Friday, November 30, 2007

Stanton to Willington

  • Walked: 25 November 2007
  • Distance: 12.5m
  • Terrain: mostly flat, mostly good paths, some road.
  • Summary: Starting from Stanton, walk alongside Swarkestone causeway, .
  • Time: 5.5 hours start to finish
  • Notable views: Askew Hill, just through Repton.

The night before, with the Met office promising sunshine, I'd been keen to make an early start. However, the best laid plans often go awry, or "Gang aft a-gley" as some Scotsman would have it. The best laid plans most aft gang a-gley when I wake up on a very grey morning and can't get out of bed.

So no sunshine, and I didn't make an early start. Stanton-by-Bridge is a great place to start walking, though. There's a footpath which runs alongside the causeway,and gives you this fantastic view of the monument. You can't see it properly as you drive over it. Footpath is a bit generous - public right of way is more accurate. Like lots of the legal rights of way around the Trent, this is flood plain and so can be boggy in the driest weather, and impassable when it's been wet. This path also simply ends in the middle of a field with no right of way out. That means a walk across a field, over a gate and along the private road (belonging to the sailing and angling club) to the bridge.

At this end of the causeway is the bridge over the Trent. The building facing us is the Crewe and Harpur, a wonderful pub with accommodation, which is friendly to bikers and walkers.

Continuing in a more or less straight line takes us across a couple of fields and a railway line, up to the Trent and Mersey Canal. I love canal towpaths because they're flat and passable, and most of the time look idyllic.

After a few very pleasant miles, the rural atmosphere gives way to the traffic noise from the A50, power lines and pylons, a railway line and Willington Power Station. At this point, we leave the canal and find the right of way which takes us back over the railway line and through Willington.

There aren't many places to cross the Trent and so I often use this road bridge. The views to the East and West are wonderful. In fact, note to self: the view over to the east, which is opposite to the way that this walk starts to head back, looks as if it might yield a very scenic walk.

Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of road to walk here. It does take you through historic Repton, though, with its famous market cross (now in the middle of a roundabout).

How amazed I was to see these fellows. I thought at first they might be peacocks in some kind of winter plumage, or albino, but they don't have pink eyes. I've since looked up 'white peacock' and discovered that it is a stunning variety of peacock in its own right.

Askew Hill is a little bit of a climb. (About 40m above the level of the river.) I was pleased to find the trig point, and also a wonderful view. Once again, not looking anything like as spectacular on the photo as in real life.

There's an unpleasant sewage works to walk past but Anchor Church to look forward to. I've photographed the caves several times before, so this is the view from just beyond. The caves known as Anchor Church are just hidden by those trees in the middle of the picture and Willington Power Station is now on the horizon. This is a great spot for lunch, if a little bit too frequented by dog walkers. If I hear "it's alright, he won't hurt you" one more time, I'll lose it. I'd just rather the brute didn't bound up and snuffle my sandwiches in the first place.

Ingleby and the edge of Robin Wood lead back to Stanton.

Click the map below, and then each image icon in turn to see more of the photos from today's walk.

The route and stats above were generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

3-Viewpoints Mark 2

  • Walked: 17 November 2007
  • Distance: 14m
  • Terrain: some inclines
  • Summary: Starting from the Severn Trent car park close to Dimminsdale, head for Breedon Church (first viewpoint). Via Melbourne through Robin Wood to Foremark Reservoir. Pause where the wicker Jack and Jill used to be and the abandoned car park at the South of Foremark Reservoir (second viewpoint). Back via Pistern Hill.
  • Time: 5.5 hours start to finish
  • Notable views: See above - plus the view back over South Derbyshire from the trig point just before Robin Wood.

I devised this walk a couple of years ago as a 'mystery walk' for friends. I've since walked it several times.

Today I tried a slightly different start and finish. I've never liked walking through Calke park because of the number of people. I started at the Severn Trent car park close to Dimminsdale Nature Reserve. That meant that I could finish via South Wood and the Ivanhoe Way. Much better.

The walk starts with a little bit of road, but the new start point means that there's less walking on the road. After about a mile you get your first view of Breedon Church. It looks a long way away at first, but it's surprising how quickly you arrive at the top of the hill. There's a golf course to cross before arriving in Breedon and the foot of the hill.

I've taken this picture lots of times before, but it really is a lovely church, and the view is good, although still a little hazy when I was there today. It's only 2.5 miles into the walk, but a lovely place to stop for coffee and cake.

After the church you have to walk across another golf course. I do feel out of place walking past the golfers, just as I suppose they would if they were walking across a ploughed field in their golf shoes with their golf club trolleys. There's a little bit of a climb before looking back to see this wonderful view. The church is in silhouette and the golf course I've just crossed is in the middle distance.

The town in the distance is Melbourne. I took this same picture last time I did this walk; there was a tractor ploughing the field ahead, and I had to walk around the edge. This time there is a path pressed diagonally across the middle, following the right of way.

This is Melbourne Hall, patriotically flying the St George cross.

After St Brides (some very old buildings) and Robin Wood, this track approaching Seven Spouts Farm was looking beautiful today.

There are some lovely views in this area. This is close to Hangman's Stone.

I've taken this picture several times before too. Lamont Wood (no doubt named after an ex-chancellor) is a favourite spot for lunch. The view over the Trent Valley is great today while the sun's out. This was around Midday, and the length of the shadows shows how low the sun is in the sky at this time of year. While I was eating, the sun decided to go in, and the temperature dropped. The rest of the day was grey, but this is well over half way now.

Another favourite viewpoint, looking over Foremark Reservoir from the southern point.

This is where my new part of the walk really starts. Instead of heading for Ticknall and Calke, I went south towards Daniel Hayes. There are some spectacular views from the top of Daniel Hayes, and so extending the walk a little bit could add another viewpoint! Today I just followed the track by the side of the hill. I'm baffled about why this part of the National Forest is called 'The Oaklands' when the trees are obviously conifers!

After Pistern Hill Farm, this is a track I'd not used before, and the view looks as if it could be very nice when the sun's out.

This is Dimminsdale Nature Reserve. This very scruffy bit of ground is where the most spectacular carpet of snowdrops appears in February.

This is the view from the southern point of Staunton Harold reservoir, close to the end of the walk.

Click the map below to see lots more photographs from today's walk (exported for web by the soon-to-be-released Meander v2).

The route and stats above were generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ingleby and 3 Churches

  • Walked: 10 November 2007
  • Distance: 7.5m
  • Terrain: fairly flat
  • Summary: Park at Stanton by Bridge, pass Robin Wood to Ingleby, past Anchor Church caves, on to Foremark and back via Hangman's Stone.
  • Time: 3 hours start to finish

This was one of those days where the forecast says one thing, but a check out of the window says something else. Promised by the BBC and Met Office that it woudn't rain today, it certainly did rain in the morning. The afternoon looked a little bit brighter, but only a little. Putting faith in Gore-Tex, we set off hoping for the best.

We start in Stanton-by-Bridge. It's worth starting this walk by taking a wander in the direction of the causeway. This beautiful arched stone construction carries the road over a flood plain. At the other end of the causeway is a stone bridge over the River Trent. Together these make a Scheduled Ancient Monument about 3/4 mile long. You can only see it properly on foot. When you're driving over, you can only see the tarmac and a short wall each side of you.

This is Stanton's church. It only has a small cross on the map because it doesn't really have a tower or spire.

We went wrong almost immediately - the footpath we picked up crosses fields, which were perfectly passable today, but the planned path is 100 yards over to our right and is more of a farm track. We carried on because they are parallel and come out in the same place.

We pass Robin Wood, this is a very pleasant track.

We arrive in Ingleby very close to the John Thompson pub, famous for brewing its own beer. Having walked along the road through the village, we take a path to our right and after a very short climb the Trent valley opens up below us. This is one of my favourite views in this area.

I've called this walk '3 churches', but this one is a little bit of a cheat. These caves are called Anchor Church. It's partly carved out by nature and partly by man. It's said to have been a place of worship for early Christians who were being persecuted and needed a secret place. This footpath was just a bit muddy today, but can be impassable when the Trent is high. Once before, when it was flooded, I did take my boots off and wade through.

These next two pictures show the inside and outside of St Saviour's church, Foremark. It's small but interesting. I was particularly interested in the stained glass at the top of the rood screen - the first time I remember seeing stained glass in one of these screens. Unfortunately it was difficult to appreciate it without very much light behind it.

This is a typical view of rolling South Derbyshire. It also shows the heavy grey sky. We're close to Hangman's Stone, which I usually pass on one of my more regular walks, but approaching it from a different direction today.

I thought that this was a beautiful autumnal view. A little bit shaky because although we had a mile or two to go yet, the light, which hasn't been brilliant all day, is now fading fast.

If the lettering on this sign was peelable, I'd have taken off those apostrophes! note to self: take some Tipp-Ex next time.

The route above was generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.