Friday, 11 December 2015


For some reason we always seem to gravitate towards Castleton when the weather is grim, and today is no exception. But it would be nice to see the area in nice weather for once!

We meet, as usual, in the big car park where there is only one coachload of unfortunate schoolchildren today. This place is a Mecca for school groups, either from primary schools or those doing GCSEs and A levels. From this car park we head up the road towards Mam Tor where we can park on the roadside for free during the week.

It is cold but at least the early rain has stopped so we don't feel the need for the full waterproof gear. We don't have Mollie today though, as she has moved house and PC isn't quite sure where she lives now. 

We hadn't planned a route before arriving here so we have a quick discussion, decide on something not too ambitious due to time constraints, and head on up towards Winnats Pass to do a familiar walk, but in reverse.

And by the time we are pulling up the steep grass verge of the pass we remember why we usually come down instead of up!

One thing that we did see on our way up, that we usually miss as we slip and slide our normal descent, is this commemoration plaque dedicated to those who campaigned for our national parks and public access. It is worth remembering, and being thankful, that without these forward-thinking and hardy people we would not be enjoying our hiking as we do.
The water is running down the road and the verge in small rivulets so it is pretty heavy going walking up the steep hill whilst trying to maintain our footing. At least it isn't windy though, and it is good to see the views in the opposite direction.

We take a gate onto a path that runs beside a stone wall and climbs through a field adjacent to the road. We usually emerge from a gate higher up, we had never noticed this before - another sign of how different things can be in reverse order.

Careful of the slippery limestone underfoot we come out back onto the road just before the cattle grid then continue up to the main road where, after a brief discussion, we turn right. We keep on the road then go right again towards the Blue John Cavern. This is a road that goes nowhere, the old road destroyed by the Shivering Mountain, yet there are still a few cars trying their luck, then turning around. The cavern doesn't seem to be doing much business.

We find a bench with a good view (which sadly includes the cement works) and settle down to eat, drink and gossip. But first we layer up. There is a keen breeze up here which, coupled with the cold temperatures, is biting.

A nip from PC's flask warms us up, then it is coffee, sandwiches and lovely gooey fresh cream choux buns. The buns can make anything worthwhile!

We sit talking for a while but eventually the cold gets too much so we pack up and set off again, this time we are going down the destroyed road. At one point we wonder how we usually get up it as there just appears to be a huge drop, but the footpath is at the side and is a gentle route. Again, it is surprising how different somewhere familiar can appear when approached from the opposite direction.
We wonder if the road has shifted some more since our last walk here. It is hard to tell, and it may just be our different approach, but it seems to have moved a bit.

Despite the murkiness, though, we do have splendid views over to the Great Ridge.

Eventually we are back on stable tarmac, although that too appears to be a little more undulating than last time. We have a good view of the rear of the old Odin Mine which looks like a promising place to look at some time in the future.
The gateway to the area in front of the mine is a mini-lake but we decide to go and have a closer look. We find that, not only is the gateway a paddling pool, but the whole grassy area is waterlogged and we have to skirt around it on slightly higher ground to avoid being soaked.
The path behind the mine entrance looks intreguing but doesn't appear to go anywhere. Exploration today, though, is out of the question. We do clamber up to the main mine entrance to have a nosey, but it is dark and eerie. Perhaps another time.
From here we backtrack and it is only a steady walk downhill, past Treak Cliff Cavern, towards our cars. It hasn't been a terribly long walk but already the light is leeching out of the sky. Getting home to the warm feels like a very good idea.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Today's walk is our closest to PC's birthday, so she has the honour of choosing where to go so we are off around Lathkill and Conksbury on one of her favourite walks.

Unfortunately the weather doesn't seem to be too promising as we pull up in the car park at Over Haddon after we have both suffered from slow, tedious journeys to get here. Rain seems to be a distinct possibility too, so in order to be prepared I've brought the big brolly. If nothing else it will shelter our birthday buns when we are eating them.

This is a very familiar walk and we hardly need the map, but we bring it along with us, just in case. Like boy scouts, we like to be prepared.

Leaving the car park we head off down the sloping lane towards the valley bottom. The lane winds around a bit before we reach the bottom and find that the river is flowing briskly, but beautifully clear, thanks to recent rainfall.

We cross over the narrow bridge and onto the track at the far side which is a muddier mirror of the one we came down on: climbing steeply with a sharp bend. Mollie is allowed off the lead for a little while here, there are no sheep or livestock for her to bother with and she is completely engrossed in a game of find a stone to play with.

At the top of the track we go through the gate and into the field leading down to Meadow Place Grange Farm. At least the field isn't muddy (nor has any cows in it) but the farmyard, which we have to pass through, is most certainly muddy. But fortunately not deep.

We are soon on the hard-surfaced lane leading away from the farm and passing, on our left, the remains of the medieval village, the humps and lumps in the far fields less distinct on this murky day than they are in full sun.

Before long we are onto the tarmac road, and quite surprised at how quickly we are walking. We decide to try to find somewhere to stop for a drink which means taking a small path through a copse of trees on our right. We climb over a stile and down a slope with a hill on our right with small limestone crags and trees. It seems the only possible place to stop so we clamber up the hill and find a table of sorts cut into the crags. Alas there is nowhere to sit but that doesn't stop us. We break out the flask (orange gin) and a packet of maltesers while Mollie crunches up her biscuits. Well, it is PC's birthday after all.

Suitably replete, and after saying a Good Day to a few other walkers, we carefully go back down the hill and retrace our steps to the Conksbury Road. It is a narrow road, and some cars travel far too fast on it, so we are very careful and wary on the tight bends.

It doesn't take long to reach the lovely Conksbury Bridge where we pause to take a couple of photos and another couple race to pass us. They make a bee-line for the benches on the upward side of the bridge, clearly determined to stake their claim before we get there, although they can't know that we don't plan to sit there this time.

At the far side of the bridge we go through the gate at the side of the river and find the bench part way along vacant. We sit down and prepare for lunch.

Salad and sandwiches, coffee, a glass of birthday wine (red, to keep the chill at bay) and banoffee pies with fresh cream are the bun of the day. We start off with gusto, but gradually slow down as we get fuller and fuller. PC stoically manages to eat everything of hers, but I end up giving the last of my pie to Mollie - who isn't complaining.

We are well ahead of schedule so linger for  quite a time over our coffees as a few wakers pass us. Then we pack up our things and head on up the river.

We pass the tree with its fallen bough up on our right where we often sit on this walk, and Mollie heads towards it, clearly remembering. But not this time.

The river and its weirs are full today, and we watch with amusement as some ducks half paddle, half fly up the mini waterfalls. And we see a dipper as well as a grey wagtail. Clearly the late season hasn't put them off.

The path climbs up above the river and where it becomes rocky there is a fence-cum-handrail on the left hand side, very useful given the slickness of the boot-polished limestone when it is wet. Once down on the level again it is only a short walk back to the bridge where we set out. 

It does seem to be getting chillier, and duller, but as yet I have not needed the brolly at all (though no doubt if I hadn't brought it along we would have had to put up with a deluge). Then we are off up the last pull of the lane up to the car park. We see a lost balloon tangled in a shrub, its Happy Birthday message upside down but still amusingly appropriate.

Then we are back at the cars with enough time to sit for a while under our fluffy blankets (always handy when waiting around in a cold car) and chat some more.

No walking next week, PC is away for her birthday, but we are hoping to manage the week after.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


The best laid plans are sometimes thwarted, and such is the case for us today. We had hoped to park in a little turning on a tiny lane, one that we had seen on a previous walk many moons ago and which is even noted in some walking books. So we drive in a convoy of two towards the parking space, only to find that a farmer had made certain that it was unusable. 

A bit of nifty reversing and manouvering before we pull up to discuss our options. There is very limited parking between Hope and Edale, just a few laybys, so we decide to drive to the next layby before considering further.

Quite some way down the road, passing some tempting footpaths but no chance of parking to walk them (we have Mollie with us, and her aversion to roads and traffic makes her a liability on narrow, speedy roads like this), we find a large pull in. Out come the maps, then we're off again, this time to nab the last couple of spaces at Nether Booth. It's a good job we are early today.

It's murky and foggy and not a terribly pleasant day, but we are undeterred.

Once we are suitably togged up we take the path signposted 'Youth Hostel' then off of this tarmac track we turn left through a small gate onto a barely discernible path. We're going through a sheep field in the general direction of Edale.

One or two gates are easily negotiated, and the path appears to be straight and easy. We come to a field, fenced off from the path, with a particularly morose looking ram. He poses for a portrait with extreme disinterest.
The weather is dank, that chilly almost-but-not-quite damp, which doesn't encourage PC to take loads of photos, though it doesn't stop us talking. We pass through a farmyard at Ollerbrook Booth with a very well behaved farm dog - it didn't even bark once at us - maybe it is as miserable as the ram.

As we come to the outskirts of Edale, or rather Grindsbrook Booth, we find ourselves on a little path that leads downhill to a beautiful little bridge over the lower reaches of Grinds Brook. It is only wide enough for one person at a time but we do pause to admire the view up and down the stream.
The path brings us out at the back of the village pub, the Nags Head, where we meet another lady walker who is deciding where to go today. We oblige by taking her photo for her then we head off in opposite directions.
We take the track that is grandly signed as the 'Start of the Penine Way' - not that we have ever noticed the sign before as we usually return this way - and we are under a tunnel of trees next to a stream. Mollie can have a few minutes off the lead - no sheep here - and goes for a paddle.
This is very familiar territory as we leave the shelter of the trees and find the stile on our left which is the well-walked beginning of the Pennine Way, suitably paved with huge flagstones.
It is a very gentle incline up through fields and gates, and we soon come to one of the very few benches on this stretch of the walk. Not noon yet, but we have time enough to sit and enjoy a coffee before lunch, and enjoy the slightly hazy view. But I have forgotten the coffee cups! And a spoon for the sugar. But we improvise, sharing the cup from the top of the flask and stirring the sugar with a fork. With coffee drunk we have managed to spin out enough time to eat lunch, and bun of course. A very tasty fresh cream eclair.
Despite being murky and dank it isn't particularly chilly, but we decide we had better move on. The path is level to begin with, then climbs a little to a viewpoint beneath Broadlee-Bank Tor.
Next we are on the downward slope towards Upper Booth, with Mollie delightfully chasing stones down the rain-rutted track. As we enter Upper Booth we decide to take a path through a gate on our left, and through a field with a couple of horses in. It isn't a terribly clear path on the ground, but it is reasonably straight forward.
The path heads towards the railway line, and when we are partway there it starts to rain with a little more gusto. Not too much yet, but enough to make us zip up. For a short stretch the path runs alongside the railway then goes up and over a bridge before entering Barber Booth. It must be a little disconcerting for the people living in the property facing the path as walkers have a direct view straight into their kitchen.

We now have to wind our way around Barber Booth, avoiding the main road, then take the path back over the next railway bridge. And by now the rain has set in.

We cross fields until we come to a point where the path divides, and choose the bottom path which takes us to Edale.
The path brings us out near to the church with views of the hills behind obscured by the mist. At least the rain has eased a little.

We go up the road a short distance and take the footpath on the opposite side of the road, after the activity centre and before the church.

This is another surprise, a beautiful little path with very pretty views upstream. As we press onwards towards Ollerbrook Booth though it begins to rain again. And this time it really means it.
From Ollerbrook Booth we retrace our steps with a degree of determination. The rain is pounding down now. Further along the path we meet the lady we had spoken to earlier in the day, she on her return journey towards Edale. 

Soon we are back at the cars, sodden but satisfied. It has been a low-level walk, and a soggy one, but a surprisingly good one to say that it was a last minute choice. Certainly one to remember for another time.

Friday, 13 November 2015


We tend to keep our visits to Chatsworth for the grim, grey months of winter when access is easier than on the small, side roads that have a tendancy to remain icy throughout the day. But this time we were on the hunt for autumn colour, and PC suggested Chatsworth, so here we are on a crisp morning with a blue sky overhead and, if the trees in the car park are anything to go by, plenty of colour to see.


This is an all-too familiar walk to us, probably just as well since I can't find the map anywhere. I know when I used it last - to write the last blog post - but I seem to have misplaced it since then. At least it won't be much of a problem today.

Our first photos come from the garden centre car park (en route to the conveniences) where the displays of baskets and pots are a joy to see. Then we head off down through the small wood to join the road, over the bridge then right onto the footpath through the field. Fortunately today there are no cows, though there are sheep aplenty. 

There are quite a few walkers about, although it isn't half term in Derbyshire yet it is in other parts of the country, so there are plenty of holidaymakers to add to the locals who have been tempted out by the sunshine. We pause while PC takes off her coat, it really has warmed up, then watch a buzzard soaring high above us. 

We continue along the field, cross the main road and walk up the lane at the side of Beeley church and into the village. A right hand then a left hand turn and we are on the quiet lane flanked by stone houses. This leads us past some interesting chicken coops, then a slight incline as we pass the turning to Moor Farm and head straight on along the narrow path next to the hedge which leads to a stile and gate. Once past this we are flanked by a steep field to our left and woods behind a wall on our right. 

There seems to be a choice here, into the woods or continue along the wall. We always go into the woods (Beeley Plantation) so do the same again. There is a stone stile, a very high one, in the wall but fortunately the gate works easily. A much better option.


Once inside the wood we are enveloped by the wonderful scent that is peculiar to autumn: rich, earthy, damp and fragrant. What a pity it can't be bottled. The path is wide under the trees and we keep getting glimpses of colour through the branches. A group of children, with a couple of adults, come towards us so we step off the path to let them pass. One child is in a wheelchair which must have been awkward in some places along here.

Further on we come to the stream, Beeley Brook, which crosses theh path with there being a choice of rocky stepping stones or wet feet. Once at the other side we look back, and regret not taking a photo before, but we've kept our feet dry so aren't taking the risk again.

From here the path gets steeper and a little muddy, though in places it is either completely dry or boggy. We continue uphill, the stream is on our left now and quite a way below us, and we hope that our photos do it justice. 

One of the trees on our left catch our eye, it has some splendid bracket fungus growing on it so, naturally, we take photos. A couple of other walkers catch us up and exchange a few words before we move on and they take our place, camera in hand.

The path begins to level out eventually then sneakily zig-zags back on itself. Good job we remember our way. We climb a little more then once again the path levels and we find one of our 'familar' sitting places; a few rocks on the wooded slope.

So we settle down to enjoy a drink - ginger vodka today, a first attempt at making this and a definite success - and a coffee, as well as a natter. 

Time to press on, and too early for lunch, so we pack up and continue on our way, the path eventually leading us out of the woods and onto the rough unnamed road from Beeley Lodge. We cross this and we're on the Rabbit Warren, though no sign of rabbits today. The stile is a high one but we are feeling, and looking, surprisingly agile.

The walk across here gives wonderful far ranging views, and with the benefit of a clear sky and good weather we decide to sit on the edge to eat lunch. Sandwiches and our second coffee are consumed, along with fat choux buns oozing with cream. They are becoming a bit of a favourite.

It is very tempting to sit here all day, it isn't even particularly cold, but again we have to move on. Nearing the end of the Rabbit Warren there are cows next to the path though fortunately for me they don't even seem to notice us.

Another steep stile to clamber over, and the tree directly opposite (a magnificent beech) has more bracket fungus - so another photo opportunity.

Looking back from where we have come the tree arching over a gate and stile looks rather splendid, and it is a shame that the photo doesn't manage to do it justice.

We don't follow the main 'top' path that would eventually lead to the lakes but instead weave our way on small little used paths that skirt around and gradually descend.

There are certainly more people about now, these woods and paths are much closer to the main house and gardens, but we manage to avoid too many people .

We do get the occasional glimpses through the trees to the landscape of the park, and some of the straight avenues in the far trees that must have been planned so well without any hope of seeing them come to maturity.

By the time we reach the farmyard area and the path into the main house car park there are people everywhere.

We make our way through what feels like crowds, looking rather dishevelled and downbeat compared to most of them who are dressed for a day out visiting a smart house rather than hiking. But we get down to the bridge and start to enjoy the colour again.
The sheep appear oblivious of the views, their only interest being grass.

Once we are over the bridge and wandering along the grass at the side of the river we can see across to the house and gardens, and the woods behind are a tapestry of muted colours.
The house does look rather splendid in the autumnal light.
And the river appears tranquil.
We abandon the riverside and cross the parkland heading directly to our starting place. The colourful trees here stand out as they are not hemmed in by neigbours, so we manage a final 'fix' of colour before we reach the cars. All in all, today has turned out to be superb.