Countryside Wanderings

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out of doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Category: Pennine Way

Encountering ravishing surroundings while wounded inside

Monday, January 20th, 2014

It can be amazing how resilient the human spirit can be. After all that came my way in 2013, I am amazed at how I manage to find to some inner peace as much of the time as I do. That wasn’t how it felt in April after my mother passed away the month before. Then, looking ahead didn’t seem a possibility. Getting somewhat accustomed to the changed state of affairs was more than enough to slow down life itself.

In the midst of that, I took to walking every evening because that’s how time can be set aside for working through things and venting any stress through footsteps so as not to hurt others. During one of these walks, I decided that a longer walk was in order and quieter hill country would be most suitable. When glorious weather came for the first Saturday in April 2013, I had my chance and it was taken without hesituation. Staying indoors dwelling just wasn’t an option with the rawness that was within me. It was the hill country to the east of Hayfield and Glossop that drew me. It may attract its share of visitors but that never means that there aren’t quieter spots and quiet interludes on well frequented patches. Such was what I needed and there were plenty on the day, especially in its later hours. Those restorative moments were relished when they came.

My initial plan was to make for the track up to Edale Cross and use that for getting up to Kinder Scout after a diversion to see Kinder Reservoir from where I knew there were photos to be had, especially in bright sunshine. Once off Kinder Scout, it was to be a matter of dropping down to Glossop on the Doctor’s Gate Path. However, I changed my mind during the walk as can happen. On finding the descent to see Kinder Scout to involve the loss of more height than expected, I instead chose to go around by the dam of the reservoir and regain height on the way up to and through William Clough. Other than that, the walk was routed as intended and I have left the possibility of going along the western edge of Kinder Scout for later. On looking at its northern slopes and streaked they were with snow, it looked to have been a sensible choice.

All of this chopping and changing route lay in the future as I left Hayfield by way of the Pennine Bridleway, a multi-modal track that starts in the Derbyshire Dales and then goes north at least as far as Settle. One section is called after the off-road horse riding access campaigner Mary Townley and the whole trail also is open to moderately adventurous off-road cyclists too. Apart from Derbyshire, I also have met with it around Burnley when I used it on Pennine Way jaunts between Haworth and there.

Kinder Mass Trespass Plaque, Bowden Bridge Quarry, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

Though the Pennine Bridleway would have carried me near Coldwell Clough and the bridleway for Edale Cross, I left it for a path for Bowden Bridge instead. That kept me alongside the River Sett for longer and past the illustrious quarry where the gathering prior to the Kinder Trespass of 1932. Looking up for some photos, my gaze revealed the location of the said plaque and I made of photo of it for a sort of keepsake.

On Way to Coldwell Clough under Harry Moor, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

After largely staying on the level for the start of the walk, it was time to gain some height and there was plenty of that on the track from Bowden Bridge towards Coldwell Clough. Folk were trailing in my wake so I wasn’t doing this by myself but the turn away from the track leading to Ashes Farm meant that I lost them; they probably were bound for elsewhere or turned back after gaining their fill. Whatever they did, I hope what they got from their outings was memorable.

Kinderlow End from Coldwell Clough, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

Beyond Coldwell Clough, the track for Edale was obscured by a deep white covering of snow. As I was getting to that point, a silent gentleman in Landrover had driven up (to my mind, he appeared to be an estate worker and there was little or no acknowledgement of any pleasantries were sent his way) and was stopped there for a while. Off-road cyclists were about too and I am unsure as to why the man in the Landrover was waiting. As I scaled the snow-buried track, he left for somewhere else so I was wondering if was being watched for some reason, hopefully benevolent.

Beyond the snow patch, I largely had the Edale track to myself and took to looking around me. The were hills to the south of me and these were blocking any view of the New Mills to Sheffield railway line though that enters a tunnel too to get from Chinley to Edale. Looking at the map now, hills like South Head and others near are tempting and caught my eye on visits made to Sheffield by train earlier in the year. They, like other parts, are awaiting their turn for a visit.

Kinder Reservoir, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

Kinderlow End lay right in front of me now and I was seeking the path that would get to views of Kinder Reservoir that I had not seen for the most of ten years. Those were under overcast skies and I quite fancied seeing them in prettier weather. Before then though, there was time for a spot of lunch and I needed to contend with gate that was forced shut by a bank of snow. On finding how much I was losing to get to the sights that lay in my memory, I started to change my mind about the course that I had planned. Though it often is a wrench to do so, there are times when you can take on too much so your cloth has to be cut to your measure. This was one of those and I dropped down towards the Kinder Dam, crossed below it and started to gain height on the other side.

Kinder Reservoir from Nab Brow, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

Kinder Reservoir is one of those operated by a water company and once had its own purification facility. This is now shut with the required processing going on elsewhere and broken skylights on what otherwise looks an impressive building are signs of its redundancy; hopefully, its fate doesn’t mean utter dereliction. Leaving the former purification plant after, I continued along White Brow and Nab Brow to retrace a route followed under overcast January skies in an era before this blog started. Recollection of the actual year is vague now but 2003 feels about right. Retracing of steps got sights from that earlier occasion on a more flattering and so were worth any toil. Below me lay permissive paths that encircle the reservoir and it was to pain me a little to have to lose height to go near their level in order to cross a stream before heading up William Clough.

William Clough, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

William Clough never was seen by me in better conditions and I revelled in the sights that lay ahead of though the path was uncertain at times. In fact, I was unsure as to whether I was following an intended right of way or taking advantage of a permissive path. Either way, I negotiated my way uphill steadily and negotiation was the appropriate term when I encountered a bank of snow covering the path near the top of the clough. Once past that, I didn’t have far to go before gradients eased again. Some folk were asking me about the way down and a National Park ranger passed the way and they went with him so I assume all was well for them from that point forward.

Kinder Scout as seen from the Pennine Way, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Once above William Clough, I found that clouds had filled the sky and it looked as if hope for sunlit scenes was extinguished for the day. Hence, any photos of the northern elevation of Kinder Scout were made with a sense of making the best of what was given to me. Looking at the photo above, it is tempting to think that I wasn’t being dealt cruelty either. Seeing the patches of snow made me not envy anyone following the Pennine Way north off Kinder Scout though the possibility of following a path via Black Ashop on another day entered my head.

Snow Bank across Doctor's Gate Path, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Unlike previous occasions, the flagged path of the Pennine Way felt long as I headed towards the A57. The route taken hardly is a direct one anyone with its liking for going east. There was one good development overhead me though in that clouds were dissolving overhead me. That was set to grant me a pleasing evening filled with the challenge of following the Doctor’s Gate Path back to Glossop after crossing the aforementioned trunk road between Glossop and Sheffield.

There was a hint of what was to come in the form of a snow bank that completely engulf what have looked a tame gate appropriate to more domesticated terrain. With a steep incline ahead of me, I needed to gather my wits to overcome this obstacle and there were deviations from the intended right of way to deal with more ill-located snow banks and subsidence that had affected even stretches of path that weren’t snow-covered. It certainly isn’t easy terrain for off-road cycling or horse riding so the bridleway designation mystifies me.

Shelf Brook from Doctor's Gate Footpath, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Shelf Brook below Shelf Moor, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Footpath to Doctor's Gate, Glossop, Derbyshire, England

Nevertheless, the Doctor’s Gate Path does grow more tame as you nearer to Glossop. In fact, I see the footbridge crossing Shelf Brook as the dividing line between wilder and tamer countryside. There is a path beyond there that takes you higher up the hillside so that muddy brookside hopping can be avoided. With some time to hand, it was around here for another I took another refuelling stop and sampled the peace of my surroundings. It was balm for my torn insides so I relished the moments that I had.

From then on, the walking was easier and path turned to track around Mossy Lea Farm and I started to encounter folk out for a quick late evening stroll before the light finally died. My guess is that they were sticking to the good track and were far from intent on seeking adventure. A minuscule slice of that had come my way though it was the quieter moments that I really relished when my spirit needed them. That excuses for other walks appeared in the form of that intended route along the western edge of Kinder Scout or a possible paved path that leads by Whitethorn Clough that could become a more direct route option for hiking to Glossop from Kinder Scout. It was if some things from a previous life remained for what felt like a very new one.

Travel Arrangements:

Bus service 58 to Buxton and bus service 61 from there to Hayfield. From Glossop, I went home by train with a change in Manchester Piccadilly.

Within a landscape of loss

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

It’s been quiet on here since last February and part of the cause has been a life event. Within the last few weeks, my aged mother passed away after a short illness. There were other underlying medical problems too so we couldn’t expect the increasingly frail lady to be around forever. Yet, she went quicker than we would have grown to expect. In fact, it was my father who was of greater concern with his nearly dying on us at the start of January. Miraculously, he came from that but still needs round the clock nursing care. That has placed him in a nursing home and it’s not something that he is accepting easily; ever so often, we have the pain of him inventing schemes to get away from there and it’s very far from being a bad example of the breed. Loneliness, grief and perhaps a certain amount of homesickness may be behind his ever more desperate and worrying suggestions. He cannot live as he did before so it would be great to see him settle where he is.

It’s at times like these that a good natter with a friend can mean so much, especially someone who intimately knows a little of situation that is being faced. Also, there’s trotting through countryside. Most of these are short strolls in nearby parks in Wilmslow and Macclesfield. There is something about purposeful striding that gets stress out of your system (much better than taking it out on someone else anytime) while also allowing a bit of head clearing thinking. Amusing encounters with other folk’s dogs lift the spirit too.

Kinder Reservoir Dam, Hayfield, Derbyshire, England

There was a longer trot in the sunshine of last Saturday from Hayfield to Glossop via Coldwell Clough, Kinder Reservoir, William Clough and Doctor’s Gate. It was the prospect of going through a less peopled countryside that was the cause of drawing me there. There wasn’t complete desertion though even if there was more than plenty of space for everyone. It granted me the long episodes of solitude that allowed for gazing upon the surrounding moorland and dealing with any unevenness in the terrain; the Doctor’s Gate footpath was a little tricky due to subsidence and areas of banked snow but most of my course was less taxing than this, even those snow banks I found higher up William Clough. Mostly, I wasn’t concentrating much on where my legs needed to travel and more on enjoying the experience of being out and about, of feeling that not all life comes to a stop when a loved one is lost.

Upper Lake from Looscaunagh Hill, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Éire

Hopefully, there will be more of those longer outdoor escapades. My mother may wonder at where I went but she loved the outdoors too. Scenic parts of counties Kerry and Cork were particular favourites but Connemara and Wicklow saw their way into her canon also. She was the one who most appreciate any souvenir volumes of landscape photos that I ever brought as gifts. The last of these that I ever gave to her came from a trip to Isle of Man, a gift for Mother’s Day. Of special delight to her was the exposure to sea air with many a trip to Irish seaside destinations such as Ballybunion, Beale, Ballyheigue and Banna (all in County Kerry as it happened and she a Corkwoman) resulted from this desire. Though I do coastal walking, I never have been a seaside person with my own preferences causing day outings to Gougane Barra and Killarney. In fact, the best ever visit to the latter also had the best weather of a hot sunny Sunday in May 2010. With a decline in my father’s well-being, that was our last such trip like that together and its memories are all the more important now.

It is from my parents that I got the hill country bug that has been the cause of so many excursions. Times may be trying now but they also may be cause of my getting out and about more too. In times past, it may have caused some conflicts of its own but the head clearing properties of a good walk are more than apt right now.

Littered with little walks

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

One thing that I have noticed about the Derbyshire Dales is that many of the walks around there are short affairs. That would explain how I fitted in two on the same day last May. Also, a few weeks ago, I got to take in yet another: a trot from Thorpe to Hartington that followed the course of the River Dove that followed up on last May’s venture.

Since part of the course that I followed was a busy stretch, I have been looking at what else the area has to offer. The sunny day had drawn out families and they seemed to be everywhere, walking much further than I would normally expect. Usually, strollers like these are left after one quickly but the more level terrain and the beautiful day must have encouraged them.

Looking through Cicerone’s White Peak Walks: The Southern Dales by Mark Richards revealed good supply of walks in the area, many of them short. With the hours of daylight now declining, that attribute could be a handy one for hibernation avoidance this winter. Options like Thorpe Cloud and others look promising and may offer less hemmed in savouring of the delights that are to be found around there.

The northern Derbyshire Dales but there seem to be longer walks there than in their southern counterparts if what’s in Cicerone’s White Peak Walks: The Northern Dales (again by Mark Richards). Still, they offer possibilities for shorter days that I feel inclined to investigate, especially those that are near at hand to those using public transport. One’s that catch my notice are possibilities near Tideswell, Castleton and Bradwell since I haven’t been around those parts for a while.

For when longer hours of daylight are restored to us again, there’s Vertebrate Publishing’s Day Walks in the Peak District by Norman Taylor and Barry Pope. These aren’t limited to the White Peak with Dark Peak routes also included. However, they will fill a day nicely and without having to cut out a leisurely midday lunch either. One suggestion in there takes in Longnor and Crowdecote and that involves a deep sided valley that hosts the upper reaches of the River Dove. There are plenty of others that I could use though and an earlier start is a possibility since the Peak District is on my doorstep.

For walks that are even closer by me, there’s Eastern Cheshire Walks: From Peak to Plain by Graham Beech from Sigma Leisure. Having had a trot home from Bollington that took in the Saddle of Kerridge and Tegg’s Nose on a wonderfully sunny afternoon. It left me wondering why I don’t make more of the local area and why it is that some nearby hummocks only get an annual visit when I should do better than that. Maybe I need to peruse this little green book a few times in an effort to address that state of affairs.

Speaking of a certain remiss, the western side of Cheshire always seems to be devoid of my attention. The idea of walking from Frodsham to Delamere train station along the Sandstone Trail has occurred to me but things have got no further than that. That trail has its own guide too in the form of Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail by Tony Bowerman. This is an attractive glossily presented affair from Northern Eye Books and it looks as if needs more than has been the case up to now. As that were not enough, there’s also Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral by Jen Darling from the same publisher. Some of the walks in there are short too, which could be handy for a quick sortie. That’s not all either because Mara Books, an imprint of Northern Eye Books, have produced Circular Walks around the Sandstone Trail by Carl Rogers so I should not be short of walking ideas for a part of Cheshire that I scarcely have frequented up to now.

All in all, there should be plenty from the above to fuel shorter and longer escapades in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire. With those shorter hours of daylight around the corner, they could have a use. What needs doing is not to make the walks feel longer than they are and to summon the energy needed to get out of doors in the first place. Sometimes life events and weather forestall that but my design of at least one walk per month has been bearing up well since May so here’s hoping.

Coincidences or mind-reading?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Last week, I picked up a copy of the latest edition of Country Walking and it features ideas with which I have been toying for a while. High Cup Nick and Teesdale on the Pennine Way are among these as is a circular walk from Ingleton that takes in Twisleton Scars and Ingleborough, yet another route that I’d like to reprise. Even, nearby Shutlingsloe and Tegg’s Nose get a look in too so Cheshire’s hill country does not get neglected either.

The week before, the current edition of TGO arrived on my doormat and it features two places that I have visited recently: the Howgill Fells and Gower. The latter of these only saw me again last week and I enjoyed a circular walk taking in Rhosili Down and a pleasant stretch of the Welsh Coastal Path between Rhosili and Port-Eynon. The TGO route differed from these coastal ambles but going inland and uphill for much of the way. Gower is not big but it attracts a lot of folk of a sunny day and the roads cannot take the traffic so that’s worth bearing in mind. That also has the effect of severely delaying buses as I discovered. Sensibly, I decided to overnight in the area rather than trying a day trip so the delay caused no mishap and I was indoors before a weather drama featuring lightning, thunder and heavy rain unfolded. Looking along that coastline again is causing me to conjure up yet more walking ideas.

TGO’s Howgill Fells route is an overnighting affair too and explores hills that I only glimpsed from atop The Calf. While a day walk would be more what I am after, it has made me think about approaching these hills using somewhere other than Sedbergh, again using the 564 bus service between Kendal and Kirkby Stephen. The Llyn in Wales is another walking possibility of which this month’s TGO has reminded me and there’s the prospect of a circular hike into hills from Achnashellach train station on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line too for pondering, especially as I have played with using an out and back train journey along that railway to occupy a day when the weather isn’t as favourable for going out of doors.

While the overlap between my thinking and what’s to be found in walking magazines may seem uncanny but it could also be that I am just ranging over so much of Britain when playing with possibilities that overlap with what others are thinking is inevitable. Then again, they may be reading my words on here too…


Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

In weather terms, 2012 started like a lion in some parts with Scotland getting a particular battering. Before that the second day of the year saw me crossing hills to pop over to Buxton. That act planted in my mind the prospect of exploring more of Macclesfield’s hills this year. However, the following weekend was a quiet one for me.

The weather may have been offering in other places but a prior commitment was the cause of my staying close to home and not getting out among hills in parts like Shropshire or even wandering along the streets of somewhere pleasing to the eye like Edinburgh or even Shrewsbury. That’s not to say that I wasn’t doing some more playing with ideas for outdoors outings though.

Three Brethern, Selkirk, Borders, Scotland

While adjusting albums in the photo gallery, thoughts were drawn to revisiting places where I haven’t been for a while. The online photo albums that attracted my attention were that for the Pennine Way and the Scottish Southern Uplands and Borders. The refresh involved adding photos were added, removing an old one rewriting a few descriptions. The trip ideas that came to mind while adjusting those photos included a stay in Peebles to explore the surrounding hills as well as getting to walk more of the Pennine Way or even the Southern Upland Way. Old and not so old photos act as reminders for me of past glories and lure me back to where I found them before.

Three Shire Heads, Staffordshire, England

Last weekend’s cold frosty sunny weather was enough to draw out among hills again on Saturday. It was a day when any part of Britain’s hill country would have delighted and I did play with a walk around Sedbergh that involved an out and back yomp into and onto the Howgill Fells. Looking a bus timetables caused me to leave it for later in the year. Remembering how stiff I felt after a trot about Church Stretton’s hills before Christmas was a factor too in not deciding not to set my sights too high. Thus, I opted for a hike from the Cat and Fiddle Inn to Buxton that mainly followed the Dane Valley Way with a deliberate diversion or two. After all, the prospect of seeing the Three Shire Heads bridge in full winter lighting was too good to miss; it may have added to the distance covered but proved to be well worth that. If all goes to plan, more will be said about the walk sooner instead of later.

Though our settled spell of weather is leaving us at the time of writing, there are promising signs for the coming weekend too. While limbs were stiff on Sunday and Monday, I take that as a cue for trying to get out a little more often then last year and January 2012 isn’t over yet. What I am not planning is anything as frenetic as this month last year when I walked successively in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Pacing oneself is no bad thing either and quiet moments are needed for collating more ideas too. A recent catch up with a article from one of last year’s issues of TGO has me wanting to sit with it and pore over maps while ogling the contained photos of splendid Lake District hill country. Wandering needs forethought at times.