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 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.
Yes, it’s been a while. We’ve been so busy since the spring, with quite a lot going on over the summer. But now, hopefully, we’re settling down again … I feel as though I say this every few months!
Anyway, I have been keeping an eye on my weight and it’s not been good. Back in February, I dropped down into the next stone-zone. But since then it seems I’ve managed to pile on a pound a month on average – that’s 9lb since February – and I’m not happy at all.
We have been cutting our added-sugar intake and the poet has managed to more or less maintain his own 2-stone weight-loss. But I’m just not doing it.
So yesterday we finally managed the first of our weekend walks again – we’ve not had any for AGES. It was supposed to be just a short 1-miler. And I chose a 3-mile circular around Emley that had 2 (TWO!) “short cuts”.
You can see from the map where we went the wrong way. And no, it’s not the roughly square shape to the top right, that was the first third of the walk, returning back along the first short cut. The mistake is in the bottom right-hand corner of that roughly square shape. It’s about a quarter of an inch on the map, but it certainly isn’t 2 miles-worth. But somehow, we still managed to do just over 3 miles, so I’ll be checking these map routes in future.
There will be more on this walk later in the week when the photographs have been processed, but this is just us getting back into our keeping-fit regime.
Today we start to eat planned meals, probably from Slimming World and similar organisations. We’re not joining a slimming club. The poet doesn’t really need to for a start, he’s just supporting me. But there aren’t really any close by that are held at convenient times, and I think some of the online slimming clubs are a bit pricey. But today we start to eat planned meals, hopefully rotating meal plans on a monthly basis. And yesterday we started to walk again.
My first target is the first half-stone or 7lb. My next target will be the next stone-zone again. Then we’ll set new targets from there.
This morning when I got up with the poet to send him off to work, I hadn’t lost a bean. When I got up again an hour-and-a-half later, I’d lost a pound. I’m taking that for my first week!
I’m finally catching up with blog posts, and here, at last, is the start of our camping holiday in Eskdale at Whitsun. But he’s getting so good at taking pictures, now, we have 146 from this weekend alone and I’m having to select just a handful for illustrations. So I’m splitting this holiday into separate days.
We only had 3 actual days, beyond the 1 day either side for travelling. And on the first day the poet decided he wanted to go for a walk because he was sick of sitting in a car and not being able to see all of the scenery properly.
So, rather than using a guided walk or a map or anything like that, he decided we’d just follow one of the many, many footpath finger signs and see where we ended up. And we ended up walking for more than 4 very beautiful miles.
Of course, it also gave him chance to have a play with his camera. It’s a good job he has a memory card now. He was able to take loads, see how he was doing, and delete any that weren’t any good – and still he ended up with almost 200 before paring them down to the final 146.
We decided that we’d quite like to go and see the local waterfalls, and the sign said it was only 2km away. Then it was 1.5km, then 1km … and then 1.5km again … Had we missed them?
No matter, there was plenty of other scenery to look at and lots of footpaths criss-crossing each other. And one finger sign pointed to “stepping stones”.
We did find those, but it seemed to be the local picnic spot and there were quite a few loose, big dogs. And Rufus doesn’t really like it when there are other dogs vying for attention. So we chose a path that ran alongside the river and think we found ourselves on a path that ran parallel to the one to the waterfall.
The poet spotted a little bird dipping and diving, and Rufus and I were ordered to “keep back” while he tried to snap it, as the dog making a lot of noise would no doubt frighten the poor little thing away.
Well, there turned out to be at least 2 dippers, and it was when me and Rufus came crashing along anyway that I spotted one that was much easier to see than the one the poet was tracking.
He said that’s just typical. He’s being very good and quiet and trying to get a good shot of a really shy bird, then I come along, making as much noise as possible, and point out one much closer.
We followed the path back, and rejoined the one that led to the waterfall (2km … hmm). And gradually, what started out as quite a gentle river-level walk was starting to look a bit hilly. A bit UP-hilly. And Diane doesn’t really do hills …
We carried on regardless, in case it levelled out again. (It didn’t.) And gradually the path not only got higher, but it also got more narrow, more winding, and slightly more dangerous with a river immediately to one side, slippy rocks and boulders underfoot, and a very hyperactive dog.
A few people were coming back down, others were giving up and waiting for the more adventurous members of their parties to go up and “do it” and come back when they were done. One dad refused to let his kids (4 of them) climb the last bit, and the poet was worried that the dog might pull me over and down to the water.
My balance isn’t brilliant and we usually let the dog off his lead under those circumstances, but with so many people and so many other dogs about, we didn’t want to risk it – and, to be honest, I didn’t fancy the last part of the climb anyway.
We hadn’t come all that way not to see what we’d eventually set out to see. So the poet continued up alone while I waited just below with the dog.
Watching him struggle around part of the “path” and need to hang on as he rounded a particularly tricky bend, I knew we’d made the right decision. And he didn’t stay up there very long anyway. There wasn’t enough room for a start, and he just wanted to take the photographs and then come back to me and the dog.
We picked our way back down – which was easier than going up – re-joined the road and made our way back to the campsite. It was a real treat being so close to such lovely scenery without having to get in the car.
According to MapMyWalk (I’m not going to waste a picture slot here with a screenshot this time), we walked 4.14 miles and burned 617 calories.
And all the while Scafell Pike was there, in the cloud, alongside us.
We’ve not had a lot of time to ourselves for a few weeks and have been dashing all over the place visiting various family members in various places. But I did have a brand new pair of walking boots for my birthday, I did want to at least start to break them in, and we did want to try at least a little walk where we can.
So, not this weekend just gone but last Sunday, we went to Kinver Edge near Stourbridge. Actually, we started off by going to the Lickey Hills Country Park, but couldn’t park in the very busy car park. Then we tried the Clent Hills, but couldn’t find anywhere to park. Then we grabbed a quick lunch and then I took us on a magical mystery tour. And we ended up at the rock houses at Kinver.
I’ve wanted to see these houses ever since I found out they existed, but I’d tried to find them before sat-nav and got hopelessly lost. This time I was able to plug the post code into my mobile phone and just tell the poet which way to drive.
At first we thought we’d struggle to park here too, as the first car park you come to was already packed. But we drove on up the hill a little way and found another, bigger, emptier car park. It seems this was the car park used by regulars and locals too, as there were lots preparing to walk their dogs or coming back from walking their dogs.
The signpost said that the houses were only 500m away, or we could divert upwards towards a viewpoint. As I was dying for the loo, we said we’d visit the houses first, use the facilities, and walk up to the viewpoint after. But we had a perfectly adequate view from the rock houses, so decided in the end not to carry on upwards.
The houses, managed by the National Trust, are on 3 levels. The 1st level has 3 restored houses; the 2nd level is closed to the public; and the 3rd level has the café and toilets plus a couple of caves you can walk inside. There is a piped soundtrack in the bottom houses, and they felt quite cool. Apparently, however, they were supposed to keep cool in the summer but warm in the winter once the fires were lit.
I’ve always wanted to see them ever since my dad mentioned he used to know someone who lived there in the 1930s. The houses were, in fact, lived in right up to the 1960s, but had to be abandoned due to lack of sanitation.
On the footpath back to the car park is a small adventure area and the dog climbed up a stair of logs where the poet could take his picture at the top. They both did very well! 😉
The boots held up, didn’t even give a hint of rubbing or pinching, and were very comfortable.
We only walked 1.04 miles this time and only burned 225 calories. But there’s plenty more for visitors to see and do.