Friday, July 31, 2015

Brodsworth Community Woodland

Another short local walk today, at Brodsworth Community Woodland, although I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the bench at the summit with Marshall, my support worker, admiring the views and putting the world to right.

For a change we parked in the car park at the southern entrance and so approached the summit from the other direction and had a clear view of Brodsworth Hall in the distance.


Teasel was everywhere, and many rowan trees were heavy with berries...we both thought this was very early in the season for the berries to be ripe.

I obviously didn't eat the rowan berries, however further on we found a couple of wild cherry trees with ripe fruit and some blackberries, which we ate.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Melton Wood Country Park and Marr Wind Farm

One of my regular local walks with Marshall, my support worker; more talking than walking really. Melton Wood Country Park is about four miles west of Doncaster, about a mile and a half northwest of Sprotbrough, probably my favourite spot in Doncaster.

The day was a bit miserable, dark and cloudy and occasionally spitting with rain. It was very dark inside the wood and none of my attempts at artistic photography worked out. On the far side of the wood we came to a corn field and walked alongside the edge of the field until we got some decent views of the wind turbines at Marr Wind Farm.

We reached a point as close to the nearest turbine as we could and noticed what we've decided to call a 'crop snake' leading to the tower; a neatly formed winding path where the stalks of the wheat have been almost perfectly flattened. Since access was easy, we decided to follow the 'snake' or 'yellow crop road' to the turbine, all the time discussing who might have produced it, and why...we settled on a small group of children. It was professionally done and would take quite a bit of time and endeavour though.

When we reached the base of the turbine we were impressed with its size and a bit surprised at how quiet it was; we could only just about discern the swoosh of the blades as they reached the bottom of their revolutions.

I noticed a sign designed by children had been attached to the bottom of the tower, we were amused to discover that it was informing us that this particular wind turbine is called 'Colin.'

Monday, July 20, 2015

Health Audit 2015

I reckon that I'm not in too bad a shape physically. I'm 53 years old and a few stones overweight, but I can easily manage a ten mile walk, maybe even fifteen miles, in the more accessible parts of the Peak District. With me having to rely on public transport time and logistics are the main constraints on how far I walk.

I do have a few minor medical ailments though. At the moment my main problem is with my Achilles' tendons which are permanently stretched tight because of bone spurs growing on the back of my heels. There's nothing that can be done right now; if things get too bad though I might have the option of having surgery to have the excess bone pared back. In the meantime I have to make sure that I wear the right footwear, with the foam and gel inserts positioned correctly.

My calf muscles are also causing me problems at the moment; there's a muscle knot in my left leg, and I have a tendency to suffer from cramp when walking, and severe muscle spasms at times when travelling home in a tightly confined space on the bus or train...I think this condition is called 'Claudian legs' or 'Charley horse.' In both circumstances taking magnesium oxide tablets seems to help.

Walking for prolonged periods loosens my bowels and so I need to take a couple of loperamide anti-diarrhoea tablets in the morning as a preventative measure; I also have spare tablets in my basic medical kit. 

After a few hours/miles I sometimes start having problems with chafing on my inner thighs and testicles, and my piles can become bothersome, so haemorrhoid cream, vaseline, and petroleum gel need to be liberally applied before setting off and sometimes re-applied later...not every toilet cubicle has enough room for me to bend over and splay my legs - this is where old barns come in handy.

Despite being told as a child that I would grow out of my hayfever by the time I turned eighteen I'm still blighted by the symptoms, not as bas as when I was younger, but I still need to take a loratadine tablet to dampen down the symptoms when I'm out on the moors in the summer months.

Another minor ailment is golfer's vasculitis. it's nothing more than annoying really, a temporary rash that burns and itches a bit. I find the best relief comes when I soak in a hot bath when I get home.

Finally, I wear glasses. I'm perfectly safe to continue walking and get myself home without them, but I wouldn't be able to focus on anything in the far distance, thus ruining my enjoyment of the views. I always take a spare pair...just in case.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Up On Bleaklow With Chris

The walk didn't turn out as planned today. The original plan was to go up on Bleaklow and try to locate some aircraft wrecks. There are quite a few on the plateau, but there are four main sites that most people visit. All we ended up doing though was getting pretty close up views of the aircraft circling above Manchester Airport waiting to land.

Chris, like myself, has Asperger's syndrome, and this can affect the way he thinks and behaves at times. For him, going on a walk is only about putting one foot in front of the other, the miles covered, and the altitude gained...there is no time for stopping to admire the view and taking photographs, or looking at the map and planning a route ahead, stopping for a rest...or even a pee. There were clearly defined paths, which Chris set off to walk along, and I struggled to keep up. So...we did an eight mile loop; seeing none of the aircraft wrecks or the weird and wonderful rock formations for which Bleaklow is renowned. [Something else we didn't see either was trees; there aren't any on Bleaklow, and since we parked up at the summit of the Snake Pass we didn't get to walk through any wooded areas on our approach to Bleaklow Head, the highest point.]

When we returned to the car Chris wasn't able to turn it round to head back towards Bamford, where I planned to catch the bus. So he drove down towards Glossop hoping to find somewhere suitable to turn round. He didn't find anywhere by the time we were approaching Glossop and so I suggested an alternative plan; drive up the road that leads to the Woodhead Pass and then continue towards Barnsley, dropping me off at Dodworth before driving home to Leeds on the M1.

This plan did work out.

I didn't take many photographs today; I didn't have the time to stop, with Chris being maybe a hundred yards ahead and out of earshot. There were good views over to the west of Manchester and beyond; I'm convinced I could see the Clwydian Hills in Wales on the horizon.

The first photograph was taken at Fox House as I was waiting for Chris to arrive in the car.

This one was taken zooming in on Manchester. I've converted it to black and white for extra clarity; you can see individual buildings.

I got a sneaky picture of Chris as he was clambering up the cairn at Bleaklow Head.

The final picture was taken not too far from my house, maybe three hundred yards - it's a scenic shortcut I take when walking home from the bus-stop.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Conisbrough Crags and Conisbrough Viaduct.

A short walk out with Marshall this afternoon - quite challenging in places; steep and overgrown.

We parked the car on the road that goes from Cadeby to one of the quarries, and ate our sandwiches..

Strange as it may seem, it's quite a way down to the viaduct, which is about a hundred feet above the river. By coincidence we arrived at the middle of the viaduct just as the Humber Princess was approaching; at 600-700 tons this is one of the largest boats that travels along this part of the River Don. I filmed a short piece of video and loaded it up to Youtube...the first time I've used my account for anything other than commenting on other people's videos.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kedleston Hall and Belper

Another trip out with Siobhan today to another of the reachable National Trust properties, this time to Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.

The property wasn't very well signposted as we approached, and we ended up going several miles beyond our turn-off. Maybe this was a portend of what was to come...a rather disappointing visit. Substantial parts of the house seemed to be closed for renovations, and there aren't any formal flower gardens - just extensive parkland.

It was poor conditions for taking photographs outdoors, but I am very pleased with the indoor shots I took; a vast improvement on my efforts at Beningbrough Hall and Lyme Park.

We only stayed for ninety minutes before setting off back; it gave us plenty of time to linger in Belper, in the café in particular, where we enjoyed hot scones taken straight out of the oven, served with butter, clotted cream, and jam.

Belper is quite a pretty town, it's also quite hilly and so I think there were some parts we didn't see; Siobhan struggles with the hills.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tickhill, Near Doncaster

A short trip out today to Tickhill, a very pleasant small town south of Doncaster. I went with Marshall, my support worker.

We started by sitting next to the Millpond, eating our sandwiches and listening to the cricket commentary.

During the luncheon interval at the cricket we went for a walk round the town. I've never really taken the time to have a thorough look at the place; I've started or finished a few walks here, and travelled through it plenty of times on the bus or in the car.

So, there were a couple of things I've not seen before; the two Spanish-style villas and the walnut tree orchard at the back of the millpond.

I'd not been inside the church before today; I've not been inside the castle either - it's a private residence and only opens its doors one day a year to the public.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lyme Park and Buxton

Another day out with Siobhan: It rained for long periods as we drove over to Cheshire, but after looking round the hall there was quite a long gap between showers for us to explore the gardens; we didn't venture into the park because it would have been a bit too much for Siobhan...and it looked like it might rain at any time.

The house and gardens are nothing special; the only thing that I thought was really impressive was the courtyard.

These were the items that I found most interesting inside the hall.

The view of the hall is much better from the back, where the gardens are located.

I had fun for a few minutes playing with a piece of installation art called 'Distant Drumbeat.' I banged on the drums with drumsticks to change the colours of the lights attached to the folly tower on the distant hillside...I was able to change the lights to every colour of the rainbow.

After a couple of  hours we set off for home, calling at Buxton for tea and cake at the Pavilion Gardens. The slice of apple and blackberry cake I had was delicious and moist. On the way back to the car park we had time to pop in to the charity shops; I found seven of them on the pedestrianised precinct - there might have been several more elsewhere in the town.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hooton Pagnell Summer Fete 2015

Visiting Hickleton, Bilham, Hooton Pagnell, Hampole, Pickburn, and Woodlands

There were a couple of reasons why I chose a local walk today; first, I specifically wanted to visit Hooton Pagnell Fete, and second, there was a cycle race in Sheffield this morning which meant that a lot of city centre roads would be closed, causing disruption to the buses. I couldn't escape from the cyclists today though because there was an organised race going through Hooton Pagnell all the time I was there The riders had to follow the diversions though - the High Street is always blocked off for the fete.

I was hoping that my brother might have joined me today and then we could both walk back to Thurnscoe, where he lives with our parents. He'd already let me know that he wasn't interested though. I think the £3 cost of admission put him off...or gave him the excuse he was looking for. Anyhow it meant I'd be able to walk back to Woodlands, from where there are a lot more buses back to town.

I got off the bus at Hickleton; it's only twenty minutes on the X19 express service. The weather wasn't very good, dark and a bit misty. It would stay this way all my time at Hooton Pagnell, but would brighten up for a couple of hours later on in the afternoon.

Not very good conditions for photography. Hickleton is a pretty village, not as pretty as Hooton Pagnell in my opinion, but certainly well worth spending some time taking photographs. These are what I came up with today; the pub, the famous Hickleton Skulls, and the church.

I then walked down the country lane which leads to Hooton Pagnell, passing through the small hamlet of Bilham.

I arrived at Hooton Pagnell just before eleven o'clock and had a quick look round to see what was on offer, before returning to specific attractions. I noticed that cream teas, with fresh strawberries, were being sold in three locations, the pub tearooms, inside the church, and at the school. I love my cream teas, but it was far too early in the day; it wasn't too early for some people though - they were having their Hooton Pagnell cream teas as a late breakfast.

It was quite busy by the time I left at one o'clock, after having tea and biscuits in the tearooms. It would probably have been even busier later in the afternoon when the sun came out. 

I walked along Back Lane and Broad Balk to reach Hampole Wood. I found signs stating it was private property. I have previously walked through the wood without any problems, but the signs were everywhere, making me feel quite intimidated. I've checked the Ordnance Survey map and there are no public footpaths through the wood therefore the landowner is fully within his rights to block access. I don't know the reasons, but it seems a bit petty, since local people have walked in the wood for many years, and at one time Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council's countryside rangers organised group walks to look at the bluebells and primroses.

I had to do a long detour of at least two miles, going to the main Wakefield road at Hampole and then finding a footpath which I took to take me to where I needed to be, the far side of Hampole Wood. From here I walked down a wide track to the road above Pickburn, then across some fields to reach the village.

I crossed the A1(M) using the footbridge; it seems that there had just been an accident on the southbound carriageway, before enjoying a lovely view of Woodlands church as I briefly entered Brodsworth Community Woodlands.

I arrived at the bus-stop at Woodlands just as the bus arrived. By now the sun had gone and some threatening clouds were approaching and as I was walking through town on my way home there was a noisy thunderstorm. Fortunately I missed the worst of the rain, that started as I was in the bathroom.