20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 2 of 2)

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

Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4Maps : 1:25,000 OS Outdoor Leisure Map no.24 – The Peak District White Peak Area

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.

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.

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.

20150906-33b_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)

The 2nd Half of the Walk :-
The Magpie Mine to Youlgreave.
20150906-37_Out in front_Green Lane approaching Kirk DaleAfter 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.

20150906-38_Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

20150906-40_View Over Kirkdale (Nr Sheldon)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.

20150906-41_Wide Spaces heading for Over HaddonThe 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 20150906-42_Tea Shop (Over Haddon)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.

20150906-43_Tea Shop Prices (Over Haddon)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.

20150906-44_What is over here_Friendly Tea Shop Dog

20150906-47_Making Music in Lathkill DaleA 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 20150906-48_Swans_Lathkill Dalesides. 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.

20150906-49b_River Lathkill_Lathkill Dale

20150906-52_Into the Sun_Lathkill DaleFrom 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.

20150906-54_Lathkill Dale Relections

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).

20150906-55_Pack-Horse Bridge + Wier - Lathkill DaleA 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.

20150906-56_Lathkill Dale Rugged Weir Waterfall

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 20150906-58_Lathkill Dale Summerhouse Arboretum-esquetrees 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)

20150906-59_Squeeze Stile_Lathkill DaleMy 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.

20150906-60_Alport_Lathkill Dale + Bradford Dale

20150906-61_River Lathkill_AlportThe 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 20150906-63_Heron_Bradford Daleheads 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.

20150906-62_Walking Friends_Stone Bridge_Bradford Dale

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 20150906-66_River Bradford_Bradford Dale_Below YoulgreaveI 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 20150906-67_Across Bradford to Bleakley Plantation from Youlgreavetoday 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 20150906-68_Youlgreave Villagetowered 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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.


20150906_Youlgreave Circular Walk (post 1 of 2)

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

20150906-16_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill DaleSummary :

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 Potential Youlgreave Circular Walk 4around 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 20150906-06_Limestone Way near Calling Lowrambling 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 … 20150906-20_Looking down upper reaches of Lathkill Daleleaving 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.
20150906-01b_Looking over Bradford Dale nr MiddletonAfter 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 20150906-02_Limestone Way above Bradford Daleheading 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.

20150906-03_On The Limestone Way (Youlgreave Area)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!

20150906-04_Handsome Horned CattleIn 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.

20150906-07_Moss + Woods - Playing with Focus + Bokeh

20150906-08_Descent into Cales DaleThe 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.

20150906-09_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-10_Footbridge Junction of Cales Dale into Lathkill Dale

20150906-15_Limestone Cliffs Above Lathkill Dale

20150906-18_Peacock Butterfly with Hoverfly_Lathkill Dale

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.

20150906-19_Upper reaches of Lathkill DaleHere-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.

20150906-23_Wide Inviting Path - Lathkill DaleAfter 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.

20150906-24_MonyashHowever, 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.

20150906-25_Cinqifolia Clad Stone Frontage - Monyash

20150906-26b_Monyash Village Cross

20150906-28_Side by Side_Monyash Tea Shop and Pub

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”.

20150906-27_Monyash Village CrossIt 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 20150906-29_Bagshaw Daleagain, 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 20150906-30_Horse Lane looking over Monyashgreen 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.

20150906-32_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)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 20150906-36_Magpie Mine (south of Sheldon)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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130806-C_Strange Wooden Carvings in Wetton – Wetton Man, Wetton Woman and Wetton Boy

20130806-C_Strange Wooden Carvings in Wetton – Wetton Man, Wetton Woman and Wetton Boy

When : 6th August 2013 … This update on 5th June 2014.

Just a little of an update / extra bit of info. that you might find of interest.

I wrote in my earlier blogs about some strange wooden carvings in the garden in Wetton …

“We now had a little road walking to do, entering the village passing a mixture of farms and homes as we went. One such home, with traditionally striped lawns had some rather striking and very un-traditional sculptures carved out of wood and “planted” in the garden. Some folk have a very odd sense of aesthetic, but I suppose it takes allsorts and the larger than life gargoyles certainly brought a smile to our faces.”

20130806-08_Garden Gargoyle Sculptures - Wetton

Wetton Man, Wetton Boy and Wetton Woman

Well, the owner has contacted me and informed me that he’s posted some videos on YouTube with the story of




So, if you want to know more, follow the links above.

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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130806-A_1st Half – Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk

20130806-A_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor’s Cave Circular Walk.

1st Half – Alstonefield to Thor’s Cave via Wetton.

20130806-46_Village Green - AlstonefieldWhen : 6th August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District, White Peak Area, Staffordshire (I think) roughly between Ashbourne and Buxton.

Start Point : SK 132,556

End Point : Same as above (‘cause it’s a circular)

Full Circular Walk Distance : Approx 5.25 miles (8.5 km)

This half : Alstonefield – Thor’s Cave, via Wetton : Approx 2.5 miles (4km)

20130806-44_Drystone wall - near AlstonefieldSignificant heights : See end of 2nd half diary for details.

Map : Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map OL 24 The Peak District White Peak Area.

Summary : Not a long walk, but with lots of interest, taking in two villages, a country pub (or two depending on timings), a cave to explore and fantastic views over The Manifold Valley …. Oh and lots of opportunity to extend the walk if you want.

If you click on a pic’ it should hopefully launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream – At least I hope so because I’m trying a new way of attaching the images – The first time for this method on this diary – Please let me know if it works or not ?????

 We’d booked a three-day short break in the peak district (two nights stay at The Navigation Inn at Buxworth) and we’d roughly planned the itinerary as following :-

Well, I’ve already written some diary blogs about days two and three so, to complete the set, this diary write-up details (a little belatedly I’m afraid) Day-One :-

We started off by traveling north to Ashbourne via Motorways and A-roads. Once at Ashbourne we picked up the A515 towards Buxton and then after a few miles turned off left and found our way into Alstonefield on attractively twisty-turny minor roads: dropping steeply into and then out of Mill Dale crossing the famous River Dove en-route.

20130806_Alstonefield-Wetton-Thor's Cave-Wetton-Alstonefield Circular Walk

20130806-45_The George - Pub in AlstonefieldAlthough really not much to it, Alstonefield is a pretty little village, and includes a country pub (The George) and out front is a small, roughly triangular, village green with a smattering of farms, stand alone homes and terraced cottages nearby. It was on one of the roads here-abouts that we parked up as considerately as possible, donned boots and raised our day-sacks onto backs. Then, after I’d done a quick appraisal of the map to find my (and therefore our) bearings we set off in a roughly 20130806-01a_Alstonefield VillageWesterly direction (down what I think might be a part of Church Street or maybe Post office Road) but I can’t find a map to 100% confirm this).

On our right was a charming row of terraced cottages, complete with climbing roses and other plants on the walls, and pretty hanging baskets in full bloom. At the end of the road we crossed a larger road to pick up a path (still heading west) and headed out into the beautiful countryside that is The Peak District, our route aiming for the village of Wetton.

The Peak district is really split into two distinctive areas

  • The dark Peak (in the north) plus the eastern and western edges that are dominated by gritstone and peat moorland and are generally more rugged and harsh compared to The White Peak.
  • The White Peak (in the south) is generally softer in appearance where much is given over to grassy pastureland for the rearing of sheep and cattle, the underlying rock is limestone and as such is pretty much free draining and the landscape features dry valleys and steep sided dales such as that of the River Dove (crossed by car on the way to Alstonefield) and The Manifold Valley (The farthest point of our walk today).

20130806-02_Dry Stone WallOne major feature of the White Peak is the countless number of small fields, bounded by limestone dry-stone walls. The walls are complicated to construct (no mortar is used) and take ages to build – it’s a real skill ! ….. There are literally thousands of these walls dissecting the landscape, dividing the area into small parcels of land. It’s impossible to imagine just how many man-hours 20130806-04_Squeeze Stile near  Alstonefield(or years) it would have taken to build them all from scratch. We would cross quite a few of these fields on the walk, often negotiating the lines of walls via squeeze stiles, so called because of the narrow gap allowing humans to pass through relatively easily, whilst preventing any livestock (even lambs) from getting to the other side.

In one such field (near Furlong Lane) a small collection of lambs were completely unfazed by the four of us walking across their “home”. I say lambs, but they were quite well grown and two of them were obviously fed up with eating the plentiful grass all around them, as they were pawing at an overturned feeding trough, 20130806-05_Hungry Sheepdesperately trying to right the plastic tray. They were obviously thinking there may be some kind of tasty morsels underneath. In the few minutes it took for us to pass by, they almost succeeded in their quest, and maybe they would have done if they’d worked as a team, but ultimately they failed, the trough staying stubbornly up-side-down. I suppose they would just have to return to eating the green sward just like their compatriots elsewhere in the field.

The path here rose to join the very minor road of Lodge Lane, where, instead of crossing straight over, we turned right for a very short distance to Brook Lodge, sat at a sharp bend in the road (Lodge Lane becomes Furlong Lane here). Here we turned left into and then up a track cum path, bounded on both sides by some more dry-stone walls, albeit looking a bit worse for wear in places. 20130806-06_Walled Green LaneThis “green lane” rises up in a shallow valley called Windledale Hollow. After a few hundred yards or so, we had to leave the lane, crossing the left hand wall into the corner of a field and then heading across the middle of the field rising as we went, our heading a little north of west. As we moved on through several more grassy fields, the path swung left in a long curve, so that we were heading a little south of west when we reached a minor road (Buxton Road) just on the outskirts of Wetton.

We now had a little road walking to do, entering the village passing a mixture of farms and homes as we went. One such home, with traditionally 20130806-08_Garden Gargoyle Sculptures - Wettonstriped lawns had some rather striking and very un-traditional sculptures carved out of wood and “planted” in the garden. Some folk have a very odd sense of aesthetic, but I suppose it takes allsorts and the larger than life gargoyles certainly brought a smile to our faces. Just up the road a short distance however, the gardens were much more as expected with fragrant roses and other cottage garden plants enhancing the village 20130806-11_Bench - Village Green - Wettonappearance. A little farther on, we reached a very small village green completely dominated by a large tree and a circular wall “planter” … Happily there were a number of wooden benches conveniently placed for weary-legged walkers to park their bottoms. This we did as this was an ideal place for a break on our journey and a bite to eat.

Drinks wise, the pub (Ye Olde Royal Oak directly across the road) was just too tempting to resist. We were lucky to get served however, as they were about to close for the afternoon, but as we had crossed the threshold the 20130806-10_Ye Olde Royal Oak - Wettonland-lady was happy to serve us (a pint of locally brewed ale, a lager, a sweet cider and J20 was the round) and they were equally happy for us to carry them back across the road to the bench we’d chosen on the green. The only instruction was to “please place the empty glasses somewhere near their entrance door” because they were locking up and “going out” for a while. Just a couple of minutes after they’d turned the key and driven away, another party of walkers came past, only to be disappointed the pub was now shut. I’m sure there was an envious glance or two over towards us, sat as we were with our recently purchased refreshments.

Once our thirsts had been quenched, our hunger sated and our legs rested, we moved on, taking a path through the nearby church grounds/graveyard to emerge onto another minor village road (School Lane). We turned left, 20130806-14_Spikey plants in rusty gutterwhere-upon our son realised he’d left his walking pole behind and we allowed him to run (at a sprint) back to the green to retrieve them. Whilst waiting, I “played” at taking some “arty” narrow depth of field photo’s of some spiky plants growing in a very rusty length of guttering. My lovely girls (wife and daughter) meanwhile simply stood and chatted, which continued after son had re-emerged, just at a trot now instead of the manic pace of earlier.

We set off again, heading south-westerly on School Lane, pausing briefly to say hello to a brood (or peep / clutch ?) of hens, free ranging on the roadside and atop more dry-stone walls. At the end of the road we needed to bear 20130806-17_Hen - Wettonright for a very short distance (Leek Road) to reach a junction with a farm track. This is where it could become a little tricky if you are doing this bit of the walk. The OS map shows a footpath heading off from this junction into a field, and there is indeed a finger post pointing this way – BUT – we ignored this, instead following the farm track itself which is a permissive way heading gently downhill – The easiest and most direct to Thor’s Cave. In fact if you zoom in close enough on “streetmap” (http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=413500&y=355500&z=120&sv=alstonefield&st=3&tl=Map+of+Alstonefield,+Staffordshire+%5BCity/Town/Village%5D&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf ) it labels this as Thor’s Lane (Track).

I’m quite happy walking with a little gentle conversation, but my family after a period of time tend to get a little, errrmmm, “silly” with their observations (the field next to us magically gained several hippopotami, various other wild creatures and if memory serves me right, some elves, goblins, orcs and even a wizard and some hobbits hiding amongst the hummocks and hollows). They also like playing word games and singing songs – even making them up as they go along sometimes – Thor’s Lane thus became an impromptu stage for various renditions and adaptations of The Worsels “I’ve got a brand new combined harvester” sang at quite a volume interspersed with laughter and delivered complete with long grass seed-heads jauntily poking out from their mouths.

20130806-24_Thor's CaveAt the end of the track, a path of sorts heads off (after crossing the wall on the right) over some roughish terrain eventually rising as a narrow (and a little muddy) pathway swinging around the right hand side of a hill. This soon spectacularly emerges high above The Manifold Valley, our little pathway merging with a much larger track rising steeply out of the valley. It is often very busy here, and today was no exception as we merged into other gaggles of people, either ascending or descending the hillside. Despite the earlier singing of my family, it was quite a shock to the senses really – Humans really are very noisy animals when congregating together. Anyway, the reason for the popularity of this spot was soon reached – Thor’s Cave.

20130806-28_Looking down into Manifold Valley (from Thors Cave)This is almost a must-do on the list of things to see in The Peak District. The cave is large but needs a little scrambling (or at least scrabbling) to gain access into it and this alone would be interesting enough, but its position suspended high above a bend in the beautiful Manifold Valley enhances the viewpoint to well beyond the ordinary. Our kids headed up into the mouth of the cave, whilst my wife and I were quite happy to stand on a small flat bit of land, a bit like a wide ledge, just enjoying the vista.

Well, I’m going to break off here, just to linger and enjoy the views a little longer. The second half of the walk diary continues on a new post if you’d like to carry on reading.

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.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

20130807_ Chatsworth House and Gardens

When : 07 August 2013

Who : Me and my family

Where : The Peak District – Central England …. Chatsworth House near Baslow

Directions : Get reasonably close and there are loads of good signage to direct you down the correct roads to car-parking – Just look for the brown signs.

Maps = OS. 1:25,000 Explorer map OL24, The Peak District, White Peak Area.

Grid ref. : SK260,702

Not a walks diary as such, just a quick word on the family day out we had on a short 3-day break in The Peak District … this was the middle day of the three, sandwiched between two days that involved country walks, but I guess we must have walked at least four miles around the grounds, seeing as we were there for most of the day and there are literally miles of paths that can be wandered around, and we didn’t venture up the hillside much at-all.

If you click on a photo’ it should launch as a larger image on my flickr site … or … if you just want to see the pics without the wordy bits, use this link to the set of images on flickr and there are a few more than shown below.

I’d awoke early and was up and about much earlier than the rest of my family, so I had already headed out (from our digs at The Navigation Inn) for an 20130808-01_Navigation Inn - Buxworth by gary.haddenearly morning wander around the historic site of Bugsworth Canal Basin. I’m writing another diary post for that part of the day …. (to follow) ….  so enough said about that here.

Anyway, after breakfasting we headed off to the other side of the Peak District National Park, to Chatsworth House and Gardens. I’m not going to say much about this extremely well known and loved tourist destination, suffice to say, it’s well worth a trip out. I’ve visited here numerous times over the years, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

20130807-79_In Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden    20130807-73_Redwood Tree in Chatsworth's Rockery Garden by gary.hadden

20130807-45-B+W_Fountains at top of the staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-44_The staircase waterfall - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

My fave bits ? :-

  • The “rockery” in its magnificently over-the-top huge scale.
  • The spouting tree fountain.
  • The “violin” hanging on a “door” in the house.
  • The staircase waterfall.
  • Edensor Village out in the deer park (pronounced Endzer by the way)
  • And just the huge scale of the grounds/gardens – Formal, informal, pinetum woods, huge gravity fed fountain, classic maze, and if you’re feeling fit enough, miles of pathways heading up into the wooded hills above the house and expansive views across the estate.

20130807-84_Traditional Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden               20130807-100_Chatsworth House - tall fountain + long pool by gary.hadden

20130807-112_The famous Violin hanging on a door - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-117_Inside Chatsworth House by gary.hadden

As a bit of added interest, there was also an exhibition of art sculptures dotted around the grounds:

  • Some I quite liked (Revelation + Tongue-In-Cheek)

20130807-38_Revelation Artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-82_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden     20130807-83_Tongue In Cheek - Art Sculpture (2010) by Tony Cragg by gary.hadden

  • Some I was really ambivalent about.

20130807-122_The Pavilion artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-129_Polishing the Lens Scuplture artwork - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • The turbine was interesting, but I don’t know if was an art exhibit at-all.

20130807-29_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-31_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden     20130807-32_Turbine - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

  • And some I plainly disliked (La Machine A Rever in particular) – thinking maybe a toddler could have done better.

20130807-89_Odd Art Sculpture - La Machine A Rever (1970) by Niki de Saint-Phalle by gary.hadden

But I guess that’s the idea of an art exhibition, it’s supposed to raise questions and views – but some modern art just really doesn’t do anything for me! … and … I don’t think many really enhanced the beauty of the landscapes all around us, albeit manicured into a “fake” landscape per Mr. “Capability” Brown.

20130807-86_Book Bench with Ball and Chain - Art Sculpture - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-99_Queen Elizabeth II + Prince Charles (bronze busts) - Chatsworth by gary.hadden

20130807-47_Chatsworth House + Ivy Art Sculpture from the staircase waterfall by gary.hadden

Anyway, that’s enough of that, I hope you enjoy my pic’s, and hope it’s given food for thought if you’re looking for a day out with a bit of culture.



20091018_MHW_West East Traverse of The Peak District-2 … Goyt Valley to Peak Forest Linear Walk

20091018_Goyt Valley to Peak Forest Linear Walk – Midland Hill Walkers A-Walk – 2nd leg of a 4-walk trek across The Peak District starting in the West and Crossing over to the East.

This is a re-publication of my diary dating back to October 2009. Re-posted so that it has continuity with the post immediately below it, so that the West-East Traverse of The Peak District reads one after the other. I hope you enjoy. Cheers, Gary. 

When : 18th October 2009

Who : Midland Hill Walkers – Club Walk – A-Walk

Where : The Peak District, Near Buxton

Maps : O.S. Outdoor Leisure Map No.24 – The Peak District – White Peak area

Start Point : 018,759 (Goyt Valley)

End Point : 114,794 (Peak Forest)

Approx Distance : 12.7 miles, 20.3 km

Heights : 2165 ft ascent + 2070 ft descent

(Heights are totals per my memory map programme and include gentle ups and downs as well the more strenuous slopes/terrain)

Transport : Full size luxury coach – From Car Park in Kenilworth.

Summary : Goyt Valley, North West facing slope of Combs Moss, Combs Edge, Dove Holes (village), Peak Dale (village), Tunstead, Wind Low, Hargatewall, Peter Dale, Hay Dale, Dam Dale, Peak Forest (village).

My sister had been on a few walks with The Midland Hill Walkers and she’d suggested I’d probably enjoy a trip out with them too. The M.H.Walkers go out once a month (on a Sunday) and the first date I could join them was on their October Walk 2009, billed as the 2nd stage of a west-east traverse of The Peak District (It’s a pity I’d missed the first stage, but hey, that’s life I suppose). I do like walking in The Peak District, so I made some ‘phone calls, paid some money and was booked on for this walk and the next one in November (Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas) in Wales.

It meant a very early start though, as I had a bit of a drive (A45 + A46 mostly) to get from Rugby to Kenilworth for before 7-o’clock in the morning, which is when the coach departs for the day. I found it a little bit daunting climbing aboard the bus full of total strangers but soon found a seat near my sister and brother-in-law who were also out with them for the day.

Once on the go, one of the leaders made his way up the bus to talk through the two walks options with me; the A walk being more strenuous than the B. The club normally recommends newcomers to start with a B-walk, just to be on the safe side, but he agreed after talking through my experience that I’d cope with the A-walk, so that’s what I decided to do.

After passing through Buxton the coach picked up the A5004 and then soon turned left into the minor road of Goyt’s Lane to descend steeply towards Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs in the Goyt Valley. I didn’t get a good view of the lakes though, as the A- party was dropped off just beside the small knoll of Burnsal Cob on the eastern side of the reservoirs. As it happens, my sis’ & her husband stayed on the coach to walk with the B-team.

Just for description purposes, I can effectively split the walk into three stages. It would seem sensible therefore to start at the start of stage-1 :-.

1st Stage :

As often happens on walks, the route started off steeply uphill and at a surprisingly quick pace and the group was soon spread out over a fair distance as we rose up a track swinging round in a generally north easterly direction. Several people spoke to me on that first climb, their opening line generally something like “I haven’t seen you out before, is this your first time with the club?” … a good way to break the ice and I was quite happy to have a chat as we all rose through the grassy moorland. The views back over The Goyt Valley were superb! I loved the autumnal colours spread out all around. Being towards the back of the group, I must admit I felt a tad out of touch from the leader, not a good feeling for the first time out and I was quite relieved when the whole party regrouped where the track crossed the A5004.

The path crossed straight over the main road and continued to rise still quite steeply and I resolved to keep myself closer to the leader now; just so I’d feel more comfortable in myself – it’s amazing how much easier the pace seems to be when you’re nearer the front than at the back. The terrain was quite wild; tussocky, grassy moorland and after the path had made a few twists and turns (including passing behind White Hall Outdoor Pursuits Centre) we crested over a rise where my legs appreciated the little rest-bite from the climbing done so far. The views ahead had really opened up by now with a series of knolls and rocky edges forming part of the vista dropping steeply from the mass of Combs Moss above us on our right. 

I’d never walked in this part of The Peak District before and was enjoying the views northwards across a slightly lower and much tamer area of farmland below. The higher rougher ground formed a rough shaped bowl around the green almost manicured meadows and the handful of farmsteads beneath us; a lovely contrast, especially with a scattering of trees turning various shades of red and orange. The weather had begun to close in a little as well, but I think the contrast between the sunlit bright areas against the more gloomy shadows added a super depth to the landscape. By now we were again climbing quite steadily on a faint path, diagonally rising to the flatter almost plateaux like edges of Combs Moss. The path on my OS map is shown as a black dash line  (not a right of way) so I assume the recent open access rules have opened up the moors to walkers – definitely our gain today!


A small group split away at the front, getting their heads down for the pull up to a small shooting hut positioned above a steep sided side valley cutting it’s way into the high ground. It was here that the party regrouped with a short refreshment stop and everyone enjoyed the views. I particularly liked the ridges on the hillside covered with drifts of purple heather and the shiny shimmering silver of dried grass tussocks; the soft colour palette in counterpoint to the harsh looking gritstone walls and rocky outcrops.

The last mile or so had been pretty much westwards but we now swung north for a few hundred yards before turning almost west, ignoring an inviting looking track, to instead climb a rough slope for a short distance up to a faint path running alongside a drystone wall (beginning to look like it’d seen better days). The views back across the lowland bowl to where we’d come from were brill’, amazing to see just how far you can cover by just keeping a good steady pace.

 By now I’d relaxed into the walking much more, keeping up with the leader quite easily now even to the point of taking a couple of ‘photos of him in a rather clichéd pose on top of a rocky outcrop above Alstone Lee.. The MHW’s are currently using my pic’ in a fun caption competition asking “What’s Brian saying”. I feel quite honoured that they think my pic’ is good enough to use in this way.     


The path and wall were now contouring easily around the edges of the moor swinging round from east to west and then northwards again … the last rocky outcrop we traversed is called Combe Edge before we dropped steeply down a short way to a minor road close to an ancient fort at the northern tip of the moor. We then turned right for a section of road walking probably for the best part of a mile.

2nd Stage

After the rough terrain of the moor the smooth tarmac was quite welcome at first, being easier on the ankles and concentration in equal measure. I wasn’t sad however when we branched left onto a path into farmland at Cow Low, passing through Cowlow Farm before rejoining the road just on the outskirts of the village of Dove Holes.

This really marked the start of and by far the most uninteresting stage of the walk which I’m going to skip over pretty quickly … I didn’t take any pic’s for at least a couple of miles, which tells its own story. Dove Holes has a pretty name but is an ugly place – Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, but there’s no other way to describe it; the villages overall facade mirroring the extensive quarrying in this area north of Buxton not protected by National Park status – I guess industry has to have its place but this area looks pretty much devastated over large areas and it doesn’t look like there’s been much attempt to mask the impact. Having said that, we all like our roads and other constructions and the raw materials have to come from somewhere.

There was now some considerable amount of road walking as we left Dove Holes heading southwards to the next point on route, Peak Dale ; again a nicer sounding name than the reality. It was here that we stopped for lunch, spread out on the touchline of a community football pitch. This has to go down as one of the stranger places I’ve had lunch on a country walk. After lunch there was more road walking, to reach Buxton Bridge, where we crossed a railway to then climb steeply, still on the road. After so much tarmac it was good to turn off onto a path, in a stand of trees, heading towards Tunstead. The views down the hillside, overlooked the grey ugly plant of Tarmac’s Tunstead Works. Although undeniably ugly there’s something compelling about these types of industrial landscapes, and they are photogenic in their own way.

3rd Stage.

Leaving the works behind marked the end of the 2nd stage of the walk and the start of a more rural final stage of the day. Instead of the gritstone moors of the morning and the industrial stuff in the middle, we were now heading into limestone countryside [The White Peak] and we crossed the invisible line back into The National Park, just before skirting north of the settlement of Tunstead itself. We were now heading eastwards away from the works and I wasn’t sad to see the back of them as we rose up to the ancient site of “Wind Low”. No one knew quite what the strange lump of stone was on top of the hill and there wasn’t an info’ board to tell us … so guess work was the only option –

  • An ancient burial site ?
  • A drinking trough for travellers horses ?
  • An ancient boundary marker at the top of the hill between ancient hill tribes ?
  • Or my wild guess of an alms drop off point ? like the ones around the Eyam area when villages were isolated by the plague ?

A subsequent look on the internet has told me it’s on the “List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the National Park” and is noted as “SAM No. S13351” and the sites full name is “Wind Low Bowl Barrow & Standing Cross”. According to several sites I’ve looked at : The stone is the base of a medieval stone cross which in turn sits on top of a bronze age barrow (burial mound) ….so, Wind Low is really two things on one site.

The route was very much easier now as we picked up a track at Hayward farm. The easiness didn’t last long though as we came across a rather horrible difficulty as we passed Hargatewall. The walled track now doubled up as a shallow slurry pond stretching out ahead. There was no option but to paddle through the liquid cow poo deep enough to reach half way up our boots. Some of the back markers crossed into a side field in an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the mess, but in the end they had to hold their noses and splash their way through … Yuk and double-Yuk.

Eventually we emerged from the not-so-green green-lane into grassy fields descending steadily to reach and then drop down into Peter Dale to join The Limestone Way quite near to Dale Head. I was now on familiar ground as I’d walked here on a number of occasions before. The Dale is shallow with quite an open aspect, the upper slopes a line of craggy limestone outcrops. This, combined with the autumnal trees makes a very pretty scene especially if you’re lucky enough to get some sunshine on the cliffs …. unfortunately the sun didn’t grace us with its presence and although dry it was quite grey giving a certain flatness to the view …. however, when looked at more closely there were some lovely colours in the trees and the landscape as a whole.

Turning left, heading northwards, the dale became even shallower, now not far from our final destination. Although a continuation of the same long valley the dale changes its name several times …. Further south it’s called Monk’s Dale then becomes Peter Dale where we joined it towards its northern end. It then becomes Hay Dale and Hay Dale becomes Dam Dale and then it peters-out into virtually no dale at-all as we finished the walk over easy farmland into the small village of Peak Forest;  passing a large church on the way in. We then had a short time to enjoy a pint (or two)  in The Devonshire Arms before the journey back to Kenilworth.

A good walk … well the 1st and 3rd sections anyway and more importantly, an enjoyable first time out with The Midland Hill Walkers, I was now looking forward to the November Walk already booked.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. if you read straight on now, the next post down is the 3rd leg of The West East Traverse … Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir via Cave Dale, Castleton, Mam Tor, Edale and Kinder Scout’s southern edge.

20100425_MHW_Peak District West East Traverse 3 – Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir Linear Walk – A-Walk.

20100425_MHW_Peak District West East Traverse 3 – Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir Linear Walk – A-Walk.

When : 25th April 2010

Who : Midland Hill Walkers – Walking Club

Where : White Peak and Dark Peak from Village of Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir

Maps Used : Ordnance Survey OS Explorer Map OL24 The Peak District White Peak area, and Ordnance Survey OS Explorer Map OL1 The Peak District Dark Peak area. 

Start Point :  SK 114,794 …. End Point : SK 169,872

Approx Distance : 12.7 miles, (20.4 km)

Heights : 3x significant ups and downs totalling 2900 ft of ascent (about 883m) and 3200 ft of descent (about 978m)

Summary : The Midland Hill Walkers A-Walk, April 2010 starting at Peak Forest and taking in Old Moor ; Cave Dale ; Castleton ; Mam Tor ; The Great Ridge ; Hollins Cross ; Vale of Edale ; Ringing Roger ; Southern Edge of the Kinder Scout Plateau ; Crookstone Hill ; finishing alongside the western arm of Laybower Reservoir in The Woodland Valley on The Snake Road.

20100425-27_Rock Outcrops-Ringing Roger-Kinder Scout Plateau by gary.haddenIf you don’t want to read my words, then you could go to my flickr site and just see the pic’s as a slide show

It’s now over a year since I did this walk, with The Midland Hill Walkers (MHW) – and this was the third of four walks crossing the Peak District rom West to East. My pic’s have been on my flickr site now for quite some time, but now it’s time to put some words together, to go with my photo’s and if you read straight on at the end of this diary, it’ll lead into the fourth leg (Ladybower to Sheffield including Stanage Edge etc.). 

The coach left the car park in Kenilworth and travelled up the country to regurgitate us onto the side of the road in the village of Peak Forest exactly where we’d finished the 2nd leg of The West East Traverse and so keeping the continuity going perfectly. I’d ummed and arrrred on the coach as to whether to do the A or B walk, and as I felt reasonably fit and because I just love Cave Dale, I chose to do the A-walk (the B-team weren’t going to do the limestone mini-gorge down into Castleton). 

20100425-01_Hazy morning over Peak Forest by gary.hadden

Anyway, back to the start; the coach stopped in Peak Forest (on the A623 Baslow to Chapel-en-le-Frith road) and we all disembarked to recover our rucksacks from the hold and the A-party moved off first and at quite a reasonable pace. At first this was road walking heading north on Church Lane and then turning right into Old Dam Lane rising very steadily with views opening up, back over Peak Forest and much wider vistas over The White Peak. At Brecktor, the made up road became a dry stone walled rough track, still rising and later easing as it crested onto a high plateau-like area of limestone pasture and moorland, pot marked by the remains of ancient mining (for lead I think).

20100425-02_Climb away from Peak Forest by gary.hadden

20100425-03_Between Peak Forest and Castleton by gary.hadden

Super wide views opened up ahead of us and the walking became much easier as the gradient softened and then started a gentle descent onto Old Moor, passing one of the characteristic dew ponds of the area as we went. The tip of Mam Tor was just visible in the distance poking it’s head into view and it was here, as I tried to take a photo of the scene ahead, that I realised my camera’s battery compartment had inadvertently opened and all my batteries had fallen out – Oh bother! I exclaimed [only in slightly stronger terms] and explained what had happened to the gent’ beside me. 20100425-04_Dew Pond near Old Moor-Limestone Way by gary.haddenHe replied, Oh I saw some batteries on the ground just a short way back, and low and behold after back tracking 20-30 feet there they were and were soon loaded back into my camera – Yippee! …. I could now take the aforementioned pic’ and in a way it was even better than before, because the rest of the A-party had disappeared into a hollow and the resulting image I think has a wide, open and remote feeling that I think would have been lessened with maybe 20+ people in centre-view. 

It’s really interesting just how big a gap can be opened up in just a few short minutes and it now meant stepping out a little to catch up with the rest of the A-team. Not that I was overly concerned as I’ve walked this area numerous times before and knew the route the group was taking (and I had a map with me, which helps) …. it only took maybe a hundred yards (if that) before everyone came back into view and we were soon reunited within the main body of the group. 

20100425-05_Top of Cave Dale - Near Castleton by gary.haddenWe were following part of The Limestone Way and we soon picked up a shallow depression which deepened to become a gentle dry valley, which in turn started to become quite craggy and rocky on both sides.The path in the bottom however was wide and easy to walk on and there was lots of chat going on: it would seem everyone was full of the joys of spring as the pace fairly bounced along. 

20100425-06_Descent into top of Cave Dale near Castleton by gary.hadden

20100425-08_Peveril Castle above Cave Dave - Castleton by gary.haddenThis dry valley is the top of Cave Dale and it soon begins to deepen with the sides becoming steeper and more rugged and then all of a sudden the path plunges steeply as the valley becomes a full blown gorge – very dramatic – the drama is perfectly enhanced by the tower of Perveril Castle perched atop a sheer cliff. I believe the gorge is the remains of a collapsed river cave system and in times of rain the rocky path becomes a small running stream, meaning care must be taken on the slippery wet limestone rocks. There are small side caves suspended above the valley floor, on the flanks of the gorge, indicating how the cave system may have been quite complex in millennia gone by. 

After a while (after the path has dropped in height quite considerably) the sides narrow significantly and then, all of a sudden, it emerges right out onto the streets of Castleton. The contrast is remarkable, going from drop dead gorgeous scenery, to drop dead gorgeous Peak District Village with 20100425-09_Castleton Village by gary.haddenits understated stone buildings, village greens, small shops, youth hostel and pubs all crowded around the centrally placed church. I love it. I don’t think I could ever tire of visiting here, even given the understandably high number of tourists that throng the place at times.  It’s a real honey pot of a place for visitors. Castleton also has a sizeable car-park and tourist info’ centre and public loos which is where we set off for and nearby was a shop selling ice creams so our short rest stop was extended a small amount whilst we enjoyed the treat in the sunshine. Whilst walking on the edge of the village, we passed a sign advertising the show caves of Peak cavern. In the past I’m sure it was sufficient to just advertise “Peak Cavern” but now it seems this is not enough and they’ve now tagged it “The Devil’s Arse!” … to my mind this is decidedly crass; The cave is a geological wonder and to me it’s a shame to reduce 20100425-10_Fascinated by The Devils Arse-Peak Cavern by gary.haddenit to such a base description; But, what do I know?, I’m just a hydraulic manifold block designer; what do I know about advertising?! Sorry, still don’t like it though! 

From Castleton we then headed out on a path climbing past the other show caves of “Speedwell”, “Treak Cliff” and “Blue John” caverns, crossing the Winnats Pass road in the process and rising quite considerably out of The Hope Valley in the process. The route was heading up towards the uniquely shaped hill of Mam Tor. The eastern flank of Mam Tor has over the years slipped away in a series of landslides destroying the old road (now replaced by the one through Winnats Pass) and also in the process forming the distinctive profile that’s so easily recognised. 20100425-11_Crossing rough grassland-Below Mam Tor by gary.haddenOnce fully out of the valley, our route turned up through rough grassy moorland steepening rapidly to climb alongside the sheer face of Mam Tor, the striations of the loose carboniferous shale and sandstone layers in plain view, indicating why the hill is so unstable. The climb certainly raised the heart rate (and the lactic acid in the old legs), but although steep it didn’t last long and we’d soon crossed through the earthworks of the ancient hill fort near the top to reach the summit trig-point. The views from here are superb in all directions and definitely and always worth the exertions to get here. (By the way, there is a very much easier route up20100425-12_Steep ascent of Mam Tor by gary.hadden from a car park less than ½ a mile away – if you want the easy option). Mam Tor, The Ridge of Rushup Edge, and The Great Ridge along to Lose Hill mark a change from The White Peak to the south and The Dark Peak to the north. It was The Great Ridge that we were to follow, downhill on a flagged path, heading north to start with and then swinging round to the east in a wide arc affording fantastic views over The Hope Valley (with Castleton nestled in the bottom) and across The Vale of Edale to the mass of Kinder Scout on the other side. I absolutely love walking this ridge and would do it again tomorrow, at the drop of a hat if I could!

20100425-14_Heading away from Mam Tor on The Great Ridge by gary.haddenThe extremely well used path (hence the flag pathing) drops to a saddle called Hollins Cross which sits midway between Castleton and Edale Villages. At least seven paths converge here, at the lowest point along the crest, and as such it nearly always has a good number of people milling about – it’s a natural picnic spot given the right timings on a walk. Today however, there didn’t seem to be many fellow walkers about and the view along the ridge was superb, with Hollins Cross being backed by Barker Bank, Back Tor and in the far distance Lose Hill. I can’t say it enough, the views are just fantastic here and the scene was enhanced by contrasting sunshine and dark clouds, the resulting shadows picking up the contours of the surrounding hills and dales brilliantly. I just love it!

20100425-15_Looking along The Great Ridge to Lose Hill from near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-16_Heading along The Great Ridge near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-17_Edale Valley and Kinder Scout from near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-19_Hollins Farm-Edale-Back Tor behind by gary.hadden

All too soon, we reached Hollins Cross and promptly turned left to descend away from the ridge on a path dropping quickly to Hollins Farm.

The farm is in a superb setting but had a rather scruffy feel about its immediate surroundings, not helped by the ram shackled and rather ineffective looking fence that had been cobbled together using corrugated iron sheeting and old wooden pallets, loosely held together with some rusty barbed wire :-

                                              Not an attractive look! 


20100425-20_Drop into Edale-Kinder Scout Plateaux on horizon by gary.hadden

20100425-21_View across Edale to Mam Tor from Ollerbrook Clough by gary.haddenFrom here, we picked up a farm track, still dropping steadily; to cross The River Noe in the valley bottom and soon after, reached the only road running the length of The Vale of Edale. We had to turn right along the road for a few hundred yards before turning left again up another track to soon cross over a railway and then continue northwards to Ollerbrook Booth; and then continuing in the same direction (now a permissive path) climbing alongside the Oller Brook, the path steepening as we went.  The views back over the valley to Mam Tor and The Great Ridge were again absolutely brilliant. 

20100425-22_Stormy Clouds above The Nab-Edale by gary.hadden

20100425-24_Acscent towards Ringing Roger on Kinder Scout Massive by gary.haddenAfter a short while, rather than carry straight on up the hillside, we turned left on a narrow path (just above a wall) to contour around the hillside. On my map this is a faint black dotted line, indicating the path is on the ground but not actually a right of way. Not that that mattered because we were now above the intake wall and now had open access to the huge southern flank of the Kinder Scout massive. The easy gradient wasn’t to last long though as we reached The Nab and turned north once again to immediately start climbing quite steeply rapidly rising above the valley below. 

20100425-26_Grindsbrook Clough-Kinder Scout from below Ringing Roger by gary.haddenAs we climbed, a super view over Grindsbrook Clough emerged to the west, encapsulating the feel of Kinder Scout perfectly and brought back memories of my very first proper hill walk (I was a very green 18-year old and the climb in the mist and rain was … errmm … an experience).

Still, something must have gotten under my skin, coz I’m still walking up hills nearly 30 years later). 

20100425-28_Rock Outcrops-Ringing Roger-Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.haddenThis was to be our last significant climb of the day and although only about half a mile long I found the top (and steepest) bit really quite taxing. It was as if someone had suddenly tied a set of lead weights on my legs, not nice and not helped by a few drops of rain in the air either. However the scenery was worth the climb upon reaching the top at Ringing Roger; the gritstone rocks here are sculpted by the weather into fantastical shapes. With a little bit of imagination and maybe a squint of your eyes you can make out all sorts of shapes, like dinosaurs and bee-hives or just intricate patterns, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. 

20100425-31_Lose Hill-Edale Valley-Edale Youth Hostel by gary.haddenThe top of Kinder is a bleak wild place and it’s said people are divided into two camps: you either love it or loathe it. Generally I’ve favoured the softer White Peak area over The Dark Peak but I do love the Derbyshire Gritstone Edges, so it seems I have a foot in both camps. Our route from the rocks of Ringing Roger was to follow the southern edge of The Kinder Plateau (in a generally eastern direction) on a narrow but plainly visible path through the heather moorland. I really liked the subtle colours all around juxtaposed with the bright man-made colours of our water-proofs, all of which seemed to be intensified by the rain that had now properly rolled in whilst still having bursts of bright sunshine, all at the same time. 

20100425-29_Heading East on the southern edges of the Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.hadden

20100425-30_Heading East on the southern edges of the Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.hadden

20100425-32_Guard of honour_A-party passing B-Party on Kinder Plateaux by gary.haddenThe going was now easy, and my legs soon kicked off the lead weights of the recent climb and the pace fairly bowled along, so much so that we caught up with and passed through the B-party who had been walking ahead of us (they’d taken a shorter route from Peak Forest to Mam Tor, missing out Cave Dale, Castleton and the climb out of The Hope Valley).

As a bit of fun the B-team members divided either side of the path almost like a guard of honour and then regaled us with jokey comments as we passed by … including my sister and bro-in-law that I hadn’t seen since leaving Peak Forest all those miles before.


20100425-33_Crossing Gully-Crookstone Outmoor-Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.haddenAnyway, we continued on, the path pretty much on the level, with the occasional ups and downs where streams crossed our path, the big lump of Kinder Moorland to our left counterpointed by the drop down into The Edale Valley on our right.

After crossing over Crookstone Out Moor we kind of branched right to descend steadily to Crookstone Hill our surroundings softening as we went. 

20100425-34_Twin Peaks of Crook Hill from Crookstone Hill-Near Ladybower by gary.haddenIt’s worth noting that at one point, we were walking directly towards the twin peaks of Crook Hill in the distance. Unbeknown at the time, the right hand peak would be the first climb of the next and final leg of this west-east traverse of the Peak District in March 2011, almost a year later [I’ve already published that walks diary, so you may have read it already].

20100425-35_Woodlands Valley-Near Hope Cross by gary.hadden

20100425-37_River Ashop-Woodlands Valley-Ladybower by gary.haddenGetting back to this walk, we were losing height quite quickly and had by now left the wild moors behind. The scenery was then to change completely, when, at Hope Cross, we took a left turn onto a footpath entering coniferous woodland. The path steepened through the trees to emerge into the open at a bridge over a river. The river is probably either The River Alport or more likely The River Ashop [my map is inconclusive at this point] but one thing is for sure, it was a pretty little spot; the water here flows into the top of the western arm of Ladybower Reservoir. 20100425-39_A57 Snake Road-Woodland Valley-Near Ladybower by gary.haddenThe walk was very nearly over and all that remained was to walk up a track to join the A57 Snake Road and then just a tiny bit of very careful road walking past the head of the man-made lake to find the coach. 

We in the A-party had managed to get back before the next shower of rain rolled in, unfortunately the B-party got caught and finished the walk a little damp. Despite this we’d all had yet another superb MHW walk. 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

T.T.F.N. Gary.