Phew that was a scorcher! Considering that the last time I did this event (2015) it poured all of the night before and most of the day, it couldn’t have been more different.

I had the pleasure of introducing Helen and Sue to each other and we also kept leap frogging Steve, who walked with Sue and I two years ago, and his friend Linda.

The start of the Baslow Boot Bash is just near the field which serves as a car park, but we needed to walk to the village hall to register- I think queuing to get through the cage- style gate into the grounds of Chatsworth took longer than the walk!

We set off through the grounds, past Chatsworth House mainly covered in scaffolding, through Edensor and up the hill towards Carlton Lees. It was so warm already we were soon sweating- me so even more than usual as I had had the bright idea to use this as a dress rehearsal for the Coast to Coast and made my pack horrendously heavy.

After the first checkpoint we elected to walk down the road to Haddon Hall car park, avoiding the path we had been advised was even fuller of nettles than normal. It was soon time to sweat some more on the pull up to Over Haddon and the next checkpoint. The woods around Lathkill Dale shimmered in the heat as we checked the time and realised it was almost closing time for the checkpoint, however the volunteers there didn’t seem overly worried and informed us that they were staying open longer due to the heat.

Lathkill Dale

Although the next checkpoint to Sheldon was only around 3 miles away, it seemed to take forever to get there, involving many ups and downs, including a steep descent into an attractive u-shaped valley with dry stone walls.

Attractive valley

After passing the mine and Steve and Linda, who had stopped for a breather, we reached the checkpoint, reapplied sunscreen and had a fortifying sarnie and custard cream. The next part of the route is very pretty but also very busy- a descent into Deep Dale and then along Monsal Dale to the viaduct. We encountered a herd of young cows in Deepdale, clustered around the stile we needed to cross, but luckily they were intimidated enough by us to move with some gentle persuasion!

Deep Dale

The last twice I have done the Boot Bash we have stopped for a tub of delicious ice cream at a tiny shop in Cresswell, but to our disappointment the shop no longer exists… ah well, we had a cheese and onion pasty to look forward to at the next checkpoint, shame the road to it goes steeply up hill! Steve seemed to be struggling at this point as he elected to leave his back pack for the checkpoint staff to take back to Baslow and took just a small bottle full of water with him.

Water Cum Jolly Dale

I remembered that the next part of the route involves walking through a rocky path through woodland before climbing gently through a dale, so was a bit surprised when the path Sue and Linda suggested started to climb up steeply. It turned out to be an alternative route which brought us to the road and we had a lovely view of the dale before dropping down the road to rejoin the route I remembered. I was feeling rather tired by now and could feel the weight of the pack- the challenge walks are pretty relentless, in that there is a time limit and often checkpoint closing times, so if you are slow like me you have to keep moving! At least on the Coast to Coast the distances will not be as long and I will be able to stop more often.

View from the top

We passed through endless fields with hay that had been cut and left to dry, which was pretty tough going as it wrapped itself round your legs. Steve was suffering at this point as he had run out of water, but Sue gave him some of hers.

The checkpoint at Foolow is lovely as it is next to the duck pond- all of the volunteers are lovely too and got us to pose for a cheesy photo! Plus the custard creams were as plentiful as I remembered.

Eyam

Then it was a fairly uneventful troop over the fields to Eyam, apart from skirting round a frankly disinterested bull, where we chose to follow the road out of the village that is permanently closed to traffic due to the landslips, although it looks as though it has largely been repaired. I don’t think it will be reopened to traffic though as there is probably a high risk of slippage happening again. I stopped to take a photo and, after running up the road to catch up with Helen and Sue, suddenly felt an agonising pain in the side of my foot which forced me to limp for a few minutes- during which I was convinced I had triggered a stress fracture or something, but luckily it went off.

The photo that caused it...

We lost Steve (who seemed much recovered) and Linda when we stopped for a comfort break in a lane before the steep descent to Froggatt Bridge, where we could see the dark line of Froggatt Edge looming over the village. The next bit was lovely as we had a bit of shade whilst walking along the river to Calver, where we were joined by four girls who asked if they could follow us through the village as their companions, who had the map, had retired. I am sure there is an easier way through Calver and they take us through the village by the scenic route!

There’s an absolute killer of a hill out of Calver which I found a real struggle after the rigours of the day with my pack, and we stopped for a breather before taking a pleasant path through rhododendron bushes (we chose the right path this year!) and then woods to the last checkpoint.

Baslow- the end is in sight!!

As time was marching on (we had just missed the closing time for the last checkpoint but they didn’t seem to mind) we decided to follow the road down to Baslow- it was still baking hot even at 8pm! I felt so glad to finish, to sit down with a mug of coffee and my veggie pie.

A cracking walk with lovely volunteers made more difficult than usual due to the heat and the weight of my pack. This was followed on Sunday by a walk round Holme Pierrpont crawling up all the slopes and stopping off at the gym for some walking and running on the treadmill set to incline… this weekend was the culmination of my Coast to Coast training and now I get to taper, thank god, cos at least I will have some time to do things! My training has been dominating my life for the past few months- but I am ready- bring it on!!

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