Sunday, March 29, 2015

British Summer Time

British Summer Time starts today and the bus companies are now running their summer schedules out into the Peak District from Sheffield. 

Here's a brief summary:

X17 to Matlock, no changes - hourly service
65    to Buxton; no changes - still five buses a day Monday to Saturday, and three buses on a Sunday 
215  limited service to Bakewell and Matlock
218  to Chatsworth House and Bakewell - two buses an hour Monday to Saturday and one bus an hour on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.
240/241 a new service only running at weekends and Bank Holidays to Bakewell and Chatsworth via Ringinglow - one bus per hour
272   hourly service along the Hope Valley to Castleton
273   to Castleton, via Upper Derwent Valley - one bus every two hours; weekends and bank holidays only

So...a pretty decent level of service for walkers and visitors to the Peak District; the only disappointing news is that South Yorkshire PTE has stopped printing paper timetables. 

Compared to when I first got my bus pass five years ago the service provision is  better to Bakewell, but not as good to Matlock or Buxton, and there's not been the service number 181 out to Hartington on a Sunday morning for several years now. I only travelled on it the once because it took a very circuitous route via Dronfield.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fox House, Totley Bents, Mickley, Bradway, Beauchief Abbey, and Millhouses

There was a very good start to the day; I'd not walked for more than a few hundred yards when I noticed a couple of very impressive stags on the horizon, but not too far away. I'm not a very good wildlife photographer though; this was the best shot I could get.

At first only their antlers were visible, and as they both moved I though it was a couple of bare trees swaying in the breeze.

I continued walking across Totley Moor, it's fairly flat, just a gentle slope down to the track which leads to Totley Bents. At one point, just over to my right, I could see a fenced-ff derelict redbrick building, probably something to do with the construction of Totley Tunnel. A bit later I saw the first of two airshafts, built on top of an artificial mound.

Although it isn't visible in the photograph, a train must have recently passed through the tunnel because a small amount of smoke was rising from the shaft.

I found a comfortable, and sheltered spot, to sit down for a few minutes; the view would have been really nice if it wasn't so cloudy and misty. A couple of young men, in their early twenties, who seemed to be prepared for any imaginable emergency or contingency stopped and chatted to me for a few seconds; the larger of the two told me that in good visibility you can see Bolsover Castle from this location.

The track down to Totley Bents is quite steep in places, this is where my hiking pole was useful for the first time; helping to support me. Totley Bents is only a collection of maybe a dozen houses; in one of the gardens I noticed a wrought iron dinosaur skeleton.

I climbed up to the Baslow road,it was very muddy in places, and walked over to the bus terminus where the next section of footpath began; the walk through Gillfield Wood. As I was walking through the wood the sun started to break through the clouds, and a few minutes later when I was walking along country lanes or grasslands I had some lovely views of Totley, and the rest of Sheffield, behind me. I stopped a few times to take pictures.

The climb up to Mickley wasn't too strenuous; yet again my hiking pole was very useful.

From Mickley I walked down the road to Bradway and eventually found Beauchief Abbey, not before getting lost in some woods at the top of an escarpment where there were stunning views towards the moors. In a couple of places seats had been placed.

There is some very pleasant managed countryside in the area where Beauchief Abbey is; the sun was at just the right angle for getting a well-lit photograph of the abbey.

I was hoping to finish today at the café in Millhouses Park but ended up on the wrong side of the railway, walking through some woodland. In this area of woodland I came across a bit of a mystery, some sort of ruins that at first I thought must have been put there for children to play on as some sort of adventure playground...until I saw some more of these ruins totally overgrown. They look like the remains of some mostly-buried lost city; the only parts visible being the tops of pyramids...which look like gigantic pieces of Toblerone chocolate six or eight foot tall.

Being right next to the railway line I'm assuming that's what the answer is to this mystery.

Finally I walked down to the main road and caught the bus.

Today was the first time I'd used my hiking pole for a walk in the Peak District. Overall I'd say it was worthwhile taking it; it was most useful when climbing over stiles, especially the final step down, which can be quite a distance at times. It was also helpful when walking up, or down, steep slopes -  supporting me, helping with my balance, or helping me get up the hills; it is spring-loaded. So...I'll be taking it with me on every walk; I imagine it'll also come in handy when walking across stepping stones...something I have a particular problem with.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Visit To The Hospital

I spent several hours at the hospital this afternoon. For over a week now I've been troubled by a bit of swelling in my left calf muscle, it's not particularly painful, just a bit tender to the touch. I'd been assuming it was a minor injury picked up when out walking, maybe a bad strain/sprain, or a torn muscle...but nothing more serious.

I was slightly concerned that it has shown no signs of improvement and so made an appointment to see the doctor. She was a little more concerned than I was and immediately phoned up the hospital to make plans for me to have various tests because so thought that I might have a deep vein thrombosis - something very serious.

After seeing two nurses and a doctor I was told the good news that it's not thrombosis or a blood clot, and there's  probably not even any muscle damage; just a very severe muscle knot/spasm. 

Her advice to me was to keep on walking, but to try not to cause any damage to my leg. So, I'll have to plan my routes carefully for the next few weeks, sticking to the easier paths.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

High Melton, Marr, Brodsworth Country Park, and Highfields

Bloody weather forecasts!

Initially it was forecast to be cloudy and rainy all weekend and so I didn't make any plans to go walking. However, yesterday turned out to be quite nice and so I did a few jobs in the garden. When I checked last night the BBC forecast was still predicting rain for today, but that wasn't the case when I looked as soon as I got online at 07:30 this morning - another fine day now, but not as nice as yesterday.

Well, it was too late to catch the early train to Sheffield, so a local walk would have to do.

The quickest way for me to get to the bus station is to walk through the Frenchgate Shopping Centre, which at about 09:10 on a Sunday morning is just about deserted...apart from a couple of coffee shops.

As the bus approached Hiigh Melton I could see several cars parked on the roadside verge and about a dozen people who looked like marshals wearing hi-viz jackets gathering around a table. I got of the bus and walked along the main street of the village hoping to get some photographs of the action...and of the buildings in the village as well.

Here's a row of beautiful  cottages.

I hung around for the start of the cycle race; I think the marshals were waiting to give the bus enough time to reach the bottom of the hill and turn off the main road and go to Harlington, before starting the race. Preceding the first two cyclists (and I only saw two cyclists as I watched for a minute or two) were a couple of motorcycles and then three or four cars. I took some photographs, but they weren't very good at all.

There's a well-defined bridleway that leads to Melton Wood, which was quite busy with dog-walkers, cyclists, and horse-riders. I spotted my first blooming primrose of the year, unfortunately too difficult to reach to capture with my camera.

Although I've walked through this wood a good few times I spotted something today I'd not seen before; a tree that had been pinned back, or pollarded in a special way so that new growth suitable for making walking sticks would be produced. I think there's a man in the village who carves walking sticks, so maybe this is where he sources his raw material from; it looked as though the wood for four new sticks had been recently cut.

It wasn't long until I was out of the wood and traversing some recently-ploughed fields; this is where my new hiking pole came in handy. I took it along with me today mainly to get used to carrying it in my rucksack, but I though I might end up using it. The route of the path that had been flattened down by people using it was very narrow, and the pole helped me with my balance.

I passed very close to the wind turbines at Marr; so close that I could hear the whirring noise that they make - I was even convinced that I could detect the slight change in air pressure that their rotation causes. That was probably just my Asperger's syndrome kicking in though - I can sense all sorts of things that other people can't.

The day was so grey that I've converted the next two pictures, of the turbines and the church at Marr, to black and white; I think they look better.

There's a boring stretch of road just past Marr, and then a byway down to another road, where I passed underneath the A1(M) motorway before climbing up to the highest point of Brodsworth Country Park, taking the steepest route so that I could practise my technique with my hiking pole. On the summit there's a toposcope, and extensive views...but not today, the visibility was quite poor.

There was a bit of colour in this area though; a lot of gorse in flower.

I took the long way down from the summit and walked along the path that leads to Highfields Community Woodlands and the park.

Here's a photograph of the lake in sepia.

I then crossed the road and caught the bus back into town; I didn't have long to wait, and it's only a short journey. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Walking Pole

A couple of months ago I formally resigned as both a member, and a trustee, of the Asperger's group in Leeds. Now that I'm involved with the autism charity here in Doncaster, and sit on the board of the Autism Partnership I felt that it was the appropriate thing to do.

On Thursday night many of the group gathered in Leeds for my 'leaving do,' nothing formal, just a meal and drinks in a Wetherspoon's pub - but it was good night out. I was presented with a gift, a walking pole, something I'd been considering buying for a while now. I think the pole will help me with balance and support, and judging the depth of bogs and streams - so it will be really useful.

I've noticed that many of the walkers I see in the Peak District use poles, most people seem to use two poles, and use them all the time, even when walking on roads; I've read that this takes a lot of strain off your knees and ankles. I shall only be using my pole as, and when, I need it; it's not as though it's heavy to carry attached to my rucksack; it only weighs a few ounces.

I'll still be staying in contact with my friends in Leeds, and regularly meeting them at the monthly socials, or in one of the city centre pubs when I go to the theatre; and, of course, I'll still be going walking with Chris from the group.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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

I took a different route through Bakewell to reach the first footpath of the day; the path starts at a very picturesque bridge and then leads up onto pleasant grassy fields with nice views of Longstone Edge.

I then walked through some woodland to reach the road at Rowdale House. As I was waiting for the traffic to pass so that I could take some photographs I noticed how many large lorries there were on this stretch of road, especially delivery lorries and tankers. For the rest of the day I was convinced that the entire Peak District was being clogged up by heavy goods traffic...maybe it only happens on a Wednesday.

It wasn't long until I was on the Monsal Trail, with close-up views of Great Longstone and the Edge behind.

I didn't stay on the Trail for long before taking the path that leads to Little Longstone. Photographs of the pub and the church always seem to be representative of a village.


It's not far up the road to Monsal Head. Here's my cropped version of the classic view of the valley and the viaduct.

I then took a path which was new to me, down through woodland to the bottom of the valley, crossing the river over a footbridge right next to the weir. The water spilling over the weir today was impressive, roaring like a lion and glistening in the sun like a ton of tumbling diamonds.

The riverside path leads to Lees Bottom, where I timed it just right to catch the TransPeak bus back into Bakewell if my ankle was feeling a bit sore. It was fine though and so I was able to continue with the walk.

The path from the car parking area at Lees Bottom which goes to Ashford-in-the-Water is a bit difficult at first, quite a bit of slippery limestone in places, and one section where the path is actually a stream. Along this section I placed my right hand on a moss covered rock to help with my balance, and was immediately stung. It was quite painful, and remained so for the rest of the walk; even now, as I'm typing, I've got a sensation of 'pins and needles' in my fingertips. This has never happened to me before anywhere in the Peak District; I grab onto all sorts of things for balance and support...but have never been stung, or bitten, before. Maybe it was something in the water.

I arrived unscathed at Ashford and took a photograph of the old bridge from a different angle.

I walked along the path back to Bakewell, and arrived with enough time for some sausage roll therapy and to be sprayed with water by a passing car which seemed to be operating as a mobile fountain. Water, I'm hoping it was only water, was being forced out at quite high pressure in at least four directions.

Welcome to Bakewell; home of the tarts, and the puddings.