Sunday, August 31, 2014

Group Walk To Clumber Park

Another walk with the Doncaster autism group.

The weather was perfect today and it was the best turnout for the walking group so far, twenty two people in total - we didn't all arrive at the same time though; things didn't go exactly to plan.

Because of the difficulty of finding suitable locations to start our walks where people can safely and conveniently park their cars and others can reach on the bus on a Sunday morning, we decided to travel to the start of walks using only cars, and making arrangements for some people, myself included, to be picked up in the town centre.

To begin with everything went well; everyone arrived on time at the pick-up point and seventeen of us travelled down the A1 to arrive at Clumber Park at 10:25.

We had planned to meet the other five walkers, travelling independently because they didn't need to drive through the town centre, in front of the cafe. We had to make our plans in advance because there is no mobile phone signal at Clumber Park - anywhere on the estate. After half an hour, and several dozen frustrating attempts at making calls on our phones someone had to go into the Information Centre and ask to use the landline telephone; she couldn't get through to the mobile number though, so we knew that the others were somewhere nearby...probably inside the park.

After a few minutes of deliberation we decided to set off and walk around the lake in an anti-clockwise direction.

The lakeside walk passed through areas of woodland and open heath.

Twenty minutes later we stopped at an idyllic spot to take some photos of the buildings from where we had set off, now being on the other side of the lake. The photo I've included is the actual view...but obviously none of the walkers are featured in it.

Suddenly one of the children yelled that he had spotted the other group, and by using system of improvised semaphore signalling with our arms which wouldn't have looked out of place in an episode of Monty Python we successfully conveyed the message that they needed to start walking in the direction we were pointing, and that we would wait here for them. Several people were checking their mobile phones...something that continued all day.

The weir at the far end of the lake caught the attention of several people and we stopped there for a few minutes.

A few yards further on there were refreshments and toilets.

It was very busy, and on our return back to the carpark we got caught up with another group of people, which made photography difficult since I didn't want to inadvertently have them appearing in any shots.

I managed to get a nice shot in front of the chapel though for inclusion on the group's blog.

We arrived back at the cars and then walked to a pleasant grassy area to eat our sandwiches, or have a picnic; some people brought blankets, fold-up tables and coolers...and equipment for ball games. I played a simple game of passing the football with three other people for forty five minutes and ended up exhausted - I needed to go to the cafe for a pot of tea.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Magpie Mine and Lathkill Dale with Chris from Leeds

Today's walk wasn't about the exercise, or enjoying the beautiful countryside, or mapreading, or companionship; the whole purpose, and the only purpose of the walk, was to ensure a victory for Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. They've lost in their previous six finals and on each occasion Chris saw it live, either on TV or at the stadium: he needed to do something to break this run of consecutive defeats for his beloved he thought the solution was to get as far away from the rugby as possible - go walking with me in the Peak District. The ploy worked, Leeds won 23-10.

Chris was waiting for me in the car when I got off the bus at Fox House. We drove to the small parking area at the head of Lathkill Dale, just short of Monyash. We started by walking along Bagshaw Dale, a short dale that runs just to the north of the village, then turned north and then east to reach Magpie Mine. There were a lot of stiles and cows in fields along this stretch.

We struggled to locate the correct approach to Magpie Mine, but eventually got there by opening some gates that were only on latches, and walking across the fields.We ate our sandwiches in an elevated position next to the winding gear and then spent a few minutes exploring the entire site...I'm convinced that so much much more could be done with this property.

It was then more fields, and more cows, until we reached Over Haddon, where we were looking forward to having a drink sitting out on the terrace at the Lathkill Hotel and enjoying the lovely view. This wasn't to be though; it was obvious that we weren't welcome there, going by the signs plastered all over the doors and windows stating 'NO BOOTS. REMOVE BOOTS BEFORE ENTERING.' In other words, this venue is now an upmarket gastro pub which doesn't want dirty hikers polluting the environment. It's their pub, so it's their choice: this is my blog though, and it's my choice to write about it - maybe I should have taken them at their word and removed my boots, exposing everyone inside to my toxic socks...and banging down my boots on the bar (this wouldn't be as dramatic as I might hope though since they weren't muddy at all.) 


It was more cows, and a few sheep, until we reached Conksbury Bridge and the river. We then walked up the dale back to the car, I mentioned the ruins of Mandale Mine to Chris...but absent-mindedly walked straight past it. We could see the ruins of Bateman'e House from the path and so didn't miss that. We climbed down the ladder into the shaft and I struggled a bit with cranking the handle which powers the dynamo for the lighting; I initially tried to turn it the wrong way.

We arrived back at the car at 4:15, which just left enough time for Chris to drive me into Bakewell, where I caught the bus back to Sheffield.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bakewell, Rowsley, and Darley Dale.

(Including the tale of the notice on the wall at Chesterfield and the memorial plaque with a hidden cloaking device)

I was intending to catch the 08:40 bus from Sheffield to Kelstedge this morning. It arrived at the stand at 08:15 and the driver let us get on straight away. I thought it might be the 08:10 service running a few minutes late, which only goes to Chesterfield, and so asked the driver. This was probably a mistake because he wouldn't let me use my concessionary travel pass, claiming that I could only use it to the Derbyshire boundary. I know this not to be the case and so clarified things for him. He didn't believe a word I said, but since there was plenty of time he agreed to phone up the depot in Chesterfield. Naturally, they sided with him saying that there's a notice produced by Derbyshire County Council pinned on the wall in the office stating that disability passes can't be used in Derbyshire until 09:30. I explained to him that that only applies to Derbyshire residents; residents of South Yorkshire enjoy an enhanced entitlement.

No joy...I still couldn't get on the bus. There was still enough time for me to march off to the travel information centre and explain what had happened. They agreed with my understanding of the validity of South Yorkshire passes in Derbyshire and two members of staff came to the bus stand with me. The bus driver still wasn't prepared to let me get on; the woman from the enquiry desk even phoned up the depot and explained...but no; I wasn't getting on the bus.

We all returned to the enquiry desk at the travel information centre and team leader Anita (who I need to thank for her polite and efficient service) phoned up the head office of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to check if there'd been any changes: overhearing her side of the conversation it sounded like they were telling her pretty much what I had been claiming all along...that Derbyshire County Council has no authority to change the conditions of use of the concessionary travel passes of South Yorkshire residents. The local authorities in South Yorkshire pay money to the bus operators for us to be able to travel for free before 09:30 on local services which start in South Yorkshire, but go to neighbouring counties.

The person on the other end of the phone suggested that we fill in a form, including the time, the service number and who was contacted, and what they said...and my personal details of course. I should get a written response within seven working days with details of what SYPTE intends to do. I want them to take down that bloody notice at Chesterfield Depot...I think they're all members of a secretive cult there that worships notices produced by Derbyshire County Council: if there was a Roman name for Derby, I'd be able to come up with a new word to describe this nefarious activity...unfortunately the Romans didn't settle anywhere near Derby. 

So, I caught the next bus which went to the Peak District, the 218, and got off at Bakewell. I didn't realise it was the second day of the Bakewell Show until I got there. I crossed over the footbridge over the river, intending to take the footpath that goes right next to the show ground; my way was blocked by a burly security guard. This path is marked as a definitive route on Ordnance Survey maps and I don't think the organisers of the show have any right to block access. The guard was probably a contract worker, and not likely to be local, so I thought it wouldn't be worth the hassle...there was another route I could take.

I crossed back over the bridge and took a photograph of some of the dozens of padlocks that have been attached to the railings; I think lovers place them there and then throw the key into the river...not very pleasant for the trout in the River Wye I should think.

I decided to leave town by walking along Coombs Road. It was very busy though with Park and Ride Buses, Horseboxes, policemen, stewards, and dogs. I did notice where I could have easily got in without paying....I think I would have needed to put my mapcase in my rucksack first though

Once I reached the viaduct it became a lot quieter; probably because the metalled road surface runs out here. There were some lovely views here as I gradually climbed uphill, soon to be joined by a walking companion from Darley Dale who stayed with me for a few minutes; he had had to change his travel plans due to the chaos caused by the show...he was planning to go to Buxton.

We parted ways at the head of the valley, yet a few minutes later I was talking to a couple of walkers who were unsure as to if the route we were walking along was a public right of way since its not marked on any maps. I assured them that it is a right of way, and that it's not marked as a footpath, bridleway, or byway on the maps as  it's technically still a road, being the old route between Bakewell and Rowsley - this is what my previous walking companion had told me anyhow. They seemed to be amused when I told them that it might be a BOAT; a byway open to all traffic.

I popped into the Peak Village shopping centre at Rowsley for a pot of tea and a slice of apple pie and then continued along the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail to Darley Dale. Quite near to the car park at Peak Rail's depot at Rowsley South station I noticed a memorial plaque incorporated into the gravel surface of the footpath. The name of the man being commemorated was clearly visible. I took a photograph; there's nothing wrong with the photograph...except that the name's vanished!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rowsley and Chatsworth House with Chris from Leeds

Another walk with Chris, my friend from the Leeds Asperger's Group. The weather was awful, it rained all day - I would have chosen to stay at home if it was just me who'd be walking.

As usual we met up at Fox House; Chris was waiting for me when the bus arrived. I got in the car and we drove down the hill to Grindleford...on our way to Rowsley. Chris mentioned that the car needed some petrol and so I said that there's a garage at Calver - there are actually two though. We pulled into the first of the garages but couldn't get to the petrol pump because a partially dismantled combined harvester was stuck in the way; completely forgetting about the much larger garage just a few hundred yards down the road at Calver Crossroads I directed Chris back the way we'd come, to the garage at Hathersage. My mind has been tired today; I've probably not been getting enough sleep - I had a thirty minute nap just before writing this blog post.

We arrived at the Peak Village Shopping Centre and parked there. The route I chose for us was to go upstream alongside the River Derwent to Calton Lees and then across the parkland to Chatsworth House, where I used the impressive toilets featuring tiles depicting various local scenes....I persuaded Chris to go and have a look too.

We then re-traced our steps and filed off towards Queen Mary's Bower where we sheltered beneath the arched Bridge leading to the gatehouse - sitting on some steps with our feet placed in the dried-out moat.

Our next destination was the pretty estate village of Edensor, where I photographed a charming display of high quality home produce (biscuits/jam/chutney/pickles) offered for sale, just placed on a grassy area a few yards from the house. Payment was by a honesty box: I've seen this in other Derbyshire villages too, Foolow and Sheldon come to mind...there might have been others.

We left the village by a flight of steep steps which leads to open grasslands. It was a steady climb up to the wood at the top of the ridge.

There was more open grassland at the other side of the wood and then a descent to the hamlet of Calton Houses.At this point I'd already decided to curtail our walk and take the shortest route back to the car - I was sick of the rain.

We continued down the valley using a farm track and then walked back along the river to Rowsley, using the same route as on the outbound journey. Chris didn't notice this until we had nearly reached the car.