This is not intended as a walk guide
I awoke at the first sign of light, had a quick drink and some cereal for sustenance and then set off in the car with Nellie to park in the long lay-by on the Chelmorton Road past Magpie Mine.
A keen frost overnight had created a glistening monochrome landscape beneath a tropical-sea coloured sky with an orange glow on the horizon as the sun rose from behind Stanton Moor.
We headed down the track and bridlepath into Deep Dale Nature Reserve, currently devoid of its famed wild flowers as they lie dormant in floral hibernation. Plants that grow here include common rock-rose, wild thyme, spring cinquefoil, salad burnet, burnet-saxifrage and limestone bedstraw.
Deep into the Dale I came across a most unusual memorial seat created from polished crinoidal limestone, probably from Once A Week Quarry situated a mile or so away.
It was exceedingly cold in the Dale. A little stream flowing down to reach the Wye had miniature icebergs in it. My boots were the only ones that morning to leave imprints in the frost that would soon disappear.
My eyes were drawn to the promontory hilltop of Fin Cop directly ahead in the distance. With high sides and tucked away from civilisation, Deep Dale is very dramatic. It has always been a peaceful place though, which is probably why in prehistoric times a rock shelter was created here because early man found it a safe haven.
A right on meeting a junction of ways and we were on an up. I’d forgotten just how steep and rocky the wallside path is on the edge of Great Shacklow Wood. It’s far better going up than coming down! For once I was actually grateful that Nellie was pulling on the lead.
Eventually we reached high ground and began a route that would follow a succession of fields, stiles and little gates with an old miners’ path thrown in for good measure. Apart from the gentle drone of traffic on the A6 below, it was peaceful and quiet. There was little sign of life apart from a hare that bolted across the field to the side of us and a farmer mending a gap in one of his walls.
Capped shafts and spoil heaps all around here have survived as evidence that Sheldon, Monyash and Flagg were once exploited for their veins of lead ore. Mines hereabouts were at one time so busy that men migrated north to work in them from tin mines in Cornwall.
We made our way to Sheldon, passing the Church as we entered the village. Dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, Sheldon Church was rebuilt in 1864 when the previous house of worship became dilapidated and unsafe to enter.
The new church was designed by the architect Samuel Rollinson of Chesterfield and built by Mr Gyte of Ashford. The foundation stone was laid by Rev. H.K. Cornish, vicar of Bakewell, on 31 May 1864, and the building consecrated on 7 October 1864 by the Bishop of Lichfield. It has a most beautiful interior with beamed ceiling and a curved wall behind the alter.
A right up the only street of this linear village took us past the Cock and Pullet pub. Lined with characterful houses and quaint little cottages, the main street then opened out at the top of the village onto a green.
Here we followed the road around to the left before heading on another field and stile footpath on the right. There were fabulous views over elevated White Peak countryside all around, with the buildings and chimney of Magpie Mine just visible. This wonderful path led us back to the top end of Deep Dale and my car.
The sun had gained some warmth, all signs of frost had magically melted and everywhere had turned green again as Nellie and I headed for home. Because our day had started quite early we could have a brunch lunch, leaving time in the afternoon for some gardening - it was too nice a day to be indoors for long.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: When me and my mum get home from our walks we sometimes have to have a bit or a rest which mum calls a catnap. I don’t know why she calls it that because we haven’t got a cat! Sometimes we pop up to bed for a cuddly wuddly together. I get really comfortable and snuggle into the duvet, ears relaxed and legs stretched out. However, I leave one eye just a bit open and snake like so that I can watch birds flitting about outside the window. I don’t like to miss out on anything. You could say I’m having a bit of a Nellie nap! Yawns and stretches.