Sunday, July 31, 2011
Bradwell, Winnats Pass, Castleton, and Well Dressing.
As the bus arrived at Bradwell I noticed there was bunting hanging everywhere, and then spotted a notice announcing that it was well dressing weekend. This is the first time I've arrived at a village when the wells have been decorated with petals and so I was going to search out one of the wells and take a photograph for the blog.
I got off the bus at the church and right by the bus stop there's a well, so I took a quick picture. At some time during the summer most villages in Derbyshire have a well dressing festival and many people who travel to the Peak District really enjoy the occasion.
Well dressing isn't the only folk custom that's unique to the Peak District and the surrounding area; another one is Hallamshire carolling; which tends to be more popular on the Yorkshire side of the boundary though. This is the practice of small groups of people walking from pub to pub at Christmas time and singing the words of one hymn to the tune of another hymn or carol. The only example I can instantly think of is singing the words of 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night to the tune of 'Ilkley Moor Baht 'At' - the Yorkshire 'national' anthem. It works really well; I'm sure there are other examples posted online.
Leaving Bradwell I walked about half a mile along Bradwell Dale and then climbed up a steep footpath heading westwards. I actually had to clamber on all fours across a dangerous area of scree and then continue up a near-vertical section of escarpment- I think this was the most difficult ascent I've undertaken since I started regularly walking again last year.
The next section of the walk was also quite difficult, with long stretches of dense overgrown woodland with a lot of low hanging branches. I spent most of the time with my back bent; and walking in this state is very tiring.
The next part of the walk towards Winnats Pass was fairly flat and across open limestone country. I soon reached the top of the pass and took the grassy path which is at the side of the road.
There are four show caves at Castleton which are open to the public; Speedwell Cavern is located at the foot of the pass and I took a photo which manages to include references to two more.
The other cavern, the Blue John Cavern is a bit further away.
From the bottom of Winnats Pass it's a relatively short walk down into Castleton, which as might be expected on a fine summer's day at the weekend was extremely busy. Time wasn't pressing today and so I had time to buy a cup of tea from the Visitor Centre.