Monday, 3 November 2014


We seem to have stumbled upon a pocket of murky weather in the midst of fine clear days; typical luck for us!

Today we are revisiting a familiar walk, but in reverse, and park up at the side of the Longstone road at Monsal Head. There is a thin fog all around, not sufficient to block the view entirely but it makes everything a little hazy and damp. Knowing that rain could fall at any time we decide to pull on our waterproofs to be ready.

We set off to the top of Monsal Head then take the left hand path signed Monsale Dale which descends gently through the woods. We pause at the weir then follow the path to the bridge where we cross over.

I have spied cows so am on the alert! However, that doesn't stop us standing by the side of the river to watch the white-chested dippers busy on the water. And to have a nip of my latest concoction - Blackberry Vodka. Very warming!

Overnight rain has made the paths muddy and wet but we are surprised that there are not more people out. It is half term, after all. PC has a (totally justified) rant about people hanging bags of dog poo on the branches of bushes - seriously, what do these misguided idiots think is going to happen? Do they think wardens will follow them around to clean up their mess? Town mentality in a country setting.

Just before we reach the end of the Dale at Lees Bottom we take the right hand path which climbs up out of the valley. It is warm work so we have to remove a layer before continuing. The path is quite steep - we are more used to descending than ascending - and the rain has increased the potential for slipping though we reach the top without mishap.

Here there is a deal of scrub before the path scoots around to the right, so we find ourselves a mound on which to sit and eat lunch. We are pretty sure we have sat here before, though there isn't a great deal of a view.

The sandwiches are unremarkable, the coffee is good but the buns are excellent - fat choux buns stuffed with fresh cream with chocolate swirled on top. Definitely the highlight of the meal.

We experience a brief, unenthusiastic shower of rain (easily ignored) and a visit by a charming Dalmation (it's owner suitably apologetic but the dog wasn't a slobbery pest so it was fine).

Then we hoist ourselves up from our seat and press on. The next obstacle is the high stile over the wall at Brushfield Hough. Normally this wouldn't present a problem but since I have trapped a nerve in my back the height of the step is a significant problem. Eventually, with much grimacing, cursing and gritting of teeth I am over, and PC follows majestically.

We pass through the fields, a gate and then the farmyard of Brushfield Hough before taking the track out of the yard and to the path following the ridge. The rain has cleared the sky so we have a good view of Fin Cop across the valley as well as a good view of the valley itself.

The track is reasonable until we reach a long, wide flooded area. Rather than paddle through - and it would be over our boots - we spy a path in the next field that has been made to avoid this clearly permanent feature.

It's easy walking now, until the long steady downhill which is rubbly and uncomfortable underfoot. However, this soon gives way to a softer surface again, and as we descend to Monsal Viaduct we hear children shouting and the sound of harassed parents. Ah yes, half term.

The viaduct is crammed with people, walkers and cyclists. We have never seen so many people on here at once before. Most seem to be using the tunnels and riding or walking a long stretch of the trail, but we turn left off the bridge and onto the path that leads up to Monsal Head.

Once here there are, again, loads of people and the ice cream van is doing a roaring trade. Well, the weather isn't too bad now, and is isn't too cold so they are clearly making the most of it.

We go back to the cars and plan our next walk, preferably without any very high stiles!

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