Two buses going via different routes depart for Castleton within half an hour of my train arriving at Sheffield on a Sunday morning, and so that's where I chose to travel to today.
Castleton wasn't looking at its best today though. It was misty, cold and damp, and a few snow flurries were falling when I got off the bus. To make matters worse half the shops were closed and there was a series of roadworks along most of the length of the main street.
The pub sign at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese provided a bit of colour on an otherwise dreary day; I was pleased to notice that both here, and at the nearby Peak Hotel it is prominently displayed that muddy boots are welcome.
It continued to snow for about another two hours, quite heavily at times. After the snow the mist came down from the hills and the visibility was even worse...a terrible day for taking photographs - not what I was expecting after reading the weather forecast last night.
I took a footpath which went round the back of the houses and came back out on to the main road just before the church.
Just by chance, and not design, the route of my walk today took me past all four of the show caves at Castleton. Speedwell Cavern is located at the entrance to Winnats Pass....it's handy for toilets too. The gents are at the back of one of the buildings, so you can easily sneak in and use them.
I continued over the hill, passing Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern before arriving at the top of Winnats Pass. I then walked along the road for a short distance until reaching the next footpath. After passing through the large heavy gate I had a choice of two routes; I chose to take a footpath I've not walked along before. It didn't take me to anywhere in particular - just up close to some accumulation of snow that still remained from a few days ago.
I kept looking back towards Mam Tor...if I'd been able to see it through the mist. Normally from here I would have been able to get some good photographs - I reckon that when walking in the other direction, visually, this is the best approach to the mountain.
The path took me across fields until I reached a busy byway; not just busy with hikers, cyclist and horseriders though. A couple of noisy motorbikes were somewhere off in the distance and a few minutes later a Landrover was approaching me at high speed, for the conditions, the tyres of the vehicle smashing into the frozen over puddles, making a loud crashing sound as a cascade of sharp shards of broken ice and freezing cold water was launched into the air. I didn't fancy any of that and so stepped out into the middle of the track and maintained good eye contact with the bastard until he stopped and then slowly drove past me when I got out of his way. He had a gormless grin on his face; I just waved and acknowledged his presence.
The track continued for about a mile and a half and then I needed to walk along the road for a slightly shorter distance until I reached the top of the track that goes down to Pindale...no more than three or four cottages, a campsite and some substantial ruins of an old mine. Halfway down this track there's an old quarry which is popular with owners of....LANDROVERS, and there were soon more bloody Landrovers - three of them this time. I heard their engines and so deviated from the path and walked up to a point from where I'd be able to observe them. It looked like some sort of organised group. There were about a dozen people, nearly as many women as men, taking turns to test their off-road driving skills on some difficult and steep terrain. They didn't look like they were imminently going to start driving back down the track and causing me any problems, so I continued down to Pindale, and then down the road to Hope.
I timed my arrival at Hope very well; the bus turned up only a couple of minutes after I'd arrived at the bus stop.