20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)
When : 6th September 2015
Who : Me, my son and some of The Coventry CHA A+ walkers
Where : Peak District National Park – Youlgreave Village
Start and End Point : SK 205,640 (Small Car Park near Coldwell End, West of Youlgreave)
Distance : Nearly 12 miles (19 km)
Significant heights : See end of post 2 of 2
Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area
A clockwise circular walk, in the middle of the beautiful English Peak District, starting (and therefore finishing) at Youlgreave Village, taking in The Limestone Way, Cales Dale, Western End of Lathkill Dale, Monyash, Magpie Mine (near Sheldon), Over Haddon, Eastern End of Lathkill Dale, Alport, Bradford Dale, Youlgreave Village.
If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.
An Apology :-
Firstly, I really need to apologise for the extreme delay for taking soooooo very long to get around to writing this post, following up on my last public post in September 2015 ! …. The reasons are complex and really, you don’t need to know the ins and outs and you probably wouldn’t be that interested anyway, as it’s nothing to do with walking …. But hey, as the cliché says “better late than never”; so, I’ve finally got around to typing this up and I felt it would be sensible to carry on where I left off and complete my scribblings about the Youlgreave Walk that I’d left hanging as just potential routes.
As it happens, it was potential route-4 that we ended up doing on a simply fantastic day of walking.
Who With :-
As a small group of walking friends and (at the time) members of The Coventry CHA rambling Club, once a month we would do a walk a bit more strenuous than the normal programme of Sunday walks … It was called the A+ walk, although that’s maybe rather arbitrary compared to other walking clubs. A+ just meant a tad harder than the other walks on the programme, giving the opportunity of :
• Starting earlier/finishing later,
• Travelling further afield,
• Walking further,
• Potentially more strenuous ups and downs,
• and maybe over rougher terrain,
• Without meeting the coach at lunch time,
• Or …. a combination of all of these.
Instead of using the normal coach from Coventry City Centre, we’d use our own cars, arranging lifts amongst ourselves and meeting at a pre-arranged place and time. Bringing this up-to-date (2017), we A+ers still meet and walk together, but no longer under the umbrella of the CHA club.
A Little Preamble :-
The walk on this day was due to be led by one gent’, I think he’d planned it to be in Staffordshire somewhere, but, unfortunately, due to a knee injury, he had to pull out … leaving a void to be filled. So, I found myself volunteering to lead in his stead, saying I’d find a circular route somewhere in the White Peak Area, straight off the map, without the need to pioneer/reconnoitre, given I’ve done many walks up there over the years.
Please see my earlier post for the potential routes I’d worked out based on the fantastic area around Lathkill Dale, a place I think is simply beautiful and encapsulates so much of what “The White Peak” has to offer the discerning walker. I chose to meet at a small car-park just outside Youlgreave, to the west of the village near Coldwell End, on a minor road to Middleton …. From memory, I’m sure it was free for the day, and there was a small toilet block.
The 1st Half of the Walk :-
Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.
After congregating, donning boots and rucksacks we set off in a westerly direction on the aforementioned road towards Middleton, with brill’ views over the wooded Bradford Dale on our lef. We then branched right where the road splits, to rise steadily ignoring a footpath just before a bend, instead following the road round to the left and then picking up a path (Limestone Way) on the right heading diagonally upwards across a field towards a small area of woodland. Passing through the wood very quickly, the path still rising swung right to head in a more northerly direction to meet Moor Lane, another minor road, at a car-park. This was one of the car-parks I’d considered as a starting point but discounted on the grounds of cost, but I guess charges could be subject to change in the future.
Turning left on the minor road quickly brought us to a junction with another road (Back Lane) which we basically crossed straight over to continue on The Limestone Way across grassy fields, bounded by the typical drystone walls of this part of the world. The path was still rising, but with the gradient now much reduced compared to earlier, allowing us to stride out somewhat, chatting happily amongst ourselves on what was turning out to be a beautiful day with blue skies, high wispy clouds and a light breeze, perfect walking weather!
In the corner of one field we met a rather handsome horned cow, sat apparently enjoying the autumn sunshine. We walked by, crossing the nearby stile into the next field without it batting an eye-lid. Carrying on, we passed through another small wood whilst skirting around Calling Low farmstead, where I was taken by the quality of the filtered light and vibrancy of some mosses obviously loving the secluded damp conditions.
The path from here cut across another three or four fields, now with a gentle downhill gradient and then steepening slightly to meet another line of woodland. The path then became very steep for a very short way, down a set of steps, descending into Cales Dale.
An option here was to climb straight out the other side of the valley (on The Limestone Way), but I’d chosen to turn right, heading downwards (generally northwards) in the valley bottom to soon emerge, via a wooden footbridge over The River Lathkill, into the more open and far larger and impressive Lathkill Dale with its limestone crags and cliffs, scree, grassy slopes, scrub and stands of trees along the cliff tops. I just love this valley and never tire of revisiting again and again.
Now, if you wanted a shorter walk, you could turn right here and head east towards Over Haddon, but in my humble opinion, you’d be missing possibly the best part of Lathkill Dale, the top quarter is superb. Heading up the valley with crag-lines above, the river begins to peter out eventually disappearing at a cave in the valley side. We stopped near here for a bit of a break, where I spent a little time chasing a Peacock Butterfly as it flitted from thistle flower to thistle flower. Eventually, when I got a couple of shots, it ended up I’d captured a hoverfly at the same time.
Here-abouts and moving on, the valley sides close in becoming more gorge like and the path becomes rockier and rises a little more steeply, especially where Ricklow Dale branches off to the right. There is a path that heads up Ricklow Dale, but we stayed left, remaining in Lathkill Dale, to emerge into more open country, the valley now shallower with grassy slopes and a broad grassy path to follow.
After the rocky gorge, we could fairly bound along (bit of an exaggeration, but hey, gotta be able to stretch the imagination sometimes). The paths meets the B5055 road, just to the east of Monyash village where there are often cars parked by the side of the road and there is a small toilet block. Almost directly opposite, on the other side of the road, the path continues but the now very shallow valley is now known as Bagshaw Dale and skirts around to the north of Monyash.
However, if you did this, you’d miss out on the charms of the village itself, and having done both in the past, I far prefer heading up the road into the village, so that’s what we did this time. The other advantage of doing this, is there’s a pub (The Bulls Head) and right next door, a café (The Old Smithy) both of which I’ve enjoyed using several times in the past. Today, it was the cafés turn to gain our business, ice creams being a favourite choice and we sat in the sun on the village green near the old stone cross. The establishments are popular with walkers, cyclists, bikers and visitors in cars. such is the draw of this quintessentially English village with its stone buildings clad with climbers, a spired church, cottage gardens and the village green with mature trees, stone cross, memorial and benches to rest on – Just a pretty place to tarry a while.
I’ve heard the village pronounced as Money-Ash/Munny-ash, Moan-ee-Ash and Mon-ee-Ash, I don’t know why but I’ve always favoured the first of these; perhaps I’m wrong, but whichever it is, the village dates back centuries as indicated by the plaque associated with the village cross which states: –
“The village cross dates from circa 1340 when the village was granted a charter to hold a weekly market on a Tuesday and a three day fair to celebrate the festival of Holy Trinity. It is likely the cross itself was made of wood and mounted on top of the stone shaft. The circular holes in the base are where the lead miners tested their drills after sharpening at the smithy”.
It seems the defacing of public artefacts is nothing new. If this was done now-a-days I’m sure there’d be outrage, but this “vandalism” is now of historical interest.
Despite how good it felt sat on the green in the sun, we needed to raise ourselves and get our legs moving again, so, heading on from the café (westwards on Church Street) for a very short distance we turned right into Chapel Street, to head north staying on the right hand side of the road. At this point the route passes onto the other side of the dual sided map, but don’t bother re-arranging the sheet as the road soon re-emerges back onto the side of the map we’d been on so far, and we’d now gone as far west as this walk reaches. In fact, after a few hundred yards, we soon turned right again, this time into Horse Lane, starting the big loop back to our start point. There are two footpaths near this road interchange, one heading up-hill northwards (not for us today) and the other heading off to the right into a grassy shallow valley. This is the top of Bagshaw Dale and is where we’d have emerged had we not opted to head into Monyash at the head of Lathkill Dale. This path was also not for us today. Instead we continued up Horse lane. Although on tarmac (which I try to avoid where practical) the views around us, and especially behind us, were superb, typical White Peak scenery of vibrant green grassy pastures bounded by limestone drystone walls, a smattering of lone trees and larger stands of woodland interspersed with farmsteads – Just lovely!
After less than half a mile, another path branches off on the left heading up hill (not steep) across the middle of a field. There now followed a series of walls/small fields the path rising in a roughly north easterly direction to reach and then cross through a long thin line of woodland (Hard Rake Plantation). Two more small fields later brought us to another minor road (might be called Flagg Lane ?). A turn to the right along the lane, a bear right again where Johnson Lane joins at a T-junction and then another couple of hundred yards along the road brought us to where the path leaves the tarmac to go cross country again. The terrain here is somewhat rougher and churned up indicating old industry – Lead mining. A few more fields and we reached our next major landmark, The Magpie Mine, with its chimneys, semi-ruined buildings and old winding gear structure. A group is working to preserve the site as a glimpse into the past and I bought a guide booklet as we passed by.
The mine area is well worth a little time to explore and it’s fortunate that a number of footpaths converge here from several directions. I think this is a great place for a lunch stop and it was here many years ago now, that I chatted to (and shared my packed lunch with) a young lady I’d met that day for the first time. This was during another walk I was leading, for The Coventry Youth Hostel Local Group, (now renamed The Coventry Outdoor Group). That young lady is now my lovely wife of over 20 years and brill’ Mum to our two kids. Back then we were staying in Bakewell Youth Hostel and it’s another case of YHA standing not just for Youth Hostel Association but also Your Husband Assured. Therefore, The Magpie Mine carries a special place in my heart and always will do! At that moment in time, all those years ago, it never remotely occurred to me I’d be walking through the very same place about half way round a 12 mile walk with my son, but that’s exactly what happened.
The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
As this write up seems to be getting reasonably long, I think it might be best if I continue on a second post, so for now I’ll say good-bye, and hope you pick up again in a moment or two at “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)”
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.