Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cromford, Middleton, Bonsall, and Matlock Bath

Another walk with Chris from Leeds; as usual he picked me up at Fox House, and we drove to Cromford.

We walked along the road which leads to Cromford Wharf, the start/end of Cromford Canal, briefly having a look at Arkwright's Mill on the way. We spent a few seconds admiring a barge which was moored on the canal before setting off for High Peak Junction, racing several groups of students who were in canoes on the water.  

There's a small museum inside a couple of guard's wagons to look at, plus toilets and an information centre that is really more geared to selling guide books or refreshments - the information boards are quite good though.

We headed up the incline, it's quite a steep climb, yet perfectly safe. After a few yards we went to look at the catch pit, a wagon that had smashed into the pit was clearly visible, but I found it difficult to photograph it.

I was ready for my sandwiches and something to drink when we reached the top of the incline, although Chris saved his food until we'd climbed up the next incline at Middleton Top where the highlight here for Chris was a full working model of the incline in operation, inside the small information centre next to the café.

We left Middleton Top and continued along the High Peak Trail for a few minutes before crossing over Middleton Moor and descending into the village and then continuing along a lane and down a steep path which was quite slippery in places, to Via Gellia at the bottom of the valley, otherwise known as the A5012 road from Cromford to Grangemill. 

We struggled up the steep hill to the lower part of Bonsall before taking a path that snakes around the back gardens of some houses and leads toward a quarry up on the hillside. It should then have been an easy walk across fields before dropping down into Matlock Bath; however, we got lost and had to crawl underneath some barbed wire. After finding a path we then climbed down some steps cut into the hillside and a couple of steep footpaths finally to be greeted by the aroma of fish and chips - there are several fish and chip shops in Matlock Bath, as well as other attractions for the was quite busy today.

There was to be no fish and chips for me at Matlock Bath today, just a mug of tea. We walked along the road to arrive back at the car at Cromford within ten minutes of the expected time.

Chris dropped me off at Baslow, where there are three buses an hour back to Sheffield on a Saturday in the summer, nonetheless I still had to wait twenty minutes for one. The bus was packed; I was the last person who was able to get on before people started getting off at Sheffield. Naturally I had to stand up for most of the journey, gripping onto the inconveniently and uncomfortably positioned handrails and luggage rack. I usually get off the bus in Sheffield with my leg muscles hurting because of the lack of legroom when I'm sitting down - this wasn't a problem today; I could move my legs as much as I wanted when the bus was arm muscles were, and still are, painful, tender to the touch, and feel very hard and rigid.

There was only a local stopping train due when I arrived at the railway station and so I boarded it. When we reached Rotherham the carriage I was in was totally overwhelmed by a loud, boisterous group of Fulham FC football fans. In no way was any of their behaviour threatening or inappropriate, in fact some of the songs were quite amusing; however they were in the way, blocking the doorway and access to the toilet. They had to stand somewhere though because all the seats were occupied.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Visit To Eyam

A visit to another National Trust property this afternoon with my support worker, we went to Eyam Hall. We arrived in the village and immediately walked into the courtyard area to discover that a guided walk of the village for National Trust members was due to start in the next few minutes - so just enough time for the toilets. The walk lasted for ninety minutes but was more talking than walking; I really enjoyed it though. Eyam is famous as the 'Plague Village' and we told all about how the villagers quarantined themselves to prevent the plague from spreading, but there were also interesting anecdotes about bull baiting, the production of best beef, hanging live animals from a wire and spearing them on horseback, illicit affairs, a sham marriage, a drunken corpse which came back to life, and a sad story with an even sadder ending.

The walk finished at 3:30 which gave us the best part of an hour to look round the hall and the gardens. This was ample long enough; it's only small and there's nothing much to see. It was lived in by the family until only a few years ago and one of the rooms is left just as it was when the occupants moved out. I found this to be a bit strange and unsettling, especially the family photographs, and wondered why the family didn't remove the more personal items.

A trip out with Siobhan wouldn't be complete without a cream tea, or at least tea and cake. We had cream teas today, fairly average fare I would say.

It made a pleasant change for me to visit the Peak District as a tourist and to be able to wear some smart clothes, instead of my usual scruffy walking gear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Foolow, Abney, Offerton, and Bamford

I had planned to finish the walk at Castleton today but because I was having problems with my bowels I cut it short at Bamford. I'm glad I did; the Hope Valley buses were terminating at Bamford because of a fatal traffic accident further up the valley.

So...I got off the bus at Foolow and took some photographs: the pretty little church doesn't feature though because a couple of women who must have been cleaning inside left several brightly coloured buckets and rags outside, spoiling the view.

I left the village by the road that leads to the north, soon passing the ugly scar where the sinkhole that appeared a couple of winters been crudely filled in. Further on, as I climbed higher, walking along the footpath now, there were some nice views.

I reached the road which goes along the top of Eyam Edge, as I was taking a bit of a rest I was asked to take a group photograph of about eight foreign students - I took about half a dozen snaps, just to make sure that there'd be at least one decent image.

It's a steep and difficult descent down to the bottom of the upper reaches of Bretton Clough; I'm always especially careful here - this was where I suffered the worst  sprained, twisted, swollen, and bruised ankle that the radiologist at Mexborough Montagu Hospital had ever seen in his career. 

Safely down to the bottom, well not quite actually, since I took the path which goes parallel to the brook which flows at the bottom of the clough, but about thirty foot up the side of the valley. The reason I took this route, as I always do here, is to get a good look at an unusual landscape feature; a series of steep, conical hillocks, up to about fifty foot high and quite spectacular, especially if you imagine them to be pyramids or giants' tombs and wonder what might be buried inside. I'm not sure what they are, possibly tailings from early mining operations, or, more likely in my opinion, a geological feature known as a 'ridge-and-trough' or 'tumbled ground' landform caused by an ancient landslip.

Not far beyond the hillocks I took the path that leads up to Abney; as I approached a footbridge over the stream I caught a glimpse of a lizard that had been sunning itself before it scampered away into the undergrowth. This was the first lizard I'd seen for nearly thirty years; of course, I didn't manage to get a photograph.

A few minutes later, when walking along the fields above the clough as I was approaching Abney some more animals would get my attention; these four cows guarding the gate which I needed to pass through. The only way I could get them to move was to wave my hiking pole in front of me, and in the air, and making noises that I imagined a Samurai warrior would be proud of.

The heather on Offerton Moor, as everywhere else in the Peak district at this time of year was putting on its best show; it was too much for me though, the heady aroma of the thick purple haze was causing me an Aspergic sensory overload as I swayed from side to side trying to focus my thoughts and vision and not knowing whether to enjoy the heather, or the stunning views of the Hope Valley and part of the Upper Derwent Valley in the distance; to sit down or to continue walking.

I safely crossed the moor and then took the lane which leads down to the river, and then the road. When I reached an abandoned barn I went in to take care of some business; the anti-diarrhoea tablets usually work, but not today though. The serendipitous facilities inside the barn were practical and very comfortable actually; part of an old feeding trough by the look of exactly the right height and angle for me. I have used this barn before and so knew what to problems.

The bus was waiting at Bamford due to the road closure, causing me a bit of panic and confusion as I ran up the hill to the the end I had about twenty minutes to wait until the driver let us on and started his return journey back to Sheffield.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Petroglyphs Of Edderthorpe

Stairfoot, Cundy Cross, Monk Bretton Priory, and Great Houghton.

There were no trains running to Sheffield again today so I caught the Barnsley bus to go on an expedition to photograph the 'Petroglyphs of Edderthorpe.' I discovered these rock carvings by accident about five years ago when walking with my brother down in a dark, deep, damp, and overgrown railway cutting...there are several dozen carvings of varying quality, carved over a period of several decades I should think. They're definitely not easy to find and I think this might be the first time they have been featured anywhere online...I spent quite a few minutes researching the other day.

As the bus passed through one of the estates at Darfield a middle-aged woman got on and asked for a 'return to Darfield from Stairfoot.'; the driver was confused, so was I...I've never heard anyone ask for a return fare to a particular destination like that before.

I got off the bus at Stairfoot, together with the woman who was on the first leg of her return journey, and several other people as well. I crossed the dual carriageway without any difficulty and walked up the road towards Cundy Cross and Monk Bretton Priory. I'd only been walking for a few minutes when I reached the TransPennine Trail; there was a decent view to look at here.

It wasn't long until I reached the priory where I lingered for about ten minutes taking photographs.

I then walked through a short section of Dearne Valley Country Park before the path took me up to the old railway viaduct. There was then a very complicated network of criss-crossing and parallel paths at different heights along old railway routes and meadows next to the river until I reached the particular cutting where the petroglyphs have been carved.

It was very dark down in the cutting and photography wasn't easy; I had to use the manual settings on the camera for the first time and many of the shots were unusable, too dark, out of focus, or over-exposed. These six turned out fine though; the bird glyph is recent, it wasn't there five years ago. 

A few hundred yards beyond the petroglyphs I had to scramble down the side of a bridge abutment; it was steep and a tight squeeze. Once safely down I was walking along another abandoned railway line, which I eventually left to cross over the footbridge spanning the new Grimethorpe road. It was then a short walk over the top of the landscaped spoilheap until I reached Great Houghton. The bus back to Doncaster was due, and so I caught it. I'd had enough for today; my feet were hurting me because I'd spent a lot of time walking on railway ballast and the tread on my boots was very worn. They weren't my best hiking boots, or even my number two pair - they were the first pair I grabbed off the shelf and were quite old and shabby...I won't be grabbing them again though because they're in the bin now. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Baslow, Chatsworth Park, and Edensor

I was chatting online until quite late last night and so didn't prepare my things for the walk today. So, I was in a bit of a rush this morning...and forgot my map. Therefore today's walk isn't the one I had planned. Chatsworth Park is somewhere I know well and I don't need a map to get around. Having written how well I know the Park I went exploring today and found something I hadn't come across before - a tall obelisk hidden away in overgrown woodland, well away from the main paths and estate roads.

I got on the Peak Line 218 service and smiled when I heard the automatic welcome message as we set off was bilingual in both English and Chinese. A lot of Chinese students who are based in Sheffield use this route to travel mainly to Chatsworth House, but also Bakewell, and so it's a good idea - and will save the bus drivers from always having to explain things. Only one Chinese person got on the bus; Chatsworth wouldn't be opening for over an hour...however, on the return journey, most of the passengers seemed to be Chinese.

I got off the bus at Baslow Nether End; as I was approaching the bus stop there was a much longer announcement in Chinese with no corresponding information in English.

I walked past the thatched cottages [they were totally in the shade and so I didn't take any photographs]. I did use my camera as I passed through the complicated kissing gate into Chatsworth Park.

They are tall and totally enclose you; it's like being in a cage.

Once inside Chatsworth Park I turned left and walked up the gently sloping grassland towards the wood at the top of the hill. There were some lovely views; I stopped quite a few times to take photographs.


I stayed in the woods for a fair proportion of the day, visiting some of my favourite locations; access to the lakes was blocked off due to safety work on the dams, but I still was able to visit the Hunting Tower, the waterfalls, the aqueduct folly with the cascading water, the rocks with the nice view, Queen Mary's Bower...and the magnificent toilets.

Here's a video of the waterfalls, and here's the video of the folly aqueduct with water cascading from quite a height.

The following photographs feature the pretty estate village of Edensor, the outdoor seating area at the cafe in the stables courtyard, the large horse statue in the courtyard, the scene inside the gents' toilets, some pretty golden and black wrought iron gates, distant views of The Cascades in the formal gardens and the façade of the house,  Queen Mary's Bower, and the view I enjoyed as I was sitting waiting for the bus..

I wasn't in a hurry at all by now and so I had plenty of time to walk over to the tea cottage at Edensor for a pot of tea and a scone. The building and its surroundings are very pleasant - the tea was nice, but the scone wasn't anything special. It was perfectly acceptable though.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Nostell Priory and Newmillerdam

A visit to Nostell Priory and Newmillerdam today with Siobhan, my support worker; they're both south of Wakefield and so we weren't travelling in the car for long.

Nostell Priory isn't a priory at all, it's a Palladian stately home with landscaped grounds - there are scant ruins of the mediaeval priory underneath the formal gardens.

For myself the highlights of the house were the Chippendale furniture and the short talk about Harrison's clocks and the fixing of longitude.

After touring the house we walked round the formal gardens, which aren't anything special, and then went on the lakeside walk.We returned to the cafe, but didn't like the look of the scones so decided to go to Newmillerdam for tea and scones or cakes at the Riverside Cafe.

Newmillerdam is a lovely spot, Siobhan was tired and so we didn't walk round the lake...we hoped to linger in the cafe. We were disappointed though, the Riverside Cafe was under new management and is now an expensive upmarket bistro - we didn't stay for anything to eat. 

The only photograph I took was of the unusually named Sowtail Well; I didn't want to worry Siobhan and so didn't venture down the steps.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fox House, Froggatt, and Baslow

What a nightmare! I wish I hadn't gone walking in the Peak District today; I had a terrible day on public transport - I'm absolutely shattered. I arrived at the railway station to find out that engineering work had been scheduled at fairly short notice and so the trains weren't running to Sheffield, I walked over to the bus station and got on the X78 bus to Sheffield which was then held up at the roadworks at Conisbrough. By the time of my return journey to Doncaster I was hoping the trains would be back to normal: I was mistaken, the engineering work was going to last all day, and to make matters worse someone had committed suicide by jumping in front of a train on the Hope Valley Line, meaning that even more rail replacement coaches were required at Sheffield Bus Station. It was chaos; several people desperate to get to Stockport nearly ended up on the Doncaster coach.

Welcome to the Northern Powerhouse.

Back to the day's walk...

I got off the bus at Fox House and meandered along paths on the Longshaw estate which I hadn't explored before; just killing time really, waiting for the weather to brighten up. By the time I'd taken these two photographs there had already been a marked improvement.

After leaving Longshaw Estate I walked along the road for a few yards and then took the footpath just beyond The Grouse Inn.

I crossed a meadow and then was walking in dense woodland; it was very dark in there. Somewhere in this wood, or maybe the next one I would be walking through, there's a statue of a woman on a plinth that was re-located from one of the local country houses. It seems a strange thing to do, and I don't know the story, but it could probably be something to do with a family dispute. I did pass three structures that looked as though they might be empty plinths without statues - I did read somewhere though a while ago that they are something to do with supplying the local villages with water.

The path leads up to the top road where the highest part of Froggatt is, some very houses here, and The Chequers pub, which I've never been inside.

Just beyond The Chequers I took a path which leads up through woodland and then continues parallel to Curbar Edge; in places where there were fewer trees I could see walkers and climbers up there.

This path comes out onto Curbar Gap, just below the official car park. I had to climb up a fairly steep section of road and then take the middle of three parallel paths which go to Baslow, one was above me along the top of Baslow edge, and one was below, near to the bottom of the valley.

I had time to visit the public toilets and then go for a pot of tea and a slice of Bakewell pudding at The Café On The Green. Written on the wall of the cubicle in the gents' toilets was an interesting piece of graffiti; some poor sod has a very unusual and degrading sexual paraphilia and was begging for help, as far as I could make out. I took a photograph of the wording but have decided not to publish it here because I don't want for it to end up bouncing all over the internet. 

I caught the 240 service back to Sheffield; I haven't travelled on it before. It takes a route that goes through Ringinglow.