My walk last week was based on the beautiful village of Bakewell in the Peak District and featured some lovely riverside walking and the splendid viewpoint from Monsal Head. At 12 miles it was a good stretch of the legs but we had enough time at the end to get the local delicacy, Bakewell Tart or should it be pudding ?
We crossed the river and left the village climbing steadily across field paths to cross a road at the end of Kirk Dale.
We climbed up again heading for the village of Sheldon before descending steeply into the upper part of Deep Dale.
Deep Dale is set in the “White Peak” area of the Peak District National Park where the underling rock is mainly carboniferous limestone. The area is rich in history dating back to the Iron Age. Also there are folk tales about the giant Hulac Warren and his love of the shepherdess Hedessa which ultimately led to both their deaths.
We followed the stream down the dale and although it is early in the year there were lots of wild flowers. I saw Lesser Celandine, Wild Pansy and Wood Anemone.
I also spotted a plant that I had never seen before.
I think it may be Red Bartsia, a parasitic plant. Can anyone help?
We followed David, our leader down Deep Dale to reach the A6 and a picnic area where we could stop for lunch. Sitting at a picnic table was a luxury that we don’t often get on a ‘A’ party walk.
Crossing the busy A6 we entered the beautiful Monsal Dale where we enjoyed some riverside walking. I thought I saw a monster but it was just an old log.
Stopping to take photos had left me way behind but the group waited for me by the weir. We were amazed at the volume of water flowing down the river.
We continued along Monsal Dale and soon the viaduct came into view.
The Headstone Viaduct at Monsal Head was built in 1863 on the Derby to Manchester section of the Midland Railway line. It is 300 feet long and has five arches each spanning 50 feet making it one of the most impressive viaducts in Britain.
At the time of its construction the viaduct and the railway came in for a lot of criticism. John Ruskin, a leading poet of the time wrote.
The valley is gone – and now any fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour and every fool in Bakewell in Buxton.
However the viaduct became one of the railways best selling points and appeared on many posters.
Following the closure of many of the railway lines in the 1960’s there was talk of dismantling the viaduct but there was lots of opposition and in 1970 a preservation order was placed on the structure.
Just before we reached the viaduct we took a path to the left and climbed up to the viaduct where we stopped to admire the view and take a group photo.
We were now on the Monsal Trail which follows the route of the dismantled railway track. The line ran for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and the Coombs Viaduct in Bakewell. The majority of the route was opened in 1981 but four of the tunnels had to remain closed for ‘Health and safety’ reasons. However in May 2011 these tunnels, each 400 yards long were finally opened to the public and lighting was installed.
We did not go through the tunnel but followed a path to the left for a short but steep climb up to Monsal Head.
We walked along the road to Little Longstone before re-joining the Monsal Trail which we followed back towards Bakewell. Close to Bakewell we left the trail to follow an old drovers route entering Bakewell over the old packhorse bridge.
It was now time to enjoy a pint with ‘Birthday Boy’ David.
No visit to Bakewell would be complete without sampling the local delicacy. Bakewell Tart, or should it be Bakewell Pudding.
Bakewell Tart, on the left, consists of a shortcrust pastry base with a layer of jam and a sponge using ground almonds. Cover the shortcrust pastry with a layer of jam, add a mixture of eggs, sugar and ground almonds and margarine. Sprinkle with ground almonds and bake in a warm oven.
Bakewell Pudding although containing the same ingredients, looks and tastes different. It is believed that it was first made by accident. In 1860, Mrs Greaves, the landlady of the White Horse Inn was expecting some important guests and she left instructions with het cook to prepare a jam tart. However, the inexperienced cook, instead of stirring the the egg and almond paste mixture into the pastry spread it on top of the jam. During cooking the jam bubbled up to the top and the texture was different.
This time I bought a large pudding from the Bakewell Pudding Parlour. Last night we ate half of it served cold with cream. Tonight we will finish it served warm with custard. Delicious.