This is not intended a a walk guide
During the worst of the recent heatwave, Nellie’s walks were restricted in length and limited to very early morning or late evening. So how deliciously refreshing it was when the weather broke and we enjoyed a daytime walk in heavy rain, returning home rejuvenated and wet through!
The following day was sunny but not too hot, offering us the perfect conditions for a little hike of some three miles or so on a circular route around Great Hucklow.
To begin this little amble, I parked roadside along Main Street, not far from the Nightingale Centre where I came across the Butter Cross. A nearby information board explained the role of this particular cross was to signify a meeting place long ago where goods might be sold, bartered or exchanged.
Great Hucklow has a very strong community spirit, most evident in August when it is time for their annual well dressing and wakes week celebrations. The village is packed with chocolate box pretty little cottages; traditional stone built farmhouses and a scattering of select country residences.
After turning right at the road junction beyond the attractive Old Manse, we headed down to the Old Unitarian Chapel, beyond which was a wall stile. A footpath across fields and stiles led us to Grindlow, being a separate little hamlet of rural homes. Nellie and I now walked down the lane to a junction where we crossed over to follow a bridleway down Silly Dale. The name Silly is evidently said to be old English for pretty!
To the left of the path was evidence of lead mining. The Cross Low lead vein here was said to have been worked from 1540 to 1900. There were numerous mines around Great Hucklow that have left behind an industrial heritage of old workings, capped shafts and rakes containing dips and hollows where wild flowers now flourish.
Old Mill Dam Mine on the far side of Great Hucklow was originally worked for lead until 1885. At that time miners discarded other minerals they found as waste, but it is now these spoils and abandoned veins that are rich pickings, financially viable in the 21st century mineral market. A hundred years after its closure the new Milldam Mine opened in 1985 to extract fluorspar and barytes with lead ore as a by-product.
Instead of accessing by the original deep shaft on the edge of the village, this was to be a drift mine with a large tunnel entrance from a new site situated nearby in an out of sight sunken compound.
We pottered along over a panoramic landscape of fields, currently parched and bleached blonde by intense heat and days of relentless hot sun. Cattle and sheep were wandering in search of sustenance, more used to lush green meadows than this scene of dry and desiccated scrub.
Dotted around were little stone field barns set amid miles of drystone walls and in the distance I could make out the familiar domed shape of Peter Stone or Gibbet Rock as it is also known.
Arriving at Stanley House we did a right to follow their approach road as far as an almost derelict Dutch barn, its corrugated sheeting rusted and showing weather-worn patination from decades of being exposed to the elements.
Opposite was a high wall stile which we crossed before heading up a field that had been mown for hay, leaving behind huge plastic bales like giant black alien pods that were waiting to be taken away and stored for winter feed.
We followed the footpath beside Stanley Lodge through little field gates and over pasture grazed by sheep to Stanleymoor Farm. The property’s original drive leading to a five-way junction has become redundant and overgrown as an easier access route was created. Now downgraded to a footpath, this old drive was lovely to wander along. It was here that I saw a magical sight when a young buzzard that must have been newly fledged, fluttered and flapped about in the field alongside. When it became aware of us passing it made itself as flat as possible, hiding in the grass until we had gone.
Nellie and I then had a pavement potter back into the heart of Great Hucklow to end what had been a super duper mini hike.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I may be Australian by descent, but I really can’t stand the sun. I don’t like sheep either! For the last couple of weeks I’ve been right hot and bothered, taking turns to sprawl on the sofa, loz on the bed or stretch out beside the air conditioning unit that dad put in the lounge. On the few times I ventured outside with mum for a quick tiddle I kept to the shade as much as possible. Mum even invented a new game for us to play. It’s called ‘chase the ice cube across the kitchen floor before it melts and make it disappear with a nice big crunch!’
With love from your cool as a cucumber little canine friend.