Sunday, 22 September 2013


It seems almost forever since we were last out walking and the blog only a memory. But PC is back from her seafaring adventures (for a while, anyway) and the summer holidays are behind us so finally we are able to get out, and what a wonderful feeling it is.

Naturally, as soon as we plan our day the prolonged dry spell breaks with heavy overnight rain, but undeterred we soldier on. Our meeting place is a small layby just before the tiny, pretty village of Abney. There's just sufficient room for two cars and it is right next to our starting point; a stone stile and footpath leading uphill and through fields to Smelting Hill.

PC is looking smart in swish new gear - her husband is currently doing the Coast to Coast walk so whilst he was buying equipment for his trek she took advantage and joined in - but she has forgotten her hiking boots so has to borrow a spare pair of mine! Some things never change.

We clamber over the stile and head up the field path to the next one, only to see a family of four goats managing the stiles with a great deal more panache and agility than we are. They bound out of our way as PC remarks that it reminds her of the Sound of Music. Clearly she has been at sea for too long.

After the next stile we have two cumbersome gates to negotiate, and a few ponies who are curious enough to come and look at us, although once they realise that we have nothing for them to eat they wander off.

The last gate takes us onto the distinct grassy path leading over Smelting Hill. It is warm enough to walk without a coat, and there is no rain, but the ground is wet and the sky still dull. But it is so good to be out that we barely acknowledge the weather. We have too much catching up to do.

There are a few pauses to admire the views, and we even have distant views of gliders at Camphill beyond Abney Moor.

It's an easy walk over Smelting Hill, we cross Siney Sitch by the small bridge and continue over Offerton Edge to descend through the bracken towards Offerton Hall. Instead of going through the gate onto the lane at the bottom we turn left on the bridleway and follow the edge of the access land, a wall to our right, the bracken filled moor rising to our left.

The path is slightly undulating then climbs gently up and over a small rise before dropping to the gateway onto the unmade Shatton Lane. Around the gate it is wet, but then again, we have never known it to be dry! We have to wait for a farmer with his Land Rover and open-topped trailer (containing two bemused sheep) to go past before we start the walk up the lane.

It's a steady walk up the lane with few distractions, which is good as we are still catching up with events! Ahead of us is the huge mast which dominates the skyline, and once we have past it we have wonderful views of that other blight on the landscape, the cement works.

Here we pause for a while to watch some para-gliders, five of them slowly circling in the air currents like huge lazy, but very odd, birds.

Further on and we're looking for somewhere to stop for lunch. We go through the gate at the end of the track near Wolf's Pit and hope to be able to sit on the grass and heather at the side of the track, but the air is swarming with midges so we are already setting off along the track towards Abney Moor before there is sufficient breeze to blow them away and allow us to settle down to eat.

We start off with a nip of celebratory Ramblers Restorative followed by coffee - both so much better savoured in the open air on a good walk. Then it is a wrap for me, and a salad for PC. Buns today are home-made Mocha brownies. It's a new recipe I've tried but they taste pretty good; crusty on top and gooey inside. I think I'll be making them again. We finish with another coffee before setting off again. Maybe we have lost the knack of lingering.

The sun is now making an effort to come out, and succeeds extremely quickly. Although there is still some cloud it is no longer dull and dreary, we can see blue sky and feel the temperature rising. It is turning into a glorious day.

We follow this track around to a gate and at the other side to the right we see the extremely narrow tarmac lane which is clearly used by the vehicles belonging to the para-gliders who are now very close. That lane leads back down to Abney but we ignore it and continue ahead along the unmade Brough Lane, pausing at a field to admire some horses. A couple of chestnuts and two mares with foals, one a lovely skewbald.

Walking further we find our next path, a left hand one which runs across Abney Moor. Here there is a long wooden bench, and a stone built one too, both looking very inviting and far more comfortable than where we'd stopped for lunch. If we had known about the benches we'd have waited a while.

We go over the stile onto the moor and follow the single, grassy track that meanders ahead. As we're talking a glider suddenly looms into view, then silently circles and slips away.

It's gentle walking over the moor, and warm too, but this moor is new to us so we're enjoying the newness. At the end of the path two men are sitting on a bench and having a very late lunch break. We pause to exchange a few words, then we're over the stile and onto the road and heading downhill back towards Abney.

A couple of cars pass us, but it isn't terribly busy so it isn't too much of a trial walking down here. There is a stream below us and as we reach the bridge into the village we peer over at it, but sadly it isn't terribly attractive at this point. The village, however, looks lovely especially with the gardens full of late flowering Japanese Anemones.

It's a tiny village so we aren't long before we through the other side and back at the cars. It has been brilliant to be out again, and the excellent weather has only added to the feel-good factor. It's also pretty good to take our boots off! Fingers crossed, we'll be able to get out again in a couple of weeks. Time to start planning.