The Peak District has much to offer. People generally think of it as being split into two parts – the more arable White Peak in the south and the brooding high moorlands of the Dark Peak in the north. Whilst this is true, the White Peak in particular has many facets to it. Rolling hills and fields, dales galore and high limestone plateaus.
All of it is busy, being a major playground for the Midlands, but at the same time there are plenty of quiet spots to be found. Many of the visitors visit the known honey pots and nowhere else.
The White Peak is often considered the easier section of the area, but don’t be fooled. Here, you’ll find deep, rugged dales and lots of ‘up and down’. Although I’ve done a smattering of walking in the White Peak over the years, I’ve actually done far more cycling there and believe me, a 33 mile ride on those up and down bits feels like a 33 mile ride. If you want easy, you cycle in Cheshire….
Anyway, James came up with a plan. A desire to walk the length of this beautiful area – south to north – and a route was born. I’ve christened it ‘Boulter’s Bimble’.
Day One, Ashbourne to Pilsbury Lodge (near Pilsbury, funnily enough) – 14 miles
Starting in Ashbourne at the southern end of the Tissington Trail, we soon left the old railway line, wandering across country, to link various Dales together.
The first was Dove Dale. On a sunny Sunday, this is one heaving place, but on a pleasant Friday, it wasn’t too busy at all.
Now before I go any further, I will apologise in advance in case I get any of the photos assigned to the wrong Dales (highly likely, I suspect). After all, you can be sure that if I do, someone will notice….
The first café of the day was at the tiny village of Milldale. The Bakewell slice I had was delicious.
From there, Mill Dale itself was picked up for a while,
before moving on to Wolfscote Dale and Beresford Dale – all the time still following the river Dove upstream.
On reaching the picturesque village of Hartington, I’ve no recollection of what time it was, but it was certainly a good spot to hunt out home baked scones, tea and coffee.
From there, the Dales were left for the rest of the afternoon as we picked our way up and down, through field paths, to reach the farm of Pilsbury Lodge.
This was where we were to spend the night.
Day Two, Pilsbury Lodge to Peak Forest – 16 miles
After a reasonable sleep – disturbed only briefly by some screaming children at about 10pm – fields, the High Peak Trail and ancient track ways were initially followed this morning,
before passing close to Monyash and dropping down into Deep Dale.
This is were we started to pick up a few very heavy, but thankfully short lived, showers.
Dropping out of the bottom of Deep Dale, we picked up Monsal Dale very briefly, before climbing up on to the tops again, above High Dale.
Descending again, a mile or so later, we picked up the Monsal Trail for a short while.
Here, an interactive audio interpretation thingy provided minutes of amusement for James, who in fact, listened to the ‘Monsal Trail Blues’ twice over.
Leaving the Monsal Trail and descending even further, through a patch of trees, James unfortunately had a minor altercation with a hefty tree branch hitting his head. Luckily, there was a very welcoming pub just a short way further on at Miller’s Dale, providing restorative pints of coke and packets of crisps.
By this time, it was beginning to feel like a long day and we still had 4 miles – and 4 dales – to go.
Obviously not as frequented as other spots, it was nevertheless very pretty.
Higher up the valley, the flora became positively primeval. All that was lacking was a bit of tropical heat and humidity, as we carefully picked our way for about a mile over slippery moss covered rocks and tree roots.
We eventually topped out onto soft, springy grass once more, before the final three dales of the day, Peter Dale, Hay Dale and Dam Dale.
The village of Peak Forest was our destination for the night and we were more than ready to stop when we finally got there, at around 8:30 that evening.
We had originally planned on eating in the pub just around the corner this evening, but when it came to it, quite frankly, we just couldn’t be bothered!
Day Three, Peak Forest to Hayfield – 11 miles
Today’s route was going to finally take us into the southern part of the Dark Peak.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we breakfasted leisurely and set off just after 10am.
The initial climb took us through fields and then up onto another limestone plateau, in the general direction of Mam Tor.
Before we’d set off back on the Friday, the forecast for Sunday had been a bit less than perfect, involving rain, hail, zero visibility and arctic winds.
In the end, it turned out to be gorgeous. Still arctic winds, but beautifully sunny and the clarity of the light was wonderful.
On reaching Mam Nick, we turned left to walk the route along Rushup Edge.
We touched the edge of the Kinder Massif as we turned to walk up and over Brown Knoll, on the final leg of the route.
And eventually dropped down into Hayfield, passing by South Head and Mount Famine.
It had been a really enjoyable three days. I’d walked through Dales I’d never even heard of and passed through virtually every different type of scenery the Peak District has to offer. And the company was excellent too.
All I need now, is a signed certificate and an embroidered badge, to say I’ve completed the walk. 🙂
James has got his version of events, here.