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]

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Martin’s Christmas Walk – Sunday 12 December

Thanks to an unexpected and winding 10-miles diversion due to a level crossing being closed, and some very icy (not to mention steep) roads which made me squeal and shut my eyes (fortunately I wasn’t driving), we cut it rather fine for the ‘10.15 prompt’ start time for Martin’s Christmas Walk,. It was with just two minutes to spare that we pulled into the penultimate parking space at Wettonmill.

With no time to stand around getting cold, we were off – all 24 of us – to pick up the path alongside the River Manifold.

Barely had we got into our stride when Sue pointed out what looked like a man-made tunnel ahead and above us:

IMG_1926 it turned out to be Thor’s Cave which an information sign told us had ‘been formed over thousands of years by the effects of water and wind’. Apparently ‘the name may be a corruption of ‘Tors’ … and some people think it comes from Thor, the Norse god of thunder’. Personally, I’ll go with the ‘tor’ explanation as it does look toresque.

It would have been rude not to pop up to have a look around the cave (not to mention to enjoy some CCS and some Fudge Brownies, whilst enjoying the views from its elevated position) and it was a worthwhile diversion:

IMG_1932 IMG_1929 IMG_1930 IMG_1931Back down to the valley floor we went, from where much chatting and some good views took us up lumpy bits, along lanes and across fields


until we landed, just before 1pm, in Hopedale, the home of the Watts-Russell Arms. We filled the pub, which did an excellent job in serving us some very tasty lunches and some equally tasty beer.

As I often find with a big pub lunch accompanied by beer, I could quite happily have sat in the warm all afternoon, but Martin is a hard taskmaster and after a good break he had us all removing the blue ‘shower caps’ from our shoes and venturing back outside to continue on our way.


I’ve looked at a map since the walk and find that I paid so much attention at the time that I have no idea what route the afternoon took, but I do know that after another CCS and brownie break we popped over the top of Ecton Hill. It was one of those excellent little hills that give incredible views, and there was just enough light left to appreciate those views, although not quite enough light to take passable photos (or at least not on my camera, although that could have been the operator as much as the equipment).

Sue couldn’t resist dancing a jig on some of the snow remaining by the summit:

IMG_1949 (actually, she was throwing snow balls at the rest of us)

and a bit more snow was remaining on our route down:


By the time we came out at a very interesting looking house:

IMG_1951the light was so poor as to make photo-taking nugatory, so the camera didn’t come out again as we ambled along the Manifold Valley in the dark, to return to Wettonmill.

It was an excellent walk in good company, with a commendable amount of well-rewarded upness (all a bit of a shock for my legs which until three days previously had forgotten what a hill was). In fact, I was so taken with the route that I think that we’ll return on a day with a bit more daylight to see all of the sights again – although I will have to consult Martin first to find out what route we actually took!

Apparently the distance stat was 10 miles. No idea to what height the upness amounted. (Edit: It turns out that the distance was 11 miles and that the upness was around 2500 feet.)

Martin's report of the outing (plus a slideshow of pictures which show much better what the surroundings were like) is here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gayle
    You just beat me into print - Pompeii distracted me.
    I nice report, thanks. You'll find that my posting includes full route details and confirms 18km (11 miles) and 780 metres of ascent.
    A lovely day out, despite the total inadequacy of nearly two hours in the pub!