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.

Sunday, 8 November 2015


Yes, autumn is upon us and I give thanks to the poet John Keats and his Ode to Autumn (which I studied for A level English Lit oh so many years ago) for the title of this post.

We've had another break for late holidays, but now we are both back for the forseeable future, and whilst we have been away autumn has snuck up. Sunny, dry days and chilly nights have pushed the trees into showing their glorious firey colours and we are hoping to capture some of this on today's walk.

After a brief debate we decided to head for Cressbrook Dale. It's somewhere we usually visit earlier in the year to see the orchids and wild flowers, but there are plenty of trees so fingers crossed we'll have something worth photographing.

We meet, as usual, at the Monsal Head car park behind the pub, to avail ourselves of the local conveniences, then back to our cars to drive down the steep narrow road into the valley bottom. Already we have lovely views of the golden leaves, but it certainly isn't safe to take photos whilst driving!

The little car park at the side of the River Wye is empty so we pull up and get ready for our walk. And yes, we have plenty of catching up to do so we are talking twenty to the dozen. It is a lovely crisp and sunny day, but we have had rain over the last couple of days so we are not expecting it to be totally dry underfoot, but it doesn't look like rain is a possibility now even though we pack our waterproofs.

We head up the road towards the very smart Mill, admiring the ponies in the fields and the trees on the opposite hill. We take the right hand road at the Mill and start the steady climb upwards. There are some lovely trees here but a good photographic view of them tends to be blocked by others that, so far, have refused to do anything other than stay green.

At the sharp hairpin in the road we walk straight ahead on a wide track which leads to a gate. It's a bit muddy at the far side of the gate, but at least there aren't any cows here - there had been on a previous walk, and I'm not fond of cows.

This field stays reasonably level for a while before decending in a slippery slope to the bottom. At the side of the slope, though, are blackberry bushes and we debate stopping to pick some. But there aren't too many fruit on them, no doubt others have been here before us, so we leave them and carry on. 

At the bottom we slide a little towards the small gated bridge over a completely dry stream bed (but we have seen this flooded and been unable to proceed) and at the far side we are into the woods. Yet again the vivid colour we were hoping for isn't particularly evident here, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a lovely walk. It is. It's a narrow winding path with a few undulations and rocky patches which comes out into the open, sheep and rabbit nibbled valley of Cressbrook Dale. It is completely dry here and with the sun shining it is warm enough to remove layers. 

We walk up the valley until we are beneath Peter's Stone (or Peter's Rock if you prefer) then scramble up to the rocky knoll that sits beside it where we find somewhere to sit for lunch. The sandwiches/salads are of little interest, but the coffee is superb and the buns - fresh cream eclairs - are perfect. We have an excellent vantage point here in the sun so we sit for some time putting the world to rights.

Eventually we descend via the longer, easier slope towards Wardlow Mires, double back on the main track beneath Peter's Stone, and head for the footbridge and stile which takes us up into Tansley Dale. We haven't ever walked up here before, but it is an easy stroll despite it being uphill, and part way up there is a huge warren full of rabbit holes.

At the top we study the map a while before rejoining the path behind a man and wife, and they are making very heavy weather of it. We have to keep waiting for them to get far enough ahead as we are walking much faster. At the next stile the lady struggles to get over then walks on while her husband stands and waits. As we approach the stile he asks if we need help! I give him a curt No Thank You, seething with indignation at his assumption of our ineptitude, and go over the stile in short order. He wanders off to join his struggling wife.

The path goes through a field and soon we are at the field gate onto a lane. The couple are there before us, and standing in the gateway with the gate open, looking puzzled. They are following a guidebook rather than a map, have one small rucksack between them and are clearly not regular walkers but there are signs here so they shouldn't be lost. I tell them we'll close the gate, but they just stand there looking vague, so I pull the gate shut as they shuffle foward. We then turn left along the track which runs between two stone walls and keep our eye open for our next path, which is across some fields. The husband and wife trail along a little way behind us.

Just before the track meets the road there is a stone stile and a footpath sign pointing across the fields. Again, we are over in no time and heading across the field at a good pace, determined to get well in front. We need not have bothered, the couple seem to have continued onto the road which leads to Litton. 

The fields slope down a little, then start to climb giving increasingly good views across Cressbrook Dale. We cross another track, with a very steep stone stile, then we reach the field with the cows. Time to be brave. These seem to be quite young, and a curious Jersey ambles towards other while the others look on with interest. PC takes some photos and I manage to walk past without running. The cows had been clustered around our next gateway but most have them have moved away so our way is clear.

Part way across the next field we turn to admire the view behind us and discover that we are being followed. Keep calm! 

Soon enough we are out of the fields and into the woods at the top of the Cressbrook Dale valley. This is quite a precarious walk, the path has been cleared a bit but although it is narrow it is on a definite slope, and there are still plenty of brambles trying to snag at our legs. 

We pause for a moment to enjoy the view which opens out through the trees to the opposite side of the valley and the rock faces at Wardlow Hay Cop, which look magnificent and very prehistoric. Further along we decide to take the path that goes downhill with the benefit of a stepped section, rather than keep to the high level track, and we eventually find ourselves back on the track near the hairpin bend.

From here it is a steady downhill walk along the road, although there do seem to be a lot of cars all of a sudden, and the return to the car park which is now, understandably, full. And we have time to sit and chat (even more) before making plans for our next walk in a couple of weeks time.