Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Year in Derbyshire.

It has become tradition over the years to meet up with my brother, Peter, and wife, Linda for New Year in Derbyshire, staying at the excellent Hartington Hall Youth Hostel.  Consequently Heather and I set off early on 29th December arriving in Hartington just before midday.  Although much of the country had experienced heavy snowfall on Boxing Day, on the Lincolnshire coast we had none, so it was with some excitement that we found a good snow cover on our arrival.  After a quick lunch at the hostel we set off for our first walk.  One of the pleasures of meeting up here each year was that once parked we left the cars in the car park and walked from the hostel.  The same walks each year, the biggest decision being which way round to do them.  Our route took us along a green lane opposite the hostel and then via pastoral farmland, largely sheep country, to the Tissington Trail along the disused Ashbourne to Buxton railway line.  We delighted in the hard, frozen ground and deep crisp snow that squeaked under our boots.  Once on the trail we walked to Hartington Station and then across fields back to the hostel via Heathcote.  Only a short walk but in wonderful conditions and light.  The light was going as we returned and it was soon time for beer o'clock.

To view large, please click on an image.

 Expecting a dull day for New Year's Eve we were delighted to be greeted by clearing skies as the sun rose and burned off the early mist and fog.  Best of all it was still snowy and frozen.  Although the previous day's walk had been a mere 4 miles today's was to be 11.  We struck off along the green lane opposite the hostel to Biggin Dale.  Here Peter and myself contoured along the top of the valley over rough ground to get the views into the dale, while Heather and Linda opted for the valley Path.  We met up for coffee back down in the dale at the junction of Biggin Dale and Wolfscote Dale on the banks of the River Dove.  We then parted company again; Heather and Linda to stay by the river to Milldale, whilst Peter and myself tackled the steep, slippery climb up Gypsy Bank and across the fields to Alstonfield before dropping down to Milldale to meet up with the ladies at Viator's Bridge, which features in Izaac Walton's The Compleat Angler.  Here we had lunch before returning to Hartington sticking to the river path all the way this time.  An excellent walk, we were now ready for New Year celebrations in the hostel; and perhaps a pint or three!!

On our third day the weather forecast proved correct.  It had rained overnight and all of the snow had melted to leave a grey, dull and blustery day, the frozen ground of the two previous days turning to mud.  It was still good to be out, though, and Peter and I walked to Longnor returning via Pilsbury Castle.  Linda and heather opted for a shorter version of the same walk.

For our last day the skies had cleared once more to give fabulous conditions.  We only had time for a short walk so, parking at Alstonfield we walked down Hall Dale to Ilam Rock in Dovedale and then back by Milldale.

An excellent New Year break yet again.

Viator's Bridge

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