Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eyam, Cavendish Mill, Great Longstone, and Bakewell

A pleasant start to the day's walk; thirty minutes chatting with Dougie, a fellow walker from Doncaster who I sometimes bump into on the train. He was travelling on the Buxton bus to Tideswell, whereas I got off a few miles earlier at Eyam. [He would have travelled to Sheffield on the same train as me, but I didn't see him.]

As I was passing the church at Eyam I noticed the bellringers arriving. For the next few minutes I heard the pleasant uplifting sound of the church bells echoing out across the nearby countryside.


The old market hall, which is no bigger than a small barn now houses the [unstaffed] Tourist Information Centre. I went inside to see if there was anything interesting; I picked up a leaflet about Brierlow Bar Bookshop near Buxton, which claims to be one of the largest bookshops in the country. My friend Justin is interested in books, well he's actually an amateur book dealer and collector...and a book conservator. He's currently in the process of being assessed by the local authority for a care package provided by Social Services; he has difficulty with walking, and he's pre-diabetic One element of his care package will most likely be a fixed number of hours for him to allocate to going off for days out with a support worker, and a visit to the bookshop could by combined with a few hours in Buxton.

Today I had planned to locate the concessionary footpath that goes along the bottom of Eyam Delph; I did find it...after a couple of dead ends though. The first wrong path I took led to a sheer cliff face and a long drop down into the quarry below. The second wrong path wasn't a wrong path really because I wanted to visit Cucklet Church anyhow...I just had to turn round and re-trace my steps until I found the right path leading down into The Delph. 

Cucklet Church isn't a building, it's a natural rock formation which is also known as Cucklet Cleft because of the narrow crack between the rocks; it's not so narrow that a man of my size can't squeeze through the gap though.




The rock is called 'Cucklet Church' because during the period of the plague in the seventeenth century when the village was in self-imposed quarantine Reverend Mompesson, the local vicar, held outdoor services here, fearing that using the church to gather together large numbers of villagers in a confined space would spread the plague.

It was a steep descent down a grassy bank to reach Eyam Delph, a pretty section of woodland at the bottom of a short, narrow valley. I noticed a dedication on a seat which had recently been placed in one of the prettier locations.



The wording describes the Peak District as 'The Peaks.' This is wrong; the correct, and official, colloquial name for the Peak District is 'The Peak' - hence the title of this blog, 'Walking The Peak.'

The Yorkshire Dales are also known as 'The Dales' because there are a lot of dales there, the North York Moors are known as 'The Moors' because there's a lot of moorland there and the Lake District is known as 'The Lakes' because there are a lot of lakes there. There aren't any peaks in the Peak District, it's an area of high peatland plateaus; the reason it's called the Peak District is because of the name of a tribe of ancient Britons that lived in the area when it was settled by the Anglo-Saxons. This tribe was known as the 'Pacsaetan' in Old English.

Near to the top of the climb I took a footpath which leads off to the right. This was a route I hadn't walked along previously so I was keen to look out for good locations to take some photographs. In the foreground the views were spoiled by the quarry workings, but in the distance there were nice views of Eyam Edge and Hucklow Edge.


Not longer after taking this photograph I noticed a warning sign which had several of its letters broken off, completely altering the meaning of the message.


I came out onto a busy stretch of road, but was soon climbing up one of the old quarry tracks towards Cavendish Mill, also known as Glebe Mills and Burnt Heath during recent periods. Whatever you may choose to call it it's one of the ugliest places in the country, although it's right in the middle of the Peak District National Park. There's one house there,  and a few dozen industrial buildings dating from the twentieth century....and abandoned vehicles and machinery scattered about the place.

I needed to walk along the road for nearly a mile but took a slight detour to visit a bird hide where I thought I might see a murmuration of starlings; I was very disappointed when I got there though; there weren't any starlings putting on a display for me; in fact I didn't see any birds at all...just a view of some slurry lagoons created to contain contaminated water from the quarry workings. [I've only just noticed the spelling mistake as I uploaded the image to the blog.]



There was some lovely White Peak countryside as I continued towards Longstone Moor.



One of the fields I was crossing had a lot of molehills, but only along the route of the footpath - I'm sure there's a simple explanation for this.

At Great Longstone I took my favourite footpath through the village which has long sections which consist of narrow ginnels and snickets. It wasn't far to reach the Monsal Trail. It was later than I hoped and so didn't have time to stop at the Old Station Cafe at Hassop. Instead I continued to the Bakewell road and walked down the hill into town. 

I was pleasantly surprised when Dougie got on the bus; we chatted for the entire bus journey back to Sheffield, and then on the train back to Doncaster.

When I got home and took off my muddy hiking trousers my underpants immediately dropped to the floor. As I had expected,  I'd had another wardrobe failure; the elastic in the waistband had snapped earlier in the day.