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This is not intended as a walk guide

This walk was with a group of friends

Because I had arranged for us to have a private tour of Tideswell Church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and affectionately known as the Cathedral of the Peak, Nellie had to stay at home. She wasn’t best pleased but I did make it up to her later.

We parked en masse at Tideswell Dale car park and walked to the village up fields and stiles then along Meadow Lane. At one point we looked down onto the church tower topped by pinnacles and agreed it looked a long way up to the top and a quick way down!

I had prearranged our tour with Peter Robinson and his wife Janice who greeted us enthusiastically at the door before taking us on a wonderful tour, to be told snippets of interesting facts and have features pointed out to us in the chancel, nave and side chapels. We then headed up the tower in small groups, carefully negotiating narrow triangular shaped medieval steps ascending the steepest spiral I have ever climbed. On the way the church bells chimed and we saw inside the ringing room as well as peering into the bell chamber above.

We were all a bit wibbly wobbly dizzy when we emerged onto the leaded roof of the tower which is not actually flat, but rises up to a central high so that water will drain from it. The aerial view over Tideswell was amazing but looking down into the churchyard below was not for the faint hearted. Our journey back down the spirals was extremely slow with each step carefully placed! Tours of the church and/or tower can be arranged for groups by booking in advance.

Tideswell’s Wakes Week starts on 18th June. In the afternoon of Thursday 23rd the ancient ceremony of Clypping the Church will take place when members of the congregation, residents of Tideswell and visitors to the village circle the church and hold hands like a giant daisy chain.

There will also be a talk during the week by Stephen Booth, the famous author of Peak District detective novels and a themed exhibition in the church entitled ‘My Word, The World Of Sayings, Quotes And Tales’.

Our walk of a good few miles around Tideswell then began and I could tell from the outset that the rest of our day was to continue in a delight of spectacular views.

We headed off on terra firma, leaving the village by walking along Church Lane towards Litton. A lovely grassy track on the right just before the village, followed by fields and stiles up to Hall Lane, led us to the start of a long straight footpath over undulating pasture to woodland above Cressbrook Dale. At one point we stopped to admire Peter Stone rising up like a huge dome in the distance.

After a narrow path along the top of the wood we eventually emerged at the top of Cressbrook village, laid out with terraced houses in an alpine style, each one having spectacular far reaching views over Monsal Dale.

A right up the hill past Cressbrook Church was soon followed by a left down a track to Litton Mill which gave us unbelievably panoramic views. Along the way I came across my first orchid of the year.

Litton Mill looked very sombre and I couldn’t help but remember the plaque that had been pointed out to us on the outside of the library in the former Robert Purseglove Grammar School behind the church. It referred to child orphans, many from London, who died working in the mill because of its slave-like conditions and brutal punishments. Sadly they were buried in unmarked graves thereabouts.

The Wye was flowing placidly in the bottom of this deep limestone gorge where Victorian engineers chose to construct a now famous railway line, and mills were built that could be powered by water flowing past. An amble back up Tideswell Dale returned us to our cars past banks of wild flowers buzzing with bees and beside a bumbling brook.

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I don’t think mum loves me anymore. She went a walk without me! I had to watch as she packed her rucksack, took her boots and car keys then drove off leaving me behind with Dad. I had a little cry then became daddy’s girl for the day. He’s a soft touch for treats and cuddles so don’t feel too sorry for me. Don’t tell mum but we sat snuggled on the sofa for hours watching an old film and dad’s favourite programmes together. I gave mum the silent treatment for a while when she got back, but I couldn’t keep it going for too long as it was soon time for tea. Big hugs from your hard done to little Nellie x


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