Two straight legs – A walk from Derbyshire to Shropshire – Day five

Walk  Five – Croxden Abbey to Church Leigh, 7.25 miles

Weather – as dull as very dull dishwater…again

Petes view-

More dull weather for a dull day of walking. Once we have left the Peak District it becomes a matter of plotting a route over endless unremarkable pasture, muddy green lanes and not much else. The highlight of the day was spotting the Wrekin on the horizon, which is still a distance away, as we have to tailor our route to avoid the suburbs of Telford. It’s nice to be out and about stretching the legs and exercising the knee joints, but that was the pleasure of the day. No tea shops on route, plenty of claggy Staffordshire clay, that clings tenaciously to boots and clothing. No wonder the Staffordshire Hoard wasn’t discovered for so long, the earth holding a well kept secret. Croxden Abbey ruins were good to walk past once more, but one rolling pasture is pretty much the same as the next, so that was it – A to B, an unremarkable day…the photos say it all…

Kerrys view -

We’d reached the flatlands, except they weren’t. We were also in the county of poor footpath way markers. I’ve said this many times but Staffordshire CC need to get their act together and sort out their way markers. Most are in poor condition, many are simply absent.

Back to Croxden Abbey, this time leaving Pete’s car with celestial security, mine having been left with Saints Security beside the lovely church at Church Leigh, seven miles away. From the Abbey ruins we found a path directing us across lush meadows and up to the Raddle Inn at Hollington. A path to its right curled behind and up through woodlands clustered with snowdrops. It wasn’t long before we reached a lane with a choice of paths to follow and took one down a track with a bank of discarded broken bottles. I started ferreting around in the hope of finding a complete specimen but Pete was in need of a jungle stop. At the bottom of the track we skipped down a field, drudged uphill, back down and back up. On one of the ups I screamed ‘I can see the Wrekin’…it doesn’t take much to get me excited! There it was a faint brush stroke of blue on the horizon. Our first sight of Shropshire.

At the lonely and scruffy Broadgate Hall we stopped for chocolate. A pick me up for the dreariness of past fields. The last large field before Checkley saw us part ways as Pete followed satmap and me map. He was heading directly towards a pub.

I shouted across 50 yards of smelly manure strewn pasture, ‘are you heading for the pub?’

‘Eh?’

‘ARE YOU HEADING FOR THE PUB?’

‘Eh?’

I muttered to myself ‘hearing aids, batteries’, and carried on, following the correct course to Checkley, emerging onto the main road beside the village hall. Pete eventually followed.

‘You need to get that Satmap looked at’.

We wandered into the village heart, not much of note, except for church and pub, so ambled on through meadows beside the River Tean. Passing under the busy A50, a stretch of tarmac plodding and then tumbling gradually downhill along a very wet muddy green lane. This stumbled out at Upper Leigh and a neat hedge lined lane led us to Lower Leigh. Next and final village was Church Leigh, walking through the beautifully kept churchyard to my car.

 

NOTE – CLICK ON PICTURE TO BE TAKEN TO FLICKR AND THE ALBUM OF THE WALK.

Walk Five - Two Straight Legs” target=”_blank”>

 

Posted by pete on February 27th, 2017 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

Two straight legs – A walk from Derbyshire to Shropshire – Day four

Walk  Four – Ellastone to Croxden Abbey, 6.25 miles

Weather – Gloomier and greyer than a gloomy day…

Petes view-

At least it was dry and as it was only a short leg today we decided that the weather wouldn’t impinge on our enjoyment. Shock horror, we didn’t follow the Limestone Way – that went south and we went west-ish. An unremarkable start as we ambled from Ellastone church and were soon on the familiar sheep and cow pasture, treading lightly uphill on a gentle gradient. Looking back to the start we could see that todays views were going to be limited to misty greyness of buildings, trees and pasture – with a little bit of green here and there. Kerry decided on some gymnastics over the first stile, with an unsuccessful backflip scoring nil point for style – I offered to walk back and walk another day but she soldiered on. Up over the first hill we emerged onto a lane into JCB territory, with neatly clipped hedges and verges, and trees bristling with security cameras. The land around the JCB estate is kept in a pristine condition, and unlike the rest of Staffordshire the footpaths were clearly marked. There are very discreet entrances to the paths that run through the estate – nicely arched passage through the stone wall surrounding the area.

Signs abound warning of imminent death by JCB diggers as we passed through the area where they test the vehicles – I wonder if there are JCB spotters like there are train spotters? They do however look after anyone walking through the area, with well marked paths that go where they are meant to. We could hear one or two but couldn’t see any until later on when driving past the JCB headquarters. Moving on from JCB land , we skirted around some of the lodges at Alton Towers and down a gentle descent through woods beneath some sandstone cliffs at Ina’s Rock. The River Churnet was crossed by a wooden slated bridge, and followed before heading uphill on a muddy path to the village of Alton. There is a medieval castle here but not much left of it on the ground. The surrounding buildings are Gothic revival and are in use as a residential centre for youngsters. We continued into Alton and sat down at a round tower for a very brief stop before walking down a lane heading south to Gallows Green and Jeffrey Meadow beyond. It was all nicely downhill and appearing out of the gloom in the distance was Croxden Abbey – I’d never heard of it before. It was a nice spot to end the day and interesting to explore the English Heritage site – a road runs through the middle of the Abbey and it’s owned by the adjacent farmhouse – imagine that as a back garden for the kiddies!  The 12th century abbey at Croxden was home to 70 Cistercian monks at its peak. Although converted into a farm after its suppression in 1538, the remains are impressive, including towering fragments of its 13th century church, infirmary and 14th century abbot’s lodging, and a drainage ditch for the latrines – lurvely.

Kerrys view-

Dull, dreary, dismal, depressing, dingy and let’s throw in a G for gloomy! Not inviting walking weather but, hey ho, at least it wsn’t raining. Once again we did the usual car shunting, my car was left in the middle of nowhere….well it was parked outside a ruined abbey so I figured it would have celestial security! Pete, having just got the keys to a new motor, chose to leave his in the safe village car park opposite the church and hopefully the ‘keen eagle eyed locals’ of Ellastone.

A trot along from the car park the route emerged into big wide open fields gracing soft sloping Staffordshire hills. Three stiles further on and I decided to have a go at advanced gymnastics despite having no training whatsoever. The weight of my rucksack, a high and slippery stile and I was left dangling like a bat. My left inner thigh felt like it had been sanded raw by the stubble of a sumo wrestling Desperate Dan, who had also grabbed my ankle and wrapped it around my neck. Pete gawped helplessly. With ankle, thigh and crotch sore I limped on, with Pete, for once, keeping up with me. We reached a nearby lane and gradually over the next mile the pain eased. A finger post directed through a gap in a wall onto land owned by JCB. Much of the land and buildings around these parts are in their ownership and appear to warrant much fencing and CCTV. The attractive landscaped valley with lake is a proving ground for JCBs thus signs warned the walker to stick with the path. Yellow arrows guided us up through woodlands and over to the boundary of Alton Towers. No thrill rides for Pete today, he gets that from his new motor! We skirted some unusual quirky lodges and where the path split into three with no indication which way to go we opted for the middle one. It lead us gradually downhill through woodlands hidden with giant outcrops of brooding rocks. Hosted by trees, their roots lashed like lassoes strangling the rock beneath.

Our path crossed a disused railway line, now, as so many are, a footpath. Beyond was the River Churnet, crossed by a narrow footbridge. We meandered uphill through the dark treacle mud. A farm track rutted with stagnant liquid mud led to a lane down into Alton. Past the castle, we stopped and sat on the stone steps of a round lock up, for chocolate. As light dimmed, the murky mist seemed more dense and light was ebbing, so not hanging about, we proceeded south to Gallows Green. Dogs on their last walk of the day argued with other dogs. The wet grass of the next few pastures cleaned our boots until a ploughed field flanking a hill top clogged them up with an abundance of the stuff. A few inches higher we passed through a gate and downhill. The ghostly vision of Croxden Abbey ruins grew darker as we got closer. A lane to the car cut through the impressive towering 12th century ruins. I imagined, many centuries ago, when it was thriving, travellers welcomed in for shelter and food. Celestial security had protected my car, but before setting off we explored the ruins. The drive back was via the Duncombe Arms at Ellastone, a very fine, smart and cosy establishment for much needed refreshments. I hope they didn’t notice the state of our trouser bottoms after all the mud wading.

 

NOTE – CLICK ON PICTURE TO BE TAKEN TO FLICKR AND THE ALBUM OF THE WALK.

Walk Four - Two Straight Legs

Posted by pete on January 30th, 2017 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

Two straight legs – A walk from Derbyshire to Shropshire – Day three

Walk Three – Thorpe to Ellastone, 7.25 miles

Weather – Sunshine and a dusting of snow

Petes view-

A gloomy start to the year gave way to sunshine at last, and an overnight fall of snow gave a light dusting to some of the walk. We resumed at the car park near The Old Dog pub Thorpe, got our clobber on and made sure enough layers were worn. It was a chilly day, but a good to be alive day as well. A new RAB mid-layer made it’s walk debut, and it was worth every penny paid and my three layers kept me toastie, apart from the odd chilly finger now and again. It was a lovely winter view over to Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill and the snow was a bit deeper up there by the looks of things, and the best we had was an inch or two. The road took us down and up into Thorpe village where we nipped into the parish church for a quick look around. I was glad that we did as the stained glass windows were interesting, with the modern one eclipsing the older ones due to the clarity of colour. Out into the cold again we resumed our trek along the Limestone Way, an old coaching road taking us down from the village to Coldwall Bridge – a sizeable bridge in the middle of nowhere. A quick google search revealed that it was built in 1726, but fell out of use when the automobile came along as it was too steep for cars. The remnant of the coach road sits well in the landscape with a gentle curve taking us uphill into the sunshine at Coldwall Farm. A weird stile sat in the wall the other side of the farm lane – neither use but very much an ornament – designed to catch and trap the unwary, unless you possess very thin legs. Top Low sat on top of an adjacent hill marking another tumulus – common as muck around these parts, and visible for miles around as we dropped down into another valley only to ascend the opposite side to Woodhouses. The route turned onto a delightful quiet lane that took us south for almost a mile, with drifted snow banks giving a proper winter landscape. The fun ended at the main road where we crossed over and into pasture, a good mixture of snow and mud, very soggy in places and made for not very fast progress from me due to a wankle – sore joint for no apparent reason other than to annoy me. There wasn’t a convenient lunchspot in sight so we plumped for the lee of a hedgerow in the sunshine with some warming soup and a sarnie. Not the weather for hanging about, so we didn’t dilly dally long, and continued the field walking along the wide flat ridge of land to the east of Ordley Brook. After many wet pastures we decided enough was enough of splodging through the grass, and dropped down off the Limestone Way to Ousley Lane, and the remains of a fifteenth century cross – just three bits of it lying on the ground, and it’s a listed building!! About half a mile along the lane we took to the last three fields and popped out through Ellastone church to the waiting car. A grand day out in good company as usual.

Kerrys view-

Friday the 13th, unlucky for some, but luckily for us the sun was bright in a strikingly blue sky, and Pete was keen to road test his new clobber, a size smaller as an incentive to lose his Christmas belly!

We started from Thorpe straight into a bitter wind, toes and fingers feeling the chill. My laces, wet from slush and snow, untied themselves in the first mile. Numb fingers weren’t capable of redoing them so I nipped into Thorpe church on a pretence of admiring the stain glass windows. Actually they were pretty impressive, particularly a more modern example. Sliding up the lane, Pete (behind as ever) went quiet. I knew what he was up to, so turned just in time to catch the snowball.

 Our route found us back on the Limestone Way, ploughing down to the unusual – in that it was so imposing – Coldwall Bridge. A mighty bridge crossing the River Dove yet seemingly only serving the small community of Thorpe and a farm or two. The path delivered us upwards into deeper snow and a gated road along the crest of a hill with far reaching views. Our toes and fingers finally warmed up. It wasn’t looking good for a lunch stop, no wall to shelter, no abandoned barns, no church porch, no bus shelter, not even a wendy house or a piggery.

With hope, I informed “there used to be a big boat on top of this hill, we could’ve sat in that”.

“A boat?” Pete threw a surprised glance.

“Yes, but its vanished now, probably sailed off down the hill!”

So lunch was beside a frozen water trough, with our backs against a thorny hedge. Despite having warming soup and marmite sandwiches, we soon got cold again.

The Limestone Way plodded on, poorly signposted and through acres of lavishly muddy pasture, squishy and squelchy, not great for Pete who was suffering from mystery ankle pain. We decided to cut down onto a quiet lane for a stretch to escape the poor terrain. A path across two fields took us into the churchyard at Ellastone where my car sat waiting for our drive to find a cuppa.

NOTE – CLICK ON PICTURE TO BE TAKEN TO FLICKR AND THE ALBUM OF THE WALK.

Walk Three - Two Straight Legs

 

 

 

Posted by pete on January 23rd, 2017 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

Two straight legs – A walk from Derbyshire to Shropshire – Day two

Walk Two – Brassington to Thorpe, 7.5 miles

Weather – Grey to start, delightful sunshine later … could do better

Petes view-

Before we started this new walk, we decided that we should try and walk the route in decent weather wherever possible. Kerry looks like she’s redefined decent weather to grey gloomy days. But a walk is a walk and the fresh air and exercise is always welcome. Today we mainly followed the Limestone Way as that was the direction we were headed across country. After leaving Brassington I donned my waterproof  jacket and deployed the rucksack cover to keep dry. It was an added layer of warmth as well, so I kept it on most of the day, even though the monsoon conditions soon passed. Todays walk passed through many fields on the Limestone Way as we headed west, with plenty of ridge and furrow field patterns on show. It’s great that it hasn’t been ploughed away in this region and that’s probably mainly due to the extent of sheep grazing in these parts. Old remnants of the past Derbyshire lead mining industry were never far away either, with some spoil heaps over lying the ridge and furrow below.

We walked on the north side of Brassington then cut uphill to follow the Limestone Way beneath Rainster Rocks, with a lovely row of sheep pens, all in a row, reminiscent of the greyhound racing traps except that there were many more than six. The green lane gave way to a small stretch of tarmac, over the road and onto another green track which took us up and over a small hill and down to an abandoned estate chapel near to Ballidon. Next stop was Parwich a mile away, where we chopped a corner off the Limestone Way as we were hungry. We plumped for the luxury of a bright bus stop shelter rather than the dinghy church porch and enjoyed hot soup and sarnies, a welcome break. From Parwich our route swung to the SW with another up and over stroll – down to Bletch Brook and straight up again to cross over the Tissington Trail. It was at this point ‘brian the Bogey’ hitched a lift on my trousers. He enjoyed the walk for a while but alas poor Brian was squashed onto a small style gate – a grizzly ending for a frisky bogey. On the plus side the sun was now out to brighten the fields, and a distant view to Minninglow was a bonus. There  are quite a few tumulus with burial cairns dotted around Derbyshire and nearly all are on prominent hills. A quiet lane took us down to Tissington village and the wonderful hall and wells. Unfortunately the tea room was firmly shut, so we had to make do with the elegant facade of Tissington Hall. The numerous signs around the village made sure you knew who owned what here. We wandered on, passed the church and joined the Tissington Trail – a bike track on an old railway bed – uninspiring to walk along but easy going. It took us most of the way to the edge of Thorpe and a cuppa tea and a pint in the local pub. A good end to another good walk.

 

Kerrys view-

I was really keen to walk, Pete was not. The sky whispered winters grey but held promise of brighter conditions, so we started from where we last left off at Brassington. As we turned away from the car it began to drizzle, invisibly light so I didn’t bother with waterproofs. However when I looked back Pete was climbing into monsoon gear. I propped myself up against a wall and snacked on dates, waiting. Off again, we went along the Limestone Way, over a landscape scarred with history from strip farming and lead mining. Hillocks and hollows, abandoned mines and strange rock formations dotted with grazing sheep and a farmer repairing a dry stone wall, bum cleavage artfully displayed. Down into a forlorn rocky valley, we crossed over a road and straight back up past a dead tree. Part of it snapped off,  travelled a way with us – “that’s coming home” I declared. A forceful wind tried to wrestle it from my arms so on reaching a deserted church it was tucked behind a wall for collection later. 

By now the sun was pushing through and Parwich looked clean and bright and Christmassy. The church porch was investigated for our soup and sandwich lunch, but a bus stop looking across to the christmas tree had a better view. From Parwich we continued along the Limestone Way uphill into golden light. Pete doesn’t believe in hankies and snotted the last of his heavy cold into the chill wind. One blob (which he proudly named Brian) stubbornly clung on for a ride down into the next valley.

“Yuk, get rid of him” – I couldn’t believe I was referring to snot as a he.

Pete reluctantly waved Brian goodbye against a goblin sized gate, and the path climbed up and over the Tissington Trail and into the village of many wells. It’s estimated 50,000 people visit the six wells that are decorated each year during the well dressings. Tissington Hall sits in the village centre opposite the church. The Fitzherbert family have lived there since 1465, and I can see why they stayed so long, it’s a beautiful village in a stunning region.

We wandered through the churchyard out onto a lane leading past houses, still with their Christmas tinsel, down to the Tissington Trail and then it was another mile before we reached the other car parked in the sunshine of Thorpe village. A good and varied walk and the waterproofs weren’t needed except against  for Petes nasal flow!

NOTE – CLICK ON PICTURE TO BE TAKEN TO FLICKR AND THE ALBUM OF THE WALK..

 

Walk Two - Two straight legs” target=”_blank”>

Posted by pete on January 18th, 2017 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

Two straight legs – A walk from Derbyshire to Shropshire – Day one

Why two straight legs you ask?

In 2014, I had two very bandy legs with little or no cartilage in the knees, followed in 2015 with one straight leg and one very bandy leg. A knee replacement had helped one leg, and to stop me walking in circles I had my other knee replaced in 2016. After walking ‘A long path to recovery‘ around the edge of Derbyshire, we thought it apt to walk in a straight line this time and chose a finish point at Church Stretton in Shropshire, via a favourite hill of Caer Caradoc.

Logistics will be interesting as public transport won’t be an option along some of way, but we shall overcome that as we progress, with one car or two. We discussed starting the walk in January 2017, and only on a bright sunny day, but Kerry decided that we would start on a very gloomy, overcast Sunday in December. No sunshine but a good walk anyway…

Walk One – Matlock to Brassington, 8.1 miles

Weather – Grey and gloomy, but a nice sunset.

Petes view-

It’s really pleasant to walk out of my front door and start walking. No car, and no hassle, we walked down to the town through the splendid park and up onto the Limestone Way, which was our route for pretty much most of the day. The Limestone Way runs from Castleton through Derbyshire and into Staffordshire, finishing in the Dove Valley at Rocester. The Limestone Way is a walk we shall do in spring with some good weather and it shouldn’t take long. It was uphill all the way for the first couple of  miles to the heights of Masson Hill, through sheep and cattle pasture. My legs have started to feel a bit stronger, and there’s generally less gurning and gnashing of teeth due to pain nowadays. Still someway to go to regain some semblance of walking legs, but I’ll keep trying. Not much to note really and once on top, it was down the other side to Bonsall and the Fountain Inn cafe – another favourite eating place. We tried not to dally too long as the daylight disappears fast in these parts, and my pace always slows towards the end. There’s an old shop front near the cross in Bonsall and the occupants dress a manequin in the window throughout the year – it didn’t have it’s festive clothes on yet. Bonsall is also home to the ‘World Hen Racing Championship‘, held each year at the Barley Mow pub. No hens in site as we took a short cut up Horse Dale – no horses either, and rejoined the Limestone Way up on Bonsall Mines. The area is pitted with mining spoil and rakes or soughs. There is some interesting history of the lead mining industry on the net, and how the stratigraphic geology was developed in the early days. Circa 1650 the thought was that mineral deposits were developed from cosmic rays from five planets, and minerals grew like vegetables in fissures, but the miners knew better in those days. No lead mining is carried out now  in the Peak District, the last mine closing in 1939. It was a gentle wander across the pasture, passing through squeeze stiles, gates, and fields – twenty nine of them between Bonsall and Ible, but there was always something of interest to catch the eye. Old farm equipment, vintage is the trend nowadays, barns, green lanes amongst other bits and bobs. Our route took us to Ible, a small hamlet with a neat line of stone troughs and not much else. We took the chance to cut off a bit of the Limestone Way and dropped down steeply to Via Gellia, crossed carefully and a swift pull up the other side saved us about 3/4 of a mile. The Grange Mill Quarry was busy building a splendid new dry stone wall, before chewing up another piece of hillside with more quarry works. This is a busy area for quarrying and many of the roads are milky white with Calcium Carbonate dust – nice and peaceful today though. More fields led us to the High Peak cycle trail (part of the Mid Shires Way) and made for a change of surface, with views over to Harboro Rocks which glowed nicely in the setting sun. Passing some more limestone works, a path led us out onto Manystones Lane, before cutting across more lead mining remnants, and a short walk to the car at Brassington into a glowing sunset.

A good start to a long walk, to be continued over the coming weeks and months…click on the image to see the pictures of a dull cloudy day.

All our walks finish with a smile.

Kerrys view -

One reasonably functioning knee out of four isn’t great odds between us, however our passion for walking excited enough to plan another walking adventure. This time from Matlock to Church Stretton, Shropshire, climbing our favourite hill, Caer Caradoc.

Prior to his knee operations Pete could just about clench a football between his knees they were that bent. Now he could clench a significantly smaller ball, golf ball size, so a much less pained hiker was he. We’d mulled over a return visit to Caer Caradoc, – see here for our last visit - a hill we both enjoyed in an area we love. So the urge to include it in the route kept floating around until we agreed ‘why not’ and Pete directed a straight line across the map which made it look ‘not that far’ from Matlock. On his computer thingy it seemed only a couple of valleys, a few hills, a bit of road walking and some fields, easy peasy!

Our first policy was ‘only walk in good weather’ – we screwed that one up on day one. The second policy was ‘take plenty of chocolate’, no worries there. The weather wasn’t terrible, just grey, as we set off from Matlock through the park and over the River Derwent. The Limestone Way pushed us uphill, quickly away from the town, and over Masson Hil, only stopping for chocolate on a bench overlooking the town below.

“It’s brightening up” I said hopefully.

“Where?” asked Pete, sliding through cow stirred sludge.

A few fields later our route plunged into Bonsall and a favourite cafe for lunch.

Revitalized we rejoined the Limestone Way in a scattering of mining remains where Pete got eager with his camera but the smell of chocolate in my rucksack lured his legs to keep moving. At Ible a corner was cut – well you have to – it’s winter and a dull day, light was dimming. Bac at the top of another hill a choclate reward. The view looked down over the steeply wooded Via Gellia.

“Look, it’s brightening up” I shouted.

“Where?” asked Pete again.

My longing for brighter conditions was obviously affecting my eyesight. We pushed on through dull darkening pastures towards Brassington. As we got close to Harboro Rocks the setting sun decided to show off, and walking the last mile in closing darkness, but with spectacular red/orange/pink hues sinking to the west was a treat.

The sun had finally come out.

NOTE – CLICK ON PICTURE TO BE TAKEN TO FLICKR AND THE ALBUM OF THE WALK.

Walk One - Two straight legs

Posted by pete on December 23rd, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

The Times Britain’s Best Walks – a free competition

The nice people at Harper Collins have kindly sent to me a copy of The Times newly published book – Britains Best Walks. To win a copy of this book all you have to do is tell me how many Long Distance Walks have I done in the UK. All the information is on my webpages at http://www.ramblingpete.walkingplaces.co.uk/

To enter all you have to do is leave a reply here or on facebook, stating the number of walks I’ve done – btw not all the long distance walks are on the main site, some are on the blog. The winner will be chosen at the end of December so you have plenty of time to search for the answer. In the event of a tie I’ll put on a shirt. My last free giveaway included a mini hamper and only a few entered the competition. Have a go this time please.

It’s a beautiful book to enjoy at your leisure. Postage and packing will be paid for in the UK. Good luck all - there are no catches, no gimmicks, it’s free to the winner.

Christopher Somerville has covered the length and breadth of the UK on foot, and has written and broadcast about its history, landscape, wildlife and people for over 25 years. Now, in this extensive new volume, he selects his top 200 routes from his hugely popular Times column, A Good Walk.
More than just a basic guidebook, this is a meditation on our relationship with the landscape and a celebration of all that Britain has to offer. From Cornwall to Shetland via Pembrokeshire and Borrowdale, this is the most comprehensive collection of walks in the United Kingdom available in one book, and features trails to suit all skill levels and preferences, whether you want a gentle ramble to the pub or something much more challenging.

Each of the featured walks contains:

  •   Detailed description as featured in The Times column
  •   Postcode and OS grid reference start point
  •   Instructions on how to get there
  •   Distance and grade so readers can suit walks to their ability, fitness and mood
  •   Simple step-by-step walk instructions
  •   Beautiful colour photograph for each walk
  •   Full colour, clear and up-to-date map
  •   Food and accommodation details for the hungry traveller

About the author:
Christopher Somerville is a Times journalist with over 25 years’ experience writing and broadcasting about country walks and tougher hikes. He has also written extensively about life in remote rural and island communities from Scotland to Crete, by way of the Faroes, made music in Irish pubs and frequented festivals both locally and internationally. He is the author of Somerville’s 100 Best British Walks, Where to See Wildlife in Britain and Ireland, Best Wild Places and The January Man.

 

Posted by pete on November 21st, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • 15 Comments

The long path to recovery – Muggington to Darley Abbey

Muggington to Darley Abbey

6.8 miles – this the end, the end my friend, the end….of my old knee

Petes view -

Well all long walks have a start and a finish and this was no exception. The weather certainly rained on our parade today, but we arrived back in Darley Abbey to close the loop after 143 miles through the Derbyshire countryside. We passed through some sublime landscapes, and had great days out. I have to thank Kerry for keeping me going and having the patience to wait for me to catch up when really it would have been more joy for her to stride out at her pace. It’s been fun though and great companionship along the way, with lots of tea, a bit of cake and lots of chats.

My recovery wasn’t to be, and I’m booked into Chesterfield Royal Hospital for a full knee replacement in August. I would have gone earlier but my AirBNB in Matlock is very busy in July, which is good for me. I’m not looking forward to the pain side of things but I am looking forward to getting back on two feet, with straight legs and hoping to recover fully this time round for another adventure out into the landscape, and continue a long path to full recovery.

Only seventeen pictures on this final day, and the route again took us across undulating farmland, along track and field, with all of it unremarkable in the wet weather. The final stretch into Derby took us across Allestree Golf course where I marvelled at a very long uphill Par 5 golf hole, daydreaming of playing again when I have two good knees – time will tell. We didn’t have too much urban walking and soon returned to our start point by the weirs at Darley Abbey. The walk done and dusted, as is the blog about it.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed some of the pictures of our journey

Kerrys view -

The final day had finally arrived. We did our usual car shunting, one at each end and set off from Mugginton in the dry but with several blankets of cloud hiding the sun. After 20 walks and 135 miles each step was taking us nearer to the beginning of our Long Path to Recovery. Looking at how Pete was coping with this walk and all the others I would conclude that his recovery was far from over. The right knee desperately needs replacing. Pain was etched in mood and on his face. We walked ever slower, through the next village of Weston Underwood, stopping on a roadside bench for sarnies, then pushing on along a sweeping hillside where rain finally caught up with us. Backpacks off and waterproofs on. The rain remained with us across to posh Quarndon and down through Allestree Park. Hoods up and heads down, only stopping to admire Allestree golf course. Pete was impressed. It was too wet to dwell so we hurried as fast as knees would allow swapping rural landscapes for the city, noise of traffic, busy roads to cross, children coming out of school, hustling parents, lines of cars, until the River Derwent at Darley Abbey, our start, came into view.

The end was, maybe, a bit of an anticlimax, no marching bands or gun salute but at least the rain stopped. But what a journey we’d shared. 143 miles of walking through wonderful Derbyshire and sneaking into bits of Staffordshire. The joy of simply walking. Disappearing into the landscape and exploring footpaths, history, geology, life. It was an adventure. Life should have a few of those at any age, even with tricky knees and hopefully our next adventure will be post knee operation, another Long Path to Full Recovery.

 

walk twenty one

Posted by pete on July 11th, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

The long path to recovery – Edlaston to Muggington

Edlaston to Muggington

8 miles at 2.2 mph average moving – shuffling to the end

Petes view -

East and ever closer to the end. I tried not to feel too deflated as the end of our adventure was coming, and consoled myself that I have plenty of walks from my doorstep now. Today was a gently undulating  journey across field and lane, track and mud. A sort of winding down after so many beautiful walking days. We walked on the Centenary Way for a while towards Shirley and came across one of those ‘Tough Mudder’ courses with vast swathes of the oozing brown stuff. Fun for running through, and thankfully they had duck boards to get us across the worst of it. Another church and another lunch on a handy bench, and always peaceful in those places. No more soup as that season had gone and spring was upon us. A steady walk across rolling farmland had us taking another cup of tea at Brailsford before pushing on to the days end at Muggington. I only took about twenty pictures today which tells its own tale really.

Kerrys view -

The penultimate leg of our walk. A gallop from Edlaston to Mugginton, though there was less galloping on Pete’s part. This part of Derbyshire, riddled with footpaths, is much quieter and we pretty much had the landscape to ourselves. Past the beautiful Osmaston Park and into Shirley Park woods we discovered an extreme mud/assault course.

“Oh, wow, Lets have a go” i yelped “Look how deep this mud is, past the knees”

Pete wasn’t so keen, so we trundled on to more sedate activities, sarnies in the church yard at Shirley. Then not so long later a pot of tea in a former slaughter house in Brailsford. Opposite a path squeezed between houses and out onto fields where men paced with metal detectors and I found my own treasure, a bendy twisty branch snapped from a tree.

“This one’s coming home to a new life with me!” I like bringing bits of nature home.

A mile to go and between us and Mugginton were sponging boggy enclosures with no obvious path. We tried to find a way through but the risk of being sucked in increased with each step. So a spot of trespassing prevailed along with limbo dancing under barb wire onto a lane. Finally we emerged onto a green lane into the village where the car sat waiting with our boots just a bit damp
Walk twenty

Posted by pete on July 11th, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

The long path to recovery – Ashbourne to Edlaston

Ashbourne to Edlaston

6 miles at not very fast moving

Petes view -

The long path to recovery had already ended for me before todays walk had begun. My recovery form the knee replacement has been fine for the operated knee, apart from some nerve damage that takes quite a while to repair itself. But the other knee is a different story and my surgeon had already warned me I’d need that replacing. I tried to see how I managed over the year, which was the original purpose of this walk, but it became apparent to me that it wasn’t getting any easier and after the last couple of walks I made the decision to get my other knee done later this year in October. But it’s become increasingly painful of late so I decided that I was just putting off the inevitable and brought the operation forward to August. I can’t praise the NHS highly enough and they have been fantastic right the way through this process – I couldn’t have had better treatment if I’d gone privately.

Todays walk took us across country through the village of Mayfield, passing some fine old buildings along the way. The focus across all the pasture and lanes changed from landscape to smaller features of architecture, field patterns, spring flowers and flowing water once more. It also involved a little walking along quiet country lanes. Todays lunch spot was a delightful church bench near the village of Snelston, sat in the sunshine knowing that the end of the flasks of soup was coming, as was spring. Thoughts now were of finishing the long path back at the start point, now not many miles away. We passed through Snelston Park with some fine Monkey Puzzle trees planted in a copse. The remainder of the walk into Edlaston was along lanes, and to be honest the end couldn’t come quick enough now as we’d left the landscapes that are such a joy to travel across.

Kerrys view -

We could’ve done the Ashbourne to Derby stretch in two walks but decided to add one by twisting the route over to Mayfield. I have a tendency to gravitate towards hills, so does Pete and Upper Mayfield sat sprawling on one. But his knees were suffering so rather than go higher onto the Limestone Way we directed the route back down over the River Dove to Snelston. The charming church resting in an abundance of daffodils and sunshine was the perfect lunch stop. From there it was short distance through the parklands of Snelston Hall and along a good route with delicious views looking over to the bigger hills. Sigh! Pete was in considerable discomfort on this walk. I was slowing my pace down but looking round to realise there was a gap between us. The car was parked at Edlaston and the relief on Pete’s face was telling of a man needing a new knee
Walk Nineteen

Posted by pete on July 10th, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments

The long path to recovery – Milldale to Ashbourne

Milldale to Ashbourne

8 miles at a plod

Petes view -

A day of change, with no more Derbyshire Hills, and the very southern dale to walk out of into flattish agricultural landscapes. Only twenty odd miles left to get back to the starting point of a few months ago. From Milldale the route took us on a well trodden path down Dove Dale, one of the top tourist attractions in Derbyshire and very populated at the weekends, albeit busiest within 500m of the car parks. Dove Dale offers some great limestone landscape, caves, pinnacles and wildlife. We diverted up to Reynards Cave high above the valley floor, where a Roman and late Iron Age coin hoard was found in 2014. I took the easy way down while the remainder slid and slithered their way down to the bottom.  A series of weirs down the river controls the flow and as Thorpe Cloud appeared I knew the end of the best of Derbyshire landscapes was coming to a close. The route continued along the River Dove through pasture along the gentle floodplain until we reached Mapleton. The path unerringly headed across the fields to deposit us at a pub, where we enjoyed the sunshine, a pint and a lingering look back to the Derbyshire hills. We continued to follow the Dove down to Ashbourne by road and track, ending up by the allotments by the cemetry. I felt a change coming, not in the air but in my legs.

Kerrys view -

I felt rather sad. This was the walk that left the majestic hills and dales of the Peak District to the flatter landscapes between Ashbourne and Derby. We started from Milldale walking over the medieval packhouse bridge and turning south alongside the river Dove into the striking Dovedale, possibly the most popular and famous of all the Derbyshire Dales. At 3 miles long it rises dramatically into a chasm. Features to spot include fossils, limestone pillar rocks and many caves, including Reynards cave, which we scrambled up to. It was steeper than it looked passing through the natural arch and up into the cave. To be honest, the climb was worth it, not for the cave, but for the fantastic view back down. Pete opted to go down the ‘kinder on the knees’ route back down, I bum slid! We continued following the river only stopping for an ice cream and toilets and eventually left the crowds to the more peaceful and gentle pastures leading to Mappleton. Finally leaving the river, a path delivered us straight through sheep to a pub.

“Be rude not to stop for a drink”, so we sat awhile in the sunshine looking back longingly at the hills.

Satisfied, we carried on. The other car was in Ashbourne near the sewage works. The smell colliding with our nostrils announced the car was near and another walk completed. Only three more before we’d be back in Derby

Walk Eighteen

Posted by pete on July 9th, 2016 under UncategorizedTags: , ,  • No Comments