Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ranskill, Sutton cum Lound, Sutton Grange, Tiln, and Retford

A first test for my ankle today after I sprained it struggling to get off the train last week: a local walk with no gradients or uneven surfaces...and not that much mud either - no hills, no peatbogs, no scrambling, no stepping stones, no dense undergrowth...welcome to Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire.

Everything was fine, my right ankle is aching a bit, but that's all - I had all contingencies covered though.

I got off the bus and Ranskill and walked down Station Road/Lane, over the level crossing (I had to wait for two trains to pass) and turned right down the track which leads to Daneshill Lakes Nature Reserve.I took my time here, exploring the paths and looking at the lakes. I found a lovely spot just beyond the carpark, which is free, and sat and ate some of my sandwiches; it was early, but I wanted to enjoy the moment.

A few minutes after finishing my sandwiches I passed the location of the Ranskill Royal Ordnance Factory; there's nothing to see, just a couple of information boards.

If the writing's still too small to read after clicking on the images to enlarge them, here's a link to the Wikipedia page.

Beyond the nature reserve the path continued right alongside the East Coast Mainline Railway (there was a sturdy fence) and about half a dozen trains whizzed by in the few minutes I was there. The path then veered across fields to take me to Sutton cum Lound, with its pretty church.

I left the village, heading north east, but stopped to take a photograph of the 'Sutton cum Lound Welcomes Careful drivers' roadside sign - it's quite impressive, but not that unusual. Most Nottinghamshire villages seem to have something similar, individual to each village though.

The next section of the walk was rather unattractive, being along potholed byways and passing by quarry workings, scrapyards, and ramshackle buildings. I called in at the reception of Wetlands Animal Park to pick up some leaflets; I know of a couple of community groups here in Doncaster which might be interested in organising a trip.

A few hundred yards later I arrived at Sutton Grange; there's nothing to see here. I then turned right and arrived at Idle Valley Nature Reserve, where I finished off my sandwiches; I'm not sure if the photograph is the actual location where I was sitting though.

As I approached the bridge over the River Idle I noticed a sign stating that the fishing rights along this stretch of the river belong to the Derbyshire County Angling Club, even though the River Idle doesn't flow through that county at all.

The next section of the walk was difficult to navigate because my map bore no resemblance to the actual landscape. I was looking for a path going straight across some meadows, but the area had been fenced off with barbed wire, and it looked like some sluice gates had been deliberately opened, allowing the area to flood. 

Since I couldn't take my intended route I had to take a path along the top of the levee which contains the river, adding about a mile to my walk. I passed through Tiln, somewhere I hadn't planned to visit. The path that I needed went right up the drive of a house and behind the back of the garage - at least it was where it should be though.

I was now walking in an easterly direction along a well maintained track. Over to my left I could see a lake, and this isn't on the current Ordnance Survey Map either...another ghost lake of North Nottinghamshire. It appears that an angling club is now based there. 

I soon reach the canal, the Chesterfield Canal and walked down onto the towpath; the sun was at the perfect angle to illuminate the church at Hayton.

I had to take a photograph when I got to Whitsunday Pie Lock; I like my pies, but had never come across this type of pie before. I was disappointed to discover that no such pie exists, it's just an amusing local name.

It wasn't much further for me to walk into Retford and get something to eat, fish and chips from Kenny's; my favourite in the town.

I am very pleased with my ankle and how quick it's recovering. I did strap it up with a compression bandage, but it coped very well with a walk of at least ten miles. I reckon I'll be ready for the Peak District next week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Bus Route Serving Ringinglow

For the first time since I've been writing this blog Ringinglow is going to have a regular bus service, albeit only at weekends and on bank holidays.

Here's the timetable. The service starts on March 29th, and will be only operating during the period of British Summer Time.

This will be very convenient for people who might wish to take advantage of the organised walk followed by a meal that the Norfolk Arms is organising.

Sprained Ankle

It seems that I sprained my ankle yesterday; not when I was walking though, but when I was struggling to get up out of my seat on the train.

As usual, after a day's walking I was tired and ached all over, and after already travelling for an hour on the bus I was very stiff and had limited mobility. I had managed to find a seat, one where there was a table, and sat down. Because of the lack of space my feet were sticking out into the aisle by a few inches and so when a lot of the people got on at the Meadowhall shopping centre with their bags I tried to move my feet out of the way. Unfortunately they ended up being entangled with the table leg and the strap/handle of one of the bags that was on the floor. When the train reached Doncaster my right foot was trapped and I had to twist it in an awkward way to release it.

At the time, possibly because of my other aches and pains, I didn't notice anything, but a few hours later when I got up from sitting in front of the computer I was aware that something was wrong.

Fortunately the sprain doesn't seem to be too bad, there's no bruising or swelling - so I'm hoping a few days rest and wearing a support bandage will suffice.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Baslow to Spitewinter

A rubbish day for photography today up on the moors. It's been misty all day, although it seems that further east there's been quite a bit of sunshine.

I got off the bus at Baslow Nether End and walked through the large kissing gate into Chatsworth Park, where I took the footpath that's signed to Robin Hood. 

This photograph, one of only two I'm able to include today, shows the monster stile I had to climb up and over as I left the Chatsworth estate - it's certainly the highest I know of; it's well over six foot high.

The path was indistinct in  places, yet easy to follow in others; at one point it passes right in front of some striking rocks - I've never seen anything like them before; the colours, and the vertical striation. I suspect that maybe it's not the result of any natural geological process; maybe climbers...I really don't know. I've seen women with similar coloured highlights in their hair though.

I attempted to take a short cut across some grassy fields but the path seemed to be going in the wrong direction, towards Swiss Cottage.

I could see where I wanted to be, Gibbet Moor, and so headed for it in a straight line, scrambling up a rocky hillside and climbing over three padlocked gates. I was then able to walk along the wide track that skirts the moor at this location, heading south. 

When I came to a large, comfortable boulder I sat on it and ate my sandwiches. After I'd finished eating I noticed an elderly couple and their two dogs approaching. The dogs were well in front and suddenly started bounding towards me. The dogs were very friendly, both of them licking me, and pawing me, yapping and running round in circles as dogs do. I didn't mind today, I quite like most dogs, and since I'd finished eating I wasn't concerned about them getting at my food.

Things went too far though when the larger dog mounted me, enthusiastically licked my hair and then started whispering sweet nothings in my ear.

It had to stop; so I grabbed his legs to push him away - unfortunately it looked like we were waltzing.

I broke away from the main path at Hob Hurst's House and trekked across East Moor. It was a difficult and tiring slog.

I reached a country road and then several short sections of footpath across different types of terrain, and an equal number of short sections of roadwalking until I descended into a wooded valley just before reaching Holymoorside. I stumbled as I was crossing some stepping stones; at least most of the mud was washed off my trousers.

Finally, there was about half a mile of road to walk along until I reached the bus-stop at Spitewinter, where I had enough time to put on my overtrousers.

The bus arrived on time; just as it reached the outskirts of Chesterfield the sun was shining, and continued to do so for the rest of my journey home to Doncaster.

The train was delayed for over five minutes just outside Doncaster Railway Station. The guard announced that we had to wait for a platform to become free. I noticed that two East Coast trains from London crossed in front of us on the main we'd have to wait for them to stop at the platforms and then continue on their way.

There are more trains that depart from Doncaster and go to London than go to any other destination. I don't know if this is good for Doncaster, or not. I doubt that any other station so far from the capital can claim this level of service though. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bakewell, Over Haddon, and Ashford-in-the-Water

There was plenty of lying snow as I travelled on the bus to Bakewell, even at altitudes as low as some of the outer [and higher] suburbs of Sheffield. Although there wasn't any snow at all at Bakewell I knew I wouldn't be disappointed as I set off on the walk - yey with hindsight maybe 'disappointed' wasn't the correct word to choose.

I walked along the river towards Haddon Hall, choosing a concessionary path which goes right alongside the river bank; a route I hadn't walked before. It was very muddy in places, but easily passable. Just before reaching the main road I caught my first glimpse of Haddon Hall; there would be better views of the hall later as I walked across Haddon Fields; when I stopped and looked behind me.

The photograph I've chosen was taken along the section of concessionary footpath...and it's not in black and white!

From the road it's a steady climb across Haddon Fields to Over Haddon. as I climbed higher, the snow got deeper, but never deeper than a few inches.

As I approached the village there were good views down into the lower reaches of Lathkill Dale; the River Lathkill was the widest I've ever seen it - filling up the entire bottom of the valley. There were a lot of tracks in the snow going across the field just before the eastern approach to the village, most likely caused by sledges, and maybe snowboards. I specifically looked out for what might be tracks caused by someone skiing...but I didn't see any.

I walked the entire length of the village and took the first footpath on the right. I was soon steadily climbing again - and the snow was now maybe six inches deep. I was aware at this time that my thigh muscles were beginning to ache.

I arrived at a road where a family was unloading items from their car. I was intrigued, and so sat on a stile in the next field to have a rest...and soak up some of the sunshine. They soon approached me and then continued on their way, all three of them, all adults, dragging plastic sledges behind them. 

I few hundred yards further on I reached the highest point of today's walk, well over a thousand foot above sea level. The snow was at least a foot deep up here, sometimes it even came up to my knees. It was hard work plodding along, even in other people's footsteps. But the navigation was easy, the route of the paths was obvious where other people had previously walked - I hardly ever looked at my map today.

I came to a point where I had to make a choice...and I made the wrong choice today. I could have followed the actual route of the path, using the stile as the family members now several hundred yards in front of me had, or I could use an open gate, needing to walk through some much deeper virgin snow. I find it difficult and quite painful climbing over some stiles when my thigh muscles are tired, and so I opted for the latter option. This proved to be a big mistake: the virgin snow didn't support my weight at all and I sank in to a depth of several inches above my knees. The next few steps were going to be hard work; even harder work than I imagined as it turned out. On the third step my left groin muscle twanged and I couldn't move. I have never experienced pulling a muscle like this before; it's usually a gradual process.

I was stuck. I thought about the situation, and how I could still manage to walk by using different muscles and re-distributing my weight. I thought about walking sideways and this worked very well - I got down to the road safely and was then able to walk down the road to Ashford-in-the-Water without too much discomfort...utilising a fairly normal gait.  

Ashford-in-the-Water is a pretty village, this is the best photograph that I took.

By the time I'd reached the village I'd already decided that I wasn't going to walk back to Bakewell. I was glad to discover that I'd only have fifteen minutes to wait for the bus. It was nearly ten minutes late though and I missed my connection at Bakewell. This wasn't much of a problem since there was a bus going to Sheffield only fifteen minutes later.

When the bus arrived I was pleasantly surprised; it was the most modern bus I've ever travelled on. There was onboard wi-fi and USB sockets for computers. There was also an electric scrolling noticeboard which showed what the next stop was, and an automated voice which announced them - although some of the pronunciations were a bit unusual.

I say 'well done' to TM Motors for introducing these buses to their newly branded 'Peak Line 218' service, using the byline, 'The Rolling Hills of the Peak District.' On several occasions on this blog I've had reason to criticise TM Motors for their old and decrepit buses; so it's nice to be able to praise them for once.

No-one seemed to be using the wi-fi though.