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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tideswell and the Seven Dales

Walking with; Nobody
This was the first proper outing for the knee since the operation in mid-January and it passed it with a few creaks and groans. Tideswell is famous for the Church of St.John the Baptist which is so impressive in scale it has been named "The Cathedral of the Peaks". It was built during the latter half of the 14th Century on the site of an old Norman chapel (parts of which were incorporated into the current building). Sir Samson Meverill, who fought against Joan of Arc, is buried in a magnificent tomb in the chancel and also laid to rest there is Bishop Robert Purseglove who became rich during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and whose estate still pays a small stipend to Tideswell school to this day. It's well worth a visit and a handy spot to get out of the rain. The village is also famous for a fantastic bakery, "Tindall's of Tideswell", one of the best refuelling stops in the area.
I left the village with the rain coming down and headed through Tideswell Dale, the site of an old basalt quarry with sculptures along the flat, pleasant riverside trail. There is an avenue of magnificent Beech trees and there were plenty of finches and long-tail tits darting in and out of the vegetation. The path continued into Miller's Dale and the picturesque hamlet of Litton Dale. The original mill sited there was notorious for the conditions in which the indentured "apprentices", usually children from the work house, were required to work, but the hamlet now has an air of gentility with woodsmoke curling from the chimneys of the stone cottages.
Leaving Litton Dale, the path climbed through woodland before crossing The Monsal Trail and continuing a steep ascent into Priestcliffe Lees Nature Reserve. The paths were wet and muddy restricting the pace of progress and making a coffee perched on some old lead workings with a view of the valley below a welcome respite......until the rain came again. I pressed on to another tiny farming hamlet called Brushfield, now mostly holiday lets by the look of things but with some beautiful snowdrops in the woods. The path continued on above Taddington Dale, a densely wooded valley, before dropping down to rejoin The Monsal Trail at the spectacular eponymous viaduct which has great views of the River Wye and Monsal Dale and on a better day would have been ideal for some lunch. I followed The Monsal Trail for about a mile, it runs along the route of an old Midland Railways line (complete with tunnels), passing the ghostly abandoned platform of Monsal Dale station before leaving it at the Cressbrook tunnel and dropping down to Cressbrook Mill at the head of Hay Dale. The mill is now a very smart conversion, but the mill-race still flows alongside the footpath and it isn't hard to imagine it in it's prime producing textiles for Richard Arkwright and, later, McConnel and Co.
The rain was coming down even harder now so the relative shelter afforded by the woodland in Cressbrook Dale was a welcome relief. Cressbrook is evidence that the rain is not an occasional visitor here. Every surface of wall, tree, root, even the ground itself is covered in lush, spongy, vivid green moss and it gives the wooded dale a distinctly Middle Earth feel to it. Leaving the woodland I followed the river up the valley before crossing the stepping stones and climbing the short, steepish ascent through Tansley Dale, home of more abandoned lead workings, to be met with spectacular views of the area. Dry stone walling is still a craft much in evidence in this part of the world and the fields are neatly parcelled up by some fantastic examples of this slowly dying art.
Last stop before Tideswell was Litton, a picture perfect village with a green, characterful cottages and a pub, The Red Lion, that was such a perfect approximation of a country inn that it would have been criminal to pass it by, so I didn't. Log fires, quiet, relaxed atmosphere and a pint of "BG Sips" gave me the fortitude to head off on the last mile of my journey back to Tideswell and a visit to the bakery..
To view the full photo album for this walk, please click on the link below

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Results of Poll Number 2

Well folks the results of the second poll are in. We asked which one of the famous, international trails would you do if time, money and energy were not an issue. There was a very clear winner as you can see below!
1. The Inca Trail-14 votes
2. Wainwright's Coast to Coast-4 votes
3.=The Annapurna Trail-3 votes
3.=The Milford Track-3 votes
3.=The Appalachian Trail-3 votes
4.=The GR20-2 votes
4.=The Everest Base Camp Trail-2 votes
4.=The Tour de Mont Blanc-2 votes
4.=The Torres del Paine circuit-2 votes
5. Mount Kilimanjaro-1 vote

Please keep an eye out for our next poll/reader question !!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bempton Cliffs

Walking with;Ruth
I thought the perfect walk for a rehabilitating knee would be a nice gentle stroll along an East Yorkshire coastal path with the chance to observe a few early season seabirds as a decent bonus. A walk was necessary after nearly a month of inactivity not to mention some superb Haddock and Chips in Bridlington and a Mixed Grill at The Ship Inn in Dunstall that would have stopped a lion in its track such was the ferocious amount of meat piled high on my plate. The only fly in the ointment for this plan was that snowfall during the week, coupled with Arctic winds whistling in off the North Sea had covered the path with a freezing, slushy mess, none-the-less we pressed on undeterred.
Bempton Cliffs is a flagship RSPB reserve and between April and August over 200,000 seabirds including Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets and Fulmars nest on the cliff faces of this spectacular headland. We were a little early in the year,but there were numerous Gannets flying in squadrons of four or more, and plenty of fulmars surfing the freezing thermals (if that's not a contradiction in terms)! The walking was good, the path wound along the cliff top very close to the edge and with conditions underfoot slippy, concentration was required.
On the other side from the cliff edge the ruins of RAF Bempton stood stark against the skyline and provided a moody and atmospheric backdrop for our expedition. RAF Bempton was first set up during World War Two as a GCI station and soldiered on in various different forms until it was eventually closed in 1972. Whilst the area is sealed off it looked well worth an exploration and had a distinctly "ghost townish" feel about it.
Anyway, the knee survived in spite of a few skids and slips and will hopefully be ready for some more adventurous walks over the next week or two. Come Walk with Me is back on track!
To view the full album please click on the link below;

Thursday, February 2, 2012

If time and money were no object which great trail would you choose to walk?

The second of our weekly polls is now up and running on our Facebook page. If time and money were no object would you fancy walking to Everest base camp, circumnavigating Mont Blanc, walking to Macchu Pichu via the Inca Trail or maybe wandering through the magnificent South Island scenery of New Zealand on The Milford Trail? If you would like to vote follow the link below.!/groups/136991043086476/

Results of Poll Number 1

Well, our first weekly post has closed. We asked Which British National Park was your favourite? The results from our Facebook page are shown below;
1. The Lake District-12 votes
2. Snowdonia-10 votes
3. The Peak District-7 votes
4. Brecon Beacons-2 votes
4.=Norfolk Broads-2 votes
6.The New Forest-1 vote
6.=The Cairngorms-1 vote
6.=The South Downs-1 vote

Honourable mentions also went to Dartmoor, Exmoor and The Pembrokeshire Coast
Thanks to everyone that voted!