This is not intended as a walk guide
A wet and soggy July has made our green and pleasant land lush and overgrown. On a rare dry and sunny day in early August, Nellie and I headed off on an adventure around Rowland and Longstone Edge, starting at Hassop Station car park.
Initially we headed up the Monsal Trail a short distance, before turning right on a footpath and aiming for the former toll house with elevated gate display and bell.
The nearby field had been planted with maize that was extremely tall and dense, meaning that we had to follow an anti-clockwise path around the edge. For a time it was like walking along a deep trench, with a high wall on one side and maize to the other. Our route then followed the no through road to Rowland, a scattering of picture postcard pretty little houses and cottages.
Continuing up the road when it became unsuitable for motors brought us to a restricted byway on the left. This narrow walled track leads up towards Bleaklow and High Rake.
As we ascended I could see toward Hassop Common away to my right which long ago was extensively worked for chert. In the day to day accounts of Robert Thornhill (1740-1830) of Great Longstone, it was recorded that a carrier by the name of John Hayne of Hardings Booth near Longnor transported hundreds of tons of chert from this area through Monyash and beyond to be used in the potteries of Staffordshire, using the turnpike route of 1765 from Hassop to Newcastle-under-Lyme. John then brought a return load of crates and pots which were sold in villages on his way home.
Before the summit we took a path on the left to walk beneath Longstone Edge.
Wild flowers were in abundance here, decorating these upland fields and slopes with pastel coloured splodges including scabious, harebell and birdsfoot trefoil to name but a few. The path soon became a level track along the hillside from where I could see for miles across north Derbyshire like observing and admiring the Peak District on a platter.
Arriving at a simple wooden fingerpost sign, Nellie and I headed steeply downhill through rough vegetation and trees of hawthorn and hazel, emerging at a high wall stile. Beyond were fields of rich pasture and good grazing where a healthy and happy herd of milk cows were contentedly chewing the cud, no doubt relaxing in the sunshine until milking time came round yet again.
Now Nellie and I followed Hard Rake Lane, being little more than a narrow walled path flanked by wild flowers. At times it was overhung by the branches of old trees like a wedding arch salute above our heads.
This is one of several old miners paths in the area. Situated on a plateau betwixt shale and limestone, both Great and Little Longstone were once home to families of miners that toiled for long hours on the surface and below these hills.
A right on meeting Beggerway Lane and our adventure turned into a nosey around Great Longstone, tripping down gennels, peeping over garden walls and admiring with house-envy eyes many beautiful and characterful properties.
In the centre of the village is Longstone Cross. Probably medieval in date, it has a tapered shaft on an octagonal base, set upon five circular steps.
A wander down Station Road with a shortcut across fields to miss out the corner, brought us to the former Longstone Station which opened in 1863. The first stationmaster was Joseph Bell.
Our walk ended with an amble back along the Monsal Trail. Thankfully Nellie was by then a bit too tired for lunging at bikes as they pootled past – she’s a bit of a nutter and would chase joggers too given half a chance.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Because it was a warm day, Mum wore her shorts for this walk, revealing lots of tender bare flesh, whilst I had on my best fur coat as always.
Because everywhere has become overgrown thanks to lots of wet weather, mum’s legs became scratched and stung from brambles and nettles as well as splattered with mud. However, to add insult to injury, I had found something lovely and smelly to roll in, rubbing it into my neck like the best eau de cologne. I then thought Mum might enjoy the smell too so rubbed closely up against her legs. Much to my surprise Mum didn’t like that particularly earthy scent and so when we got home it was bath time for both of us. Mum had her indoors tub of warm and delectable bubble bath suds whilst I had buckets of water thrown over me in the back yard. I smell nice again now you will be pleased to know – anyone want a cuddle? Nellie xxx