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.
2007 became a year that was dominated by walking sections of long distance trails like the Pennine Way. That in turn led me to Calderdale during the spring of that year. Two trips stand out for me with the first being near the start of February and the second near the start of March. Since those, I hardly have explored the area with other places gaining my attention.
This is a part of the world laden with so many public rights of way that it is difficult to pick out a few to facilitate some wandering. Maybe it is better to ramble from one to another in a more haphazard way and civilisation is ever at hand in the valley below the moors in any case. That sort of approach lay in the background as I plied my circuitous way from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden during the autumn of 2017.
It was a sunny if chilly Friday so it was little surprise to see others wandering about as well. Even so, I was about to find plenty of those quieter interludes that I relish so much. The advantage of having many paths to follow is that people can spread out everywhere. Some of these rights of way were not as clear or as well signed as others but there was no conflict with landowners either.
There may have been a problem with train services going east from Hebden Bridge but it did little to delay my arrival and was soon forgotten as I scaled the steep slopes to reach the moors in the autumn sunshine. Because of all the path options, that also meant correcting a wrong turning and I got to wondering if having a GPS receiver with me might have been better. These days, the OS app on my phone would have been enough to put me right but that lay in the future back then.
The constant sunshine and the multitude of quieter places meant that I could navigate from right of way to right of way in peace and with ample time for ensuring that I was going in the right direction. Some of these followed clear tracks while others took me straight across boggy ground. Along the way, I took in views towards Heptonstall and Mytholmroyd though any sights of Hebden Bridge were lost in the steep-sided cleft of Calderdale. On any hike, some views are left behind you as you proceed towards others.
My eventual destination was Stoodley Pike and getting there meant passage along part of the Pennine Way so the direction of travel was easy to follow at this point even if the air was chilly enough for me not to tarry for too long. Cloud may have started to fill the sky but any disruption of sunshine was momentary so I started on my way towards Todmorden. That took me down a steep incline using part of the Calderdale Way to Mankinholes and Lumbutts from where a mixture of road walking and footpath rambling got me to my final destination in ample time for the train journey home again after what had been a satisfying stroll with an added element of problem solving.
Train journey from Macclesfield to Hebden Bridge followed by train journey from Todmorden to Macclesfield.
The continuing non-availability of Northern train services on Saturdays due to industrial action became such a source of personal confinement that their restoration produced such a dramatic effect. From February until now, I have been away most weekends making use of the increased opportunities for train travel. The promising weather helped too even if it meant that water supplies were not getting replenished as required after last summer’s extended spell of hot and dry weather.
The result was that Yorkshire got a lot of attention throughout February and March. It started with a visit to the North York Moors on a sunny day in February that felt more like summer than the actual time of year. Roseberry Topping was revisited as well as nearby hills as I traced out part of the Cleveland Way on a circuit centred on Great Ayton’s Train station.
Other circuits were followed by train as dictated by the extent of day ranger ticket areas. Two of these took me between Leeds and Carlisle so it might have been inevitable that I ended up getting ideas for walking outings as a result. The departure point for such attentions was Settle since I had not passed Attermire Scar or visited Malham and its nearby tarn for far too long. Sunshine may not have been in ample supply through my walking rounds so another trip to Malham Cove cannot be ruled out and it could see me going to Skipton on foot as well. There were two outings in total and there already is another in mind.
It has been a spring full of city visitations too. In the north of England, the tally included Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield and Scottish cities like Edinburgh and Stirling got their share of attention too and there even was a trip to Cardiff for some wandering by the River Taff. More will be written about these below while Newcastle saw more wandering than other northern cities as I pottered along by the River Tyne on the way to Wallend using part of Hadrian’s Wall Path. That again was a quieter stroll and there was much to savour on a journey from a city centre to greener parts of its suburbs.
An elongated Easter weekend allowed for a longer stay in Edinburgh that has been in mind for some time and there was a truncated effort in 2017. 2019 saw no such intrusions so I was there from Holy Thursday through to Easter Tuesday as planned. That allowed for a lot of city rambling and there there were two visits to Linlithgow. Hill wanadering featured too and days were spent among the Pentland Hills and doing a round of the hills encircling Glen Sax. Along the reminisces and silly daydreams entered my mind but the time spent around a city where I spent part of my university years also became a chance to deal with any episodes of unfulfilled promise that returned to haunt me.
When I moved away from Edinburgh in 2000, there may have been an element of unfinished business that drew me back again and again to somewhere for which I still hold much affection. The 2019 version of the same was a suboptimally composed photo on Calton Hill so I returned on the Mayday bank holiday weekend to set that to rights. Other sights like the city’s botanic gardens and Costorphine Hill Local Nature Reserve were frequented too and the latter featured on another visit during the following weekend.
Though I was bound for Stirling, a stopover in Edinburgh did allow me to revisit the Royal Mile and Costorphine Hill in good sunshine for the sake of a little closure of what was becoming like an Edinburgh trilogy. Stirling saw plenty of sauntering with photographic pursuits in mind but the prospect of a walk among the nearby Ochill Hills remains outstanding so that could be another excuse to go back up there again.
After all those weekend forays elsewhere, it now feels as if some quiet time at home is in order and that pervaded the Spring Bank Holiday weekend aside from the aforementioned day trip to Cardiff. Others making the same journey had the attendance of a Spice Girls concert in mind but designs were far more demure as I avoided bands of cyclists to amble by the River Taff to take in the spring foliage on trees around Bute Park and Llandaff on a sunny afternoon that could not be enjoyed further north, such was the available weather. The summer awaits so only when that arrives will its roaming be revealed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.