Langsett again. Very busy today. They had reopened the car parks which were heaving. And there were new signs telling us all to socially distance. All a bit crowded for me but I guessed if I got on and gained a little height I would leave the crowds behind. That worked out pretty well. My plan was to go up a Cut Gate and down the other side to Howden Reservoir, walk down the reservoir a bit, the back to the top of Cut Gate by the moorland path that start up Howden Clough then swings north (OK. Little west of north.) It is really easy enough but what is on the ground doesn’t quite match what is in the map. It is all fairly straightforward till you meet a line of grouse butts heading off to the right. The path seems to continue in the same direction here but try that and it soon peters out. Instead turn right and follow a path uphill along the line of grouse butts to a fence. Here the path turns and leads back to Cut Gate. I got pretty tired coming back down here. Cut Gate is a long way down when you’re knackered. But I got down eventually.
The afternoon was well advanced when I got away. Instead of heading out to Langsett again I headed out of town on the A57 and took a right on the Strines road. I parked the car a little past Strines where a track leads down towards Broggin, Dowd that way then on down through the woods to the footbridge a little up from the reservoir. The woods were beautiful today, carpeted with bluebells. From the edge of the woods a pleasant path climbs up towards Boot’s Folly. This was built in1927 by Charles Boot of Sugworth Hall, the son of Henry Boot who had founded a successful Sheffield construction company. There was a staircase but it got demolished back in the day after a cow got in and got stuck. Some cows around today and some calves but they were very chilled and didn’t mind me. I wandered up the hill to touch base on the Sugworth Road then back the way I came.
Saturday had been fine. Sunday was overcast with intermittent light rain. I had no complaints. The poor weather keep people away and it was miles quieter than last week. I just did the simplest of walks. Up Cut Gate, visit Margery Hill trig point. Down Cut Gate again. By now the weather was beautiful. A simple and familiar walk. But lovely. My new weekly ritual. The only time I leave the house till I wonder when.
Langsett was a good place to come last week so back I came again. Same lay-by off near the roundabout. Back off up Cut Gate. I wasn’t so keen on the feel of the place this second weekend in a row. There seemed to be more people about and they didn’t all seem to have got the memo about social distancing. I only did a short walk, but hopefully long enough to justify the drive. Up to Mickleden Edge then left to walk back down to the ruined North America farm. Left again to regain Cut Gate and so again home.
April 2020 had to be the grimmest month in British history in my lifetime. We spent it stuck at home watching reports on TV of people in their 1000s getting sick and dying. At least the the lucky among us who didn’t get sick and die did. For a month I didn’t leave my flat except to put the bins out. But if I didn’t get out I reckoned I would, quite literally, go mad. The police had put out some guidelines out to say we were allowed to drive out of town to take a walk if the drove was short and the walk long. So I thought: Langsett. Not too far. Hopefully not too busy. Nice open moors with footpaths that stayed away from houses and farmyards where I might be unwelcome. The Langsett Barn car park was closed. So was the other car park up nearer the roundabout. But the big lay-bys near each car park were open and not quite full. I parked in the smaller one near the roundabout and took the track across the road. Then right where there is a crossroads of paths to head towards Swindon. West for about a mile to the end of Swinden Lane. I had a couple of noisy lapwings for company here. Towards the end I hesitated when the narrow lane was blocked by a gang of cattle. A man on bike came along and emboldened me a bit. I stuck close to him as we passed the beasts, who parted obediently enough. I say ‘close’: as close as was consistent with sensible social distancing. Left after this and down Hordron Road past Upper Hordron. Down to the bridge and on up Laund Clough. I thought this would be a good place to avoid the crowds and I wasn’t wrong. After a bit I followed a track and then a line of grouse butts up to the high ground of Howden Moor. From there it was a long solitary bog trot over Outer Edge with its trig point onto Featherbed Moss and the top of Cut Gate. But after a month of house arrest it really was heaven. I headed down Cut Gate and back to my car and home.
The last day before Britain ‘locked down’ I came out to the top of the Snake Pass. My first objective was the car park a bit down the hill back towards Sheffield. From here, to avoid walking on the road I walked a very short way north on the Pennine Way then right down the western extremity of Doctor’s Gate. From the car park I followed the path to the south side of the road till it turned right into the woods of Lady Clough. The road turns right here to so it is never far away though in the woods it is easier to forget how near it is. I planned to head down here then take a right and head into Ashop Moor. You can do this on a high Land Rover track or a lower path. I took the high track. Eventually they converge where you walk a little downhill from fading track to path. It is a lovely walk up the valley to its head at the gap between Mill Hill and the main bulk of Kinder. Then Pennine Way back to car. Driving back I saw the first sign, just past the Ladybower Inn. “The countryside is closed. Go home.” I did.