The Buxton bus and the Matlock via Chatsworth bus are both timetabled to depart from the same stand at Sheffield Interchange at the same time, the one right next to the sandwich shop; and this is what happens: too many people blocking access because there aren't any seats...or even anywhere for them to queue in an orderly manner. People are already queueing to get food, gathering in groups to go walking or visit Chatsworth House, and many of them don't really know which of the two buses to catch...and then of course, there are the people dragging heavy suitcases who are going down the ramp just to the right to catch the long distance coaches, weaving in and out of the throng like demented rugby players. I think things were a lot better when the Peak District services went from separate, but adjacent stands, right at the other end of the bus station.
Although the number 65 arrived on time it took quite a few minutes for everyone to get on; there was then an additional delay when an unsavoury character tried to sneak upstairs without paying, and the driver had to go and remove him.
I had intended starting today's walk at the hamlet of Windmill, just beyond Great Hucklow, but I got off early because my knees were hurting me. Despite the bus being quite full I did manage to get a seat to myself, but there still wasn't much legroom though. I would have preferred one of the sideways facing seats at the front of the bus, but I don't think this vehicle had any.
I got up and pressed the bell in plenty of time for Grindlow Lane End, the driver stopped the bus almost immediately though. It wasn't exactly where I wanted to be, but I got off anyhow; I told him I'm going walking and so it doesn't really matter.
I walked along the road hoping to find a path across the fields leading to Grindlow but there wasn't one. I turned right down the lane which leads to the village and then looked for the path which I needed. I ended up having to double back though; I missed the path because it wasn't signposted and it looked like it led up a private drive leading to some posh houses.
I continued across some fields, going slightly downhill at first and then quite steeply uphill until I reached a road which I walked along for a few minutes until I arrived at the site of the Silence Mine.
There are quite extensive ruins here, but the site is fenced off - it wouldn't be difficult to climb over though. I didn't bother; I was more concerned with the rain, which was getting quite persistent by this time and so I reached into my rucksack for my lightweight plastic poncho. It did the job in protecting me from the rain, but it was quite difficult to put on...and flapped about a lot. There were some press studs which would have fastened it down better, but I nearly pulled a muscle in my back and almost cricked my neck trying to reach them. In the end I gave up the effort and used a length of string which I keep in my rucksack for emergencies such as holding up my trousers.
I continued walking along this path in an easterly direction until I reached another road, which I followed to the Barrel Inn at Bretton. By the time I reached the pub, the highest in Derbyshire, it had just about stopped raining. It was still quite cold and unpleasant and so I popped inside for a pot of tea and a large slice of freshly-baked cake that was still warm.
I sat as close as I could to the open fire, appreciating the warmth, and taking an interest in the paintings and prints on the wall. All of these were by local artists and were for sale, something which I've observed many times on my visits to pubs, cafés and tearooms in the Peak District. I was also intrigued by some old wooden combined skis and snowshoes which were fixed to the wall only inches from my head; these would have come in handy last month when I was walking through deep snow.
The weather was a lot brighter, and warmer, when I left The Barrel, heading northwards along the lane. I took the second footpath on the left, which heads down into Bretton Clough, but I didn't get far before I had to stop. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my right foot, something like a bee or wasp sting I should think. Obviously a bee or wasp couldn't get inside my boot, but something had. I removed my right boot and took off my sock and carefully felt for an insect, or a thorn maybe; but there was nothing. I examined my foot; there was no obvious sign of a bite or sting, or any rash - it was swollen noticeably though at the base of the little toe, and was quite tender to the touch.
Just to be safe I put my sock on inside out, then my boot (the right way round) and stood up and made a few tentative steps. I was okay; I was still aware of the pain, but it was no more than a mild inconvenience now - as it would be for the rest of the walk. Even now, as I'm typing this, it's still bothering me; the swelling is still there...and it seems harder to the touch now. I wonder what could have done this to me?
I was soon at the bottom of the clough and continued downstrean towards Hathersage, passing a creepy-crawly tree, which, despite the obvious damage, is still alive and thriving.
I arrived at Stoke Ford and took the path which leads uphill towards Offerton Moor. I walked across the access land to reach Offerton Hall and then dropped down to the River Derwent. As I was descending across the fields there were some lovely views up the Hope Valley.
The walk along the riverbank is pleasant and easy and I dawdled as I walked along the final approach to Hathersage across the fields, knowing that the bus wasn't due for nearly an hour. I had plenty of time to look around the outdoors shops in Hathersage: there are four.