This is not intended as a walk guide
Nellie and I had an exceptionally early start for this walk, parking up at the top end of Padley Gorge hours before the ice cream van had pitched up for the day or paddlers had arrived to play in the water.
It was blissfully cool walking downhill beneath a canopy of corkscrew oaks. The path was very dry and the normally raging Burbage Brook was reduced to a placid tumble over a jumble of gritstone rocks and boulders. A choir of birdsong accompanied us with a soloist cuckoo putting in an occasional highlight appearance.
The woods now contain several ‘money trees’ to be found that were glistening in the morning sun.
Emerging from woodland we descended steeply past the roll-topped water board building and a magnificent mansion to a junction where my nose turned to a large honeysuckle bush dripping with flowers that gave me a ‘fragrance high’ from sniffing!
A short walk to the right from this point and we were recceing the route of the Padley Pilgrimage that will take place on July 10th at 3p.m. in recognition and remembrance of the Padley Martyrs. The walk from Grindleford Station to Padley Manor will be followed by an open air mass in the grounds of the former manor house where, in 1588, two Catholic priests (Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam) were discovered hiding. Charged with treason they were found guilty then hanged, drawn and quartered in Derby for their faith, hence to be remembered forever as the 'Padley Martyrs.
Just after the manor and a combination of gates we turned right to walk up Bolehill Woods. A seriously steep incline led up to ruins of what must have been an engine house. This was the route of a short stretch of railway used to bring stone from the now disused Bolehill Quarry for the construction of Derwent and Howden dam walls. It was transported up the Derwent Valley on the main line.
Countless wood ants were out on manoeuvres so it was not a good idea for either me or Nellie to stand still for very long. Every once in a while a furry face popped up above the dense jungle of bracken as these woods are currently grazed by a small herd of cattle.
A most glorious path led us northwards from the redundant Bolehill Quarry, passing a discarded reject millstone left lying on the ground. We followed this along to the A6187 just beneath the gap known as Surprise View. The name evidently comes from the fact that Queen Victoria was driven this way in a carriage from Sheffield, and when turning the corner to descend from the moors, she was presented with the most amazing view up to the Hope Valley and reputedly announced ‘Oh my, what a surprise!’.
A quick trot over the road and we were back on track, this time beneath Millstone Edge that towered out of sight through trees on our right. So far most views had been blocked or blurred by foliage, but when we arrived at open moorland this changed dramatically and I stood for several minutes drinking in the far reaching panorama before me.
We now walked up, around and over the top of Millstone Edge for yet more stupendous views before heading across a heather-lined path to Surprise View car park. Along the way I had a wonderful encounter, seeing and hearing a ring ouzel that was perched on a rock like a blackbird with a bib awaiting a meal to be served.
There then followed a little bit of roadside path before Nellie and I could descend a fabulous hollow way created over time by pack ponies and people travelling between Hathersage and Sheffield.
Back at the car, the ice cream van had arrived so we ended our walk by sharing a 99 for breakfast!
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I’m famous don’t you know! Me and my mum had an official engagement last week when we cut the ribbon for the unveiling of the Pommie Plaque in Youlgrave. They only invited mum because I couldn’t hold the scissors on my own, but don’t tell her that.
Mum made me have a bath beforehand so I didn’t smell of anything revolting that I might have rolled in that morning and I even got to wear my posh collar that only comes out for special occasions.
It was really strange because there was a little crowd of people and they all seemed to know my name. I got fussed and cuddled and managed to give many kisses and slurps.
The sun was shining, the band playing, and I got extra treats for being good. Paw print autographs can be arranged for a small fee now that I’m a minor celebrity. Please send your requests to the Editor!