Last Sunday I was out with my local rambling club and our destination was Hartington in the heart of the Peak District. I joined the ‘B’ party on a pleasant 9 mile walk that took in a couple of the famous dales.
It was a beautiful sunny morning with just a bit of mist lingering in the valleys as we set off across fields towards the river Dove in Beresford Dale. A short distance along the riverside path we came to Pike Pool, named not after the fish that can be found in the river but after the tall grey monolith or pike that rises out out of the water.
From the end of the dale we followed tracks and paths to the attractive village of Alstonefield . On the way we passed a farm where there was a young bull leaning over a gate. I realised that this was a photo opportunity, if I could get in close enough. I have a photo competition coming up where the set subject is ‘Close up’ I knew what I wanted and even had the title in mind – Bulls Eye. I moved in close but the bull did not seem happy. It began to snort and paw the ground. Time for me to beat a hasty retreat. But I did get my picture.
Look at those eyelashes!
Our route led us along Narrowdale with Narrowdale Hill on our right. It was easy walking through beautiful countryside.
After lunch sitting on the village green in Alstonefield we made our way across more fields before dropping steeply down into Milldale.
Milldale is a tranquil riverside village of square stone cottages on the banks of the River Dove.
It is a popular starting point for walks in Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale and is famous for its packhorse bridge over the river Dove. Izaak Walton, author of The Complete Angler was supposed to have used this bridge on route to his fishing trips on the Dove. In his book The Complete Angler, written in 1653 Izaak Walton names a character Viator. The very steep descent of Hanson’s Toot followed by the sight of the tiny packhorse bridge led him to write the following “What’s here, the sign of a bridge? Do you travel in wheelbarrows in this country? This bridge was made for nothing else – why a mouse can hardly go over it. tis not two fingers broad!”
Parapets have since been added to the bridge but it is still very narrow and is known as Viator’s Bridge or Wheelbarrow Bridge. Viator being an old name for traveller.
Milldale can be reached by car along a country lane and is well signposted. There is never an excuse for not being able to find refreshments.
Our route now followed the river Dove through Wolfscote Dale. The path is initially through a thickly wooded and steep sided gorge but this eventually opens out with grassy slopes and limestone crags.
The highlight of my day was the sighting of a Kingfisher. A brilliant flash of turquoise blue darting up the river.
We followed the river as far as Frank i’ th’ Rocks bridge where we left the river to climb to Reynard’s lane and back into Hartington in time for a well deserved pint. It was still quite warm and we sat in the beer garden at the Devonshire Arms and enjoyed a pint of Cumberland Ale.
Almost back home I looked out of the window of the coach and saw the moon rising. It was a ‘Supermoon’ and a ‘Blood Moon’. It looked huge as it hung just above the horizon. At 2 o’clock in the morning there was to be a partial eclipse of the moon but I did not stay up. I needed some sleep.