Mollie is back with us today as we meet in the comparatively large car park at Over Haddon. We've only ever parked in the upper section as there have never been many cars when we've walked, but we can imagine it gets pretty full at the weekend. Of course it is a Pay and Display but it also has the benefit of toilets that are open.
Once we've togged up - waterproofs from the start today - we set off down the steep road to Lathkill Dale with the rain running in rivulets by our feet.
At the foot of the road we come to the River Lathkill which, no surprises, is flowing swiftly. It looks lovely despite the starkness of the winter landscape, and with the added addition of snowdrops on its scrubby banks. In fact, today turns out to be a very snowdroppy walk as we see them everywhere.
After some photos we cross over the clapper bridge and head upwards through the trees on the distinct track. This turns a sharp right then takes us higher still until we go through a gate and into a field which, thankfully, is devoid of cattle!
As we walk along the farmer approaches with his tractor so we step aside out of his way. He waves his thanks as he passes and as I turn to see what PC is up to I see, for the first time despite looking for years, the distinctive outlines of Conksbury Medieval Village on the opposite hillside. Trees have obscured our view before though it is probably more obvious if walking from the opposite direction.
The link below gives the English Heritage listing for the site with more information.http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1014589
I have tried to find an aerial photo of the site but sadly had no success.
We continue along the track to the road, which tends to be quite busy for a small rural road, and go down it a little way before hopping onto a track on our right. We walk along a little way through some trees to a gate but decide to turn back as this clearly leads towards Alport and that isn't in our plan for the day.
Back at the road we walk downhill towards the impressive Conksbury Bridge and once at the far side we make a bee-line for the benches. They are wet but slightly sheltered from behind, and I have brought a large umbrella with just this scenario in mind. So, beneath the brolly we have a nip from PC's secret flask (the last of the Cointreau), a cup of coffee and two of today's buns (which are quite small, honest).
Sadly, despite appearances to the contrary, they are not up to the standard expected. They are quite dry and in need of a quick zap in the microwave. Not that it stops us eating them.
So with us set up and Mollie having had some biscuits we put down the brolly and take the path at the side of the Lathkill. There are a few walkers about now, but this is a lovely path which opens up to lovely views up the river. There are a pair of swans in the distance and moorhens bobbing around.
We scramble up the slippery slope on our right to find a makeshift seat on a fallen tree (been here before) and up comes the brolly again as we settle down for lunch proper. And it's a good job we have the brolly too as the heavens open and it absolutely pours down.
Salad, sandwiches, coffee and the last two buns which leave us with a sense of disappointment. Ah well, we'll know for next time.
By the time we have finished eating the rain does ease a little so we carefully step down the slope and back onto the path. Now we follow the river and as the path climbs up I avoid looking at the young cows, then we take care on the downward stretch and the limestone underfoot can be very slippery when wet.
We aren't far from the clapper bridge now but we still have the delights of huge clumps of snowdrops to enjoy. Then it is just the steady trudge up the steep hill and back to the car park.
Naturally, as soon as we are ready to leave the rain stops, and by the time I am half way home the sun even starts to shine. A fairly typical day's walk for us!