Walks with Nellie
by Sally Mosley
This is not intended as a walk guide
Nellie and I ventured back onto high ground for this discovery-packed hike, rambling and ambling over stone-strewn terrain whilst drinking in spectacular views.
We began by parking roadside up the road from Fox House. After admiring the pub sign and old front door of this former coaching inn, Nellie and I made a hasty dash over the road junction to a gap in the wall and footpath leading down to a gate lodge. In front of this, semi-hidden behind a bush, stands a guide stoop way marker with accompanying companion stone. The stoop was moved here from its original position near a junction of old tracks when Longshaw was built and the road layout changed.
A walk along the drive led me to the tearoom which has had a refurb and large extension since I last passed this way. Always popular because of its wonderful setting, it was nice to see a bevy of visitors supping tea and sipping lattes, eating brunch or preparing for lunch. We then followed a footpath in front of Longshaw which now comprises of private apartments. Over the fence to our right was Timothy Field where the Longshaw Sheep Dog trials are held in early September. They claim to be the oldest continuous trials in the country having run from 1898 to the present day and only interrupted by two World Wars. It is said the sheepdog trials were initially set up as a competition between the head shepherd and head keeper to the Duke of Rutland.
At a gate we turned right beneath yew trees on a path leading down to the pond. Further on was an old stone building that housed information about the area. After a quick peruse we crossed over the road by the ice cream van to a gate and path heading for Padley Gorge.
Padley woods are simply glorious. Newly fallen oak and birch leaves were scattered over moss covered spoils of rock like autumn confetti. A new ‘money tree’ of glistening coins had been created from the decaying trunk of a corkscrew oak. As we wandered dreamily beneath the trees, from over to my left came the sound of Burbage Brook bumbling, tripping and falling over a jumble of gritstone boulders.
Eventually arriving at a fingerpost sign for Surprise View and Bolehill Quarry, Nellie and I turned right to follow a path up through trees and then left at the top, taking us to what was once a hustling, bustling industrial site. Now a tranquil scene of silver birch, standing like an army of sentinels to hide the hacked-away gritstone quarry face. A century ago this was a dangerous workplace. There are several accidents recorded where young workers here were crushed by machinery or hit by runaway train wagons. Trains were used to transport stone to the Upper Derwent Valley for constructing dam walls at Howden and Derwent.
It was eerie walking between the trees, occasionally coming across some derelict building. We eventually found our way onto a track leading to Surprise View, along the way were many discarded grinding stones coated in moss and lichen that were now snuggled into long grass or bramble. Some had no doubt been discarded because they were faulty, but many I suspect were simply abandoned when the produc-tion of millstones went into decline thanks to foreign imports being cheaper. We crossed over just beneath the famous bend and kink in the main road. Evidently it is called Surprise View because Queen Victoria came this way from Sheffield in a carriage sometime during her reign and when suddenly seeing the wondrous Hope Valley stretching away into the distance, was heard to remark “Oh my, what a surprise!”.
Nellie and I now walked through woodland hiding beneath Millstone Edge where more industrial architecture can be found hidden amongst the trees. The path began to head uphill through bracken and bilberry with a wall to our left side over which there were far reaching views across large tracts of moorland toward Stanage Edge, a panorama of Peak District proper.
After a gate leading out onto the moor, a steep narrow path led up through heather to the top of Millstone Edge with occasional dizzying views down to my right. After a bit of gentle downhill path along the top of the Edge we veered left across to Surprise View car park. The next part of our walk was lovely because we followed an eroded old holloway etched into the moors by the passing of countless feet and hooves. At one time this would have been the main route between Hathersage and Sheffield.
Arriving back at the top of Padley Gorge I decided it would be nice for Nellie to have a bit of a paddle in Burbage Brook where she merged well with the peat-rich, chocolate-coloured water. She had a bit of a splish and splosh around and then we followed the brook upstream to end our walk with yet another woodland wander back to Longshaw.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: - Something very strange has been happening around Over Haddon this weekend. Mum said it was a scarecrow competition but it was more a case of scare Nellie competition if you ask me! Pretend people were popping up everywhere, one appearing to fall off a ladder and another out of a tree. Going for a walk around the village had me all of a doodah because I’m such a wuss. But it was on my last ‘tiddle walk’ before bed that I had the scariest encounter when I came across a little bundle of thorns heading down the path toward me. When I went in close for a sniff I got a very nasty surprise and my nose was nearly perforated! I’m a very affectionate dog most of the time but I certainly don’t recommend anyone trying to kiss a hedgehog!
Much love, Nellie x