Sunday, 6 March 2011


This is to be a bit of a landmark walk, not because of where we're heading, but because it's the first time since the op that PC will be driving both ways. We've planned to meet up at the side of the road near the Yorkshire Bridge Inn but end up meeting at the nearby loos. As PC says, "Great bladders think alike!"

After our brief rest-stop, which includes pausing to watch the antics of the squirrels and birds on the feeding stations in the car park, we move to park up in the lay-by on the A6013.

Although we've had rain recently it's dry today, though murky and bitterly cold. The temp gauge in the car reads a measly half a degree - and we can well believe it, so we layer up against the chill.

We've a low level walk planned so as not to put too much strain on the bionic hip, so we head up to the dam then take the footpath that cuts sharply downhill towards a sparse woodland which leads us to the Yorkshire Bridge over the River Derwent. It's easy to forget how close we are to millions of gallons of water (6.1 x 1 000 000 000 gallons apparently).

We cross the small road, pausing briefly to admire the river, then take the footpath heading gently uphill. It's obviously well-used and churned up after the recent wet weather. It crosses the old railway line (built to facilitate the building of the Ladybower Dam) which is now a path and will be our return route, and continues uphill.

It's a steady climb which soon warms us up - but PC is finding it hard (which she doesn't admit to until much l Edge ater on) and we keep stopping to admire the views across the valley
towards Bamford.We cross open ground, a broken down wall, a stream and mud before entering some woods. Here a flock of oblivious sheep approach us, pause photogenically for a moment, then panic when their leader suddenly realises that we're real live people. I didn't think we were that scary.

Pretty soon we hit a crossroads of paths - although it is hard to tell - and decided that, since we're doing so well that we'll head straight on across the fields.

In the first field we encounter more sheep, but these are more intelligent than the last lot as they get out of the way sharpish and we're left admiring the views and the sun on Offerton Moor and Shatton Moor whilst trying to avoid the hideous cement works. For once we're grateful for the hazy mist.

The next few fields provide a series of challenges with each one having a cunningly devised stile to test the resilience, leg length and girth of any walker. But we have ways of surmounting such obstacles despite not being Size 0 nor having legs up to our armpits and we soon reach the lane which runs between Thornhill and Aston.

Here we make a fundamental error. We turn right instead of left. I take full responsibility for the mistake, and can only put it down to giddiness or lack of oxygen to the brain (I'd already mistaken a fence for a gate). So, rather than heading along the road towards Thornhill we actually walk towards Aston instead.

It's a pleasant enough walk between the high roadside banks and oblivious to our error (despite consulting the map frequently!) we pass through the pretty hamlet of Aston and take a seat at the roadside to enjoy a drink from the secret flask (Ramblers Restorative today - perhaps I should have had some before we set out) and a cup of coffee.

Suitably refreshed we press on and when we see the railway line ahead and the sounds of the main road I start to have some doubts. Pausing on the bridge over the railway I consult the map and realisation dawns. After a few choice curses we decide it will be easier to continue to the main road, follow it to the Thornhill turning then climb up to our intended destination. PC is adamant that she's feeling fine so off we go with a brief pause for PC to photograph some snowdrops.

The main road is busy and noisy, and we have to cross it frequently as the footpath dodges from side to side, but we make good time and are soon on the road up to Thornhill. It's deceptively steep but we push on and arrive at the very attractive hamlet - only having added 2 miles to our total!

Now we're back on track and we pass a house on our left with a glorious display of snowdrops - singles and doubles - completely carpeting the ground beneath some trees. The look absolutely beautiful and must have been there years to have covered so much space.

A short distance further we cut across a steeply sloping field to reach the dismantled railway line where there is a conveniently place bench. We sit down gratefully. The sun is shining and our stomachs are rumbling. Time for lunch while enjoying the views through the trees. With sandwiches and coffee out of the way we fall on the buns with relish; wonderful fresh cream eclairs loaded with calories. Essential eating!

It's easy walking now, the old railway line causing no problems. We follow it to where it ends at the dam wall, and cross over it and back to the cars. We've walked further than we intended but PC has done well and we're really encouraged as we plan something a little more adventurous for next week.