Thursday, March 31, 2016


I really enjoyed my day out in Knaresborough today; I saw all the main attractions and had a decent length walk along the river, discovering a sculpture trail in the process. It's the first time I've been there since I was a child; I really shouldn't have left it so long, it's not really that difficult to get to. I used my £10 travel voucher to pay for the journey from Leeds to Knaresborough - I can travel for free to Leeds from Doncaster. I was surprised that the standard fare is only £ I had only to pay 50p for my day out.

Down by the river, at the bottom of the Nidd Gorge, it's a natural sun trap. The atmosphere is very chic and continental, with a hint of the Italian Riviera with the vibrant colours, riverside cafes and ice cream vendors, rowing boats for hire neatly moored next to each other, whitewashed villas clinging to the hillside and a tall palm tree strategically positioned to complete the effect. 

I was disappointed that I couldn't visit the House in the Rock [it's been closed to the public for twenty years] and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag [the gate at the bottom of the footpath up the steps was padlocked.]  I also didn't reach St. Robert's Cave; I turned back too soon.

There are plenty of free public toilets in Knaresborough, which is always good when visiting somewhere. One criticism I do have though is that some of the handrails are too low; I was having to lean forward and bend over quite a bit, and this isn't really safe when descending steep steps.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My First Visit To Chatsworth House And Gardens

My first visit of what should be quite a few to Chatsworth House this year since I've bought a 'Silver Friends' package annual season ticket.

I spent about ninety minutes in the House today, and nearly twice as long exploring the extensive gardens: including walking to and from the railway station I did 19,000 steps, about six miles. I haven't walked up and down so many steps in only a few hours before, there are a few flights of stairs inside the House, but there are hundreds of steps cut into the hillside where the gardens are.

In my opinion the interior of Chatsworth House is nothing special, it's sumptuous and overwhelming at times, but many of the rooms are very similar - lots of cherubs, heralds, and angels on the ceilings and family portraits on the walls. I've certainly seen better large country houses, Kedleston Hall about twenty miles further south, for example. 

Many of the rooms were very dark and it made photography difficulty for me; most of the photographs I took were either out of focus or under-exposed. On its automatic setting my camera couldn't make its mind up what to do, struggling to focus and process the image, and none of the manual settings seemed to be much better...I much prefer landscape photography.

These are the three photographs which I think are okay...but I'm not entirely happy with them. On future visits I'm going to have to experiment with my camera; maybe do some research online first.

The final one of the three photographs was taken in the Sculpture Room, definitely my favourite room in the's nice and bright in there and I could actually see what I was looking at. My other highlight was spending a few minutes listening to the pianist playing a bit of Beethoven [I think] in the Music Room.

It's the gardens that I was really looking forward to see, and although it's early in the season, and there was a very cold wind blowing, I wasn't disappointed, despite the fact that there is scaffolding erected on the Eastern Fa├žade which ruins some of the vistas looking towards the House. There are still plenty of fine, majestic views of the gardens, the House, and the parkland and the nearby hills to enjoy though.

My personal highlights of my two and half hours exploring the gardens were the Rock Garden, walking through the Coal Tunnel, watching the spray of the Emperor Fountain catch the sunlight and form a mini-rainbow, 'The Revelation,' a fascinating water sculpture...and just coming across pleasant surprises hidden away in quiet corners; a grotto, a belvedere, various shelters and little follies, ornamental ponds and waterfalls, statues and sculptures everywhere...oh, and at this time of year, thousands of daffodils in bloom.

I'm planning to visit Chatsworth House about once a month, so I'll be getting my money's worth...I'm really looking forward to watching the seasons change as I explore the gardens.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Sunny Afternoon At Conisbrough

Pretty good conditions for photography today. It being a Friday as usual I spent the day with my support worker. We went for a drive out to Conisbrough, where I took plenty of photographs of the castle and church...and bought a honeysuckle plant from one of the garden centres.

We didn't pay to visit the museum inside the castle keep; there's plenty enough to photograph by just walking in the grounds.

The castle is of course mediaeval, but parts of the church are even older; dating from Anglo-Saxon times. I'd not been inside before; I've usually been there early in the morning at the start of a walk, and so it's closed. I was pleasantly surprised that it was set out like a museum inside with discreet cards positioned next to items so that you have some information about what you're looking at. Very visitor friendly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chatsworth House: Silver Friend

My 'Silver Friend' annual membership for Chatsworth House has arrived, allowing me free admission every day for a year. I'm planning to visit at least a dozen times; I'm really looking forward to my first visit - I've not been inside the house or the formal gardens before.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Miller's Dale, Priestcliffe, Taddington, Flagg, Monyash, Over Haddon, and Bakewell

Compared to last week when I was stranded on a train for two and a half hours just outside Sheffield Midland Station my public transport experience today was much better; the only problem being a delay of a few minutes as several dozen people boarded the bus at Chatsworth House, and then a shorter delay a few minutes later when we had to stop to let a small group of deer cross the road. Most people on the bus went 'aargh' or 'aw' and made appreciative comments; I enjoyed the moment, but kept quiet because I'm not a sentimental person...and I like venison too much.

The walk started at Miller's Dale with a fairly steep climb up to the fields which I then walked across to reach Priestcliffe. About halfway up the climb there's a seat with a lovely view where I sat and ate most of my sandwiches; it was nearly eleven o'clock by this time and so not too early.

I walked straight through the village, there's not a lot to see here so I continued across more fields and then the Taddington Bypass. I headed straight for the church steeple, where it looked like the footpath came out; it did, but a farmer had put up a fence that, of course, isn't on the map. I was annoyed that I had to turn back and walk on the other side of the fence.

I took a few photographs of Taddington Church, always wary of the undead who must pop up out of their graves and do untold mischief.

Why else would there be motion sensors in a churchyard?

I climbed up out of the village and then walked along the road leading towards Flagg; there were some lovely distant views over to the left.

Just beyond Flagg I wasn't concentrating on navigating and walked past the footpath I needed to take; this mistake cost me about a mile and a half - adding to the 42,000 steps I've taken today; by quite a bit my longest walk since I've been using the pedometer.

Once I was back on the right path it was a pleasant walk, mainly along country lanes, to Monyash, where I briefly popped into the The Old Smithy Cafe for a cold drink. The weather had been sunny and warm up until this point, but was quickly clouding over and became quite murky later on - that's why there are no more photographs...and because I was in a hurry to get back to Bakewell to catch the bus.

I didn't want to go down into Lathkill Dale; I thought it might be quite muddy. So I decided to take one of the high level routes across the fields, a route that I hadn't taken before. Looking at the map I thought it would be easy; yes, there seemed to be a lot of walls but they'd be easier than struggling with the mud and the slippery limestone rocks down in the valley. It probably was an easier option, but there were still a lot of high stiles that I had to climb over.

After all the stiles my thigh muscles were aching and so I took the road down to Bakewell. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fox House, Hathersage, and Bamford: A Change of Plan

Today began with me being stuck on the train for nearly three hours at a red signal just a few hundred yards from Sheffield Station; very frustrating. Listening to the local news at seems that there have been major signalling problems all day. Thinking about it now I reckon that this has been my longest ever train journey, when measured by time.

When I'll be filling in my delay compensation claim form tomorrow I'm going to add a recommendation that Gary, the train conductor, be considered for some sort of company or industry award for excellent customer service. Throughout the morning he was regularly updating us about the situation and suggesting alternative plans for people. As it became obvious that some passengers would be very late arriving at their destinations unless something was done he started making phone calls to arrange a minibus to take people to Manchester Airport, and a couple of taxis to take people to the football match at Blackburn which was due to kick off at 12:30.  Tickets were also re-issued or validated for travel on any service without restrictions and a formal document was provided to a couple of people who would had already missed some important meeting that they needed to attend in Sheffield.

Of course by the time I finally reached Sheffield I had to change my plans. When I got to the bus station passengers were already boarding the 272 service to Castleton, so I got on, and twenty five minutes later I arrived at Fox House, at 11:20. When I'd sat down on the bus I noticed people looking at something high up so I moved closer to a window ans noticed a tightrope walker. A few seconds before I'd taken this photograph he lost his balance and fell off, fortunately he was attached to a safety harness.

I walked down the road at Fox House and got onto the moors at the earliest opportunity, at first walking along the wide well-maintained track, but then across open country, quite often boggy.

I walked to Hathersage via Mitchell Field Outdoor Centre and Scraperlow, a crenellated country house.

In the village I noticed something new, this small tractor in a field of large pebbles; I think it might have been placed there to prevent people from parking.

I turned right and walked along Coggers Lane, which in its upper reaches is a 'quiet lane' whatever one of those is meant to be. Looking at this sign it seems to be anything but quiet, with all that traffic on it.

The next section of my walk was across the fields to the bus turnaround at Bamford, there were some lovely views, but it was getting quite misty, and I was wary of the time, and so didn't bother to take any more photographs.

The bus arrived on time, but when I got back to Sheffield Railway Station there were still a lot a delays and cancellations.

I found today a bit difficult; I couldn't concentrate on the walking - I was, and still am, more concerned on what I'm going to write when I submit my claim for compensation, in particular how to word my praise for Gary, the conductor...a job well done!                   

Friday, March 11, 2016

From The Archives: Chelmorton

I'm not sure how to pronounce 'Chelmorton.' It's a village south east of Buxton, situated on the Midshires Way long distance footpath. There are a lot of long narrow fields in the surrounding countryside and the linear patterns formed by the drystone walls are unlike anywhere else I've seen in the Peak District.

The photograph depicts the local pub, the Church Inn; I take a lot of pictures of pretty pubs and cottages.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chatsworth House

I've never actually been inside Chatsworth House or visited the extensive gardens either. This will soon change though when I sign up for an annual season ticket at the end of the month. Chatsworth Park is a large deer park and is one of my favourite places in the Peak District; it's easy to reach on the bus and is great for walking...whatever the conditions. 

The photograph I've chosen is a bit unusual, it's the urinals inside the gents' toilets. There are two sets of public toilets at Chatsworth and they are both stunning...well, at least the gents' are.  There are glazed tiles depicting various scenes around the estate, intricate brass pipework, fresh flowers, and watercolour paintings hanging on the walls.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Calver, Rowland, and Bakewell

I was hoping for some good conditions for photography today; the weather forecast promised bright sunshine and brief, scattered showers - I was expecting there'd be some good cloud formations.

Well...I was a bit disappointed with the weather; it was perfectly fine for walking but always seemed to be cloudy at the locations where I wanted to take photographs.

It was sunny when I left the house, sleeting in Sheffield and then brightening up a bit when I reached Calver. The bus was packed to the rafters and I had no legroom at all, causing me to pull a muscle in my lower back as I struggled to get out of my seat, twisting and jiving, pushing straining and stretching until I nearly landed on the passengers opposite, almost doing the splits on top of them.

I left Calver and took one of the paths that leads up from the Hassop road. At this point my back was very painful and I knew that I would need to take it easy today, limiting my distance and the number of hills I would be climbing and descending. This path attained a high enough altitude for me to be walking in the snow; there were distant views of the higher hills covered in snow. Most of my photographs along this stretch weren't very good; this one isn't much better really, I've just included it to illustrate the view.

Just beyond the spot from where the photograph was taken I reached one of the quarry roads. I walked along it for a few hundred yards until I reached Bleaklow Farm and then planned to take a route down into Rowland that I hadn't used before. I found the path easily enough and followed it through the farmyard, however in the field beyond I went the wrong way. I didn't bother to look at the map which would have shown that the path veered off to the right, instead I took what looked like the obvious route to me, a well-maintained limestone track.

It was a serendipitous moment though because only a few seconds later I found something interesting to photograph.

This rusty piece of old machinery seemed to have been carefully positioned in the field, like a piece of modern art; something you might see at an outdoor sculpture park. Of course it isn't a piece of art, but in the Peak District you never know whether something like this was used for mining, quarrying, agriculture...or even for the water supply.

A couple of  minutes later I noticed the familiar signs of old mineworkings and quarrying; so that narrowed down the options I suppose. I approached what I thought might be an old mineshaft and was surprised and a little bit alarmed to discover that it was uncapped: I peered over the edge and couldn't see the bottom. If this was the public footpath it would have to be capped and made safe; it's private land and so I assume that the various health and safety regulations don't apply, even though access to the site is unrestricted - yet nothing is marked on the Ordnance Survey map.

The track led me down the hillside, curving to the right. I soon caught sight of some brickwork and went over to explore. It seemed to be part of the same structure as the shaft. On closer inspection I thought it looked like a limekiln; I've seen many of these in the Peak District but I'm not convinced that this is one though, mainly because of its location, right in the middle of an old leadmining rake. Why would anyone be making lime here?  

It was a fairly gentle descent into Hassop, quite easy on my back. On the way down a Highland cow insisted I take a photograph of her.

Outside of one of the cottages in the village there was an opportunity for people to buy home-produced jam, or maybe honey [I didn't bend down to have a look] - all the proceeds were going to a local charity. I see this all the time on my walks, people being trusted to be honest and do the right thing.

It was then what should have been an easy walk down the road and across the fields to the Monsal Trail. However I really struggled with climbing over the stiles, I think I pulled another muscle in my back.

I didn't have to walk far along the Monsal Trail until I reached the Hassop Station Cafe. It was quite busy but I had enough time to queue and buy a pot of tea and a cherry scone. In the outdoor seating area a couple sitting at the next table were each eating a slab of fruitcake as big as house brick; their well-mannered Alsatian dog was watching, and counting, every mouthful....they weren't sharing this afternoon though.

I had a leisurely stroll down into Bakewell and only had ten minutes to wait for the bus.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

From The Archives: Castleton

Castleton is one of the Peak District honeypot tourist villages: it's usually very busy, being easy to reach from Sheffield. It's well-known for its four showcase caverns, its hilltop castle, jewellery made from blue john [a locally mined semi-precious mineral, unique to the area], and for the opportunity to climb up Mam Tor and the walk along The Great Ridge.

I usually just use the village as a starting or finishing point of a walk and so will be wearing my hiking gear, meaning that there are several of the pubs, cafes, and shops  where I would feel rather uncomfortable.

My most memorable moment at Castleton happened last year when I was queueing at the counter at the fish and chips shop. I was standing next to a stunningly sexy, curvaceous young female cave diver who was wearing a skin tight, almost transparent, wet suit. When she asked if it was okay if she could put her flippers, snorkel, and goggles on the counter so that she could reach for her money I was a bit puzzled as to where she might keep it. Well...I took a sharp intake of breath as she unzipped her wet suit, exposing quite a bit of naked flesh as she reached inside and removed a couple of banknotes stuffed into a cellophane bag.

The photograph I've included was taken quite close to the fish and chip shop, just a bit further along the road.