But here we are at the Over Haddon car park and joy of joys, the toilets are open! We pay our parking charge (not cheap) and wrap up warm. Mollie is very keen and looking forward to a day out, as are we.
We've never seen many cars here even though there's extensive parking, so it must get busy at weekends or holidays, but today there are only a couple more cars.
We leave the cars and head right and down the steep lane. On the first bend a digger is carrying out some repairs, and further down the disabled parking area is full to bursting (but no disabled badge in sight).
We go down to the bottom where the River Lathkill is crossed by the bridge - and yet more cars are here.
We don't go over the bridge but turn left and follow the path at the side of the river. There's not much vegetation at this time of year, but there's plenty of mud! Not that it bothers us much, we have far too much to talk about.
We pass the picturesque weirs and meet some dog walkers, then once through the gate we decide to pause on the bench for a coffee and some ginger biscuits.
Very easy walking here, and quite dry underfoot, until we have to pass through the farmyard and the quagmire next to the cattle yard. The gate is a bit of a pain to open but soon were striding across the field towards the woods.
We realise that we've run out of good places to stop for lunch, and we don't have far to go, so as we walk down the path through the woods we decide to detour through Lathkill Dale.
We cross the bridge, skirt the parked cars and turn left along the familiar track. The day has turned murky and down here there are still wisps of mist hanging in the tree canopies.
Eventually we find a good spot for a late lunch: a fallen tree next to the water. Mollie talks the chance to go and paddle as we settle down with food.
Then we hear some vehicles, and moments later a straggling convoy of 4 x 4s makes its way from down the dale, complete with dogs, guns and men in shooting garb. As we are finishing lunch they return, no doubt having enjoyed a 'proper' lunch to fortify themselves for their extreme sport. Watch out all you fearsome birds, the gunslingers are out to get you.
We saunter back along the dale, it's turning quite chilly now, especially down here. As we climb up the steep roadway to the car park we hear the sounds of gunshots in the distance. Glad we're not too close!