Monthly Archives: May 2014

Bailey Hill in spring

Bailey Hill can look a bit on the bleak side in winter but at this time of year (after plenty of rain!) everything’s looking much more verdant.

The motte at Bailey Hill

The motte at Bailey Hill

Something I never get over coming here is how quiet and peaceful it is. Being set high on the hill, and slightly off the beaten track, there’s something curiously timeless about it.

Path behind the bailey embankment

Path behind the bailey embankment

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Tropico 5 – First impressions

I’ve been a fan of the Tropico franchise for a long time and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest incarnation – Tropico 5. Tropico has always been witty, rich in detail and content, and one of the most satisfying strategy games around, and Tropico 5 (so far) seems like a pretty good update to the franchise.

Tropico 5 1

The GUI has been overhauled substantially, which can be confusing if you’re coming from Tropico 3 or 4. The information is still there – you may just have to look for it in a different place. Sometimes that’s less convenient, but after ten minutes or so I found myself getting used to the new interface.

Tropico 5 2

The new construction menus threw me at first but now I’m used to them I love them. New buildings, new resources to exploit, trade routes, dynastic progression – and the artwork for the menus looks great.

Tropico 5 4

The visuals have been revamped and, to be honest, I think they’ve lost a little of that Tropico flair. The game does play more smoothly on my PC than Tropico 4 but it does feel ‘flat’ and the resource overlays are clumsy.

Impressions so far? Overall I like it, and it’s a good addition to the Tropico franchise. Maybe with more gameplay even the ocean waves will grow on me.

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Rain not fog

Rain falling on the Hope Valley

Rain falling on the Hope Valley

It’s not the best weather in the Peaks today – rain with bonus hail and even a bit of thunder at Brough!

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The Monsal Trail from Millers Dale

The Monsal Trail in the Peak District is a 8.5 mile-long trail from Bakewell to Wyedale running along the former Midland Railway line, which closed in 1968. To create the current Trail, four tunnels along the route were renovated and reopened in 2011, with access ramps and lighting to create a safe and relatively level trail for walkers, cyclists, and horseriders. The Trail follows the course of the river Wye, taking in some spectacular scenery alongside reminders of the history of the Peaks.

The disused station at Millers Dale

The disused station at Millers Dale

Millers Dale is a valley (and tiny hamlet) on the B6049 between Tideswell and the A6. Much of the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it’s a popular spot for visitors, with the car park at the now-disused station filling up rapidly on busy days!

At one time there were five platforms at Millers Dale, and the station seems very large for such a small hamlet. The reason for this is quite simple however – anyone wishing to travel to the spa town of Buxton had to change here. At one time this was an extremely busy line with both passenger and freight traffic, but the Beeching Report of 1962 sounded the death knell for the Midland Railway line. There’s some great information about the glory days of Millers Dale and the Midland Railway here.

Disused railway building next to the Trail

Disused railway building next to the Trail

The station building itself is now a visitor centre, providing toilet facilities and refreshments. Pay and display parking is available – there isn’t really anywhere else to park in Millers Dale as the hamlet is built into the sides of the valley. I’d suggest arriving early at weekends and during holiday periods, but generally it’s reasonably quiet. From the station the visitor has a choice of heading east or west along the Trail. Taking the eastern route leads down to the Chee Tor tunnels (1 & 2).

Chee Tor tunnel 1

Chee Tor tunnel 1

The tunnels are lit dawn to dusk but the Park Authority do recommend taking a torch if you’re there early or late in the day, as the lights are sensor-activated. The level of lighting inside the tunnel is good and the tunnel is wide enough not to be too claustrophobic.

The Trail gives some excellent views

The Trail gives some excellent views, even in miserable weather!

Not far from Millers Dale stand the East Buxton Lime Kilns. Cut into solid rock, the Lime Works was opened in 1880, with the concrete buttresses added in the 1920s. Limestone was brought in from nearby quarries and hauled up an incline to the kilns to produce quicklime, which was then shipped out by rail. At one time the kilns produced over 50 tonnes of quicklime a day.

East Buxton Lime Kilns

East Buxton Lime Kilns

The last kiln closed in 1944, and today the site is a nature reserve. The kilns can be viewed from the Trail, and a short walk up an incline takes you to the top of the Works where the limestone was brought in.

The Monsal Trail is a great route for a day out walking or cycling – bikes can be hired at either end of the Trail at Hassop or Blackwell Mill. It’s not a particularly challenging route, the path is wide and well-cleared, there are accessible facilities, and there’s plenty to explore in the surrounding area too.

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Mam Tor and the A625

Once upon a time (1819, to be exact), a road was built. What became the A625 headed westwards out of Sheffield, through Hathersage and Castleton in the Hope Valley, and wound its way across the Mam Tor landslip to finally arrive in Chapel-en-le-Frith. The Mam Tor routing replaced an ancient (and much steeper) cart route through Winnats Pass.

There was, however, a minor problem – the landslip. Mam Tor has been on the move for thousands of years, and it wasn’t long before the road had to be repaired. And then repaired again. And again.

Looking back over the Hope Valley from what remains of the A625

Looking back over the Hope Valley from what remains of the A625

In the 1970s a huge landslip meant that major repairs were needed but finally, in 1979, Derbyshire County Council admitted defeat and the road was abandoned. Today, Winnats Pass is the only (and very unsuitable) direct route out of the western end of the Hope Valley, but the remains of the old A625 have become a tourist attraction in their own right.

Usually, when we walk at Mam Tor, we park at Mam Nick and take the usual routes to the summit, but this weekend we decided to explore the old road instead, and it was definitely an experience!

Collapsed road at Mam Tor

Collapsed road at Mam Tor

As with any walk in the Peak District, particularly around Castleton at the weekend, my advice is to get there early, before the crowds appear. There’s plenty of parking along the old road up to and around the bus turning circle by Odin’s Mine, a disused lead mine at the foot of Mam Tor (please note that the mine is dangerous and shouldn’t be entered). Just head up the road and very soon you will start to see the signs of movement – the fissures in the road surface, the crumbling edges – before you round a corner and suddenly realise exactly why the road had to be closed!

Collapsed section of the old A625

Collapsed section of the old A625

The walk up the road isn’t bad going – just watch your step in places. The road brings you out by Blue John Cavern (or you can, if you’re feeling adventurous, strike out for the Mam Tor summit on your right). Otherwise there’s a very pleasant descent via a footpath heading east from Blue John Cavern that brings you out by Treak Cliff Cavern.

View of Back Tor and Lose Hill from Blue John Cavern

View of Back Tor and Lose Hill from Blue John Cavern

Whether you do the walk as a stand-alone or incorporate it into a longer walk/day trip, the old A625 is definitely worth a look as a reminder of just how unforgiving nature can be!

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Fixing the Skyrim Markarth bug

2014-05-03_00001I’m on my second play-through of Skyrim and, while it’s great that I’m seeing lots of things I didn’t see the first time around, it’s not so great that I have bugs I didn’t have first time around too. The biggest – and, until recently the most annoying – was the Markarth bug that meant that Markarth guards kept attacking me. Over and over and over again.

One solution would obviously be to avoid Markarth – I did try going away, seeing if not visiting for a couple of weeks would solve the problem. Needless to say, it didn’t. Some googling brought up suggested solutions, such as visiting the Shrine of Talos and speaking to the guards there, but I didn’t even have any guards in the Shrine of Talos!

However, I fixed it eventually, and here’s how.

  1. Go up to a guard in Markarth. I picked one at random
  2. Enter the console
  3. Click on the head of the guard, right in the middle
  4. Type paycrimegold into the console and hit enter
  5. Close the console

This worked for me and I was able to finish up quests I’d been putting off because of the bug.

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