BakewellWorking the 9-5 (I feel a Dolly Parton song coming on…) I usually have to wait until the weekend for any long walks or epic adventures, but just for a change I decided to skive off work today and have a little adventure instead…

Well okay technically I wasn’t skiving as it was annual leave. But it did feel odd to be going off on a walk instead of heading off to work like everyone else.

I picked a 15 mile route from John Merrill’s book ‘Long Walks in The Peak District’ which started and finished at Bakewell. I timed it right as the weather was gorgeous- a perfect sunny Autumn day. I climbed out of Bakewell into the rising sun and soon discovered that it had rained more than I realised as paths were decidedly muddy and slippery underfoot. Ah well, the views more than made up for it.

As I gently climbed, my heart sank as I realised that the route went directly through a field… with cows. Cows, like mud, are the bane of my walking life… but luckily these were well mannered beasties who just ignored me after a few surreptitious stares. I ended up passing quite a few bovine beasties throughout the day who were luckily not at all interested in stampeding me flat.

A steep, tricky descent on wet leaves brought me to a foot bridge over the river Lathkill and I walked through several short fields to Alport, where I stopped to make friends with a large, friendly cat.

The River Lathkill

The River Lathkill

I followed a high level route to Badford, with a terrific view right over Bradford Dale. Dropping down to the river I stopped for a quick cuppa, admiring the view of the path and the water cutting through the steep-sided dale.

Bradford Dale

Bradford Dale

A steep ascent towards Elton followed, passing rocky outcrops and a quarry. I could see for miles; a sweeping Peakland view of fields, walls and dales. It was certainly a lovely day to be out walking rather than sitting at my desk and I felt really alive.

Approaching Youlgrave

Approaching Youlgrave

A Peak District view

A Peak District view

More fields brought me to Winster, which I left on a flagged path which gradually climbed towards Stanton Moor. I met two guys sitting eating lunch; they told me they were clearing turf from some of the flagstones that have become buried. This is a new initiative to preserve the old flagged paths, thought to be at least 200 years old. They asked me where I was from and informed me that a walker who had passed by before me had come all the way from Bristol!

This pleasant interlude was followed by a steep, sweaty pull up to the moor, but the effort was well worth it as Stanton Moor is lovely. A proper heather clad moor land with a real wilderness feel plus a bronze age stone circle known as the ‘Nine Ladies’. Although the stones are quite small it’s still impressive, and I stood in the middle, wondering at the stories these old stones could tell.

Stanton Moor

Stanton Moor

Nine Ladies Stone Circle

Nine Ladies Stone Circle

I dropped down through the pleasant, if steep, village of Stanton before another steep woody descent to the road, where I picked up a track climbing sharply past a huge quarry. My legs were feeling okay, but they were just starting to ask me whether this was going to turn out to be a 26 miler.

I lost the route here. John Merrill told me to head to the right of a thin wood just in front of me, but after much to-ing and fro-ing I just couldn’t find a way into the field beyond it.

I resigned myself to taking a small detour to a bridleway which brought me to the road in the same place as the footpath, although I was treated to the sight of a large black stag with impressive antlers leaping the fence to my right and dashing across the path in front of me.

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

The last part of the walk was a fairly easy flat stroll through Haddon Hall parklands back to Bakewell. It was still sunny and some thoughtful soul had provided a portaloo in the middle of a field for me.

Once back in Bakewell it was obligatory to treat myself to a slice of warm Bakewell tart and custard- well it doesn’t get any authentic than this!

Thanks to being generally slow/ taking photos/ stopping for coffee/ losing the path it was well into rush hour by the time I entered Nottingham, but I had the satisfaction of knowing I was sitting in the traffic after a day of doing something I wanted to do rather than being stuck in an office!

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