7th April – Flouch to Marsden

20190407 Winscar Reservoir with misty moors behind
Winscar Reservoir with misty moors behind

I woke to find the mist and clag clamped down over the moors.  I managed to negotiate a slightly earlier breakfast and left the pub at 8.50.

Initially heading back east on the A628, I then crossed Thurlstone Moor to join the Trans-Pennine Trail to Dunford Bridge.  Passing Winscar Reservoir I climbed over the ridge on the Kirklees Trail, before dropping down to Brownhill Reservoir, just about able to see Holmfirth in the distance.

20190407 Holmfirth in the mist
Holmfirth in the mist

Passing the village of Holme, I climbed up and around Hey Clough and descended to Marsden Clough before climbing again to Wessenden Head.

20190407 Descending to Marsden Clough
Descending to Marsden Clough

At this point I joined the Pennine Way for the first time going down past the Upper Wessenden Reservoir before leaving the Way and taking the higher Deer Hill Conduit Path.  This gave easy walking and superb views over Butterley Reservoir all the way to Marsden.  I reached the town at 4.10.

20190407 Butterley Reservoir from the Deer Cut Conduit Path
Butterley Reservoir from the Deer Hill Conduit Path

I had organised to meet Wyn at Huddersfield Station and for once all the plans worked out.  I arrived from Marsden only 15 minutes before Wyn.  We took a taxi to our accommodation and have enjoyed a good dinner and conversation.

20190407 Harold Wilson's statue at Huddersfield Station
Harold Wilson’s statue outside Huddersfield Station

Today was a bit of a nothing day.  The scenery was nothing to write home about, and was mostly obscured by low cloud.  After the highlights of the last two days it was uninspiring.  Tomorrow we head for Hebden Bridge, and then have the Pennine Way to look forward to.

6th April – Moscar to Flouch

20190406 Neil with the reservoir in the background
Beside Ladybower Reservoir

Carl and I left the Ladybower Inn at 8.50 and set out to walk the length of the Ladybower Reservoir, best known as the training ground for the Dambusters Raid.

20190406 Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill
Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill

We kept noticing race signs, and shortly before the second dam a Marshall explained that 500 mountain bikers were about to arrive.  Knowing that the bikers were unlikely to take any prisoners, we put on a bit of a spurt until the next dam.  Once past the dam and off the race route, we could relax, and were amused by a curious sign on the gate of Ladybower Lodge.

20190406 Sign on Ladybower Lodge gate
You have been warned…

Near here we met the first of several groups of young people practicing for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Expedition.  These charming young ladies had left their camp at 6.00am and had walked most of the way around the lake.  They were very polite and cheerful, and it was encouraging to find some young people taking pleasure in the outdoors.

20190406 Approaching the Slippery Stones
Approaching the Slippery Stones

We gradually gain height on our 10k walk up the reservoir, but at Slippery Stones the easy part of the day was over, and we now had to climb up Cranberry Clough to Cut Gate and Midhope Moors.  This proved to be a popular route and I saw more walkers today than in the previous eight days combined.

20190406 Carl nearing the summit of Howden Hill
Carl nearing the summit of Howden Hill

The weather gradually improved and we were now bathed in sunshine.  After a little boggy ground at the top of Mickleden Edge, the path improved and we descended to Langsett Reservoir for a late lunch.

20190406 Langsett reservoir
Langsett reservoir

A quick walk through some woods led us out onto the A628 only 300m from the Dog and Partridge Inn.  We arrived almost exactly 6 hours after leaving the Ladybower Inn.

Carl managed to phone Doug, who turned up as Carl and I were finishing our second round of tea.  More tea was needed, and then it was time for them to depart.  It has been a real pleasure to have spent the past two days with Carl and Doug, and I just want to express my appreciation and thanks for all their kindness, help, and encouragement.

20190405 Carl Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge
Good companions – Carl, Doug and Lily the dog

5th April – Hathersage to Moscar

20190405 Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge
Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge

Today was a semi rest day so I met my friends Carl and Doug for breakfast at the Inn and Carl and I left at 9.50 to walk up to Stanage Edge.

20190405 Looking down on Hathersage from near Court Farm
Looking down on Hathersage from near Court Farm

The route took us past the church and then up steeply through a wood to Court Farm.  To spare Carl and me embarrassment I will only say that we were busy talking and failed to notice that instead of going up we were going down.  We finally realised that we had gone wrong when we arrived back at the church!  Try again.  Back up the 200m of ascent to Court Farm.  Here we found a way sign, carefully placed so that it was behind us, which showed the path went up a paved driveway into what appeared to be the grounds of a very expensive house.  Back on the correct route we quickly joined Doug and his dog Lily at the Stanage car park for a much needed cup of tea.

20190405 Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge 2
Stanage Edge

Doug and Lily joined us for the walk along the top of the Edge.  Lily took her ball, which she insisted we kick for her to chase.

20190405 Neil Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge
Neil, Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge

The weather was good and we all enjoyed our walk.  Unfortunately Lily’s ball seemed to be irresistibly attracted to the bottom of the cliff.  Doug retrieved it the first time and then I had to clamber down.  Regrettably on this occasion the ball was lost.

20190405 Searching for Lily's ball
Neil searching for Lily’s ball

Doug and Lily left us after a while and Carl and I continued past the trig point at High Neb to the A57.

20190405 Neil at the trig point on High Neb
At the trig point on High Neb

We turned down towards Ladybower Reservoir and found a good path, via Highshaw Clough, to emerge at the Inn.

Carl and I booked into our room and then we went to Hathersage where we all had delicious fish and chips at the Pool Cafe.

We forced ourselves to have a couple of drinks in the bar and then had an early night.  It had been a very relaxing and memorable day.

Here are a couple more shots of the day’s walking.  All photos today have been kindly provided by Doug and Carl.

20190405 Neil and Doug on Stanage Edge
Neil and Doug on Stanage Edge
20190405 Stanage Edge
The gritstone escarpment that is Stanage Edge

4th April – Youlgreave to Hathersage

20190404 Chatsworth house
Today’s highlight – Chatsworth

Today has been one of ups and downs.  The weather forecast for the afternoon was very poor, so naturally I could not get breakfast before 8.30 and the shop in the village was closed for repairs.

20190404 River Lathkill
The River Lathkill

I left Youlgreave at 9.10 and immediately dropped down into Lathkill Dale, crossing the river via a packhorse bridge.  I then climbed over the ridge to walk down into the valley of the River Wye at Haddon Hall.  This was the home of William Peverel, the illegitimate son of William the Conquerer.

20190404 Haddon Hall
Haddon Hall, veiled in mist

The route circled around the grounds of Haddon Hall, passing some very impressive cows, before climbing over another ridge and descending into the Derwent Valley near Chatsworth.

20190404 Cows with big horns
Cows with big horns, where I like to see them – in the next field!

The views of Chatsworth were magnificent and I enjoyed the walk through the Deer Park and the extensive grounds.

20190404 Chatsworth house from the deerpark
Chatsworth viewed from the deerpark

Leaving Chatsworth the weather started to deteriorate so I stopped to don wet weather gear.  Suitably clad I continued to Baslow where I had a coffee and bought some lunch.

At Baslow I reviewed my options.  The guidebook route was up over the gritstone edges of Baslow, Curbar and Froggatt. I know these well from climbing trips and a recent visit. Given the poor forecast it seemed wiser to take a low level route and so I choose the Derwent Heritage Way, part of which I knew from a recent MAC trip. This would also be faster.

At 2.00 I stopped near Froggatt village for lunch and it started to rain in earnest. As I watched Froggatt Edge disappear into the gloom I was pleased with my decision.

Walking beside the River Derwent was enjoyable despite the rain, and I think that I saw two mergansers near Curbar.  Leaving the Derwent I climbed up to Hathersage arriving around 3.30.  As there are plenty of gear shops I was able to replace my lost hat on the way to my accommodation.

20190404 Red deer at Chatsworth
Red deer at Chatsworth

I am overjoyed to be back in Derbyshire and especially in the Peak Park.  The paths are well-signed and tend to exist on the ground, which is more than can be said for those in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Tomorrow my friend Carl is joining me for a couple of days, which will be great.  I am also taking a semi-rest day and only have around 10k to walk.  In the past week I have covered around 190k, about 20% of the total to Dunnet Head. Over the next few days the distances are less but there will be more hills.  Thankfully the weather looks better for tomorrow.

3rd April – Thorpe to Youlgreave

20190403 Sunrise at Thorpe
Sunrise at Thorpe

I left the Izaak Walton Hotel at 8.20 in bright sunshine, for a day walking in many of the limestone dales.

20190403 Stepping-stones Dovedale
Stepping-stones, Dovedale

The route started by going up Dovedale.  The scenery was stunning and it seemed churlish to hurry in such a place.  Tissington Spires, Ilam Rock, Raven’s Tor and Dove Holes were passed and admired.

20190403 Ilam Rock Dovedale
Ilam Rock, Dovedale

I entered the pretty village of Milldale over an old packhorse bridge.

20190403 Packhorse bridge
Packhorse bridge, Milldale

I had not seen a soul to this point which must be highly unusual in such a tourist hot-spot.  Unfortunately the small shop was closed, which was a problem as I had very little food with me.

20190403 Upper Dovedale
Upper Dovedale

I continued up Dovedale, before turning into Biggin Dale, admiring the dippers which were busy fishing in the river.

20190403 Biggindale
Biggin Dale

Reaching the Waterloo Inn at Biggin at 11.45, I decided to wait for the pub to open and have an early lunch.  Walkers are made very welcome there, and I had an excellent beef sandwich with a pot of tea.

20190403 Waterloo Inn at Biggin
Waterloo Inn, Biggin

An hour later I walked on towards Gratton Dale, another deep limestone valley.  The curlews were calling which I always find raises the spirits.

20190403 Grattondale
Gratton Dale

At this point I had to change maps, so when I discovered a kilometre later that I had lost my hat, I was confident that I knew where I had dropped it.  Half an hour later I was back, but without the hat.

I soon entered Bradford Dale which was a disappointment after the previous dales.  It was very damp and gloomy, and the river has been much changed by man.

20190403 Bradford dale
Bradford dale

By this time it was trying to rain and hail, but luckily Youlgreave and the George Hotel were very near.  I arrived at 4.45 after an excellent walk, which made up for the miseries of the previous day.

And finally…  two more shots of lovely Dovedale: Raven’s Tor, and the mysterious Dove Holes.

2nd April – Abbots Bromley to Thorpe

20190402 Dove Valley
Today’s destination – Dovedale

After an early breakfast, and thanks to a lift from my landlady, I set off at 8.15 on one of the longest sections of my trip.

20190402 Stile near Ellishall Farm
At least this stile was interesting…

The route to Uttoxeter follows the Staffordshire Way but is described as being the the low point of the whole trail.  “The path follows the edge of huge fields and the walking is monotonous and the scenery featureless.”  So it proved; and to add to the pleasures of the day it was cold and raining.  Definitely a time just to pound out the miles.

Uttoxeter eventually appeared and was left behind via a path through the racecourse.

Next came my first encounter this trip with my bovine friends. I am not sure why they only appear when I have to cut straight across large fields. This herd included some very fine Old English cattle with huge horns and calves. Luckily they were friendly.

20190402 Arkwright's Mill
Arkwright’s Mill at Rocester

Crossing the A50 I entered Derbyshire for the first time and headed for Rocester. Here I passed Arkwright’s Mill – now the JCB academy – and could see the JCB factory which dominates the town.  A handy seat at Rocester Church proved a good place for lunch.

20190402 Rochester church
Rocester church

The weather had now improved and the walk alongside the River Dove was enjoyable. Leaving the village of Ellastone I made my way up to The Hutts Farm.  Here I made a fatal decision.  I was now on the Limestone Way high up on a ridge but the way is not signed.  The guide route left the Limestone Way at this point to drop down to the Ordley Brook Valley.

20190402 Path near Ordley brook
Quagmire and fallen trees on the “good” path

The route description states ” There is an excellent route along the wooded valley bottom, although it is occasionally wet underfoot, the wood is a delight to walk through and mostly very easy walking”.   I went that way.   There followed about 3km of the worst conditions of the whole trip. The path is a quagmire of mud with fallen trees and clinging brambles. When I finally reach a road the relief was palpable.  Even the guidebook’s author admitted that the route proposed from the road was worse so an alternative had to be found.  I therefore walked back up to the Limestone Way on the road to find good conditions and much better scenery!!

A little road walking, during which it started to snow, took me to Woodhouses and soon Coldwall Bridge and Dovedale were in sight. I arrived at the Izaak Walton Hotel at 6.00 after 35k and an almost 10-hour day.

20190402 River Dove at Ellastone Bridge
The River Dove at Ellastone bridge

A few minutes later my sister-in-law Susan arrived with husband Michael and treated me to a delicious dinner.  I slept well.