Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eyam, Cavendish Mill, Great Longstone, and Bakewell

A pleasant start to the day's walk; thirty minutes chatting with Dougie, a fellow walker from Doncaster who I sometimes bump into on the train. He was travelling on the Buxton bus to Tideswell, whereas I got off a few miles earlier at Eyam. [He would have travelled to Sheffield on the same train as me, but I didn't see him.]

As I was passing the church at Eyam I noticed the bellringers arriving. For the next few minutes I heard the pleasant uplifting sound of the church bells echoing out across the nearby countryside.

The old market hall, which is no bigger than a small barn now houses the [unstaffed] Tourist Information Centre. I went inside to see if there was anything interesting; I picked up a leaflet about Brierlow Bar Bookshop near Buxton, which claims to be one of the largest bookshops in the country. My friend Justin is interested in books, well he's actually an amateur book dealer and collector...and a book conservator. He's currently in the process of being assessed by the local authority for a care package provided by Social Services; he has difficulty with walking, and he's pre-diabetic One element of his care package will most likely be a fixed number of hours for him to allocate to going off for days out with a support worker, and a visit to the bookshop could by combined with a few hours in Buxton.

Today I had planned to locate the concessionary footpath that goes along the bottom of Eyam Delph; I did find it...after a couple of dead ends though. The first wrong path I took led to a sheer cliff face and a long drop down into the quarry below. The second wrong path wasn't a wrong path really because I wanted to visit Cucklet Church anyhow...I just had to turn round and re-trace my steps until I found the right path leading down into The Delph. 

Cucklet Church isn't a building, it's a natural rock formation which is also known as Cucklet Cleft because of the narrow crack between the rocks; it's not so narrow that a man of my size can't squeeze through the gap though.

The rock is called 'Cucklet Church' because during the period of the plague in the seventeenth century when the village was in self-imposed quarantine Reverend Mompesson, the local vicar, held outdoor services here, fearing that using the church to gather together large numbers of villagers in a confined space would spread the plague.

It was a steep descent down a grassy bank to reach Eyam Delph, a pretty section of woodland at the bottom of a short, narrow valley. I noticed a dedication on a seat which had recently been placed in one of the prettier locations.

The wording describes the Peak District as 'The Peaks.' This is wrong; the correct, and official, colloquial name for the Peak District is 'The Peak' - hence the title of this blog, 'Walking The Peak.'

The Yorkshire Dales are also known as 'The Dales' because there are a lot of dales there, the North York Moors are known as 'The Moors' because there's a lot of moorland there and the Lake District is known as 'The Lakes' because there are a lot of lakes there. There aren't any peaks in the Peak District, it's an area of high peatland plateaus; the reason it's called the Peak District is because of the name of a tribe of ancient Britons that lived in the area when it was settled by the Anglo-Saxons. This tribe was known as the 'Pacsaetan' in Old English.

Near to the top of the climb I took a footpath which leads off to the right. This was a route I hadn't walked along previously so I was keen to look out for good locations to take some photographs. In the foreground the views were spoiled by the quarry workings, but in the distance there were nice views of Eyam Edge and Hucklow Edge.

Not longer after taking this photograph I noticed a warning sign which had several of its letters broken off, completely altering the meaning of the message.

I came out onto a busy stretch of road, but was soon climbing up one of the old quarry tracks towards Cavendish Mill, also known as Glebe Mills and Burnt Heath during recent periods. Whatever you may choose to call it it's one of the ugliest places in the country, although it's right in the middle of the Peak District National Park. There's one house there,  and a few dozen industrial buildings dating from the twentieth century....and abandoned vehicles and machinery scattered about the place.

I needed to walk along the road for nearly a mile but took a slight detour to visit a bird hide where I thought I might see a murmuration of starlings; I was very disappointed when I got there though; there weren't any starlings putting on a display for me; in fact I didn't see any birds at all...just a view of some slurry lagoons created to contain contaminated water from the quarry workings. [I've only just noticed the spelling mistake as I uploaded the image to the blog.]

There was some lovely White Peak countryside as I continued towards Longstone Moor.

One of the fields I was crossing had a lot of molehills, but only along the route of the footpath - I'm sure there's a simple explanation for this.

At Great Longstone I took my favourite footpath through the village which has long sections which consist of narrow ginnels and snickets. It wasn't far to reach the Monsal Trail. It was later than I hoped and so didn't have time to stop at the Old Station Cafe at Hassop. Instead I continued to the Bakewell road and walked down the hill into town. 

I was pleasantly surprised when Dougie got on the bus; we chatted for the entire bus journey back to Sheffield, and then on the train back to Doncaster.

When I got home and took off my muddy hiking trousers my underpants immediately dropped to the floor. As I had expected,  I'd had another wardrobe failure; the elastic in the waistband had snapped earlier in the day. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

From The Archives: Calton Lees

Calton Lees is a hamlet about a mile from Chatsworth House. Chatsworth Garden Centre is located here; there's a decent cafe, and toilets of course, which you can use without needing to go inside the cafe.

Just to the west is an extensive grassland area known as Calton Pastures, a type of landscape that's unusual in the Peak District.

The photograph I've chosen depicts Jasmine Cottage, one of the many properties in local villages that are owned and managed by the Chatsworth Estate. The blue/green colour on the 'Jasmine Cottage' sign is used on all the buildings; gates, railings, doors, windows, and drainpipes are all painted the same colour.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tideswell, Litton Mill, Monsal Head, Little Longstone, and Ashford-in-the-Water

I got off the bus at the first stop in Tideswell so that I could walk the entire length of the village. I popped inside the church for the first time; it's got some nice stained glass windows, but nothing much else.

By the time I reached the main shopping area I was impressed by the number of pots and containers planted with colourful flowers...even this early in the year.

There were plenty of the usual seasonal flowers; daffodils, crocuses, primroses, and snowdrops. However, attached to one sheltered south facing wall I noticed a hanging basket with some trailing petunias in it; maybe they were plastic. I forgot to reach up and have a feel.

I left Tideswell by taking a path I'd not walked along before, coming out onto the road just above Tideswell Dale.

Tideswell Dale was looking pretty in the bright sunlight; near to this spot is where I ate my sandwiches.

About twenty minutes later I arrived at Litton Mill and took a short path that runs at the back of some of the houses; I hoped to get some interesting shots but some washing on the line blocked what would have been the best photograph. The ones I've included were taken a bit later on, back down on the main track.


There's a concessionary path going along the river to Cressbrook. Sometimes, as today, it is flooded and a diversionary route has to be taken. When I reached the flooded section at Rubicon Wall the water wasn't too deep, only about six inches, and perfectly safe to wade through. As a precaution I rolled up my trouser legs; it looked like I was going paddling.

Here's a link to a short video. I'm walking slowly because obviously, I'm filming - and I didn't want to splash cold water on my bare legs....this, of course, would be better than ending up with my trousers getting soaked. It's easier to dry my legs than the trousers. 

I crossed over the weir and climbed up the path to the Monsal Trail. I didn't stay on here for long though, climbing up even further to Monsal Head.

I thought I'd walk down the road to Ashford-in-the-Water and catch the next bus to Bakewell. However, just beyond the long stay car park and the toilets there was a new sign advising walkers not to walk along this stretch of road because there are no grass verges. I therefore took the suggested longer cross country route, across the fields. This diversion meant that I missed the bus, but having nearly an hour to spare I took my time enjoying a pot of tea and a slice of fruit cake at the Aisseford Tearooms.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kings Wood and Bawtry

I spent a couple of hours out this afternoon with my support worker. We ate our sandwiches in the car park at Kings Wood and then went for a short walk through the wood. It's rather scrubby and unattractive, but there is a good view of the railway line, the busy East Coast Main Line.

By contrast, Bawtry is a pretty, prosperous, small market town with several independent ladies' fashion boutiques, upmarket restaurants and tearooms, and a couple of places offering expensive and rather unpleasant sounding medical procedures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Maltby, Hooton Levitt, Carr, Slade Hooton, Brookhouse, Laughton en le Morthen, Letwell, and Langold

Today I was back to wearing my favourite boots; on my previous walk I couldn't wear them because the laces were digging in to my right instep as soon as I put them on. After prising open a couple of the hooks on my right boot with a pair of scissors the laces aren't so tight now and the boots are just as comfortable as they've always been.

It's only twenty five minutes on the bus to Maltby, a good base for starting walks from. As soon as I got off I walked the few yards over to the Wetherspoon's pub, The Queen's Hotel, and ordered a large breakfast.

I started by walking along the High Street, buying a couple of Scotch eggs for later from one of the shops. The church is a few hundred yards further on; a good opportunity to take some photographs.

It was only a short walk across to the other side of a small valley to reach Hooton Levitt. The only shot of the village I've included is one that I took as I was leaving.

It was a pleasant walk, partially along the top of a ridge, to the hamlet of Carr. I needed to walk along the road for a while until I reached Slade Hooton. I was joined for part of the way by a local man out walking his two Alsatians. One of the dogs kept walking in zigzags, in fact it couldn't seem to be able to walk straight at all. I think it was quite unwell; he said that it had always walked like that since he found it as a stray...he described it as 'being like a typewriter.'

When I reached Slade Hooton there wasn't much to see. I specifically wanted to go there though because of its name; there are four 'Hootons' in this part of the county, Hooton Pagnell, Hooton Roberts, Hooton Levitt...and of course, Slade Hooton. I've now visited all of them.

The path to Brookhouse went right alongside the railway line for part of its length. I didn't see a train; I doubt that's unusual though since it's only a single track freight line that's now little used since the collieries closed.

The footpath from Brookhouse was near to the pub and almost leads right to the main church at Laughton en le Morthen. This church has been granted Grade I listed building status due to its outstanding architecture. I don't think it's anything special myself; I saw three other churches today which I thought were much prettier. The photograph's in black  and white because it was cloudy, unlike most of the walk, which was undertaken in brilliant sunshine.

At the other end of the village there's another old church, St John's. I much preferred this building...and the overgrown churchyard.

The walk across the fields to Letwell is quite flat; it's three miles though and so takes some time. The approach to Letwell up a sunken lane is lovely and the first building I saw at the top of the hill was the church; a perfect location.

After visiting my fourth church of the day I walked through the village and took photographs of some of the more impressive properties.

I'd walked nearly nine miles by this point and was feeling a bit tired and so continued walking in an easterly direction until I reached Langold. I would have liked to have taken the longer route back to Maltby via Roche Abbey, but after Sunday's walk in the Peak District it was bit too much for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Brough, Bradwell, and Castleton

I couldn't wear my regular boots this morning; my right boot didn't fit, it was too tight - the laces were digging in to the top of my instep. So, I wore another pair, an older pair of Berghaus boots which are no longer fully waterproof, but still very comfortable. I'm wondering if this problem with my instep might be connected to the bone spurs I've got growing on the back of my heels which have been causing tightness and pain in my Achilles' tendons.

I got off the bus at Brough and immediately took the wrong path, the path at the wrong side of the river. It didn't take me long to realise my mistake and cross over the bridge and find the correct path. There were some nice views as I was walking along this path towards Bradwell, an easy low level route. I've selected a photograph I took of the Hope Cement Works which were brightly illuminated by the morning sunlight.

A few minutes later I was taking photographs in the village of Bradwell and called in the shop and bought some sausage rolls to eat later.

I climbed up the steep path and steps to eventually reach the road that leads to Pindale and Castleton. There were some lovely views as I got higher...not from every viewpoint though because in some places the unattractive roofs of several of the buildings in the small industrial estate can be seen.

The next section was flat, walking across limestone grassland and well-maintained tracks suitable for vehicles.

When I  was still quite a distance from Mam Tor I could see there were a lot of people on the summit, the most I've ever seen...there were also many vehicles parked on the various approach roads.

I didn't climb Mam Tor today, I turned right and walked down Winnats Pass, which is always spectacular. None of my photographs were really any good; the contrast seemed to be too high and much of the detail was washed out. The image I've selected, because I do like this one, was taken right at the bottom of Winnats Pass after I'd been to the toilets which are hidden away at the back of one of the ancillary buildings next to the car park for Speedwell Cavern.  

When I got down into Castleton it was very busy too; I'm thinking that this might be because it's Valentine's Day today, the weather was fine, it's a weekend...and Chatsworth House is closed until the end of next month due to the renovation works. 

I was hungry, and unusually for me I queued, for ten minutes, for some chips and mushy peas. I wasn't this hungry though.

Due to roadworks at both Hathersage, and Bamford, the bus was fifteen minutes late. The latter part of the journey back to Sheffield was rather cramped and uncomfortable...and potentially dangerous. A large bouldering mattress nearly fell on me and I nearly had my eye poked out by the point of another walker's walking pole.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

From The Archives: Brodsworth Hall

Brodsworth Hall is only five miles away; it's a smallish Victorian country house left as it was when the last inhabitant died in the 1980's. It has some nice formal gardens at the back.

I've visited three times, once when it was free admission as part of the Heritage Open Day programme, and another two times when I'd bought an annual membership pass for entry to English Heritage properties...I don't think the individual price of admission is good value though. 

It's not easy to reach using public transport: it's either a walk of about a mile down the road from Marr (one bus per hour) or a shorter walk from Pickburn Crossroads (four a five buses a day.)  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chatsworth House, Harewood House, or Haddon Hall?

I'm considering buying a season ticket for one of these three attractions. 

Although I regularly visit Chatsworth Park when I'm walking I've never actually been inside the house, or wandered around the extensive formal gardens. The price of a season ticket is £75, less than the price of four day tickets.  

A season ticket for Harewood House is only £30, but it's not as easy for me to get there, and I don't think it's likely to be as good as Chatsworth.

My third option is Haddon Hall, just down the road from Bakewell, but requiring two buses to reach from Sheffield. A season ticket here is even cheaper, only £28, but it's much smaller than the other two stately homes and I don't think it has the touring exhibitions that there are at Chatsworth.

One additional benefit that Chatsworth House offers is the ability to add a friend to my membership, either an extra £35 for a named person, or £60 for an un-named person. My brother will be visiting me later this morning and I'll ask him if he's interested; the other more expensive option might be useful if my friend wants to go a few times with me...and of course I could also go for a day out with my support worker - although I'm having problems with getting my care package renewed at the moment.

I've not even decided to even sign up for a season ticket yet...anywhere. Harewood House would be the logical choice, taking advantage of the fact that I can use my free travel pass to go on the train to Leeds, something that might not be available to me in the future. However, Chatsworth offer of an additional person adding to my membership at a discount is very attractive and tempting. I shall have to find out what my brother and my friend have to say.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

From The Archives; Bretton

Bretton is a hamlet at the top of Eyam Edge. The photograph shows the 'Barrel Inn' which is the highest pub in Derbyshire. It's not the highest pub in The Peak District though, that's 'The Cat And Fiddle Inn' in Cheshire.

To the north is 'Bretton Clough' a deep wooded valley. Many years ago I stumbled as I was descending into the clough and severely sprained and twisted my ankle.

One convenient thing about The Barrel Inn is that the toilets are just inside the doorway so it's easy to pop in without being noticed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Baslow, Beeley, and Chatsworth House

I got off the bus at Baslow Nether End and walked along the lane to reach Chatsworth Park, where I immediately climbed up the hill towards the woods. After a few minutes I was treated to my closest view ever of the deer that live in the park. I didn't venture any closer though, this photograph was taken using the zoom lens.

As I gained altitude I knew that the view behind me would improve with every step, the shots I took made all the better by the glistening snow on the higher hills; there are still plenty of sheep in the photographs - they don't seem to mind the deer at all.

By eleven o'clock I had reached the Hunting Tower; there's a seat with a lovely view up here, so I decided to stay a while and eat my sandwiches. I was joined by several well-fed robins keen to feast on any crumbs I dropped.

I continued through the rest of the woodland and then across Beeley Moor, all familiar territory for me. When I reached Beeley Plantation I took the path that goes through it, a route I haven't taken before. After only a few dozen yards there's no definitive route, paths regularly lead off taking alternative routes either down to the stream at the bottom, or uphill to the main track which runs alongside the perimeter wall. I had to cope with a couple of difficult descents; part way down the first one my friend in Leeds phoned me and so I answered and sat down on a rock to get comfortable. There was a small group of hikers who were concerned that I might have fallen - it's good to know that people care. I would have liked to spend time talking to them but the conversation with my friend was quite intense and so I just acknowledged them and said I was okay.

The approach to Beeley from this direction affords lovely views of the large hill behind the village; it can be seen in the photographs I took later in the churchyard. I didn't waste the opportunity to enjoy a pot of tea and a warmed fruit scone with butter and marmalade at The Old Smithy Cafe and Gallery in the village. I think this is the first cafe or tearooms that I've seen which incorporates the word 'gallery' in its actual name, but most places where I eat that aren't pubs are also small galleries offering work for sale by local artists, sculptors,  and photographers. I wonder if this happens in other areas?

It's an easy, and delightful walk along the riverside pastures back to Chatsworth House, where I intended to end the walk. 

When I reached the House, both sets of public toilets were closed for renovation works...surely this is bad planning? I walked over to the bus stop and found out that a bus wasn't due back to Sheffield for twenty five minutes, enough time to walk back to Baslow...where there are toilets.

My walk back to Baslow was disturbed by two very low flying military helicopters that were jet black, large, and very noisy and intimidating; a few minutes later they were followed by another, smaller helicopter. This is the second time I've obsessed military helicopters doing this: I'm assuming the pilots use the Derwent Valley to practise their low level attack manoeuvres.