Since we moved here last May, we’ve been looking for some nice local dog-walks within a short driving distance. At the end of April this year, we found one. It only took us 11 months!
Underbank Reservoir near Stocksbridge is actually within walking distance, it’s that close. But it’s also a good place to take the dog for a spin that’s a little longer than the walks from our doorstep.
There are several places to park, but we chose to park on the old A-road that has recently been replaced, as it’s on our side.
From here we had a cracking view of some ground-art designed by local schoolchildren for the recent Tour de Yorkshire. We thought it was an owl on a bike, but it’s actually a fox on a bike – as the race was finishing in Fox Valley.
You can also choose which way around to walk. From the old A-road, we walked clockwise, starting with the dam wall.
There are signs all over the place telling people to keep their dogs on leads … guess who were the only ones to comply …
Once across the dam wall, we turned left to cross the footbridge over the weir, and then turned back on ourselves on the other side of the reservoir.
It was a dull but dry day, but the sky gave the poet some interest for his photographs. He also had chance to try out his new lens for the bokeh shot above, and he practised his bracketing, for the shot below.
About halfway around the lake, we had a chat with an angler who’s been fishing here for 30+ years. He suggested if we come fishing that we park at the activity centre as the path from there is quite good for the barrow.
As we came out at Midhopestones, at the opposite end to the dam wall, we had to walk along the road for a short while. Then we followed another access path until we reached the official path where it rejoins the disused A-road.
The walk around the perimeter is, according to MapMyWalk, 3.13 miles. It took us an hour-and-a-half, which included stopping for pictures and the chat, and we burned around 400 calories each.
We are very fortunate to be living right next to the Trans Pennine Trail, a national route that runs from coast to coast and up and down a bit.
I’ve been walking the dog up towards where our path joins the trail, but I’ve been turning around at 15 minutes as I’m trying to gradually build up stamina and fitness.
During the last bank holiday weekend, we finally did a full circuit of the smallest circular section, and we were surprised at how quickly we did it.
We already have a fairly good walk from the farm to the road, but we don’t stay on the road for long. We just cross the River Don and then turn up onto a farm track that’s subsequently crossed by the TPT.
At the top of the track you can see in the picture above, the TPT crosses both ways. We turned left and went behind that farm you can see.
From the TPT we had a very good view of the ground-art recently installed for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race, which went past the end of our driveway.
There were a few pleasure cyclists on our route, some of whom you can just see (in red) in the picture below. These weren’t taking part in the race.
There were also a few pedestrians, but this was a “busy” day in our neck of the woods.
From the viaduct there are some great views, including the one below towards Penistone.
In the far distance you might just be able to see a field filled with cars, to the immediate left of that sticky-up thing. This field is usually green and empty – the cars were here for the cycle race.
The picture below is one of my favourites, as you can see our house and, hopefully, the reason we chose to live there. It really is a beautiful, peaceful setting, and it really is some distance from any roads.
That’s our house in the centre of the picture, with the cream walls. We could see this from the viaduct too.
Because it’s an old railway line, there’s a tunnel on this section of the route that we haven’t explored yet, but I think my sister did last year when she was house-sitting for us.
Instead, we left the TPT down a small path that goes downhill towards the river again. From this path there are some good views of the viaduct.
Then we were beside the river again, at the place where the poet usually gets in to go fluff-chucking (fly-fishing).
Apparently, the River Don is one of the fastest rising and the fastest dropping rivers in Europe. This is why we have flash floods along the driveway and in the surrounding roads.
Isn’t it pretty?
At the end of our walk we returned across the main field that has a few young cows and two horses in it in this picture below. But until just a week or so ago, it was full of expectant sheep. That’s our house again, with the cream walls. The farm buildings are just below it to the left.
This circular walk is about 1.6 miles long. It took us 50 minutes as the poet kept stopping to take pictures, but I’ve done it since with just the dog, and it’s about 40 – 45 minutes.
There are several reasons why I’d not attempted the very short Castleton Landslip walk before now. Mostly words like “reaches”, “up the valley”, “gain height”, “climbs” and “significant ascent” (!) in the walk description were a big turn-off for me. I really, really don’t like big hills.
But the walk has been on my list of walks I’d like to do for quite a long time. And when the poet was assigned the task of selecting our next 2- to 3-mile walk, this is the one he chose.
The book is starting to get out of date now, however. We bought a new OS map and checked the footpaths are still current, but the book tells us to start the walk in a car park that is now, apparently, a coach park. A sign on the gate said it was open from 10am until 4pm in the winter when the Speedwell show cave was open. The cave was open, but the coach park was not …
So we joined the walk a little further up at the actual Speedwell cave. Then we followed a slippy path up towards the Treak Cliff cave. The path got muddier and more slippery the further along we walked, until eventually it was quite disgusting and treacherous in places. At once point I thought the dog would pull me down the slope, at another point I just lost my balance and nearly went anyway.
I really hated this part of the walk. Not only was it UP HILL, it was also VERY NARROW, alongside a SHEER DROP, and we were up to our ankles in mud.
While the poet took some landscape pictures, I walked a little further and found the bench above:
A rocky outcrop on a lonely moor Stirs an ancient sense of place Belonging to a time of long before Where roamed the spirits of an older race
We had to skirt the Treak Cliff cave and climb some steps behind it to continue on our walk. By this time I hated it and couldn’t wait to get to some nice, firm, dry ground. But we did have some stunning views.
We passed over and through several stiles and gates and then the path opened out into a beautiful view of Mam Tor and the exposed south face. This was the only time the tripod came out for the camera, so we paused for a quick “team photo” here. I look a lot happier than I felt! Although I was glad to have some grass beneath my feet.
Just over that grass plain you can see in the picture is the Blue John cave. This is where we paused for a snack, a drink and to avail ourselves of the facilities.
Then we left the Blue John cave along a metalled track, turning right at the bottom towards the A625 …
… what a treat. I didn’t even know this was here.
Apparently, in 1819, a road-building company, in their wisdom, decided to build a road on land that had already been prone to landslides for the previous 4,000 years. And this road crossed the actual landslide twice.
For the next 160 years, the road was in constant need of repair until in 1977, following the dry summer of 1976, it was restricted to a single lane. Finally, in 1979, the road was closed to traffic.
We had to go through another gate and wade through an ankle-deep ford (deeper in places) to follow the road back down the hillside. At once point there was an 8-foot drop we had to clamber down.
See now, the word “down” appears twice in the previous paragraph. This is a much happier state of affairs for Yours Truly, especially the clambering bit.
Through another gate at the bottom we reached the point to where vehicles can still drive and turn around. Then we turned right and followed the road back down into Castleton.
At the next car park we left the road to walk down another muddy, wet path to a crushing circle once used by the Odin Mine – this mine is the reason for the A625 road being built in the first place. I’m in the picture this time for perspective.
The path continued over a wooden bridge to a picnic area and another path that carried on over several more stiles to a farm. Here we rejoined the main road and made our way back to the coach park where we should have started the walk. It was just up another small hill to where we’d left the car.
I’m really glad we did this walk in the end … now we never, ever have to wade up that quagmire again. EVER. But it is a beautiful part of the country and it’s steeped in history. Plus, it’s also where the Blue John came from in my engagement ring, earrings and pendant. In fact, it’s also where we bought the jewellery.
We walked only 2.66 miles, but we did more than 12,000 steps and burned more than 500 calories. Hopefully, the next walk will be easier …
We didn’t go out anywhere last weekend. We were both under the weather and the poet was on antibiotics. So we stayed indoors.
The weekend before, however, we did go for a short walk. We went on the Saturday, though, as we had a Monkey Dust gig to go to at teatime on the Sunday.
The walk from Fairholmes to Derwent Reservoir is one that I’ve done before. But this was the first time we did it as a “family”. (Me, the poet, the dog!)
It’s a short walk, only 1¼ miles, but it’s a good one for starting out on a new fitness/stamina regime.
The walk starts at the exit from the car park at Fairholmes. We crossed the road and went through a gate that took us up an “easy climb”. (I swear some of these guides can be “done” for misrepresentation!)
The path crosses a water conduit via a stone bridge. Then at the first junction, we turned slightly right and went up some stone steps to skirt the woods, keeping the reservoir to our right and the main woods to our left.
These steps lead to another “gentle rise”, but then it’s all level or downhill from there.
At the highest point of the path there are two benches engraved with inspirational verses designed to encourage the visitor to sit and rest a while and enjoy the view.
Then the path drops downhill to join a road that runs alongside the reservoir. Here, the poet left us to get closer to the water and to take the picture below of the reservoir.
When he re-joined us, we strolled along the path and saw the memorial to Tip – a sheepdog who stayed with her master’s body for fifteen weeks during the winter of 1953/54.
Rufus had his picture taken here, but he wouldn’t keep still, so it’s a bit blurry, which is why I’ve not shared it here.
Next up is the dam wall, which sometimes has the gate open so you can visit the small museum commemorating 617 Squadron of “dambusters” fame. The gate was closed (it was closed last time I did the walk too), but the poet was still able to take a picture of the memorial just inside the gatehouse.
In the past few years we’ve been up to see the Lancaster bomber fly-past. I think it’s stopped flying now, so it was quite emotional the last time we went.
The whole area can get very busy, though, particularly on anniversaries.
Both the reservoir and the car park at Fairholmes were quiet, but there were still a lot of cars parked. Lots of people use it as a base for longer walks and there are a lot of cyclists who visit too.
We continued along the road until we reached the far end of a roadside car park, then we turned left and dropped down a path that leads to a closer inspection of the dam wall.
We visited the dam wall itself only recently, and have lots of photographs from then. This time, the water wasn’t running, so we only had a small detour here.
When we got back to the car, we continued on along the other side of the car park, adding another ¼ mile to our walk.
Down some more steps on the other side of the car park wall was once a farm, which was flooded when the dams were built.
Once we’d completed our walk, we visited the kiosk and bought a Bakewell slice and a bottle of pop each, which we sat and consumed in the car.
We only walked 1.45 miles, or 6,104 steps, and it took us an hour and twelve minutes with all the pausing for pictures. And we burned 217 calories.
Last weekend’s walk was all about colour – autumn colour. The poet has recently upgraded the lens on his camera but not really had much chance to try it out. Our walk the previous weekend was a start, but it was a gloomy day, so he didn’t take many pictures in the end. For this walk, we chose the best part of the weekend, weather-wise, which was Saturday morning.
This time we chose another walk of a similar length to the last one as 3 miles had really been enough for me as we build stamina and fitness back up again.
The Clayton West Village Trail is another 3-miler, and it has short-cuts. If this one turned out to be as long as the previous “3-miles” then at least we knew we could do it. And if it proved longer (as did the previous one), then we could take one or more of the short cuts.
Clayton West became a village in the late 18th century. The name is believed to have come from “settlement on the clay”, but the textile industry is what brought people here in recent history.
We started our walk at the entrance to Cliffe Woods, which is at the top of the village – literally, up the hill. It was very windy in this car park and felt a lot colder than we thought it was going to be. But once inside the woods, alongside the bowling green, the wind dropped.
From Cliffe Woods we followed some steep steps down and walked alongside a maize field towards Duke Wood. The maize was a full crop and we were surprised to see it hadn’t been harvested yet.
The walk leaflet said that this wood had been “disfigured”, but we thought it was beautiful. True, in both woods we could see evidence of industry beneath our feet, but otherwise both were very full in leaf and with autumn “litter” on the ground.
We even forgot there was a mine shaft here.
All along the walk, whether just inside the woods or around the outside, we had some stunning panoramic views. Seeing “Sister Emily” so close reminded us of how close we really did get to her the previous week. (Members of the NUJ fondly refer to the Emley mast as Sister Emily.)
We left the field we were in over a small stile next to some bungalows and down a very narrow public path, which brought us out onto a road. We then walked up the road for a few hundred yards before climbing over another stile back into another field.
Here we had a short but steep climb towards a very small clump of trees. (The leaflet called it a copse, but there were only a few trees there.)
Here we took the first short-cut, which took us right through a field filled with adult cows, who were very curious and wanted to follow us.
With our recent experience of living with cows, we reckon they thought we might have food. (I was sure the poet took a picture of these cows, but there wasn’t one on the disk when he gave it to me …)
Eventually, this led to a public footpath alongside a farmer’s field. The field had recently been ploughed, leaving the walker around 12 – 18 inches of “footpath” to walk on, alongside a fairly steep drop.
The public footpath in turn led to another road, and we walked along this for some time, passing some hidden houses at the end of some long driveways.
At the bottom of the slope, we turned left into Cliffe Woods again, to take the second short-cut, where we saw a small group of young cows. They were quietly minding their own business but ran in the opposite direction when they saw the dog.
Then we were back where we started at the entrance to the woods next to the bowling green, and at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly interesting walk.
We walked 2.05 miles in an hour and thirty minutes, burning just 351 calories. I’m not going to share the MapMyWalk map again because there’s already one on the walk leaflet linked to above and, besides, this panoramic shot is much more interesting.
So it’s been a while, but we finally managed our first walk in AGES last Sunday.
Because I was out of condition, we decided to just do a short walk, and this village trail around Emley is apparently 3 miles but with 2 short-cuts.
The first short-cut was approximately a third of the walk, so we thought that would be just about right.
We parked up in a small car park opposite the convenience mini-market. There’s a stone cross here that marks the centre of the village, which is the remains of the old market cross. With our backs to the old stone cross, we walked down towards St Michael’s church.
I don’t know if you can see it in the picture (I’m not sharing many today as they’re a bit samey and the sky was a bit washed out), but just to the right of the war memorial is a stone cross built into the church wall. This was the symbol of the Knights Hospitallers, who owned a lot of land here.
We turned right at the church, into School Lane, and left onto Rodley Lane. This forked right (for us) onto Thorncliffe Lane and through a working farm.
Here the lane became a narrow track with high fields on either side above us. We looked up to see we were being watched!
We struggled to find a stile next to a big steel gate, so we followed our nose until we came out roughly where we thought we needed to be. Then the directions told us to “walk 50 metres towards the tree”. We looked up and the field was scattered with trees!
Again we followed our noses, and ended up in a dead-end. But by following the boundary of the field, we found ourselves at a “stile next to a clump of holly trees” and resumed our walk.
We’d only gone a very short way out of our way, probably a few hundred metres. But when we got to the first short-cut, we were ready to head back along Leisure Lane, which dates back to when there was a 13th century lepers’ hospice in the village.
When we reached the car, we found we’d walked 3.05 miles! The whole walk is supposed to be 3 miles, so how did that happen? It had taken us an hour and 38 minutes, mind, and we did burn 426 calories. Plus, we’d been walking at a speed of 32 minutes per mile. Therefore, we’re going to go again, but only once we’ve built up our distance again so we can do either the full walk or the walk with the second short-cut.
I already shared the MapMyWalk picture on Monday, so here’s a picture of the beautiful autumn colours instead.
Because I’ve been so lax with the blog posts just lately, you’re getting a bit of a double whammy this time. Nothing huge, though. We weren’t at either place for very long and it wasn’t really photographing weather.
Back on 8 April, we ventured back to Bempton Cliffs because we’d heard the puffins had arrived. We didn’t plan to spend too long. The poet wanted to try and take some pictures through his spotting scope, but it was so windy the tripod simply wasn’t substantial enough to support the extra weight of the camera.
We didn’t really see many puffins either. We saw 4 in flight, 1 on the water, and 2 in a cliff cave – but they kept bobbing in and out of view.
Meanwhile, a few days later, he picked himself up a right little bargain as he walked through the market. He saw a sturdy tripod on one of the second-hand stalls, and he told himself if it cost 20 quid, he’d buy it …
Well, it was £2! So he snapped it up and was delighted to see that it even came with a box.
So now we can go back again as soon as the weather is right and we have the time …
… possibly this weekend, actually, thinking about it (though if he reads this before I mention it, it may be a bit of a surprise to him).
A couple of weeks later, on 17 April, we paid a visit to Langold Lake, one of the poet’s old fishing haunts when he was a kid.
He was surprised to see that it had been given “country park” status, but it was much as he remembered it – apart from the diving boards on the lake no longer being there (health & safety, we presume).
He enjoyed the trip down memory land and was proud to show me the spot where he caught his first fish there, and told me how he had to go to the pay phone down the road to ring his dad and ask him to come and take a picture of him with said fish.
(I think it was the first fish he caught there, not the first fish he ever caught, but I daresay he’ll happily correct me later.)
He pointed out where he used to jump in the lake and swim … and I pointed out the dead, diseased fish floating in the reeds … not very healthy water. No wonder they took the boards down.
And finally, before we left, we enjoyed an ice cream beside the lake. It was a bit cool and blustery, but we were able to warm up in the car.
No MapMyWalk this time – we forgot to set it at Bempton, and only remembered at Langold halfway around.