Tuesday, 17 December 2013



Our best laid plans have been scuppered by the weather. Gale force winds have meant that, for safety's sake, we are abandoning our higher level walk and retreating to the safety of Bakewell and the Monsal Trail. Not exactly exciting but it should be pleasant enough, if we can avoid being blown over.

Since this is a last minute decision (we were both at opposite ends of the country yesterday when the weather was fine) we meet in Bakewell and sit in the car whilst perusing the map, which is when we decide on the Monsal Trail. So, after nipping to the loos, we drive up to the old station where we find a parking space. There isn't a lot of space up here but the parking charges are less than down in the town, although clearly a lot of people avoid paying by parking on the road.

We spend some time dressing up warm, already the wind is gusting very strongly and we congratulate ourselves on our change of plan. Then we set off, back down the road we've just driven up, and into Bakewell. Before we reach the famous bridge, though, we pass through the narrow gate into the field at the side of the River Wye.

As we walk alongside the river path it starts to rain, only quite fine though, and we hope it will pass even though the clouds seem ominous. We pass through the second gate and almost straight away we have we hear a crack followed by a splash. The top part of a tree has snapped off and crashed into the water amidst a flurry of dead leaves and splinters. The log, which appears to be about 8 feet long, floats downriver. PC and I exchange a look, then carry on walking.

At the far end of the field we go through a gate and up onto the minor road, turn left and then take the right hand track (a bridleway) close to Holme Hall. As we climb up the track the rain intensifies but then eases off as we walk under the shelter of trees. Looking back we can see dark clouds but it has turned clear above us so we press on.

Emerging from the trees, the bridleway leads us gently upwards past an old quarry site, and the rain comes back again. This time we decide that it will be prudent to put on our waterproof trousers, so we balance at the side of a stone wall (away from trees!) to rummage in our rucksacks. Not a moment too soon, either, as the rainfall turns into a deluge. We fortify ourselves with a nip of Ramblers from the secret flask (Mollie has her biscuits) and continue.

The next gate leads us onto a distinct track and we climb up to what will be the highest point on this walk. It is very windy but we're partly sheltered by the stone walls and there are few trees. Sadly, though, the rain means that the views are less than spectacular.

We walk along this easy track for a while until it drops down to join the Monsal Trail. It hasn't taken us very long but we are damp and a little chilly. We could do with finding somewhere to stop for a warming coffee but there is nowhere terribly appealing. A covered shelter would be nice, with a bench, but all the benches/picnic tables are in the open exposed to the wind and the rain. There is the cafe and bookshop at Hassop Station but that isn't an option with a soggy dog.

Pressing on we find that we are approaching Bakewell Station, and our cars, far sooner than we had anticipated. Since the rain has stopped, for now, we decide that we will walk on further in an attempt to find a suitable place to stop for our late lunch.

The sun comes out - such a surprise - and the walk is in danger of becoming pleasant! Alas, the wind begins to pick up strength and the trees around us are rattling. There is a lot of fallen old wood on the floor which Mollie thinks is a wonderful treat, but she doesn't seem to realise that whilst sticks are OK, logs are not.

Eventually we see a bench ahead, close to the end of this part of the trail, and it is in a clearing with fine views towards Bakewell and no overhanging trees. With a considerable amount of effort - some of these gusts of wind have tremendous force - we manage two half cups of coffee each (only half a cup at a time as the wind is making waves in our drinks and threatening to pour it away!) and our sandwiches. But we give up on the buns and second coffee as we decide that it really is too much effort eating and keeping our balance at the same time.

We pack up and head back towards the cars where we will be able to finish lunch in peace. And what a good choice that turns out to be. Firstly we see two broken trees; one on the Trail and one in the field at the side, which have recently toppled (surely not while we were eating, although we didn't notice them on the way out) and then the rain sweeps back down on us.

We make good time back to the cars, but take a while removing our waterproof layers. At last we are able to sit in relative comfort and eat our buns.

Mince pies this week, two each. One has the inclusion of a cream cheese filling, a strange combination we thought before trying it, but it did seem to work. Not very 'cheesy' but it did impart a slightly creamy texture to the pies. The second had a brandy butter swirl on top. You could certainly taste the brandy, but perhaps there was a little too much icing sugar to make the brandy butter into butter-cream icing. No complaints though. They went down very well, especially with the last of the coffee.

The short walk means we have time to sit and chat (we are extremely good at that) until it is time to go. The wind is still howling and the rain looks to be set in for the rest of the night. We've probably done well to achieve what we have.

No comments:

Post a Comment