THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS A WALK GUIDE
What a wonderfully atmospheric walk this turned out to be. Nellie and I had set off from home after breakfast in light drizzle conditions for a route I had planned in the Goyt Valley. By the time we reached Buxton it had turned to thick mist but I nearly missed the turning off the A5004 as up there everywhere was enshrouded in thick fog. I drove past the little roadside shrine then made my way slowly to the car park at the top of the incline by the pond.
So thick was the murk that I nearly changed my mind and headed back home. However I knew the walk along the former Cromford and High Peak railway line as far as the closed tunnel was level and decided that I could hardly get lost on this wide track.
Off we set into the gloom, passing the reservoir which was constructed to refill thirsty boilers of steam engines after their long climb up the hill from Whaley Bridge.
There were several seats beside the track, positioned to admire views down into the valley and across to distant moors. There were no views today though as I couldn’t make out a think beyond walls lining the path. In fact, at one point the railway line was constructed over a high embankment with deep groughs either side. On this particular day these looked like milky bottomless pools!
After about a mile the blocked tunnel entrance loomed up before us. I was of a mind to retrace my steps to the car but detected a slight change and lifting of cloud so we headed back to a fingerpost sign and waited a few minutes. Then the weirdest thing happened. It was as though a deep duvet of fog started to be lifted off these slumbering hills, peeling it back before my eyes. Within only a few minutes I could clearly see the grassy path leading steeply down to a wooden footbridge over Wildmoorstone Brook and before I reached it there was no fog or mist to be seen at all. A scary thought is that when walking our more remote paths, the opposite could happen and catch us out!
It was very reassuring to now know exactly where we were so Nellie and I ventured happily on. Our narrow path wound its way up, down, around and over soggy damp and muddy moorland with sections of barge-board walkway laid to avoid patches of peaty bog. At one point I could hear the distinctive sound of a grouse calling out.
Eventually we arrived at a junction of ways with numerous fingerpost signs. We ignored a wide metal footbridge and instead continued ahead on a stony track which wound around a right-hand bend leading us to the famous bird feeder tree. It was festooned with every kind of feeder possible as well as half coconuts strung to the branches and fat balls dangling like Christmas baubles. It’s a wonder wild birds here can fly after gorging on that lot, but it was fascinating to see how many different species of our feathered friends I could spot flitting about in nearby bushes and trees, impatiently waiting for us to move on.
A century ago and this track would have continued down to the bottom of the valley to cross a packhorse bridge over the little river Goyt. However, in the 1960’s the valley was drowned, cutting off any through route from here to the other side without a long detour.
We now turned sharp right and headed up the most glorious track that started life as a packhorse route and possible saltway from Cheshire. This led us directly back to our car. By now there were thin clouds above and I could even see a patch of blue where the sun was shining somewhere over Manchester way.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Mum is getting on a bit now so not as nimble as she used to be. She’s a pensioner don’t you know and even has a bus pass! She can still notch up a few miles but has slowed down to the point of dawdling at times, when I have to round her up.
Going over awkward wall stiles can be a slow job and I sometimes get frustrated as mum makes me wait while she gets over first. The other day mum had a bit of a fall. Don’t worry readers, only her pride was hurt. She went down face first like a sack of spuds into a pile of sheep poo mud which thankfully softened the blow. I promise I didn’t push her, but I might have inadvertently given her a little shove. Anyway, Mum was covered from chin to shin in splodge. What I want to know is why she didn’t have to stand in the back yard when we got home and get hosed down or have a bucket of water thrown at her like I do if I’m mucky. Now that would have really made me smile! With sniggers of sympathy.