This is not intended as a walk guide
Nellie and I ventured to the back of beyond for this walk, in search of a mud-free route. We almost succeeded until the last half a mile that turned out to be very slippery and deep with gloop.
I parked roadside near the ‘book swap’ telephone kiosk and a recently erected piece of artwork that appeared like a frame of little signs. We then headed off down the lane past the school.
A left by the part-time brew stop shop and we were soon wandering beside the infant river Dove, not far from towering reef knoll hills that line the Derbyshire side of the valley. Hollins, Chrome and Parkhouse appear like strange shaped sentinels keeping guard. Dramatic dark and brooding skies in the distance predicted yet more rain was on its way. However, for now there were some lovely shafts of sunlight like searchlights picking out hotspot patches of scenery with overhead pockets of glorious blue sky.
I observed that many trees were now devoid of leaves, blown off by wind or simply fallen to the ground, creating a patterned carpet of amber hues.
After crossing a footbridge from Staffordshire to Derbyshire, we turned left up Dowel Dale, passing Dowall Hall, a 17th century dairy and sheep farm. Nearby Dowel Cave is thought to have been a prehistoric rock shelter.
The quiet road continued up a secluded valley where sheep on one side were like mountain goats, several being perched on steep rock faces of exposed limestone.
We continued past Greensides Farm at Owl Hole, an isolated homestead snuggled beside a bank of protective trees into a bleak landscape of moorland pasture and high peak hills. Several veins of lead ore were worked hereabouts during the 18th and 19th centuries, first recorded in 1777 when John Nadin gave one dish of ore to free an Old Founder called Greensides. Ore accounts confirm that he continued to work mines here until 1783.
We continued to follow the exceptionally quiet and gated road over high ground, exposed to the elements and at risk of being wind lashed and drenched. At a second turning on the left we followed an access drive on the left to Booth Farm. Just before the little cluster of buildings and yards we went through yet another gate beside a cattle grid to follow a bridlepath past Fough.
Looking back up the valley I caught sight of the pretty white painted cottage at Leycote that shines out across the green and brown landscape like a bright beacon. This is one of my favourite farms, a true rural idyll, appearing to be unspoilt by modern constructions. It sits beside an old packhorse track leading up from Washgate Bridge, a junction of numerous ancient routes.
From our elevated grassy path with occasional puddles, there were fabulous views over to Moor Side and deep into the valley below. As we made our way back I was feeling rather smug that my boots were still relatively clean and Nellie’s undercarriage was just damp and not dirty. However, that was soon to change! On the final descent to a little stone footbridge spanning the river and subsequent path up the field opposite I squelched, slipped, slithered, splodged and there was almost a splat before we emerged onto the lane at Hollinsclough Rake. We then walked back down into Hollinsclough where I noticed a new wall plaque in front of the Village Hall celebrating the coronation of their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla on 6th May 2023. For such a small village, there is a lot of pride in community projects and artwork which are prominently displayed for all to see.
The beautiful Methodist Chapel was built in 1801 by John Lomas (1747-1823) in the garden of his home at a cost of £355. His initials can be seen on the datestone. John was a packman or jagger and made his fortune by transporting and hawking goods around the countryside. So successful was he that he later set on several employees to help him. John was so dedicated to his profession that he twice visited William Pitt, the then Prime Minister, in London to discuss the conditions of packmen.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: You might find this hard to believe but I’m not a very brave dog at all. When out on a walk with mum last week I was attacked by a slimy monster that attached itself to my leg and wouldn’t let go. I was so frightened that I began to tremble and went to mum to help me. She laughed out loud before flicking off the big slug with her finger, then gave me a cuddle for comfort. I can’t help being a wuss.
Shivery shakes, Nellie xx