It was one of those lazy Saturdays. My partner was tied up with family matters and my daughter and I were at a loose end. The choice facing us was between festering inside on our respective electronic devices, or getting out into the fresh air for a spot of exploration. We chose the latter and made a quick packed lunch, and hopped into the car. As we drive the sun was streaming through the window and the clouds parted above offering us hope of a good afternoon’s walking.
Gibbet Rock / Peters Stone
When heading put on walks, I often decide en-route as to the destination. Sos as we headed through Bakewell I thought a trip toward Gibbet Rock, known by some as Peters Stone. There are several ways to get Peters Stone the way that I chose, wasn’t the best considering that I had my daughter with me. It had been some time since I had been there, and I somewhat under estimated the distance and the rough terrain. These things do happen.
Cressbrook Mill Millpond
We parked the car at Cressbrook Mill, and walked toward the old Mill pond on the right hand side of the road. The imposing mill on our left, almost shone in the cold and bright, January sunlight. We went toward the old Mill Pond and as we approached the gate we could hear the violent sound of rushing water, roaring as it entered the Mill Race. As I reached the gate and began to push it open, Martha was hanging back, somewhat cowed by the sound of the rushing water. I Went through the gate and was immediately confronted by a Kingfisher that almost flew right into me. Clearly the poor bird was as startled as I was, because it took off at speed. Luckily for Martha it had decided to fly around the perimeter of the Mill Pond instead of choosing a straight route to safety, so she did get to see it as it retreated, a blue/orange blur of bright feathers refleted on the shimmering pond. I will never forget that moment, I had never seen a kingfisher before and to see one so close, was a privilege that few people are ever afforded.
After waiting a few minutes, watching the Mill pond drain into the race, we headed up the steep hill towards the entrance to Ravensale.
It had been raining for days, this was the only fine day for a week or more. So, when we got down to the the Cottages at Ravensdale the path was little better than a sludge fest.
Despite our better judgement, we soldiered on.
Quite soon it became evident that the dale itself must have its own micro climate, and a very damp one at that. All the drystone walls were completely blanketed in a thick jacket of emerald green moss. Not only the walls but the tree were thick with it too.
As we pushed on through the thick mud, we came to a point where the stream flowing through the valley had spilled through the wall. I cannot really see the point of these walls as the land enclosed must be quite poor pasture. However, I do know that the valley isn’t always as wet as it was this year, so perhaps what I saw offered a distorted view of reality.
The path meandered on and the woods were thick on both sides. eventually the path split into two and there was a steep climb and a lower path lose to the stream bed, Initially we climbed the hillside but were unsure as to the final destination of this path so clambered down to the lower path, where we saw some interesting trees.
I’m not sure how these trees are still standing, but what was clearly once just a field has now become the bed of the stream, and these trees are left stranded. Eventually over time, I guess their roots will wash out and the trees will tumble. Till then, they continue to be a notable feature on this unusual walk.
At this point I knew we weren’t far from breaking out of the woods, which I can tell you, I was glad of, the woods were damp and cool and nothing much seemed to stir in them except the stream. Eventually we turned a corner an came out into the open. We could see a party of hikers resting on the bank ahead and made our way toward them, it was time for quick bite to eat.
The Valley here was more flooded than I’d ever seen it before, though I hadn’t been here for some time. Perhaps there is some landscape engineering going on, but when I was a boy the valley was only wet in Winter and bone dry in Summer. The Wardlow Mires end of the valley, I have noted, now seems to be wet most of the year.
Whilst we finished our lunch, I spotted a Kestrel, hovering near the cliff edge. I often see Birds of prey using the Edges as cover in this way whilst they wait for a careless Rabbit or Vole to break cover.
We watched it hover for a while, then headed up the valley toward Gibbet Rock. Martha was getting tired, and so was I, the light was beginning to fade a little so I took the decision to head back, instead of going through the spooky woods again we took the path to the left which comes out in Litton, and then walked on the road to Cressbrook.
As we climbed the steep path, I began to realise just how badly I had underestimated the difficulty of this walk for a 9 year old, who wasn’t raised as an outdoors kid. It was challenging enough for me, so she was doing really well. there was nothing else for it though, I had to get us back to the car before dark.
Litton & Cressbrook bound
We walked on until we hit the tar road. Unexpectedly, Martha’s mood seemed to lift then, and we were more lighthearted for the remainder of the trip. Sometimes, I think kids just need to know the end is in sight.
Our mood was crowned by the fact that we saw this truly beautiful sunset that seemed as though it would set the fields on fire with molten gold, smelted in the furnace of the heavens.
minutes later we were looking down on Cressbrook Mill, the starting point of our journey. Next time I will recalibrate the walk, heading from Wardlow Mires to Gibbet Rock, lunch on the rock and then back for ice cream at Monsal Head. I think I owe her that much.