Walk Three – Thorpe to Ellastone, 7.25 miles
Weather – Sunshine and a dusting of snow
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.
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.