Peak District walking weekend – near Matlock

Contributions from Hilary, Sandy, Gillian, Pam and Sunita

Hilary writes:

After many years of enjoying walking breaks with the club. I decided that my turn had come to organise a walk weekend. There was just one obstacle to my good intention a complete inability to lead a walk as I have no sense of direction!

Luckily my sister came to the rescue and agreed to lead the longer walks including a walk with her walk club the Nomads. Many thanks to my sister Janet and the Nomads for all their hard work in leading the walks for so successfully.

We all stayed in Lodges in Darwin Forest Park which proved very popular venues for two parties to celebrate both Rochelle and Geoffrey’s birthdays.

Following our arrival and settling into our lodges we went in a taxi convoy for a stroll and dinner at La Caverna an Italian restaurant in Matlock Bath. The owner Salvatore proved to be an excitable person who appeared well known in the local area.

On Saturday the longer walk group met up with my sister Janet in Bakewell for an eleven mile walk to Chatsworth. We were lucky to have a warm sunny day which added to the wonderful vista. We had lunch by the river on within sight of Chatsworth House and a tea stop at Endsor a village near to Chatsworth House where the previous Duchess of Devonshire had resided.

We returned back to Bakewell in time to enjoy a browse around the numerous walk shops and to buy Bakewell tarts which went down very well with Champagne at the evening birthday celebrations for Rochelle’s sixtieth Birthday.

On Sunday the longer walk group joined the Nomad walkers for a ten mile walk in the local vicinity of Matlock. There were twenty four walkers in total and thanks to the leadership skills of the Nomad’s walk leader no-one was left behind!

The walk proved challenging and as we struggled through thick mud up a slope Lucy managed to sink both feet into the mud and needed to be lifted out boots still thankfully attached to her feet! We enjoyed a stop at a local pub and a picnic at the foot of the oldest industrial chimney in the country.  The evening was spent celebrating Geoffrey’s birthday with more wine and Bakewell tarts!

On Monday we concluded our stay in Matlock with a walk to Lumsdale at Tansley where there were the remains of mill workings from Richard Arkwright to remind us of Derbyshire’s history. We wondered around the mill pond and a waterfall in the midst of the mill workings followed by sandwiches at the local pub and taxis to the station .

A special thank you to my partner Clive for leading the short walkers and playing a significant part in organising the event. Many thanks to Danny for his usual efficiency in organising the trip to Crich tramway museum and sorting out our train travel etc


Sandy writes:
Matlock – A Stroller’s Impressions
On the Saturday nine Strollers were delivered to the village of Beeley on the Chatsworth estate. Our friendly taxi driver told us that all the houses owned by the estate had features like guttering and window frames painted in a distinctive blue. I looked into this and found that the colour is variously described as ocean blue, azure, turquoise and cobalt blue. Take your pick. We had a short stroll through the village, led by Clive with his Asda bag. This was no ordinary Asda bag like the ones you used to get for free, but a top of the range model. After visiting a church we entered the magnificent parkland of the Chatsworth estate. Walking alongside the River Derwent we passed a ruined mill and a weir and soon caught sight of the famous Chatsworth House. Gini and Rochelle decided to visit the house but the rest of us went on to the model village of Edensor. This quaint but pretty village also has a quaint pronunciation, being called Ensor. We stopped for lunch at the village café where we were greeted by a Postman Pat cat with a fascination for trekking poles. Most of the group decided to eat outside but when they discovered that wasps wanted to share their food some of them came inside to join me. After lunch we returned to Chatsworth House and made a steady climb to the Elizabethan Hunting Lodge, where Mary Queen of Scots is supposed to have spent part of her imprisonment. There were three cannons in front of the lodge which seemed to me to be a bit excessive for hunting deer. We returned to Chatsworth by a different route over  rougher ground. We had to be careful here to avoid the little hazards left behind by cows. Back at Chatsworth  some of us had a cup of coffee and some read their papers while we waited for our taxi. We were also joined by  Gini and Rochelle who seemed to have been impressed by their visit to the house.

On Sunday the Strollers divided into two parties. An all-male group visited the Crich Tramway Village and three ladies went on a walk with Clive. I asked one of the ladies if she fancied coming to the tramway but to my surprise she didn’t seem interested. The tramway village or museum features a collection of about 60 trams, mostly from Great Britain, and a mile of track. Thanks to Danny we got a reduction on our entrance fee and our tickets entitled us to free rides on the trams all day. We started on a Blackpool tram and then had a tour of the depot. We then went our separate ways. Geoffrey and I had a ride downstairs on an open-top Glasgow tram before returning to the Red Lion pub. The rest of the group were already there and Geoffrey bought us all a drink to celebrate his birthday. This reminded me that I missed his special birthday last year because I was in Nottingham where I rode on one the new generation of trams. After lunch we went to the end of the line on a Sheffield tram and climbed to the Sherwood Foresters’ memorial where we had a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside.  The visit had special meaning for Mike and I as we had both tried to visit Crich previously only to find it closed. On returning to the tramway we met the ladies and Clive, who had been allowed into the village just before closing time so they could have a cup of tea. The ladies reported that they had had a pleasant day and that Clive had mended Hazel’s trekking pole. This news made me feel a bit inadequate as I had tried to mend it the previous day and failed. But then I was never known for my practical skills. We returned to our lodges by taxi looking forward to Geoffrey’s birthday party, having enjoyed Rochelle’s party on the previous evening.

On Monday we joined the Hikers for a short walk starting from the village of Tansley. We entered a field where Hazel caught the interest of a fine horse with a peppermint. Such was the horse’s liking for peppermints that he followed us closely across the field, almost breathing down our necks. He was rewarded with a peppermint at the other side of the field and we continued our walk to see some ruined mills with interesting background information on noticeboards. After a pleasant lunch at the Gate Inn we caught a taxi in two relays to Matlock station. At Derby I was pleased to be able to tell the others that their Standard class carriage was at the end of the train while I waited for my First Class carriage at the front of the train.
Many thanks to Hilary and Clive for organising such an enjoyable trip. In fact some people suggested that we should go to Darwin Forest again some time.

Gillian writes:
Twenty three Polyramblers arrived in Matlock on the first Friday in October for a three night stay at Darwin Forest country park, about 4 miles north of the town. After a trip to Sainsburys to stock up on supplies, a fleet of minibuses ferried us to our accommodation in five well appointed lodges in the forest with a swimming pool, fitness centre and restaurant on site. After a briefing from Hilary and Clive on the weekend activities we took taxis down to Matlock Bath, a Victoria spa town with a faded charm. Someone said it was like a seaside resort without the seaside and we had never seen so many fish and chip shops in such a small area. We walked along the river Derwent which was lit ready for the illuminations the following evening and saw the dragon boats moored up. We enjoyed a meal in a small Italian restaurant to round off the day.

On Saturday the hikers took taxis to Bakewell where we met up with Hilary’s sister Janet, who led us on a ten mile walk through the Haddon Estate towards Chatsworth. A few steepish climbs in the morning – we felt that we were keeping up fairly well but perhaps Janet was slowing down for us. Soon it was downhill for a picnic lunch by the river Derwent. We passed Chatsworth house then on to Edensor for tea before the return to Bakewell and time to buy Bakewell tarts or Bakewell puddings (they are not the same thing, we learnt). That evening we celebrated Rochelle’s upcoming big birthday with champagne and nibbles chez Hilary and Clive and compared notes on the quality of our lodges. Yes the Elites were a bit bigger than the Classics and had a TV in the double bedroom!

Pam writes:
At 9.15am on Sunday the minibus took the Hikers to the Wire Stone car park (a wooded glade, not the usual image these words conjure up for urbanites!) where we met up with the Nomads, a local walking group to whom we were introduced by Hilary’s sister, Janet. They come from all over Derbyshire. They must be famous! The day before, when we were on a walk with the speedy Janet, we encountered some mountain bikers in a forest who asked if we were with the Nomads. Then, during the course of our walk with the Nomads we discovered that one or two of them are in their eighties. Was that why the cyclists made the connection to the Nomads? Not that we found it easy to keep up with them! I was told by the Nomads’ leader that they reckon to average 3 miles an hour, whereas we Polys normally average nearer 2 mph! We started off down a long steep narrow stony path, which fortunately we did not have to return by on the way back. We just had to look up from time to time to admire the stunning views across the valley. That meant that the Nomads pulled ahead.

We Polys were slowed up by stiles in a variety of designs and it was jokingly suggested that we improve our stile-technique for any return visit! Then there were the tall closely positioned pairs of stone pillars which we had to squeeze between to pass from one field to another. We stopped in a wide-open chill breezy intersection between fields for a coffee break. Afterwards one of the Nomads told us that one of the Polys had gone off and left us. It took us some time to realise that she meant a lone walker who had come towards us across the field and proceeded on his way, back the way we had come, who bore a striking resemblance to Stuart! He even fooled some of us!

Afte more moors and fields, we had a drink stop seated in the sunshine on the terrace of the Peak Edge Hotel which was about to be the setting for a glamorous wedding, before stopping nearby, next to the oldest industrial chimney in Britain (a lone reminder of 1770s lead smelting), to eat our packed lunch in the sunshine, sheltering from the chilly wind behind a dry stone wall,. Later, as we came out into the open, we had an impressive view of Chesterfield and its distinctive twisted spire in the valley. To end with, there were fields with young cattle one of which took a fancy to my bright blue poncho or perhaps it was trying to chivvy us along as it crept up behind us, and then a long wide avenue / fire break through Bottom Moor forest back to the car park to say goodbye and thank you to our inspirational friendly hosts and to await the minibus back to Darwin Country Park to mark Geoffrey’s birthday. A very enjoyable and stimulating walk. Thank you to Janet and the Nomads.

Sunita writes:
Twelve Nomads and twelve polyramblers arrived at Wirestone Quarry carpark.  Chris Fairhall of the Nomads was our leader, after the headcount we headed towards Upperdown and on to Kelstedge. It was not long before we had a steep climb.
I spent a lot of time talking with the Nomads so I did not take much notice of the path we were taking but the views were stunning. We stopped for elevenses. A walker with a red jacket (similar to Stuart’s) came from the opposite direction. One or two polyramblers compared this stranger to Stuart, but he was not pleased. On this walk we had wonderful views of Chesterfield, including the crooked spire and surrounding villages. We stopped for a drink at The Red Lion/ Peak Edge Hotel. We set on the terrace as it was warm and dry.  We had our picnic facing the oldest free standing chimney at Stone Edge, reminding us of the industrial past of this region.

We walked through fields and came to one very muddy patch where Lucy lost her footing and got covered in mud, no photos of this incident. We made our way through the woods and back to the car park.  A great walk – many thanks to the Nomads, who are a lot fitter and faster than us.

Watch this space for more photos and Sandy’s account of the Stroller walks.