Thursday, December 31, 2015

From the Archives: Barnburgh

Barnburgh, about five miles west of Doncaster is situated in an area of nice countryside but it is best known for the 'Cat and Man' legend which goes back to the fifteenth century and features Sir Percival Cresacre, who lived in Barnburgh Hall at the time. He was riding home after a night out in Doncaster and was attacked by a wildcat or lynx and thrown off his horse. A fight then occurred between Percy and the animal as he struggled down Ludwell Hill towards the village. He managed to reach the porch of the church but before he could open the heavy wooden doors he died; the cat died from its injuries a few seconds later at the same spot, where the stonework is supposedly stained red with blood that cannot be washed's just part of the natural coloration of the local limestone though.

The photograph I've selected features what I know as 'The Lightning Tree' just to the west of an area called 'Barnburgh Cliff.' I was there only a few weeks ago and although I wasn't specifically looking out for it, I didn't see the lightning maybe it's no longer there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I've just bought a pedometer in the New Year Sales. It only cost £7.99 and it's full function, featuring number of steps taken, distance walked, and calories. I'll be wearing it all the time, not just on my walks...if I remember. I haven't a clue how many steps I'll clock up in a month; my friend in Leeds who works in a warehouse did 500,000 steps for the first time this month.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

From the Archives; Beeley

Beeley, one of the Chatsworth Estate villages is somewhere I tend to walk through rather than start or end a walk there. I did once call in the local pub, The Devonshire Arms, for a glass of Diet Coke or Pepsi and took this photograph of the barter board.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Not As Planned: Conisbrough and Cadeby didn't turn out as planned. I was sitting on the train on platform 5 at Doncaster Station waiting for the 08:04 service to Sheffield to set off when the guard announced that due to over-running engineering work there would be nothing departing until at least nine o'clock. So, a quick walk over to the bus station was required to see what my options were. The X78 bus was due, so I caught it to Conisbrough.

My day had been ruined, but at least I'll probably qualify for compensation from Northern Rail; a voucher for one day's free travel on their entire network.

When I got on the bus I broke the ticket machine...again. As I struggled to place my pass in front of the scanner my knuckle caught the lid of the machine, pushing it open and knocking the roll of paper into the air. Fortunately the driver was easily able to make least a temporary fix anyhow.

Every bus operator here has a different type of ticket machine, with a different type of scanner. With some machines you need to press your pass at the front of the machine, but for others you just place it on top. I much prefer the latter. As usual, this morning the driver was sitting behind a transparent perspex security shield with a hole low down for people to pass their hand through. This is what causes a problem for me, for someone as tall as me with poor co-ordination and no proprioceptive sense. The hole is so low that I struggle to correctly position, twist, reach, and orientate my hand; I really don't have that much control. If there's no-one standing behind me I can get on the bus stooping like an old man so that I can more easily line up my hand and reach for the scanner. [I once forgot that there were people behind me and took a step backwards in order to be able to bend down a bit...with the expected results.] Oh, how much simpler things were when all I needed to do was show my pass to the driver and state my destination.

So, today's walk began, and ended, at Conisbrough. I took advantage of the early hour; the sun had just risen and so I was able to get some good, well lit photographs of both the church and castle. I observed something interesting at the main castle gates, a very athletic young man dressed all in black walked up to the gates and in one deft, militaristic movement got down on one knee, crossed himself, and then slapped each shoulder, much in the manner that I've seen mediaeval knights do in films when pledging allegiance to a king.

I then walked up on to the Crags and also along some riverside meadows where I was able to view Conisbrough Viaduct from some different angles.

From where this photograph was taken it's quite a climb up to the top of the crags. I then walked along the road to Cadeby and took some photographs of the church, or chapel - I'm not sure what the difference is.

By lunchtime it was starting to cloud over and becoming rather chilly so I decided to head off home. As I was walking past the railway station at Conisbrough I noticed that a train was due in two minutes, twenty five minutes late, so I decided to catch it back to Doncaster - it only takes a few minutes. Northern Rail's problems this morning had worked to my advantage this time.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Lanes And Tracks Of Hathersage

To the north of Hathersage there are a lot of lanes and tracks, I've walked up and down some of them, but there are still sections I haven't explored yet...and of course, they're all linked together by a dense network of footpaths.

I started the day with an apology.

The first lane I walked along, but only for a few yards before I took the footpath that leads towards the church, was Baulk Lane. I've not taken this path before and it was interesting to see views of Hathersage from different angles as I climbed up the side of the field - it was a well-maintained gravel path though, fenced off from the field.

'Little John' is supposedly buried at Hathersage church; I took several photographs of his grave but none of them really showed how large it is; I've settled for this shot of the church itself instead.

After leaving the churchyard I took one of the footpaths that eventually leads to North Lees Hall, crossing a road that I think is called 'Birley Lane.'

Just beyond North Lees Hall I took the path which leads to the left, in the direction of Green's House. When I reached Hood Brook I had to make a decision; the brook is usually only a trickle here and it is easy to just step over it, or ford it...not today though; it was an angry, raging torrent of wild water. Here's a link to a short video I filmed

The water seemed to be too deep and too  fast flowing for my liking, and since there was an alternative route that led down to a footbridge, that's the way I went.

Just after Green's House I spent a bit of time walking along the upper reaches of Coggers Lane, my third, and final,  lane of the day; there are several more though.

I then found a path that I was particularly keen to locate because it isn't marked on my map; it's only quite recently been designated as a concessionary footpath. I only found out about its existence by looking on the Streetview feature on Google Maps.

By now the weather was closing in and visibility was quite poor. I could just about make out Stanage Edge, Win Hill, and the entire length of the Great Ridge. On a warm sunny day in the spring or summer I can't imagine there are many places with better views to sit among the wildflowers listening to the cricket commentary and enjoying a steady supply of chilled drinks, chocolate, and a selection of cakes.

The path came out further down Coggers Lane; I soon took the path that took me past Thorpe Farm, which sells its own ice cream - I wasn't the least bit interested today.

I got a bit lost as I crossed Sickleholme Golf Course and in the end decided to head straight for the club house. A couple of footpaths cross the course and it's accepted practice to just plot your own route, causing as little disruption to the golfers as possible - I noticed a sign stating that the course was closed today though; I did observe that a couple of the greens were waterlogged and nearly every bunker had a large puddle in it.

The bus was a few minutes late arriving at the bus stop at Bamford Station. It lost even more time when it reached the outskirts of Sheffield. I have never seen so many people get on the bus as it travelled down Ecclesall Road. I think this is likely due to the re-organisation of bus services undertaken by the Sheffield Bus Partnership. I've been following developments online and it seems that there are now a lot fewer buses serving Ecclesall Road. Bus users in the city aren't very happy; provision in many other areas is also a lot worse; fortunately the buses that run out to the Peak District have hardly been affected. In truth, now that there's a regular service from the city centre out to Bradfield it can even be claimed that there's been a significant improvement. I used this bus service on my previous walk in the Peak District. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

From The Archives: Baslow

Baslow, and Baslow Nether End in particular, is a popular place for me to start and end walks. It's situated at the northern entrance to Chatsworth Park and it's the obvious place to finish a walk along the tops of the dramatic Eastern Edges. It's easy to reach from Sheffield, with two buses an hour and the journey only takes 45 minutes. There are public toilets at Nether End, and in my opinion the Café on the Green serves the best Bakewell pudding in the Peak District.

The photograph I've selected was taken next to one of the old quarries just above Baslow. I love Highland cattle; they are so docile...and love to be photographed, always posing for the camera.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Scawsby, Cusworth Hall, Sprotbrough, and Conisbrough

I had planned to end the walk at Mexborough, but I decided to cut it short at Conisbrough because my camera battery went flat; I'm a bit mad about this because when I checked this morning there was no 'low battery' indicator showing. A major part of a walk for me is taking photographs, so I lose a lot of the enjoyment if I'm not able to do this; there are a lot of interesting things to photograph walking along the river from Conisbrough to Mexborough; old railway structures and canal locks; I'll have to shoot them the next time.

I got off the bus at 'Teeside Close at Scawsby. 'Teeside' isn't close to anywhere at all though because it doesn't exist; there is no 'River Tee' anywhere in the country...the name of the street is a spelling mistake. It used to make me feel quite angry seeing something like this, knowing that I would never a mistake like this, having a keen interest in, and detailed knowledge of,  both geography and the English language. I like to think I would have made an excellent proofreader, editor, copywriter, or technical writer, but it never happened because of my Asperger's syndrome...and the lack of opportunities that I've had. I just felt sad this morning as I was taking the photograph; if you're reading my blog in the United Kingdom there's a good chance that through your taxes you're helping to pay my benefits and pay for my support package from social services; maybe you're the one who ought to be getting mad.

It's only a walk of a couple of minutes to the gatehouse at Cusworth Hall.

I approached the house along the driveway and took some photographs of both the front and the back of the house, although I'm not sure which is which.

It started raining as I was walking across the fields to Sprotbrough; although there were a few sunny intervals during the rest of the walk, it rained as often as it didn't - not quite as the weather forecast predicted.

As I was approaching 'The Square' I noticed that a group of cyclists had gone inside the wine bar, somewhere I've not patronised myself before when on a walk; but if cyclists are going in, I thought that I might as well give it a try. It's lovely inside; very unusual decor, tabletops made out of hundreds of corks from different varieties of wine from all over the world, and empty wine bottles used as lampshades on the walls...very romantic for an evening meal I should imagine. I ordered a pot of tea and a slice of very heavy and sticky chocolate cake which was delicious. I did end up having a bit of an accident though, a very loud accident involving the lid of the teapot and loose leaf tea being hurled into my face and hair.

I scurried out of  the wine bar and crossed the road to take some photographs of the church.

I then went down the hill towards the river, and as I was crossing over the bridge I noticed that the Wyre Lady was getting ready to start a Christmas party cruise up the river to Mexborough, and back.

It started raining again as I approached the fish pass, or 'fish ladder' as I tend to call it. I took a photograph of the newly installed piece of sculpture.

It took me quite a few minutes to reach somewhere suitable to shelter from the rain, a partially blocked up tunnel going beneath the railway. I ate my sandwiches here as I waited for it to stop raining. 

Within only a few minutes of it stopping raining it turned out to be quite bright and I thought I'd get some decent photographs, but when I tried to take a short piece of video of the Wyre Lady returning along the river I got a 'low battery' error message. I managed to take another three or four photographs after this point and then the camera went I decided to go for the quickest way to get to the road the comes out of Conisbrough and catch one of the frequent buses back into town.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

From The Archives: Bradwell

Bradwell is the village where my favourite ice cream company is based, interestingly the company's called Bradwell's. Their lemon curd flavoured ice cream is delicious.

The village itself isn't particularly attractive, but it is surrounded by some lovely countryside, and is easy for me to reach - so I quite often will start or finish a walk here. There are all the basic facilities in the village, toilets, shops...and of course, the ice cream parlour.

The photograph I've selected shows the start of one of the footpaths that leads up to the hills above the village; it's a steep climb in places.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peak District vs North York Moors

Something that I've known for a long time is that the area of the Peak District National Park and that of the North York Moors National Park is almost the same, 555 square miles, compared to 554.

This is certainly something the two areas have in common. I can't really think of anything else though; certainly the landscape, geography and culture is quite different - I suppose they both have, to a degree, a shared industrial heritage though.

The major differences: The North York Moors includes a section of coastline; more people live in, and visit, the Peak District; public transport access is much better in the Peak District; there is well-dressing and Hallamshire carolling in the Peak District...they might have similar cultural events in the North York Moors, but I don't know.

I've walked in both national parks...but obviously know the Peak District much better.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Some Unusual Place Names

Yesterday there was a comment posted to the blog from a lady in America remarking how much she loves the place names that I feature. This has given me an idea; write a post about place names - I've got nothing any better to do today, the weather's miserable and because of the course of antibiotics that I'm taking I'm feeling quite drowsy most of the time, and so wouldn't be out walking even if the weather was nice.

This is only a short list of the more striking or unusual place names I can remember at the moment:

Cakes of Bread: A rock formation on Derwent Edge - they really do look like cakes of bread...from every angle.

Chrome Hill: Unfortunately it's not made of chrome, or even looks anything like it. In this case 'Chrome' is derived from the Celtic word for 'crooked.' it's quite a distinctive hill though; I haven't visited it yet, it's difficult for me to reach. I saw it in the far distance when I was walking a few months ago in upper Dovedale with Chris, my friend from Leeds.

Coach and Horses: Another rock formation, also on Derwent Edge. It's supposed to look like a coach and horses from one particular angle. I've obviously not viewed the rocks from that angle yet because whenever I've seen them they look like nothing in particular at all.

Cutthroat Bridge; A popular location for me to start a walk from due to it being on a bus route. I think it got its name because of a gruesome event in the eighteenth century when a stagecoach was attacked by highwaymen. More recently, in the 1980s, a partially decapitated body was found in the boot of a car here.

Glutton: A village, or hamlet, over on the western side of the Peak District. I've never been there and know nothing about the place.

Gusset: Another village, or hamlet, over on the western side of the Peak District. I've not been there either and also know nothing about the place.

Hangman Stone: This isn't in the Peak District, it's a local spot quite near to Doncaster, I usually stop here to eat my sandwiches when I'm passing. The reason for its gruesome name isn't as obvious as you might think; local folklore says that the name refers to what happened to a sheep rustler. He'd killed the sheep and tied its legs together and than placed it on his shoulders to carry it home. When he reached the stone he sat down, still with the dead sheep hanging round his neck. He was tired and fell asleep, as he slouched the position of the sheep's carcass moved and strangled him.

High Low: Several locations in the Peak District share this name. In the Peak District a 'low' is actually a hill, so 'High Low' means 'high hill.'

Madwoman's Stones: Another rock formation, this time on Kinder Scout. I don't know how it got the name.

Penistone: The name of this small time frequently generates a smile or giggle when seen on a page or screen.

Ringing Roger: Another rock formation on Kinder Scout. I think it makes a whistling noise when it's windy.

Surprise View: This is one of the classic Peak District views, looking up the Hope Valley from above Hathersage. So named by Queen Victoria who was travelling by coach and was tired of crossing the bleak moorlands, but was surprised by the stunning view she saw when she reached here.