2012-01-05 53 -1
Just off Park Spring Road/A6195, near Barnsley.
Very little planning, and very nearly not even attempted given that night was to have fallen before any attempt could be made, but Monty was given another reason to be in the area (and is now writing this from a house about 3 miles from the hashpoint) and so he went.
With no (safe) roadside parking available on this stretch of Park Spring Road, the car would be left at the nearest traffic island along the SE stretch of this busy commuting route, and the difference was to be walked (inclusive of the use of a handy foot/cyclebridge) up to the point at which some clambering needed to be done in the long grass of this refurbished pit-tip locale.
The parking spot was off the traffic islan known not-so-consicely as Houghton Main Colliery Rundabout, after the now non-existent mine-head of that name. Opposite a gargantuan 'new industry' complex that I can only guess as being part office-space but mostly warehouse area, a western spur of the road trails away from the island a very short distance before a barrier across what is doubtless intended to be yet another business park or national distribution centre, should there be thought to be any more takers for such an establishment in this location. However, for the time being this gives an excellent parking spot, one used be me several times previously (during lighter nights) while assisting in cycle races that use this particular stretch of road. Tonight, a courier van had also decided to use this spot to stop in.
THe traffic on the road was far from saturated, at more or less 6PM. Bunched up, as it occured, but not as continuous as it might have been. But still the plan was to use the off-road track that passed along each side of the road, with the bridge effecting the transfer. Without my own lighting, the spill-off of the headlights of passing traffic and the bright moon shining down through cloudless (though windy) skies were the main form of lighting. Shiny, rough surface indicated damp mud. Shiny smooth areas indicated puddles. It was not too difficult to avoid the more trecherous areas, given that the recent spate of wet weather had left large stretches of the off-road pathway sodden or (in one or two areas) perhaps ankle-deep in water. The exact depth of the latter was not actually tested, however, plumping for the more cowardly method of avoiding these stretches altogether.
Photography was found to much more difficult, however. Eschewing the flash (at first to avoid confuzzling any poor, distractable car drivers, later because the camera indicated low battery) extensive use was made of tripod support, the camera mode, effective 'ISO' level, exposure timings changed and the very moments of photography timed for headlight-illumination, and yet still the results were far more disspointing than I had expected. (The next camera I get may well be vetted according to its low-light performance.)
Descending from the bridge, the pathway, separated from the roadway by an unassuming fence, was quite obviously awash from side-to-side, so the route was now along the road's actual verge, separated from traffic by the large curb-less road edging and drainage channel. Facing the oncoming traffic I saw very little danger in taking this route, but still traversed back again once the off-road route was walkable without the need of a boating licence.
The track rises gently over the shoulder of the ex-spoilheap and down again to the same level of the road. There is little to be said, save that the illuminating light on the top of the shoulder was now purely from the moon, with the traffic below and the streetlights of the Pen Hill Estate a mile or so ahead being mere marks upon night's dark canvas.
Down to the point above which the hashpoint occured, the widley-spaced still-young trees could be easily seen (by Mark I Eyeball, leastways) and matched to an aerial photo stored to the camera for navigational purposes. Photos were taken of the destination from the path, but the aforementioned blackness of night did rather make aiming and framing quite troublesome. And with a ten-second maximum timer, the very best self-photo from this established point (which was one of several mad dashes up the hillside, prior to turning and freezing in place for the usually requisite 3s exposure time) is short.
And yet, the point was reached. Note to self: next time bring a small stake or other marker, and then revisit the spot at a later date when daylight is available, to confirm the point. (Hey, by then I may have abandoned my near-habitual No Batteries expeditionary tendencies... :) )
Not fancying dodging the puddles again on the way back, I crossed the road and walked along the shoulder. Traffic had lightened further and it was no problem to keep an eye out for inexplicably mis-driven vehicles that were veering off of the road and in my direction. (None of these occured, so I suppose I really did not put that assertion to a true test.)
Back at my parking spot, the courier van had been joined by two further cars, parked antiparallel to each other and the respective occupants conversing with each other. Its untold stories such as these that can pique your curioisity, and I still knew not their pupose, as I drove away. Mayhap that they were members of rival gangs conducting clandestine business, imminent participants in some intended 'dogging' escapades or they were mere callow youths getting away from their suburban locales thanks to the machinery of their car-driving friends but having nowhere yet to go to, at this time on this particular night... Food for thought. And almost entirely irrelevent to the tale!
TBD. (Land Geohash + No Batteries, alone?)