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Walks With Nellie ~ Little Longstone ~ by Sally Mosley

Nellie and I certainly enjoy the ‘high life’. In our case, that means reaching some summit in the Peak District with far reaching views as often as possible, and this walk was to be no exception.

Having parked up at Monsal Head, we ambled down the road to Little Longstone, passing the charming Congregational Chapel built in 1844.

Little Longstone is jam packed with quaint and quirky cottages, the oldest dating from 1575. Snuggled between them is the Packhorse Inn built in 1787. Its name is in memory of Thomas le Jager who records show lived in the village in 1306. The jaggerman owned a string of packhorses and could be described as being the Eddie Stobart of his day.

Situated on a plateau betwixt shale and limestone, the area around Little Longstone was once well mined.

Following the footpath sign we walked to the left of the beer garden and peeped into the out-back snug shelter which looked very inviting.

We gradually ascended to Cherpit Lane following this field, stile and little gate footpath and then turned right to walk along the deep-puddled and potholed track as far as a no motor vehicle road sign. A left here and we were on a grassy track heading up to Longstone Moor, passing a newly restored dew pond and then a band of trees beside the former Crossdale Head Mine where Cowslip and Robinwash Veins were once worked.

The higher we went the further we could see with views stretching way down our Derbyshire Wye Valley to Bakewell and beyond.

At a green footpath sign we turned right on the route for Longstone Moor which led us past a man-made cairn of stones that had been erected on the edge of an ancient tumuli. Thousands of years ago this wondrous place was chosen by early man to bury their dead as close to the heavens as possible.

Wandering along, Nellie and I came upon another lady and dog combination out enjoying a walk, the characterful canine called Teddy was evidently a patterdale cross, and with his short but wiry golden coat he looked like a little Steiff bear.

Longstone Moor is a mine field of former workings with capped shafts, spoils and obvious rakes in every direction. Tunnels of Watersaw Mine were extensive, joining up with the Sallet Hole Mine which had an entrance in Coombs Dale. Both mines were still being worked until only a few years ago, mainly for fluorspar and barytes.

Eventually we came to a crossroads of paths just beyond a deep ditch. I wish I had continued ahead at this point to eventuallymeet the road coming over Longstone Edge, but instead, because it was raining quite heavily, I chose a short cut. I turned right on a path with heather either side, passing between lonesome pines before descending steeply down Black Plantation to meet Moor Lane. The woods were being grazed by a pair of fluffy and friendly highland cattle that had churned up the ground with their hooves into deep areas of splodge. Combined with rainy conditions and a covering of surface water made for a very slippery and sludgy path with ankle deep gloop at the bottom.

Oh what joy it was to arrive safely onto the sound surface of a roadway so that both Nellie and I could step out with ease.

Rather than head all the way into Great Longstone, we turned right to walk past Dale Farm and then followed a footpath across fields back to Little Longstone.

The last half mile or so of roadside walking was packed with features of interest including historical properties, a set of stocks, line-up of old troughs and some interesting house names and architectural features to look at as we made our way back to the car. Little Longstone Hall (Manor) was built around 1700, although it’s style is slightly earlier.

In Kellys’ Directory of Derbyshire dated 1912 the proprietor of The Monsal Head Hotel was Herbert Rowley. It was described as being lately rebuilt with every modern convenience and home comforts for residents or visitors; large dining room to seat 100; terms moderate, situation unique. The latter part has not changed a bit and before heading for home Nellie and I sat a few minutes to take in what must surely be the best view in the county.

Sally Mosley

FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Daddy calls me his little princess because I’m such a girly girl. I can look very elegant if I want to and keep myself smart and tidy. I don’t need to go to the grooming parlour because my fur is very short and I don’t need to have my nails clipped either because I do this for myself. Sometimes when I’m lazing on the sofa watching telly I will give myself a little pedicure, using my ‘canine’ teeth to nibble away at my talons. If truth be told I’ve got a bit of a think about feet and when mum is clipping her toenails I chase around the room catching the bits. Munch munch gulp! I bet that’s put you off your tea! Love Nellie xx


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