|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!"
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|