11 August 2014

Thwarted

St John the Baptist Church in Wadworth
 Saturday 1pm. It all began so well. I had parked up in the South Yorkshire village of Wadworth close to yet another magnificent parish church - once again dedicated to John the Baptist. Two cricket teams were assembling on the village sports field ready for a lazy afternoon's play with leather upon willow and the sun had most definitely got his shiny hat on.

The intrepid Yorkshire Pudding was in shorts - designed to show off his tree trunk legs, a New York Fire Department T-shirt, white socks and size eleven boots. I struck off along Carr Lane towards Rossington where coming into view was an enormous heap of coal spoil, spreading over this ancient agricultural landscape. I double-checked my map of the area and felt that something wasn't right. The slag heap appeared much larger than the map indicated and it was perhaps at this ominous point that I should have turned back and gone home.
The enlarging coal waste tip near Rossington
New Rossington is a purpose built mining village - it grew with the pit that was sunk in 1913 but which ceased to be in the 1980's.  To the west and east of it there are railway tracks that head towards Doncaster - including the main east coast line from London. To the north the M18 motorway cuts north eastwards towards Goole and Hull.

My planned walking route, following designated public rights of way, was to lead me across one of the railway tracks to the north of Rossington but when I got there there were steel fences and a sign telling me that the pedestrian crossing was closed due to construction work. My solution was to head under the M18 to Bessacarr and use a different railway crossing - around a mile further north.

Then I skirted the Potteric Carr nature reserve heading for an underpass that allows walkers back under the M18 motorway. After the unexpected diversion this would lead me back to my intended path. But when I got there - at about four thirty in the afternoon - I discovered unscalable spiked gates and a warning sign - "No Entry - Construction Site - CCTV Security in Operation". I muttered a few choice words of annoyance such as "Gadzooks!", "Oh dash it!" and "How tiresome!"
Potteric Carr
One of the troubles with motorways is that only suicidal pedestrians should try to cross them. The next official crossing was a mile further to the west but how to get there? Lord - I wish there was CCTV coverage of the next hour of my life. 

First I had to scale an eight foot fence to enter the nature reserve. I paused at one of the bird hides and looked out over the wetland before scaling another fence and scrambling up a railway embankment and then down the other side. Over another wire fence into an overgrown and rather marshy dell before scrambling up the other side to a disused railway bed. I checked my map and realised that if I followed this old track it would loop me round to the official path I needed to reach. 

At first the brambly briars were easy to march over but after a couple of hundred yards they became so thick it was impossible to proceed. Down the other side of the disused railway embankment there was a drain - about four feet wide. I didn't want to get my boots wet so I yanked two old planks from the broken fence at the bottom of the dip and made a temporary bridge. I reckoned that if I could just get one boot in the middle I could leap across to the other bank. Thankfully it worked - just as my bridge collapsed with an almighty crack.

Then I was into a neglected and be-thistled field - maybe a hundred yards across. I had to traverse it to get to Beeston Plantation and once through that woodland I would be able to climb up to White Rose Way - a link road from the M18 into south eastern Doncaster. The undergrowth in Beeston Plantation was at first just soft ferns and bracken but this soon gave way to yet more verdant briars with their spiky tentacles reaching out menacingly like triffids. At one point I had to stop to wipe stinging perspiration from my eyes. My bare legs were becoming like those of a self-harmer - criss-crossed with red lines.

The embankment up on to White Rose Way was treacherously steep but I managed to scramble up on all fours and emerged into the sunshine like Indiana Jones. A passing and probably alarmed white van man pressed his horn as I stumbled along close to the crash barrier on the side of the dual carriageway. Then I dashed across and went down the other side to a track that leads to Loversall and then back along the A60 to Wadworth.
"The White Hart" in Wadworth
The conversations of regulars in "The White Hart" ceased suddenly when The Wild Man of the Woods entered to order a much needed pint of bitter shandy at the bar. It was one of the best drinks I have ever had - healing my dehydration like rainwater released into a dry paddy field. 

Then back to the car and the half hour drive home. It was 8pm when I crossed the threshold of our house. Shirley wept with relief - "Oh my darling Pudding, I was so worried! Thank God you are safe!" and I suggested that she should now phone to cancel the rescue services of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. It had not been the walk I was expecting. No siree. They say that the camera never lies but in this case, it does.
Ancient water fountain in Old Rossington
Betting shop in New Rossington
Rugby season ahead - Rossington Hornets friendly fixture.
Another reminder of New Rossington's coal mining heritage

20 comments:

  1. I have nothing to add.
    Glad you made it back.

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    1. It was touch and go for a while. I thought I might die amidst the brambles where nobody ever walks. Dr Adrian I presume?

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  2. Wow! Indiana Pudding on another intrepid adventure. Was Shirley really weeping with relief or was she standing waiting at the door with rolling pin in hand?

    My cousins have relatives in Rossington from their mother's side.

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    1. You should visit them - but probably not at night. Old Rossington is so different from the mining village.

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  3. The camera tells the truth and nothing but the truth, but it does not tell the whole truth. For the whole truth we need a battle-scarred participant and survivor, someone who was there -- namely, you. And we are grateful.

    I'm recommending you for an OBE.

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    1. OBE? Mmmm...I wonder what that stands for? Old British Explorer? Ostrich Breeding Expert? Odd Bloody Englishman?

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  4. Time you got yourself a mobile phone or satellite phone. You would be a worry in the Aussie Outback. Thank God you are safe.

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    1. It occurred to me as I fell on my back while wrenching those old planks out of the undergrowth that if I injured myself there and shouted for help, absolutely nobody would hear me. They'd find a skeleton years later. He'd be grinning like a mad man.

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  5. If ever that was an argument for having a mobile phone, that is one! Knowing you, however, you would probably end up being stranded somewhere with no signal! ;)

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    1. You have got my number Jenny and of course I mean that in the metaphorical sense!

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  6. What an adventure!! Only a few encounters with representatives of the animal kingdom (especially of the clawed, fanged or poisonous kind) could have made it even more thrilling. You should print a leaflet and sell this particular walk to companies as a "team-buidling outdoor experience". The pub in Wadworth would probably offer you a good deal on group bookings, too.

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    1. Mmmm... Nice idea Ambassador and I can see where you are coming from on this but I am not sure that any insurance company would be happy about white collar "team bonding" groups crossing the main railway track into Doncaster. The trains go WHOOOOOOOSH! And the ground trembles.

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  7. I have read (at least in part) many travel books that are scads less interesting than your reports, Mr. Pudding. Please write it all down, with photos of course.

    I am in total agreement with the Librarian and Carol. At your advance(d) (drop the e and add "ing") age, you need some communication system when you go so far afield. And transportable water! Please!?

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    1. Madam Thyme you are not my mother even though I wouldn't mind you spanking my bottom and sending me to bed! All you people with mobile phones (cell phones) are going to regret it one day. ISIS (The Islamic State) are going to use them as tracking devices but they'll never get me for I will build a den in the brambles and drink from the ditch I crossed.

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  8. Well that was certainly a bit different to your usual stroll ! I'm sure Shirley wasn't really worried, she knows your secret strengths ! !

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    1. I prefer to call my secret strengths "super powers" Helen. I am not Captain America, I am Captain Yorkshire. In any case why was she waiting behind the front door with a wooden rolling pin?

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  9. YP, it was me that mentioned the rolling pin. Thought Shirley would be so annoyed with you for coming home so late, the dinner would have been ruined, your wee legs were covered in scratches and your Captain Yorkshire cape was in tatters, so she would have wanted to bop you over the head with her rolling pin.

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    1. Poor Roberto! I bet he gets this kind of treatment all the time. "Roberto! You have forgotten to pour my wine again!" THWACK! "Roberto! You still haven't clipped my toenails!" THWACK! "Roberto! It's time to clean out the duck pond!" THWACK! THWACK! THWACK!

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    2. Nothing wrong with being strict.

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  10. An acquaintance went for an evening after-dinner walk about 10 years ago leaving his cellphone at home on purpose so that he could not be contacted. He departed from his usual evening walk route. He stumbled and seriously injured himself (it wasn't even a severe fall). And there he lay as darkness fell. Fortunately his wife understood him sufficiently well and eventually the emergency services found him and stretchered him to safety and hospital. On the other hand you might well never have been found under the brambles in the ditch. And then no more blog posts. And the world would mourn.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.