The Cosy' and 'La Tasse.'

We stopped to finish off our sandwiches at the war memorial next to the village pond; before setting off again we posed for a team photo taken by Oliver.

We walked along the road that goes to Thurnscoe and then took the footpath which leads across the fields back to Great Houghton. Oliver was still navigating, and with a few prompts from me, he got us safely back to Great Houghton.

On the way back we were puzzled by some strange looking sheep in an adjacent field. I suggested that they looked like they were crossed with pitbull terriers; other suggestions were cows, and bulldogs.

Oliver called them' sheepcows' - a new word in the English language I think.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Visit To Rufford Abbey

Another trip out today with my support worker, this time to Rufford Abbey Country Park in Nottinghamshire. I suppose we walked about three miles in total, starting from the mill and then following the path alongside the lake to the abbey ruins, returning to the car through the woodland route.

As is often the case, we took the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea.

Although the walking conditions were good, and I didn't slip, trip or stumble, I still sustained a minor injury...I was bitten by a goose.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Retford, Bilby, Wigthorpe, South Carlton, and Carlton-in-Lindrick

A bus journey to my favourite local town today; especially on a sunny Saturday - here are a few photos I took just wandering round Retford town centre.

I started the walk in King's Park; over the years the park has won many awards, but it wasn't looking anything out of the ordinary this morning.

I found my way to the canal, going by a different route to the last time; passing the grandly-named Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, which seems to be managed as a charity.

It wasn't long until I was out in open country, however, it took me about five minutes longer than it needed to, because when I got to the bridge where the East Coast Main Line railway line crosses over the canal I waited for a few minutes for a train to pass. This is probably one of the busiest lines in the country and so I didn't expect having to wait for long. I was disappointed though: I did hear about a dozen trains, and glimpsed a couple in the distance, during the next half an hour or so as the canal kept quite near to the railway.

I spotted quite a bit of wildlife in the water, but probably not the most exciting...more of that later. Apart from the ubiquitous ducks, I saw plenty of tadpoles and tiddlers, a small group of quite large fish, each being about a foot long (I think they might have been perch or roach - they certainly weren't trout), and several dozen, or maybe even a few hundred of a variety of smaller fish, which were much more lively than the larger fish...and looked a bit shark-like to me in their appearance and behaviour.

I stopped to eat my sandwiches at Forest Bottom Lock; I noticed a barge approaching and so stayed for a few minutes longer to watch the boat pass through the lock. As soon as they were within earshot the father and son from the family told me that they had seen a fish in the canal that was three foot long; well, that's how far apart their arms were stretched when they were showing me. It was so big that I'd completely missed it.

I continued for about another mile and a half along the canal towpath, passing another three locks, so getting well ahead of the barge, the Robin Hood.

It was an easy walk of less than a mile to reach the Great North Road, the dual carriageway that is now the A1. Crossing it certainly wasn't easy, even though I only had to manage two lanes at a time - it's certainly not for the faint-hearted, and a group of walkers would have to be especially careful.

The next section of the walk was along private estate roads, which are designated as bridleways, passing through the small hamlet of Bilby after about a mile, and crossing over the River Ryton, my second river of the day; the River Idle flows through the park at Retford.

I crossed a minor road at a place where two equestrian centres were based, and then walked across the fields to Wigthorpe, than down a small length of road to reach the bus stop at South Carlton. A bus wasn't due for twenty minutes, so I walked up the main road to Carlton-in-Lindrick, hoping to find a shop there. I wasn't going to be able to slick my thirst, unless I went in one of the two pubs. The only shops I could find were two hairdressers and beauty salons, two photographic studios and showrooms, a wedding and bridal shop, and a fish and chip shop which was closed. There is a parade of shops further up in the village, on one of the estates, but I stayed on the bus as it passed. I did get a cold carton of milk from one of the local shops when I arrived back in Doncaster.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Some Good News For Me

I've just been sent an email with a link to a newspaper webpage reporting that the enhancements to the ENCTS pass in South Yorkshire for disabled people will be re-established; pensioners will have to pay half fare though.

This is certainly good news for me since being able to travel for free on the train means that I'll be able to get out walking in the Peak District again; travelling on the bus to Sheffield just wasn't viable.

I'll also be able to start booking theatre tickets for performances in Sheffield, Wakefield, and Leeds again...I have a budget from Social Services for this, but it doesn't cover the cost of any travel.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Leam and Bretton

Today was the first time I've been walking in the Peak District when I couldn't use my ENCTS pass to travel for free on the train between Doncaster and Sheffield. I only decided to do this because I was going walking with Chris from the Leeds Adult Asperger's group. It was a very long and tiring journey and I won't be doing it again unless I'm meeting up with him, and possibly other people, from the group. I was shattered when I reached Fox House, where I was picked up in the car.

Right from the beginning the day didn't get off to a good start. I was in the town centre on my way to the bus station when I realised that I'd forgotten my map; I know the area of the Peak District where I was planning going walking very well and so wouldn't need the map merely for the purpose of navigation, but nonetheless I decided to turn around and go home to get it just in case we were to have an accident and I'd need to provide accurate location details using map co-ordinates. It meant having to walk half a mile extra though.

There were a lot of people waiting for the Buxton bus at Sheffield; it was only a small bus that turned up and everyone just about fitted on. There were children sitting in the doorwell and rucksacks stacked precariously up against the left-hand side of the windscreen - I did get a seat though.

I struggled to stand up and get off at Fox House. I had to lean forward and grab a rail with both hands, then reach up as high as I could with my left hand and lurch forward and then upwards; having to twist round and then reach down to use the top of the seat for balance...I felt like I was a demented pole dancer trying out some new moves for a sexy routine at a sleazy nightclub later in the day. This fantasy/illusion was suddenly shattered when I simultaneously pulled muscles in my lower back and groin area. 

When the bus stopped I had to make room for me to bend down and pick up my rucksack. The children in the doorwell stood up and moved out of the way so that the doors could swing open. There wasn't very much room at all, and of course I was standing up; probably not the most sensible thing for me to have done, but I needed to stand up in order to press the button for the bus to stop. One of the children knocked the rucksacks over and they then tumbled into the doorwell. Somehow, and I can't recall the exact order of events, the driver managed to get the doors to open and those of us who wanted to get off at Fox House managed to do so.

It was 09:50 and Chris was due at ten o'clock. I walked through the car park and enjoyed a lovely view of the Burbage Valley. 

Chris was only a few minutes late; I used the time to do some stretch exercises and check that my pulled muscles wouldn't be too much of a hindrance. I seemed to be okay.

We drove in the car to the parking area on Sir William Hill Road, near to the transmitter tower.

We set off and walked across Eyam Moor, heading for the hamlet of Leam. There were some lovely views of Froggatt Edge and we posed for some photographs, using the timer function, with the Edge as a spectacular backdrop.

At Leam we had to walk along a road for a few minutes and then turned left and took the track leading towards Bretton Clough.. I thought it was very pretty down in the bottom of the valley with the trees showing varying degrees of new growth and the speckled effect of the sunlight, Chris said he preferred the view looking down into the clough from high ground. We found a sunny, and sheltered, spot to eat our sandwiches and about half an hour later we were climbing up to the road that leads to Bretton, and the Barrel Inn - the highest pub in Derbyshire.

I ordered a Diet Coke and I treated Chris to a glass of rather exotic cider. We took our drinks outside and walked over to the viewing point, but sat on the grass, and then on the seat when it became vacant. We then read the panorama board and I identified the locations for Chris. 

Chris wanted to be back to the car for three o'clock and so I needed to amend our route. We decided to walk past Stanage House farm and loop round and across the nearest part of Eyam Moor...and arrived back at the car at half past two. We probably still could have got back in time by taking the longer route; it worked out to my advantage a few minutes later at Hathersage though, when after getting out of the car on Station Road and taking a photograph of the picturesque fingerpost sign I turned around the corner and saw about a dozen people standing at the bus-stop. I'd been assuming that I'd have to wait forty minutes for the next bus, but the previous bus was over twenty minutes late and still hadn't arrived. Knowing that it would take a few minutes for everyone to board I knew I'd got time to go to the toilets.

The journey on the bus back to Sheffield, and then on the X78 service to Doncaster was a lot more pleasant than the outward really needed to be.