Sunday, 17 May 2015

Walking Derwent Valley: afternoon wandering and a picnic hike

First up, I must say a big thank you to Jacqueline and everyone at
Mill at Bamford 
Tideswell Cinema for letting us join them for NTlive's screening of Man And Superman on Thursday. What a brilliant production! I'll be honest. I was expecting it all to be earnest and serious, but it's a very funny play. Over 100 years old yet still so cuttingly relevant that it could have been written this year. If you missed it, do try to catch an encore screening if you can. One of NTlive's best I think. Emma Freud was talking about their forthcoming Everyman production too, and the trailer made it look like another not to be missed. Only trouble is that I have no idea where we will be on the 16th July!

We have been making good use of Northern Rail trains for our last two
Bamford sculpture trail 
walks. The Sheffield to Manchester line runs through Hope so we can see (and hear!) long goods trains and diddy passenger trains from Bailey. On Friday afternoon we took ourselves for a wander from Hope to Hathersage, a route that went along part of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way. We both loved the view of this now repurposed mill in Bamford. The weir across the front is striking. I also saw another sculpture similar to that one on the Thornhill Trail, but this time with a helpful plaque. Apparently they are part of the Bamford Sculpture Trail! This trail consists of four touchstone sculptures illustrating earth, air, fire and water. Installed to mark the turning of the millennium, the project was realised by artist Jenny Mather who worked from lots of clay models created by local families.

The footpath leads through the grounds of the mill and over the stream
A far-too-narrow bridge 
below the weir. When I saw this extremely narrow bridge that I had to cross I felt just like Jim Nelson, Michael Palin's character in the powerful TV series GBH. (We're watching a borrowed DVD boxed set in the evenings - thanks Dad! - and it's also available via Amazon Instant Video) There were planks and stepping stones later on too. All good fun!? We stayed walking alongside water for most of the way to Hathersage and it became more of a nature walk than a heritage walk as we spotted several different species of waterbirds including dippers, mallard ducks with cute ducklings, wagtails, canada geese, a moorhen, coots, mandarin ducks and a goosander. We did have to google the mandarins and goosander. The latter was fascinating at first sight. It was swimming along under the water almost resembling a penguin with its speed! Then it surfaced for a few seconds to shake its wings out before diving underwater again. We had to practically run along the high bank to keep up with it!

We caught a train back from Hathersage to Hope - only £2.50 each - and
Footpath through Frogatt Wood 
enjoyed our afternoon so much that yesterday morning we caught a train again for the reverse journey, this time equipped with picnic to attemp a challenging walk for us: a total of about 11 miles from Hathersage up to the Calver Edge, then back around and down to Grindleford for the train home. From Hathersage station, we went back to the same riverside point we had left on Friday afternoon so there was a nice sense of continuity. An unexpected diversion from the Derwent Valley Heritage Way - I do wish people wouldn't erect fences across footpaths! - took us into Froggatt Wood which is National Trust owned and has an almost fairytale stone paved path weaving through it. I saw huge boulders deposited beside a tiny brook that couldn't possibly have the strength to move them but must have done once upon a time. Makes you think!

Sheep fields led away from the wood and Dave suggested I should
photograph one of these narrow stone 'gateways' which, like the stone stiles, are a common feature of footpaths hereabouts. There is just enough room for a walker to squeeze through, but presumably not a sheep. Or a particularly rounded walker actually, and we haven't seen any of those yet! Does anyone know if the 'gateways' have a special name or if they are solely a Peak District feature?

We stopped for lunch on a patch of grass outside Curber Primary School. We had already seen the children's efforts on signs in Calver Marsh where they were helping with a regeneration programme that is encouraging rare wildlife such as brook lampreys and newts to return to the area. After several miles of mostly flattish walking, Calver was the start of an uphill which led to a Really Steep Uphill and then a glimpse of this view ahead.

Yes, we are really going up there! 
Calver Edge and Froggatt Edge are popular places for climbers and we saw several being taught the techniques. I wasn't tempted to book a course! The path levelled of at the base of those sheer rocks pictured so we could walk under them for a while. This area is wooded and sprinkled with tumbled boulders. When I could get a sightline free of obviously human creations, the landscape felt truly ancient. Then the path climbed again so we were right up on the top, buffeted by a brisk wind, and with fantastic views over the valley one side and across the moor the other. We were tempted to carry on away across the moor! A treat was our sighting of the remains of this stone circle just alongside the path. The surface was surprisingly sandy. I had assumed it would have been worn down to rock.

Stone circle remnants on Frogatt Edge 

Feeling somewhat weary but proud of ourselves nonetheless, we just got
Hiking pendant on Etsy UK 
to Grindleford station in time to catch the hourly train back to Hope. Had we just missed it, there was a popular cafe right by the platform but we had no excuse to linger and undo our day's efforts by devouring cake! Later on, back at home, I came across this lovely Hiker Pendant made by HandsAndFeetJewelry on Etsy which I think I could rightly wear. The boot print is a fun idea and, together with the metal circles and the bootlace cord, makes it an attractive piece for a woman or a man.

Now I have soup to blend and bread to toast for lunch. We are having a lazy day today! And I must look at Kiva later on. The 17th is repayments day so I am looking forward to making more loans this evening. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a photo of some cute lambs.

Oh look. More lambs! 

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