2011-07-11 53 -1
Down a steep hillside from the Pennine Way, just south of Torside Reservoir, Longdendale.
Adsrhodes will be visiting, probably leaving Manchester at about 1830, so arriving 1930-2000 (on the bike) or so.
Monty was planning to get here for about 1800, but with the possibility of actually meeting someone, he'll probably delay a bit and wait around. (It'll be nice to meet another geohasher... will be third one ever, on second occasion ever! Also, will spur him on to actually updating all those old hashtrip pages he still needs to sort out details/pictures of!)
 Monty's (intial) Tale
Unfortunately, I still don't know if Adsrhodes arrived, so I'm going to briefly (perhaps to be filled out later) describe my own expedition, and let my erstwhile co-geohasher relate their own tale. It may even turn out we met each other. :)
Initially, this post-work expedition was intended to get me to the geohash at around 1800, but given the possibility of a meeting of multiple geohashers, departure from work was delayed to mean not so much time waiting.
Arriving at the public car park opposite Torside Boating Club at around 1830, half of Radio 4's ISIHAC was listened to before a an actual move was made (knowing that the full programme would be being recorded at home, and even if it hadn't been there was next Sunday's repeat and even Listen Again next time I had a decent internet connection at hand). So at 1845, the car park signs were checked (no charge for parking after 1800), the public conveniences visited and footwise progress was initiated up onto the Longdondale Trail/Trans Pennine Trail/old converted railway bed.
Making the mistake of taking the "walker's" route, there was much zig-zagging up through the woodland (puctuated by a number of commemoratively-planted trees, a very pleasing and environmental memorial area). On return, the "biker's and horse-rider's" route was taken back to the car-park, and it was much more direct.
I had decided to park at this place, because the actual Pennine Way (wandering southwards over the hills at about the same point as the road and ex-railway re-crossed, about a mile west) didn't seem to have very much convenient parking. But it was a bit of a trudge, and a number of cycles (accompanied by riders, naturally) crossed and overtook me as I yomped on my merry way.
Spying Torside Clough, every bit as impressive as remembered (a couple of decades ago I had descended this feature in one of a series of practice hikes leading eventually up to doing the Tour De Mont Blanc), I confirmed my impressions from the analysis of paper and electronic maps that the best approach to the Geohash might well be not from the Pennine Way itself, but from the lower side of the hill.
A little bit annoying was that there was no easy way to cut across country from the railway bed, without going past the underside of 'Reaps' (the paper map's name for the farmhouse whose access track formed the first bit of ascent up the clough), essentially doubling the crow-flies distance to the destination. Technically, as open-access land there might have been a way to travel up below Long Gutter Edge, but with no little risk of the walk being of a pathlessness nature (on top of the bit I knew would have to be cross-country), so I grinned and bore it. I was also hoping to see where my possible hashing companion might be approaching from, presumably on bicycle via the TPT from the west.
As I got to the junction between road, (ex-)railway and (Pennine) Way, a number of cyclists zoomed by. It was still pretty early (compared with my opposite number's ETA provided above) so while one cyclist seemed a little unsure and hesitatingly footed his bike along and further up the TPT route, I did not volunteer contact. The fact that I had a map and sheets of papers in my hand were (I was sure) enough of a hint to a fellow geohasher that this person may be on a similar Mission. No contact was made. I still wonder if that was him (despite the time), and this affected my next couple of interactions.
Walking up the track towards 'Reaps', I observed a number of spots where the up-hill bank was bare earth and I toyed with, on one occasion, and attempted, on another, scribing "XKCD" marks into them. They didn't really work too well. (Planned photos of them on the way back were abandonded when I realised that the effect of sun meant that they were barely visible anyway.) Also, as the Pennine Way was signposted up and off of the vehicular track, another attempt was made this. This held together better, but may not have been brilliantly visible if not explicitly looked for.
With sheep on the 'field' over which the track went, and still thinking about an imminent rendezvous with a cyclist (who might have decided to fasten their machine up to the signpost and continue on foot alone), progress was slow and plodding, with frequent turning to look behind and down for any sign of a pursuant velocipede.
Down the steeper part of the path came a hiker with a dog. (A little long-haired Jack-Russely dog, who must have made who knows how many foot-falls traversing the path, the next road-striking point being at the top of Snake Pass, a number of miles to the south.) Already wondering if I had missed my opportunity to make myself known to the aforementioned hesitant cyclist, I greeted him "Good Evening" and mentioned that I wasn't going all the way over, in case I got a sign of recognition. No such thing, and so I filled in quickly with "You've heard of Geocaching?" "Yes..?" "Well, Geohashing is, like that, only random each day...". Well, something similar, and similarly non-precise. Anyway, he continued downward even as he wished me good luck.
And then, I reached a fork in the path. Actually, it wasn't me that was supposed to fork, but the Pennine Way. If you examine a map similar to mine (which is OS Explorer Series, OL1: Peak District/Dark Peak area) you'll see at reference SK 0630 9775 (approximately, I may dig up a ruler later) a dotted line leading SSE towards "Sheepfold (disused)" lower down on Torside Clough than the Pennine Way which heads up onto Clough Edge. Actually, my memories (from 20 or so years ago) are that the way we came down the Clough was actually more along the valley, where that track is indicated, but they might be in error. However, the key point is that taking the PW up the hill would mean clambering down the hillside (and across terrain marked on map and visible on the overheads as being rocky). From the lower end, some steep gradients (how steep, I was later to learn) would need clambering up, but it appeared from overheads and Mark One Eyeball to be vegetation-covered, and likely to be more stable and feature sheep-tracks.
Still expecting company, however, the very next thing to do was... wait. I had intended to put a book in my rucksack for this point, but I'd left it in the car. Still, a nice evening. And I chose a spot where I could see down most of the path (and track) down to the road. I also scraped another quick "XKCD" and an arrow into an exposed bit of the banking, in preparation to moving on. (It was quite close to a bit of red ribbon, either attached or caught upon a bti of vegetation. Not sure if that was an accidental or deliberate marker, but it might well have attracted attention to my symbolic sign. Still didn't, look too impressive, when I passed back that way.)
With no sign of anybody, one of my occasional glances uphill spotted something. Something... Is that a signpost I hadn't noticed, or a person? Full zoom (10x Optical) with my rather aged camera and then digitally zomming in on the resulting still on the camera's screen showed it was a person! Apparently holding arms up to their head. Maybe using binoculars, a camera (as myself), possibly even cupping around the mouth to hollor something. Was this my contact? They did not appear to be heading downhill. Were they shouting "ARE YOU A GEOHASHER?" at me? Maybe they had confirmed the point and were waiting for me...
Well, not averse to gaining a bit of altitude (albeit that I was still of a mind that the best route to the hashpoint was from the track from below) I started upwards. Not in a sprint, but purposefully. At around the same time, the figure now appeared to be descending. A bit of give and take suited me. As we closed, however, I spotted an accompanying dog, however. Not as small as
We crossed paths at around the point of a gateway through a boundary fence/wall wandered across the landscape. "Ho!", I cried (or something to that effect, but much less pretentious), "Are you doing a weird internet-related thing?". No, he wasn't. Another (all too) quick explanation resulted. Apparently he had spotted someone else walking up on the top of the moor, and wondered if he might be the person I was looking for. Maybe it was somebody, but I was sort of expecting a cyclist coming from below. Still, I'd keep an eye out for anybody prowling around. But although I was higher up the hill (more or less level with the target point) I still wanted to approach from further down so after checking the visible path below I clambered downwards (off-track) towards the sheepfold-way.
There were a couple of things that concerned me, as I looked downwards. First of all, there appeared to be some... movement on the track I was heading for. Just this side of a pair of trees (plainly visible, though as combined crowns and not separate, on the overheads over the track itself). Repeating the recently used camera trick was difficult, it was very few pixels and being in the shadow of the hill it wasn't a good (electronic) exposure. On my second go, it was (marginally) clearer. Sheep. Ha.
The second thing to concern me was by the gateway (where the last fence marked on the map crosses the trail). A red sign. While this area is supposed to be Open Access, does the sign say "Private"? Again, the zooming trick just fails to resolve the issue, and so I clamber down in trepidation. I should not have been so worried, as it's an advertising sign for the company that put the fence up. There's still the issue of the gate, but there appeared to be no locks (a sign that somebody might be explicitly dissatisfied with my entering that area) and it turns out to have absolutely no fastening mechanism and is just held against the post by its natural balance on its hinges. But I was supposed to be waiting. Feering that I might miss my companion's arrival, I wandered back towards my previous vantage point (by this time, the second dog-accompanied hiker had made it down to the farm track, I noted), and I waited a bit longer.
With an estimated arrival time of 19:30 to 20:00, I decided that 19:50 would be my cue tocautiously progress alone, unless I happened to spot anybody upon the track. I didn't, so back to and through the gate I went. I continue to look behind me (although there's much less visibility along the path, as well as upwards towards the edge and where Pennine Way is visible), but still nobody. Past the track-spanning trees (under the arch formed by their respective crown branches and leaves) I reach the point where the track diverts. Referencing my printouts of the overheads, and various levels of zoom, I now have to decide where to go.
I've done this before, on other missions. Colour aerial photos revealing patterns in the vegetation. The trouble being that the time of year is quite probably different, and other reasons that the local patterns would change, casting some doubt on prior attempts and needing to fall back on other terrain features, like winding streams and gulleys. However, this time (at least) there were rocks as well to back up my hunches. ...Except. Overhead photos are overhead, my view of the hillside was sideline (indeed, from below). As I would find as I header up, a lot of exposed boulders were only visible from above (or, by my, as I happened upon them as I parted the overgrown undergrowth). But I considered there still to be enough clues. I had already visually identified the various components of the clough edge (the one already identified from the map as Clough Edge, and why not!) and could narrow down various bits of outcrop and work a little mental triangulation. And, surprisingly enough, some of the coloration of the vegetation could be closely matched with that on the printouts I had.
The reasons behind this were clear enough as I made my way up the steep hillside. Some areas were pretty much moss-covered with vegetation in the cracks, with other bits having a decent amount of peaty topsoil. As the differing plant-types occupied the (sometimes quite literal) niches in the hillside, their map-corresponding coloration reflected the constancy of the subsoil detail. Well, it seems obvious enough to me, albeit that it's a couple of decades since I last seriously tackled the subject of biology and my only interaction with things horticultural is catching Gardner's Question Time on the radio.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, as I was confronted with a largely fern-ish collection of vegetation in my way. By no means impassible (reference the Geohash that took place in Wath-upon-Dearne, earlier this year, for an example of awkward vegetation), but it obscured most of the sheep-trails that I had planned to utilise. Still, a bit of barging through, watching the footing (without plants, the slope would have been mainly loose-fitting boulders, and I had to be sure I didn't rock any loose rocks, as I made my way across them). And I kept stopping and looking behind (and to the edge above), always in hope. Although at times I found that I didn't have much outward view, and wondered how much inward view there was as my light blue backpack highlighted my lesurely and intermittent ascent.
The trouble with the (relatively) easy upward progress, as the slope steepened, was that I knew that the descent would be more awkward. At times I considered that, when (if?) reaching my desired destination (which sometimes necessitated some side-stepping to avoid moss-covered rocks where more level stepped or sheep-tracked routes afforded themselves, but was at least east to keep an eye on) I might complete the journey by heading upwards even more, but I never did quite trust the rock outcrops to be climbable (or what was just above them), so just kept an eye on downward routes.
Well, I'm not intending to pad this out, but I did spend a lot more time observing than travelling, so my apologies if this is reflected in this prose. I think you'll not only forgive me, but encourage me, to skip to... Success!!! As sure as I (almost always a No Batteries geohasher) can be about my location, and given how many local features matched up that's very sure, so I will claim it as a success. And while I've not yet been able to claim the Couch Potato award, I want to grant the award (an honorary version, if necessary) to a frog that I found residing there! (When the photos go up, you should have one of him(/her) below.) Or maybe it should be a Cubicle Hash Award? Maybe it only works there (there were plenty of flies needed eating). Anyway, it didn't really like me around, so hopped it into the undergrowth.
Anyhow, tripod was extracted from backpack. (The only real reason I had taken the large backpack was that the tripod (barely) fits inside it, which is a better way of carrying it than the frankly low-budget tripod-bag that came with it.) And given the slope of the side of the hill, it's no surprise that the one leg barely needed extending in making it upright. Photos taken. Several photos taken. Stupid ferns getting in the way, and care needed to be taken in traversing the slope (didn't want to end up several metres further down, and injured) so it wasn't the usual set-up of delay-timer and running for the best part of ten seconds before turning and shrinking down to appear in the zoomed-in shot. A more careful nearly 10-second traverse to a much closer position. Anyway, the photos worked. But only when I packed the tripod away again did I realise that I forgot to dispaly the alarm clock!. So a quick hand's-length photo. Good enough proof, I'm sure.
Did I get back home? Well, yes I did. I followed some sheep tracks, backtracked a bit, scrambled down some steeper bits, headed over to the gulley (that I had avoided on the way up) to find that it was actually quite a good route down the hill (except, apparently, for a significantly long-dead sheep, that looked like a half-attempted taxidermy exercise, but which I refrained from poking with a stick (not that even I had a stick) because it just didn't seem right to do so, even if it might have been interesting from the point of view of a post-mortem anatomical study.
So, rough track, Pennine Way, farm track, ex-railway and (as mentioned, far above) direct route back to the car-park. Car still there (always useful) and intact, and not locked in (I don't think there were gates but, again, not to have been locked in can be described as 'useful', given that I had to travel over 20 miles to get back home). Back east on the B6105 and then the A628, turning the car lights on because things were starting to look dark. As passing over Salter's Brook Bridge and then the watershed separating Sheffield(/Barnsley) and Manchester, the newly-gathered dark clouds overhead deigned to provide some rain. Which had thankfully held off during my prior explorations. Another nice and useful aspect of the day.
And I never did meet Adsrhodes. That I know, at least... I suppose we might have passed each other, one way or another. (Hope to hear from you. Perhaps we can arrange a proper meet next time the hash lands in that part of Sheffield, or maybe I'll go a bit further and pick up a Manchester area one just the other side of Glossop instead of heading over to Bawtry...)
Photos will be uploaded.
I'll sort this out later. Standard set of Land Geohash, No Batteries, plus something for that frog I mentioned. Not entirely sure it's MNIMB-worthy, but I'll think about that too (it not being a trivial walk to the spot, or indeed away).