Monday, 22 May 2017

Taking the Low Road

So, the plan is a second attempt to reach Lost Lad, and for the second time we accept defeat. Rain, drizzle and more rain, although it might clear later, apparently!

We're parked in our usual spot at the side of Ladybower deciding on an alternative. We aren't in any rush so decide to do the long circuit of the reservoirs; Derwent and Howden. 

Our route is predictable and easy to follow, so we cross beneath the Derwent Dam wall, climb the uneven steps and start along the track on the far side of the reservoir. It's already drizzling with rain and the dogs, Mollie and Scamp, are soggy.
Needless to say, we don't have much of a view, although the low level of the reservoir is a bit of a surprise. Then it really starts to rain and we seek refuge beneath a stand of trees where I dig out my waterproof trousers from the bottom of the rucksack.

We stand there a while, hoping it will pass over, but it really is bucketing it down. In the end we decide to go for it. We have waterproofs, we shouldn't get too wet. Should we?

To our relief the rain does start to ease off to a light drizzle and a potential of some clear - or rather, not wet - spells. We pass the point where out walk up to the Lad would have started and we admire the rather soggy daffodils.
We pass the Howden Dam wall and continue along, not meeting another soul. Perhaps the weather is keeping everyone under cover.

Mollie finds a discarded ball at the side of the path and gleefully picks it up to play with. She plays fetch for a while, with Scamp's little legs whirring to keep up.
We pass the stream running down from Howden Clough and the dogs have a paddle before we turn the bend with the view down to the dam. It looks as though the water stops in mid-air, like at some upmarket hotel with their suspended swimming pools. Although this is undoubtedly much colder!
We see our first couple of walkers, then go through the gate where we put the dogs back on their leads. There's always the possibility of sheep.

And we see a helicopter coming down the valley - the first of a few we see through the course of the day.
Then, as we are walking along the long length of Cold Side, the sun comes out and the view clears. We have a superb view up the valley.
There's been a lot of planting done on the slope down to the water, and some up on the hillside on our right too. Mollie tires of carrying her ball and leaves it for some other fortunate hound that may follow in her pawsteps.
Soon enough we see the bridge at Slippery Stones and we know that we'll soon be able to stop for lunch. We go for the huge log cum bench at the far side of the bridge where we can sit in some comfort and enjoy our food, including quite messy but very nice custard slices.
There are sheep around here, good job the dogs are on their leads.
But as we walk around the views improve again.
Though the dogs are a little tired, there's still a way to go.
We are on tarmac now, much more tiring underfoot. The gorse is in glorious bloom though, and we hear a curlew up on the moors.
The dam wall looms ahead, and another helicopter goes overhead. As we pass the wall, and the cottages beneath, we enter into the woods where Tin Town was: the construction village for the dams. It's mainly wooded now, with little indication of the industry. A

And we hear a cuckoo - our first of the year. Does this mean it's Spring?
The last stretch of the walk always seems the longest, and is undoubtedly the slowest. But at least it isn't raining anymore.
It's a good job we weren't in a rush. We are quite late getting back to the cars. So late that we hit the rush hour traffic on our way home.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


The vague plan of hiking up to Lost Lad today is scuppered by the weather, too much intermittent fine rain and low cloud along with patchy fog. But all is not lost, even if the Lad is, and there is always somewhere to walk around Derwent.

We park in our usual spot, and notice as we drive down that a lot of the smaller car parks now have the dreaded parking meters, though not ours, or not yet! A quick walk down to the centre at Fairholmes and we discover that all facilities are closed as there is work being done higher up the dams which has cut all the power. Ah well, onward.

We cross under the dam wall and head along the far side reservoir.

The blossom is starting to come out on a few of the trees, soon the branches won't be so bare.

This is a pleasant easy lane to walk on, and although there are usually quite a few people doing the circuit of the dam, today we are pretty much alone. The weather certainly has a lot to answer for.

Look for the left hand path that will take us uphill, and we clambler over the stile and onto the track. It starts off steadily, but after a patch of gloopy mud we are climbing. It's a rather lovely, if steep, lane but one thing it does do is encourage us to pause to admire the views (and catch our breath).
Despite having no leaves the trees look superb, their structure seen with greater clarity.
The views more or less in the direction of Lost Lad look as though it might be a bit clearer up there.
But there is general murk everywhere.
We reach the top of the lane and go through the gate next to the wonderfully situated farmhouse. Then another short stretch of uphill (with a fortifying nip from the secret flask to give us encouragement) and we come to some lovely views, and a stone wall to sit against to have lunch. 

Today is my 'birthday' walk, so as well as coffee and sandwiches, it is treat time! A small bottle of fizz, mini chocolate pots, and a gloriously large slab of carrot cake (my absolute favourite) make for a very decadent and much appreciated picnic.

As usual after such a lovely feast the temptation is to linger (is a post-lunch snooze in order?) but it is rather chilly so we pack up and set off again across the top of the moor.
There are wonderful views all around, including a good one of the Lad in the distance.
We pass a group of walkers up here, coming from the oppposite direction. It's quite unusual to see many folk up here, and even rarer to see a group.
The incline here is pretty negligible, and as soon as we reach the top we start the slow decent, with Derwent reservoir gleaming greyly in the distance.

We keep the steady descent until we come to the point where the path becomes steep - and the rain arrives in earnest. Deep ruts and runnels, along with loose stones and slick ground mean we have to be cautious, but we soom manage to arrive at the bottom wall and the gate through to the reservoir track.
PC takes a photo just to remind us of the not-so-well signed path that we'll be taking when we next decide to try for Lost Lad.
Naturally, by the time we are on our way back the rain has almost stopped, so we are pretty much dry when we get back to the cars. Hopefully we'll get to walk up to the Lad soon.