I hadn't planned to go walking today but I received an early morning telephone call from my brother saying he isn't feeling very well and so won't be visiting me. I'd nothing else planned for the day and so decided to have a few hours walking in the Peak District.
My map was already folded for this walk which I planned whilst I was ill with the flu last week as an exercise in something to look forward to, but I hadn't put up any sandwiches; fortunately the baker's shop in town opens at eight o'clock...and it's on my route to the railway station.
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I got off the bus at Eyam and, after going to the shop, I headed straight for one specific location; somewhere I'd never visited before on my regular walks in the area - Cucklet Church. During the time of the plague in the seventeenth century, Rev. Mompesson, the parish priest used to hold church services at this location - a natural landscape feature: an open cave, or a natural arch...I'm not sure how to correctly describe it. Even now, three and a half centuries later the 'church' is still used one day a year; on the anniversary of the Reverend's birthday I think.
Next to the Tourist Information Barn, on the village green, there's an unusual and interesting seat with a lot of text on it to read.
The site of Cucklet Church seemed to be guarded by Highland cattle: I've only ever seen these animals with horns before... they still looked familiar though...and they do have the placid temperament and the desire to pose for the camera that I always associate with this breed. [UPDATE/CORRECTION: I've been informed that they are Hereford cows]
In order to get some good photographs I had to scramble about quite a bit on the slippery limestone: I'm not claiming the shots are particularly good, but they well illustrate the location and the landscape features.
I noticed a path going through woodland further down the valley but couldn't work out how to get there. Nothing was marked on the map and so I didn't know where it led to anyhow, so I decided to walk back to the village: It's only a few hundred yards.
I then walked along the snicket that climbs up through a couple of small housing estates and then I found the path which leads towards Housley. It's obviously that this path has been diverted to go around the location of an old quarry: there's a concessionary footpath which you can take to get good views of the quarry face, which is regularly used by local climbing enthusiasts. I did climb over the stile and walked a few yards to the edge of the workings and took some photographs; the sun was at the wrong angle and so they weren't very good.
The path continues in a westerly direction for about a mile and then comes out onto the main road which comes up from Middleton Dale. I had to walk along the road for about ten minutes until I reached the hamlet of Housley where I took the path that leads across fields to Longstone Moor.
It's a gentle climb up onto the moor, with wide-ranging views opening up behind you. I stopped several times and looked back to identify prominent features such as Mam Tor, Wardlow Hay Cop and the Barrel Inn at Bretton.
Longstone Moor was surprisingly busy, with a couple a groups of hikers enjoying the fine winter weather. I was going to snap some photographs of the individually isolated and windswept trees that always seem to attract my attention, but I noticed that my camera's battery was low on charge, and so thought I'd save my last few shots for something more interesting.
I certainly did find something more interesting in Great Longstone: a bus shelter with a colourful mosaic on the wall.
From the village it was only a short walk down a lane to reach the Monsal Trail, and then a further twenty minutes or so of walking to arrive at Hassop Station where I bought a pot of tea and a scone, timing my stay there so that I'd arrive to catch the bus at Pineapple Farm, about a mile north of Bakewell, and not have too long to wait.
To conclude with, I'm including one final photograph: it's one I took of the interior of the train coming back to Doncaster. This is the dirtiest train I've ever travelled in: there were also at least three police officers on the train too - I think both situations probably had something to do with football hooligans.