Before I go in to the detail of this walk, there is something I need to share with you first.
This walk was a lot longer than many of my other walks, the total distance being 25km, or in old money, 15 miles.
This walk was designed around the fact that the weather had the potential to be very warm, which it was, so steep ascents were reduced by careful route planning and also where possible, using knowledge of the area, trying to maintain as much shade as possible.
Accompanying me on this walk was Andy F from Stoke, who also joined me on my previous walk Axe Edge Moor, the Cat and Fiddle pub and a Stag Do…..
Andy H from Leicester was going to join us, but unfortunately something cropped up and Barney, whose Stag do was in the Cat and Fiddle after a good day’s walk on Axe Edge moor, mentioned earlier, had a superb wedding day and is no longer a free man……
But I’m sure he will be out with us again soon.
The route, starting from Monyash, was to include Arbor Low Stone Circle, a walk to Youlgreave via Bradford Dale and return to Monyash via Lathkill Dale.
As I always do, I weather watch carefully on the week leading up to any walk, so that I get a good idea what the weather will be like for the walk, so I can ensure I pack the right kit for the day and also to advise anyone walking with me what to expect.
This walk was no different, apart from the fact that we were to prepare for hot weather, lots of sun and a total change of what would be in our packs.
It is rare for me to find any walk challenging, but this one really did prove challenging, and not for physical reasons. It was what to carry in my pack, or more challenging, what not to carry, while reducing the weight as much as reasonably possible.
So, not only was I observing daytime temperatures leading up to and forecast for the day, but also night time temperatures. Why?
Well, I always work on the basis what if I was to become benighted?
I usually carry waterproofs, fleece and a change of layers suitable for that time of year. However, it was going to be very hot, any chance of rainfall was extremely remote and night time temperatures were in the mid-teens, even out in the open countryside.
Now, that’s all well and good, but if you’re unwell or injured, what can normally be warm, could very easily be cold!
Hence the challenge, what do I pack?
The only items I didn’t carry were a mid-layer and my waterproofs, which can make a reasonable thermal layer as well as keeping you dry in the rain,. I still had my storm shelter, first aid kit and my trekking poles.
I’m not used to this hot weather packing, because I tended not to walk far in hot summer conditions. However, I’ve been accused of going through a midlife crisis, I have an incessant need to get out and walk. Oh, and camp…..
Well. I’ve recently bought a new tent, which I’m itching to use, but my diary has firm alternative ideas!
Well, I could do worse for a midlife crisis….
I’ve digressed enough for now. When meeting up with people, I aim to ensure there is no confusion where to meet; I always opt for a suitable landmark unless those walking with me know the area extremely well, when we will meet at an agreed location. From there, we then move on to a suitable parking spot from there.
|"....The Bulls Head in Monyash was the initial meeting point...."|
The Bulls Head in Monyash was the initial meeting point, before moving on to a layby to the east on Church Street, near the point of exit from Lathkill Dale.
While waiting for Andy to join me, I drove to where I planned to start and finish the walk, to check out the parking, which was very quiet and surprisingly so. I would have expected a few cars there, considering the weather.
I then took the opportunity and wandered around Monyash, only ever having driven through the village in the past.
A nicely typical White Peak village tidy with a village green and memorials on the green, a pub, church and of course farms around and about.
Next door to the Bulls Head was the “The Old Smithy”, a tea room which served food and drink. Boy, that bacon did smell nice…..
|The Old Smithy, Monyash|
“Muddy Boots Welcome”
Andy from Stoke finally arrived, we discuss parking and set off immediately to the planned layby.
We get suited and booted then head back in to Monyash.
Now it might seem strange, meet in Monyash, drive a few hundred metres away, park up and then walk back in to Monyash, but out of respect for pub landlords, I’m not keen on taking up a parking space for would be patrons.
|"..... Now it might seem strange, meet in Monyash,|
drive a few hundred metres away,
park up and then walk back in to Monyash......"
|Manor House Farm, Rake Street, Monyash|
|The Limestone Way|
Walking along the Limestone Way, chatting away as you do, we got carried away and missed our turn for Arbor Low. We carried straight on to One Ash Grange Farm, which I had walked through back in December 2011, along with Bradford Dale and Lathkill Dale, and wrote about that walk in Lathkill Dale and Bradford Dale 28th December 2011.
Now this is where the map becomes a little unclear and a word of caution when walking through farms, they are working places with livestock and/or machinery, all of which could lead to a potential accident if you’re not careful.
|The Limestone Way, heading south from Monyash|
While trying to pick up our desired route, one kindly and very chatty farmers wife came over to assist us, ensuring we carried on our way safely.
We actually had quite a good chat and it would appear that quite a few walkers get caught trying to pick up the route we wanted.
Those walking the Limestone Way, fear not, for that route is clear, both to physically walk and also on an OS map. If you do walk the Limestone Way, west to east, as you walk past the pig sty's on your left, take a look at the arch on your left before the barns, for in there is a Nativity Scene.
|Approaching One Ash Grange Farm|
|One Ash Grange Farm|
Continue along that track and you come to the top end of Cale Dale and Cales Farm. At Cales Farm, we picked up the desired path. Not long after picking up the path, we arrived at a point where two footpaths cross and joined the original path, heading for Arbor Low.
|Looking down Cale Dale towards Lathkill Dale|
We arrive at the road that links the A515 to Youlgreave, turn right and walk towards Upper Oldhams Farm, where Arbor low Stone Circle and Gib Hill are located.
As we approached the start of the drive to Upper Oldhams Farm, we were greeted by a drive past of vintage cars,
The walk up the drive is quite brief, passing a small car park, for visitors to both monuments and also an honesty box.
To visit the monuments, which are owned by English Heritage, all that is requested is £1 per adult, children free (price correct as of July 2013), which isn’t going to break the bank.
|"....we arrived at a point where two footpaths cross and joined the original path...."|
|The drive to Upper Oldhamd Farm|
|"....As we approached the start of the drive to Upper Oldhams Farm,|
we were greeted by a drive past of vintage cars...."
|Arbor Low Henge and Gib Hill Parking|
|The honesty box, please place your money in|
|Upper Oldhams Farm|
"....When visiting Arbor Low Henge and/or Gib Hill,
you are walking through a working farm...."
Arbor Low Henge is an important prehistoric site in the East Midlands, Arbor Low is a Neolithic henge is set high on open moorland.
It has an earthen bank, ditch and a stone circle consisting of 50 white limestone slabs. These are supposed to have been upright, but all the stones today are very much on their sides
|Arbor Low Henge|
|Andy taking in the peace and quiet of Arbor Low Henge|
|Peak Rambler, relaxing at Arbor Low Henge|
|Gib Hill viewed from Arbor Low|
Nearby is Gib Hill, a large burial mound, which has been built in two stages. Originally it was an early Bronze Age barrow (burial mound) with a later Neolithic oval barrow built on top.
Excavations have found that Gib Hill has served both purposes. It is thought Gib Hill is older than Arbor Low with regard to religious ceremonies.
The term Gib, often refers to gibbet, where criminals were hung, However, there are no known references to Gib Hill being used for that purpose.
Please note: When visiting Arbor Low Henge and/or Gib Hill, you are walking through a working farm and across fields which will have livestock on.
Therefore; Dogs on leads are welcome, and being a working farm, please be aware that livestock or machinery may be moving around the farm yard or fields during your visit.
We then headed back to the road, through the farm and down the drive, where we turned right and headed east for Youlgreave.
I mentioned at the start, this route was planned on the basis that it was going to be a hot day and utilise a route with some shade, well, this lane provided a good cover from the sun for pretty much most of the way to Bradford Dale.
I’m not a fan of walking along a road, but on this occasion, it was more than welcome. While walking along the road, past the drive to Cales Farm, I looked over to my left, in a northerly direction, and spotted what looked like the Kinder Plateau, along with a peak just to the east.
|The road to Youlgreave from Arbor Low, provided a lot of shade from the sun|
A bit of detective work, my initial thoughts were that peak was Win Hill. However, after getting a bearing on the peak, it turned out to be Mam Tor and the plateaus, most likely around Brown Knoll.
Continuing along the road, we reached a right turn just before the picnic area, where we continued along the road, keeping the shade, heading towards Youlgreave with the aim of picking up Bradford Dale.
Following the road down, we came to a right-hand bend, where the Limestone Way meets the road and took the path through the wooded area. From there, we would have to take a short open road walk to the start of Bradford Dale, where we would be back in the shade.
We descend in to Bradford Dale, which looking at the steepness of the descent; you start to fear there will be a steep ascent out. Fear not, this route is planned with no steep ascents.
We reach a
bridge crossing the River Bradford, then turn left, to head for Youlgreave.
This part of the walk is quite mixed as far as shade is concerned, but all in
all, not too bad for keeping out of the sun.
|It was hot in the shade!|
|The descent in to Bradford Dale|
|Approaching the River Bradford, Bradford Dale|
The path also is solid, making for good walking, with lovely views along and across the River Bradford, all the way through to Youlgreave.
As we leave the cover of trees, we cross the river and walk through an open field alongside the River Bradford where people were enjoying the sunny weather, bathing in the river at various points, one of which is a dedicated bating area.
We walked past the bathing spot and crossed the road, where we stopped for our lunch break, sitting on a bench just by the roadside, watching the world go by, well, for about half an hour before we moved on.
|Bathing in and around the River Bradford|
|The end of Bradford Dale and close to where the Rivers Bradford and Lathkill meet|
Lunch over, we followed the river to where the River Bradford and River Lathkill meet, then head northwards, following the River Lathkill upstream to Alport.
This section is virtually level, though it was quite exposed to the sun, but nonetheless, a very pleasant walk through to the village of Alport.
The Peak District in my opinion is blessed with some very ornate medieval stone bridges, some with a tale to tell, like Cutthroat Bridge near Bleaklow, which as the name suggests, has a gruesome tale, which I covered in Derwent Moor and those funny shaped stones!”. Soon after walking upstream we reach a small bridge which takes another path from Youlgreave over the River Lathkill.
An interesting moment soon after passing the bridge, where an outcrop of limestone rock juts out to the path edge, we were greeted by some cattle coming the other way. Nothing special about that, other than an elderly gentleman sitting on the bench, minding his business with his dog, which made the cattle a little apprehensive, being confronted by us and a well behaved dog.
|"....passing the bridge, where an outcrop of limestone rock|
juts out to the path edge...."
|"....we were greeted by some cattle coming the other way...."|
|The River Lathkill flowing through Alport|
|The path to Conksbury from Alport, just across the road|
from the bridge over the River Lathkill
|"....Andy and I stopped there for a brief while, taking in the view|
and watching the trout swimming in the very clear river water...."
After a moment’s confusion, we allowed the cattle to walk to our left, giving them a wider berth from the dog, which was being very well behaved and practically ignoring the cattle.
We continued walking upstream eventually reaching Alport, where a medieval stone bridge takes the main road through the village over the River Lathkill.
We crossed the road, where Andy and I stopped there for a brief while, taking in the view and watching the trout swimming in the very clear river water.
We then continued to follow the river upstream, heading for Conksbury Bridge, but here, we were blessed with a bit more shade from the sun.
Eventually, we reached Conksbury Bridge, where we would pick up the path through Lathkill Dale.
|The gateway in to Lathkill Dale from Conksbury Bridge|
|Bathing in the sun in Lathkill Dale|
|One of the many weirs along the River Lathkill.|
Note the crystal clear water!
Walking through Lathkill Dale is a very pleasant walk, all the way through to the river source and beyond near to Monyash, our start and finish point, with some very interesting points of interest along the way.
We came across yet more people sun bathing close to the river.
As you follow the river upstream you pass probably close on twelve weirs, which were used to regulate the water for the various mining operations around Lathkill Dale.
An interesting feature of the River Lathkill, during periods of drought or very little rain, the river appears to disappear, then reappear further along, in good flow.
|A very dry river bed....|
This would most likely be due to the many underground natural caves along with the once thriving mining industry, particularly lead.
The Peak District has a very rich mining and industrial heritage, much of which dates back to Roman times and even further back.
The River Lathkill is renowned for its crystal clear water, which even today, is still crystal clear and probably one of the clearest waters of any river in the Peak District.
Continuing our walk upstream, we come across one of the many points where the river disappears, then not much further upstream, we see the river in good flow….
Further upstream, we came across a mine shaft, one of many, but this one you could safely enter, via steep metal steps and look down on to the flow of an underground river opposite Twin Dale, just off Lathkill Dale.
|The mine shaft entrance|
|Steep metal steps down to the viewing area|
|Not a very clear photo, at the bottom of the shaft is a fast flowing underground river.|
|Looking down the shaft|
Here was once housed the Dakeyne Pump, which was used to draw water from the lead mines close by, allowing the miners to extract the lead ore from underground.
A Dakeyne Pump is basically a high pressure hydraulic pump, used to pump water away from mine shafts, allowing the miners to extract the ore they were after, from the seams underground
We continued upstream, walking past a bridge which crosses the River Lathkill, leading up to Cale Dale. At the top of Cale Dale, is One Ash Grange Farm, which we walked through and had a good chat with the farmer’s wife.
|Looking up Cale Dale|
However, we didn’t walk up Cale Dale, which if you study the map carefully, you will see that it is quite a steep ascent out of the dale, and this walk was planned without any steep ascents in view of the weather being hot and dry.
So we continued upstream, where our next stop was the true source of the River Lathkill, Lathkill Head Cave (SK170658).
|Entrance to Lathkill Head Cave|
|Lathkill Head Cave|
|Where's the water?|
As you do, we entered the cave to see if we could see any water, but alas, it was bone dry!
Oh well, we leave the cave and then continue up Lathkill Dale, homeward bound, heading for the Church Street, which runs between Monyash and Bakewell, where we had parked our cars in a layby.
|Heading up Lathkill Dale towards Monyash|
|Almost at Church Street, where we had parked our cars|
|The gate at the Monyash end of Lathkill Dale,|
the end of a superb walk through some superb country and a fabulous day.
Once we had removed our boots, we then drove the short distance back in to Monyash and had a post walk drink (non-alcoholic because we both had a good drive to our homes).
Though the walk was longer than my usual walks, it was an extremely pleasant walk, we had a great day and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you to Andy from Stoke for being a great walking companion for the day.
|Map showing the route we took|
Bladder packs, or whatever you wish to call them, for me, I find them a very useful piece of my kit, making quick and easy access to water, or whatever fluids you keep in them, easy and quick to access.
What I want to briefly share with you, are my findings using my Osprey 3 litre hydration pack towards the end of the walk on such a hot day, where temperatures in the shade were averaging 25ºC and out in the sun, very likely to top 35ºC or even higher.
I returned to my car with half a litre of water left in my hydration pack, though I expected it to be emptier. No, I haven’t deprived myself of water, for I had ensured before starting the walk, I was well hydrated and managed to keep the hydration level comfortably good.
What I did experience was, for the last half hour of the walk, was a low lever hydration pack feeling, where I seemed to be sucking more air than water.
Upon inspection when I returned home, I found the last half litre had become aerated, fully of bubbles, giving me the impression that the pack was almost empty.
This was not a problem, for I always carry an extra 500ml in a bottle as reserve, so once the hydration pack becomes empty, I can make my way back or cut my route short if necessary so not to be out without any fluids.
Incidentally, I mentioned at the start I plan to cover myself should I become benighted. I had a 700ml flask with hot water in, for emergencies, along with sachets of hot chocolate and cup-a-soups.
For more details on what I carry in my pack, see “What’s in my pack?” for more information.
Remember, it can be just as easy to be a victim to the weather on a hot day as you can on a cold winters day. Actually, any day, any weather, you could fall vicitim…..
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Arbor Low Henge; English Heritage
Wikipedia; Dakeyne hydraulic disc engine
dakeynediscengine.com “the engine in the mine”