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.


Walk One - Two straight legs

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