Sunday, October 26, 2008

The cabbage fields of wildest Wakefield

Friday was forecast to be the best day, so leg 3 took me to Woolley Edge. Last week's walk was so wonderful that it spoiled me for this one. Nevertheless, there were some great views, this time to the north, and the relatively flat area of West Yorkshire. Much of the walk was on tarmac - true, mostly quiet country lanes, but the 7 miles seemed shorter than last week's 5. The route zigzagged across agricultural land with just a few bits of woodland on the way. One of the most dramatic sights was a large field of cabbages, before the route descended into the attractive Applehaigh Clough. Once again my route was punctuated (!) by a none too camera shy comma butterfly. This autumn seems to be all or nothing in the woodland fruits department - sloes and hazelnuts are a no show, whereas there are huge quantities of many others - rowan, rosehip, acorns, elderberries, and some fine swags of black bryony. Some fine looking fungi (clitocybe nebularis) but nothing for the pot. The pheasant from last week exceeded my expectations. I hung it in the shed for 6 days, then skinned and drew it. I did a variation of a Nigel Slater recipe, and roasted it in a hot oven, rubbed with thyme and juniper butter and wrapped in streaky bacon. Not only was it delicious, the meat was tender and tasty, but there was much more than I had anticipated - a generous amount for the two of us.
More pictures on Flikr.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Second Leg: Cannon Hall to Bretton Hall

Earlier in the week, I decided on a foray. After a while it was clear that once again, there wasn't much around so I turned it into a walk. Until now, the furthest I had walked along Woodlands Valley was to the Hagg farm turn-off. This time I continued along to Rowlee Farm , crossed the Snake and returned along the other side of the River Ashop. There was a lot of birch along this stretch and signs of plenty of fungi which has gone over. It was pretty muddy underfoot, but the forecast was again over-pessimistic and the weather was much better than it had predicted.

Yesterday, I completed the second leg of the Barnsley Boundary walk. It was one of the finest walks I had ever done! True, the weather was perfect - cold and bright - and the leaves were turning. There was not one bit of the walk that I did not like. The views were outstanding, and there was the bonus of the attractions of 2 country parks. It whetted my appetite for a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park - long on my "meaning to" list, but now promoted. I saw quite a few sculptures without leaving the route of the walk, but had neither the time nor the energy to make a detour to give the park the attention it deserved. The only thing that would have improved the walk was mushrooms, although a recently deceased pheasant on my path provided an alternative source of free food. I took lots of photos, but I've decided that I will only put one per post in my blog, as previous ones look messy and don't have the desired impact. I'll post the best of the rest on Flikr and try and put a link to it on this blog.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A new challenge.

Earlier in the week, I met up with K. Again, the weather was better than the forecast suggested it might be. After a wettish start and before a late afternoon downpour, we had the best of the day enjoying a fine afternoon by Rivelin Reservoir and Wyming Brook. The leaves are just starting to turn, so I've made a bin to collect leaves for leafmould - something I've been meaning to do for many years.
Having sent off for and received maps/guides for the Barnsley Boundary Walk and the Trans Pennine Trail, I decided I couldn't wait to get started on the next challenge. Not that I need much motivating at the moment with plenty of time on my hands, but as the prospect of work looms, I will need A project that doesn't require me to think where to go next. I regret not having chronicled the Sheffield Country Walk fully, and the Penistone line walk not at all, so I am resolving to record the Barnsley Boundary Walk in words and photos, at least. One of the challenges with linear walks (OK, the whole thing is circular, but each leg is end to end) is getting to and from either end of the walk. The first leg (Ingbirchworth to Cannon Hall) was a good indication of this. From the range of possibilities, I decided that the train to Penistone, and a 2 mile lead in was the best option. There looked to be some routes which avoided the main road, but not wanting to walk too far before starting the walk proper, I went for the shortest route. Fortunately, there was a pavement for the entire length, the road was not too busy at that time of day, and the views from the road more than compensated for the tarmac under foot. The bad news is that I relied on the walk description to find the start of the walk rather than look at the map. The Rose and Crown Pub was the landmark I was looking for. I sensed something was wrong when I passed the carved stone sign that marked the end of the village. It turned out the pub had been demolished to make way for a development of town houses. A sign of the times! It might be interesting to see how many remain unsold by the time I complete the circuit. That problem overcome, I had no futher problems finding my way on what proved to be a lovely walk with stunning views. The area has a timeless quality about it, townhouses notwithstanding. Ingbirchworth, Upper Denby and the tiny hamlet of Gunthwaite with its medieval barn have many old but beautifully maintained buildings, and are set in lovely rolling countryside. It was very wet under foot, but the stunning weather compensated for this. The homeward journey was more successful that the outward one. A bus from Cawthorne to Barnsley coincided with my arrival at the end of my route, as did a train from Barnsley to Sheffield. It was also a day of coincidences; I ran into a former work aquaintance in Penistone, and a former colleague returning from a conference in Leeds on the train home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The great annual foray and bacon butty event

Lovely to have company on my most recent foray. The forecast for Saturday was grim, but the reality wasn't quite so bad. We'd expected rain, but in the end it was the cold that did for us. It's not easy picking mushrooms with your gloves on. Once again, there was an unusual distribution. There were a couple of parasols in the pasture on the way up, and lots of meadow waxcaps (butter mushrooms). There were also a number of field mushrooms, but not in the same quantity as we've found in previous years. The big surprise was the lack of nice edible mushrooms along the woodland edge. J. found a wonderful cep, but that was about it. K spotted this stunning Hygrocybe calyptriformis, and there were generally lots of waxcaps. As always, the bacon butties at Grindleford caff, which traditionally round off this event, were an absolute delight.