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]

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Martin’s Christmas Walk 2013

I’m a little behind myself here, so there will follow a bit of catch-up. It won’t take many posts as my walks-per-month statistic has only perked up marginally during December.

First up was Martin’s Christmas walk, way back on 8 December, which I did in a slightly different order to the rest of the 23 participants. It was only a couple of days before the walk that I became sure that I would be free on the Sunday, and even then I only had the morning to spare, so I arrived early, parked just down the road from the lunch venue and hot-footed it towards the start point, hoping to make it before the 10.15 departure time.

Onto the Monsal Trail (ex-railway line) I went and very soon was faced with a tunnel that I didn’t expect to see. Yes, I did know that there was a re-opening of a tunnel or tunnels on this line a while ago, but it hadn’t occurred to me that I may come across one, because there was no indication of it on my map.

I didn’t encounter anyone else walking through the tunnels. Alan Rayner, who has kindly allowed me free use of his photos from the day, apparently did.

Some dithering occurred whilst I contemplated where it would come out (‘the other side of the hill’ was my best guess…) and whether it would be useful to me, before I had the presence of mind to look at the information board that lay about five paces away from me.

Confirmation that the tunnels represented a handy short-cut

My conclusion was that the tunnel (or, as it turned out, tunnels) would be useful to me, and so through them I went, cutting off a good chunk of distance and giving myself some impressive engineering to admire. The cutting off of distance was particularly welcome as I was getting a bit concerned that I was running late.

Running a bit late shouldn’t have been an issue, as Martin’s walk was lollipop shaped, and thus I should have been guaranteed to meet the rabble on the stick of the lollipop even if I didn’t get to the start in time. What I hadn’t realised was that there’s a high route and a low route along that valley, and whereas I took the high route (huffing and puffing up a hillside, ruing my lack of fitness and looking over at an even bigger hillside I knew I would need to huff up a little later) Martin’s walk was taking the lower.

As it went, I made it to the car park with a good four minutes to spare before the call was made for a group photo, then off we went, down the valley, across the river, back up onto the Monsal Trail and then up the ridiculously-steep hillside opposite. I gasped a lot and took many an opportunity to admire the views on the latter stretch.

The first incline got me warmed up…

…the second half saw me out-and-out gasping, but the pauses allowed me to appreciate the view.

My description of the walk has to get a bit sketchy at this point because, as is my wont on Martin’s Christmas Walk, I did lots of chatting and almost no paying of attention to the surroundings. It was lovely to catch up with Alan & Sheila who also kindly agreed to let me use their photos in this post, as (proving once again that I should never leave the house without running through a check-list first) I had forgotten my camera.


In amongst the sketchiness, I definitely remember a tea-break where I gratefully sampled Sue’s CCS and Sheila’s flapjack (checking twice just to confirm that it was good Smile) and I assume that after the up there must have been some along and maybe some down, because we ended up back alongside the river.

A weir featured then a narrow path through woodland, and it must have been just after there that we reached the Monsal Head Hotel, which was the lunch venue.

Big weir!

Alas, I wasn’t able to stay for lunch, so after a brief pause, I tootled over the viaduct and back to the car.

(For those who have noticed Mick’s absence on this walk, he was excused due to being on a plane on his way to Israel at the time. His considered opinion was that a walk from Monsal Head would be greatly preferable to five hours on an EasyJet flight!).

The stats for the day were 9.75 miles walked with somewhere in the region of 2000’ of ascent and apart from a couple of drops of rain at about 9am, it stayed dry and was warm for the entire outing – quite unseasonably so!


  1. It was good to see you. And we definately needed some help with the quiz.

  2. Likewise, it was good to see you, Gayle, and pleasing to note that you've been out and about since then as well. Lunch was excellent, apart from the veggie option that you may have chosen, which was allegedly 'salty'.