The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Martins 2013 Christmas Walk

Martin has been arranging this annual walk for years, and I mean YEARS.
Sheila and I have enjoyed 3 now. The venue varies and this years walk and Christmas Lunch was excellent. Made even better by the company. There were 25 of us.

I had been kind of planning my recovery programme so that I would be fit enough to do this walk. As usual things don't always go as planned and I was just a little behind where I wanted to be. So I was a bit nervy starting off.
It was good to meet Gayle and Jeff again. Below is a photo of Gayle and Jeff which i nicked off Gayles blog, (naughty), because i didn't get one. Don't they look very very clean. This pic was taken a while ago. Ha

Shame Gayle's other half  Mick was away on business. I believe he is in Israel rewiring the star above Bethlehem. And of course Martin and Sue and Roger from LDWA walks and numerous others who I spoke to but never asked names.
We started the walk from the pay and display car park (£3.50) just south of Tideswell village in Derbyshire. It was a grey day and lightly spitting with rain. Everybody was on time and we were away at the designated time of 10.15am after the group photo.
Heading south down the dale we came across a huge carved vole, I think it was a vole anyway. There was lots of chatter from the group as is usual when so many folk get together. How have you been, where have you been, read the blog and got the tee shirt etc etc. All good stuff.
 We followed  the River Wye for a way downstream crossing over at the bridge adjacent to Litton Mill. Plenty of trout were spotted as we made our way over.

A short rise brought us onto the old disused railway line which we followed for a short distance before leaving it to head upwards on a steep slippery path which terminated at the ridge line above Priestcliffe Lees.

It was indeed steep and had a few of us blowing hard. On the way up I had a chat with Gayle about some thinsulate hand warmers I had been hoping to get sorted out.

At the top we stopped to admire the views and get our breath back before moving into a more sheltered spot to have a quick brew.  Sue offered chocolate brownies and nobody refused as far as i could see. The wind had become quite strong and chilly and it was good to get back moving.

On decent paths we followed Bulltor Lane and along the top of High Dale. Then past Top, Middle and Lower Farms at Brushfield.

  A steep decent through old wooded trackways brought us back parallel with the river in Monsal Dale. Quite a few English Longhorn cattle mingled in the gorse and grass. They were no trouble.
A little further on and once through a number of deep muddy sections we crossed the river at the weir. A five minute stop was taken as its quite a picturesque spot for photographs.

It was a steady climb for the next 10 minutes through woodland until the track leveled out. Skirting the south edge of Monsal Dale the views get better and better. Not much further on we had our first sighting of the old railway headstone viaduct built in 1863 by the Midland Railway. It is 300ft long and has 5 arches. Now disused it has become a great walking and cycling route.

Into view next came our lunch stop, The Monsal Head.

I had been in here once before but a long time ago. Removing our very muddy boots and gaiters we were seated in the large hall.
The first alcoholic drink was on the house and then we were served a wonderful three coarse lunch.
Sheila and I chose Goat Cheese Ciabatta, which was absolutely gorgeous, with a traditional Turkey Christmas Dinner and followed by Apple crumble, mince pies and coffee.

We have to say, it was terrific. Everything about the meal was first class, so a big thank you to Sarah and all the staff at the hotel for doing us proud.

During the meal Martin gave us all a quiz sheet where we had to name photographs taken from his blog. There were prizes, oh yes. This year i didn't win anything. I think i came 4th or 5th. I didn't do too well. I think my memory had gone on holiday. Jeff and i talked gear, as you do.

When it came to leaving, i was definitely full to bursting. Thankfully we only had a short leg of the walk to do and it was either down hill or flat. Thank you Martin for arranging it this way as i doubt that i would have made it going the reverse route. The wind had now become quite fierce, the hotel is in a very exposed position being at the highest point in the dale.

Once down onto the viaduct we lost the wind as we were sheltered from it. The tunnels were open after many years of closure. A sign said the tunnel lights go out at dusk. Strange, i thought, shouldn't they come on at dusk?

Anyway off we set along the track bed and through a tunnel or 3. Lots of soot still clinging onto the roof and sidewalls from the hundreds of steam trains which used to pass. Exiting each tunnel the sky was growing pinker and pinker then redder and redder until we had a decent sunset sky. Unfortunately we were in a gorge so the visual extent of the sunset was limited.

Dusk was just falling as we made our way off the track bed and back over the river. Darkness fell as we entered Tideswell Dale and my torch was only used for the last few hundred yds. Great planning that Martin.
Our total distance 16.4km.
I had no adverse reaction so that was pleasing. In fact i felt much better apart from the obvious tiredness of muscles that had no been used for a while. Oh and the full stomach was complaining a little.
As luck would have it, we had no rain, snow, hail, or sleet to contend with but 20 minutes after getting back to the car the heavens opened. 

Thanks Martin and Sue for organising the day. It was very much appreciated.
Here  is a link to all the pics i took on the walk.  I have put it in so that if anybody wants to take a copy they can do. I havn't sorted out them out so there are a few crappy shots. There are no copyright restrictions so you should be able to download what you want. Any problems just post a message.


Dawn said...

Looks like you all had a fantastic time Alan.Good to see you getting out.

AlanR said...

Yes, it was another good Christmas plod. Thanks, i know i needed to get out.

Gayle said...

Oooh, don't I look young in that first photo?! I must get around to stringing together a few words to put in amongst some photos that I shall take from your collection.

Good to catch up with you and Shiela.

AlanR said...

Hi Gayle. Good to catch up with you too. I thought that photo was only taken last month. Ha
Feel free to download any pics. If you have any probs getting them just let me know. Regards to Mick.

Andrew W said...

Now, IF I lived up in T' North, I would have come to this.

AlanR said...

Well its not that far away and plenty of overnight stops available.

Andrew W said...

Next outing for me will be Howgills in Feb.
Mind you that may well depend on the findings when I have my left knee scanned on Monday. I am hoping I don't need another bloody operation on it, but we will see.

AlanR said...

My fingers are crossed for you. Howgills are nice.

Andrew W said...

Yep knee is a bit important for next 6 months
Snake Pass
Just to name but 4

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