Saturday, 12 November 2011

Eyam, Foolow, Cressbrook Dale, Monsal Trail

Wednesday morning, a glimpse of the stairs and the inside of the front window. Doesn't it look grand. Not what you would expect the interior of a hostel to look like. Feels like a five star hotel, and it's nice and warm with the heating on :o)

I didn't walk very far yesterday, as I only had the afternoon to bimble around, and I wasn't sure of the exact time it would begin to get too dark to find my way back. I think I will be alright till 5pm, but I have my head torch in my bag just in case, knowing me I am bound to stretch the walk a bit too far.

Around Eyam there are home made posters on the telegraph poles advertising local community events. I think this is a good idea as it shows they are trying very hard to get everyone involved in making their own entertainment. They also seem to take the old posters down, I didn't see any that were out of date.

Today I am going to do an anti clockwise walk, so I left the village along Tideswell Lane. The weather is a bit misty, but it might brighten up. There are quite a few of these signs about, I think they are meant to deter people from using the tracks as normal roads.

I can't see much in the distance, but nevertheless it is still pleasant to be out here in the countryside.

Just me and the cows and sheep, not another soul about. It's very tranquil, the mist and low cloud give it an eerie silence that is quite enchanting.

I briefly joined the main A623 but then immediately went off to the right on a minor road to Foolow. Coming into the village is this very picturesque pub, it looks so inviting. I'm a bit early for lunch, but at a price of £6.75 for a pensioners special, I'm glad I have my sandwiches.

Foolow is a tiny village. The medieval cross in the centre which was moved to this position in 1868.

The village green with duck pond.

This is the Anglican Church of St Hugh, originally built as a private dwelling in the early nineteenth century. The first service was held in December 1888. On the door is a notice saying Refreshments Inside.

How lovely for weary travellers to be offered a drink, just help yourself, donation welcome.

All neat and tidy inside.

This is the footpath I am looking for, through this narrow gap between two walls. But before you leave take a look at this two minute video of Foolow.

Across the fields again towards Wardlow Mires. I passed a sheep which was lying on it's side at the edge of a field. At first I thought it might be dead, but as it became aware of my presence it struggled to get onto it's feet. The poor thing was holding it's front leg off the ground as it hobbled along. The twisted leg looked like it was broken. I spied a farm just ahead, and with the aim of reporting this to the farmer, he just happened to be outside with his dog as I passed. He said he knew about the sheep, but he didn't seem too concerned. I have heard it said that farmers really care for the welfare of their animals, but somehow I doubt it. He said the leg wasn't broken, but I thought it would be a good idea to put a plaster cast on it and isolate the sheep during it's recovery. Either that or put it's out of it's misery.

I love walking through the countryside, but seeing the conditions that some animals are kept in really distresses me. Maybe I am too sensitive because I could never eat meat. We all like to see fluffy lambs frolicking in the fields, and cows munching green succulent grass, but the reality is somewhat different. Look at these cows, they are definately in the mire.

On the A623 is this pub, with a rather gruesome plaque on the front with three stag skulls mounted on it. It wasn't open but it didn't look very appealing to me.

I crossed the road to take a track on the other side, and noticed this rather faded, 'Beware of the Guinea Pig' sign, in front of a derelict building which was being eaten up by creeping ivy.

I had a look round the back, and found lots of guinea pigs foraging freely in the undergrowth. I was amazed, this is next to a busy trunk road with heavy lorries thundering through every few minutes.

They shared the land, which had been a garden at some point, with free ranging hens, and doves that were coming and going through a hole high up in the wall of the house. Amazing. As I was looking for the path, a farmer came out to speak to me because he had seen me looking at the map. I asked him about the guinea pigs. He said they belong to the owners of the pub, and walkers are often knocking at his door to tell him a guinea pig is on the road.

Anyway, off I went towards Cressbrook Dale. That lump on the left is Peter's Stone.

I like walking along the bottom of a dale, it's very picturesque. Further along the path goes through a wood, not much sun gets down here so it's looking a bit dead and damp.

Then there is a bit of daylight and these beautiful golden trees.

These are Ravensdale Cottages. There is a narrow vehicle access to them, but they are buried deep in the wood, so it's a very isolated place to live.

Here I have arrived at Cressbrook, you can turn right to go along Millers Dale, but I am going to turn left over the river to go down the Monsal Trail. This building is part of Cressbrook Mill, which has been tastefully turned into residential accommodation.

I think this is part of the old mill, but I can't find anything about it. There is a sold sign on it so I imagine it is soon to be renovated.

The weir at Cressbrook.

Looking down at the mill from the Monsal Trail.

This is the Cressbrook Tunnel to the right, but I am turning left towards Monsal Head.

The Monsal Trail is just under nine miles long, and it runs along the course of the old Midland Railway line. Built originally in 1863, it was bought by the Peak Park authority and opened as the Monsal Trail in 1980. The tunnels were all closed off, but recently they have been opened up. The whole trail is now open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders, though a lot of web sites have not been updated to include this information.

This is the Headstone Tunnel. A quick way to head back would be to take the path on the left up to Monsal Head, but I am going through the tunnel and turning left a little further down the trail, to Little Longstone.

Time is getting on now, I have my eye on my watch, so I'm striding along to get back before dark. I stopped monentarily for a call of nature, behind a brick wall, a long way from any houses. Out of the corner of my I thought I was being spied upon, and quickly adjusted my dress. I looked sideways again to see a black cat walking across the top of the wall towards me. I can't resist stroking a pussycat, and this one seemed extremely friendly. I took the half eaten tuna fish sandwich, which I was saving for later, out of my bag, and broke a small piece off and offered it to the cat. It pounced and nearly bit my finger off. Guess what, there wasn't much left for me after pussy had his fill, ha ha.

By now my priority was to get back, so I stopped taking photo's as the light started to fade. The last bit of path from Eyam to the hostel is a killer it's so steep, it was a slow trudge those last few hundred yards. I saw the welcome hostel lights at ten to five.

Another portion of microwaved veggie stew, a can of cider, and a night in front of the tele. Very nice.


  1. We stayed at Ravenstor Youth Hostel a few years back and walked the Monsol way. It's a lovely, fascinating path isn't it?

    Really enjoying your visit. Wish we were at the hostel too!

    Sft x

  2. I have enjoyed your walk, it's been a while since I walked around Cressbrook Dale!

    The narrow route warning sign near the top of your post refers to a problem in the peak district with off roading 4X4s and motorbikes, damaging the lanes and ruining the tranquility of the villages... there are always battles going on to ban them but Peak Park have to look at it from both sides and I think the signs you saw are an attempt at compromise!

    The hostel looks very nice.

  3. Another interesting read - thanks Ilona :0)

  4. Lovely to see where you`ve been. Sad tale about the sheep with the dodgy leg, though. The scenery is nice, but wouln`t you have enjoyed it more on a sunny day? This dreary weather makes things look a bit depressing.

  5. I love following your walks. What beautiful countryside.
    Love from Mum

  6. How strange about the guinea pigs? That window in the hostel looks beautiful. You would love the hostel at Arnside, Ilona.

    Look forward to your next instalment.

    (On a totally unrelated matter, could you please point me in the direction of the post where you did the rosehip syrup. I want to make some Rowan syrup and have no idea what to do)

  7. Thank you for sharing your walk and lovely photos. I've never heard of guinea pigs running wild!

  8. What a nice walk. Lovely to share it with you.

  9. Wow, thank you for taking me on the walk with you. I had a blast, lol. The pictures are amazing but my favorite is the wild guinea pigs. I've had 6 guinea pigs over the years as pets and they are so special to me. I just love them.

  10. Lovely photos, thanks for sharing, I must get a beware of the guinea pig sign for our two little chaps !!
    twiggy x

  11. I think Wardlow Mires is the least attractive of all the villages I've visited in the Peak District.

    By the way, the pub at Foolow used be called the 'Lazy Landlord.'