mental health, Walking, wellbeing, Writing

Roy’s Ramble – Week 10

2021 arrived and I decided to take on a huge challenge. Walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). This is Week 10.

DAYS 64-70

DAY 64
(5th March 2021)
Robin Hood statue (c) Pixabay
Nottingham Town Hall (c) Pixabay

Today is definitely my day. I’ve planned to do things for me, and so, a slow start to getting up and dressed and not a lot planned leaves me feeling quite happy for the remainder of the day. I’m getting used to some new technology today. Well, it’s new to me, but other people already know how to use it. I think I’m generally behind the times but you should go at your pace and never be pushed into doing things you’re not comfortable with.

One of my go-to’s for my wellbeing is baking, and in true form, I went for it. I don’t tend to make a cake, I go all in, or all out, whichever phrase you like. I made white chocolate cookies, mini muffins, and mincemeat swirls. Amazingly, I didn’t eat them all in one go. Who does that? Ummm, not me. Honest.

I shared a few with my neighbour, who told me she’d made some cakes and would like me to have some. Apparently, they’re mincemeat swirls. Oooh, competition. Bake Off – watch out!!

I have two lovely calls with Restore today. One of these is about the final mile. I can’t believe we’re talking about that already but yes, in two months time I will have completed the last 600 miles (because that’s all that’s less) and I’ll be crossing the finish line. I’m currently up to £1,061 which is way more than I believed I would get. Another £23 and I’ll have raised £1 for each mile walked. Now that’s an achievement.

I have to head out again this afternoon. My craft activity for the youth club and community is now well underway. You can see the project on the left hand side. This really made me feel good. It’s not a big thing but brings people together, and that’s something that I’m always keen for. I think there’s so much power in shared knowledge and partnerships.

The family are with me this afternoon/evening and whilst we’re out, we treat ourselves to a fish and chip supper, and in almost a throw back to our days running fundraisers and sleepovers for Scouts, we end up in the youth club building eating these.

When I get home I head back out for a walk to clock the miles up. It was a refreshing walk, chilly, but one of those long ones where you can talk about anything and everything, and what a lot of talking we did. I think it was primarily me, but we it was good and clearly needed.

I continue to head through Nottingham. There’s a lot of shops and it’s larger than I realised. There’s another nature reserve up ahead on the left and looking from above it would appear that it follows an old train line. I could be telling porkies but I’m starting to get good at spotting these. They seem quite ideal spots really.

The road opens out with fields and allotments on the left. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned yet but Restore has allotments at their ‘annexe’ called Elder Stubbs. Lovely, large place that seems to sprawl for miles amongst the urban area. The Notts Maze is further up and is similar to the Maize Maze we have in Oxford. Made from Maize, not surprisingly (the clue was in the name I suppose), the crop grows each year with a new design cut into it and provides some local fun for children and adults alike.

There’s a massive amount of what looks like soil dugout in an excavation on the right. I can’t find anything out about it but it’s almost as though the archaeological teams have been out in force. Maybe they have. I continue along the A road for a while, with a dense copse forming on the right. There’s some paths through the plantation and thanks to Google and some trusty walkers who’ve passed this way before, I can see a little bit of what it is like. A pleasant place to enjoy the day.

Rolling fields and golf courses come into view and it’s here on the edge of Oakmere Golf Club that I’ll take my rest for the day. I hope there aren’t any stray balls coming in my direction in the morning.

DAY 65
(6th March 2021)
Part of where I walked with the youth club this morning
Rufford Abbey (c) Wikipedia

Awoke to a chilly start. It was sub-zero overnight and the tent doesn’t have heating – certainly it hasn’t kicked in around here, but it transpires the thermostat wasn’t left to click in. It’s a youth club day today and we’re out on another wellbeing walk so the day starts early with an email to remind about layering up. It’s always the best way if you’re going out to avoid the cold. Layers work better by trapping the air. I learnt this via my time in Scouting.

And like that, we’re off walking and running through the woods, as well as dragging branches like primitive cavemen, jumping in puddles like toddlers, and identifying trees like tree identifiers. It was a good two hours and interesting that once again we have young people about to return to school who initially don’t want to be outside. They’ve almost become indoctrinated into sitting at home in front of the computer. For those out with me these two hours are magical and I can see it. They turn up looking withdrawn and down and leave with a spring in their step. As we walk the sun appears and makes it quite pleasant.

I’ve had a postcard from Scotland and I’m looking forward of making it to there, which feels closer than it has for a long time. I reach a Bird of Prey centre called GoActive. They have a wide variety of Hawks, Falcons, Owls, and Eagles, and not only provide displays but handling experiences too. Have you ever spent a moment being a bird of prey? Sounds crazy I know, but taking time to remove yourself from ground level, soar above what’s happening, and look down on life. Sometimes when we do this in a sort of third person removed kind of way we get to see a wider perspective on situations in our lives. It’s interesting to do.

For those who like the tale of Robin Hood, you don’t need to go far for some fun. Robin Hoods Wheelgate Park is what you would expect from a theme park with different zones and includes many water activities too. It’s the land of outdoor activities here as there’s an activity centre up the road.

It’s still quite a busy road here but it’s lovely to see more of the wildlife appearing on either side. Horses and cows. I saw a few ducks and swans in reality as I undertook a wellbeing walk with a young person down by the river in Oxford. It was lovely and great to be able to connect with them and support them for the time we were out.

On the left a bit further up the road, on the outskirts of Nottingham, not Oxford, is Centerparcs. I’ve never visited Centerparcs, but fancied it, but I understand it ends up being quite pricey once you’ve paid for all the necessary extras. Maybe one day. I like the idea of a cabin in the woods.

It’s not far from Rufford Abbey, another country estate owned and run by English Heritage. The Abbey, once home to monks, is today a popular visitor attraction. The monks who once inhabited the site were known as the white monks as they preferred to wear undyed garments, which were thus left white. At one point, the estate had five ice houses in the grounds, a structure where ice would be stored in the year, the original version of the fridge. Only two remain now.

At home there’s time for a late lunch, rolling straight into dinner, then out for another walk. Three outdoor walks, basically the whole day outside, was quite tiring. Fresh air does you good and makes you tired, I find. A bit like when you’re on holiday at the coast and the sea makes you tired.

I pass through Edwinstone. It’s a small village with a traditional high street of small independent retailers. A short distance up the road on the left is Sherwood Forest Nature Reserve, rich with ancient oaks, walks and trails, and under normal circumstances, a variety of daily activities and events. It’s here, in the shadows of Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham that I pitch the tent once more.

I’ve had a really good day today. I love working with young people and seeing them develop and I’ve been able to experience in buckets today. Tomorrow is set to be a quiet day of R&R, and hopefully many more miles of walking.

DAY 66
(7th March 2021)
Old School Team Room (c) tripadvisor
Robin Hood tree(c) Pixabay

We now have two tents of party goers, one on each side of our pitch. Thankfully, with a little ingenuity on my part, I was able to block it out and get some rest. Awoke this morning rather late, but I clearly needed the sleep. Lazy morning but by lunchtime I’m off. Me and my brother head out to walk part of the canal in the sunshine. We drive a few minutes up the road via the country roads and find a quiet spot to park. I immediately felt a sense of relief and almost outer-bodyness, which I know isn’t a word, but I do love the canal so much.

The first part of the journey saw us cross a small hump-backed type bridge and head northwards, with the peaceful water quietly gliding past without a sound, and a myriad of birds joyously chirruping and making their presence known. It’s a shame that according to local plans, the surrounding part of the Oxfordshire countryside is soon to be destroyed by thousands of new homes. Where does the wildlife get displaced to I wonder and who thinks these crazy ideas are good?

One thing I didn’t realise as I went to bed last night was I was kipping near The Major Oak. This is a large tree in Sherwood Forest that is said to be where Robin Hood and his Merry Men sheltered. It’s estimated to weigh 23 tons, which I believe is about the weight of two fire engines, and is around 1,000 years old.

Back on the road and I’m surrounded by tall, red trees. I’m not sure what they are and that’s bad because I should. They look a bit like Christmas trees that have had the lower branches removed. There’s not a lot to see for a couple of miles until I stumble upon the ideal location for lunch – it’s The Old School Tearooms at a main junction (main as they go for the middle of nowhere). As you would expect, the building looks like an old schoolhouse, and their menu looks lovely including an afternoon tea. The last time we indulged was back down in the Cornwall area. I do like it when people have the foresight to save buildings such as this as transform them into something like a tea room. It means people can sit and enjoy the history of the place. For me, it’s good as I’ve always fancied running a cafe and I imagine if I did it would probably be housed in a place like an old tea room, or at least somewhere with character where people can feel at home. Taking tea or a cake should be an enjoyable experience, not one to fill you with fear and dread.

The tea room overlooks the River Poulter, which I’d never even heard of, yet it’s 27 miles long, so is one that we should probably all know in reality. It used to supply the power to the mills along it of which one is now a primary school.

Having taken my circular walk of the local waterway today, I head home and, well, don’t do a lot really. It really is a day of relaxing, or vegetating if you prefer the phrase. One of those days where you flick on Youtube, put your Itunes on, and flick between the two whilst not doing a lot else.

I had a phone call from somebody local who is reading my blogs and is interested in being interviewed. It sounds really exciting what he is proposing. Nothing like we’ve seen or done yet, so let’s see what happens.

Later in the day I do head out for another walk to clock up the miles, and gee whiz it’s cold. I’m layered up but my hands are still frozen by the time I get home. In fact my arms were the coldest part of me I think. I didn’t check the thermometer but it must have been at freezing point out there. Nevertheless, I managed about three more miles.

The road opens out to fields on either side before being shrouded by trees again. I soon find myself arriving on the periphary of Worksop. A place I’ve heard of, never visited, and in reality, didn’t know where in the country it was. My Geography GCSE clearly put to good use! I’ve a choice of tent or Travelodge for tonight. It’s flipping cold, so place your bets where I’m sleeping. Worksop, your time to shine will come and I’ll say more about you tomorrow.

DAY 67
(8th March 2021)
Dead Man’s Cave (c)
Chesterfield Canal (c)pixabay

This morning I got up and went out. I wanted an earlier walk today. When it’s a working day I often leave my walk until about lunchtime and then it feels a bit of a rush towards the evening to get all of the miles in, so today I’m heading off earlier. It’s not really a working day. It’s a catching up day today. There’s some coursework that hasn’t seen the light of day for two weeks. Thankfully they are self-paced courses so less pressure than conventional ones but I know I’ve let them slip so need to focus on pulling them back into the mainstream part of life.

Worksop is where I’m setting off from today. It’s been in existence for a good number of years but its real boost came when in 1777 the Chesterfield canal was built. Reasonably profitable, the subsequent construction of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire railway really helped put the location on the map. Good transport links allowed for coal, limestone, and lead to be transported locally, although it did transport the stone for the Palace of Westminster too.

These links were highly successful but in 1907 the Northwood Canal Tunnel collapsed due to subsidence in the coal mines severing the canal in half. Since that time parts have been sold off, battles have occurred to keep other areas, and housing has appeared, but a group of fighters have continued to do their bit to save the waterways and today restoration has taken place on five local locks and a canal basin. There is an attempt to return the whole of this part of the canal to its former glory but this is a major challenge, not least because the tunnel cannot be rebuilt, and a housing estate is now in the way.

Two laps of the local park and happy laughter from a group of nursery children enjoying the Forest School in the local wood round off the morning. If you’ve never heard of Forest School, I used to have some dealings with one. As the organisation’s own website states, ‘Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions.’ In a sense, it’s a form of Scouting that has a curriculum running through it. I really enjoyed my time helping to run one.

Despite only being a market town, Worksop has nearly every conceivable convenience, and with its location, has excellent links to transport hubs in nearby Sheffield, which is where I’m heading to next.

After a bit of study and such like this afternoon, plus a few steps around the house, I head out on an evening walk, which wasn’t as chilly tonight. Took in a steep gradient though which I could really feel working.

From Worksop I head in a north-westerly direction, crossing the canal several times. On the outskirts of Sheffield is a place called Dead Man’s Cave. It’s a series of gorges and caves, hopefully with no actual dead men hanging around for effect, although they were excavated in the 1960’s and various tools were found.

I continue onwards, passing through the Anston’s, of which there are two – a North and a South, before reaching the junction with the M1. It’s here that the new HS2 is due to run apparently. Looking from above, it’s scary to think how much of the land is going to be decimated for this project all so people can travel across the country quicker. The lockdown has taught us that we can work from home, so will fast travel be needed, and surely we could pace ourselves and enjoy the ride? If anything, slowing the pace would actually help our wellbeing rather than being a nation that is pressured to rush from one thing to the next.

The Aston Park Fisheries appears on the left and is ‘one of the finest’ in the area. It certainly looks impressive. I’m not an angler, and personally I can’t see the fun in it, but if that’s what catches your interest, then good for you. We’re all individuals. It doesn’t do for us all to like the same things. If we did, wouldn’t conversation be dull? ‘Oh, what did you do today?’, ‘Oh, you know. The same as you.’ ‘Oh, good.’ End. Bor-ing!

I’ve been searching for somewhere to stop for the night and was hoping for a hotel, but that’s not going to be possible, so out with the tent once more, and I’ve been lucky enough to get permission to camp on the Woodhouse Washlands Nature Reserve. I mean, you’d think it would be peaceful but I’m yards from the train line and sandwiched between some industrial estates. Ah well, it’s only one night and often if we think we’ll get through the night, we will. It’s that having a positive mental attitude thing, isn’t it? If we lie there and start thinking we won’t sleep, that’s when we don’t. Sweet dreams.

DAY 68
(9th March 2021)
A fountain in Sheffield (c) pixabay

Woke up to a beautiful blue sky. Clear as anything. Stunning. Haven’t seen one like that for a while. It was similar in Sheffield. I decided to get up and on and I went exploring, and attempted to vlog. We’ll see how well that worked tomorrow when I look at editing it. It was a good walk around fields that I’ve not explored for some time, mainly because it’s been boggy and inaccessible. I’ve realised that my eating habits have not been great recently. I’m putting this down to some quite stressful situations. Think of it as comfort eating. I try not to do this but there is a lot going on in life at the moment. In some ways it’s one of the worst things to do. You’re better off filling up on the fruits and good foods, so I stopped at the Coop on the way home and stocked up on loads of fruit. I’m going to attempt smoothies tomorrow.

After a bit of flitting between jobs, I run a really lovely Relax Kids class.

The steps up to this point have pushed me further into Sheffield. The Gulliver’s Valley Theme Park, the newest resort of its kind in the UK, is up ahead, although I’m not a rollercoaster thrill seeker so I’ll pop my head around the door. Sheffield is another large city, one of the largest in the UK, its name coming from the River Sheaf, which meanders through the centre of it. It played a major role in the Industrial Revolution, with steel in particular being a crucial part of its work. The oldest football team resides here too in the form of Sheffield United, which was founded in 1857.

Whilst many parts of the country suffered during the war, Sheffield, well known for playing its part utilising the factories for the manufacturing of weapons and ammunition, was badly hit. During the ‘Sheffield Blitz’ more than 600 lives were lost. Today the city has had a number of large cash injections and plays host to universities, music venues, and much more besides. It’s ecologically diverse nestling on the edge of the Pennines, to the point that it is classed as sitting in its own amphitheatre.

I cross the River Rother and pass Beighton Marsh, a former brownfield industrial site, and now a birdwatching reserve. Several other reserves all intertwine and I head carefully through each as the sun makes dappled patterns on the copse floor below. I’m heading north now and it’s not until you start walking through Sheffield, you truly appreciate the vastness of the area. We’re not out of it yet.

Sheffield was where my tutor came from in my last year of Uni study with the Open University. It was the same year I was diagnosed with a mental health condition. The OU couldn’t have been more supportive and I can never thank my tutor enough for her support in getting me through. Another fun place name for you – Conker Bottom Allotments. I haven’t been on an allotment for years. My brother used to have one and it was hard work. The previous owner clearly hadn’t cared much and the ground was horrendous. Nothing like you see on TV allotments where it all looks splendidly simple.

An evening walk allowed me to make up even more miles. Not as cold again tonight. With all these miles you’d think we’d be through Sheffield. Oh no, zoom out on the map, and we’ve only just reached the centre! Of course, one of the places I must stop and look at is Victoria Quays, a canal basin, which is an area where canal boats often come to rest, sometimes used as a turning point. We have one in Oxford and it’s been made into a car park. A shame really as it could be a real tourist attraction if reopened.

Sheffield’s city centre is immense when viewed from above. There are green spaces but it looks almost like London with every possible business crammed in, many of which are still industrial and construction in genre.

One of the biggest moments in the history of Sheffield is the Hillsborough Disaster, the crush at the football stadium when 96 Liverpool fans died and there were 766 injuries. My first knowledge of this was when I was young and was introduced to a small section of a Cracker episode starring Robbie Coltrane. It’s only recently that investigations seem to have revealed the true extent of the horror and failings on that day. Of course, Sheffield has so many good things going for it too. Botanical gardens, the Winter Gardens, butterfly house, and waterfalls.

I’m stopping the night in a small B&B called Chez Castle.

DAY 69
(10th March 2021)

Rain rain go away. Come again another day. What miserable weather to wake up to. Strange why we associate rain as being miserable as it can be quite invigorating standing out in the rain. I remember some time ago being on a bus and hearing two elderly ladies proclaim that it was ‘bad rain’ outside. Not sure what made it bad rain or who gave her the obvious authority in deciding these matters, but it’s always stuck with me – her thoughts on the matter, not the rain itself.

After some admin, I head out to pound the streets and parks again. This takes me away from the 70-mile River Don through Sheffield, heading in a generally westerly direction. What I find fascinating is how I always presumed Sheffield to be this highly populated metropolitan, which it is, yet, walk up the hill a short way, and you have this mountainous hills pulling up out of the ground in the distance. I hence walked similar across part of Oxford today getting up a bit higher to admire the view.

The Morley Street Allotments seem to stretch for quite some distance. It’s good that planning gives thought to these spaces and allows for them. I wonder how much longer this will continue though. Will we reach a point where we will not have a need for allotments or they simply will not figure on planning plans? It would be a shame for them to go. They bring so many benefits. Being at one with nature and the benefits of connecting with the soil is so good for us. We can learn about taking care of our planet, we can harvest vegetables to make a meal, which in turn we could give to others. That’s why I’ve always loved seeing the Elder Stubbs allotment part of Restore where there are plenty of opportunities to ‘have a go’. The Recovery College arm of the charity also offers an Ecotherapy course where participants can learn more about how nature can benefit their wellbeing. Perhaps you’d be interested in that? Why not get in touch with them?

As I wind my way through Sheffield, I pass Walkley Bank. It’s not somewhere to make a withdrawal, although it is somewhere to withdraw to. From above it looks simply like a small lake in the middle of the housing, but this is what remains of a ‘water-powered site that was initially used for cutlery grinding’ (joinedupheritagesheffield).

A rather odd blue line appears on Google Earth where I am and a little investigation points it to a long snake like paddling pool at the edge of quite a main road. Seems an odd place for it, but at least there is one for the pleasure of those so inclined to paddle here. We’re into the outskirts of the city now. The suburbs. We know the suburbs as being the edges of more built up areas, but suburb actually means ‘under-city’ or ‘below-city’. I think we’ll stick to being on the edges. Being underneath it doesn’t have quite the same appeal, does it?

We follow the River Rivelin until we reach the Swallow Wheel. This is an old, now derelict, place where once the cutlery and razors were cut. It was falling into disrepair as long ago as the early 1930’s if not sooner. Today much of it is overgrown by vegetation. Earth likes to reclaim what’s rightly hers. How often we could follow that advice and reclaim our own lives.

When I get home I’m straight into video editing. For one reason and another the mind isn’t focusing on this properly. It knows what needs to happen and I’ve got the material there but I can’t seem to get it to work right today. The flow has to be ready to go and if it won’t flow, it can be frustrating. The plus side is there was at least some progress.

On to youth club. It’s our last virtual youth club tonight and we’ve had cakes baked for the young people by one of our volunteers and there are quizzes and all sorts of nonsense. We found last summer that as schools returned, the zoom sessions were needed as much so we’re following the same plan again this time around. It’s great the youth work is able to be so flexible and forward thinking allowing us to adapt to the situation we’re all in.

With that out of the way, a client call done, I take a rather late evening walk before returning to my usual spot of wearing a grove in the floor in front of the hob as I type on the laptop. These tiles have never been so shiny.

As I emerge from Sheffield into the hills, the familiar sight of the grey Yorkshire stone pops up to line the side of the road, holding the fields at bay. We have one of those horizons here that is tree lined at the top of the hill and no matter how much you walk, those dark green spikes, stark against the new signs of fresh lighter green grass, never vanish. You get closer but there’s more and more and more. It’s like a story drawing you in.

The trees become thicker and I take a mini detour because the Rivelin Dams can be spotted glistening through the branches. They are huge and remind me of the ones in Dartmoor when I did my DofE Award. They truly are a spectacular sight to behold. Vast expanses of water as still as anything.

For the next couple of miles the paths slowly wind through the trees, popping out every so often to say hello to a field before hiding away again, a bit like a bird hopping through the woods. We’re not single track like we were in the south of the country. There are actual paths here but it is as beautiful and I’m pleased that once more I can embrace nature to its fullest.

We turn off and follow the track gently up the hill, thicket growing all around, and clearly the start of those bleak outlooks so many authors such as the Bronte’s have noted.

As bedtime beckons, I find I’m pulling the tent out and perching myself midway between the road and a lovely view of the Strines Reservoir 200 metres away. It will no doubt look better in the morning. There’s a pub a short distance up the road. I wonder if they’d have a packet of crisps going spare? Feeling rather peckish. I crawl into my tent as the rain beats heavy on the canvas. It’s about 12 degrees celsius where I’m camping, so not bad but it will drop to six and the rain will persist. As for the wind, it’s picking up. Hoping it’s a fairly sheltered spot. It’s windy in Oxford too, although we seem to be OK for rain at the moment.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

DAY 70
(11th March 2021)
Strines Reservoir (wikipedia)
Hallfield House (c)
Agden Bog Nature Reserve (c)

What a windy night. Stormy or what? The rain was hammering against the canvas and I thought the back fence was going to blow down. Having stowed the tent I head on my way and take quite a long walk this morning. I’ve a fair few tasks that need doing this afternoon and into the evening so this morning is the time to be out.

It’s not so cold but the threat of rain pervades. Despite the hiking boots, the intention is to try and stick to the roads. This isn’t such a ‘let go and be mindful’ walk today. I’ve an idea of where I’d like to walk to. It’s a similar direction to the other day when I recorded the video, which I’m still editing. It’s not a long one but when I started the walk I had a fair amount of time to edit. Now I’m snatching time here and there. It should be up tomorrow.

I didn’t really complete my walk the other day as a path I wanted to take was exceptionally boggy and busy. Today, still muddy, it wasn’t busy. This is the only path that should be tricky to navigate without getting covered. It was a pleasant stroll. I walked past my old school which is massive now. In the ‘good old days’ you could see it from the fence. Today, and I suspect this is mainly due to safeguarding, the new high perimeter (double perimeter) doesn’t allow any view other than the top half of the building. The two fences make it feel well protected but also quite prison like.

I continue to the old part of the village and spot a sign, then another, then another. There are lots of little laminated questions tied along the path asking questions. Clearly something to keep children and young minds active. I enjoyed the questions too and am wondering whether I could attempt something similar near my youth club. It broke the walk up and asked science type questions but also suggested stopping a moment and noticing your senses.

Once in the village, the plan was to walk through it and out the other side, but I ended up in the churchyard. It’s an old church the family have had links to for years and I felt drawn to going in. It was open with strict protocol due to the coronavirus but it felt safe and a sanctuary away from everywhere. I sat a while and enjoyed the silence. Despite any noise outside, places of religion always seem to have that special magic where you walk through the door and it’s quiet, peaceful, safe.

They had a couple of free magazines, so I made a donation, and then continued on my way. Rather, I returned via my inward journey because I fancied viewing it from the other direction. There’s a small garden, postage stamp size, halfway down the road. I walked past it on the way up and have walked past it many times over the years but never sat. Today I changed that.

It wasn’t long but I enjoyed the peacefulness of the singular bench in memory of a local shopkeeper who passed away 19 years ago. I used to go in his shop and get penny sweets. He kept it traditional with them all lined up behind the counter, but had a little part of the counter with some sweets where you were sometimes allowed to serve yourself. A few robins come and say hello, perhaps bringing messages from loved ones no longer around – maybe one was the shopkeeper himself, and I move on my way, heading home.

Class this afternoon, a Facebook live video, and then on to youth club prep work again. Not much of a walk this evening, but quite a few steps at the cooker.

Back to the virtual world. With the tent stowed and a view of the Stines Reservoir, I make my way up the road. Next to the pub is a place called Go Ballistic. I initially thought this might be somewhere to let out your anger. Turns out it’s a paintballing centre. I suppose the two could go hand in hand. There must a few angry people locally as there’s another one on the opposite road. I head past it basically having done a loop of the reservoir now. Behind the tall trees on one side is a traditional Yorkshire stone wall, and the other side of the road, fields and then a drop to the water.

The Strines Reservoir opens to the Dale Dike Reservoir and sitting on its banks, Hallfield House. The house dates back to the 13th Century and the area was originally acquired for cattle, later for pigs. Having passed through various hands, in 1976 it was up for sale for £25,000. For that, you would have three reception rooms and up to 12 bedrooms. Today, the Duckenfield family reside here. No, I don’t know them either, but I’m sure they’re quite happy with their Grade II listed pad.

Agden Bog Nature Reserve comes into view on my right. It is here that you can spot roe deer, the bullfinch, and a willow warbler, as well as frogs and toads. Cattle is allowed to graze here as it helps keep down the bracken allowing more wild flower species to flourish. I do love the views of undulating hills. It’s many, many years since I have visited Yorkshire and even then it was a flying visit. I really should make the point of returning when things ease up.

I head through Wigtwizzle (another cool name) and follow the road as it zig zags through the hillside, past Broomhead Reservoir, Midhope Reservoir, and Underbank Reservoir. Each a body of water, each with defining features and spectacular views. It’s at the latter one, which cuts through the village of Midhopestones that I turn left. I find a field on the edge of the A616 overlooking the Midhope Reservoir, and pitch up for the night. It’s dryer, although of course the ground is sodden. There’s a babbling brook nearby so I’ll fall asleep to the sound of that. I might even put my ipod on and listen to some relaxing water music to drift off back here in the real world. It’s amazing how we can trick our minds we’re elsewhere. I’ve even recorded some meditations for my business with water in the background. I could play that to get off to sleep, although listening to your own voice guiding you to rest can be a bit odd at times, but if you’re not going to listen to yourself telling you ‘you’ve got this’ who are you going to listen to?

A few pages of the book before that though and then I’ll drift off. I’ve officially arrived in the Peak District.

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