Sue, David, Jacqui, Gill, Marcus and Gaynor were the ex-Jo’burg Hiking Club stalwarts who had assembled at Owl Cottage in Cressbrook for the weekend together with Woody.
Being ‘fair weather walkers’, we fumbled. Gill did this best, claiming for some time to have lost the boots in which she arrived back from the previous day’s walk.
“Perhaps I left them outside and someone stole them?” she enquired!
The rain eased, the boots miraculously reappeared. It was time to go.
Sue didn’t want to get her library book and map wet, so the guide book was abandoned and I was given free rein. My initial plan was binned – they did that walk yesterday; so we headed off towards Litton, sliding through woods and fields, restraining Woody from chasing the cows, and veering off towards Tideswell.
Tideswell is at the edge of one side of the White Peak map, my copy of which is disintegrated to the extent that removing it from the map case in even light rain is inadvisable. As a result, we fell off the map at the wrong place. Luckily, nobody noticed, the rain stopped and the sun came out as we strolled up the straight lane towards Water Lane, heading for Wheston.
Beyond Wheston, a rough lane, then tarmac, then another rough and flooded lane – we joined the Limestone Way here – led to fine views south over Miller’s Dale and the gem like scenery of the White Peak.
Having successfully negotiated the flooded track, we slipped down a steep, narrow path, across huge slippery stepping stones through a bog, to the delights of Miller’s Dale, namely the Anglers Rest, a haven for hikers as well as anglers.
There’s a hikers bar, where boots etc can be worn – the sort of place Mike Coldwell would like. We lingered there for the best part of an hour and a half, joined for lunch by Marcus, who recent activities on the surgeon’s bench have driven him to decline such exercise as today’s in order to nurse his phantom pregnancy.
The stroll back to Cressbrook was delightful, starting across the rampant River Wye, then joining the Monsal Trail – along the course of the old Midland Railway that was opened (to Ruskin’s distress and disgust) in 1863 - for its scenic trip through Litton Mill Railway Cutting, where the 19th century engineers scythed through the 330 million year old rocks.
Here we are before leaving for Litton Mill:
Martin, Jacqui, Woody, Gill, Gaynor, Sue and David.
Jacqui and I go back nearly as far as to the last days of this railway in 1968, so it’s always good to meet up and reminisce.
A deep carpet of leaves led down (below) to Litton Mill, from where the river path was followed briefly before we ascended back to Cresswell, avoiding the habitually flooded section of the path.
Here’s the route – 14 km, 500 metres ascent, taking around 4 hours excluding stops. A delightful little excursion.
A slide show (20 pictures) of the day’s exploits is here.