Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Day 62: Doncaster to Barnsley

A great days walk. Initially we set off through the outskirts of Doncaster but soon we reached the Trans Pennine Way.

The trail followed the River Don

through lovely, cool woodland

and the water was still and placid.

Alongside the river was a lake land called Spotsborough Flash which was a lovely wildlife and water bird reserve on an area created by the subsidance of mine workings. Amazing that such a peaceful and beautiful area could come from such an industrial persuit.

This little fellow was sitting by the river.

The juxtaposition of Victorian Industrial Revolution construction with the beauty of nature was breathtaking;

as was the ancient and the modern with the castle at Conisbrough overlooking the town.

The trail left the river to follow the route of a disused railway and took us into the rural landscape,

and bunnies playing on the path as we approached our destination at Barnsley.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 61: Misterton to Doncaster

Well, we started our walk 61 days ago in the Deep South, crossing 16 counties we walked through the Wild West across to the Far East and then back west again to what is technically called the middle bit: and today we enter the NORTH as we walk into Yorkshire, our 17th county. The screenshot below gives some idea of our track so far, although we couldn't quite get the full map to show. Our trail is roughly represented by the walking figures below starting around the bottom left. We are now near the SP52 pointer.

After a good night's sleep and a great brekkie we set off on a misty morning along the Bank of the River Idle virtually straight out of our door.

The purpose of the next few days is to head us North to the Dales Way in the shortest distance: so that means a few days in fairly built up areas. So although we set off along side the river, we soon turned off onto country lanes. 

We had planned to follow a B- road but it looked like it was fairly busy and our day was meant to be a bit shorter and so we swung a bit further North to follow minor roads. Again we met some friendly locals, catching them at breakfast

and out for their morning walk.

Some were a little surprised to see us but stopped for a chat anyway.

It looked like were were going to have to follow some more major roads but lo,and behold we found a path following the River Tome that was not shown on the map ... so we named it the Barnes National Trail.

The river was really calm and placid with reflections doubling the view.

We did meet some locals out to graze on the path. They were very cute but a bit skittish when they saw us and one was so anxious it started to jump around, which was fine till we noticed it was tethered to a large chain which would have made mincemeat of our legs had it trapped us. But all was well and we went happily on our way. Needless to say when we passed the next horses we were a little more circumspect.

We followed the path till we reached Branton and from there we followed the pavement through the built up area into Doncaster. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Day 60: Dunham to Misterton

The forecast gave us a chance of rain but the day, although a bit overcast was fine as we set out. We walked the Trent Valley Way for most of the day just leaving it when it circled around too far off our course. Initially we followed the Trent River through agricultural land.

However the industrial focus of most of the Midlands was obvious as we passed several Power plants along our way.

We did leave the River bank but soon rejoined it along a raised grassy bank.

All the pubs we passed were closed so we had a lovely picnic in a field

Then off again through cereal and rape crops.

But we did pass what looked like green bean crops planted under poly tunnels, I guess to protect them from frost. It was a very large operation with rows and rows of tunnels each a couple of hundred metres long.

Then off through a woodland which brought a welcome cool spell in the shade from what had turned out to be a very warm and muggy day.

Then back through the agricultural land until we reached the Chesterfield Canal where we had a welcome rest sitting on the bank before walking alongside the canal 

until we reached Misterton where we left the Trent Valley Way to walk the roads through the town. Then over the bridge crossing the River Idle just 200 metres short of crossing the border into Yorkshire we completed our walk for the day.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Day 59: New Balderton to Dunham

An absolutely gorgeous baby bear's porridge sort of Spring day... not too hot and not too cold but just right. From our B&B we just had to cross the road and we could access the disused railway footpath that we left yesterday and we were on our way.: about 30km today. The footpath meant that we avoided having to walk through Newark on Trent and we initially walked along side a little pond with birds and fisher-folk to catch our attention.

Shortly we left the disused railway and followed the Trent Way as we entered Notinghamshire: our 16th county so far.

We followed the River Trent for a while 

and then the path led us off into the countryside where the locals were friendly but a bit curious.

At one point we passed through a field where there was a crowd of men who were busy picking leeks. A large machine dug them then a team of guys trimmed them and put them onto a mobile conveyor belt from where they were packed and transported off. A very neat operation.

At one point we reached a sign on the track we were to take saying that it was closed for the next 1km. Hmmmmm! What to do? We were reading and re-reading the notice trying to see of we could make it say something different when a car pulled up and this kind gentleman chatted to us and told us that the reason the road was closed was that it had been washed out during flooding ad there was a large hole still filled with water and with quicksand at the bottom. However, he informed us gleefully, as long as you just step carefully and keep to the right hand side you could get through OK.... the locals do it all the time. So we did and all was OK ... here is the offending obstacle 

The footpath then went back to the river Trent which we followed all the way to Dunham. It should have been an easy walk but the rain and sunshine had encouraged the grass to grow and so it was hard going swishing through the long grass and also it hid any holes and lumps in the track so our knees and ankles took a bit of a beating. However, all was well and we reached our B&B safely to be greeted by a nice cup of tea and a thick slice of carrot and walnut cake.... not so bad!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Day 58: Skillington to New Baulderton

As we left the pub after dinner, the village was bathed in mist and although it looked pretty it did not bode well for the walk

and, true to our fears the day started out wet! However we were soon removing our rain gear and breaks appeared in the clouds then the sun appears. Yippee. We were quite taken with these mushrooms growing out of a hay bales 

but whilst our focus was on them on the left hand side of the road; our turn-off to our path was on the right hand side. Oh dear, half a km along the road we realised our mistake, nothing for it but to go back. Not a great distance but as today's walk was scheduled to be 35 Km an extra km was not that welcome . We were soon pounding our way along the Viking Way which led us through a gliding school built on the site of an old WW2 airfield.

Then, as the clouds cleared to let the blue sky show through, we were off into the countryside.

We spent today in Lincolnshire except as we were near the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire border, at one stage as we crossed a road the sign on one side of us said Welcome to Leisestershire, and one on the other side said Welcome to Lincolnshire ... so we weren't really sure where we were. The country, if not exactly hilly, is certainly more undulating now that we have left the Fens behind.

The trail lead us alongside the Grantham canal which was very pleasant and as is the case with canal walking we were able to locate a convenient pub for lunch.

Walking through a wood after we left the canal we were intrigued by these yellow doors which lead nowhere ... Very strange!

We continued along the Viking Way 

and crossed one of the very country railway crossings with enough room for a tractor or pedestrians and you just press the button when you want to cross.

Then when we reached Long Bennington we did some road walking till we reached a disused railway that had been converted to a walking/cycling track

and followed that all the way to New Balderton where we could rest for the night.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Day 57: Stamford to Skillington

Well! What a day! Yesterday's sunshine had turned to rain overnight but we optimistically set off minus our rain gear. Ha! We soon had to stop and put it on and off we went again. Initially the route led us along the road but we were soon off into the countryside ... we could tell by the mud. The rain was coming down so we had our hoods pulled down and so we missed our first turn and continued up a muddy tractor track until we realised our mistake. Hoping to avoid having to retrace our steps we followed a path around a field of rape but soon realised that this was not going to let us get back on course: so we eventually admitted that we would have to go back to where we went wrong and start again. 

We had moved from Lincolnshire into the smallest county in England: Rutland and were following the Rutland Round track.

Reaching a farm which was practicing an environmental plan to encourage wildlife by leaving tracks of grassland and woods which were really beautiful.

Unfortunately this led to our next issue for the day. The rain had stopped so we were following the route but as we came out of the woodland.... no path! So we followed a tractor track through the field which seemed to lead in the approximate direction but to no avail. Facing us was a large quarry so we had to detour around it adding even more Km to what was already a fairly long day. Such is life as Ned Kelly said. Anyway we soldiered on and were soon back on track. 
As we walked we spied this lone Alpaca guarding his little flock.

Then we left the Rutland Round and followed the Viking way.

The path lead us through the field of rape which was almost shoulder high and very damp from the rain so we came out the other side covered in bright yellow petals and 2" taller from the mud adhering to our boots.

The rain held off until we were about 15 minutes out of Skillington when we needed to don our rain gear again but arrived safe and sound to our B&B.