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Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fully Loaded

The training for the TGO Challenge stepped up a gear at the weekend, with a trip to Derbyshire with my brother in law and 2004 challenge partner, David. More significantly, I carried a rucksack containing full challenge kit – tent, sleeping bag, stove, clothes, first aid kit – the lot.

Magpie Mine panoramaThe Magpie Mine

We set off on Saturday for a gentle walk in the White Peak from Over Haddon to the Magpie Mine near Sheldon, Monyash and then down Lathkill Dale to Conksbury Bridge and back to the car. 15.8k and 370m ascent made for a good stretch, but not too killing.

It’s a great walk! Whether you’re a naturalist, industrial archaeologist, geologist or just love great countryside, this has something for you.

The walled track to the Magpie MineThe walled track to the Magpie Mine

The first really grand view is of the ruins of the Magpie Lead Mine – it looks very like a Cornish tin mine with its old engine house that once indeed housed a Cornish beam engine. It was worked on & off from the 19th century to the early fifties.
Old winding gear at Magpie Mine
There were several mines all trying to exploit the same seam here, and back in the 19th century when rival miners broke through into a rival’s workings, underground fights broke out and attempts were made to smoke out the others by burning barrels of tar and sulphur. This eventually resulted in several deaths, caused by the Magpie men, and the mine was said to be cursed. Certainly it never prospered afterwards.

You are free to roam around the ruins and poke about the bits of old machinery, so we did just that.

Onwards to Monyash, and old mining village with pub and café, but having purchased pies and drinks in Bakewell we picnicked in the churchyard (a real ale pub was scheduled for the evening
and we didn’t want to “peak” too early).

A spring in Lathkill DaleAnd then into Lathkill Dale. This has got to be one of the best of the Derbyshire Dales, even now, at the fag end of winter before the spring flowers start to pepper the hillsides. The dale has an industrial heritage too, from the quarry at Ricklow (rich in fossils) to the Mandale mine and the numerous shafts, and adits that can be picked out along the way.

Old waterwheel site in Lathkill DaleAll along the river, once it has stopped playing hide & seek in the way of Derbyshire ‘disappearing rivers’, are weirs and leats to long forgotten water wheels that once drove mills and ore grinders. Approaching Over Haddon the river is straddled by the ruined piers of what seems to be a bridge. In fact these are the remains of a massive aqueduct that once drove a huge wheel to pump out the Mandale mine. Later this was superceded by a steam engine, and the old engine house is still there, quietly merging back into the trees. David and I thought the place was both beautiful and quite fascinating.

Finally the river, quite a broad stream now and teeming with fat trout, tumbles over a series of weirs, the water a deep turquoise as it runs to the mediaeval Conksbury Bridge, from where we returned back up the hill to Over Haddon.

Phil standing by waterfall in Lathkill DaleWaterfall in Lathkill Dale

A splendid walk – recommended! And I got around it with full kit and no aches & pains.

Off then to Glossop. Not my first choice of overnight venue, but I got really, really pi**ed off with B&Bs in the National Park area insisting on a two night booking for weekends, and charging exhorbitant prices as well. So I thought I’d go just outside, and I’m so glad I did.

It looks like any other terraced house, but Birds Nest Cottage in Glossop is a really friendly clean and comfortable B&B with a large and a small lounge for guests, plus a welcome with a pot of tea and cake (free!). The breakfasts are just excellent – and when they say fresh fruit, it really is fresh. Nice gardens too ... and if the day on the hill has been a bit too much, you can even book a massage to sooth your aching body!

We ambled into Glossop for a few well earned pints at the Globe (beer brewed on the premises) and a vegetarian chilli with rice for just £2.90. Now that’s what I call value! A really nice traditional boozer, and surprisingly full of twentysomethings all drinking real ales instead of vodka alcopops. There was a band playing upstairs, but still… real ale drinkers to a man – and girl. We liked it.


David in snow on Kinder ScoutDavid, being a bit of a rufty tufty, chose this walk as a contrast to Saturday’s delightful amble. From Hayfield up to Kinderlow End, along to the barrow and then along the edge and down William Clough to the reservoir and back to Hayfield.

The day started off bright and sunny, but wintry showers were predicted, and how accurate that proved to be. On the way up the wind strengthened, and we could see Kinder Downfall occasionally whiz upwards – a sure sign that things were a bit blowy on the top.

And then the hail started, and the snow, and as we gained the plateau the cloud dropped down as well. Ah yes, a typical Kinder spring day. Howling wind, hail hitting like shotgun pellets and visibility occasionally dropping to twenty yards. And boy did we enjoy it!!

Spray blowing up from Kinder DownfallKinder Downfall - falling upwards!

At the waterfall the spray blowing back up was coating the grass with crystal clear ice, and the occasional hardy walker or runner emerged from the gloom with a cheery “Grand day for it”.

Grass coated in iceA terrific walk, made all the better by finding a sheltered nook in the rocks for a lunch supplemented by a piping hot mug of chocolate. Back down in the valley by the reservoir, it was a calm spring day. Amazing the difference a few hundred feet can make.

And that was the weekend done – just the drive home. The weather treated us to one last blast of hail and snow as we crossed the Peak to Chesterfield.

The totals for the weekend? 28.8k (17.9 miles) and 920m of ascent (3,018ft). Not too bad for a couple of southern softies.

A great weekend, with David, as ever, great company.



Blogger Phreerunner said...

Nice one, Phil, and Glossop was a good choice. If you go again, and like a curry with your real ale, you could do worse than the Bull's Head in Old Glossop.
You'll be leaving your mate far behind if you do much more training!

March 10, 2009 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Well, as we couldn't get to Austria for our training Glossop seemed the obvious fall back position!

Thanks for the tip about the Bull's Head - we'll give it a try next time.

Mmmmm. I'm getting to like Glossop.

March 11, 2009 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could see no reference to a bottle of malt in your bag! I assume this means that Alan will be carrying it!

March 14, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Ah, Derek,

I didn't mention the malt on account of giving you chaps north of the border apoplexy.

I am considering one of the first runs of a fine ENGLISH whisky. Distilled just up the road from me the aptly named St George's Distillery.

Now that should raise a few eyebrows!!!

March 16, 2009 at 7:37 PM  

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