Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Corhampton Down, Hampshire

Date: 2013-05-25
From: Beacon Hill Car Park
Region: Hampshire South Downs
Walk :  Circular
OS Sheet: Explorer 119
Start Grid: SU 599 227
Distance: 11.5 ml, 18.5 km 
Height Gain: 737 ft, 225m
Height Lost: 737 ft, 225 m
Walking with: Katie (dog)

Notes: Tracks and minor roads, field and woodland paths. This route was published in the June 2013 edition of Country Walking. The details, descriptions and comments below are all mine.

These notes are provided to enable the walk to be plotted on a 1:25,000 map.
From the car park just to the W of Beacon Hill head NW on lane at bend take track (South Downs Way) to Lomer Farm where the South Downs Way, Monarch’s Way and Wayfarer’s Walk all meet. Head SSE on the Wayfarer’s Way passing Betty Mundy’s Cottage and St Clair’s Farm towards Steynes Farm. Before reaching Steynes Farm turn R on footpath across field and road (B3035) through the woodland passing Hazel Holt onto lane, R to the corner below Galley Down, R follow bridleway NW to the B3035, cross to lane down into Dean. At junction turn R, passing Cleverley Cottage and Deans Farm, joining the Monarch’s Way back to Lomers Farm and back to the car park.

Spring Bank Holiday and we were back in Portsmouth to visit the mother in law and Mrs G’s family here. The trip down on Friday morning had been rain and wind start to finish with some very heavy traffic, a fairly miserable journey.

Saturday could not have been more different, a lovely day to be walking on the South Downs.  Earlier in the week when I had been looking for a walk further east around the Goodwood area but when my County Walking Mag. came and I saw this walk in there I went for it as it’s not often you get to walk on a National Trail and two long distance trails in one 11 mile circuit.

Getting to Beacon Hill was a thrash along the M27, and then off onto one of the nicest drives in the area, north up the Meon Valley along the A32, with remarkably little traffic.

Route finding by memory I turned off the A32 at Corhampton. I then turned into the wrong little narrow lane then turned left instead of right. I eventually admitted to the dog that we were a bit lost and it was time to stop to get the OS map out of my rucksack, in the boot, and then re-orientate myself.

We were only the second car in the car park, although there were numerous bikes wizzing about. Anyway Katie and I were soon sorted out and off along a short section of the South Downs Way to Lomers Farm then several miles down the Wayfarers Walk through the lovely pastures and woodland with Katie running around like a mad thing chasing real or imaginary rabbits, squirrels or game birds. Whatever they were I never saw them.
Lomer Cottage
Below King's Copse
St Clair's Farm
After such a wet spring it was great to see the sunshine and the countryside so green, lush meadows, trees in full leaf, many also in blossom. Banks of Bluebell’s in the hedgerows and large swathes of wild garlic flowers along the track and through the woodland. Dandelions were everywhere, surprisingly, after all the winds and rain, with their seed heads fully intact.

However, the damage done by the winter and spring weather could be seen in the recently cleared ditches, small landslips on the steeper hillsides, in the arable fields areas of bare earth and where the crops are late, growth stunted.

North from Dean, a tiny hamlet but the largest place on the walk, The Monarch’s Way is all paved lanes and tracks which definitely became a bit of a trudge. Another factor could be that the Monarch’s Way here is generally uphill and the Wayfarers Walk is pretty much downhill.

Caterham Seven
Track Monarch's Way

Katie cooling her feet
Just south of Preshaw House, major works being undertaken to remove some five to six hundred metres of the existing track/bridleway and re-routing it further north. It is disappointing that work of this order is being carried out without any form of diversionary signage to assist walkers, riders etc. One wonders if permission/approval has been obtained from Hampshire County Councils Rights of Way Team for the closure and the diversion of the bridleway.

Beacon Hill

Cowslips South Downs Way
Overall the walk was very enjoyable and the time just flew by. Should I do this one again, or if anyone asked my opinion, which they never do, I would suggest re-planning the walk so as to start from the south, parking near to Dean or one of the other hamlets in that area, and walk the Monarch’s Way leg first. It gets that bit of a trudge feeling out of the way while you are fresh.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Esk Valley Walk – May 2013

Andy and I first walked together in 2003 when as work mates we came up with the idea of walking the C2C. Wife's, family, friends and colleagues all said we were crazy, two fat 50+ year old men, but we did it and have enjoyed walking ever since, building up together a long string of day and multi-day walks in England and abroad.

I was unable to join Andy on this walk so I twisted his arm for a Guest Post on this Blog.

Many thanks mate.

The Esk Valley Way May 2013

Mike has asked me to put together this report on my walk of The Esk Valley Walk which I completed over the 3 days of 13 to 15 May. In planning the walk, I’d been looking for a shortish walk to be easily completed within the week I was taking off in May. I eventually found this one on the North York Moor National park website. As the title suggests it covers the Esk River valley more or less between Castleton and Whitby and is easily do-able in 3 stages, although some people do complete it in one day! There’s a handy booklet available from the North York Moors National Park (£2.95) and I’d advise you get that as not only does it give a route description and maps but it also gives other useful information about the route and the local area.

My originally proposal was to use B&B's each and move on the morning but cost precluded this so I stayed (camped) in one place and made use of the car and trains to get between campsite, starts and finishes. Train details are available on the Esk Valley railway website. Train 

Day 1 Castleton to Castleton 16 miles 1960 feet of ascent

If you’re doing as a 3 day walk, day 1 is a circular walk. The booklet gives the start as Castleton rail station but as I was using the car I started at the car park at Rigg End. It’s a basic area for parking cars and is used by the villagers when they’re walking their dogs; it’s free too.  There is also the advantage of not having to walk up the hill from the station and the days walk is shortened by a mile or so.

Looking back up to Castleton from the route
From the car park walk down the road (NE) to the road junction and take the road into Castleton. In about 30 yards turn right into the track leading to Didderhowe Farm and follow down through the farm yard and across the fields. I made a small navigational error here as I missed the path going SE and instead ended up heading towards the higher route down the valley. You need to watch out for this as the route takes the low path until they join near West Green Farm. Follow paths along to Danby Head where the route goes through a farm yard and then go straight up the side of the hill with one slight flat section until you reach the road.  Here there are 2 options I chose to slog along the side of the road as it was a bitingly cold windy day and it made for slightly easier going. After about 2 – 3 miles you come to your lunch stop – the world famous ‘Lion Inn’ at Blakey Ridge.  I say world famous as it’s a highlight on the route of the Coast to Coast walk and you will come across walkers doing it.  Indeed they may even ask you ‘Are you doing the walk??’ as if the C2C is the only walk in the world. Humour them, they’ve been walking for 11 or 12 days and have lost touch with reality. I speak from experience, I’ve done the C2C too!! 

The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge
The guide book gives the route from here as going south to pick up the old railway line a further ½ mile south but I didn’t see the point.  Go round the north side of the pub and follow the boundary wall, taking the track down to the old railway line; all you’ve done is cut out some road and track walking and not missed anything.  From here follow this old mineral railway to a junction with a crossing bridle path and take the path going North. This leads down to the start of the River Esk at Esklets and your river journey really starts here. 

The young River Esk
From here you follow the Esk northwards through various farms until you meet the road.  From this junction you turn East and follow the route back to the car park.  It’s not an easy day, especially if you get strong winds as I had but the views from the top of Blakey Ridge are stunning and the river valley is very pretty.

Day 2 Castleton to Egton 12.7 miles 1390 feet of ascent

The day started with a train journey from Egton Bridge station where I’d parked the car in the free car park between the station bridge and the school. A pleasant short train journey took me to Castleton Moor station. From here the route goes NW up the road for a hundred yards or so and then picks up a bridle path on the right signposted ‘Danby’.  

Path to Danby 
A gentle walk soon takes you along to come out on the road and then a path across fields into Danby. The road leads over the railway and river before a track off to the left takes you above the south side of the river. A left turn down and across first the railway (taking care to watch out for trains) and then back across the river.  At this point there is an opportunity to visit the Moors National Park Centre, the main information centre of the NYM National Park.  It’s worth a visit as is the tea shop next door more importantly!  Coming back out of the centre take the road east and follow past the car/coach park until a sign points you North up a steep track.  This is the start of the climb up to Danby Beacon, the highest point in the area and not to be missed. From the top of this track it’s up the road opposite and across the brow of the hill until you come to the main road up to the beacon. Right turn and then up the long road; it’s uphill but not too steep and apart from the cars coming up behind you poses no problems.  Take some time to enjoy the panoramic views from the top; on a clear day you can see right over to Teeside one way and the radar array at Fylingdales the other.
Danby Beacon and trig point
Teeside in the distance
The route continues downhill now across the Leaholm Moor along a wide track for about 1½ miles until you meet a track on your right which leads down to a road and then down into Leaholm village.  I stopped for lunch at the Board Inn where the sausages in my sausage and red onion sandwich were made from pigs bred behind the pub! 
The Board Inn, Leaholm
From Leaholm the route follows the river fairly closely, going across fields to first to Glaisdale, where a short diversion can be taken to see the Beggars Bridge, and then on to the destination of Egton Bridge. 

River Esk at Leaholm
Beggars Bridge was built by a young chap in the 1800’s to show his young love’s father that he was no longer poor but now a man of money.  After Glasidale the route goes through East Arncliffe Wood and follows the Coast to Coast route again until just after Egton Bridge.  I picked the car up at Egton Bridge and returned the next day to continue the walk.

The railway bridge at Egton station with the church of St Hedda in the distance. The car park is on the right behind the wall just through the bridge.
Day 3 Egton to Whitby 8.9 miles 930 feet of ascent.

The third day is supposedly a flat day but actually it’s more a ‘rolling’ day than really flat. We start where I finished on day 2. So I drove into Whitby and parked the car in the Marina car park. The fee was £5 for 6 hours or £6 for 24, so not wishing to rush myself I paid the extra £1 and got a 24 hours ticket.

Originally I had intended to get the 10.05 bus from Whitby to Egton Bridge which meant I could have a leisurely breakfast and trip into Whitby.  It had been raining overnight but stopped about 7 so I got up early and decided to head straight into Whitby.  After parking the car and grabbing a bacon and cheese roll I headed off to the station and caught the 08.50 train which arrived at Egton Bridge at 09.10.  With only just under 9 miles to do today I was looking to have lunch in Whitby so did not intending to stop before then.  The route starts off on the old toll road through the Egton Estate. It’s a nice track but today it was starting to rain so I got my waterproofs on including trousers.  I met a few dog walkers on this section including one lady on a mobility scooter.  She was coming from Grosmont but had to turn round due to deep puddles on the track.  I did hold a gate open for her though!  On the way you can see the old board setting out the toll charges so I took a photo.  This part of the route from Egton to Grosmont is also part of the C2C but I didn’t see any of them this morning, I think I was too early for them!! 

Chart of Tolls from 1948
The track comes out at Priory Farm in Grosmont and I remember this well from 2004 when we camped here for the night whilst on the C2C.  The C2C route then goes into Grosmont but our route goes up by Priory Farm and then across by the farm and up a track to Grosmont Farm, Fotherleys Farm and then Newbiggin Hall Farm ascending all the time.  It’s then over to Hecks Wood and down into Back Wood before rising to Oak Hill and then down into Sleights.  You need to be careful when you come down through Back Wood though. The sign for the bridle path says straight ahead which is fine on a horse as this takes you through a stream which is about 2 foot deep!

Turn left at this sign!!
Take the footpath sign and turn left and you’ll cross the stream on a thoughtfully provided bridge. From there it’s uphill to Echo Hill and Hagg House before descending to cross the railway twice and then coming out onto the road to go into Ruswarp over a girder bridge across the river and a level crossing back over the railway. 
Girder bridge into Ruswarp
Ruswarp (pronounced Rus’arp) is the last village before Whitby and is a pleasant little place.  Apparently the butcher’s shop which you pass does excellent sandwiches but I was in too much of a hurry to try them.  I had my eye on something more substantial!! Past the butcher’s is a footpath off to the right which is paved and goes across fields next to the railway line.  This is followed through some trees and then climbs and then drops to cross an old railway line.  Go up the other side and then across a field to come out by a school. Then cross the main road and join a footpath off to the left before the main road crosses the river over the high road bridge.  Follow the path down to the road and this then goes off to the right to cross the railway line just before it enters Whitby Station.  Beware of the trains as they come from the left and you can’t see them until they are upon you.  The route then goes up through the car parks and this is where I had left my car.  I dropped off my daysac and went off into town for lunch.  This was taken at the famous fish and chip café – The Magpie Café. Usually there are queues but not today! 

After lunch I went to the official end of the route which is the end of the pier at Whitby.    

Journey’s end.

Looking back into Whitby from the end of the pier.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Whatstandwell to Riber Castle

Date: 2013-04-14
From: Whatstandwell
Region: Derbyshire Peak District
Walk :  Circular
 & OS Sheet: OL 24
Start Grid: SK 332 545
Distance: 9.3 ml, 16.1 km 
Height Gain: 1420 ft, 146m
Height Lost: 1420 ft,198 m
Walking with: Mrs G & Andy
Notes: Canal path, field and woodland paths. farm tracks and minor roads, muddy in parts.

These notes are provided to enable the walk to be plotted on a 1:25,000 map.
From Whatstandwell Bridge, follow tow path N to High Peak Junction. Cross canal to road to Lea Bridge. Take track towards Splash Farm, at back of Mills, footpath L through Coumbs Wood to Hearthstone Lane. At Hearthstone Farm footpath R to Riber, NE through village to track and footpath E to join Carr Lane , E to junction, R on road to Wood, R footpath to Dethick, footpath SE to Lea, footpath SE across High Lane to Wakebridge Farm, cross road, through woodland to Canal and Whatstandwell.


This walk is one of Andy’s favourite old standbys. For the first one of the year it was not the easiest of walks or the nicest of weather.

This section of canal is getting a bit too familiar we've been along it too often of late. However, changes are planned, to the canal, not our walking, a new surface has been laid to the towpath and a great deal of tree felling and lopping, along with the clearing of undergrowth along the banks all a real improvement. In addition sections of the canal have been cleared of weed plus some of the culvert and weirs have been repaired. Hopefully, this much overdue maintenance and improvement work will continue to the benefit of all users.

There were quite a number of people out at High Peak Junction with the sunshine giving it a pleasant atmosphere. At Lea Bridge we passed the back of Smedleys Mills and started the long climb through Coumbs Wood and Hearthstone Lane. Here that slight felling of Spring we had felt along the canal rapidly disappeared as we trudged through the grey lifeless trees with little in the way spring like growth anywhere. In fact up by Bilberry Knoll we stomped delightedly through 9 inch deep snow banks.

By the time we got to Riber the sun had gone and a very stiff cold wind was blowing, with occasional rainy and sleety bits . There was little in the way of views and everywhere had that dark locked up look, so we moved swiftly on into the teeth of a howling wind (slight exaggeration), in the direction of Dethick. The fields, which were largely, empty although we did pass a couple of fields full of sheep and their lambs. 

We whipped around by Dethick Church and using the tower of Crich Stand as our aiming mark down to Lea, crossing the lovely little valley and river to get there. Lea and Wakebridge came and went and we were soon back in the car, then up the A610 to The Excavator, for a very good, well priced roast dinner and a beer.

On the day this felt a tough walk, the lack of fitness and strong cold wind certainly took a bit of pleasure out of the walk. On another day I could see this walk being enjoyable and I would like to explore some of the alternate routes in the area


Monday, 18 March 2013

Looking Back at 2012 and on to 2013

It is now very nearly a full year since I was made redundant and went into early retirement.

Most of the plans made before the event, happened and life continued pretty much as expected. Obviously there have been ups and downs notably with wallpaper and waistline, but on the whole the year has proved that retirement is a dam sight better than working, {no sh*t Sherlock} except you get less money and no bank holidays off.

They said, that the best thing about retiring was that by not having to go through the daily grind of going to work you have so much more time to do all the things you want to do, walking, photography, reading, catching up on old films, weekends away, holidays.  Needless to say that proved to be Total B*~~*#&$. Last summer, on several, several days, I worked harder and longer at home than I ever had at work.

However I must admit that since retirement, jobs do seem to expand to fill the time available, so that something which would have been completed in 10 minutes on a weekend, while employed, easily expands to half an hour or more now I’m retired. Of course I am now able to take far more care over the preparation, the execution of the job and the clearing up. {All said with a straight face}.

As a result of this phenomenon I have, through the summer and autumn months, spent much time gardening and decorating and generally giving the garden and house the time, effort and care they deserve. All this along with laundry, sweeping and washing floors, car, caravan etc. and the dog has not had so many walks or such long ones. {Whoops I can feel the Halo slipping}.
New Fence, Pond & Beds
However, January, February and March have not been as much fun, and I have to admit to missing being in the office these past few months as despite everything else, they were so lovely and warm. However, I have not succumbed to the lure of day time television yet, not very much, well once or twice. Heir Hunters, Sheriffs and Homes Under the Hammer are very educational!!!!!!.

What’s all this bunkum got to do with walking? Well it’s simply a long winded explanation, of sorts and an apology for the reduced number of routes posted in 2012 and for the long gaps between posts. While I regret both of these conditions, it is the long gaps that I dislike the most as I know that when the sites I follow stop for a while it is difficult to know if that’s the “Last Post” or if they are just resting.

Autumn Sunset
Over the past couple of months the dog walks have been getting longer and we are slowly building the miles up, mainly on local footpaths and fields, definitely not worthy of writing about. Andy and I have also been discussing possible walks for this year, which may include the South Downs Way.

In the event of gaps between posts about walks, I may slip in some of my photographs, they are most definitely not anywhere near as good as Nick Liveseys (see links on my blog list), but I like them and hope you do.

If you liked the look our Mallorca Walk and are thinking of giving it a try have a look at Rafael's website at Walk Picos

Looking to Alcudia Bay
On a final Note: it can quite difficult to write a blog such as this without the help of those unnamed others. But what I really need is feedback from you the readers, because without that feedback I have no feel for how you feel about the walks, the maps, the photos or the rubbish I write. I have been writing for three years now and have received only a handful of comments. PLEASE PLEASE send me more COMMENTS - DON'T BE SHY - TELL IT AS IT IS.