Should that be stage 12. 1. If we were to go for a sort of Wittgensteinian Tractatussy system of blog post enumaration, perhaps. But I think the simplest thing is to just call it 14.

For this one, you see, is out of order. If you had been paying proper attention instead of reading that comic at the back of the class, you would remember that I missed a bit because I had to get the train from Hathersage to Edale and then to walk to Crowden for my YHA booking I did not have time to go back for it.

With another chunk planned next weekend, I nipped up for a quick expedition to fill in the blank.

For once I did not set off insanely early. My train was at 7.55. This was not so good as it sounds. For one thing I set off in unsure hung-parliament territory and had stayed up too long and drunk too much wine on Thursday night to be right, body clock wise. So I woke up early anyway.

And trains at 8.00 on Saturday, are a lot busier than trains at 6.30, it turns out. So I did not have the space to spread out and doze. I had a young man next to me who had nothing with him but an old and battered Bible which he studied all the way to Derby, emanating sanctimony. There were  a bunch of Chesterfield supporters on too, it being the last day of the football league season. Middle aged, a bit loud but also seemingly self-conscious as if they knew that really being a mad Chesterfield supporter when you were well past forty was a bit embarrassing.

I had better luck with my other table companions, a sweet little girl and her dad who was trying, and failing mostly, to read an Elmore Leonard novel between keeping her amused.

I was trying and failing mostly to read Middlemarch. Eliot has been on my TBR list for long too long but I have always found her hard to get into. I had made a start by the time we whistled past the Leagrave sentinels.

After Derby I paid more attention to the route and managed to confuse myself. I am sorry that I probably won't go back that way again now as I would like to have worked it out.

I did get to see the crooked spire in Chesterfield for the first time since my sister Nina lived in Wirksworth, which is a very long time ago. And then we were in Sheffield. I only had ten minutes to wait for the little train that took me out to Edale via the enormous Totley Tunnel (it was the longest mainline train tunnel at 3.5 miles until the Channel rail link was built).  It is magic, we leave the outskirts of Sheffield and emerge a few  minutes later into the heart of Derbyshire Peak District, picking up the Derwent valley almost right away. A few minutes later I am getting off at Hathersage, and stepping into a freezing wind and rain.

The rain picks up as I head off from the station and go back down the road to the river, past David Mellor's studio and famous round building. It has a cafe. Damn I had forgotten that. I now wish I had not grabbed a cappuccino in Sheffield station.

I could have taken a short cut from the station, but I don't have a long day today and, so far, the walk along the Derwent has been so gorgeous I am reluctant to miss any of it. I have, in fact, followed the valley with the river being mostly in sight (I could see it half the time even when walking on the tow path of the Cromford Canal) all the way from a park on the other side of Derby.

And I am glad I made this decision. The weather might not be so good as last time but the walk is lovely, a path picking its way alongside the now fast flowing river. Bird life is plentiful. I see a merganser,  a pair of mallards with the first ducklings I have spotted this year, and as I go through the small, Goose Nest Wood, a nuthatch, one of my favorite birds, flies into a tree in front of me.

Once the path leaves the woods and goes into open pastures the birds are still busy about me. Swallows, swifts and house martins swoop across the green fields, amongst the sheep and lambs. It is still overcast but at  least the rain has stopped and at one point a bit of weak sun struggles out for a few moments.

I pass a ruinous but ancient and interesting looking barn. There are still a few purple and yellow Derwent Valley Heritage Trail signs here and there. I will be sorry to see them go. They are not really required here by the river side but they have kept me right in some confusing places further south.

In places the path winds up high on the side of the river, often the bank is thick with trees. I pass some inviting looking stepping stones; rather sorry that they do not lie on my route.

At Bamford the Derwent and the Derwent trail go north. There is a confluence with the river Noe which carries on west. My way today but I think I will come back and follow the Derwent all the way one day. I have become inordinately fond of that river and it is with a twinge of regret that I see it off.

But only a twinge, because I want to get on in case the weather really falls apart. Great grey clouds go
scudding overheard and sometimes there are spits of rain. The wind is icy for mid May.

So I walk on through the prettily named little village of Shatton.  It seems to be just houses. Well kept expensive houses, some old and picturesque but all well kept.  I exit the village via a ford and am a bit surprised when two cars overtake me.

The map is a bit of a puzzlement here. It shows a b road going absolutely nowhere. Beyond the road there is a track and permissive footpath marked, but there is a gap between the two on the 25,000 map. Just half a kilometer but I can see no right of way.

However, it is too illogical to be so.  There must be a route, I figure.

To begin with this b road to absolutely nowhere is a hollow way. I pass the cars and more parked in a field by a barn. People have got out and are pointing at the hills behind but I have no idea what they are up to. They don't really look like walkers. I get to the end of the road where it turns south to become a farm track and go through a gate. There is a track but no sign to shed any light on the access situation. I just walk on through until another gate and am sure I am now on the permissive way. Consulting the 50,000 map online it looks as if the permission goes all the way, but it is very unclear on the 25,000 scale map for some reason. Whatever, I had no problems and walk down into the hamlet of Brough.

And out again almost immediately. This time the path is well marked through some fields and a Roman fort which I apparently walked right over without actually seeing. Perhaps because I was distracted by this amazing goat with such startling horns I could not work out what it was to start with.

The route took me up again, over a little hill and then back down to Hope. Beyond the village I get good views of Lose Hill and the ridge beyond it stretching to Mam Tor.  Lose Hill was on my planned route, but not until after lunch. I was in good time and starving by the time I strolled into Hope.

And I was spoiled for choice. There were at least two pubs, one insisting that it welcomed muddy boots and dogs and three cafes that I saw. So I did quick comparison. I really wanted to go to the Old Hall for reasons of perverse ironic personal gratification - but decided on the Courtyard Cafe in the end on the grounds that they had a proper coffee machine and pub coffee tends to be fairly dodgy.

This was not a good plan. As well as starving I was dehydrated and should have gone for a bucket of tea. But I was incredibly hungry which masked that. Once I had ingested some very good haddock and chips and swallowed a cappuccino I did have a pot.  It had begun to rain while I was waiting for my fish and chips and I was in very good time, so I was happy enough to linger over the tea and read a bit more of Middlemarch.

It had stopped raining when I set off again. The footpaths through sheep encrusted fields were liberally sprinkled with walkers. Most were coming back the way off of the hill but there were plenty going my way too, despite the dodgy weather. This seems to be rare breed country, with many of the sheep, if not as weird as the horny goat thing, certainly unusual.

I passed a sign for Hope and took a picture. I felt like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress or Dante going to the Inferno as I was abandoning Hope for good. The path was steep and it got steeper past the last farm house and I was gasping again, but it was not like the really debilitated crawl up to Kinder Scout from the Youth Hostel. I doubt I was much fitter but at least I had recovered from the virus.

But I took my time as I had plenty of it. Hauling myself on to the top of Lose Hill into a freezing north wind. The views, despite the scudding clouds, were fabulous. I was almost directly opposite the Youth Hostel and could see the route I had scrambled up onto Kinder Scout clearly.

Down in the valley I watched two Manchester/Sheffield trains passing each other. After some water and some photos, I set off again.

I was a bit worried about my knees as I had not taken any ibuprofen, but they were OK I have been experimenting with the way I walk down hills after reading an article about how people who use hi-tech running shoes still get injuries that people who run bare-foot don't. The reason seems to be that barefoot runners land on their toes or ball of the foot rather than the heel.

I figure that if this is good for runners it might be good for hillwalkers with worn out and dodgy knees, so make an effort to step onto the ball of my foot rather than land flat footed or on the heel. And it does seem to be helping.

If there is one thing that I dearly love it is a ridge walk. Views opening up on either side, the hard work of grinding up the hill behind you. And this was a fantastic ridge. Slightly lower than the hills to the north it was much higher than the land on either side and the veiws were accordingly brilliant. To the south, Castleton nestling in its valley which went back to Hope, to the north, Edale with Kinder Scout glowering above it. Distant fells glimpsed here and there, further away.

The ridge curved away in front of me to Mam Tor. The landscape was more dramatic than I had expected, almost Lake District like in places. At last the ridge led me down to a little saddle called Hollin Cross and I started to traverse down to Edale.

It was remarkably painless. I walked off the open moor, through National Trust managed scrub woodland and onto a a little country lane down to the bottom of the valley. Across the river and road and I was at Edale Station, a clear two hours before my scheduled train.

There is a pub I had passed, just up the hill when I was here before, that looked inviting. But there was a train due, and I have never been to Sheffield, so I hopped on it.

In company of four half-hysterical young women who were going to Sheffield for some sort of Jolly and screamed with laughter most of the way, the train took me back round, through Hope and Bamford to Hathersage. Back above the rushing Derwent and into that giant tunnel to Sheffield.

In Sheffield I had a look around, bought some new trousers in TK Maxx and read the
Andrew Motion poem on the side of the tower block just outside the station, part of Sheffield Hallam University

O travellers from 
somewhere else to here
Rising from Sheffield Station
and Sheaf Square
to wander through the
labyrinths of air

Pause now and let
the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place
which lifts you off
To speculate
What if...?
What if...?
What if...?

Seemed sort of appropriate, somehow. 


Man, it seemed a long way back on the train. Have I really walked this far already? It seems hardly possible.


  1. Bojana said...

    I really like that "Hope" sign!  

  2. Spencer said...

    Good, isn't it. A little bit of Dante in the Peak District!  


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