Lathkill Dale and Bradford Dale 28th December 2011

Early in 2011, I made a promise, to visit the Peak District more than I have done in the past. It’s been too easy, to get to Snowdonia, with some friends, who car share and spend a lot of time hill walking there.
Plus, I have family living just outside Conwy on the North Wales Coast, providing a suitable base for visiting Snowdonia.

I digress.

A Dale I’ve not visited for too many years, Lathkill Dale, I was determined to get there before the end of 2011, which I managed to do on Wednesday.

Though I spent many childhood days, visiting Lathkill, it was often during the fairer seasons, where the weather was a lot warmer. But I wasn’t disappointed, with a winter visit.

I was joined by a fellow walker, Tracey, who saw my note about visiting Lathkill Dale.

The weather was fine and sunny, though a little cold. But hey ho, it was December and it stayed dry, though a little blustery at times, on open ground.

We met at Conksbury Bridge, a place where I used to start the Lathkill walks from and headed upstream of the River Lathkill. Only this time, instead of walking up the Dale and back down, I decided to make a larger circuit from the edge of Lathkill Dale, past Ricklow Quarry (sounds almost Irish, more then White Peak), then head back towards Youlgreave (I noticed two spellings for this village; Youlgreave and Youlgrave).

Conksbury Bridge

While I was getting my boots on, I gave Tracey, a copy of the map I had drawn the route on, so that she had a good idea where we would be walking.

I did say it’s wasn’t set in stone, and the route could be varied, at which point, Tracey suggested going a little further and walk through Bradford Dale.

Needless to say, I welcomed the suggestion, especially as Tracey knows the area very well.

So kitted up, we set off from Conksbury Bridge, heading in a westerly direction along Lathkill Dale. The first thing I noticed was the hardened footpath, which was all grass when I was last in Lathkill.

Lathkill Dale

I wasn’t disappointed to see this change; it’s nice to see that some areas are sensibly improved, to accommodate the less able of us. However, I was more than pleased to see the water was still as clear as I remember. It was also pleasing to see the water level looking so healthy after hearing about the river bed being dry in many places.
As we walked and chatted, Tracey pointing out many things along the way and me, I recollected some very distant memories and both of us, snapping away with our cameras.

We not only looked at the river, but also the landscape either side of it, the limestone scars, foliage and some of the bird life. Thanks to Tracey, we saw a few dippers. I must confess, to not being very good at bird identification, but it certainly was a pleasure to see them. I need more practice.....

Cave and mine shafts in Lathkill Dale

One of many weirs along the River Lathkill

The last time I walked through Lathkill, the local village of Lathkill, and I think Over Haddon as well, used to draw their drinking water from the River Lathkill. So the water always looked clean, and I certainly recall drinking water from some of the springs alongside the River Lathkill and also eating water cress that grew there.

I wonder if it still does.....

As we progressed, we arrived at the river source, a cave in the hill below One Ash Grange Farm, where the flow seemed relatively healthy. We stopped to look and take photographs. Sadly, as with many photos, the light wasn’t good enough for the camera, so the quality of the photos is not quite my normal standard.

One of many Limestone outcrops
We carried on along the Dale, heading towards Ricklow Quarry, which you can’t really see from Lathkill Dale, stopping for a quick bite and drink at the point where we would head for Cale Dale.

After a rest stop, we then continued uphill, towards One Ash Grange Farm. Now we were well in to territory that I doubt I had visited before, but was part of my original route plan.

Heading off towards One Ash Grange Farm

As we walked through One Ash Grange Farm, Tracey recollected that the farm had some very old style pig sties. They were the true traditional pig sties, before the advent of the more modern, dare I say it, almost industrialised pig stys’s....

As we continued along the path through the farm, I noticed what looked almost like a well, that you would often see in many of the Peak District villages, which are often dressed annually as part of the Well Dressings, which feature quite prominently in the Peak District.

As we approached this feature, Tracey thought there may be a nativity scene in there. Low and behold, there it was Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.

The Nativity Scene

We carried on through the farm, to Cale Dale. I apologise at this point, there was a steep descent in to Cale Dale, followed by quite a steep climb out on to the Limestone Way.

Tracey decided, out of curiosity, to count the number of steps up out of Cale Dale. The count came to 167.

Start of the descent to Cale Dale

The steps ascending out of Cale Dale                            

As we approached the top of the steps, we were joined by a very friendly border collie. It didn’t seem lost, but it certainly seemed more than happy to accompany us for quite a while. I can only guess the collie lived on one of the farms around the area, because it seemed to know where all the styles and gates that we would need to go through, were.

We followed the Limestone Way, for quite a distance, passing through Calling Low and Low Moor Plantation, with the Border Collie still accompanying us. Though at one point, another couple also walking the Limestone Way, did make a wrong turn and this collie seemed to track them.

Once they realised their mistake, they headed back to the footpath. Once they had rejoined the path, this collie rejoined us.

Looking down to Riklow Quarry

It did get a little embarrassing at times, because the collie would look at every dog on the path and we almost expected a dog fight to break out on a couple of occasions. Thankfully, nothing happened, but with this collie accompanying us, we wondered how many folk thought, damned dog owners not keeping their dog on a lead....

We arrived at Low Moor Plantation, where soon after, the collie left us, no doubt to join up with some more walkers, before heading back to his/her home.

We crossed the road, continuing along the Limestone Way, heading towards Lomberdale Hall. In the wooded area, just to the north of Lomberdale Hall, we found a nice sheltered spot, to stop and have lunch.

Nicely fed and watered, we continued in a southerly direction, to enter Bradford Dale.

An old mineshaft
Somewhere I’ve never been before. As we came down in to Bradford Dale, we crossed quite a pretty little bridge, one of many we saw and crossed as part of our walk.

Top of Bradford Dale

A rather ornate Dry Stone Wall, across the River Bradford

Some of the many weirs along the River Bradford
We followed the River Bradford along the Dale to Youlgreave and Alport, once again, seeing some more Dippers, feeding. As we approached Youlgreave, there was a section of the river set out as a swimming and bathing area.

The swimming area on the River Bradford at Youlgreave

Looking at the swimming/bathing area, you could see the River Bradford was not up to its normal level.
Continuing along the River Bradford, we arrived at Alport and where the Rivers Bradford and Lathkill meet. Once again, another pretty bridge to cross, and photograph.

Approaching Youlgreave
We then followed the River Lathkill upstream, heading towards Conksbury Bridge, our start point. Some more pretty bridges that spanned the River Lathkill, to view and photograph. There was one particular narrow bridge, crossing the River Lathkill, which was too narrow for carts but wider than necessary for people to walk across.

River Lathkill, Alport

We then backtracked, back to the footpath, to pick up the road back to Conksbury Bridge, with a last look over to the River Lathkill, looking upstream, before heading back to our cars.

Raper Lodge Bridge

At no point was I ever disappointed, it was a really lovely walk and one I would consider doing again, perhaps in the spring,

Conksbury Bridge, journeys end

I would also like to say a big thank you to Tracey for being a fantastic walking partner. Not only that, your knowledge of the area was fantastic and made it a very pleasant and interesting walk.

The full photo set can be seen here;
Thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

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