Castleton

For the last day of my little break, I’d hoped to slot in another walk before heading over to Hope to catch the train back home. The weather forecast was, however, not looking so promising. Although I woke up to bright sunshine heavy rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. So not wanting to get caught up on the hills in a heavy downpour a change of plan was in order. I decided I’d wander over to Castleton village and have a mooch. Although I’d been to Castleton a few times I’ve never looked around the village properly, so that seemed like a good option before I walked back across the fileds to Hope station.

Castleton is located at the end of the Hope valley, on the boundary of the Millstone Grit plateau of the Dark Peak to the north and the limestone landscape of the White Peak. hemmed in by the “Great Ridge” to the north and limestone hills to the west and south, it would be a dead end except for the dramatic Winnats Pass and Cave Dale, steep sided valleys cutting through the limstone.

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A close up shot towards Winnat’s Pass

It’s an old settlement, going way back to before the Norman Conquest. There were certainly people around here before the Ronans, with the remains of an Iron Age fort still visible on top of MamTor. After 1086 the area came under the control of William Peveril, allegedly an illigmitate son of William the Bastard, who had a castle constructed overlooking the village – it’s ruins remain today under the stewardship of English Heritage.

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Peveril’s castle on the hill overlooking the village

Although today it’s a “honeypot” attracting droves of tourists, walkers, cyclists and cavers, it was originally a working village, the main industry being mining for lead, other metals and the fluorite banded mineral known as “Blue John“. There’ several shops selling jewellry and trinkets using the attractive blue and yellow stone.

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It was a relatively short, pleasant walk through the fields from the hostel on a sunny morning. I fancied a coffee, but none of the cafes opened until at least 9:30, so I had a wander around the narrow streets of the village. There were plenty of attractive stone cottages that would have once been the homes of miners and other workers.

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The war memorial cross
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A closer look at the memorial

When you’re in the village, you can’t fail to notice a huge cavern set back in the hillside. This the Peak Cavern, one of the four show caves near the village, although that’s not it’s original name. Until a visit by Queen Victoria it was known as the ‘Devil‘s Arse’. In the past the cave system was mined and later there was a rope works here. In more recent time, as well as being opened as a tourist attractions, it’s been used as a concert venue and a cinema.

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After wandeing around I was ready for a coffee so indulged at the cafe attached to the Visitor Centre, by the main car park. There were several frustrated motorists looking for change as the car park doesn’t accept payments by card and since the events of the past 18 months people are less likely to be carrying coins in their pockets.

Refuelled with caffeine I set off on the walk back to Hope to catch the midday train.

Menacing clouds were gathering over the hills to the west

It’s a pleasant walk through the fields with views over to the Great Ridge.

The clouds continued to move in and were starting to look menacing as I approached the train station. This was the view looking back

I boarded my train just as the cloud moved in. The train headed straight towards it and as it emerged from the tunnel at Chinley the heavens opened.

We’d passed through the cloud by the time we reached Manchester Piccadilly where I just made the connection to Wigan. It was sunny by the time I got home. But that was the end of the good weather for a while – all changed the next day!.

First time on Kinder

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Yesterday was the 12 th August, the so called “Glorious twelfth” when artistocratic landowners and their wealthy friends and clients ascend the moors to start blasting grouse with their shotguns. Until relatively recently, landowners would ban the hoi poloi from enjoying the largely empty extensive tracts of moorland – all year round not just during the shooting season – to allegedly protect their investment (i.e. the birds). It was only the enactment of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act) that granted a public right of access to land mapped as ‘open country’ (mountain, moor, heath and down) or registered common land, known as ‘open access land’. It took many years of camapigning to achieve this right and given that most landowners weren’t exactly keen on the idea, it required more than gentle persuasion. In the 19th and 20th Century direct action was taken by more groups who organised “tresspasses”, the most well known being the one organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation, supported by radical walkers from Sheffield, on Kinder Scout April in 1932.

The Kinder Tresspassers Source: https://kindertrespass.org.uk/kinder-mass-trespass-history/

Now being something of a radical myself, I’ve been rather remiss in never having been up on Kinder (prononced Kin-der and not Kind-er), although I’ve looked over it from the “Great Ridge” on the occassions I’ve walked over there. But on the second day of my recen short stay in castleton, I put that right, of a sort as I didn’t follow the route of the famous trespass.

Kinder isn’t really like your typical mountain, rather it’s an extensive elevated plateau of peat moorland and there are a number of access points and criss crossed by many paths. It’s popular and I expected the routes up from the western end of Edale, near the station, on a fine summer’d day, would be busy. I had in mind a route I’d considered once before after my first ascent of Win Hill in January 2020 when I considered following the path over to and then on to the eastern side of the Kinder plateau. At the time, in the midst of winter, I’d though better of trudging through what was likely to be a morass of wet peat, which was probably the sensible decision. But in ealy August I reckoned the risk of being swallowed by the bogs would be low so I planned a route from the hostel, going across to Hope, where I could pick up a sandwich for my dinner, then taking the path that (probably) follows the course of a Roman Road, up to Hope Cross. I then climbed the relatively gentle gradient up Edale Moor, the eastern end of the plateau, via Crookstone Hill.

Making my way up the “Roman Road”
View across to Lose Hill from the “Roman Road”
and over to Kinder
Getting closer to Kinder
Looking across the valley of Edale to the Great Ridge
Hope Cross

Hope Cross, is a guide stoop, an ancient way marker to guide travellers such as over the moors. It’s about 7 feet high and dates from at least 1737. The names of 4 nearby towns – Hope, Edale, Glossop and Sheffield, are carved into the headstone. Facing the name, travellers would turn right to head in the right direction, so they were used in a different way to the more familiar fingerposts.

Looking back from Hope Cross
Continuing on to the moor
The way to Crookstone
Starting to climb
Crookstone Hill ahead
Millstone grit outcops – reaching the top of the climb

I then followed the path that hugged the edge of the moor diverting a little to have a look at the “Druid’s stone” where I stopped for a bite to eat.

The path along the edge of the plateau
Looking down Jagger’s Clough. Nothing to do with the Rolling Stones, mind. A jagger was a packhorse driver, many of whom would traverse the moors. The name ” Jagger”is, apparently, derived from a breed of packhorses, the ‘Jaeger’ imported from Germany
Looking across to back Tor and the Great Ridge
The “Druid’s Stone”
A closer look
Looking along the plateau
Approaching Ringing Roger

It was very quiet on the way up – I passed only one couple between Hope and the gritstone rock formations known as “Ringing Roger”.

The peculiarly named collection of millstone grit tors probably gets it’s name from is a corruption of the French word for rock; “Rocher” and the “ringing” echoes off the tors.

Millstone tors at Ringing Roger
View from Ringing Roger

I could have descended from here down into the valley to Grindsbrook Booth, the main settlement in Edale, but it ws not long after midday and on a fine day I decided to carry on along the path along the edge. It was noticeably busier now as I was approaching the parts of the moor popular with walkers starting from Grindsbrook Booth.

Looking across to Grindsbrook Clough and Grindslow Knoll
Looking across to Nether Tor and Upper Tor
Carrying on laong the path
Looking down to Edale valley and the great Ridge
Rock formations at Upper Tor
Looking back
Looking down Grindsbrook Clough

The path did a “dog leg” as I crossed over the top of the dramatic Grindsbrook Clough. This is a popular route up on to Kinder from Edale requiring some scrambling up a steep rocky gorge along a stream. I considered going down this way, but thought better of it (didn’t trust my balance and dodgy knees) so i continued on towards Grindslow Knoll, one of the higher points on the southern part of the plateau.

The “Mushroom stone”
Looking back across the clough from Grindslow Knoll
Looking across the clough to Higher Tor
Starting my descent
The view across Edale

It was generally a good path down to the valley, although there were some steep and rocky sections (no scree, though!).

Reaching the bottom of the valley

I followed a nice gentle path across the fields towards Grindsbrook Booth, the main settlement in Edale, joining the route of the Pennine Way!

The start of the Pennine Way

I always thought the Nags head, a few yards further on, was the official start, but there you are, perhaps they’ve decided to change it.

I stopped for a brew and slice of cake at the campsite cafe

Just what I needed!

and after a rest had a quick look round the small settlement

and then walked down past the church, the railway station and the main car park and made my way to the path that would take me up over Hollins Cross and back towards Castleton.

I was starting to feel tired by now but this was a necssry obstacle to get back tot he hostel.

Looking up to Hollins Cross
Looking back to Kinder

Looking back down I could see the old Edale Mill. A water powered cotton mill established in 1795 and only closing around 1940, today its been converted into fancy, expensive, appartments. During its time as a working mill, many of the workers lived in or near Castleton on the other side of the pass and they had to make their way up and down over the ridge twice a day and, unlike me who was lucky in having a peasant sunny day, would have to do this in all sorts of conditions all through the year.

Eventually my tiring legs reached the top of the pass

The top of Hollins Cross
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Looking back across edale to Kinder

and then I started my descent towards Castleton.

Heading down to Castleton
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Mam Tor over to the right
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Zooming in on Winnat’s Pass
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Zooming over towards Peveril’s castle

Reaching the bottom of the pass I followed a quiet track and path through fields back towards Lose Hill Hall.

A welcome sight after a long walk!

My route

It had been a long day, but a good one. I’d had my first experience of the Kinder plateau, but there’s much more to explore on the western and northern sides, including the Trespass route (including Kinder Downfall and Kinder Low) , the northern edge and Fairbrok Naze. Since I got back I’ve been doing my research and further visits are on the cards.

Bamford Edge and Win Hill

Trying to make the most of a quieter period at work during the summer months, I took a chance and booked another short break in a Youth Hostel, this time in the Peak District. Although not so far from home, I’ve never enjoyed driving there. I need to get round Manchester on what is usually a busy Motorway (due to everyone commuting into the city) and then the drive down the A6 through a number of Stockport suburbs and former industrial villages on the edge of Derbyshire can be a pain. It always seems easier driving north up to the Lakes, the Howgills or the Westmoreland Dales and, to be honest, the landscape is more interesting and the walking is better. But the Peak District has it’s attractions and the Edale and Hope Valleys are accessible by train avoiding the drive and the need for finding a parking spot (although, that does require changing at Manchester Piccadilly) and I’d taken that option a few times over the years. So, having managed to book a room at the Lose Hill Hall hostel near Castleton, and as the family car wasn’t available, I packed up my larger rucksac, boarded the train from Wigan Wallgate and set off for a couple fo nights. I was lucky with the weather and manged to get in a couple of days good walking before the black clouds and heavy rain arrived on the Wednesday.

The area is on the boundary between the peaty moors and millstone grit edges of the Dark Peak and the limstone landscape of the White Peak so the hills and valleys are different in character to those up in Cumbria. There isn’t the equivalent of the “Wainwrights” – although the Great Ridge and parts of the Kinder plateau can rival the popular Lakeland fells for the number of walkers. As usual, I’d pored over the OS map and consulted a few guidebooks in advance of the trip and had plotted out a couple of routes with an option for a third day. I’d walked the Great Ridge from Lose Hill (close to Hope station) to Mam Tor a few times, so this time wanted to do something different. I’ve found the two little Vertebrate walking guides very useful along with another book, The South Yorkshire Moors by Christopher Goddard with it’s hand drawn maps and interesting snippets of information. Of course, the Peak District is mainly in Derbyshire as is the area covered by the book! Now isn’t that just typical of someone from Yorkshire. Not satisified with it being the largest county in England they have to cheekily purloin parts of other counties and claim them as their own. 🤣 (I’d also recommend his book on the West Yorkshire Moors – which, in that case, actually are in Yorkshire!) I don’t necessarily stick rigidly to the suggested routes, but use them to give me ideas and inspiration.

I booked a return ticket to Bamford. I’d be returning from Hope but it was cheaper than buying two singles. My plan was to walk up across Bamford Edge, then over Win Hill down to Hope and then on to the hostel at Castleton. (Route). Alighting at Bamford station it was actually almost a mile down the road from the village. So a walk up the tarmac was required having decided against extending the route to avoid it. At the village I turned down a road that would climb steeply up towards the Edge. I hadn’t gone too far up the road when I spotted a sign telling me that the road and path were closed. It was being resurfaced. The workmen were having their dinner in their cabin so I had a quick word and, fortunately they told me that they’d completed the work that morning and I could proceed without a diversion.

The road was very steep and I was carrying a larger than usual ruscksack as I had packed for a two night stay. But I managed to keep on going taking the occassional stop to take a look at anything that caught my eye – like this sculpture by the side of the road (any excuse for a blow!).

Looking up towards the Edge. Grey cloud was looming but the forecast was reasonable. It was warm, but not too warm, and the risk of rain was low despite the thick cloud cover.

Reaching the road that runs across the lower reaches of the hills I crossed over the stile aonto the moorland proper

and carried on climbing.

These grit stone edges though, are flat topped hills flanked by steep gritstone cliffs, so after a relatively short climb it was easier going.

It was quite busy with groups of families and friends, many of them who probably parked up on the road below the edge so hadn’t had to climb too far and were clustered at the two major cliffs at the top of the path..

Looking across the valley I could see Win Hill and over to mam Tor and the Great Ridge as well as the great bulk of Kinder.

Carrying on along the path I was soon away from the crowds, encountering only the occasional walker

Looking down I had a good view of Ladybower reservoir

and straight ahead I could see Derwent Edge.

But my route wouldn’t take me over there, I was looking for the path that did a bit of a dog leg and descended down to the end of the reservoir. There was a lot of bracken which made it difficult to actually find the path. Reaching a stream (they’re not “becks” down in Derbyshire) the map told me I’d gone too far. Retracing my steps I spotted a trace of a path through the bracken so took my chance – it was the right one.

I descended down thick bracken and then more pleasant woodland

until I reached the main road directly across from the Ladybower dam.

Looking back towards Bamford Edge

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I crossed over the dam and there was another one of those carved stones.

I took a path through the woods. It was easy going at first but then a sharp right turn and I was climbing very steeply up the flanks of Win Hill.

It was tricky in places and I wouldn’t have been keen on coming down this way. I eventually emerged onto moor land with the summit of Win Hill in view. Black cloud was looming. Rain was defintitely coming my way.

I reached the summit

I’d been up here once before, climbing up from Hope station, back in January 2020, when the Covid was just something in China that we’d heard about in the news. Nothing to worry about (if only). Despite the grey skies and flat light that wasn’t so conducive to photography, the views were excellent in every direction.

(We’ll pretend the Hope cement works isn’t there!)

As I stopped to take in the views and have a bite to eat, the rain arrived. It wasn’t heavy but it was time to put on my waterproof coat and attach the rain cover to my rucksack.

After a while I started to make my way down the hill towards the village of Hope with views of the Great Ridge under dark cloud before me. It was a steep descent in places, hard work on the knees.

Reaching the village the rain had eased off and I stopped of at a cafe for a brew and a flapjack. Rested I set off towards Castleton, passing the old Pinfold before taking the path that follows the river in the direction of Castleton.

Pinfolds were used to hold sheep that had strayed from their owner’s land. A fine then had to be paid for their release. The one in Hope is in good condition and was in use as late as 1967.

The path travered pleasant fields with good views over to the hills. The last time I’d been down this path the fields were drenched and for most of the way the path was so muddy it felt like I was walking through the trenches on the Somme. But it was quite different this time

Reaching Casltleton, a short walk along the road and then a long driveway and I’d arrived at my digs for the next couple of nights

A walk from Winster

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The final day of my short break in the Peak District I followed another route from the Vertebrate Day Walks in the Peak District guide. Setting out from the former lead mining village of Winster, taking in woodland, heath, an ancient stone circle, gritstone rock formations and Elton, another former mining village. For at least part of this walk I would have been walking in the footsteps of some of my ancestors – my family history research had revealed that a great x 7 and great x 6 grandfathers had been born in Elton and my great x7 grandmother had been born in Winster. It’s likely that this branch of my tree originated a little further north, near High Wheeldon where I’d climbed two days before.

The family were lead miners and at one time, this part of the world, on the boundary between millstone grit and limstone geology, was lead mining country. My research revealed that, like a number of Derbyshire miners, moved to work in North Wales, in their case at the Minera mine near Wrexham. The father of the family died relatively young by modern standards at about 50. The nature of the work meant that lead miners were exposed to toxic dusts and other dangers and this was typical life expectancy.

I parked up in the free car park on the outskirts of Winster near the local school and after booting up and after a short walk along the road I climbed over a stile and set off across the fields, the grass still wet after the downpours the day before. No rain was forecast and although the sky was grey it brightened up towards the end of my walk.

I passed through a gate and entered the broadleaf woodland

The trees were quite dense and I had to duck under their branches in places.

After climbing up along the path I reached a track and then the route doubled back taking a dog leg through along a path higher up in the woods.

I passed the remains of of water wheel which would probably have been used to drain a former lead mine

I carried on along the path which emerged from the woods meeting a track. After a mile I turned off through fields of cattle and then past a farm and camp site before reaching the edge of Stanton Moor.

Stanton Moor is owned by Stanton Estates and managed by English Nature . The area has been occupied since prehistoric times and there are a large number of ancient monuments scatttered across the landscape, most of them hidden in the heather and undergrowth.

I crossed the moor

passing a number of millstone grit outcrops

passing Victorian folly, built to commemmorate the Reform Bill in 1832.

I eventually reached the Nine Ladies stone circle, an ancient monument in the care of English Heritage.

The names of the monuments derive from their associations with folk traditions, in which it is said that nine women were dancing on the Sabbath to a fiddler – the King Stone – and were turned to stone.

English Heritage
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Time to stop and take a rest and a bite to eat, perching on a gritstone outcrop, and then carried on across the moor passing an old disused quarry

until I reached the “Cork Stone”, on of a number of “megaliths” found on the moor, Supposedly associated with ancient rituals.

The Cork Stone is certainly associated with one more modern ritual – the footholds carved into the rock are evidence of the Victorian version of “bouldering“.

A right turn and a short walk along a path took me off the moor, joining a quiet road. After a relatively short walk on the tarmac , I turned off opposite a stone works, crossed a car park and took a path through the woods until I reached the small village of Birchover.

I took the track past the Druid Inn, which looked like a god place to stop – but I carried on.

The track took me through pleasant farmland

and finally a path through a field.

Crossing the road and then through a field I reached a track which was part of the Limestone Trail. Turning right I follwed this route heading through fields up towards Robin Hood’s Stride.

I took a slight diversion to visit the Hermit’s Cave at the bottom of the Cratcliffe Tor gritstone outcrop

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To be honest, I found it rather underwhelming!

Leaving the cave it was only a short walk to Robin Hood’s Stride, a large gritstone Tor.

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The legendary Robin Hood is supposed to have between the towers at either end of the tor. He must have had extremely long legs!

Time for another rest before carrying on across a field before meeting a minor road. I then had to tread the tarmac for about a mile before climbing over a stile and descending down and then up a path crossing fields of cattle heading towards my ancestral village of Elton.

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On reaching the village, the sun was shining. Given the family connection I had to explore a little. I had a look in the church graveyard but I couldn’t see any gravestones for possible family members. Not so suprising really as they lived in the early 18th Century and being poor lead miners it’s unlikely any ancestors buried here could have afforded a headstone.

I had a wander round the village . There were plenty of old houses, some of which may have been miners’ dwellings, although today they’re desirable and expensive stone cottages.

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The village isn’t very big so it didn’t take long to explore. I carried on along the road before rejoining the Limestone Trail heading towards Winster.

My route took me through the older part of the village, which used to be a market town and larger than Elton

I passed attractive stone cottages that were probably originally the home of the better off miners.

I had a wander down the main street

The village shop is owned by the local Community

The old Market House is in the care of the National Trust and was the first property they aquired in the Peak District back in 1906.

The NT website tells us

The House itself is two storeys high and rests upon a massive stone base. It follows the traditional pattern of such buildings, originally having the whole of the ground floor open with the upper storey supported by five arches. The date at which these arches were filled in is not known but it was probably during the decline of the market, between 1795 and 1855. The upper chamber is mainly of brick resulting in an attractive contrast with the stone arches and facings.

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and the building is listed by English Heritage.

I was starting to feel tierd by now so made my way back to my car. It had been a cracking walk with lots of interest and a good end to an enjoyable break. I headed home hoping to get back in time to watch the England v Germany match on TV. I hadn’t realised it was an early kick off but managed to get home in time to catch the end of the first half.

Down by the Dove

The second day of my little break in the White Peak I’d decided on another walk from one of the little Vertebrate Publishing guide books of walks in the Peak District that would take me along the banks of the Dove, as far as Milldale then back via Alstonefield before returning to Hartington on a higher stretch of the Dove. The weather forecast was a little iffy with rain promised for Hartington late afternoon

The sky was looking moody as I set off along a track directly opposite the hostel, then through a field,

across a narrow road and down another old track (what would have been called a “lonning” in Cumbria)

This is dairy country

then around some fields and down a path leading down hill to the river

and emerging at Wolfscote Dale, a very attractive deep sided valley in the care of the National Trust, runs northwest to southeast and is deep and steep-sided with a series of weirs along the crystal clear waters of the River Dove. A riverside path runs along the Derbyshire bank of the Dove.

The scenery, even on a dull day, was impressive, as I passed a succession of massive limestone outcrops,

and through pleasant meadows and woodland.

At the end of Wolfscote dale the river is diverted west by a limstone mass known as Shining Tor. Search for this on the net and you’ll find plenty of references to a more well known hill of the same name on the moors not far from the Cat and Fiddle on the pass between Macclesfield and Buxton. there was a road crossing a bridge over the river and then running parrallel to it forking with one branch going up hill to Alstonefield.

Although my next waypoint was the attractive riverside village of Milldale, and the easy option was to follow the road, I took the harder, but more attractive option. Turning left I took a path running parallel to the road wending my way in the opposite direction to the village. After a short while Iturned right to take the path up hill to the top of Shining Tor. It was at this point that the heavens opened.

The wet weather was coming up from the south and as that was the direction I’d been walking I’d hit it as it was making it’s way towards Hartington. I expected that I was probably going to get rained on for the rest of the walk.

I donned my cagoule (expecting rain I already had the rain cover over my rucksack) as the rain came down in cats and dogs.

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Reaching the top the path turned west along the top of the ridge. Despite the rain, grey skies and cloud the views down the valley were still pretty good.

Approaching Milldale the path descended steeply. I needed to take care as the limestone rock underfoot can be treachourously slippy in the rain. Time to take my poles out to give me some stability.

A narrow bridge crossed the Dove and led into the small village. An old packhorse bridge known as the Viator’s Bridge, it’s apparently mentioned in The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Milldale is the start of Dovedale, allegedly the most attractive stretch of the river which attracts a million visitors every year and there were quite a few people milling around. I was getting very wet at this point and needed to consult my guidebook. There was a stone shelter but it was already occupied by a few people, a couple of whom looked rather like motor tourists. Being careful of social distancing I tried not to get close and ended up trying to keep my guidebook dry as I consulted it standing half in and half out of the shelter. None of the occupants made any effort to make a little room for me. Rather selfish I thought.

As you’d expect from the name, there used to be a mill here. It wasn’t used to grind corn, though, but minerals mined in the area. Looking at the quaint scenery these days it’s difficult to imaging that this was once an industrial area, as indeed was the case throughout the Peak District. Indeed, even today industry isn’t far away, with a number of large, modern limestone and millstone grit quaries that scar the lanscape in some other parts of the Peak District

Carrying on I passed the attractive stone houses

I knew I had a stretch of road to walk along. It was very quiet, though and passed through a very attractive valley

I’d walked over a mile before I realised I’d gone wrong. There were two roads out of Milldale and as I hadn’t consulted my guidebook properly as I’d tried to keep it dry down in Milldale, I’d taken the wrong one. Consulting the OS map app on my phone (my paper map would have got soaked) I could see the road I’d taken would involve an extra mile than the “proper” route but it seemed that the best option was to carry on as returning to the village to take the other road would have involved a longer distance overall. So I had and extra mile to wlak on tarmac in the rain all uphill -yuk.

Reaching Alstonefield, wet and hungry I was feeling a little demoralised as I still had about 5 miles before I’d be back in Hartington and a dry room in the hostel. I lost the will to take photos and, in any case, the small town wasn’t so photogenic. I stopped and huddled behind a wall to grab a bite to eat and then set back off down the road. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the tarmac before I reached a stile and the path over the fields.

It might have been wet but the scenery lifted the heart and the rain started to ease off.

I descended down Narrowdale, by-passing narrowdale Hill. On a nicer, drier day, I’d probably have climbed up to the summit, but today I carried on descending down the dale.

After a while I joined another “lonning”

I reached the footbridge over the Dove at the point where I entered Wolfscote Dale in the morning.

I crossed over and followed the path heading upstream along Beresford Dale towards Hartington.

It hadn’t been raining for a little while but the wet long grass brushing against my trousers ensured they didn’t dry out as I walked.

The path cut across the fields away from the river, reaching Hartington near the car park I’d parked on the day before. And then the heavens opened again.

I called in the cheese shop to purchase some Stilton to take home, queing outside in the rain while I waited my turn – it’s a small shop and only 2 people allowed inside at any one time. Then I had a walk up the hill to the hostel as the sheets of rain descended. I was glad to get back into my room where I could discard my wet clothing and dry off.

I was glad to get back but despite the soaking, which wasn’t completely unexpected, I’d enjoyed the walk (well, most of it!). And tomorrow the forecast was more promising!

Hartington to Longnor and back – via High Wheeldon

It was the start of Wimbledon fortnight – time to escape the constant tennis on the telly!

I had a couple of free days at the beginning of last week and a search of the YHA website found me a couple of nights cheap accomodation in the grand setting of Hartington Hall in the Peak District so last Sunday I was up early and driving to the southern part of the Peak to set out on a walk.

The Peak District isn’t so far from here, but getting there is a bit of a pain. I can catch the train to the north eastern part of the National Park but for other areasmeans a stop starty drive along the A6 (made a little easier by the link road from the airport that cuts out the need to drive through Stockport) or via Knutsford and Macclesfield. It’s so much easier to get up to the Lakes. But I fancied a change and the more gentle landscape of the White Peak compared to the rugged fells would certainly provide that. The area I was visiting was not so familiar to me but I’d discovered something that meant it had a personal significance – my family history research had revealed a connection with a main branch of my family tree.

The long range weather forecast had initially promised sunny skies during my short break, but it changed the nearer I got to Sunday, and now I was expecting grey skies and rain. But hey, ho, what’s the bother with a little water falling from the sky!

Hartington is an attractive old village and, consequently something of a “honeypot” for both walkers and motor tourists – but it still maintains an element of authenticity – much more so than bakewell where I stopped briefly on my way home at the end of my break. It’s one of the places where it’s permitted to produce Stilton , although it’s some distance from the village in Leicestershire that the cheese is named after, and there’s a popular Cheese Shop in the centre of the village opposite the pond and green.

Although I arrived reasonably early in the morning, the “free” parking spaces were already taken, but there’s a large car park on the edge of the village so I parked up, coughed up, booted up and set off. I was basing my walk on a route in the second volume of the Verterbrate Publishing Day Walks in the Peak District. I was doing it in the reverse direction, went higer on access land for part of the walk and added a diversion up a steep hill which probably has a family connection from a long time ago.

Hartington Village green

A short walk on tarmac out of the village passing the old church

and after climbing over a stile I was out on open country climbing the hillside on the east side of the Upper Dove valley

The skies were grey and gloomy, but it was good to be out on the remote hillside

This was limestone country (hence the “White Peak”) with rounded hills cut through by deep dales with outcrops of rock and dry stone walls.

Keeping to the higher ground, which was open access land, I diverted from the route a little, by-passing the small hamlets of Pilsbury (and the remains of its Motte and Bailey castle) and Crowdicote – although I have in mind another route where I’d take them in if I return to the area, which I’m certainly tempted to do.

In the distance I could make out the limestone reefs of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (hard to see on the photo given the poor visibility) and also High Wheeldon

Looking back across the Dove Valley

and looking across the vally in the other direction

Keeping to the high ground above Crowdicote the summit of High Wheeldon was dead ahead

And now there were better views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill to the north.

These distinctive “dragon’s backs” are the remnants of coral reefs formed when the land that became England was submerged beneath a shallow tropical sea around 340 million years ago.

After a short, steep climb, I reached the summit of High Wheeldon

The land was donated to the National Trust in 1946 and ther’s a war memorial attached to the trig column

I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and, despite the gloom, enjoyed taking in the views

Looking north towards the village of High Sterndale

I decided to take the path down the north side of the hill. It was a very steep descent and I was glad I had my walking poles with me to keep me steady. But it didn’t take too long to reach the foot of the hill, facing a dramatic limestone cliff

I carried on and now rejoined the guidebook route, taking a path across the fields towards Longnor.

Looking back across the fields to High Wheeldon
Chrome hill and Parkhouse Hills to the north

Reaching Longnor I’d left Derbyshire and was now in Staffordshire

Longnor church

Longnor is another old village of old stone buildings with alleyways and passages leading to the old market square

The car park in the village centre was full

and although there were not too many people around the little cafe on the square was busy and there was no room for a lone walker.

After a short rest on a bench on the square I carried on, passing through the village

and then taking a path past a farm and through the fields to join the Manifold Way

I was now following the course of the River Manifold in a valley separated from the Upper Dove Valley by a ridge of hills. The countryside was “pastoral” and the route passed through flat fields, running parrallel to the river, which made for easy walking.

The landscape becam more rugged to the south

By the small settlement of Brund the route left the Manifold way, following paths through fields back to Hartington via the hamlet of Sheen.

Brund
Back in Hartington
Old farm buildings in Hartington

For a short while the cloud cleared above the village and I topped for a brew, sitting outside the village Post office which had a shop and cafe

Then it was time to return to the car, change out of my boots and drive up to the hostel to book in

A rather grand Youth Hostel

The hostel was in Hartington Hall, which dates back to the 17th Century and is a Grade II listed building. It’s been owned by the YHA since1948.