20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 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 this post
Summary : A clockwise circular walk, right 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.
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If you’ve just come to my blog post/walk write up at this page (2 of 2) without seeing my previous post, you might like to jump to “20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)” which contains the following :-
• An Apology :-
• Who With :-
• A Little Preamble :-
• The 1st Half of the Walk :- Youlgreave to Monyash and on to The Magpie Mine.
The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
After a bit of a break in this interesting place (The Magpie Mine that is), we needed to raise ourselves to press on. The route I’d chosen took us to the northern most part of the site, through some rough workings and then instead of heading further north to the village of Sheldon, we took the path sort of north-eastwards and then south-eastwards to pick up a green lane bounded by two walls descending into Kirk Dale, where we met a minor road.
Our route pretty much crossed straight over the road, to steeply climb out of the dale (no contouring here!) to reach a stand of trees on the hill top. The views back from where we’d come from are lovely and after the short sharp exertions climbing the hill, an extremely good excuse to stop and catch our breath. The area around here is also pock-marked with old lead/fluor-spar mine workings and is noted on my map as The Magshaw Mine, but there’s very little left to see compared to The Magpie Mines recently left behind.
The route now was in effect skirting around Bole Hill and had reached its highest point on the walk at about 340 metres above sea level. The aspect is open here and the walking easy, downhill, over a series of grassy fields taking pretty much a straight-line in a south-easterly direction all the way to the outskirts of the village of Over Haddon. The only interruption to the path was where the B5055 bisects through the route, sort of mid-way between Bole Hill Farm and Melbourne Farm.
Over Haddon itself is reached by turning left on a minor road (Monyash Road), passing a riding stables before turning right to pass a sizeable car-park. Just after passing the car park as the road started to descend somewhat steeper, we came upon The Garden Tea Shop.
Well the sun was shining, we had plenty of time, the prices looked reasonable and the terrace area with an eclectic mix of terracotta pots and plants looked inviting. So after a brief (very brief) discussion we opted to head in for drinks and cake.
The reasonable prices changed to extremely good value once we saw the size of the cake pieces. Excellent value for money as we sat out in the sun on the patio/terrace area next to a small formal pool with their friendly terrier for company, looking out over the view above Lathkill Dale.
A recurring theme again presented itself …. We had to raise ourselves from our pleasant surroundings to press on once again, which took us back to the lane and a turn to the right then took us steeply downhill, as the road first dogged-legged left and then back to the right. As we did this the muted sounds of gentle classical music being practiced wafted up out of the garden below in the valley bottom, a guitar if memory serves me right. The road again bent sharply to the left around a large white house. We were once again deep in Lathkill Dale and were now about nine miles into the walk with three possible routes to take.
• Turning right, upstream would have taken us back to the junction with Cales Dale and a retrace of The Limestone Way back to Youlgreave.
• Going straight on, over the river and steeply up the opposite valley side, would take us to a farm (Meadow Place Grange) and then the options of a further three paths to Youlgreave. This would be the shortest route back to the start.
• Turning left, down-stream, on a path on the left hand side of the river.
It was the last of the options that I’d got planned, and we continued on through the lush vegetation, close to the river bank, bounded with steep wooded slopes on both sides. The river starts to widen and some lovely views open up where the path ends up slightly raised above the valley bottom. A series of weirs, some quite sizeable, create pools and in the afternoon sun the colour of the water was absolutely beautiful, a greeny-tourquoisey-blue with vibrant green water weeds trailing in the sedate flow. This is gentle English countryside at its very best, understated and charming, almost polite (if a landscape can be polite), reflecting the best of British character. The path then drops gently to rejoin the river side and one place in particular was being enjoyed by several families having picnics and enjoying the autumn sunshine. This really was a perfect day to be outside.
From here the path becomes more made-up, wider, flatter and very easy going, to reach Conksbury Bridge, where a minor road crosses the river via a stone bridge. We needed to cross over the bridge being aware of the occasional car that passed by, but it was impossible to not to stop and take in the view over the bridge walls looking back up-stream from where we’d just come from and indeed on the opposite side looking downstream.
It was downstream that we needed to head, but the path does not hug the banks from here, instead we had to walk up the road (heading south) and soon after, where the road starts bending to the right, the path sets off again on the left, contouring, a little raised above the river at a stand of trees, with a water meadow below. After just a few hundred yards or so the path reaches a very small road (just below Raper Lodge).
A very small diversion was now a must! A turn to the left down the road/track quickly brought us to a lovely spot where a narrow pack-horse bridge crosses the river, which is dammed by a small pretty semi-circular shaped weir, creating a pool behind, the surface perfectly reflecting the surrounding trees. I’ve been here many times and would return again in a heartbeat – I love this place, the scenery almost secret and intimate, especially with the sun shining and no one else around. A few of us returned to an old childhood game and played pooh sticks for a few minutes, the flow from the weir taking our “straws” under the bridge arch and off downstream.
The view downstream is lovely too, albeit a little more open with a water/flower meadow on the right bank, the river gently arching through the landscape with the heavily wooded steep flank of the valley rising directly above. The many varieties of trees give the feeling of an arboretum or tree garden and that feeling is enhanced by a small summer house nestled at the bottom of the slope. Enough of waxing lyrical, we again had to drag ourselves away from a beautiful place, and retraced our steps back to the path just below Raper Lodge. I here gave two options to my friends …
• Straight on up the minor road, to then take minor roads directly into Youlgreave village (the shortest option)
• Or ….. Turn left onto an easy path to continue down Lathkill Dale and then up some of Bradford Dale before rising into Youlgreave (the slightly longer option by about ¾ of a mile)
My friends chose the longer option, which suited me as I like the walk across a series of grassy fields separated by dry stone walls and squeeze stiles, running more or less parallel with the river. Lathkill Dale was now much wider than at any point before, a complete contrast to the upper reaches of the gorge walked through this morning. It’s still lovely in a gentler kind of way and we soon reached a minor road at the very small village of Alport; the groupings of attractive stone cottages little more than a hamlet really.
The River Lathkill here crosses under the road, tumbles down a little cascade and joins the River Bradford. A red telephone box stands sentinel here, but as an example of how modern times have all but removed the need for public land-lines, the phone itself has gone; to be replaced with a defibrillator unit. A good way especially in rural places, to add a self-help unit in medical emergencies and at the same time maintain a truly iconic piece of British design – The humble traditional telephone box.
Where the river crosses under the road, the path crosses straight over bending slightly right dropping a little to reach and then cross over the River Bradford. We’d now left Lathkill Dale and entered Bradford Dale near a farm; the farm on the northern side of the stream, us on the opposite southern side of the river. The easy path/farm track heads upstream adjacent to the river with gentle water meadows and small limestone outcrops/cliffs.
I’ve seen water voles, kingfishers, dippers and herons here in the past, and today we were lucky enough to see a heron stood in the stream near a small stone footbridge where we stopped for the obligatory group photo’s – there’s something about a bridge that shouts “group photo required” … similar to reaching a trig-point on top of a hill.
The path crosses Mawstone Lane and continues on, next to the small river, but now on the northern bank where the stream is punctuated by a series of small weirs. These I believe are designed to aerate the water, and form small pools to encourage a good habitat for trout. Further up the valley towards Middleton the weirs become more like mini dams, the pools becoming larger and deeper and obviously support much larger fish. However, we weren’t destined to see these pools today because soon after crossing the last minor road, a path cuts up the valley side to enter Youlgreave Village, the rise affording some super views back over Bradford Dale to the hills to the south. The path after joining a side road, emerges into the village at a road. Turning right would take you into the “heart” of Youlgreave, including a square towered Church, two pubs, and an impressively large circular water storage device opposite the Youth Hostel (in the old CO-OP building). However, we turned left, passing out of the village at Coldwell End to reach our car-park and our cars.
A super day, good company, great weather, fantastic varied scenery and a good day was had by all. I’d do it all again tomorrow without hesitation – but maybe in the other direction.
A Note about heights climbed :-
The following figures are approx. only (estimated by reading contours on my map) and don’t take into consideration the distance taken to cover the height differences and therefore gradients, but it gives an indication of the heights gained during the walk. The steepest single climb would be the section out of Kirk Dale. I’ve ignored the down bits because I don’t think there was anything of particular difficulty, the steepest bit being on the zig-zaggy road at Over Haddon, immediately after the tea shop.
• Youlgreave to Calling Low = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Junction of Cales Dale/Lathkill Dale to Monyash = approx. 110m (360 ft)
• Monyash (at start of Horse Lane) to Magpie Mine = approx. 65m (213 ft)
• Kirk Dale to Magshaw Mine area = approx. 40m (131 ft)
• Bradford Dale to Youlgreave = approx. 35m (115 ft)
As the Magpie Mine is about half way round (roughly speaking), you can see most of the ascents are in the first half of the walk, which means the second half is mostly descent. The ground was mostly sound, easy underfoot; my memory maybe failing me, but I can’t remember a single ploughed field or any particularly muddy areas. Obviously, time of year and weather conditions could affect this though.
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.