Peak District

Present: Keyna (organiser), Sarah, Bruce, Andrea, Trudi, Alan, Claire, Dave W, Paula, Belinda, Will

Location: New Buildings Farm, Wirksworth

The joys of the M40 (or rather, trying to avoid its closed section) made the journey rather longer than planned for several on Friday evening. Nevertheless, Keyna had arrived early and got the fire going, so everyone eventually arrived to a warm-ish bunkhouse and plenty of wine to keep us going. Alan offered round the chunk of parma ham that he bought for about 2p at Tesco and also brought on the Wales trip four weeks previously – despite his assurances that it doesn’t go off, we all refused…

Saturday morning was cloudy but not raining, and everyone except Dave (who went biking) set off just after 9am to drive to Ilam, the starting point for the walk. Keyna led us along the Dovedale valley, where the water was quite high and meant the stepping-stone crossing required a little more care than usual. We made good time to Milldale, and decided we could extend the planned route a bit by carrying along the river for another mile or so. This resulted in a rather steeper climb up to Alstonefield than originally planned, but no matter. From there, we walked to Wetton and then picked up the Manifold Way, which took us through woodland. It was then back across country to arrive in Ilam just as daylight was beginning to disappear, having done just over 15 miles. In the battle of the satnavs on the journey back to the bunkhouse, Bruce’s car left a few minutes after Keyna’s and yet arrived a few minutes before her.

Dinner was as usual plentiful: a choice of chicken or vegetable curry with all the accompaniments, followed by chocolate orange bread and butter pudding and (later in the evening, once people had room) lemon cheesecake. It wasn’t an overly late night, due to the combination of the day’s exercise and a warm fire.

On Sunday morning Alan was feeling a little rough, as his parma ham had come back to haunt him during the night. Several times. We eventually set out for the car park at Middleton Top. From there, the bikers (Keyna, Dave, Alan, Claire and Trudi) headed off on a route that took in Carsington Water and part of the Tissington Rail Trail. Trudi elected to ride around the lake, and after some confusion with routes and losing people and certain differences in speed, the rest of the group split up as well: Dave and Keyna did their own thing, and Alan and Claire rode at a more sedate pace. Meanwhile the walkers (Sarah, Bruce, Andrea and Paula) went down the former railway line of the High Peak Trail, past climbers at Black Rocks and then along the canal to Cromford with its amazing ice-skating ducks. From there it was a steep uphill out of the village, and some navigation practice for Paula as she took us around the quarries, through Middleton and back through fields to the car park – about 6.5 miles in total. We then set off for home at about 3pm.

Sarah Davies (words), Andrea Postles (pictures)

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