Friday, 12 November 2010
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Friday, 22 October 2010
We trudge along the road wondering if we'd overdone the layers, and soon we're in the sleepy hamlet of Strines and wonder, is it actually big enough to be called a hamlet?
Barely past the few houses we almost walk into two male peacocks, their iridescent blue feathers glorious the early morning light. Naturally, by the time PC has her camera ready the birds had run for cover in a corn field. We wait. Patience pays off as a peahen and her chick emerge,which entices the males from cover. Then even more arrive, including a white one. Now we have plenty of photos and as we walk away we decide that the peacocks must outnumber the hamlet's inhabitants.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Having missed a week's walking desperation has me turning up at Ashford in the Water's tiny car park ridiculously early. It is foggy and I have a long wait. An uncharged camera and milk boiling over conspires to make PC late. Ah well, by the time she arrives the weather is picking up a little and we can at least see where we're walking to.
We set off through the village and over the picturesque medieval Sheepwash Bridge which spans the River Wye, pausing long enough to take a photo (I had brought a camera though wasn't quite sure how to work it) and admire the ducks braving the cold water.We cross the main A6 and walk along it for a short distance before turning off onto the road leading to Sheldon, although we are soon taking a footpath to our right which follows the winding river.
By now our initial giddiness at being out has passed and our talk has turned to more serious things. Radley handbags. Women will understand, men undoubtedly won't.
The level path isn't as muddy as we had expected as we pass Little Shacklow Wood on our left and head towards the derelict water powered bobbin mills. Here bobbins were made from the local ash woods to be used in the cotton making industry, such as at nearby Litton and Cressbrook Mills.
Today a group of anglers are parked outside the mills preparing for a day on the river, so we walk on by without pausing and take the broad track that runs behind the buildings, admiring the rusted waterwheels and old stonework.
We have now entered Great Shacklow Wood and are hoping to enjoy the autumn colours as the sun is now breaking through. Before the path begins to climb we come across a large pond playing host to numerous water birds. This pond is the collection point for Magpie Sough, the drainage tunnel from Magpie Mine high up on the hills behind us beyond Sheldon. Although blocked in the 1960s it has since been cleared to run freely again.
The flask obviously helps as we reach the top of the path sooner than anticipated before dropping down to the head of Deep Dale where there is evidence (although we didn't see it) of a settlement and cave shelter. There is also evidence (clearly visible) of cows. Lots of them. But since they aren't to be seen I concentrate instead on the views - excellent behind us over the River Wye towards the Fin Cop settlement on the far hill, and closer to the stark white limestone amongst the green and brown vegetation. The path is dry but rough underfoot as cloven hooves have dug up rocks and pebbles. At times this supposedly dry valley can be a quagmire but despite recent rains it isn't bad today. But it is warm now, so we remove yet another layer. As we press on PC suddenly instructs me to 'Keep Walking'. Naturally, I stop and looking around see a herd of cows on the slope directly above us. Resisting the urge to scream and run I remain calm and, with PC uttering soothing words to me all the time, we press on only a little faster than usual.
Danger passed we spy a large clump of blackthorn with fat juicy sloes still on the branches. It hasn't been a good year for sloes so this is an opportunity not to be missed. We down rucksacks, rummage for something to put the sloes in, and start picking. It's very therapeutic - despite the vicious thorns - and brings out the self-sufficient peasant in us. It doesn't take too long to gather enough to make a bottle of sloe gin each, and PC decides to have a go at making some herself. We'll taste and compare when they're ready - all in the interests of serious study, naturally.
It's turned cooler again but we're buoyed up by the thoughts of the gin - and of the raspberry gin, raspberry vodka, gooseberry gin, and mixed berry vodka all underway at home, plus the gallons of cider and Ramblers' Restorative (the contents of the secret flask) already made. We start making up names for them all, until we see more cows ahead. What is it with this walk and cows?
This time I'm not feeling so brave so I manage, with agility borne of desperation, to climb over a wall and squeeze under a wire fence to avoid them. Seeing my gymnastics PC decides the cows are less of a threat and walks right past them. They don't bat an eyelid but I know that they would have charged us and stampeded if I'd been there.After our adventures we're feeling hungry so find a hollow of ground and settle down for lunch. We have to pull on coats and jumpers as the sun has gone and it has turned chilly. Heavy salads are followed by welcome coffee and the buns. Today's offering: Lemon Muffin Cheesecakes. Mr Morrison has done us proud. They are sooo good. Biscuity base, fluffy cheesecake with lemony centre topped by muffin pieces. Bliss.
Feeling extremely full, but cold, we press on through a close-cropped field of sheep to the gate which leads onto the unmade Wheal Lane. There are cows (again!) in the field to the side of us, but they're behind a stone wall so pose no threat. At the top of the track we emerge onto Flagg Lane, a minor road which runs between Moneyash and Buxton. Here we debate what to do next. We can follow the road then turn left into Sheldon, or we can cut off the corner and go through fields. The road is the least appealing option, but the potential for a bovine ambush in the fields cannot be ruled out. Finally we decide to go the field route, with PC volunteering to be the cattle wrangler if necessary. I, of course, will be sprinting in the opposite direction!
There are cows in the first field, far enough away not to be a problem, but we cross at high speed anyway and squeeze through a tight crush-stile. We're both pleased to be able to get through so easily - shows how slim we are. The next few fields are fine and we're becoming blase, despite the increasingly dodgy stiles we have to negotiate. Then, with only two fields to go we see them. Cows. Hundreds of them. All across our route.
After some dithering we set off across the first field. These cows are only young, curious and a little afraid. I'm over the stile in record time but the next field is more problematic. It's full of friesians, all in the bottom half, next to the road and our escape route. Across the field is an electric fence. If it is switched on we'll not be able to get through anyway, and the thought of walking all the way back is even more daunting (at the moment) than the prospect of walking though cows.
We approach the fence cautiously. It doesn't appear to be connected. PC risks electrocution by tapping it with her stick. No, she's still alive so we limbo underneath the wire (honestly) and face the cows. Some of them are looking at us and others wander onto our path.
There are a number of cars parked on what appears to be the village green,a group of walkers, and we wonder what the villagers think of having their space commandeered in such a thoughtless manner.Then we see them. More cows, this time being herded up the main street. I don't believe it! I take refuge behind a bench as PC stands suicidally in the middle of the road to take a picture
Once the cows have passed we walk though Sheldon, a pretty unspoilt village. It still seems to be a predominantly farming community although there are some lovely cottages and it was once home to miners working at the nearby Magpie Mine. There is an interesting looking pub, the Cock and Pullet, which has been marked down for a future visit.
As we walk we discuss the possibilities of alcoholic jams and marmalades, debating which liqueur will go best with which fruit. Experiments are in order.
The road drops down and we round the bend before taking the path off to the left which runs along a grassy, sloping field with the woods ahead of us. With the afternoon sun shining the leaves on the trees in Little Shacklow Wood seem to be glowing. This is early autumn in all its glory. We skirt the edge of the wood and as we do the vista opens up ahead of us so that we can see a huge distance.
We leave the wood and start to descend steeply across open ground towards the River Wye. It's hard on the knees but soon we're at the bottom and able to retrace our steps to Ashford. With the sun shining we pause for more photos at the bridge, then it's a quick walk back to the car park and the end to another very satisfying day - apart, of course, for the cows.
Monday, 27 September 2010
As we continue on the path we keep spying out old walks such as along Bamford Edge and Win Hill,and use the opportunity to check out other useful paths for the future. In general though, we're both agreed that this half of the edge doesn't quite match up to the other half, although it is probably less popular which has its own appeal.In places the path becomes quite wet and even boggy, it will probably be a quagmire when there has been a reasonably amount of rain. Stanage End is soon upon us and we descend a few feet to the 'proper' path. There are lots of gritstone walls here, high as though for enclosures or buildings, but without any proper form that we can see. Without exploring them we head on the gentle decline on the path through the tussoky grass towards the A57.
The walk down the road isn't pleasant with the fast moving traffic zooming past, but we reach the lay-by safely and are soon in the car on the way back to Upper Burbage Bridge. There we pause to plan our next outing, but looking back where we've been today we see ominous black clouds approaching quickly.
Going our separate ways I can see over to Castleton, and it is completely hidden beneath a thick grey fog of torrential rain. We've been lucky to have missed the rain, it made a good walk even better.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Monday, 13 September 2010
We cope admirably with the parking-ticket machine which had us stumped on our last visit then set off gingerly, nursing a dodgy hip and back back - one each so they're equally shared.
The first stile is approached with caution but we cope with it easily. See, things aren't too bad after all! We almost immediately encounter a small uphill scramble, but experience of this means we know the easy way and we're soon on the open moor covered with a dense carpet of heather and spindly silver birch trees. The path is sandy underfoot due to the constant erosion of the sombre grey gritstone.
We're heading uphill here, but at a gentle gradient which gives us plenty of breath to talk about all that has happened since we last met up.
We pause to take photos of some of a couple of strangely eroded rocks that look like a pair of Komodo Dragons turned to stone, one looking north, the other south.
A short distance along we reach the towering bulk of Mother Cap, a large wind-weathered monolith that is visible from a great distance away. It is a popular site for climbers with a route up it being called, apparently, Conan the Librarian! Why? No idea.
After only a brief pause to admire the view, and to remove a layer of clothing - the sun has emerged - we head north towards the distinctive flat-topped rise of Higger Tor. We take a path that is not on the OS but is well used enough to be clear on the ground. Carl Wark, the iron age (or possibly even bronze age) hill fort is over to our right. Carl Wark isn't the only evidence of settlement here on Hathersage Moor although the fort is the clearest with the rest being buried beneath vegetation.
Our path dips at Winyards Nick with another crossing it, but we continue straight on. Soon we reach the only enclosure on the moor, a large rectangular sheepfold. As always we look for the 'missing wood'.
I'll explain. On a walk here some years ago, in snow and thick fog, we passed the corner of the sheepfold heading in the opposite direction and saw, heading roughly easterly, two cart tracks leading in to a wood of spindly silver birches. After much debate we decided to press on instead of going into the wood and forgot all about it. Until I went on a walk there some time later and - no wood! I asked PC. She remembered the wood too (I hadn't imagined it) so we went back together. Despite us both recalling the wood's exactly location and what it looked like, it quite simply wasn't there. A mirage? or some kind of window to a former time? We're still debating the point, and we look for the wood on every visit. One day we'll return in fog, just to see...
Skirting the enclosure boundary we head towards Higger Tor, which looms larger on our approach. We shun the direct ascent and skirt around to the east where we can climb up without undue effort. At the top we pause for a sip from the secret flask, but to our overwhelming frustration the top won't come off. We both try, even resorting to bashing the flask on a rock, but all we manage to do is form a hairline crack in the metal that oozes the odd drop of nectar. Grr.
Refusing to be daunted we set off on the clear path towards Upper Burbage Bridge. This whole area of the moor is very close to road so is easily accessible which makes for more visitors. There are quite a few small groups out, and we have to remind ourselves that although this area is on our doorsteps, it is actually a holiday location for many people.
At the far side of the Brook we debate whether to take the high route on the top of Burbage Rocks on the edge of Burbage Moor or keep to the lower, easier path that forms, apparently, part of the Sheffield Country Walk. We opt for the easy route today but first drop down towards the Brook to sit on some boulders in the sun to eat lunch. The coffee is welcome, as is secret flask number 2 which is only brought out in times of dire need. It feels very civilised sitting here, sipping our drinks, eating lunch and contemplating the moors, the weather, life and everything. And buns. PC has done us proud. Two cup cakes - one lemon, one coffee - are duly presented for admiration before being ceremoniously cut in half and savoured.
It would be far too easy to sit here all day with life buzzing past inconsequentially, but we have to move so we hoist ourselves stiffly upright and head off.We discuss which path to take, either the one on the top of the rocks, or the lower track. We go for the low track as it is track is so easy to walk and as such is far more popular than the paths on the other side of the Brook. Even today, midweek, we see more people than we usually do, and at weekends it will be like the M1. To our left the rocky ridge of Burbage Rocks stands starkly sculptured in the sun.We pause frequently to admire the views up and down Burbage Basin and across to Carl Wark.
When we reach the road we cross over and into the Longshaw Estate which gives us easy access back to the car park. We go over Burbage Brook by a footbridge then follow the stream side path to the footpath leading to Surprise View car park. When we arrive there we are surprised to see an ice cream van. Tempting, but no. Smugly satisfied that we can resist temptation we plan our next walk then head home with the sun still shining. An excellent first outing.