Monday, 28 February 2011

Llangollen revisited.

Sue & I went to Llangollen at the end of November to celebrate her birthday. It didn't all work out as planned, for two reasons. I'd got a gammy leg (damaged on Arran), and there was a LOT of snow about, but we still had a good time. Over the last weekend, we went to visit Sue's sister, who lives in Wrexham, and went to Llangollen to walk up to Dinas bran (we wanted to do it in November, but I wasn't fit). We parked at the Pontcysyllte viaduct basin, and set off up into Trevor woods. Here's some info' on the amazing structure Telford built. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

We crossed the bride over the basin, this is the view towards the Aqueduct.
Here too in Wales, spring was sprung, and the snowdrops were well into flower.
We were treading a route I'd trodden many, many years ago when I walked my first long distance path, Offas Dyke. You can read my diary of the walk (and see a picture of the stupidly large rucksack I carried) here; No-one told me it wasn't the done thing to carry 13 tee shirts, 13 pairs of pants, 13 pairs of socks, jeans & shoes to go out in at night, a bottle of Champagne AND two glasses, ect etc. Boy, did I learn QUICKLY!
If I remember, I took a very similar picture to this when I did the walk in 1986.
The tunnel through Trevor woods.
Yours truly, getting ready to take another shot.
Not too good for pictures today though. A lot of mist and drizzle about, but it was better than forecast. We were supposed to be in for heavy rain, the weather men said. Luckily, this was as bad as it got.
Our first sighting of Dinas bran, just topping that hill in the mist.
Castel Dinas bran (left) and Eglwyseg rocks (right). The walk below the rocks is called 'The Panorama Walk', and in good weather (which I had when I did the Dyke), it really lives up to it's name.
We huffed and puffed our way up the steep path to reach Dinas Bran. These are some of the views from up there. Looking down the Panorama walk.
A section of the ruins.
The archway.

Llangollen, in the murk.
On a clear day, the views from here really are breathtaking. We enjoyed it today, but it was a bitter wind up there, and we had to take shelter from it to eat our lunch.
After lunch, we made our way down towards the town, admiring the beautiful brown hues, created by the bracken, on the hillside.
Sue and Malc', making their way down.
A sea of snowdrops in a garden just above the town.
Of course, with all the rain, the river Dee was an exciting torrent!
The little white cafe on the left is where we ended the walk with a nice cup of coffee.
I have a friend who lives in Llangollen. We've known each other for about ten years, but never met! We both used to write for the same internet site (now defunct), so we thought it was time we met, and she joined us for a drink.

Friday, 18 February 2011


WHAT a result today was - the weather was a diamond in the week. It was either wet, or misty, or both on all the other days, but on our Tuesday off - it was PERFECT! I decided to take us to Padley Gorge and the edges above on this glorious day. With all the recent rains, there should be a lot of water coming down Burbage brook (which runs down the gorge). When we stepped outside the cottage, this is what greeted us in the garden border - our first snowdrops!
Spring is here - OFFICIAL!

We again started late, but each week was giving us a few more precious minutes of light, so I wasn't too concerned. We parked at Grindleford station (home of the famous cafe ) and walked down to the start of the gorge. Grindleford and Padley chapel in
particular, have a LOT of history to them. Read some of it here;
Here's a shot of the lower brook, tumbling over rocks.
The woods had that lovely, bright, clear spring light filtering through them.
The moss on the rocks seemed to glow today.
The small bridge, which affords a crossing of the brook, should you need it. We stayed on the right bank though as we climbed higher towards the head of the gorge.
Lots and lots of beautiful water features are in this dale. It's so accessible, almost anyone could get to this part.

They've added this new footbridge (this place is VERY popular with day trippers and picnickers from Sheffield in the hot summer months). I LOVE the way they've used shaped and 'gnarly' wood to construct it - makes it look a LOT more charming and rustic. There's a small footbridge further up which is just planks nailed together. Not nice.
As we left the confines of the gorge, we walked onto open country. We headed up to the top of Burbage rocks edge. On the way, we saw this unfinished stone trough. This, in a garden centre, would be worth about £600. It had a very bad crack in it, but I'm not sure if that happened when it was being made (it often did with these thing, as they are so weakened by the working), or if ice had done the damage since. Whatever, it makes for nice foreground in a picture.
Carl Wark (iron age fort) and Higger Tor in the background.
Looking along the sweep of Burbage rocks to Stanage edge.
Sue, just making sure where we are!
The view across the Edale valley to the great ridge.
A quiet 'whoosh' overhead as this paraglider passed over us (he gave us a wave).
We left Stanage edge down this very ancient track, worn by many, many feet and hooves.
If stones could talk!
Here's why Stanage is a favourite with the climbing fraternity.
Some of the most famous climbers in the world have cut their teeth on these slabs.
Looking back along the impressive rock edge.

We passed the famous 'North Lees Hall' where Charlotte Bronte once stayed while she wrote 'Jayne Eyre'.
Find out more about it here;
If you like, you can even stay at the hall;
We trod in Bronte's footsteps as we made our way towards Hathersage church.
How ancient does this fabulous cobbled path up to the church look?
Time was waning, but we still had a way to go to get back to the car at Grindleford.
The sun began to set behind the ridge - time to up the pace!

The last 45 minutes was in semi-darkness. We passed this collection of old millstones about 1/2 mile from the car.
A very satisfying and lovely day.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Lathkill wander

A late(ish) start today, as we decided to walk from the cottage. On the way out of Bakewell, we see this grand-looking place in a hollow. Not sure what it is, but it looks expensive!

We climbed up the fields, took the road and then the footpath towards Raper bridge, in Lathkill dale. This is Sue, descending the wooded path to the bridge.
The view of the weir and upstream from raper bridge.
Looking back over the bridge.
We followed the rising road to Youlgreave. This is the fine village church there.

After passing briefly through the village, we dropped down a small lane to Bradford dale, where we sat on a bench with this classic view back over the stone bridge.

We stopped for lunch on a very convenient bench, before pressing on up Bradford dale. This part of the river has signs saying it is a designated swimming area.
Halfway up the dale, we crossed this fine example of a stone clapper bridge.
I've been told this is a good place to see kingfisher, but in ALL the times I've been here, I've never seen one.

A mossy wall crosses the river via it's own clapper bridge.
This was one of several sculptures we saw that day. Each stone had a word or message on it. There were other we saw that were in the strangest, and sometimes most remote, places. One was built into a wall. The wall wasn't in a popular place, or on a well-trodden path. Who paid for these, why, and how many people saw (or understood) them, we wondered?
Sun glints on a mossy wall.
This is Cales dale. Not remarkable, I know, but it is a dale with no footpath through it. Now, thanks to 'right to roam', walkers can access it to connect to Lathkill dale.
We saw THREE dead sheep in the dale. Sue surmised that they must have got trapped in the recent bad snow.
I said it was werewolves!
Judging by the sides, it looked like this dale had serious water running through it in it's past. The limestone sides had been cut quite harshly.
In some places, they were very undercut.

With our late start, the light was already beginning to fade. This is the steep, rocky daleside in Lathkill, turned to gold by the setting sun.
Limestone escarpments in Lathkill dale.
As the light faded even more in the deep dale, I took this shot. We still had about 4 miles to go at this stage!
It's been a strange day today, what with three dead sheep, and now THIS! Don't ask me how the body of a rabbit got up in a tree - I only take the pictures!
The waterfalls in Lathkill dale.
We managed to arrive home in almost darkness, but we'd had a good stretch of 12 miles, and enjoyed the day.