Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Visit To Clumber Park

Yesterday I went to Clumber Park with my support worker. We walked around the lake, probably three miles in total. I was tired after the previous day's walk to Hooton Pagnell...and she isn't capable of walking any further.

Although it's quite near to Doncaster, I've never been to Clumber Park before and I was pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Group Walk to Hooton Pagnell

Phoenix Park, Hooton Pagnell, and Frickley Park

A perfect day today; lovely weather, the most people so far on a group walk, and a visit to Hooton Pagnell - at times described as the prettiest village in Doncaster, the prettiest village in South Yorkshire, or the 'Queen of Villages.' I certainly took plenty of photographs.

We met up at the car park at Phoenix Park, Thurnscoe - somewhere those of us travelling on the bus could easily get to. It's a short walk up to the giant aluminium charm bracelet which has become established as the new symbol of the village, depicting various aspects of coal mining. We posed for the first group photo of the day here.

It's a climb of about 200ft to the summit of Phoenix Park, which is the landscaped spoil heap of the village's former pit.

The next section was along the track to Stotfold, then alongside a field and through the woods to reach Hooton Pagnell.

The first thing that you see when you enter Hooton Pagnell from this direction is the impressive gatehouse to the hall - another opportunity for getting a good shot of the whole group...except me of course.

Next to the gatehouse is the church and churchyard, accessed by some steep steps. There are a couple of seats in the churchyard, with a lovely view over to the gatehouse and its fairytale turrets, massive wooden doors and pretty delicate pantile roof....but there are three much larger seats further into the village, next to the war memorial.

In the far corner of the churchyard we were able to see a glimpse of the original mediaeval gatehouse and some of the hall's crenelation; unfortunately my photographs were out of focus.

We left the churchyard through the lychgate.

We soon arrived at the war memorial and stopped to eat our sandwiches. There are no public toilets in the village and so it was agreed to visit the pub to use the facilities...and some of us bought soft drinks as well, which we drank out in the sun in the rear courtyard.

Earlier, as we were walking up to the church I noticed that the clock was showing the wrong time, something that's never happened before when I've been visiting Hooton Pagnell. The plan was to stay in the village until just after three o'clock so that we could listen to the carillon chiming; obviously, it wouldn't be chiming today, so we didn't have to linger at the pub.

We explored the rest of the village, and I took some more photographs.

We left Hooton Pagnell by a footpath which requires you to climb down some more steep steps. The path towards Frickley Park is mainly across fields. The section of the walk through the parkland was about a couple of miles until we turned off at a difficult to find footpath with led across more fields back to Stotfold.

As we were approaching Stotfold there were some lovely views of the Yorkshire, or Southern, Magnesian Limestone Ridge, which Hooton Pagnell sits atop.

It was only a short walk then back to the car park.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Calver, Great Longstone, and Hassop Station

When I left the house this morning at 7:30 it really was quite uncomfortably chilly; however, by the time I reached Calver it was pleasantly warm and sunny, with a refreshing breeze - excellent conditions for walking...and taking photographs.

I started by walking up Coombs Dale; the nearest of the limestone dales to Sheffield. It's not the prettiest, or most interesting of the Derbyshire dales, but it does have some delightful spots, some old mine workings...and dangerous slurry lagoons near to the head of the dale as well.

After passing by a forest of 'Danger', 'Do Not Enter' and  'Prohibited' signs I turned left and climbed uphill towards Longstone Edge. Two of the largest cows I have ever seen, probably six foot tall, briefly blocked my way before deciding to move on. I briefly considered ducking underneath their udders...there was certainly enough room. (The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow is tonight - I wonder if ducking beneath stationary cows is ever likely to feature?)

I needed to cross one of the quarry roads before reaching the top of the climb, holding back for a few seconds as a giant earth moving vehicle passed by, stirring up a large cloud of dust.

The views from the top of Longstone Edge were spoilt today by the hazy conditions down on the plain.

The path down from the edge was difficult, very narrow, eroded, and steep, with brambles clawing at my boots from one side, and gorse bushes trying to poke out my eyes from the other side. There was certainly nothing to hold on to to steady my balance, and I had to get down on my backside a few times.

Taking this route down the approach to Great Longstone is along a short dry valley; I first had to pass through a gate - it was broken before I even touched it, there wasn't much left at all after I'd attempted to open it. (The photograph was taken before I passed through.)

I stopped for refreshments at one of the pubs in Great Longstone, a glass of Diet Coke, and as I left the village I posed for a selfie [of a sort.]

After a few hundred yards I was on the Monsal Trail...and then a pot of tea at Hassop Station Café. I didn't linger; I wanted to catch the 2:30 bus so that I'd arrive back at Sheffield to make sure I wouldn't be caught up in any traffic congestion caused by this evening's cycle race in the city centre.

The bus journey was very comfortable, it wasn't crowded and the vehicle was quite new, so the engine didn't struggle with the hills at all.

However...my journey home to Doncaster on the train was one of the most uncomfortable and unpleasant I've ever experienced. Even as we waited in the station the engine was growling, roaring, and snorting like an angry wild animal . When we started moving things got even worse; every chair, table, luggage rack and fitting was rattling and shaking from side to side as the floor and walls of the carriages were twisting and warping as if they were being pulled into another dimension by an all-powerful evil empire...and my poor genitals...my testicles and the area around my anus; there was a deep thrusting vibration throughout the entire train, resulting in me experiencing a very distressing sensation which felt like that I was being forced to undergo a rare and unusual medical or cosmetic procedure where every hair on my testicles and within striking distance of my anus was being individually pulled out using tweezers...but not using any anaesthetic. 

I walked home from the railway station doing a passable impersonation of John Wayne...and I'm still a bit sore as I'm sitting on the chair typing up this blog post.

Thank you, Northern Rail.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Langsett, Bolsterstone, and Stocksbridge

Today's walk didn't turn out as planned at all. I had planned to start the walk at Dunford Bridge and walk down to Holmfirth and have a bit of a look round the town, it's somewhere I haven't been before.

I checked all the timetables online and worked out that I could travel outbound via Barnsley and return via Wakefield. However, when I reached Barnsley bus station I found out that the information on the Travel South Yorkshire website is out of date, or inaccurate; there is no longer a bus to Holmfirth. I didn't panic though, I could still have my day walking on the moors - I just walked through the bus station, checking all the departures until I found a suitable one, the number 23 going the long way round to Penistone...but it would take me to Langsett, right on the edge of the Peak District. That was fine by me.

When I got off the bus these two sights greeted me.

The café has obviously been decorated in celebration of the Tour de France, which passed nearby last week; I'm not sure about the seat though.

First of all I needed to find the toilets and then get access to the footpath that goes alongside the reservoir. I followed the yellow arrows which indicate the direction of a footpath, but ended up in a cul-de-sac with no obvious way out...I was puzzled because I'd walked this way in the opposite direction only a couple of years earlier. I consulted my map and saw that there was another footpath just a few yards further along the main road - this one was very easy to find.

I took the lowest of the footpaths through the woodland, often getting glimpses of the water. I walked along the entire length of the north shore then took the path that leads uphill onto open moorland. At an intersection of paths I turned to the east and continued to walk parallel to the southern shore, but high up on the moors. The path gradually descended; the next photograph was taken at the ruins of North America Farm, obviously a popular spot, since half a dozen people were sitting on the ruined walls there.

The path continued down through some woodland, but at times there were clear views of the reservoir.

I crossed a minor road and then walked along fields and country lanes to reach Bolsterstone. On one particularly long uphill section of road there was a lot of Tour de France graffiti painted on the tarmac. These words of wisdom seemed to be about something different altogether though.

I spotted some more Tour de France graffiti in a distant field; I doubt it will be there for much longer.

I was hoping to get some refreshments at the pub at Bolsterstone and then catch the bus back to Barnsley. Unfortunately the pub was closed; it was being renovated. It was nearly an hour and a half for the next bus and so I walked the distance of about a mile and a half down the road to the outskirts of Stocksbridge where I waited for a bus on a housing estate. The buses were supposed to run every ten or eleven minutes. I had to wait for nearly twenty minutes, so I'm assuming that the previous one had been cancelled. 

I sat on one of the sideways-facing seats at the front of the bus and could hear the driver getting very frustrated with the extra numbers of people who were getting on the bus; he was making some rather surreal comments towards the end of the service. The service doesn't have a number, it merely shows 'SL' on the destination blind. 'SL' stands for 'Supertram Link' - it takes passengers to the Supertram terminus, and Park & Ride facilities at Middlewood.

There are no trams running at the moment because the tracks are being renewed; so there are a lot of extra buses transporting people to and from the city centre. When we arrived at the terminus there was a bit of a commotion; an angry woman passenger was calling one of the drivers a paedophile, and taunting and tormenting him, just because he had asked her twelve year old daughter for proof-of-age identification.

She eventually got on my bus...and sat opposite me. I was prepared with my response...just in case.

[By the way, I'm still humming the Bob Marley song, 'No Woman, No Cry' as I'm typing this]

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Liebster Award

This should be fun. I've been nominated for a Liebster Award; thanks to Stuart (lonewalker) for the nomination. He's from the other side...Cheshire.

The Rules
If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

My Questions...and my Answers:

1...If you were restricted to only walking on one hill/mountain, which one would it be, and why?

It would have to be Mam Tor and the Great Ridge. It's easy for me to get there on the bus from Sheffield, and the Hope Valley is a particularly beautiful and interesting part of the Peak District because it marks the boundary between the Dark Peak and the White Peak.

2...Your favourite piece of technology to use when outdoors?

A couple of years ago I bought a Garmin GPS. I only used it for a few weeks; it gobbled up batteries and wouldn't even last for a full day's walking...I still take it with me, and the batteries, just in case of an emergency though.

I suppose I'm more of a low-tech type of person and so would choose my map case for this answer.

3...What was your most memorable walk?

It would have to be when I did the Lyke Wake Walk on the North York Moors with a group of friends as a sponsored walk for a local charity. It was nearly thirty years ago, I doubt that I'd be able to do it now - the distance is over forty miles.

4...What's your favourite piece of outdoor equipment?

My maps...I love maps.

5...What was your funniest and/or scariest moment in the outdoors?

My scariest moment was being attacked by cows in Nidderdale and having to jump in the river to escape from them. My funniest moment was when the elasticated waisteband in my friend's trousers failed and he had to spend the rest of the walk wearing just his underpants...fortunately it was a warm summer day.

6...If you could create one binding piece of UK legislation relating to the outdoors what would it be?

This is a difficult one. There are few things that annoy me when I'm out walking, but I don't think they could be tackled by the use of legislation though; poor and confusing signage (especially when footpaths are diverted), farmers placing feeding troughs right next to stiles or gates, and Sheffield City Council closing several public toilets in moorland areas.

I suppose the only issue that could be tackled by legiislation would be the use of off-road motor cycles in inappropriate and dangerous locations.

7...What's your outdoor ambition?

I'm the walks leader for the autism group here in Doncaster. At the moment we are limited to only doing local walks; I'd love to be able to take some of the members out into the Peak District - there are so many lifeskills that can be improved for these people by using a day out hiking across the moors as a practical, rather than a classroom-based activity. The group is currently seeking funding in order to hire a minibus for the day, so I'm hoping that this small ambition of mine will soon be achieved.

8...If you could choose anyone (from the past or the present), who would you most like to talk on a walk in the great outdoors?

I can't really answer this question, I'm not a people person...I'm an ideas person. It would be nice though to have a girlfriend who enjoys walking.

9...What piece of music, book, or film do you associate with getting out?

It's something I've never thought about. A couple of years ago I was in a car with two friends from Leeds being driven alongside the Ladybower Reservoir: it was a lovely sunny day and Phil, the driver, decided to play Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries on the car's MP3 player - it seemed very appropriate.

10..What outdoor related achievement are you most proud of?

Completing two long distance challenge walks on the North York Moors, the Lyke Wake Walk and the Shepherd's Round.

11..Where will your next adventure take you?

When it comes to walking, I've got nothing planned, however exciting things are happening for me with the autism group here in Doncaster.

Eleven Random Facts About Myself

1...I'm a widely published poet, but I haven't written anything, or had anything published, for several years...since most of the poetry magazines started publishing online. I much prefer writing my walking blog now, here's a link to my poetry though: Lost Among Equals

2...Technically I'm a Tibetan Buddhist monk master of meditation [I think]. This is due to my poetry. I know a man who is a qualified teacher of Tibetan meditation techniques. He was taught by a genuine Tibetan Buddhist monk who supposedly used my haiku poems as part of his route to enlightenment. I've been told that anyone who helps a Tibetan Buddhist monk on his path to enlightenment is automatically raised to the staus of a monk themselves, and so that how it came about.

3...I've got Asperger's syndrome. One of the manisfestations of the conditions is that we tend to obsess on certain things; my obsessions are maps, written language...and lists.

4...By birth I'm a Pomfretian - so it's natural I'm going to like chips.

5...One of the symptoms of my Asperger's syndrome is dropfoot, caused by hyperflexibility in my ankle joint. Because of this I'm always overflexing my ankles and so my bootlaces are always coming untied - my solution to this problem is taping up my laces with gaffer tape.

6...As I've got older I'm starting to suffer from golfer's vasculitis - fortunately it's nothing more than a minor inconvenience at the moment.

7...I'm quite clumsy and I do tend to trip and stumble a lot; fortunately I do know how to fall over so as to minimise my injuries.

8...I love ballet and the opera, and theatre in general. I have an annual budget from social services as part of my care budget and so I'm able to regularly attend performances in Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield, Rotherham, and here in Doncaster.

9...Six months ago I was the most unwell I've ever been, I was coughing all the time day and night, and was diagnosed with acid reflux erosive oesaphagitis. I've just about recovered now, but have to be careful what I eat - fortunately my diet isn't too restrictive...most of the things I'm not supposed to eat I don't like anyhow.

10..I'm right-handed, yet there are certain things I prefer to do with my left hand; opening doors and gates is one example.

11..There are no anagrams for my name; I don't know if this is unusual or not.

This is my list of blogs I am forwarding this post to...and my list of questions to continue the chain.

Here are my questions:

1...What's the most unusual, or funny, name of a place you've visited?
2...If there was a hole in the bottom of your rucksack and something fell out, what would you hope it wouldn't be, and why?
3...What is your least favourite area for walking, and why is this?
4...Walking poles; help or hindrance?
5...What are your preferred weather conditions for walking?
6...What was your most embarrassing moment when out walking?
7...How often do you think the Ordnance Survey map is wrong?
8...Do you combine your walking with any other hobby, such as photography, public presentations, blogging [of course], or maybe first aid?
9...For those of you who regularly walk in the Peak District; White Peak or Dark Peak?
10..Do you go walking to escape from your everday life, or do you go to participate in something different, and better?
11..What's your walking bugbear; what really annoys you?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Humber Bridge Country Park and Howden

Today I went out for the day with my support walker again and ended up doing a short walk through the Humber Bridge Country Park and along the foreshore at Hessle...and then a look round the charming little town of Howden.

The day didn't go as intended, but turned out far better than expected though. The weather forecast was for heavy showers in the afternoon, but fine until about one o'clock. The plan was to go and have a look round the museums and art gallery at Hull, first stopping at the Humber Bridge to eat our sandwiches. The weather stayed fine all day and we were so impressed with the views of the bridge, the country park, and the foreshore that we stayed for a couple of hours at Hessle, probably seeing about half of the country park and walking half a mile or so along the foreshore. The walking was very easy, apart for climbing down some rather overgrown steps and needing to walk through a partially flooded underpass where sandbags had been positioned to act as stepping stones.

By the time we'd arrived back at the car there wasn't enough time left to go into Hull; the art gallery and museums would have to wait for a rainy day. We decided to head back towards Doncaster, but stop off on the way in Howden. We were hungry and in need of refreshment and so had tea and a large slice of apple pie at the California Gardens garden centre. The food was rather expensive, but I reckon the apple pie was the best I've ever had. I wish we'd gone straight into town though, the Women's Institute was serving tea and cakes inside the minster - much cheaper and a far wider choice of cake....and a very impressive location.