Sunday, January 29, 2017

My Peak District Bucket List

I know the Peak District very well and have visited many places there, yet there are still some places I haven't seen yet; usually it's because it's difficult for me to get there on public transport...or there's an admission fee that I'm reluctant to pay.

Here's my list;

Ashbourne - a pretty market town that I remember being driven through in the car thirty years ago when we were on our way to Alton Towers theme park.

Crich Tram Museum

Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill - I've seen so many beautiful photographs and read trip reports from these locations that I really need to go and see them for myself...and walk along the ridge.

Dovedale - I have been there once, and walked on the stepping stones and climbed up Thorpe Cloud, about thirty years ago.

Haddon Hall - It's fairly easy for me to get here on public transport. I'm considering buying a season ticket for 2017 after enjoying numerous visits to Chatsworth House in 2016 as a season ticket holder there.

Middleton Mine - This is a difficult one. Officially there is no public access, but I've read several reports online of people visiting, and it looks amazing. There are twenty six miles of tunnels on three levels, all large enough for full size trucks to be driven in and out of...and lots of abandoned vehicles and equipment have just been left where they were last used. The mine closed about ten years ago. I think the only way I'd get to visit here is on some sort of organised trip though.

Three Shires Head - I've seen some stunning photographs taken here, yet I've a suspicion that they were taken from a low angle to make the location look more spectacular than it actually I might well be very disappointed if I ever get there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fox House, Burbage Valley, Stanage Edge, and Hathersage

This was my first visit to the Burbage Valley since the large scale tree felling last year. I was curious as to how it looks now. Well, they've done a good job so far in tidying up most of the mess left behind...large areas still need re-planting or re-seeding though. The views are certainly different now, not necessarily better though at the moment, maybe they'll improve as the landscape matures. I've not been a supporter of this project - I thought everything was fine before; the pine plantations gave the valley a Scottish or Scandinavian appearance...something a bit different in the Peak District.

My day got off to a good start at Sheffield Railway Station where free packets of Belvita Breakfast biscuits were being handed out. For once there was something for free that I actually like - I'd already got a half-eaten packet of Belvita in my rucksack, which I finished off later with my sandwiches.

I got off the bus at Fox House and took the first path onto the moors. I then headed straight for Carl Wark [featuring in the first photograph] but missed the main footpath and so had to leap over Burbage Brook at a safe location. I was soon back on track though, reaching the flat summit after a short scramble, exploring for a while and then continuing  towards the next summit, Higger Tor.

After having eaten my sandwiches I spent a couple of minutes looking at the map and deciding where to go next. I opted for Stanage Edge...well, the trig point at the southern end of the escarpment.

I've walked along the entire top of Stanage Edge, in both directions, quite a few times and so wanted to do something a bit different today. There's a path that goes along the bottom of the cliff, and so I made my way down to there, then enjoyed the views of the rocks from below. The sun was at just the right angle to make out a lot of detail - striations, cracks and crevices, precariously balanced boulders, and interesting shadows cast onto the rocks by trees and other rocks. None of the photographs I took was any good though...I think the contrast ended up being too high.

After about a mile I picked my way through the died-back undergrowth to the road, and then had a leisurely stroll down to Hathersage along various footpaths and bridleways.

I arrived at Hathersage with forty five minutes until the next bus back to Sheffield was due. The public toilets are now closed indefinitely with a sign on the door that states that they've been closed because they're no longer fit for use and will be rebuilt some time in the date was given though. Cintra's tearooms were also closed today and so I couldn't pop in there for a few minutes to get warm. My only other option was the cafe at the outdoor swimming pool; I'd never been before and so was keen to try it. It's nothing special; the service was very slow and although I only ordered a pot of tea I looked at the menu and the prices seemed to be quite high, higher than the cost of meals at one of the pubs in the village that I passed by. 

The bus arrived on time, but I didn't reach the railway station at Sheffield in time to catch one of the express trains back to Doncaster. The bus driver seemed to be new to the route and went the wrong way in the city centre meaning that I had a much longer distance to walk to reach the railway station.

I had to catch the local stopping service that goes to Scunthorpe.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Castleton, Pindale, and Hope

Two buses going via different routes depart for Castleton within half an hour of my train arriving at Sheffield on a Sunday morning, and so that's where I chose to travel to today.

Castleton wasn't looking at its best today though. It was misty, cold and damp, and a few snow flurries were falling when I got off the bus. To make matters worse half the shops were closed and there was a series of roadworks along most of the length of the main street. 

The pub sign at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese provided a bit of colour on an otherwise dreary day; I was pleased to notice that both here, and at the nearby Peak Hotel it is prominently displayed that muddy boots are welcome.

It continued to snow for about another two hours, quite heavily at times. After the snow the mist came down from the hills and the visibility was even worse...a terrible day for taking photographs - not what I was expecting after reading the weather forecast last night.

I took a footpath which went round the back of the houses and came back out on to the main road just before the church.

Just by chance, and not design, the route of my walk today took me past all four of the show caves at Castleton. Speedwell Cavern is located at the entrance to Winnats's handy for toilets too. The gents are at the back of one of the buildings, so you can easily sneak in and use them.

I continued over the hill, passing Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern before arriving at the top of Winnats Pass. I then walked along the road for a short distance until reaching the next footpath. After passing through the large heavy gate I had a choice of two routes; I chose to take a footpath I've not walked along before. It didn't take me to anywhere in particular - just up close to some accumulation of snow that still remained from a few days ago.

I kept looking back towards Mam Tor...if I'd been able to see it through the mist. Normally from here I would have been able to get some good photographs - I reckon that when walking in the other direction, visually, this is the best approach to the mountain. 

The path took me across fields until I reached a busy byway; not just busy with hikers, cyclist and horseriders though. A couple of noisy motorbikes were somewhere off in the distance and a few minutes later a Landrover was approaching me at high speed, for the conditions, the tyres of the vehicle smashing into the frozen over puddles, making a loud crashing sound as a cascade of sharp shards of broken ice and freezing cold water was launched into the air. I didn't fancy any of that and so stepped out into the middle of the track and maintained good eye contact with the bastard until he stopped and then slowly drove past me when I got out of his way. He had a gormless grin on his face; I just waved and acknowledged his presence.

The track continued for about a mile and a half and then I needed to walk along the road for a slightly shorter distance until I reached the top of the track that goes down to more than three or four cottages, a campsite and some substantial ruins of an old mine. Halfway down this track there's an old quarry which is popular with owners of....LANDROVERS, and there were soon more bloody Landrovers - three of them this time. I heard their engines and so deviated from the  path and walked up to a point from where I'd be able to observe them. It looked like some sort of organised group. There were about a dozen people, nearly as many women as men, taking turns to test their off-road driving skills on some difficult and steep terrain. They didn't look like they were imminently going to start driving back down the track and causing me any problems, so I continued down to Pindale, and then down the road to Hope.

I timed my arrival at Hope very well; the bus turned up only a couple of minutes after I'd arrived at the bus stop.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wandering Around Wakefield City Centre With My Camera

I visit Wakefield quite often, it's easy to get there on  the train. I've never taken my camera with me before and spent most of my time concentrating on taking photographs, so today made a pleasant change.

There are some quite impressive Victorian civic buildings, and some Georgian residences as well, in the area to the north of the main shopping district.

In addition to the cathedral there are a couple of other older buildings, but my sightlines were ruined by modern monstrosities being in the way. I went in to the Cathedral Kitchen for a bit of something to eat. When I removed my rucksack I noticed that a bra from one of the charity shops I'd visited was hanging off from the back, tangled up in one of the straps...I removed it and discreetly pushed it behind a display board near to where I was sitting.

When I was walking through the city I wasn't aware of any strange or unkind comments being made about me. 

There are no photographs from inside the cathedral because I didn't enter - there was a service going on at the time.

Travelling home on the train there was a bit of a commotion. A young drunken yob had got on and locked himself inside the toilet thinking that by doing this he wouldn't have to pay. The guard spotted him, he must be known to her, and she went down the carriage and tried to persuade him to open the door. When she got her keys out I thought she would open the door and drag him out - in fact she locked him in, meaning that he'd have to stay in there all the way to Doncaster. He wasn't very happy and became abusive, shouting obscenities and loudly banging on the door. I think there would be a few people waiting for him once everyone had got off the train - people who he wouldn't want to be meeting today.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Calver, Rowland, Great Longstone, and Bakewell

Since I've started losing weight as a result of taking my tablets I've noticed that I'm feeling the cold a lot more, particularly cold winds. Well today has been one of the coldest days of the winter so far, only a couple of degrees above freezing, and so I put on an extra two layers of clothing on top of the additional layers I'm already wearing. It worked though...I was fine.

Today has been a mainly sunny and full-colour day for photography - in contrast to Thursday's trip to Lincoln. When I reached the railway station at Doncaster I walked over to take a picture of the newly opened Platform 0, the only platform that doesn't have any overhead wires - it's used by the local diesel-only trains out to Hull and beyond.

I caught my first glimpse of the snow as I was sitting on the train a couple of miles north of Rotherham; it was glistening on the hilly parts of Sheffield, only a few miles from the city centre. I'd be seeing a lot more snow later...and walking in it, several inches deep in places.

I got off the bus at Calver and took the bridleway that leads up Coombs Dale, but I soon found the footpath that goes up through the woods. I noticed a lot of damage to the trees caused by the recent strong winds...especially to the trees bedecked with mistletoe.  This path took me along a route I hadn't explored before until I reached the top path which goes over some grassy pastureland as I headed off towards the old quarries. There was plenty of snow to be walked in here...and some pretty views too.

It was a gentle descent down Hardrake Lane to Rowland. I met some Highland cattle on the way...and a couple of Landrovers a few minutes later.

I'd been aware of the Landrover coming down the hill behind me being driven very carefully along the icy single track byway, stopping a couple of times to open and close the gates, but at the point where I needed to get out of his way another Landrover suddenly appeared from around a corner...coming up the hill. I immediately turned around and put my hand out, signalling for the driver behind me to stop, and then assessed the situation. Having already walked where the Landrover coming down the hill had driven I knew that there was nowhere convenient for him to reverse up so that the other vehicle could pass so I jogged down to the other driver to see what they wanted to do. Fortunately the hill wasn't too steep where he was and there was a suitable passing space no more than a distance of thirty feet behind him, and he had already  put his vehicle in reverse before I reached him. I know that reversing downhill isn't considered safe, but he was obviously a confident and competent driver, and must know the area well and had decided that this was the best option. I signalled for the other driver to approach; I didn't get out of the way though - I walked a few yards in front of him until we had passed the other Landrover. One honk and a wave for my efforts. I regretted not having a red flag.

Once I was free to concentrate on my walking again there was more beautiful countryside for me to take photographs of.

The track led down to Rowland. I'd barely entered the village though before I took the first footpath which went across the fields to Great Longstone. There are a lot of criss-crossing paths in this area.

I headed straight for the church at Great Longstone, hoping for some good opportunities to take photographs. The angle of the sun was okay and this was my best effort.

I took the footpath that starts as a narrow ginnel between the houses, then passes the recreation ground and a housing estate before walking across a couple of fields until I reached the Monsal Trail.

After about a mile I left the Monsal Trail and walked back to Bakewell along the path, which was quite muddy in places...there was no snow here. I got to Bakewell with enough time to visit the toilets and have a stroll along the waterfront. Before crossing the road to go and wait for the bus I took a photograph of 'The Wheatsheaf'. This image well illustrates something that I've noticed for the last two years - the large number of pubs that all have very similar minimalist grey and white signage.

On the train coming back to Doncaster a young woman got on at Meadowhall, sat opposite me and immediately got out her copy of Cosmopolitan magazine. She flicked through a few pages until she found an article that she was interested in. The title of the article was 'Have You Got Vegan Wrinkles?'

I have enough difficulty as it is with reading people's facial expressions without having to cope with this additional imposition. 

I'm doomed!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Visit To Lincoln

A day out in Lincoln; the weather was pretty poor for photography so that's why most of the photographs are black and white. Listening to the weather forecast I feared conditions might be a lot worse though.

We parked the car in the car park on Westgate, right up against the castle walls and opposite to the most beautiful water tower I've ever seen - its building style certainly fits in well with those of the nearby castle and cathedral.

There are some pretty and interesting buildings up here at the top of the hill.

We headed towards Newport Arch, dating from the Roman period...there are several other locations of Roman ruins in Lincoln.

After walking down a pleasant narrow cobbled street we reached the back of the cathedral.

As we made our way down the hill we called in to the Usher Gallery, spending longer in there than I thought we would.

Just after opening the doors to visit the toilets I almost fell head first down the stairs.

We walked over to the new archaeology centre but weren't very impressed and so didn't stay for long.

Without knowing exactly where we'd end up next we found ourselves half way down Steep Hill, and then walked down to the main shopping area.

We popped in to St. Benedict's Church where members of the Women's Institute were serving tea and cake...very reasonably priced. We checked our watches and then steadily made our way back up Steep Hill to the car, passing by the castle and the cathedral.