Beacon Bluebells, Thurs 13 May 2021

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    John Barnard

    This walk – hopefully the last to be held under the current Covid restrictions – will be another circuit starting from my house in Stannington, this time visiting both the Loxley and Rivelin valleys which lie on either side of it. Meet outside 46 Uppergate Road S6 6BX (should be no parking problems) at 11.0am. The route will traverse the tops of both the infamous Stannington Ruffs and (on an unmarked path I discovered last week) the less fashionable end of Rivelin Edge, as well as passing through Beacon Wood above the threatened Loxley Valley housing development, which (if I’ve got my timing right) should be carpeted with bluebells. 7.5 miles by paper and ruler. If we have more than 6 (I have had one booking already) we’ll need a second leader, so potential volunteers please contact me. JB

    vanda boyd

    I’d like to come please John. If necessary I could be a second leader.

    John Barnard

    The number booked went from 12 to 11 to 13, back to 12, and we eventually finished up with 10 members assembled outside my house. We set off in two groups of 5, with Vanda (fully equipped with route instructions) leading the second group which followed behind, but generally stayed within sight. We passed by the local junior school and a fairy garden before heading along the top of Stannington Ruffs, with a few members recollecting their youthful and ill-advised attempts to climb there (see the guidebook for a selection of excellent reasons not to do so). From the old Robin Hood (“of Loxley”) pub (now converted to flats) we headed down through the woods into the Loxley valley with occasional “rugs” of bluebells scattered about. Heading up the valley above Rowell Bridge, in Beacon Wood, the rugs turned more into carpets, though the cold weather has either delayed or diminished them, as they weren’t quite as spectacular as they were at this point last year. We stopped for coffee on a wall between the bluebell carpets, with the two groups maintaining at least a nominal separation.
    After that the groups of 5 became a little more flexible, with membership dominated more by walking speed than official allocation. We emerged from the woods below the (still not yet open) Royal Hotel at Dungworth, and then headed up on a path though more open country towards Load Brook. A threatening sky caused us to delay lunch till we got up to Rod Side and, needless to say, just as we sat down on the verges of the tracks (accompanied by a lot of mooing from the adjacent field), the first drops of rain fell. Only one member needed to put her overtrousers on to stop it, and it had cleared up again by the time we continued on our way. John M (taking care of his recovering leg) took the more direct “Twenty Fields” route back to Stannington, while the rest of us headed down Onxley Lane to find a path (unmarked on the map) along the top of Rivelin Edge. This seems to be a climbers’ path for descending from the routes at the far left end of the crag, and is clearly maintained by the removal of obstructing branches. We made a steep and slightly slithery descent to the path below the crag, which we then followed back through the woods (with more occasional bluebell rugs) to join the last bit of the Twenty Fields.
    This was the last Thursday walk to be run (at least theoretically) under the “rule of 6”, with advance booking, Covid risk assessments etc, required. The government’s “roadmap” of lockdown relaxations should permit a bit more spontaneity from next week. Many thanks to all who came, and indeed to all leaders, assistant leaders, risk-assessment collators, booking form co-ordinators etc. over the past several months. Let’s hope that the roadmap remains as accurate as all the Thursday walk routeplans, and as free of Indian variants.

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