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, 11 December 2011

Martin & Sue’s Christmas Walk

Just before 10 o’clock this morning the last couple of cars pulled into a layby on the A515 east of Coldeaton. It was a good job that the layby was a big one, as 30 people accepted Martin’s invitation for his annual Christmas walk.

I’m not sure that Martin remembered to renew his ‘good weather’ subscription when it lapsed earlier this year. Over previous years he has been renowned for having fantastic weather for every walk he has arranged. There have been a few blips in his 100% sunshine record this year, and today’s forecast was decided wet (heavy rain from 9am to 6pm said the forecast when I checked it last night). The straw at which I clutched was the knowledge that the weather in this country is seldom as bad as forecast.

Rain wasn’t falling as we set out along the Tissington Trail, nor as we slip-slid our way down the steep, muddy side of Wolfscote Dale:


The muddiness of that descent was nothing compared to muddiness encountered later!

Wolfscote Dale is a lovely place, but today attention was captured by chatting with others more than by the surroundings. This was a social occasion, after all.

Elevenses marked the time when the rain started to fall, but that didn’t put anyone off their flasks of tea and the CCS and Fudge Brownies provided by Martin and Sue. Mick & I were particularly happy to lighten Martin’s load on both counts, as (in a repeat of last year’s Christmas walk) we had arrived at the start point only to realise that our morning snacks were still at home. Do I need a checklist every time I leave the house? Apparently so!

The river was running high, a couple of herons flew past just metres away, and a bit more mud was encountered, and before we knew it we were approaching Hartington.

The Charles Cotton Hotel was the venue for lunch, and they did a good job of feeding 30 wet and hungry walkers. They had interesting murals too. This one was in the Ladies’ Powder Room and was entitled something like ‘Why Men Shouldn’t Flyfish Naked’:


It’s always a bit of a wrench to leave a warm, inviting place when you know that it’s hammering down with rain outside, but a move had to be made and so move we did. It was something of a bonus that by the time shoes, bags and jackets had been retrieved, the rain had stopped. It stayed stopped too, until a whole 2 minutes into our drive home.

There was, however, a bit of standing water on the return leg:


I was glad to have discovered a pair of long-forgotten waterproof shoes lurking in the depths of my wardrobe before we set out this morning. They served me well.

It was still daylight (just about) when we got back to the start point, said our goodbyes and tootled off in the direction of home. Thanks go to Martin for another excellently organised Christmas walk (during which not a single navigational error occurred!). Same again next year?

(Another account of this walk will appear on Martin’s blog, and also likely on Alan Rayner’s blog, and on Helen & Colin’s blog.)


  1. Hi Gayle and Mick,
    Good day out all round. Well organised and executed.
    Glad we missed the 1.30 downpour.
    Nice to meet you both.

  2. Hm, looks like mine and Laura's Christmas Walk is going to be called off for the second year in a row due to pretty grim weather. Bother! Unusual mural!

  3. After enjoying last years outing,I would have liked to attend this years walk.However,I now find myself working for Cotswold Outdoor as a P/T Sales Asst.It was their Xmas party the night before and I would have struggled to get up in time the next morning.Only two months to go before I am eligible to purchase all of that nice new shiny gear at Staff rates!!!!

  4. Alan - Good to have met both of you too and many thanks for your kind offer of the loan of your tent. Martin may not have arranged the usual blue skies, but at least he timed lunch nicely to miss the biggest downpour. I gather from colleagues that the whole day was much wetter a bit further south.

    Louise - Perhaps you should arrange next year's Christmas Walk for early September, when the weather in Scotland is likely to be a little more conducive to walking! And it certainly was an unusual Mural - up on the wall right opposite the toilet!

    Jeff - Long time no hear from! Have you got your eye on lots of shiny new kit for when your staff discount kicks in?

  5. Gayle,it's an absolute joy to open up all of the stock containers and be surrounded by all of that lovely new gear.We have also had training sessions with blokes from Mountain Equipment and Terra Nova coming over to speak with us.However,I have to ask the question"Do I really need any more gear?"May have to make do with just fondling the Down Sleeping bags and jackets!!!! Have a great Xmas.

  6. An excellent report, Gayle. My feet haven't touched the ground since then, so my short report is a little delayed. I do apologise for the weather BTW. I take full responsibility for the morning shower, but whilst you were admiring the murals I had a stern word with 'him upstairs' - the request to 'get it all over with during our lunch stop' did seem to work!