Wednesday, 30 May 2018


Very late in posting details of our last couple of walks. Too much has been going on, PC managed to get the photos up in good time but I have been remiss - so apologies.

As you can see from the photos it was a while ago, with the trees yet to burst into leaf and no sign of the sun.

We parked up in Bakewell Station car park which gives easy access onto the Monsal Trail. And for starters we had a quick sample of Moonshine (I know, I know - but this is a pre-birthday walk) then, suitably warmed, we head onto the trail.

Quite busy today, it is an easy stretch to reach, and a few dogs about, but Mollie is happy to be able to go off the lead for a while.

It's snowdrop time and there are many clumps and clusters along the sides of the old railway.
Once we pass Hassop Station where a lot of people park up to ride their bikes, and there's a nice cafe, we look for the uphill footpath on our left.

Through the gate and start climbing, and we leave everyone behind. This is a good path to circuit back towards Bakewell but it doesn't seem to be too popular.

It rises, then levels, then starts to go downhill (where we do see a group of walkers) but we find ourselves a sheltered spot (next to a sinkhole) for lunch.

A glass of fizz, sandwiches and fresh cream strawberry tarts. Perfect. 

And since this isn't a particularly rush day, or long day, or long walk, we linger and chatter rather than getting a move on.

But it is a bit chilly, so eventually we get going.
The path crosses a grassy field, goes through a copse and comes out almost opposite a smaller, less famous Bakewell Bridge. And the sun almost shines too.

But our route isn't over the bridge, rather along the side of the River Wye across the old flood plains, then up lane back to the station and our cars.

Thursday, 29 March 2018


Thwarted by the weather again! We had a walk planned, but the weather forecast was so dire that we opted for a quick change of plan that might - hopefully - keep us a little drier.

We meet up on the road at Monsal Head. It's a familiar enough spot for us, and today it isn't too busy. Hardly surprising. There is a river running down the edge of the road with more rain to come.

Because of the weather we have decided to do the Monsal Trail (yes, again) with the expectation that we will at least be sheltered in the tunnels and can seek refuge there if it gets particularly bad.

We drop down from Monsal Head, pause to admire the crinoid fossils in the limestone 'steps', then reach the level trail and set off, plenty to talk about means that we are well and truly occupied, and the easy going underfoot means we aren't having to be on our guard.

There aren't many others out today. A few random cyclists, joggers and dog walkers. The tunnels are, as expected, cold, dank and dark. Quite eerie in an echoing, hollow way, with the far end rarely in sight as we enter.

At the Litton Mill railway cutting we notice an information board on our left. To our great interest it explains the formation of the Pillow Lava in the face in front. Pillow Lava isn't that common in the UK and this is a good place to see it. For anyone interested in the geology, below is more information with the Litton details are on page 11 of the pdf and a good photo on page 12.

The rain starts to come down heavier now, and we are getting ready for something to eat, but we aren't to far away from the Millers Dale Station, so decide to press on in the hope of somewhere dry to sit.

As we reach the bridge over the road we notice, on our left, large lime kilns. However, lunch is a more tantalising prospect than exploration, so we cross the bridge and approach the station where there are toilets, benches to sit on but, alas, no shelter.

However, the rain seems to be coming in fits and starts, so we find a bench next to the station wall and settle down to eat. Coffee is essential, and we are soon warmed through. Sandwiches/salad are quickly eaten but the buns are worth savouring and are magnificent. PC has done us proud. Tarts filled with tangy lemon 'custard' and topped with fresh raspberries. They lift the gloomy day into something special.

Once the buns are devoured, and the coffee finished, it is time to head back. Alternative routes are awash with rain and mud so it is just a case of retracing our steps. And as is so often the case, the journey back seems to be shorter and take less time than the journey out. Even the steep climb from the trail to the head doesn't take us long. 

The rain hasn't been quite as bad as we had been led to believe (so much for hour  by hour forecasts!) so we have been able to enjoy the walk, and make new discoveries along the way.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018


We seem to be having problems with the weather lately, hardly surprising in winter, but it makes choosing walks a little tricky. We've had our fill full of mud for now.

So, the decision is made to head for the Monsal Trail, but from a point a little further along than usual.

We drive past Monsal Head then down the steep road to the small parking area next to the River. The water is high and looks perishing cold.

Our plan is to cross over the river at Litton Mill and get onto the trail and walk towards Miller's Dale. But once we are suitably attired and on our way, we hit a snag. Taking the footpath through the mill grounds we come up against diggers, metal fencing and enough mud to keep hippos happily wallowing for weeks. An about-turn and change of plan is in order.

Instead we walk up the steep road adjoining the Mill and find, on our left, a gap in the wall to take us on a permissive path which is used to circumvent the flooding that is so common in Water cum Jolly Dale. This path is slippery in places, with fallen trees blocking it in others, and the decent to the path is perilous in wet conditions as you scramble down slick limestone. But we reach the path safely and amble along at the side of the river.

Through a gate at the far end we turn and end up going past a few cottages. We eye up a strategic bench with half a mind for a lunch stop, but instead continue along until I recognise the 'entrance' to Tideswell Dale. Here the river flows gently and it is a very pleasant walk up a well used path.

But lunch beckons, so we find an outcrop to sit on and enjoy lunch and coffee - along with wonderful cream filled chocolate scones. Yes, they sound weird but they are oh-so-good. And large! With a distinct feeling of being overfull we begin to retrace our steps.

At the cottages again we cross over the narrow bridge to the far side of the river and climb upwards onto the remains of the old railway that is now part of the Monsal Trail. Very familiar territory here with the numerous tunnels (cold and dripping) and cyclists coming up behind unawares. 

We walk up the bridge at Monsal Head but before crossing it we take the left hand path down and back over the river. From here it is but a steady walk back to the cars.

It has certainly been a cold day today, but despite a last minute change of plans we managed an excellent walk nontheless.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018


With the heavy snow we have had we decided we really needed to go somewhere that wouldn't be a quagmire. So we headed to Castleton with the Great Ridge in our sights.

It's the school holidays, half term, and since we neither of us have children of school age anymore it comes as a bit of surprise to see so many cars about. However, most are heading for the attractions of the caves and we park on the road close to the bottom of Winnats Pass from where we can see Hang Gliders off the top of Mam Tor.

We decide on walking up the pass, something we rarely do given how steep it is, and as we get higher we remind ourselves why it is such a rarity!

At the top we are on the road for a short distance but cross over to go through a gate that will take us across a field rather than sticking to the road. There's still some snow up here, not surprising really, and it is bitterly cold.

Once through the gate at the far side it is the pull up the slope of Mam Tor in a couple of stages. The last part, the anti-erosion steps up to the summit, is where we really start to feel the wind chill, so we edge to the side and find a sheltered area inside one of the old ramparts to eat lunch and warm ourselves up with coffee. Lemon Meringue pies for bun today. They are certainly very tangy but they need ungloved fingers to eat so they are consumed quickly. It certainly isn't a day to linger, and as soon as we have done we are off again.

The last stretch up to the summit is very busy, as is the area aroundn the trig point, but we pass on by, pleased to be moving. A number of people are coming towards us from the opposite direction and they all, without exception, have bright red, wind-blown faces. It is really extremely cold, the wind having a massive effect.

We keep moving, as swiftly as possible, until we reach Hollins Cross and take the right hand path downhill. The difference is amazing, within a few feet the wind drops and it is noticeably warmer. We decide to slow down a bit!

It is a steep and rocky path down, with a boggy bit about half way which requires some nimble footwork, then we are down to the gate onto the old narrow lane. As expected there is mud and running water here, but not an excessive amount.

A straight walk not into the back of Castleton, through the car park and up the road to the cars. We have avoided most of the mud and slush today, which is good, but we certainly felt the cold due to the wind.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Mud Glorious Chatsworth Mud!

 Well, we certainly know how to pick them. We had an interesting 'new' walk planned but the dire weather had us doing a quick rethink so, after sitting out some of today's deluge in the car we headed for Chatsworth and the empty, sodden Calton Lees car park.

With a certain degree of reluctance we prepared ourselves for a modified walk where, we hoped, it wouldn't be too bad. Ah, if only we had known.

We stroled up the lane to Calton Lees and took the left hand road to a stile. Once over we realised that we hadn't intented to come this way (waterlogged brain is my excuse) but we decided it would be good to go this way as it will be a reverse walk for us.

The trees stood out very stark against the grey sky, but for now the rain had stopped, which was a bonus.

We could see the river a few fields away and how it had leeched out into the flood fields surrounding it creating large pools of cold grey water.
We were glad not to be crossing them - we would have needed to paddle!

It wasn't long before our slightly elevated path descended to river level, though, and by then we had reached the mud. Lots of it. Ooozy and sticky and slippery. And so much that it was impossible to avoid. This relatively short stretch of level ground took us rather longer to cross than we had thought possible.

Once the muddy path across the field was behind us we were a little better off, and when we came to the edge of the river we paused to look. I don't think either of us had seen it so high or so wide, the waters running far swifter than we were used to.

This path led us towards the village of Rowsley and for a brief period the sun came out. We turned sharpe right and started climbing uphill - at least we were on a pavement. The farm had a couple of young calves in a shelter next to the lane, and they appeared supremely unconcerned.

It didn't take long to leave the houses behind us as the lane wound upwards. We were heading for the shelter of some woods where we could eat lunch, but the woods had gone (though new saplings replanted) and the ominous gloom of rainclouds in the distance spurred us on to seek shelter.

We were lucky. Near the top of the incline, just after a left hand turn, we discovered a thick copse of conifers behind a broken fence. Gloomy and dark, but sheltered. A perfect spot.

We found an old large stump to sit on, relic of some woods before these, and enjoyed a peaceful lunch with coffee and creamy chocolate pots for pudding.

Only when we emerged, suitably replete, did we realise how fast it had been raining while we had been in shelter. No mind though, we were at the half way point and had to keep going.

The lane continued in a fairly straight line, then dipped and turned left, although the track on the right going uphill through woods was the one we wanted. And yes, it was slick with mud.

We managed the climb quite well though had to check the map a couple of times to make sure we didn't inadvertently end up following a path down to Bakewell.

As we arrived at the highest point of the woods the trees thinned, and the rain turned to lazy flakes of snow. There were pockets of snow on the ground, but the shelter the trees gave us made it feel warmer than it undoubtedly was.

We continued on the muddy path until it brought us out overlooking fields. We could see the Hunting Tower in the distance to our right. And very gloomy, snow covered hills to our left. Our path was straight on, and downhill, and - yes - muddy.

We made it to the bottom only to have to negotiate what appeared to be a large pond that had appeared at a gate above a fast flowing stream. But we were not to be deterred as we were on the home stretch now. 

We skirted around a stone wall then came to a gate that led us through  Calton Houses and down the track towards our start. The weather seemed to be clearing up.

That was, until we were a few hundred yards from the car park. It came down fast and hard, an absolute torrent of rain that meant we were completely soaked within a couple of minutes. We hurried as much as we could, though it clearly wasn't going to make any difference. All we could do was hurriedly make plans as we took off our bemuddied boots and clambered gratefully into the cars to head home to dry off.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018

We start a New Year with a visit to an old friend. Yes, back to Derwent to try to ease away a few of the accumulated pounds that Christmas brings. We neither are feeling terribly active, so plump for a familiar walk that will take little effort, mentally or physically. But we will do it in reverse, for a smidge more interest.

Our usual car parking spot is still thankfully free of parking meters, but we wonder how long for as they seem to be creeping alongside the reservoirs at a rate of knots. No doubt by summer there will be no free parking at all.

It's pleasantly mild (ish) for the time of year and there are quite a few people about considering it is mid week. Still, we set off with high hopes and a spring in our step. It is so good to be out.

The dam is overflowing - not too much but enough to make it look rather attractive rather than scary. And it is scary when the water comes thundering over in a white wall of sheer energy and power.

We take the steep path up the side and emerge onto the track, which we follow and give Mollie the chance to be off the lead for a while.

As usual, it is quieter at this side of the reservoirs with all the people clustering around Fairholmes. We carry on until we find the steep path up to our right - did I say we were taking it easy today?

Quite muddy at the bottom, and climbing rapidly it is a bit of a pull (and a paddle with the overflowing stream) but we are getting lovely views behind us.

It is worth pausing to look back from time to time, for the views and to have a breather. Too much Christmas pud! The distant clouds look quite ominous though.

We reach the 4-way footpath sign and turn right. It's relatively level now - we are quite high up, and as we cross the moor we are alone. This, we remind ourselves, is what it is all about.

Over the stile at the top and we start looking for our lunch spot. It's fairly bleak up here, but there is a stone wall and after a bit of scouting we find a couple of large flat stones and, with our backs to the wall and our faces to the view, we settle down for lunch.

Plans of dieting are thrown to the four winds when PC produces two homemade apple turnovers (made by her daughter) and they are superb. Mollie is hopeful, but unsuccessful. She must satisfy herself with dog biscuits!

It is quite chilly sat here, despite our wind shelter, so as soon as we have finished eating we move on.

It is flat and a little boggy here, and we meet the only two other walkers this high up, two similarly aged women. Great minds, and all that.

The views range as far as Lost Lad and Mam Tor in a 180 degree sweep, and for a brief spell the sun comes out.

The moors are lit up looking golden and inviting, but the photos don't show how cold it has actually become.

The descent down towards the reservoirs gives us more good views.

But once we get close to the trees the views disappear and we are on a slightly muddy track making our way to the narrow road around the side of Ladybower.

By the time we reach the bottom the winter sun is already dropping rapidly, the clouds are amassing and the temperature is starting to fall. We have, however, managed to have a dry and extremely good first walk of the New Year.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Anti-Clockwise Along the Ridge

A sparkling, crisp and very very cold day for our last walk of the year. 

We park up in Castleton and are surprised at how few people are about, given that the weather is so good. We have a vague plan for a walk, choosing a reverse of one of our favourites in this area. Hopefully we will have good views from the ridge.

We along the path next to the small stream and onto Hollowford Road. Here we realised how cold it really is with large swathes of the tarmac covered in sheet ice. We gingerly tiptoe across.

The lane turns to a track and we have a lovely view ahead of us of the Great Ridge and Mam Tor.

We are carrying straight on and the track degrades to a path that is a running stream at the moment. But not just water, ice crystals have built up and caution is required. At least it isn't muddy, which can be the summer state of this path.

Once off the path we are onto the grassy moor, with a number of options, but we choose to go more or less straight ahead start our climb up to Hollins Cross. It's quite steep but we are in the lee of the wind so we aren't cold - quite the opposite. But once at the top we are rewarded with splendid views - and a buffeting by the wind!

Certainly no lingering. That wind is bitterly cold, so it's hoods up, zips zipped and gloves on. There are quite a few more people up here and they are all heavily muffled,

We follow the path a short distance then drop down again to a cosy hollow that faces the valley and keeps the wind to our backs. Time for lunch, the all important coffee and our pre-Christmas buns - fresh cream puff pastry mince pies. And keeping in with the festive spirit, a nip from the secret flask.

It really is too cold to sit for long, though, and the sun seems to be giving up the unequal struggle against advancing clouds. We set off again up the path and find ourselves battling against a gale. It is coming from the Edale side and almost blowing us over, especially as the path climbs. The wind chill is so great that our fingers are starting to feel cold, and that is with us both weather insulated skiing gloves. It is impossible to say 'hello' to other walkers as we are all completely muffled up.

We don't pause at the summit - been there, done that, too cold anyway - but as soon as we begin the drop down the other side the wind abates. The difference is quite remarkable!

We drop down the path to the road then choose to cross over towards the Blue John Cavern and thus return via the 'old' road. Big mistake. The path is, in places, a sea of mud. However, we do manage to cross without making a spectacle of ourselves and eventually emerge onto the road.

And coming towards us is a man taking his hawk out for a walk. It is an impressive Harris Hawk (though a walker coming from the other direction calls it an eagle!) but we don't stop to chat, others are eager to do that.

We head towards the 'old' road, but the one we are on has to be negotiated first, and there are some really slippery parts.

Once through the gate we see the flooded stretch, usually easily crossed by stepping stones, but that seems out of the question today, so we head 'upstream' to find a less onerous crossing place.

Then we are onto the 'old' broken road with its undulating curves of fractured surfaces. All downhill now, and a steady trek along the usable road towards Castleton.

The sky is darkening fast, dusk comes early, and maybe there is a hint of more bad weather to come (I get a message to say there is a blizzard blowing at home, a little over 30 miles away) so we get ready to go. We aren't sure at the time, but this will be our last walk before Christmas so Best Wishes to everyone and Happy Walking.