This is not intended as a walk guide
It was the day after Queen Elizabeth II passed away and I, like most of the nation, was feeling a bit maudlin. I thought a breath of fresh air and a nice walk would boost my spirits, but I didn’t feel like going far from home. So Nellie and I set off up the main street in Over Haddon. Along the way we passed the village post box with E II R insignia cast into its front. It made me realise that although our beloved Monarch was no longer with us, there are countless reminders throughout her Kingdom to commemorate and celebrate the Queen’s exceedingly long reign. She will never ever be forgotten!
We continued up past the bus shelter, constructed in the coronation year, as depicted by its E II R 1953 celebratory date stone.
The distant views from the far end of the village always make me smile, and it was comforting to hear laughter and voices chatting in the beer garden of The Lathkill – life must go on.
After crossing fields to Conksbury, Nellie and I made our way to the renamed Conksbury Lodge, before heading up into Youlgrave where the flag atop All Saints Parish Church was flying at half-mast.
Union Jacks adorned shops windows along Church Street, and the post office window contained yet more reminders with posters about stamps, all adorned with the Queen’s head. We came across the postman out on deliveries, his van doors emblazoned with the E II R monogram. I wonder if in the near future these will have to be painted over with C III R in recognition of our new King Charles III?
We walked down Holywell Lane, passing Youlgrave’s Village Hall. Here was artwork of a different nature that took my eye. Youlgrave resident Phil Smith thought up the idea of the Pommie Plaque as it has become known. Started in 2021 and due to be completed in 2023, this fantastic mosaic which looks a bit like the Tree of Life, is hoped to be a ‘family tree’ of the village from pre-history to present day. Some 1,600 decorative tiles will be used in the 2m square masterpiece. http://www.grouchygrouter.co.uk/pommie-plaque.html
Following the river Bradford now, Nellie and I walked downstream past the swimming pool dam that was brimming with water. With cheery but somewhat forced smiles we passed numerous people enjoying our wonderful countryside, no doubt feeling good to be alive.
Eventually arriving at Alport next to the phone box topped by a crown, we crossed over on the return route to home. This section of the Lathkil is to me the prettiest as we wandered past ancient arched bridges, weirs and pools. There is currently very little water in the river and by the time you reach Lathkil Mill it is completely dry apart from a few stagnant looking pools. However, dark clouds above looked ominously like a thunderstorm was on the way, as though the weather too had picked up on the sombre mood. Before we reached home we got caught in a very heavy downpour that created tricklets running down the road before me – the skies too seemed to be crying!
Nellie and I splodged our way back up the steep lane from the dale, calling in to sign the Book of Condolences that had been set out inside St Ann’s, whilst taking the opportunity for a few minutes of quiet contemplation. Emerging from the church the sun had come out. Suddenly I felt happier and warm inside. It’s time to move on. Our Queen is dead, but long live the King!
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE
In summer the great outdoors is alive with all kinds of parasitic bugs ready to pounce on unsuspecting passers-by, be they tics, midges, mozzies or burrowing mites.
The other week mum and I must have walked somewhere where a bunch of harvest mites were waiting in ambush to jump on us. That night we were both scratching like mad as the teeny weeny critters burrowed into our skin.
Fortunately I have had my regular flea and bug treatment that is supposed to make my skin taste nasty, so I think my share of mites then made their way onto mum instead.
For days she had lumps, bumps and little red blotches in various places. She smelt like a chemist shop from dabbing with lotions and potions.
She wriggled, rubbed and scratched so much in bed at night that I was missing out on my sleep. In fact, I got so grumpy that I felt like telling her that if she didn’t stop she would have to go outside in the yard!
I’m happy to say that there are no bugs on either of us now, but I bet my last crunchy biscuit that you too have started scratching!