Friday, January 07, 2005

A trip to Hope to start 2005 ...

This Tuesday, we thought we’d make the most of our last few days of freedom before our new jobs start next week, and headed for the Peak District.

After a late start, we arrived at Hathersage having driven through heavy rain. Undaunted, we booted up, and puffed up the hill to see Little John’s grave. There’s not much to see, to be honest. So we carried on, out towards North Lees Hall which apparently was used by Charlotte Bronte as the house where Mrs Rochester jumped from the roof to her death. for more blurb if you’re interested in the history of Hathersage.

Most of the walk passed across fields and bridleways and was extremely muddy. There was one particularly nice section, however, which passed through woodlands alongside a chattering stream with busy waterfalls.

The light was spectacular, with a Prussian-blue stormy sky set against patches of low sunlight that cast long shadows and picked out fields and moss-covered trees in vivid green. Stanage, a long rocky edge much loved by climbers, gleamed orange/gold against its stormy blue backdrop.

For most of the return route, we slithered about on two pats of mud attached to the soles of our walking boots. Not pleasant and not dignified.

We stayed overnight at the Woodroffe Arms in Hope ( They looked after us, and were friendly enough, but I wouldn’t rush back or anything.

On the Wednesday, we ventured for a longer walk from Hope, climbing up to the summit of Lose Hill and then along the ridge to Mam Tor. It was overcast, with winds gusting up to 45 mph (according to Wendy Windblows at the Woodbine Café where we sat later sipping hot tea). As we reached the summit of Lose Hill, the wind whipped my breath away and I clutched the round, brick-built trig point wondering how I was going to keep my footing. I have trekking poles, but these were also blowing around – not confidence-inspiring. Rick took one stick, and held my other hand as we descended onto the ridge. It became a bit less exposed, as the path is set just down from the actual edge of the ridge. It is also well paved with stone pretty much all the way along.

At 12:00, not far from Hollins Cross, we stood still and preserved 3 minutes silence for the tsunami victims. I closed my eyes and pictured doves of peace, flying to bring what hope they could to those in need. It’s hard to know what else to do, really.

Approaching Mam Tor, we could clearly see the earthwork of the 3000 year old Iron Age hill fort. The mound within the earthworks looks horribly exposed, but the mountain has had several landslides since then (it is known as the ‘shivering mountain’), so will look very different now.

We descended Mam Tor on the old, broken road that runs down to Castleton. In parts it has completely dropped away, with the two cross sections of the road two metres or so apart from each other. There are huge cracks, like those you see in earthquake disaster movies, and in parts it rings hollow under your feet. Very unnerving, especially in the light of recent events. A notice at the bottom of this section of road tells us that it deteriorated over a number of years, but then in 1979 (?) after a hot summer followed by heavy rains, it became totally impassable (by car). It is now open as a footpath.

I’m ashamed to say that at Castleton, I sent Rick back to Hope for the car. My ankle and ligaments were hurting badly, and walking the last mile and a half was not going to improve matters.

So, on Thursday, we went shopping instead of tackling another walk. We stopped at Buxton (not seen at its best on a grey, freezing winter day) and then at Masson Mills which is a factory shop in a huge Mill building just outside Matlock Bath. I came out feeling smug, having managed to find a bag that I like. You see, normally I carry a rucksack everywhere. But I figured that, for a careers adviser, this might raise an eyebrow or two. But I am just not a handbag person. I couldn’t imagine myself with one. Then I saw this. It is a Tula grab-handle bag, and looks more like a folio case, black leather with white trim. Very smart. And much reduced, too. I still had to get Rick to come over and say “why don’t you buy it?” though. Frugal habits die hard. But I need a bag for work. Don’t I?


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