Saturday, September 21, 2013

Monsal Head and Miller's Dale Area Walk With Chris and Simon From Leeds

Monsal Head, Upperdale, Cressbrook, Litton Mill, Miller's Dale, Blackwell, Priestcliffe Ditch, Brushfield, and Little Longstone.

I caught the bus to Fox House, where only a few minutes later Chris and Simon picked me up in the car, and we drove to Monsal Head. We parked on the road leading out of Little Longstone and walked up to the seating area to enjoy the iconic view of the viaduct and the valley below. I pointed out the landmarks and where we would be walking later.

We then set off down the steep path through the woods, towards the Headstone it is officially called: more views to enjoy here and photos to take before we continued down to the road at Upperdale.

We walked along the road to Cressbrook, found the concessionary path which goes along the riverbank, first passing the impressive crenellated building which once again appears to be a café; only opening at weekends at the moment though.

The next section of the walk is particularly beautiful in my opinion, especially Rubicon Wall at Water-cum-Jolly Dale. The photograph could be a lot better, the light was very flat though.

As we were walking alongside the River Wye I stopped a couple of times to point out a few quite large rainbow trout - there were many more to see at Litton Mill later on as we crossed the footbridge over the river...a lot more, really a lot more; dozens of them.

As we passed the buildings of Litton Mill, now converted into luxury apartments and holiday cottages I mentioned a bit about its sad history; we were told a lot more at one of the environmentally-friendly and vandal-proof crank-up information speakers located on the Monsal Trail.

We climbed up onto the Monsal Trail and continued towards Miller's Dale, spending a bit of time exploring the first of the old limekilns.

Inexplicably, at this point we briefly lost Simon; thank god for mobile phones.

We had our sandwiches at Miller's Dale, and I had an ice cream too, sitting on one of the seats placed on one of the old platforms. On every other visit here I've had to make do with sitting on the platform's danger of being hit by a train though.

Our exploration of the second, and far more impressive, complex of limekilns was rather more extensive. I used my headtorch  so we could go right inside of the chambers. We then doubled back a few yards and climbed to the top of the kilns to look at the mechanism for loading the kilns with wood right at the bottom, and then alternative layers of coal and limestone; part of the process of making quicklime.

We stopped and watched the abseilers dangling from the next viaduct and then walked  across some pastures and then grassy fields, climbing up quite a steep hill, until we reached Blackwell.

We continued walking on the road through the hamlet of Priestcliffe Ditch, bypassed Priestcliffe by taking a footpath that runs parallel to the road that goes through the village.

It was then more fields until we reached High Dale, a rare dry valley in the Peak District.

The settlement of Brushfield was looking particularly attractive on our visit today; I think most of the flowers are dahlias.

We walked across more fields and pasture land, passing a bullock that Simon was a bit nervous about, and then descended back down to the Monsal Trail again and had a rest on the viaduct as we discussed our plans. We had turned off the Monsal Trail further west before reaching any of the tunnels; both Chris and Simon were keen to walk through one of the tunnels, and additionally Chris wanted to set off back to Leeds a bit later so that he would avoid all the problems associated with the end of the Sheffield Wednesday football match being played at Hillsborough. was decided; we would walk through the Headstone Tunnel and then take the footpath back to Little Longstone, from where it was only a short walk back to where the car was parked.

I was dropped off at Hathersage; it saved Chris the extra few miles of going to Fox House, and I was able to go to the toilets in the village and then buy a carton of milk to drink from one of the shops. 

My bus arrived on time, but the traffic was busy going into Sheffield City Centre; I've just checked, and Sheffield United were playing at naturally Sheffield Wednesday were playing away today.

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