Sunday, 20 April 2014


We really aren't having the best of luck with our planned walk. Postponed from last week (because of PC's poorly car, now better) we were hoping to do it today, but no such luck. The area has been in the grip of murky smog for some time now and it still hasn't cleared, so no point climbing up high or exposing ourselves to moorland when seeing more than a few yards ahead is all we can hope for. So, another change of plan.

First of all, though, I have to go and buy a new pair of walking socks (forgotten mine) and PC has to buy herself a sandwich (forgotten the food!). Fortunately the little shop at Fairholmes is suitably stocked.

We debate for a little while on how to do the walk, the complete circuit of the Howden and Derwent reservoirs is quite a long one and the road walking can be tiresome, so we decide to cheat a little bit. Everything is loaded into my car (rucksacks, waterproofs, dog) and, leaving PC's car in the small dam car park we drive in my car to a small parking spot at the old 'Tin Town' site. This is where the workers who worked on the dams lived and a small information board shows photographs and gives some details.

The weather may be pretty grim but at least under the trees the fog is a bit thinner, although we are hard pressed to see across the water to the far side. We walk along the road feeling quite smug that we have been able to cut out some of the tedious walking.

We are getting closer to the Howden Dam wall when a car stops at the side of us. Apparently a sheep has been attacked by two terriers and the occupants of the car have stopped to chase the dogs off, but are worried about the sheep. We discuss briefly what the options are and eventually direct them to Fairholmes as the warden there will undoubtedly know who the sheep belongs to. We, meanwhile, will keep our eyes open for the injured sheep and any stray dogs.

It doesn't take long to reach the sheep, it is on the opposite side of the fence and although it looks a little stunned it doesn't seem injured. There is no sign of any dogs other than Mollie who is happily walking on her lead.

Unable to do anything else, and feeling that the sheep is probably just shocked and will recover, we continue our walk. At the dam wall we see the water tumbling over the edge giving the sound of a constant waterfall. 

Past the dam we continue on our way with the murk parting in places to give us a glimpse of a view, but nothing too spectacular. There are a few cars driving along the road today, but they don't seem to be stopping at the far end as they are soon driving past us in the opposite direction.

We pass the sharp bend in the road with the path leading up to Alport  and continue slogging on. It isn't the best of stretches of road, especially without any view to liven things up.

Before long, though, we are on the last leg of the tarmac road and a car pulls up. Yes, it is the same people as before. The news is that the warden has phoned the farmer, but that the sheep was moving around when they last saw it.

We press on to the turning circle and nab the bench through the gate. We're hungry and although it isn't lunchtime yet we decide to have a snack. A warmer of Cointreau first from PC's secret flask, then a choice. Birthday buns (yes, I'm 21 again) - three lovely cupcakes, one yellow, one pink and one chocolate. I choose the pink one, PC goes for the yellow and, yes, we share the chocolate one (well, we weren't going to give it to Mollie, were we?) Followed by a cup of coffee (gingerbread latte as a treat) we feel suitably refreshed and ready for the next leg of the walk.

Now we are off the tarmac it feels so much better, even if the weather hasn't improved. In time we reach the bridge and our turning point, but a good photograph is out of the question even though PC tries.

Then we are on the way back on the rugged track. There are always fewer walkers on this side of the reservoir although it does attract the cyclists who like to do the circuit. Today, though, we only meet a couple.

We are surprised at how soon we reach the Howden Dam again, this time from the 'other side', and it sort of creeps up on us as we don't see the towers until the last moment. There is a bench here, but it isn't terribly inviting so we decide to press on to find somewhere else for late lunch.

We find another bench, eventually, near Abbey Bank, and settle down for lunch. PC brings out a celebratory bottle of plonk (lovely) and no sooner is it poured than a hoard of walkers arrive, seemingly intent on joining us. Eventually their leader arrives and urges them on a way, much to our relief.

The wine goes down very well and is followed by PC's bought sandwich and my salad. (Trying to be good today, and failing). Then come out more buns from PC's rucksack. They are superb, and I am glad I only had a salad! The remaining coffee has stayed warm in the flask so finishes off a good meal. Of course, there is now the temptation to snooze and let it digest.

Once we are sure the hoard of walkers has gone we set off again at a more leisurely pace. Clear, simple walking on a broad track offers no excitement and few distractions given that the sky has barely cleared, although we are just able to see my car parked in the trees on the far bank.

Within a short space of time we are on the final stretch, descending the steps at the side of Derwent's wall, crossing the grass in front then climbing again up to PC's car. We all pile in, and a short drive later I am deposited at my car and readying for the journey home.

It has been a good walk, and it always feels a challenge to circuit the dams. We know we sometimes cover greater distances but maybe that the flat unforgiving surface underfoot is what makes it so tiring.

We plan our next walk (again) and hope it will be third time lucky.

No comments:

Post a Comment