The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Drizzle in Hartington

The weather forecast for today wasn’t bad. A cloudy start leading on to sunny intervals later with no indication of any rain. The forecast for yesterday had been the same. For neither day was it correct.

At 10am this morning we were to be found loitering outside the Devonshire Arms in Hartington (in the drizzle), where a few minutes later appeared the couple for whom we were waiting (for ease of reference we will refer to them as S&A). Overly optimistically (and contrary to all indications) we all expressed hope that the mist and drizzle would quickly burn off.

S had taken responsibility for deciding where we were to walk and the answer was that we went south out of Hartington, over (remarkably muddy) farmland to meet the River Dove in Beresford Dale, along which we wandered for a while until the river flowed into Wolfscote Dale, through which we also followed it.

The river, the woodland and the impressively steep sided valley of Wolfscote Dale were fine sights – only marred by the continuing drizzle and general greyness of the day (which meant that the few photos that I took are not worth sharing). Still, a fine day would have increased remarkably the number of people out and about, so even the drizzle had a silver lining.

After a few miles of riverside path, it was time for an upward incline: the only one of the entire walk. It wasn’t long, but it was a tad steep. Needless to say, with my slowness up hills, Husband and A got to admire the (rather cloud-limited) views from the top whilst I dawdled my way up with S.

Quagmires more mud were found as we passed across farmland and onto a track heavily clad in nettles (shouldn’t they have died back by now?) which demonstrated once again (and quite extensively) that my trousers are far from being nettle-proof.

Proving that the person at the back (i.e. me) is not the best person to be navigating (“You’ve gone too far” I hollered to Husband and A), we left the tracks in favour of more fields, which afforded some fine views of the surrounding countryside. Quite why we’re not more familiar with this countryside I do not know. We were only something like 35 miles from home and yet in the five and a half years that we’ve lived in this neck of the woods we’ve only ventured into the Peak District a small handful of times. There’s something else that we must rectify.

Countryside paths, which clearly see much traffic, took us back to the same riverside path as our outward journey, which in turn led us back to Hartington, where a toss-up between two pubs led us to the Devonshire Arms for lunch. It proved to be an eminently suitable place to enjoy Sunday lunch and to sample some fine ale.

Leaving the pub to go our separate ways we concluded that S won the award for ‘Most Mud Adorning Trousers’ (really, she was covered to mid-thigh and below the knee looked like she’d been dipped in a mud bath). Husband was placed a close second. In last place we A, who seemed to have avoided all of the mud in which we had caked ourselves – surely that can’t have been the work of gaiters alone?

Now, I must go and clean some footwear…

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