Here’s a slightly belated entry, but never mind.
A crack team of 25 plus James assembled in Tideswell Dale. Cards were exchanged before the ritual of our Christmas Walk commenced exactly on time at 10.15 (Colin and Helen weren’t lost somewhere this year – they were in fancy dress on a 10K run in Tatton Park).
We soon passed a sleepy water vole and headed into the Wye Valley, to cross the river at Litton Mill.
A gentle spell along an unusually quiet Monsal Trail offered relaxation before the steep pull up to Priestcliffe Lees.
We enjoyed elevenses, with Sue’s excellent shortbread, outside a barn with a nice roof where I thought I heard Graham announce that he was going to convert the magnificent barn into a bunkhouse.
The nice holiday cottages at Brushfield were passed without incident and all 25 seemed still to be in attendance as they strolled on along path towards Putwell Hill.
A small contingent intent on taking the Putwell Hill short cut were discouraged from cheating, so we all endured the slithery descent to Monsal Dale via Brushfield Hough.
The River Wye was re-crossed just below the weir.
We paused here – not wanting to reach our lunch venue too early!
The Monsal Head Hotel proved to be an excellent venue. Lunch arrived on time, the food was more than adequate and very tasty, and Sue W even summoned enough energy reserves to win the quiz that I’d devised the previous evening.
Staggering out of the hotel after lunch, we admired the view along Upperdale
Down on the Monsal Trail, Paul posed by Headstone Tunnel, fairly recently reopened after being closed for many years, whilst we waited for the disabled members of the group. The most disabled was, I realised, myself, as I’d forgotten that Gayle had left at lunchtime and I worried for some time about who had gone missing, despite reassurances that everybody was ‘in position’!
Cressbrook Mill was viewed from the entrance to the next tunnel – I was at the back at this point, so unable to influence the route, which I’d intended to be along the riverside path from Cressbrook.
In fading light the Monsal Trail path was very quiet by 4pm, but the tunnels are well lit until dusk.
We emerged to a stunning sunset before descending back down to Litton Mill and along the pleasant path up Tideswell Dale as the last vestiges of daylight dissipated.
Here's our route - 16km, 360 metres ascent taking about 6 hours (3 hours walking time).
Thanks for your company, everyone, and have a Very Merry Christmas. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Meanwhile, there’s a slideshow here for those who care to view a few more of the photos I took.