Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fox House, Longshaw Estate, Grindleford, Froggatt, Calver, and Baslow

An interesting and unusual start to the day this morning: I think I got caught up in some sort of public/performance art installation.

I entered the gents' at Sheffield Railway Station and everything seemed to be as I'd expect it to be; however, a few minutes later, when I came out of the cubicle, sheets of paper had been placed in two of the sinks.

(The hand-written message reads, 'In the name of love before you break my heart.' - the main chorus from a famous Diana Ross and the Supremes song.)

I lingered at the railway station, reading a newspaper and eating some of my sandwiches, so when I arrived at the bus station it was only a few minutes until the bus was scheduled to depart. It was already nearly full and just about the only empty seat was one of the fold-down sidewards-facing seats at the front...they're not very wide. There was a vacant seat next to me...although several inches of it were actually being used by me.

I was expecting this to be a problem; and I wasn't wrong. A few stops into the journey as the bus was travelling along Eccleshall Road someone boarded and was determined to sit next to me; I squeezed up as much as I could, making myself as small as possible, crossing my legs and balancing my rucksack on the top of my shoulders. There still really wasn't enough room; I briefly considered standing up, but all of a sudden the other passenger reached over and slammed down the seat. It took him several attempts to get it fully down, each time removing a layer of my skin and sending pain searing all the way down my leg....not a good start to the walk.

Feeling quite sore and lame I got off the bus at Fox House and walked down through the woods to Longshaw Estate. The mist swirling around the trees was quite pretty.

Today I deliberately visited parts of the estate I don't remember seeing before; I certainly didn't realise that boggarts live there - I didn't see any though.

There was plenty of interesting fungi to photograph too.

I explored some more of the estate and then reached the road above Grindleford. I continued down the hill and took the path which leads off just before the bridge over the River Derwent. Like the majority of the rest of the walk I was walking on level ground at the bottom of the valley all the way to Baslow. The only section which involved me gaining, and then losing altitude was near Calver when I climbed up and over a hill that I think might be called Hare Knoll. On a clear day there are lovely views of Froggatt Edge here, but not today; I could barely see it in the distance. What I could see though, and it certainly caught my attention, was a ruined barn; from the angle I was approaching it, part of the timbers looked like a guillotine that might have been used during the French Revolution. The photograph is black and white to heighten some of the detail.

When I reached Baslow I noticed that my trousers were especially muddy. I feared I might not be allowed on the bus and so stopped at one of the seats in front of the church to put my over-trousers on; this was difficult without taking off my boots. It won't be difficult the next time though because I've already cut some slits into the bottom of the legs to make it a lot easier. 

The bus journey back to Sheffield from Baslow was totally uneventful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Baslow, Pilsley, Hassop, and Bakewell

I had planned two alternative walks this morning, one starting at Great Hucklow, and one at Baslow. I waited until the last minute to make my choice. The Buxton bus and the Matlock bus depart within a few minutes of each other; the Matlock bus came to the stand first and was a double decker - there would be plenty of legroom for me on this bus and the journey time to Baslow is significantly less...and so I opted for the Baslow walk.

It was very misty on the highest parts of the moors and so I was glad that I would be doing a low level walk today, sometimes the fog and mist can set me off coughing and ruin my entire day.

I got off the bus at Baslow Nether End and went to the toilets to tend to a delicate area which needed a bit of attention. The cubicle was very small, and what with the actions I was doing, I kept bumping my elbows and knees against the sides. I considered taking a photo to illustrate how little space I had but someone arrived and went inside the other cubicle; as I was washing my hands I noticed a camera flash go off in the other cubicle - maybe he'd had a similar idea.

Anyhow, my nether end was sorted at Baslow Nether End and I was ready to set off on the walk.

I walked through the village to just past the church, crossed over the old humpback bridge and took a path which soon reaches the fields. It was a gentle climb away from the village followed by quite a steep descent down to the Bakewell road, then a similarly steep climb back out of the valley to reach more fields, and then a short stretch along the road into Pilsley.

I sat and ate my sandwiches on a rather old and decrepit lichen-covered bench just across the road from the village pub. At one point a car stopped and the driver asked me for directions to 'Chatsworth Hall', a hybrid combination of Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall; I gave him directions to the former, since it's much closer. 

Just beyond the village I took a well-used footpath through a wood which isn't signposted or marked on the map, and then continued down the lane to reach the Bakewell road again, about a mile further on. I needed to walk along a very short stretch of the road, no more than a few dozen strides; yet even in this brief period a car came uncomfortably close to me, forcing me to take a step away and put my foot on the raised white line which marks the edge of the road. This surface was very slippery and I lost my grip, slipping and nearly doing the splits. Many thanks to the driver of the white car for that (have you noticed how most cars are white these days though?)

At this time it was raining; the rain only lasted for about twenty minutes though and then the weather slowly brightened up...being really quite sunny and excellent conditions for photography when I was travelling home on the bus and the train.

I had to dodge two groups of cyclists as I walked along the path to Hassop. I reached the main road right at the southern end of the village and then walked along this road until I reached the Hassop Station Café on the Monsal Trail, using the strobe setting on my torch to let car drivers know of my presence this's very effective; they can see it from several hundred yards away.

I had a pot of tea and a scone at the café and then continued along the Trail to Bakewell, passing Bakewell Station on the way. By this time in the afternoon the conditions were a lot brighter and more colourful; I took a picture of the old station buildings. I like this photograph; it reminds me of a looming, snorting steam engine, one of the earliest on the railways - I can see the chimney, the massive wheels that the early locomotives had...and a snowplough on the front.

From here I soon reached Bakewell. I had a few minutes to spare as I was waiting for the bus and so popped into Bath Gardens to take this photograph.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Conisbrough, Ravenfield, and Thrybergh Country Park

The BBC online weather forecast for today was much better for Doncaster than it was for Bakewell; so I went on a local walk....and besides that I didn't wake up until 07:30 after a late night at the comedy club - far too late to catch the early train to Sheffield.

I got off the bus at the last stop in Conisbrough, crossed the road and walked uphill along Park Lane, a well-maintained bridleway. I headed south for about two miles until reaching the road near to the bridge over the M18 motorway. In an otherwise misty and monotone day I managed to find a bit of colour in these yellow autumn leaves.

Accompanied by the sound of distant gunfire I walked along the road towards the entrance to Rotherham Gun Club and took the footpath just beyond, crossing high common land. At this point I was joined by a woman with a big white dog who kept disappearing and re-appearing again, even though she was only a few feet behind me. I wanted a pee, but was never sure as to whether or not it would be safe; I managed to have one a few minutes later in a copse.

I missed the path that went across the fields to Ravenfield and so had to take a country lane into the village. I don't think Ravenfield is particularly beautiful, but I did notice one or two impressive buildings, and at the entrance to the village there's a sign which informs visitors that it twice won the 'Britain in Bloom' competition several years ago.

There was another stretch of road down to Thrybergh Country Park, quite steep at one point. I walked clockwise around the western half of the lake to reach the public toilets and the café.

I ordered ham, egg, and salad from the café; it was very well presented and tasted fine. Afterwards I went outside and sat watching the children feeding the ducks for about half an hour before walking down to the bus stop; I only had to wait five minutes for a bus back to Doncaster.

Today it was an easy and relatively short walk, but that's good; I pulled a groin muscle doing some capoeira moves in 'Theatre of the Oppressed' class last Monday and I don't want to break down again - I'll be leading the session tomorrow and I have got something quite physical planned.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Public Toilets

I quite often mention my visits to public toilets in my blog posts, so I thought I'd draw up a list of the locations of public toilets in the areas I go walking.


Railway Station: Free toilets on the platforms, you have to pay to use the ones in the concourse though...there are no ticket barriers, so access to the platforms in easy.

Interchange/Bus Station: 20p per visit

Endcliffe Park: Free

Forge Dam Café: Free

Hillsborough Interchange: Free

The free public toilets at Fox House and Rivelin Post Office have recently been closed. The toilets at Ringinglow closed several years ago.


LONGSHAW LODGE: Possibly restricted opening hours.

HATHERSAGE: I think they are due to be refurbished in the near future and therefore might be closed for a few weeks.

STANAGE EDGE: Near to Hollin Bank Car Park.

BAMFORD: Village centre and Heatherdene Car Park

LADYBOWER: Fairholmes Visitor Centre


HOPE: Car Park

CASTLETON: Bus Station and Visitor Centre

EYAM: Car Park

TIDESWELL: Fountain Square


BUXTON: The car park near to the viaducts, and at the Town Hall

BASLOW: Nether End

CHATSWORTH HOUSE: Main entrance and up the hill towards the restaurant.

CALTON LEES: Chatsworth Garden Centre; not really public toilets - restricted opening hours.

ROWSLEY: Peak Village Shopping Centre - two locations.

DARLEY DALE: At the top of the road which leads to Peak Rail station. Not marked on OS maps.

MATLOCK: Hall Leys Park

MATLOCK BATH: North Parade, South Parade, and Artists' Corner Car Park.

CROMFORD: Cromford Wharf, Cromford Mill, and town centre.



MONYASH: At the small car park at the head of Lathkill Dale


BAKEWELL: Granby Square and Riverside



MILLER'S DALE: Car Park on the Monsal Trail

WYE DALE: Lees Bottom Car Park - composting toilets.

LOW BRADFIELD: I can't remember exactly where.



LANGSETT: Reservoir Car Park

BRETTON COUNTRY PARK (Next to Yorkshire Sculpture Park): Car Park


BARNSLEY: Bus Station and Town Centre

CLUMBER PARK: Three locations


RETFORD: Two locations



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bakewell, Ashford-in-the-Water, Monsal Head, Little Longstone, and Great Longstone

I had planned to go walking in the area between Chesterfield and Matlock today; however, when I reached Sheffield Interchange the number 218 bus was at the stand and just about to leave. So...I hopped on, sat down and re-folded my map for a walk starting from Bakewell.

The bus arrived on time at Bakewell at 09:05: I took some photos, went to the toilet, and bought something to eat from a couple of the shops.

I soon set off, walking along Buxton Road until I reached the footpath across the riverside pastures to Ashford-in-the-Water. The sun was at my back and I was able to take some good photographs.

The toilets at Ashford are quite good - there's even a painting hanging above the sink.

After leaving the toilets I checked the map; there are several routes across the fields to Monsal Head...and I managed to navigate my way there without having to refer to the map. The weather was still quite nice as I left Ashford, but was becoming increasingly cloudy and cold. It was still pleasant enough when I reached Monsal Head for me to sit and enjoy the view...whilst struggling to get my tongue at a Ribena icepop.

This was the view from where I was sitting.

After I'd finished the icepop, and my sandwiches, a middle-aged couple asked me to take some photos of them posing in front of the viewpoint. To be honest I don't think the results would have been very good, they were too far away and standing in the wrong place anyhow.

As I was walking down the road to Little Longstone I began to notice that my thigh muscles were beginning to ache; it felt like I had walked three or four times further than I actually had. Earlier in the week I was running a high fever - although I never really felt ill - I'm assuming that my tired muscles must be an after-effect of that viral infection. Eating my emergency supply of chocolate seemed to ease things about half an hour later; I did take every opportunity to sit down though, and give my thighs a good hard rubbing down.

I passed the Packhorse Inn, which seems to be very welcoming to hikers, and then walked across the fields to Great Longstone.

It was then easy walking across more fields until I reached the Monsal Trail. I passed by a house which is marked as 'Toll Bar House' on the map; maybe it should be re-classified as a gatehouse though - it certainly has one above the first floor window.

There was plenty of time for me to call in at Hassop Station Cafe for a restorative pot of tea and some chips. As I was walking along the Monsal Trail for the last few hundred yards to the bus-stop at Pineapple Farm a very nice, and attractive, middle-aged woman started talking to me. As I was struggling up the steps to get to the road she suggested that she wanted to help me by giving me a good push. I pretended not to hear...I didn't know what to say.

The bus was twenty five minutes late, giving me plenty of time to think about what had just happened.  Maybe I should have continued walking with her back to Bakewell, as she was hinting at [I think.]

Because of my Asperger's syndrome I'm hopeless with women, or in any other social situation; I never know what to say or do, or what people's motives are...or what's expected from me. I'm very good with ideas and concepts though and a project that I've recently initiated for the autism group here in Doncaster is going very well. It looks like it will be continued and even expanded, helping a lot of vulnerable people in the, all is not lost.

So, I thought about that instead, making more plans for the future.