17 November 2015

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A lonely walk in a forbidding landscape. No other human beings in view. There on the high moors between Sheffield and Manchester the land is like an enormous sponge. Peaty and black with rough grasses, heather and slow moving  rivulets. It is an ancient and delicate ecology.

Occasionally there are rocky outcrops but to reach some of them you must tiptoe across boggy land, leaping between puddles, wondering if the black peat will be firm or soft and greedy - ready to swallow your boot. The picture above is of the little visited outcrop at Bull Clough Head and below a smaller outcrop thirty yards higher up. To me they are magnificent natural sculptures. They have existed for thousands of years and will remain for countless more after we have all gone.
Throughout Great Britain there are triangulation pillars, erected by The Ordnance Survey. You find them in the most surprising locations and they have been of great service in the accurate mapping of these islands. They cam also be useful landmarks for walkers and I was very happy to spot this one on The Outer Edge. It gave me my bearings.
My only companion on this wild walk was the wind. Down in the valley, it had taken the form of a gentle breeze but up here it threatened to blow me off my feet and as I walked past Margery Hill on to Wilfrey Edge I was stumbling like a drunkard. It slapped my cheeks and mercilessly ruffled my hair but you cannot see it for the wind stays invisible in still photographs. On Howden Edge I arrived at High Stones which at 548 metres above sea level is the highest point in South Yorkshire. There's a small cairn there as you can see below:-
Howden Edge - with  rough
grasses bending in the wind
Leaving Howden Edge I reached a rough farm track that descends to The Derwent Valley and saw the silvery reflection of the late afternoon sky caught in a puddle.
Day was dying and a crescent moon was already shining when I got back to my car at the end of Howden Reservoir. A young farmer with a bright-eyed sheepdog was loading a section of his flock into a trailer. I asked him why and he said he was taking them back to the farm for "tupping". There they would remain to be serviced by his best ram before being returned to the hills on Christmas Eve with baby lambs growing secretly in their bellies.

18 comments:

  1. Your walks sound wonderful. You must be in great physical shape, with all that exercise.

    I wonder if you've ever considered getting a dog to accompany you? They make such good walking companions! My two would be thrilled with such long, interesting jaunts.

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    1. I know you love dogs Jennifer but I am not fond of them. They bark, bite, eat and shit and require daily walks. Regarding physical shape I am a plodder with stamina - that's all. Like a carthorse.

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  2. All very heathcliffe

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    1. "Ay lad an' tha's Edgar Linton!", muttered Heathcliff, his eyes like black thunder.

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  3. This looks like a beautiful walk. I was always so confused by the term "moors" when I read English novels as a kid. I had no idea what a moor looked like, and even when you read descriptions, it's not like seeing it.

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    1. Did you think moors were invaders from North Africa? Or as in that song by The Proclaimers: "Linwood no moor, Methyl no moor...." - Letter from America.

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    2. They are Moors and built forts and towns in Spain. The Proclaimers are different they have no mower.
      A grand walk.

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  4. As always, great pictures and descriptions from a great landscape. You are right, of course - the wind is not visible in still photos, but the bent grass does give us an idea.
    I remember many a walk during lunch break at my former workplace. Often, I walked across the railway bridge and had to hold on to the railing because the wind blew so forcefully along the rail tracks. It was great for sorting my head out so that I'd be ready to go back to my desk for a long afternoon.

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    1. Thank you Miss Arian. Good job you didn't wear your long blonde wig when walking over the railway bridge. It could have been blown on to the windscreen of a passing train.

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  5. Your bread bill must be massive, Yorkie...all the bread you need to leave breadcrumb trails to find your way back from all your walks!!

    I take the easy (lazy) route and never get lost...I just follow your wonderful pictorial, picturesque trails. However, I guess I do get lost in your wonderful pictures.

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    1. Breadcrumbs? Have you ever heard of a new-fangled invention called the map Lee? Maps are very useful when walking in wild country.

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  6. People miss out on some of nature's best when they do not get out in the wild. I will never forget the many times I've been up in the Rockies and find vast meadows teeming with bird life.

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    1. In Canada you have so much wild country that my walk on the moors must seem quite unimpressive.

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    2. I would love to walk on the moors. It's a very scenic area.

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  7. So, Mr. Pudding. Could you tell me exactly what this deep, intense peat smells like, feels like, smells like? I have read about and thought about peat but have no idea exactly what it is.

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    1. Peat is developed over many hundreds of years from moorland plant life. It is black and when very wet has the consistency of thick porridge but when dry it is like jet black tobacco.mixed with black tea. It can often be very deep - perhaps three or four metres before you reach the base rock beneath. It has a neutral smell but when you fall over in it with your nose buried in it it smells of the earth. The Massawepie Mire is the largest peat bog in New York State.

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  8. Second photo from the top: the middle rock formation looks like a whale, beached on the high moors.

    Ms Soup

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    1. I just looked at it again and you are right Alphie! Perhaps the story of Noah and The Flood is a true one!

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