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WALKS WITH NELLIE! Winster by Sally Mosley

The recent spate of ‘wall-to-wall’ sunshine has brought added beauty and colour to our fabulous Peak District. However, high temperatures are not conducive to long walks with Nellie so we often go out early in the morning or late in the evening. This particular one was an early morning ‘before breakfast’ wander around gorgeous Winster.

I parked in the shade under trees beside the entrance to Oddo House on Elton Road from where we headed out of the village to the tucked away graveyard which is the final resting place to departed family, friends and locals. A lovely footpath beside this led us up to a bend on the B5056 which we carefully crossed before walking up Buckdale Lane on the approach to Westhill Farm.

There then followed a wonderful amble along a stretch of the Limestone Way and ancient portway heading up past Grey Tor and on to the rear of Bank Top Farm. From this elevated vantage point at the top of Winster the far reaching views over Derbyshire were simply breath-taking.

Across fields I could see the Miners Standard pub built in 1653, its name taken from the ‘standard’ dish introduced by Henry VIII as a set measure to weigh out lead ore. During the lead mining era it is said that Winster had some 22 pubs in the belief that a few jars of ale were considered to be a cure for lead poisoning. However, I think that is what the miners made their wives believe as an excuse for going to the pub after work - an alternative version to the real origin of the catchphrase ‘swinging the lead’!

Winster is surrounded by a plethora of quaint little barns and paddock sized fields, mainly because lead miners were often part-time farmers too. Some of these barns are still used for their intended purpose as shelter for livestock. The area around Winster is a good example of hill farming at is best, where traditional hay meadows abound.

A left when we met the Newhaven Road and it was only a short walk to the old Ore House, a sort of night-safe for miners long ago who could deposit their precious ore overnight for safe keeping.

Crossing over from the Ore House we passed remnants of Islington Mere on a site where a medieval settlement once stood. We then continued along the Limestone Way, following a wonderful green lane to its end. In fields around us there were lambs frolicking and playing in the sunshine, whilst young fat stock cattle were stuffing their bellies with lush grass and herbage.

Views eastwards drew my eyes to the tall chimney of Enthoven’s, said to be the largest single site producer of recycled lead in Europe and part of the world’s largest lead group, Quexco Inc. It stands on the site where Millclose Mine operated until sometime around the 1930’s. Miners from Winster and surrounding villages would have walked to work here and home again, no matter what the weather, during daylight or dark.

I could also just make out the standing stone rock towers of Robin Hoods Stride in the distance to the north.

Arriving at a gate into fields before Luntor Rocks, Nellie and I headed downhill to pick up the footpath from Bonsall to Winster, crossing fields to emerge at East Bank. We then had a lovely little stroll around the village, firstly heading down to look at the old Market Hall which is 500 years old and was one of the first acquisitions of the National Trust way back in 1906.

After a meander along gennels and alleyways through a hotchpotch of houses and cottages we arrived at the church in time for a lovely chat with local man Fred, who was on his way to wind up the church clock. He asked if I had heard about the Winster murder and pointed out the grave of William Cuddie the village doctor, who in 1821 was killed in a duel by William Brittlebank of Oddo House. Brittlebank survived and fled to Australia to escape justice. There is nothing like local knowledge to learn some new snippets!

I shall definitely return to beautiful Winster on either 15th or 16th July for a nosey around during their ‘Secret Gardens’ annual event.

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE:- Hot weather casts a spell on me. I turn from an energetic, playful, exuberant nutcase into a sloth. When the sun shines and temperature rises I take to my bed or find comfort in the shade. Mum sets the alarm nice and early so that we can fit a few miles in before it gets too hot and then I simply laze around all day whilst she and dad do jobs and get themselves all hot and bothered. There is a saying that mad dog the Englishman goes out in the midday sun! Well this clever little dog knows how to stay cool as a cucumber.

Sally Mosley


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