I never fail to be inspired by our glorious countryside and enjoy writing up some of these experiences for my regular features. However, occasionally I need pointing in the right direction so to speak. For this ramble I delved into my recently acquired copy of ‘The Peak’ by Rod Dunn ISBN 978-1-3999-0823-8, also available from firstname.lastname@example.org. uk. Packed with three hundred pages of colourful photographs, this pictorial guide encompasses panoramic landscapes, flora, fauna, traditions, property and people. I decided that whichever page I opened the book at would be my pot luck destination. Shortly after, Nellie and I headed off for Heathcote Mere after landing on page 165.
It was early in the morning when I parked at the former Hartington Station as I wanted to be one of the first visitors of the day along the Tissington Trail.
The station opened in 1899 on the Ashbourne line, built by the London North Western Railway as a branch from the Cromford and High Peak Railway at Parsley Hay. It is situated about a mile and a half from the actual village and finally closed in 1963.
During the next couple or so miles south Nellie and I encountered only two fellow walkers, a jogger, cyclist and a friendly chap with his retired sniffer-dog spaniel.
White clouds were scudding across an otherwise clear blue sky, casting a few shadows over the panoramic landscape of lush green field that surrounded us, many speckled sunshine yellow with dandelions. There was new life to be seen from time to time with sheep and lambs, cows and calves as well as insects buzzing from flower to flower.
Exiting the trail we walked down Back Lane then turned right onto Liffs Road to pick up the footpath that would take us to Biggin Dale, part of which is a nature reserve, managed by the National Trust. Evidently it is possible at certain times of the year to hear the eccentric ‘chacking’ of a wheatear that can be found here.
This area of the White Peak is packed with tracks, some used by farmers to access land, others now designated as bridleways that utilise former drovers routes and packhorse ways.
Having turned right to pass through a gate, then headed a short distance up Biggin Dale, we followed the bridleway to the rear of Wolfscote Hill that would take us to Reynard Lane. Walking along the lovely track between fields led us past a most impressive barn with Dutch style roof.
A right at the little crossroads meant that we could continue our ‘green lane’ ramble flanked by drystone walls and hay meadows with skylarks singing in the sky above.
These tracks offer a multiple choice of left and right turns and I would have been happy wandering around for miles in the peace and tranquillity that they provide. Eventually however we emerged onto Harding’s Lane with a short walk to Heathcote Mere, our chosen destination.
It is thought there has been a mere on this site for centuries. The attractive information board tells that as early as 1745 fines were imposed on anyone taking down a wall or defiling the water in any manner. A particular area was set aside for domestic use, preseumeably so you didn’t get animal slobber or churned up mud in your bucket!
To complete our five and a half mile route Nellie and I then walked up through Heathcote, a sleepy little hamlet in Hartington Nether Quarter Township. A delightful footpath through fields and stiles followed, that offered us advantageous views toward Staffordshire hills and a direct route back to the car park.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Mum says I’m a funny little dog with some very strange habits, one of which is paw sucking! When I was a puppy and then as a young dog I would sometimes get a front leg or paw in my mouth and give it a gentle chew or slurp. Mum was a bit worried at first and thought I might have injured myself or be suffering from growing pains, but to be honest I was just entertaining myself if I was bored. I was a bit like a baby sucking their thumb.
I’m a big girl now and don’t do it as often, but the other day I was lying on the bed trying to get mum’s attention with a few little squeaks. She was having a lie-in snooze but I wanted my walk so I decided to hold one leg in my mouth and dance around the bed on the other three. That did the trick because quick as a flash mum reached for her phone to take a picture of me. I told you I was bonkers! Slurp and big slobbers, Nellie xx