Wednesday, 2 March 2016
SUNSHINE ON EYAM MOOR
Yes, the title of the post gives away our destination this week, but also our surprise. I don't think we have ever walked on or near Eyam Moor without a hint of rain; and to be honest, it is usually torrential! So sunshine is a bonus.
As is the heavy frost that lies like a thin covering of snow all around here. So yes, it is chilly, time for plenty of layers.
We park on the rough track on Sir William Hill Road and by the time we are out of the cars the only other vehicle, a huge lorry almost blocking the entrance to the track, has moved on.
Already the views are splendid and we are so looking forward to the walk. We climb over the stile - they never seem to get any smaller! - and take the path straight ahead that skirts the drystone wall. Looking over the wall we can see for miles.
It is a good job that it is so frost as the boggy patches on the path, of which there are many, have a crispy surface which prevents us being mired in mud. We still have to employ some nifty footwork in places though as there are deeper puddles that are ready to embrace the unwary.
We continue along the wall-line even though in places the path is a deep hollow where rainfall has eroded the soil and rock, but at least the potential for mud is behind us. There are a few more walkers about today, but that is hardly surprising given what a glorious day it is.
At the end of the path we turn right and clamber over another very high stile. We have views straight ahead of Bretton Clough with Abney on our right. We turn right along the wide path with a steep drop down to Bretton Clough on our left.
This is an easy, fairly linear path that has yet another stile before taking us down by easy steps towards Highlow Brook. The last stretch, on a steep muddy path that has frozen over, is a bit tricky but we manage it without mishaps.
At the bottom we reach the wider path that runs alongside Bretton Brook/Highlow Brook but rather than taking the right hand turn towards Stoke Ford we turn left instead in the general direction of Bretton.
We are under the trees here, but the sunlight is filtering through and it is lovely. The path is rising slowly and the stream is getting lower and further away from us. Soon we are out in the open again, brown scrub and lingering frost.
Once we turn a descending corner though we know we have found the right spot for lunch. We are in Bretton Clough, the sun is shining, there is Bretton Brook, there are trees, and there is also a very conveniently placed drystone wall to sit on.
We have a drop out of the secret flask first, the remains of the vanilla vodka, then out comes coffee, sandwiches and bun. PC's buns - chocolate muffins with fresh cream - are greeted with great anticipation. Until she says they have cherry in them. I hate cherry, so we follow the pantomime of dissecting the muffins to remove the cherry conserve (which Mollie devours with relish - are dogs supposed to like fruit jams?) because I am determined to enjoy the chocolate and cream bit. I won't give up on the buns without a fight!
It is tempting to linger in this spot, we have the sun on us and it is lovely, but the odd cloud keeps passing over and with it a chill, so we pack up our things. As we are about to head off we see some hang-gliders floating silently in the sky above us, and then a buzzard soaring with much less effort and more grace. We watch the bird until it spirals higher and out of sight.
From here the path is pretty straight forward but clearly not that well used. On the map there are a number of side paths with only a hint of them on the ground. We continue ahead until we cross a small bridge then turn left through a gate and up through the woods.
It is a bit steep but soon we are out above the trees and over another stile onto a path that runs behind a farm and fields. Pretty soon we are out onto a lane and we are at Nether Bretton. We are briefly tempted by the eggs for sale at the house but instead, after a quick consultation of the map, turn left onto the rutted byway skirting Bretton Moor and leading back towards Sir William Hill Road.
There is still ice on the puddles here, and in places it is deeply rutted where it has been used by 4x4 vehicles. Also there is more cloud cover passing over so the temperature has dropped.
When we reach the 'crossroads' we debate briefly whether to go on the path past Stanage House which leads back onto Eyam Moor, but decide against it. We'll stick to this track which runs onto the Sir William Hill Road with only a few steps on the tarmac road to negotiate.
The stroll along the last part of the track is easy and pleasant. We're still getting bursts of sunshine which has taken most of the frost from the surrounding fields and moors although a little still lingers under the shady wall bases.
A great walk, possibly more so because we haven't been subjected to the weather Eyam Moor usually throws at us. It is a surprise to get back to the cars dry!