As promised we meet up in the Bakewell car park again, relieved to be out. What a lot has happened since our last walk, and not much of it good, so getting out will be perfect therapy. We've hardly pulled on our boots before we're exchanging news, views and sympathy and even the moody Pay and Display machine doesn't put us off our stride as it spits out proffered coins one moment only to accept them the next! As last we're ready for the off, and despite a clear day we've wrapped up warm. The unseasonally mild weather has drifted away and although the sky is clear (more or less) it's feeling bitterly cold.
We leave the car park and head up the gently sloping road to the left which winds around to the old station which is now on the Monsal Trail. We cross the car park (and note that parking here is 50p cheaper for the day) and emerge onto the Trail. There's a tempting sign at the side of the path. Handmade Chocolates. Very very tempting. PC suggests we call on the way back, even if it means making a detour. But showing admirable willpower we decide to forgo the delights that only chocolate can provide, and set off.
The Trail is very easy walking but we aren't tempted to move beyond a gentle ambling pace. We know it isn't going to be a long or taxing walk, and we need our breath to talk. A few cyclists pass us - they must be chilly in all that Lycra - and we see a few dog walkers, but it isn't very busy.
To be honest, this section of the Monsal Trail isn't particularly inspiring. There are no long-distance views as the high railway banks hide the scenery, and at this time of year there isn't a great deal happening in the hedgerows. Good job we have lots to talk (and rant) about.
We walk under the road-bridge (A619) and soon spy some picnic tables and benches ahead. Naturally they beckon to us, and we're soon sat comfortably if not warmly. Coffee is on the menu, but the immediate necessity is for something a little stronger. Out comes the Ramblers (not that we're doing much in the way of rambling today) and the Secret Flask is emptied into our plastic cups. Perfect: warming and mellowing, and we're in need of both. As a special treat we have extra buns so out come some fruit slices, and they go down very well with an excellent cup of coffee. A boisterous and inquisitive young bull terrier comes up to see what we're up to, and snuffling for any treats. It's owner catches up with it and takes it away, though it goes reluctantly.
We decide to crack open the second Secret Flask (things must be bad when we have to delve into our emergency supplies) and enjoy a nip of cointreau. It finishes off our snack perfectly and as we pack away a toddler along with Mum and Gran are hovering - apparently we have been sitting at 'their table'. Suitably stocked up we leave them to it.
A little way along and we come to another old station, this time it has been converted into a cafe and bookshop. PC needs to avail herself of their facilities and the bookshop exerts a strong magnetic pull, but I resist. Again PC suggests visiting on the way back (even though we aren't coming back this way) and again we resist temptation. Aren't we doing well? (If you don't count the extra buns and the Secret Flasks, that is.)
After leaving the cafe/bookshop and regaining the Trail we realise that we have seriously miscalculated. The walk is going to be much shorter than we had anticipated. Our intention had been to walk up the path to the left, opposite Toll Bar House, but after a brief pause for photos across the fields we decide to stroll up to the next bridge
to see what we can see. Not a great deal, as it transpires, although we note one field running with water. By now we've mellowed and have managed to discard most of our angst so we're talking about less stressful subjects, such as exams and therapy!
There doesn't seem to be much point continuing along the Trail, especially as we'll have to back-track, so we return the few yards and take the path that climbs up above the trail. It's narrow and well defined, though a little muddy in places since it isn't surfaced. As we gain height the wind cuts across the fields and we can feel the temperature drop.
It's quite a long path, a public bridleway, and at last we're getting some views but there isn't anywhere sheltered enough for us to stop for lunch. We crest the hill and start to descend towards Bakewell, finally crossing a field full of sheep before reaching tarmac. We're on the edge of the town now and we go to have a look at the beautiful old footbridge, so similar to the one at Ashford in the Water. This is Holme Bridge, built in 1664 and an old Pack Horse Bridge, probably built here to avoid the middle of the town and the tolls payable over the main crossing over the River Wye. The river is running very high and fast today, and whilst it is possible to see where there may have been a ford crossing, the prospect of doing so isn't a pleasant one.
As luck, or providence, would have it, there's a bench at the far side of the river so we cross over the narrow bridge and plonk ourselves down. It isn't warm, but at least the sun is out. We eat our sandwiches quickly so as to get to the buns: fresh cream choux buns with thick chocolate on the top. They aren't very big, but they are satisfying, especially when washed down with the last of the coffee.
It's too cold to linger so even though we're well ahead on time we return over the bridge and head towards the town. There's a path across a field and we have a good view of the main Bakewell bridge in the distance, as well as the height of the river. Some hopeful ducks come scooting up to us as fast as their legs can paddle, but they are to be disappointed.
It's a short stroll back to the cars, but since we still have time to spare we decide to spend half an hour in the town, dumping our gear in the cars before setting off around the narrow streets and some of the more interesting shops (particularly the Apothecary - wonderful smells). But we don't have time to do the whole town justice, and duty beckons, so we head back to the car park.
It has been a particularly easy day today, no stress, no strain and no mad dash. Perfectly theraputic, in fact. Next time we'll head back to the Dark Peak, and hope the promised snow keeps away.