A 15 and a half mile walk awaited me as I left Hartington Youth Hostel in the early hours on Day 2 of my Peak Pilgrimage walk.
I put on a good pace across fields and footpaths to reach Hartington Station a couple of miles outside of the village. The route then followed the well-marked Tissington Trail which I had briefly come across on my preliminary walk to Ilam. During the weekday and early in the morning I met no cyclists or other walkers and settled into a calm and easy walking rhythm as I passed alternately through cuttings and into areas with wide open vistas.Although in a completely different part of the country and a different time of year the cuttings could not help but remind me of Edward Thomas’ “Adlestrop” –
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
I passed a “Kazun”
at Parsley Hay – a gift of a shelter from Croatia to celebrate their accession to the European Union (no comment!)
Somewhere just after Hurdlow I missed the right hand drop down to a small underpass. I carried on for several hundred yards until I reached a bridge over a large ditch (as shown here) and squeezed through a small gap to put myself right. The undergrowth here was well-trodden and it was obvious that I was not the only person to have taken this route.
The path then crosses a field until reaching the busy A 515. The “Bull I’Th Thorn” pub is now closed and I took the pathway to the right of it passing a donkey sanctuary and descending slowly down along a narrowing footpath until I spied the outskirts of Monyash.
Interestingly the gaps between walls to squeeze through appeared to be getting narrower and narrower – this one seriously challenged the size of my thighs!
There always seems a time on every walk when a pub/café appears with just the right timing and the café at Monyash
absolutely filled this desire. I loved the sign – “Muddy Boots Welcome!” A chocolate chip milkshake (heaven)was enjoyed on the green outside the café as I took a well-earned break.
The Peak Pilgrimage Guidebook details the story of Old Joe Briddon and his funeral bier and was one of the interesting sights in the Church of St Leonard, Monyash
The highlight of the walk awaited. As I I could see the approach to Lathkill Dale
and the narrowing of the way in front of me my mind seemed to turn inwards.
I had to concentrate fully as the rocks on the sides of the dale grew higher and higher and the terrain rockier and rockier. There was no space in my head for idle thoughts as I fully concentrated on picking my way forward. There was a slight feeling of claustrophobia as I travelled onwards along what seemed to me to closely resemble Tolkien’s “Middle Earth” – look there is Frodo and there is Samways – well, maybe!
The absolute beauty of this place engulfed me. I have little knowledge of “art” but I was reminded of those Victorian paintings of the “sublime” – a grandeur exciting emotions beyond myself. I was so grateful to experience this environment alone – save for the force and beauty of nature and a Power beyond myself.
Eventually the valley opened out and a small river appared which widened as I progressed. I entered Palmerston Wood
, with its interesting sign.
From hereon I started to come across more walkers.
A lady and her daughter watching dippers. We got talking. My husband T and I follow a guitarist named Laurence Jones
and amazingly the younger lady (Eleanor) came from the same home town. She was also a musician, playing in a band “16 Strings and a Dead Goat”!
I passed caves and abandoned mine shafts as the route continued before I eventually started to move away from the river and began the long climb up into Over Haddon.
And this is a long climb – first to the tea room, then to the Church and then ever upwards to the pub with its spectacular view – and mobile phone reception!
As always, whether it is the last kilometre of a 5 k run or the last mile or so of a 15 mile walk the final passage across fields and along enclosed footpaths along to the steep descent into Bakewell seemed to go on for ever. Whilst tired I pondered as often on my love of “geography”, “the landscape” and “local history” – and how all these areas combine with nature and spirituality and fuel my love of walking. I so enjoy how I get a sense of place from my adventures – how I can see the location of areas as intertwined; how somehow this is different from looking at a map. For me, my “map” of an area is felt by walking – from place to place.
I was inspired by this bench I passed in Bakewell.
A town I fell in love with. Here I treated myself to the luxury of a superb B and B and was able to spend the summer evening exploring this delightful place.