A very beautiful part of the country that hides under a blanket of fog in it’s uppermost reaches most of Winter. We didn’t get much of a view!
Don’t be fooled by the pictures. We didn’t take them having left the camera in the car because of the possibility of torrential rain. Instead I did a quick search for pictures when we got back and the very lovely Alan Rolfe gave his permission for their use. And they are cracking pictures. Wish I’d have seen the same view.
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It was about 10.30am by the time we met up in the car park at Longnor. We changed shoes and set off through the “quaint” cobble streets to get out to the farm tracks.
I don’t know whether we took a wrong turn at some point – the signposts are a bit limited – but we wound up walking through a herd of cattle on a lane leading to the farmhouse. I say walk but I use that term loosely as in we were upright, moving forward on leg,s but wade may be more appropriate. So either we had taken a wrong turn or the farmer doesn’t like hikers.
The cows were a little fazed by us but not enough to get a good sprint on. They assessed us as we came closer and politely moved aside as we walked through them. It is a little daunting walking through so many larger animals wondering if they’ll change from their usual benign self into a raving stampede.
They didn’t. Which is just as well as we’d only done one of the nine or so miles of the walk.
After crossing a road and having a little chat with some walkers coming in the other direction (I do like how people feel more comfortable with saying hello when out of the city), we headed through the thinnest style on the planet – honestly, I think Next use it as a gauge for there size 8 clothes. Up a hill, down a dale and we were suddenly quite close to the River Dove.
The river was running quickly but not overflowing as the Derwent has in Cumbria and, thankfully, we were close to the source of the River so I didn’t expect to get swept away – although we did play Pooh sticks, because … well … it’s the law.
By now we were close to our first challenge, Chrome Hill (pronounced Chroome). Making a part of the Dragon Back Ridge, Chrome Hill and Parkhorse Hill really live up to their name, as you can see from the pictures. But on this misty, wet and windy day they had a hint of malevolence about them. As if they were just about to burst from the land and take to the sky, fire blazing.
Chrome Hill isn’t a hard climb, but my lazy thighs felt the burn. Just when you think you’ve reached the top, there’s another ridge, and another, then another. When we finally made it to the top, the wind was so strong I really thought it might be possible to lift off! But it wasn’t and my schoolgirl fantasy of using my upturned coat for wings was once again dashed.
We clamboured down the ridge and found a little archway that provided the perfect place to stop for lunch. Overlooking the heads of two valleys we munched our sandwiches in relative peace from the wind. More scrambling later we finally made it to the farmers fields and a single track road that would take us to our next challenge.
The road was eerily quiet, we’d only seen two other people walking and that was much earlier. I tell you, November is a great time to go walking without the gaggles of tourists. We Michael-McIntyre-Skipped down the road – it is the most efficient form of foot transportation in the world, (I highly recommend it for moving quickly and laughing your socks off), which got us to the foot of High Wheeldon in no time at all.
We knew the height of the hill and that it was a tiny bit smaller than Chrome Hill but High Wheeldon is much steeper. Coming at the angle we did from a distance it looked like a perfect pyramid. I thought it was a huge, very old slag heap from the local quarries, but it’s not. It’s just a bit steep for old lazy thighs.
It took about 45 mins to get to the top, stopping for a breather every now and again. Remember, when you go walking you need to breath – it always helps. About half-way up, that’s when the heavens opened. I did want to have a look at Fox Hole Cave but the wind and the rain made me a little impatient to get to lower ground.
Walking down the hill was a bit slippery under booted foot and we inched slowly, traversing as we went. Now, I don’t know about you but when I was a kid a wet, grassy hill was a gift from God, a free slide that was longer and higher than the one in the park. And this hill was certainly higher than most in my local area.
I pulled my waterproof coat down, sat on it, lifted my legs up and lay back – “WooooooooooooooooooooHoooooooooooooooooooooo” – it took about 30 seconds to get down the 422 metres of High Wheeldon – rightly named it is too. Small stones bobbled along beside me and to whoever it was who put the thistle at the bottom – thanks, thanks very much indeed. Ouch.
From there the rest was easy. A one-mile saunter over some very muddy fields and we were back in Longnor. The only thing left was to get changed, grab some food and head back over the foggy hills as darkness descended. (The Red Pepper soup in the Craft Centre was delicious, so too the Guinness in the pub!)
A blooming great day out – and for all those Summer walkers: get out when it’s raining too, and windy. It can be just as much if not more fun than waiting for the sun. Especially in England!