Friday, 1 January 2010

Bakewell to the midlands, the end - for now

Greenfields camping and caravanning site in Bakewell was brilliant!
Situated just outside of Bakewell it is comfortable with very good facilities and one I will certainly be coming back to.
The people are friendly and helpful and you get a very warm welcome.
We had been spoilt at the B&B but were now back to the outdoor life, though it was not cold, but we had been warned of severe weather and decided to stay an extra day.
The weather didn`t disappoint!
A blowing gale and pouring rain greeted our early evening. The tent was taking a battering and indeed began to leak in water - I was not impressed but did expect it!
After about 6 hours of bad weather, it suddenly died out, then it was a salvage job of getting stuff dry and to sleep.
The next morning was different, sunny, bright with a little chill in the air.
We spoke to quite a few people who were on sight - most glad to see we were still there!
It took us a short while to pack and then we were off again!
Lambs played in fields and it really was a pleasant trip.

With pleasant views to take us through Derbyshire and down to Staffordshire, the journey was doing both of us the world of good, even if it didn`t feel like it - sometimes!
One thing I will do for next time is get rid of the bulk!
We headed for Monyash and watched big black clouds in the distance heading slowly towards us.
At Monyash we stopped at a cafe that centuries ago used to be a blacksmiths.
Through Monyash and then we picked up the Limestone Trail that would take us south.
At One Ash Grange farm we took a detour, following the river down Lathkill Dale, a nature reserve that was steeped either side with hills, rocky outcroppings and twisted trees.
Willow went straight for a dip and a drink!
There are old caves and mining holes here so it is a dangerous place to be and safe not to stray from the track.
The sheep were not bothered by mine or Willows presence and Willow didn`t chase them.
Mallards and waders swam by, keeping hold of drakes in tow, mating season was evident!
We sat for a little quiet reflection in the warm sunshine, just listening to nature at its calmest. No rustle of trees, no traffic just the bleat of sheep and quack of the ducks.
We carried on but dusk was now creeping through, it was time to find somewhere to stay.
We walked through and towards Over Haddon and followed a very steep uphill to Meadow Grange Place.
Following through the farm we came to style that even I was flabbergasted at! it was a 6ft high wall with steps going up, except the steps were not evenly placed and climbing up them was not an easy job.
Willow jumped up them with ease watching me from above as I struggled and then had cramp in my thigh! I must`ve looked a picture! Willow wagging her tail in amusement then she jumped down to which, when I eventually got to the top, could see she had dived into a huge muddy hole and was now brown! I laughed and she looked at me amusingly and ran around like a dog possessed before stopping by me and shaking madly, as if to say here, have some!
Although darkness had quickly descended I wanted to get to Youlgrave to a campsite there.
I could see the lights of the village in the distance.
At Youlgrave, I stopped at a park bench, not sure of my direction when a man was out walking his dog and he asked if we were ok, I then asked about a campsite, he made a phone call and put me in the right direction, I was pleased.
Church Farm camping and caravanning site made us feel very welcome and as it was a working farm, they were in full flow with calfing and they wouldn`t finish til early hours of the morning, but they made sure we were ok before they carried on.

The next morning would be 6th March 2009, and it had been a bitterly cold night with a hard frost, indeed I scrapped off the inside of the tent!

Our tent looked a little whiter than blue with the ice, but it wouldn`t take long to dry out with the sun on it, even if it was a chilly morning, it gave me an opportunity to speak to the people who run and own the farm and thank them for letting us stay.There was a steep downhill to contend with, but we didn`t mind. We met an elderly gentleman who was walking up it and he had the stride of a 20 year old. He had lived here all his life and was in his 80`s, but you wouldn`t have thought it! I love these places and I stopped briefly just to watch the smoke rise out of old chimney pots, burning wood or coal, a warm welcoming feel a real fire has, don`t give me gas or electric!
We rejoined the Limestone trail through fields and gentle rolling hills.
I slipped over wet ground and landed awkwardly on my pack.
After picking myself up and willow seemingly laughing at me, we made our way (with me limping!) to the outskirts of a place called Winster and stayed in our tent at the Miners Standard. The pub itself was a pub of old, a roaring fire and food beautifully cooked.
Willow plonked herself down in front of the warm glow.
After a good warm we went to the tent and I didn`t move for the rest of the evening.
The next day (7th march) I couldn`t move too well, but I was determined to get up and about and walk into Winster itself.

On the way down we came across a lovely old church. The reason I mention it is because when we were walking through the graveyard Willow stopped and stared, ears up and then she began to wag her tail, so at least I knew the spirits were friendly, at least towards my dog.

I remember when I was young and my dad had his dog, we did the exact same thing, walked through a graveyard and his dog was so terrified and wouldn`t leave his side. I had always said that if Willow didn`t feel comfortable I wouldn`t take her through, but we always seem to feel peace at churches or graveyards, probably because I have a great respect for those deceased.

Winster itself is an old mining Village and virtually the whole high street is grade 1 and 2 listed and the oldest building is the market hall. Remnants of days gone by are still visible above the door frames, it was like going back in time.

There was a classic car rally being held today too. Old majestic motors without there roofs meandering around the country roads, you could hear them before you saw them!

After another couple of days recuperating it was time to go and so we thanked the people at the Miners Standard and headed of back down the limestone trail we stayed in a farmers field that night.

Next morning we carried on down the limestone stone and picked up the Tissington Trail, only 9 miles long and this took us to Ashbourne where we found a campsite for the night.

The next day we headed back off to rejoin the limestone trail before it joined the Staffordshire way and the terrain changed again. Indeed hedges here were laid, an old form of keeping stock in the fields without modern day fencing and far more practical.

I prefer to look at these types of hedges!

The roads were quiet and the going was good, my aches and stiffness still evident and a happy dog I had still got!

It wasn`t long before we came to Uttoxeter and we asked if we could stay on the racecourse! Yes they said and stayed there overnight, but whilst in the tent I though someone had taken out a horse to run round the track - in the dark! until I checked my watch, 23:47! Maybe a horse had gotten out, Willow listened attentively, but we left it. Next morning I said about the horse and they looked back at me blankly! No - one knew what to make of it, was it a ghostly going on? make up your own mind on that!
We headed off and picked up the Staffordshire way again and found it to be a flat route and somewhat muddy and well used in places, still, we didn`t mind!

It wasn`t long before we hit Abbots Bromley. I didn`t realise that we had such lovely places that were still left in built up places, but this was lovely and we stayed the night.

The next morning I knew I would be back in Wolverhampton and at me mams for a few weeks, but on our way out, we came across a humorous sign and a road that looked like it drove straight into the water!

And so it was that this stage of the walk was finished - for now. We had covered about 300 miles and we had enjoyed the trip, I hoped that we would be off on our next travels by May............. I had gone through a pair of boots and 6 pairs of socks, not bad for the journey and Willow, Well she just enjoyed the lot and the vet gave her a good bill of health, her body reflected that of a 2 year old dog, not her mature 8 years!

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