This is not intended as a walk guide
Before the big freeze arrived in the middle of January, we had endured what seemed to have been weeks of constant wet weather, swelling the rivers to bursting point and topping up reservoirs. Planning routes for our walks became a challenge to find paths with a solid, non-slip surface. This walk ticked just about every box and with the bonus of glorious views to boot.
I parked at the western end of the closed section of Sir William Hill Road. It was pleasantly dry but extremely windy as we set off up the rough track toward the iconic radio mast-topped summit at a height of more than 1,400 feet above sea level. Magnificent views around me were far reaching and all-encompassing so my eyes were wandering in every direction. Landmark summits, strings of Edges, hundreds of acres of pasture divided up into walled enclosures, splodges and strips of woodland full of skeletal trees were in every direction. Above there was even a patch of mackerel sky – evidently a common term for clouds made up of rows of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds displaying an undulating, rippling pattern similar in appearance to fish scales, caused by high altitude atmospheric waves (as described by Wikipedia!).
After the track dipped to a puddle-filled depression, it then rose again to pass through a cutting in the hills like a powerful wind tunnel. Beyond this, the old coach road began its long and gradual descent to Grindleford.
Stretching away to our left, Eyam Moor has numerous ancient archaeological sites with no less than three Bronze Age stone circles as well as many prehistoric cairns spread all around.
On reaching a junction and return to tarmac underfoot, we turned right on the road to Eyam.
Up to our right I could clearly see the disused buildings of Ladywash Mine which was a mixed ore mine accessing the Great Hucklow vein until its closure in 1979. Alongside the chimney a cloud of smoke-like vapour was emerging from a capped shaft. The Ladywash shaft acts as an exhaust vent for Mill Dam mine at Great Hucklow which is still in operation. Air and gases are forced through workings beneath which then head up to the surface where they escape.
Ladywash is reputedly haunted. I was told that in the 1970’s a couple of miners clearly heard footsteps making their way up a series of metal ladders from sixty feet below, but nobody appeared at the top or bottom of the shaft. On another occasion miners working deep underground heard running in the tunnel ahead of them which was a dead end, but when they went to investigate there was nobody there!
Nellie and I then came to Mompesson’s Well down a path on the right. A boundary stone here was used during the time of the Eyam plague by residents of the village. They put coins to soak in vinegar as disinfectant in exchange for food and medicines left by people from other villages.
A right at the next junction and we were on our way to Highcliffe with its cluster of characterful houses. Water was cascading off high ground into troughs beside the road that would long ago have gratefully rehydrated passing horses, pack ponies, livestock and people.
This quiet road is a vantage point to look across to the stately pile of Chatsworth House in the far distance. On this particular day, its honey coloured walls were basking in sunlight.
This had only been a short stroll compared to our usual longer distanced hikes, but a dry and mud-free Nellie was loaded back into the car alongside my pair of dry boots which made for a very welcome change.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE:
When mum takes me on our little town walks I love to say hello to doggy friends. I must admit that I smile to myself when I see some of them wearing little coats, onesies and even tutus, bow ties or leather booties!
Come on you canines, stand up for yourselves! We should be tough and hardy dogs as we’ve evolved over time to have fur that keeps us warm and paws that should be regularly walked so the pads remain tough and supple. We shouldn’t need to be mollycoddled and dressed up like a dog’s dinner!
Imagine my horror when mum dressed me up the other day in a fleecy-warm, bright red coat and paraded me around the village for all to see. I tried to scurry out of sight but it was too late, I’d been seen. As I type this little blog, word will be spreading amongst the furry residents of Over Haddon that Nellie has gone soft!
Please don’t buy me a bandana or any doggy wellies Mum. If you do I’ll hide under the table and refuse to go out. I’ve a reputation to live up to you know!
I’m your tough as old boots little