DERWENT EDGE AND LADYBOWER
Having been unable to go walking for so long getting out for two weeks in succession is a real treat. Circumstances have meant that PC is still at home this week so we're able to sneak in another walk before she returns to the boat.
We're eager to enjoy this opportunity and both feel up to a reasonably long walk and plan to take in the length of Derwent Edge and return along the side of the reservoirs.
We park up on the long lay-by on the A57 at the side of Ladybower after having availed ourselves of the facilities at the Heatherdene car park. Crossing the road we take the bridleway on the right which leads towards Ladybower wood and away from the reservoir. It's a lovely lane with a few neat cottages alongside it and good views across the reservoirs.
At the top of the lane we go through a gate and a little way further turn left on the track leading slightly uphill. It's close and muggy in this wooded area so PC stops to remove a layer. The walking is easy, though, so we are able to fully immerse ourselves in our conversation. So much has happened in the last week and we must make the most of it as it will be a long time before we're able to catch up again.
The track follows a wall line and soon we are out of the woods and only have trees to our left with Lead Hill looming above us on our right. Although it is only early on in our walk we decide to stop and have a drink whilst catching up with some photos from a family event last week. Out comes the secret flask with the Ramblers, then PC decides that she'd better empty her flask too. Sadly there's only a drop in it (Cointreau her tipple of choice) but the combination of Ramblers and Cointreau is a good one.
Once we've satisfied ourselves we set off again, this time the track is meandering upwards and soon we have the steep uphill, very eroded slope to Whinstone Lee Tor. We've warmed up nicely by the time we reach the top and exchange a brief 'hello' with a couple sitting up there enjoying the superb views with their dog. (No Mollie for us again, she's off on her holidays.)
We set off pretty smartish along the unofficial but well used path that follows the line of the whole Edge, noting as we walk that the wind is getting pretty brisk and hoping that it doesn't get strong enough to cause any problems (we have had real problems in high winds up here, and been actually blown off our feet).
The view opens up in front of us and we can see into the distance to the Wheel Stones and the Salt Cellar, looking forward to getting up close. Before we get that far, though we come to the Hurkling Stones and decide to get up close to them, something we've never done before as this is usually towards the end of our walks when we need to get a move on.
The weathered stones are very impressive and larger on close inspection than they seem to be from a distance. They also provide a good place to shelter from the growing wind so we decide to have an early lunch where we can sit in relative comfort.
Sandwiches (boring) then bun. No cream buns worth having this week but Mr Morrison has provided us with iced cinnamon swirls, richly doughy and gooey - and very satisfying. Followed by coffee our lunch is a definite success, but before the last of the coffee has been drunk we feel the first few spots of rain falling.
Undeterred we pull on our waterproof coats and emerge from the shelter of the Hurkling Stones. What a shock. The wind has got up and the temperature has plummeted. As we make our way back to the main path we can barely hear ourselves speak, and the rain is making a concerted effort to dampen our spirits.
As we reach the crossroads of paths we pause to consider our options. As much as we want to continue on ahead towards the Wheel Stones and Salt Cellar - with half a mind to go as far as Back Tor - the clouds are gathering and the whole outlook seems pretty grim. We want to walk, but we can't honestly see the point in being soaked through if we can avoid it. We've done it before, we don't need to do it again. There are no medals being awarded for perseverance!
So we take the left hand path and slowly start our descent from the edge. We're not going to rush, we still have plenty to talk about, and as soon as we dip away from the exposed edge the wind drops to a tolerable level and we can hear ourselves again. Sadly the rain doesn't stop but that's to be expected.
Naturally we keep pausing to enjoy the (damp) view and for PC to take pictures. And we notice that others are coming down off the edge too - we're not the only ones to err on the side of caution.
When we reach the dry stone wall at the bottom of the path we turn right, then left through a gate and continue our descent. Here the path is broad but eroded, it's a bridleway well used by mountain bikers - and one is steadfastly struggling uphill. Rather him than us.
By now the rain is coming in splutters and squalls and we're wondering if maybe we've made the wrong decision. But it's too late to change our minds now as we make our way to the barn complex at Grindle Clough (Grindle Barn). The barn, which we have visited before, is a handy shelter but it is already occupied when we reach it and decide not to disturb the gentleman who is there, looking proprietorially out at us. Instead we go through the gates and begin our final descent.
The clough looks extremely pretty with the fast running water, but the fields around are equally attractive too with their massed wild flowers.
At the bottom of the path we turn left and are once again on the level track which runs along the final length of Ladybower. And here we realise that we have made the right decision to leave the edge as the rain begins in earnest. At least we have some shelter from the trees.
This is a very easy amble now and we are soon (too soon) back at our cars. It is raining heavier now but we decide that we need to drive to a car park with a view (at the side of Ladybower) and continue our chat as we don't need to leave just yet.
As we are parked facing the reservoir with the edge beyond we see, through the rain, heavy clouds descending and completely obscuring the edge. They are very low, blanketing half the hillside too, and we are both very happy not to be struggling through it.
But we can't sit here forever, it is time to get back to our respective lives. By next week PC will be back on the boat, and I'll be hoping to find time to walk on my own. If I manage it, I'll post it.