Grim, overcast skies with plenty of low cloud is today's greeting, and the low cloud has decided to turn to rain. Not a good omen.
We've met at Cutthroat Bridge with great plans to do the long Derwent Ridge, so we leave one car, pile everything into the other and set off for Strines where we'll start our walk on the bridleway at Fox Hole Carr. At least, that's the plan.
Upon reaching our parking place we discover it to be full of logging machinery with a rather obvious sign stating 'Car Park Closed'. Naturally, no alternative is given. A little way on we pull into a gateway to peruse the map, with little joy. In hope more than expectation we carry on a while hoping to see a parking spot and, to our relief, find one at the opposite side of the road. Another quick look at the map and with fingers crossed with climb over a steep ladder stile into Bole Edge Plantation hoping the thin path will be heading in the right direction.
It's hard to see through the trees, but we're soon suspicious. The path clearly isn't going where we want it to. Soon we emerge onto a track which leads to a paintballing centre. No thank you! Fortunately, there are no trigger happy paintballers about but we realise that we're following a path to nowhere so walk back down to the road which is only a few yards away.
We're stumped. The paintballing centre is clearly paranoid about trespassers (even though there's a public access stile just down the road) and have barricaded and barb-wired the gate and walls with enough protection to keep away all but an armoured tank brigade. Our only option is to tunnel out, but we haven't got a shovel and it would take too long with spoons so we head through the woods towards the stile.
This is seriously heavy going with waist high bracken and brambles trying to leg us up. At least we're not being stalked by paintballing snipers.
Once back over the stile we consider a change of plan. We've wasted time and need to get walking, so we follow the route of least resistance and take the downward sloping bridleway heading towards Strines and Dale Dike Reservoirs.
Neither of us have been this way before so it's interesting to look around. On the far hill is a tower, known as Sugworth Tower or Boot's Folly. It was built in the 1920s by the owner of nearby Sugworth Hall to keep men occupied during the depression. Apparently there was a staircase leading to the top, but this was removed in the 1970s after a cow climbed up and became stuck!
Our path leads us to the curiously named Brogging, an old property at the edge of Strines Reservoir. The name may be linked to Brogging Moss which lies higher up to the east near Derwent Edge, but in tudor times (if not before) a brogger was a freelance wool trader. The house certainly looks old enough! However, today there are some lovely free range poultry and ducks looking extremely content and PC stalks a fine cockerel determined to take his photograph.
From Brogging we take a downhill path which leads us to the bottom of Strines dam and on a track running alongside Dale Dike Reservoir. It's low very still and quiet with only a few ducks on the water, which is. We push through the trees to cross the very sandy 'beach' still marked with old wall lines, and once at the water's edge we spend time skimming stones and attempting to photo the results. Hmm. Not a resounding success.
It's hard to imagine that this tranquil place is the site of one of the worst man-made distasters in British history. On the night of March 11th 1864 the newly constructed Dale Dike dam burst its banks and a mountainous torrent of water bulldozed its way down the valley wiping out lives and livelihoods. It is known as the Great Sheffield Flood although, sadly, there are few people who know of it.
We press on past the earthen ramparts of the reconstructed dam wall and drop down to Dale Dike. It's fungus season and we soon see a magnificent bracket fungus attached to a tree. From here we'll see many more varieties too.
We cross a small footbridge at the side of a small picturesque weir then head up the SE side of the dike towards the dam. There's a steep climb in front of us, but not before we photograph the stone at the 'waterworks'.
In the higher reaches of the wood we can now see right across the reservoir to where we were skimming stones, and we soon find a strategically places bench where we sit to eat lunch whilst enjoying the autumnal view.
The sandwiches are pretty boring, but the fresh cream eclairs followed by coffee more than make up for them. However, it is quite chilly so rather than sit we decide to press on. There's a high stone wall on our left although all it seems to screen is woodland. There isn't much wildlife activity today, probably the cold has kept them all away as it has with the people. We wonder why there are so few walkers out on this easily accessible route.
Soon we're at the top end of the reservoir and crossing over the no-man's-land between that and Strines reservoir before climbing back up to Brogging and the path to the road.
All in all it has turned into a pretty good day but we'll try for the ridge next time.