June 22, 2018 at 4:40 pm #12190Stephen WarwickParticipant
Nine of us gathered on this beautiful, sunny, breezy solstice day and set off promptly at 11:00. A short time later we were joined by a not-so-prompt tenth member who, knowing the leader’s reputation for punctual departures, had hurried up the road just in time to see the direction we were heading – fortunate, because he made a late decision to walk the reverse of the route advertised, purely for aesthetic reasons and definitely not to bamboozle any late arrivals.
Thankfully we had all resisted the temptation to pull our druidic robes out of the back of the wardrobe and so we proceeded in good order to the footbridge beyond the weir in Monsal Dale. Here Poppy, our regular canine companion, fetched sticks from the river but drew the line at retrieving them from water that approached her Plimsoll Line, i.e. anywhere more than four inches deep!
We followed the river downstream, admiring dippers and grey wagtails along the way before taking the steep path up to Brushfield. Coffee was taken at the top with buzzards calling above us and then it was through the farmyard with swallows and martins swooping over our heads and on to the long lane which leads towards Priestcliffe. Just short of there we turned down the track leading into Priestcliffe Lees NNR, passing a chattering family of redstarts on the way, and taking lunch on a delightful, grassy slope covered with a myriad of wild flowers – orchid, ox-eye daisy, briar rose and birdsfoot trefoil to name just a few (and the only ones I knew). The views in the clear air stretched across Miller’s Dale towards Longstone Edge, Win Hill and the Cakes of Bread on Derwent Edge.
It was an effort to drag ourselves away from this idyllic spot but it had to be done and so we made our way down to the Monsal Trail which we followed for a short distance before taking the high-level path just before Litton Tunnel. Looking down at the modern development at Litton Mill with its smart apartments and holiday cottages it was hard to envisage that this was once the scene of shocking exploitation of child labour in the early 18th century.
The path continued high above the dale, with Cressbrook Hall prominent, and eventually dropped to re-join the Monsal Trail. Here we paused for a while and Indulged in a jolly session of corny joke telling ……….’ a beautiful lady emerges from the sea wearing a wetsuit’, ‘a rabbit goes into a bar’,’ two pieces of tarmac meet’, and so on…. If you want to know the punchlines, you really should get out more!
We finished up the rising track to Monsal Head with the pungent scent of sweet cicely in the air and, the café being closed, we all went our separate ways. A grand day out, 7.8 miles
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