Saturday, June 28, 2014

Miller's Dale, Wheston, and Bradwell

There was no sign of any Global Warming today; at times it was unpleasantly chilly and I reckon it's been one of the coldest summer days I've ever experienced.

I had another uncomfortable journey on the bus today. It was full to the maximum capacity as it left Sheffield bus station, two walking groups and a church group (I think) going to a seminar in Buxton added to the numbers. Fortunately, the members of one of the walking groups got off at Fox House, only twenty minutes into the journey. This helped quite a bit though, it meant that the man sitting next to me could move a few inches away from me and put his left leg in the aisle. He seemed to have been rather unsettled about me having to ram my left knee into his upper thigh (I suppose my having to regularly rub my own knee to keep the blood circulation going didn't impress him at all) - I was more more concerned though about a young man standing a few feet away who was drinking a takeaway coffee and trying not to spill it or fall over.

As the bus passed through Tideswell it was obvious that it was 'Tidza Wakes and Welldressing' - even at 10:30 it was very busy. I got off a few miles down the road at Miller's Dale. It was drizzling a bit by now and so I struggled with my 'Poncho-in-a-Bag' - ending up looking more like a refugee from the Glastonbury Festival than a serious did the job though, keeping me dry for the next half an hour or so until the weather cleared up.

I walked up the road to the point where I could access the Limestone Way, soon passing the farm with a particularly tricky 'bisexual gate' (it swings both ways and it's bloody difficult to get the bolt in the right hole.) I was high above Monk's Dale at this point but I didn't fancy taking the valley bottom path; it would have been far too challenging for me at this time of year...overgrown, wet, and boulder-strewn. I did walk along Monk's Dale a couple of years ago but the ground was frozen solid; the temperature hadn't got above freezing for several days and so conditions underfoot were favourable...and, of course, the undergrowth had died back.

A few hundred yards beyond the farm I could enjoy a nice view over to my left; the weather was murky but it's possible to make out a rather pretty hill with cows and sheep on its flank, I think it's got a nice's called Knot Low.

I reached the road at Monksdale House and then continued towards Wheston, passing by a clump of three dead trees.

I then walked down a byway called 'Water Lane' and reached the road that leads to Tideswell. I turned left and headed westwards, away from Tideswell, and stopped to photograph a sign, the warning being something I would never had thought of as being a major hazard in the Peak District.

I crossed the busy Buxton to Chesterfield road and continued northward along a country lane until I reached my next section of footpath; a steady climb uphill towards Bradwell Moor. At the side of the verge there were a lot of these pretty yellow flowers, I don't know what they're called, but I reckon they wouldn't look out of place in anyone's garden.

Towards the top of this path there's a storage tank, or small covered reservoir, which looks rather sinister.

The final section of the walk was across the southern edge of Bradwell Moor. There are a lot of old mine workings and rakes and this type of terrain seems to encourage the growth of wildflowers. I took photographs of my favourites.

The first one is the early purple orchid, but I don't know what the others are.

I made good time down into Bradwell, where I paused to look in a shop window - I'm not sure what they were selling though.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Group Walk To Askern and Haywood

Another local walk today with the autism group. It didn't go quite as planned though; two people were suffering really bad with hayfever and so we cut the walk short, returning back to Askern by the quickest route. The weather was good though, probably better than forecast.

We met at Askern Boating Lake; a pleasant spot - there are shops, toilets, and a cafe...and swans and radio-controlled boats to be photographed.


After leaving Askern the first part of the walk was across scrubland. We then crossed over the freight railway line and continued across fields towards Haywood.

The next stretch was along a dead straight farm track. We stopped at one spot when someone noticed that hundreds of brown butterflies were fluttering around a couple of bushes in the hedgerow: I was looking at the map at the time and so would probably have walked straight by without stopping otherwise. A couple of the members of the group took some care and time in adjusting the settings on their cameras to try and get some good results...I didn't bother, I'm not that good a photographer. At the end of the track the footpath petered out at a farm; fortunately the farmer's wife was very helpful in providing us with directions.

Just before reaching Haywood we had a difficult section walking along the side of some woodland; the footpath was overgrown and a couple of stiles were broken.

We sat and ate our sandwiches on a grass verge in front of the church - a couple of people mentioned that the church is now a private residence. The architecture of the building looked rather unusual...I shall have to have a look online and see what I can find out.

As we were eating our lunch people who'd brought binoculars with them were looking at a large bird in the sky, some sort of bird of prey...there was no agreement as to what it was though. It was at this point that we decided to cut the walk short and head back to Askern - by a different, and hopefully less difficult route. We still ended up walking across open fields and areas where there was a lot of pollen to irritate Michael's and Oliver's hayfever though.

Not far from Askern we got lost again. Navigation was difficult, the paths were overgrown and poorly maintained, and there were no signs. We ended up at an alpaca farm...but just followed the drive down to the road.    

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Visit To Lotherton Hall

I had originally intended to visit Temple Newsam today with my support worker, but when we got there, there was a rock music festival being we turned around and went to Lotherton Hall instead.

The cost of admission (£4 for a concession) includes the hall, the formal gardens...and the bird garden. There's also an extensive deer  park surrounding the house with woodland and open grassland.

Today was more of a day out than a walk, but we still must have walked three or four miles. 

Here are some photographs I took. There's only one featuring the birds, I'm not much of a wildlife photographer...and to be honest, I was a bit scared of getting too close to the larger birds. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A trip out with the autism group today, to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton: not only is it  an outdoor sculpture park, but it's also a country park too with a couple of lakes and extensive areas of woodland, so it's possible to spend most of the day I'd intended - I spent more time talking to other members of the group though.

The weather wasn't very good; very cloudy and a bit of drizzle - not very good conditions for landscape photography. This is the only decent shot of the countryside I managed.

Fortunately there were plenty of opportunities for taking close up shots of the pieces of sculpture and outdoor installations, where the miserable weather wasn't such a problem.

Many of the people on the trip, probably half of them, had never been to the sculpture park before, and were really quite impressed. Almost everyone, but definitely not me, thought that an indoor crystalline room was their favourite attraction.

This is my favourite piece of work, and has been for my last few visits.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Calver, Rowland, Hassop, Pilsley, and Chatsworth House

There were three or four trainspotters on the platform at Doncaster Railway Station this morning, paying a lot of attention to a rather sleek, shiny, freight locomotive parked in the engineering sidings. My train to Sheffield was nothing special, just a standard local stopping service operated by Northern Rail. It got me to Sheffield on time though, and that was good enough for me.

When I'd walked over to the bus station at Sheffield I immediately noticed something a bit strange; quite a few attractive young women, students maybe, were wearing brightly coloured, patterned, fluorescent wellies...and not a lot more - just about the legal minimum they could get away with, skimpy two piece swimming costumes or a cropped tee-shirt and lacy, almost see-through knickers. I think one of them might have been a bit shy though because she was only brave enough to wear very short hotpants, which rode all the way up into the crack of her bum.

I'd only been walking for a couple of minutes at Calver when I noticed a dead animal at the side of the road - it looked like a badger...I've never seen a badger alive.

I soon found my path, but noticed a group of hikers ahead of me, so decided to eat my sandwiches early on a hill overlooking the village, from where the views were wide-ranging.

I then continued along the path towards Hassop Common. For most of its length walking along this path was difficult, it was overgrown with brambles and nettles, limestone rubble was underfoot, and I seemed to be always going uphill or downhill. There were some lovely views though.

The road down to Rowland is tarmac though, and a lot easier.

Just before entering the main part of the village I turned left , walking across the fields to reach the Hassop road. At Hassop I rested on the seat in front of the church for a few minutes before joining the first of the two bridleways which would take me to Pilsley.

I had a pot of tea at the pub, the Devonshire Arms. Walking past the post office I noticed that it was closed, and boarded up, yet someone was still tending the hanging baskets.

When I reached the main road I turned right and visited the Chatsworth Farm Shop and bought a slice of mixed game pie (may contain lead shot). It was quite expensive...but Chatsworth has won many awards and claims to be the best of the  I'm looking forward to tasting it.

It was only a walk of a few minutes down the road until Chatsworth House comes into view, passing by Edensor first - where there are some interesting cottages.

Today was the first time that I could take a photograph of Chatsworth House without the scaffolding ruining the shot. It really is impressive; the Emperor Fountain is over on the far right of both photographs, I'm not sure if it is, or was at one time, the highest fountain in Europe...or the entire world.

By this time my feet were beginning to hurt me, the first time for many months. My boots were rubbing me...maybe my feet were swollen...I don't know.

I arrived at the bus stop right next to the main entrance to the house in plenty of time. As I was waiting I was aware that no other people were waiting there with me; perhaps only half a dozen, when I would have really expected several dozen. Anyhow, one of the Chatsworth tour guides came over and told us that the bus stop had been moved...just a few hours that the buses can now loop round by accessing the coach park, instead of needing to reverse right in front of the House. It's probably a very good idea, but people need to be told about it in advance. Apart from this one employee, no-one else at Chatsworth knew about it, none of the drivers knew about it, and some of the passengers, myself included, didn't know about the change either.

The new location for the bus stop wasn't far away, but by now I was near to the back of a long queue.

The Sheffield bus was twenty minutes late, and in the meantime the driver of the Matlock bus hadn't realised what was going off and so turned around without picking up his passengers. Naturally the passengers weren't best pleased, and one woman in particular was quite distressed. Myself and some other passengers advised those travelling to Matlock to catch our bus, the Sheffield bus, which goes to Bakewell first, and get off there and catch one of the frequent buses to Matlock....however, for one or two passengers their passes or tickets weren't valid for travel by this route.

The driver of our bus phoned up the depot and explained the situation, telling the despacher that the last buses that call at Chatsworth House would be arriving there in just over half an hour and if the drivers didn't pick up the passengers they'd all be stranded...maybe a hundred of them. I was sitting on the front seat and could clearly hear his side of the conversation; he was getting very frustrated because all the other person could suggest was that he fill in an incident report when he got back to the garage and just said that there was nothing that could be done.

I'm afraid it's attitudes like this that make me ashamed to be English at times. I suspect that the vast majority of any potential stranded passengers would be overseas students with a poor grasp of English, and  even less of an idea as what to do in an emergency.

Shame on you TM Travel...yet again.

Yet again the bus was dangerously overcrowded after it had picked up another two dozen passengers at Bakewell. Because of the delay though it meant that when I arrived at Sheffield the next train due to Doncaster was one of the few that travel direct, and don't stop at Meadowhall. The journey should have only taken about twenty minutes, but it was nearer to half an hour because we had to wait for several minutes outside the station.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No Trains

Today is the first day when I can use my concessionary travel pass to travel for free on the train to Sheffield after the re-instatement of the enhancements to the basic ENCTS scheme. The weather forecast is decent, maybe a shower or two in the afternoon, and so I planned on catching the first train to Sheffield this morning. However, I won't be on the train because the line to Sheffield is closed again today because of long-standing engineering work.

Well...I tried: I'd prepared my sandwiches, chosen a walking route with plenty of opportunities to take shelter from the rain in pubs and cafes, folded my map to the correct configuration, and even washed my hiking trousers - but it looks like I'll be staying at home all day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Future Plans

As from June 8th I'll be able to use my ENCTS travel pass to travel for free on the train to Sheffield again, thus making it so much easier, like it was before, for me to go walking in the Peak District. If the weather forecast turns out to be promising I'll be on the first train to Sheffield on Sunday morning; using my pass at the earliest opportunity.

I'll be glad to get back to the familiar places that I've missed for these past two months. I did manage one trip out to the Peak District though when I met my friend from Leeds,  and travelled to and from Sheffield on the was very tiring though.

At the end of July a couple of new bus services will be running out to the Peak District from Sheffield. I don't know what routes they'll be taking yet, but I'm hoping that they might open up some new areas for me to go walking.

Apart from the walking I'm also planning visiting more of the towns in Derbyshire: I can reach Buxton direct from Sheffield, and Ashbourne from Matlock. Buxton is pretty, I've not visited Ashbourne before though,, I've only seen it from the coach on the way to Alton Towers many years ago. I remember being impressed at the time, and I've not been disappointed by the photographs I've seen online.

I'm also keen to visit the Wirksworth Open Gardens Festival - I've not checked the details online yet though.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Langold, Firbeck, Stone, Roche Abbey, and Maltby

It's a good job I left the house early enough this morning so as to allow for plenty of time at the bus station. When I reached the town centre there was a competitive cycle race taking place and there were temporary interlocking crowd barriers blocking my way in every direction; there were no crowds though.

It's obvious that whoever put up the barriers weren't local and so didn't know the pedestrian  access routes into the town centre...according to one of the race marshals I wasn't the first person this morning who was forced to push the barriers aside in order to get through.

Fortunately everything was running to schedule at the bus station and the Worksop bus departed on time. I got off at Langold, went to the shops and then found my footpath: there were playing fields and allotments at one side of the path, and houses with long gardens at the other side - at the bottom of one of the gardens there was a set of traffic lights; I haven't a clue why.

I soon reached Dyscarr Wood Nature Reserve, which was looking very pretty in the sunshine. At the far side of the wood I found a bench and sat down to eat my sandwiches and the treats I'd bought for myself at the shop. A couple of interesting characters walked by; a woman who looked as though her hair had been glued onto her scalp who was walking two Jack Russell terriers, one of which had a bell on its collar - she told me it was so that she could always hear him because 'he does his own thing,' and another woman who was holding her walking stick like a spear, ready to throw it at anything that moves - I stopped chewing my food as she passed me.

The next section of the walk was across fields and then through another area of woodland, down to a road, and then a bridleway down into the bottom of the valley, where Firbeck is located.

I arrived at the pub in Firbeck, the Black Lion, at 11:45, fifteen minutes before it was due to open, and so decided to take a detour up to Firbeck Hall. Well, it might be shown on the Ordnance Survey map, but I couldn't find it. It's a lovely location though, and some of the outbuildings have been converted into very nice houses.

I arrived back at the pub at 12:10 and was the first person to order lunch; it was a carvery and I chose the gammon...with as many vegetables as I could pile on my plate; roast and boiled potatoes, roast parsnips, garden peas, carrots, and cauliflower cheese. I certainly ate my recommended five portions of fruit or veg - the roast parsnips were the best I've ever had. All in, not bad value for £8.95 I reckon. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity of missing out on the welcome sunshine and so I sat outside in the beer garden, surrounded by colourful hanging baskets of geraniums and petunias. I shall recommend this pub to my friend Justin, who goes out every Sunday lunchtime for a meal with his dad.

Next I walked along footpaths across fields planted with several different crops, the fields planted with potatoes were the most difficult because of their ridge and furrow ploughing - I needed to concentrate on every step I took.

Firbeck was a new village to me, but I have visited Stone before, only the once though, and I only walked along the main road, nor along the back lanes as today.

As soon as I left Stone and was down in the small valley I could see the looming towers of Roche Abbey. The approach from this direction is very impressive and I took many photographs; the sky had clouded over and at no time were the ruins lit by sunlight and so I'm not happy with any of the shots. The sun did pop out again a few minutes later though, just as I was close up to the ruins.

I briefly popped into the visitor centre to buy a mug of tea and then use the toilets a bit later, and then walked up the valley to Maltby by the quickest route to make sure I caught the 15:05 bus back to Doncaster.