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 24 October 2010

So New; So Close

One of the things I like about Geocaching is how it can drag me to places I wouldn’t have ordinarily have thought to go.

Today was a good example. Last night a visit to the Geocaching website revealed a cache within a sensible jogging distance (on my scale of sensible distances, not on Mick’s rather larger scale!), so this morning, under clear blue skies, off I set to find it.

We’ve lived in this village for over 8 years, and yet as I huffed and puffed my way along, I realised that never before had I been along these lanes. Delightfully quiet lanes they were too. In half an hour I was passed by two cars.

Even better, arriving at the cache site, I found not just a Geocache but a local nature reserve that has recently been established with permissive paths through the surrounding fields. I must go back some time to explore further.

And all without straying more than 1.5 miles from the front door!

Sunday 17 October 2010

The Cabbage Patch 10

The Cabbage Patch is a pub in Twickenham, and each October it hosts a 10-mile run which takes a nice flat route mainly following the Thames.

Mick had decided a few weeks ago to join Juan and his brother Raf in taking part, and so the three of them were to be found loitering around just up the road from the Cabbage Patch just before 10am on this fine autumn morning.

With only a couple of minutes to go until the off, the traffic was stopped and the runners led to the starting line:

IMG_0995where they all waited patiently for about 30 seconds, until the claxon sounded.

With a field of around 1600, Vic & I (spectating, along with baby Tilly) doubted that we’d spot any of the boys as they passed, but we did manage to pick Mick out. He’s in this photo (bet you can’t spot him; Raf is also in this photo, even though we didn’t see him at the time):


Mick’s in this one too:


After a bit of a stroll and a stop for a cup of tea Vic, Tilly and I made our way over to the finish line where I took a photo of a random stranger crossing the line just to make sure that the position of the sun wasn’t going to scupper me snapping Mick as he crossed the line:

IMG_1000See – perfectly possible to take a clear photo! 

Things didn’t work out quite so well when I saw Mick coming as I managed to make him look headless:


It turned out that the three chaps were well matched to run together. There was no loitering around waiting for them all to finish. Raf came in first in 1.21.46. Mick was next in 1.22.38. And Juan was only just behind, finishing in 1.23.41.

Here they all are looking fresh as daisies a few minutes later:


Based on the enthusiastic discussion of the event afterwards, I suspect that they’ll be posting entries off again next year.

Saturday 9 October 2010

On The Limestone Way – Again!

Yesterday evening I did as I usually do when I get home from a walk – I measured the route and added it to my log. Then I looked at my mileage for the year to date and realised that I’d finished the day just 1.5 miles short of my previous highest annual total.

The obvious thing to do would have been to just pop out for a little circuit from home this morning, but the thought that immediately struck me was that I hadn’t had much time with the chaps on the Limestone Way yesterday afternoon, and therefore we should get up early this morning and go an join them again.

With Roger (plus Dalmatian Rollo) also swelling the numbers, there were six of us today as we left The Miners Standard and almost immediately yesterday’s participants were stunned to find clear ‘Limestone Way’ signposts.

The clear waymarking continued, allowing swift progress to be made without time spent poring over the maps.

Soon we started encountering D of E groups, of which there were lots and lots today. Other signs suggested that today’s plethora of D of E groups wasn’t an unusual occurrence:

IMG_0971 Interesting features were passed on our way to Youlgrave, with the big craggy bits above the Hermit’s Cave and the twin boulders of Robin Hood’s Leap.

Some attractive woodland and some more fields (with more of those awkward stiles) took us to Youlgrave, which is where Mick & I were to leave the group to form a circuit back to Winster, but first I had my sights set on a tea room.

The cafe at the YHA served our purposes, and the drinks and sandwiches went down well as we all optimistically thought that the pause in the walking would give the sun the chance to burn through the greyness.

It didn’t, and it was still grey when Mick & I parted company from the group a few minutes later:


Everyone grins at our departure, except for Mick who pouts a little

Off went John, Gill, Viv, Roger and Rollo, following the river to the west, as we followed it east for a short while. Lovely it was too, if a touch busy (two more D of E groups met in the half mile stretch we walked). All went quiet as we turned away from the river.

The bit of the outward route that went past Robin Hood’s Leap and the Hermit’s Cave was followed again on our return, except this time we took a detour up to see the cave.

We weren’t at all sure what it was that we were looking for, with ‘cave’ being used to describe anything from an overhanging rock to a proper big cavernous thing, but after brief consideration we discounted the first opening we came across:

IMG_0976Following our instincts, it wasn’t long before we came across what was indisputably the cave, albeit we couldn’t quite work out why the railings were needed to keep people out of a cave that must only measure something like 4 feet by 15.Perhaps the big crack in the ‘ceiling’ rock has something to do with it?


Just to the right of the cave men were clambering up rocks and we paused to watch:

IMG_0982Leaving our outward route once again off we headed towards Upper Town, albeit on our way there a short distance was covered in the wrong direction before we realised the important difference between ‘up’ and ‘down’ (‘up’ being the direction in which we were meant to be going).

A joint award was given for ‘most unexpected animal encounter’ when we came across a field containing sheep, a tiny horse, two ostriches and two emu (for the avoidance of doubt, it was the latter two species that were unexpected!). This chap came over to us at a trot, making us most appreciative of the tall fence separating us:


The sun was just starting to break through as we headed back towards Winster:

IMG_0986 And by the time that we left The Miners Standard (where we had been sampling the beer that came highly recommended by the chaps who stayed there last night), the blue sky was winning.

The stats for the day were just over 9 miles walked with 1700 feet of ascent and a ‘good day out’ rating of 100%.

Friday 8 October 2010

On The Limestone Way

Having achieved a pass-out from his household duties, off set Mick yesterday morning to meet up with John, Gill and Viv for a jaunt on the Limestone Way.

Rocester is the starting point of the Way and, after a public transport adventure (which went like clockwork) that’s where Mick met up with his companions for the day to set off in a generally northerly direction.

The late start demanded so as to allow people to travel to Rocester also gave the early misty greyness chance to burn off, so it was quite a nice day by the time they were underway:

IMG_0961 In the meantime, I was sitting at my desk, looking out of the window and thinking ‘Nice day for a walk’. A few minutes later I had requested a half day’s holiday for today.

After a pleasant afternoon’s walking, featuring donkeys:




giant red toadstools:


and (most importantly) good company:

IMG_0953the party of four pitched up at Bank Top Farm in Fenny Bentley where they soon established ‘green tent corner’:

IMG_0963before hot-footing it to the better of the two pubs in the village for beer, food and beer.

The stats for the day were 11.5 miles with 1700 feet of ascent.

Today dawned as grey and misty as yesterday, but with a greater degree of dampness and, unlike yesterday, it didn’t burn off by late morning.

The ‘Phreerunner Effect’ didn’t have its usual effect today, and it was still murky when Martin and Rick joined the party for the day. By 10am off they had all set in a generally northerly direction … or at least that was the plan.


A bit of the Tissington Trail featured to get the group back onto the Way (having detoured to Bank Top Farm last night), and having reached Tissington it would have been rude to shun the tea room there, so in they all popped for some light refreshment.

They were still there when I left work at 11.45, and when I reached the car park at Winster (having done a thorough tour of the place looking for the very pub I had driven past as I arrived) they were just having a few navigational issues in leaving Parwich. It is, of course, understandable on a not-sunny day that six people can walk for some distance in a southerly direction before realising that the direction doesn’t feel quite right for a south-to-north walk.

A lunch break soon after called for another pause, all of which was to my benefit. I had been concerned that by the time I arrived they would have all but arrived at their night-stop, but as it went I got all the way to just-north-of-Brassington before I met them.

Around I turned, and finding our way across the fields became simple until we reached Grangemill as we were retracing the steps I’d just walked. The stiles didn’t get any easier, mind. The stiles on the Limestone Way were definitely not designed for ease of passage!

A golden orb vaguely tried to make itself visible through the murk, but the best it achieved was causing faint shadows for a few three-second stretches, and so the views were still curtailed as we past some massive quarries and crossed more fields to reach Winster.

The party split at The Miners Standard pub, where those completing the whole route were to camp the night, whereas Mick, Martin, Rick & I made our way back to the car park and thence home.

Mick’s stats for the day (excluding the leaving-Parwich diversion) were 13 miles walked with 2200 feet of ascent. My stats were 9.75 miles walked, with 1300 feet of ascent.

All of the group photos taken outside of The Miners Standard would imply that I wasn’t there, whereas the reality was that everyone trusted me to be photographer:

IMG_0967From my point of view it was a very pleasant leg-stretch after another few weeks of inactivity, and it was good to catch up with the others (and to meet Gill for the first time). From Mick’s point of view it was his first night spent with Connie, and (believe it or not) his first ever night of solo camping, and it seems that he had rather a good time too.