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 hone 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.
Another classic Peak Dictrict stroll. I parked in the Surpise View car park. I went through a gate saying Bull in field but I saw no bull. By this point everyone in the UK is far too scared of covid-19 to be bothered by a silly old bull anyway. A pleasant climb through birch wood brought me up and amongthe rock sculpture park that is the top of Owler Tor. Then on to the top of Higger Tor, down to the bridge, back round Higger tor over Carl Wark and home. The paths down from Carl Wark all lead down to the Toad's Mouth so to get to Surprise View without a boring road walk I had to criss some pathless bog. But by this point everyone in the UK is far too scared of covid-19 to be bothered by a bit of pathless bog.
I parked in Hope by the church and headed up Edale Road a short way to where a little road branches off right signposted to Twitchill Farm. A track goes under the bridge and up to the farm whereit turns into a path that climbs diagonally up right to kand a bit to the west of the summit which is soon reached. From here I headed west then northwest along the lovely ridge that stretches out towards Hope Cross. In os eplaces the path is poretty ruined by people on offroad vehicles. Otherwise the walking here is lovely. I followed the ridge for further than I meant to and ended up descending rather steeply to Upper Fulwood Farm then down its track to Bagshaw Bridge and then the windy road back into Hope and home.
Garth Hill is Cardiff's local little hill and evidently a popular spot for people to walk their dogs, or their children, or just themselves on a sunny day like today. A narrow litte road skirts it to the south. There is a parking place on this from which a path zigzags up onto the northeast end of the summit ridge. At the foot of the path a sign reads: "The footpath ahead is prone to erosion and may be unsafe. You are advised to find an alternative route. Should you proceed you do so at your own risk." It's an odd sign as the path is lovely and perfectly safe, or as safe as any hill path can be. I wonder if perhaps there was once an accident here - as there can be anywhere - and the authorities put the sign up just for the sake of being seen to be doing something. An easy walk all the way on nice paths in fact. Halfway along the ridge there is a one of those thingummies that tells you what everything is you can see in the view.
Back the same way then drove to Nangarw where I tucked my car into a space on the road that branches off the A68. Right across the road from here is signposted access to the Taff Valley Trail. I followed this southwest past the west end of the long ridge that is Craig yr Allt. Then up. There are loads of paths hereabouts and I string them together in ways that seemed to work, climbuing up to the mast on the shoulder then more or less straight along the ridge to the top where there is neither trig point nor cairn. Which brings me to the end of the Marilyns in section 32C. (368 Marilyns altogether. Only 1189 to go...)
The Port Talbot Marilyns. There is space for a couple of cars to park at Blaen-Baglan Farm. From here up Mynydd Dinas is mostly on the well signposted Welch Coast Path. When this gets as high as it is going to two tracks lead of to the left a short way apart just before a gate into a field (which the WCP bypasses to the right). I mistakenly and carelessly went up the second of these from which the way to the summit is blocked by impenetrable trees to everyone except beetles. The first, as I then discovered, is the right way leading as it does to a path that branches off to the trig point. According to hillbagging.co.uk the summit is not the trig but rather "ground 2m NE of flat rock 65m E of trig point". So I wandered east for what felt like roughly 65m. I didn't spot a flat rock but reckon I was near enough for it to count. Back down the same way. the viewws of Port Talbot and the sea from the WCP near the top are impressive if not exactly beautiful in any convenytional sense.
A more virtuous person than me would have done the whole walk over both hills on foot. But instead I drove to the start of the track on the road west of Foel Fynyddau. There is space to park on the edge of the start of the track. It's an easy walk up a good path past some bedraggled looked horses in a field to the top with its big radio masts. There were lots of off road bike people around, ignoring the signs that were everywhere telling off road bikers to go away. The sensible way back is the same way. But just for fun in a spirit of exploration I kept going east on the track for a bit then turned off down a little path running due south into the woods in the spirit of, Let's see where this goes. Down was the answer. Then along, then down a bit more and all quite complicated. At times extremely steep, on the edge of what is safely walkable. . There were surprisingly many little paths crisscrossing down this steep woody slope. Eventually I reached the track at the bottom of the woods above Cwmavon and followed it home.