Today was the first local walk I've done since the validity of my ENCTS travel pass was reduced, meaning that I can no longer travel for free on the train to Sheffield in order to reach the Peak District.
I caught the Retford bus; it departs from my local bus-stop and so I didn't have to walk into town. I got off at Station Road, Ranskill; for some reason unknown to me this is the only bus of the day which turns off the main road to serve the stop before reversing and continuing on its journey southwards. It did save me a couple of hundred yards walking through a bland housing estate though.
It was so cold today, more like the middle of winter than the beginning of April; it was quite sunny for long periods though and so decent conditions for photography.
I walked over the level crossing just about a minute before the klaxon sounded, the red lights flashed and the gates were lowered, and so I thought I might as well hang around to photograph the train. Well, what a pathetic effort...this is all I got - I completely missed it.
(This is the East Coast Main Line, and the trains travel very fast...that's my explanation/excuse.)
Beyond the level crossing the metalled surface is replaced by a gravel and limestone chipping surface leading to a small industrial estate; not very attractive to walk along. I soon reached open countryside though and was walking across meadows and along the edges of fields, passing a particular colourful clump of gorse.
At Wildgoose Farm I spotted a Landrover which made me wonder whether I needed to worry about more than just geese; they can be quite vicious.
I arrived at Idle Valley Country Park next, an extensive area of artificial lakes, which looked like flooded gravel pits to me, but there's no mention as to what they are on the website. For several hundred yards I was basically surrounded by water on all sides, the terrain was very exposed in places and this was the coldest I've felt on a walk in a long time....I did stop to take some photographs though.
For about a mile I then walked across a recently-planted field; the soil was black, it must be very fertile. Just before reaching Clayworth I started walking along the towpath of the Chesterfield Canal; passing Wiseton before reaching Drakeholes, which I would imagine on a warm summer's day when there are plenty of barges moored there would be quite attractive. I was pondering whether or not to have a pot of tea, or even a meal, at the pub, but I needn't have bothered - it was closed and boarded up. I was approached by a man who asked me if I knew who the owner of a motorcycle parked on the towpath might be; I told him I didn't know and I'd never been there before. He asked me where I was from; when I replied "Doncaster" he appeared to get in quite a state because he seemed not to be able to make up his mind as to whether I was, or should be, a local or not.
I walked along the road towards Mattersey, but took a bit of a diversion along a footpath which meant I had to climb up a hill and then descend back down to the village; in places where it was wooded it was quite reminiscent of some areas in the Peak District, and very unlike Nottinghamshire.
I walked through the village, then along the road to Mattersey Thorpe, and the lane to Mattersey Grange before continuing across the fields to Scrooby; one section was very boggy...so I was happy!
By now I could hear the noise of the frequent trains again and soon arrived at the pedestrian footpath that crosses the railway. As I approached the gate allowing access to the tracks I could see a southbound train approaching; I managed to photograph this train, and I'm quite pleased with the result.
Before I could reach for the latch to open the gate another train approached, this time travelling northbound; I waited until it was too close and the photograph ended up out of focus.
I arrived at Scrooby with ninety minutes to wait for the next bus back to Doncaster. This wasn't going to be a problem, there's a pub there where I could have a meal - unfortunately, the chef was ill so I had to make do with a pot of tea, a diet Coke or Pepsi, and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. I was the only customer in the pub; I busied myself by writing notes for this blog post and admiring the large collection of shotgun cartridges on display.
I'd been in the pub for about twenty minutes when the young barmaid arrived and I was entertained by overhearing her and the landlady gossiping about the lovelives of everyone they knew. Is this all that women talk about when they're together?