Monday, November 30, 2015

Recollections Of My Earlier Walking Days.

I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in July 2009 and received my free travel pass a few weeks later, meaning that I'm now able to regularly go walking in the Peak District, or elsewhere. I didn't start writing this blog about my walks and days out until nearly a year later and during that earlier period I was doing pretty much what I'm doing now when it comes to walking. 

The only other time I went walking during the previous few years was when a small group of my schoolfriends, who I'd not seen for many years, was doing some quite long training walks in preparation for a challenge walk on the North York Moors; the White Rose Walk from the White Horse at Kilburn to Roseberry Topping. I can recall doing a walk in Nidderdale, based at Pateley Bridge and visiting the villages of Ramsgill, Lofthouse, and Middlesmoor. We also did a section of the Cleveland Way from Robin Hood's Bay to Whitby, and back, and a walk along the first section of the planned challenge walk in the North York 
Moors, from Kilburn to Osmotherley...obviously, with this being a linear walk we took two cars. I went along for the actual challenge walk but only did a couple of the sections; I don't like walking in the dark, or against the clock either.

Many years ago, over twenty in fact, I did complete a couple of challenge walks, the Lyke Wake Walk and the Shepherd's Round, both on the North York Moors as well. I can't remember doing any training for these at all; we were a lot younger and fitter then though.

I can't recall the exact details, but I also went to Bolton Abbey with some friends and we walked up onto the moors.

Apart from the last six years my most intense period of walking was in the years after I'd left school. There was a regular group of three or four of us who would go walking nearly every Saturday in the Peak District, taking two buses to get there from the pit village where we lived...we also took a dog with us. 

After a couple of years one of the lads got a car, a rather cramped Mini. This opened up new opportunities for us though, new areas of the Peak District...and the Yorkshire Wolds. In the Peak District I can remember walking in Dovedale and the Manifold Valley, and in the Wolds, Huggate and Millington [I think] seem to be familiar names.

I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but I'm convinced I was at Monsal Head at the time of both the Hillsborough Disaster and the Bradford City fire, and I always get a little melancholic when I'm there, associating such a beautiful place with so much death and tragedy. 

The only other period of regular walking I did was when an inexpensive rover ticket for travelling on the trains in West Yorkshire was introduced and myself and my brother would go walking on Ilkley Moor and areas of the Pennines beyond Halifax and Huddersfield.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sebaceous Cysts

I had hoped to go walking this weekend but I've got two large sebaceous cysts in my groin area which are quite sore when I walk, due to rubbing and chafing.

It was a lovely day yesterday in the Peak District, sunny and dry, yet the first snow of the winter had fallen overnight. The weather forecast for today is decent as well, but I'm having to stay at home. I read online that sitting for prolonged periods in a hot bath helps to accelerate the healing process, so that's what I'll be doing today.

Friday, November 20, 2015

From The Archives: Buxton

I don't use Buxton as a base for walking, the bus journey from Sheffield takes a hundred minutes and that's too long - I'm shattered when I get off, and it's already quite late in the day. It's also a limited service, only four or five journeys a day, and so if I don't time my return to Buxton right I've then got to worry about alternative ways back to Sheffield, changing buses at either Bakewell or Baslow.

So...I just go to Buxton for a day out and take some photographs. The photograph I've included isn't immediately recognisable as a location in Buxton; it's a church at the back of the Opera House.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chesterfield and Chatsworth Garden Centre

A day out with my support worker that didn't go exactly to plan...but still ended up being a pleasant visit to the Peak District.

I'd not had a really good look round Chesterfield for a long time and so enjoyed spending some time there, visiting the museum and going inside the church, famous for its 'crooked spire.'

After a stay of about three hours in Chesterfield we moved on to the Peak District, first calling at the Chatsworth Farm Shop at Pilsley. The car park was full, so we didn't stay and decided to drive down the road to the Tea Cottage at Edensor - yet again the car park was full [I don't have this problem to contend with when I'm on a walk]. There was room at the garden centre though where we lingered over tea and cake - large slices of Bakewell pudding.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bradfield Area Walk

There's a new bus service from Sheffield City Centre out to Bradfield so I thought I'd catch it today; it only took thirty minutes to arrive at High Bradfield.

As soon as I got off the bus I crossed the road to take my first photograph; I'm not sure if the Tour de France actually came to Bradfield though, I thought it went further north.

I walked through the churchyard and then on past Bailey Hill.

There were quite a few different types of landscape for me to enjoy before I reached the road that leads to the gated access to the moors. This seat would have been a lovely spot to eat my sandwiches, but I'd already eaten them.

I made use of 'Duke Road' to cross the moors; it's quite easy walking conditions and doesn't really require any navigation skills. For part of the way it's a track used by four-wheel-drive vehicles to reach the grouse butts, and further on there's a paved section across the  boggy stretches. Because of the strong wind I found it  quite difficult at times though; I struggled to breathe and was coughing a lot.

I arrived at Back Tor unscathed, but decided not to climb up to reach the trig point.

After a few hundred yards I turned left, starting my return to Bradfield, taking the track that leads down to the road, then continued along a path high above Dale Dike reservoir.

I finished the walk at Low Bradfield after walking along the road for about a mile.

All of today's walk was in just the one parish, Bradfield Parish; it's a large parish, possibly the largest in England - I'm not certain though.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

From The Archives: Bakewell

Well, I've reached the letter 'B' in my list of places I've visited in the Peak District. There's plenty of choice; Bakewell, Buxton, Baslow, Beeley, Bradwell, and Bradfield. I'll be featuring them all but will start with Bakewell, the capital of the Peak District.

The town is famous for its tarts and puddings but the thing I like the most about Bakewell is its courtyards. There must be at least half a dozen of them, all of them wonderfully colourful in summer with their hanging baskets and flowers growing in pots and all sorts of interesting containers, haphazardly positioned; there's even  a mature grape vine in one of them. They all have quirky independent shops, and cafes with outdoor seating, which helps to create a wonderful atmosphere.

My favourite courtyard is King's Court, right on the edge of the town centre on the hill that leads up to the church; I think many visitors to the town will actually overlook this idyllic spot. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The View From The Summit Of Brodsworth Community Woodland

The summit's not very high, it's a landscaped colliery spoilheap. It does have extensive views though, from nearby Brodsworth Hall, to the Aire Valley power stations, dozens or maybe hundreds of wind turbines both near and far, the tops of the chimney and cooling towers of Keadby Power Station next to the River Trent near Scunthorpe, and finally, the winding gear of Harworth Colliery in Nottinghamshire.

The photographs feature subjects much closer than the buildings on the distant horizon; lighting conditions were pretty good for an hour or so before it started raining and we retreated to the snooker hall at Woodlands for a couple of games of pool.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Peak District Webcams

I've been at home for most of the day. The weather's been lovely, sunny and mild here in Doncaster...maybe a bit too windy though - decent conditions for walking. 

I could have ended up getting quite frustrated, fearing that I'd made the wrong decision to not go walking except that I've regularly been checking the live Peak District webcams and it  seems to have been murky all day there, maybe even raining a little, just as the weather forecast predicted.

The cameras I've been monitoring are located at Buxton, Cat & Fiddle, Litton, Matlock Bath, Hathersage, and Monsal Head.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bollington, Cheshire

I'm in the process of drawing up a list of all the places I've visited in the Peak District and elsewhere and selecting suitable photographs for the 'From The Archives' feature which I've already started with the previous post.

This would be the second post, but it can't be included in the 'From The Archives, section because I visited Bollington many years ago, probably nearly thirty years ago, and there aren't any photographs and it obviously hasn't previously been mentioned in the blog. It's mainly for this reason that I'm including it though, the fact that I haven't mentioned my visit to was a very important time for me. The visit I mention was actually an outward bound course lasting for a week.

My Asperger's syndrome, undiagnosed at the time, was misunderstood and misinterpreted as me being shy, nervous, and lacking in motivation, and so the jobcentre decided to send me on this residential personal development course. It didn't help me find a job, but I enjoyed every minute of it; rock climbing, caving, abseiling, canoeing, orienteering, archery, pistol shooting, climbing up the steep side of a reservoir using a grappling hook...and every day being challenged to beat our personal best times on an army assault course, a long and difficult one.

The highlights of the week for me were the abseiling, I couldn't get enough of it, climbing down an aluminium 'rope ladder' into a large cave, and climbing up the side of Lamaload Reservoir with ropes and grappling hooks...I did all my own stunts back then.

Friday, November 6, 2015

From The Archives: Alport

A chance for people who haven't been with the blog right from the start in 2010 to see some of my earlier photographs.

I'll be going through the alphabet for locations I've visited, from A to Youlgreave. Obviously first up is a location starting with the letter 'A'. I've chosen Alport, the village, not Alport Castles the landslip formation, because it's a location where I usually opt to stop and eat my sandwiches, either sitting on the bench right next to the public phone box which now contains a defibrillator, or just up the valley in Bradford Dale.

Alport is within easy reach of Bakewell and, of course, Lathkill Dale starts in the village too.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Walking Boots

Six years ago I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a lifelong condition. A few weeks later I was allocated a free travel pass which allows me to ride on the train to Sheffield and then catch one of the frequent bus services out into the Peak District. I also had a large increase in the amount of benefits I receive so I'm able to buy some decent walking boots - which I consider to be the most important item of equipment that I need when I'm up on the moors.

I walk at least once a week in the Peak District or locally and must cover  hundreds of miles a year; during the past six years I've gone through several pairs of boots. I tend not to throw them away when they're no longer safe/suitable for long walks over difficult terrain, but use them for gardening, or for going to the shops when it's icy underfoot. There are several pairs of boots in various states of distress on a shelf down in my cellar.

My two most recent purchases of walking boots have been Berghaus Explorer boots, one pair the top of the range leather and the other pair the slightly less expensive suede option. I bought even the most recent pair more then a year ago so I can't be sure of how much I paid but I reckon about £100 for the leather option, and £90 for the suede. They are good boots, comfortable, supportive and they always keep my feet dry, however they have one major drawback; they are absolutely lethal when walking on limestone, I just can't get any grip...even when it's dry. It's for this reason that I no longer wear them when I'm walking in the White Peak area of the Peak District which is mainly limestone rock. This is a pity because I like the boots; they're so comfortable I could go to bed in them...but safety always comes first. I couldn't ask for a better pair of boots when walking across a peat bog or scrambling up the gritstone edges of the Dark Peak though.

The other boots I have are all perfectly adequate when it comes to comfort and support, but not every pair keeps my feet dry. My favourite boots for walking over limestone terrain is a pair of cheap boots I got from one of the discount stores: I do need to put cushioned inserts and gel packs inside though, otherwise it can be quite painful when walking over limestone chippings or jagged rocks.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

From Mist To Glorious Sunshine; Hickleton To Hooton Roberts

A late finish last night at the pub, a Halloween party and singalong; so no chance of me catching the 08:04 train to go walking in  the Peak District.

So, a favourite local walk, one I've done several times before. I was hoping for a bit of sun to show off the autumn colours; I wasn't to be disappointed - after early mist it turned into a glorious day.

Although Hickleton church is Anglican, by reading the welcoming sign you might think it's Catholic.

The 'Hickleton Skulls' inside the lychgate are difficult to see, and photograph. The English lettering reads, 'Today for me, Tomorrow for thee.'

The scaffolding was still up at Hickleton Hall; it's being converted into luxury flats, but I was able to get a photograph of the gatehouse.

I walked along the path which follows Barnburgh Cliff, stopped to eat my sandwiches on Hangman Stone and then continued to High Melton.

At the bottom of the hill at Pastures Road at Mexborough I couldn't find a way down to the canal towpath and so had to take a slightly longer route partially along the road to get to Old Denaby. It's quite a steep climb out of the village, but there are some nice views.

It was an easy mile or so along country lanes to Hooton Roberts on the main Sheffield road where I caught the bus back to Doncaster.