I set off at a about 8am on Monday morning, having got most of my stuff ready the night before. I am trying to get a bit more organised. The plan was to allow two hours driving time, and make the decision when I reached Ashbourne in Derbyshire, whether to go straight to Alton Towers, or have a walking day first and leave the Towers till the following day. It was dependent on the weather. I don't mind walking in the rain, but I don't want to be blasted in the face by droplets of rain which feel like hailstones, when I am hurtling around a coaster track.
I was making good progress untill I hit a 'Road Closed Follow Diversion' sign, which took me miles off route through Wirksworth, arriving at Ashbourne at about 10am. A sign as I entered the town 'Free Parking', now that's the sign I like to see, how sensible to use the cricket club car park for general use on a weekday.
The weather was looking a bit stormy with sunny bits in between, and as I was now running half an hour late, it made sense to do a walk today and ride the coasters tomorrow, when the forecast was much better.
So this is Ashbourne, the gateway to the Peak District. Nearly 40 years ago I had a van driving job and this was part of my patch, delivering spares to garages. It was a lovely job, the driving round bit, not the calling on customers and trying to sell them something, I was hopeless at that, ha ha.
There are a few cobbled streets around the market place, I called in Tourist Information to pick up a free map. Advertising boards everywhere though, makes the place look a tad messy. It's a pity the traders can't all get together and agree on a style and colour in keeping with the historical look about the place.
I had a nosey up an ally way and found this house which was covered in red berries.
A bit early to pop into Ye Olde Vaults.
The os map I am using today is about 40 years old, and still has the markings on there of the walks I did all those years ago. I don't think they have changed that much and the walk I am going to do is still very popular today. So, out of Ashbourne and pick up the Tissington Trail. 'Pay and Display'.....No thanks :o)
The Trail used to be the railway line from Ashbourne to Buxton, which opened in 1899 and closed in 1967. Fortunately the Peak Planning Board purchased large sections of it and created a 13 mile bridleway. I only saw a couple of other walkers, this is mostly used by cyclists.
Tissington is an estate village and has continuously been in the possession of one family, the Fitzherberts, since the 15th century. The family still lives in this early 17th century hall.
Tissington is famous for it's Well Dressing. Every year several wells are decorated with pressed flowers, mosses, ferns, leaves, and bark, they usually depict biblical themes. It is a custom which started in the middle of the 14th century. Tissington has an air of timeless serenity and seems the quintessential English village.
From Tissington I carried on further up the Trail, and turned left past Shining Tor, into Milldale. This is a tiny village, more a hamlet, only a few houses surrounded by farmland. Someone has been working very hard in this pretty cottage garden.
The tiny shop serves it's customers on the roadside. Polly's tea shop was named after the woman who originally opened it. It only opens in the summer, the owner closes it down in the winter and moves out. It didn't get connected to water and electricity untill the 1950's. There were a few walkers about and just about all of them stopped for refreshment. I had my favourite, a Magnum Classic ice cream
Time to start heading back, follow the river though Dove Dale. this is a pleasant valley walk which twists and turns, with steep sides over hung with limestone crags. There are caves.....
And at the end you come to the famous Stepping Stones.
At this point I veered off to the right around the bottom of Thorpe Cloud, it's getting late so no time to climb it, cut across to Thorpe village and pick up the Trail back to Ashbourne. I need to get to my bed for the night. It was dark when I arrived at Ilam Hall Youth Hostel so the pics will have to wait till the morning.
Just checked the mileage, 15.29. I didn't think I had walked that far, maybe that's because I have used a 1:50 scale map instead of my usual 1:25. Part two later, I'm a bit tied up with dogs again.