Monday, 4 April 2011


After last week's walk our expectations were high, so we weren't exactly prepared for today's grim start; drizzle, low cloud, wind. Not promising. But by the time we reached our usual parking space at the side of Ladybower Reservoir the rain had stopped and the wind had eased so after our preliminary greetings and sortings we decided to set off on our planned route.

This is another walk that we thoroughly enjoy, but we knew it would be a challenge for PC and her bionic hip. Still, she's no quitter and was adamant that she'd be up to it, so we set off down the road towards Fairholmes and their re-vamped loos - very nice - before heading towards the dam.

Here we met the first of many frogs. It seems they were intent on massing in great numbers to do - well, whatever it is that frogs do (although clearly many were still doing it!) There were dozens of them, and as many squashed ones as live ones, with quite a few having met their end whilst in the throes of a passionate embrace. Trying to avoid them I did a kind of hopping, skipping dance to PC's tuneful, "there's one there, oh and another one, and two more".

We avoid the path up to the dam and follow the road past Jubilee Cottages and Old House, both standing before the valley was flooded. The daffodils are out lining the roadside in cheerful, blazing yellow - unlike the sun which is staying hidden.

Soon we see the first of this year's new lambs, impossibly cute and posing oh-so-sweetly for the camera.

We continue along the road and just before reaching Wellhead we take the path to our left which climbs uphill. Even here there are frogs intent upon reproduction and not caring who can see them! A few steps along the path and there is an absolute orgy going on and it's impossible to count how many frogs are involved. Urgh!

The hill is steeper than we remember it, so it's a good job we have some Maltesers to prevent low blood sugars. We need to keep our energy levels up. Thank goodness the top rungs of the stiles are movable, a wonderful design element that should be incorporated into every newly built stile.

Of course, we have to pause regularly to admire the views, which means we have time to catch our breath and scoff a few more choccies. As we ascend we can see along Derwent Edge and down the length of Ladybower. Better still, possibly, the sun is trying to make an appearance, although the wind is building up too.

We pass the house on the hill (how do they get their motorhome up to it?) and are on the last pull. We stop to stare at, and photograph, a gnarled and twisted tree branch which is trying to disguise itself as a heron, or a turkey, or a dinosaur.Then we take the last couple of hundred yards at a run. (OK, we don't, but it sounds good.)

We decide to shelter against the wind behind a wall where we can enjoy the views, a coffee, a gingerbread man (yes, honest), and the sun which is really beginning to make an effort. We can hear grouse grumbling in the distance, and curlews with their eerie call. It's wonderfully peaceful though with not another soul in sight.

It might be sunny but it isn't warm so we set off again knowing that the climbing is done - all bar a slight incline near Pike Low. The track is firm underfoot and follows a long but much eroded and tumbled drystone wall. It's level walking and we can admire the views rather than watch where we're putting our feet and we can see as far as Lost Lad and Back Tor.

When we move away from the level path we're back onto peaty moorland which is often boggy, although just now it isn't too bad although some of the deep ruts have been filled with rubble, no doubt to make it easier for the 4x4s up here for the shooting rather than to help walkers.

We crest the final slope and pause to admire the views behind us as we can see as far as Crook Hill and the Great Ridge, although the quality of the light doesn't quite make it a good photograph. A shame, but at least we can appreciate it.

It's all downhill now, quite gently at this point, and soon we're at the cross-paths - left to the reservoirs, right towards Derwent Edge - but we continue straight ahead. We angle down a little to reach the derelict Bamford House where we find a seat (a fallen gatepost) and some shelter (a tumbled-down wall) in the sunshine where we can enjoy lunch.

Out comes a small bottle of pink fizzy wine - a prezzie from PC for my %* th birthday. Drinking lovely wine as we sit and enjoy the views makes a great day brilliant. Our sandwiches are eating with resignation but the lemon muffin cheesecakes - always a winner - are devoured with unseemly relish. However, we can't fit in the coffee yet, we're too full, so we sit and natter instead, enjoying the peace, the sun, the view, the company.

What a pity we can't sit here forever, but eventually we drag ourselves to our feet and rejoin the path which takes us down to Abbey Bank. Yet again we have more magnificent views, this time of the Howden Dam overflowing into the reservoir with it's usual thunderous, echoing roll.

This is a steep downhill stretch, and we pass the only other walkers we've seen on this outing. A couple and their dog toiling uphill. Rather them than me.

At the bottom we step through the gate into a thick carpet of crisp leaves that have somehow resisted being turned into mulch over the winter, and we walk through the trees and daffodils to join the wide path at the side of the reservoir.

We're on the home straight now, but we stop at a bench to finish off the coffee and enjoy the afternoon sun. It's turned pleasantly warm and that has fetched people out. Coffee done we meander back, but it isn't until we've passed the Derwent Dam that we look at the time, and realise that we're seriously late. So instead of a gently saunter back to the cars we have to step up the pace.

We make it back in record time, but there's no time to linger as duty calls. We won't be walking for three or four weeks now, though, as school holidays clash but at least we know that we're back to walking our usual distance. And getting a sun-tan into the bargain!