The north wind did blow, and we had some snow, just after I’d started work in my garden. Out came the thermals again, scarf, hat, and gloves etc so that I wouldn’t freeze to death on this glorious walk from Castleton.
Taking advantage of roadside parking which is free during the week, I made my way to the centre of this quaint little village for a peep at the huge entrance to the Devil’s Arse and a wander over Peakshole Water before walking up to the former market place with village green topped by a memorial in the shape of an ornately carved cross.
Nellie and I then began our long and gradual ascent of Pindale Road before veering right up Siggate, a rough stone track leading to high ground past fields full of old mine and quarry workings. Distant views began to appear of high ground sprinkled with snow like miniature-mountains in some alpine range, whilst down in the bottom of the Hope Valley fields remained green and lush after almost a month of warm sunny days.
Eventually we came to Dirtlow Rake, a gaping scar slashed into the limestone landscape. Dirtlow has been described as being a spectacular open slope showing mineralisation and pick marks, probably medieval in date. The mineral vein worked here was the largest and most important in the Castleton area.
Onwards and upwards we wandered until the disused Hollandtwine Mine which was also known as Doctor Hollands Engine Shaft. Here our track headed west. I had previously set my sights on Win Hill, Lose Hill and the Great Ridge stretching along to Mam Tor but now I was observing huge fields of pasture dotted with pregnant sheep and the vast expanse of Rushup Edge where what looked like teeny weeny cars were making their way along the road to Chapel-en-le-Frith.
After crossing over the Limestone Way that came up from Cave Dale, Nellie and I turned right to follow an undulating track that was lined on one side with clump after clump of golden daffodils.
Fields in front of Rowter Farm had become playgrounds for new born lambs, some snuggling up to their mums for warmth.
I then discovered how Windy Knoll got its name when I was hit with an icy blast that had zipped up Winnats Pass. It was positively perishing on that exposed bit of path. Soon after this Nellie and I began to descend to warmer climes, passing the Blue John Cavern on route for the ‘earthquake movie road’ beneath Mam Tor. Every time I walk this former turnpike road I am in awe of the power of nature. There are always fresh cracks in the old road surface, more areas have dropped away and swathes of tarmac have been twisted and split as though it were toffee.
The approach road to Mam Farm is now virtually impassable, rendered to a narrow causeway, protected by massive edgings of sawn timber.
I admired distant views on the lovely walk back down to Castleton and noticed little ant-like figures walking in a procession along the Great Ridge, confirmed as being one of the best walks to enjoy in the Peak District.
Setting off for home I went via Sparrowpit to check out The Olive Tree café and farm shop located in the former Wanted Inn pub, where I stocked up on some scrumptious local products. They even had posh biscuits for Nellie, so she didn’t feel left out!
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: It’s gardening time again. That means hours spent up mum’s allotment which is boring beyond words. She tries to trick me by saying we are going for a little walk but I know better. I can tell from the gardening shoes she wears and the direction we head from home, and so when we have passed through the allotment gate I tend to go all awkward. I sit down in the path and refuse to budge but Mum has a way of weedling me along and then she fastens me to a big stake near the herb patch.
I’ve got warm blankets and even a snuggly bed to snooze in up the allotment, but it’s not the same as being out on a walk somewhere or tucked up on the sofa watching telly.
I have to be on guard duty too and let Mum know if anyone is around because that’s what us dogs are good at. I’m best buddies with some of the allotment holders who stop to give me a fuss but I can be a bit contrary at times and woof like mad at others, which is why Mum has nicknamed me Mary.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? A very appropriate name in the circumstances don’t you think?
Loves and licks, Nellie xx