Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Following Derbyshire’s River Derwent

10th May 2009

Every so often, the idea of Sunday passage through the Chatsworth Estate would rear its head, only for it not to happen on the day. It had occurred to me that I hadn’t been over that way for a while, so a return was in order. The longer evenings now mean that a later departure still leaves a chance for a few hours of walking so long as you are not venturing too far away. Thus, an early afternoon getaway did the needful, so there was no need for a manic morning, never a bad thing.

Speaking of the morning, that could not have been more delightful but clouds and the unfulfilled threat of an afternoon shower began to pervade by the time that I left Macclesfield. Going east recaptured blue skies before the clouds caught up with me again. Saying that, the day retained its mild and springy feel throughout with the sun not getting locked away all the time.

There was an ulterior motive for going with a gentler option. I managed to acquire a pair of Meindl Burmas in the January sales at a well reduced price and I want to start making regular use of them in place of my rather voluminous Scarpas. They fit me better and don’t seem to be having any untoward effects on my feet or ankles. There was a little soreness in the soles of my feet on reaching Matlock, but a spot of rest allowed that to dissipate very quickly. This was their first big outing and it was over solid surfaces too so I will not be hypercritical at this stage. In truth, I probably didn’t need boots for this walk at all, but level and easier terrain makes more sense to me when it comes to breaking in new footwear.

Roads were busy around the Derbyshire Dales when I reached Baslow for the start of my hike and they were no quieter around Rowsley. Chatsworth was busy too, so this was not going to be one of those quieter hikes. You could attribute some of this bustle to the proximity to places like Sheffield and Derby on a pleasant day, but another attraction presented itself too. Once I got away from the road, things were quieter with some folk about. Things started looking busier again as I came closer and closer to the big house. Cricket was being played, and many cars were parked on the lawns by the Derwent and in front of the house. There was a hint of something else afoot too: the burbling of a TVR V8 engine. Chatsworth was playing host to its annual TVR Car Club meet and I never saw so may of those cars together in all my life. Occasional sunshine was the weather’s offering as I passed the way, not getting too caught up in the throngs. The main estate road was as busy as a major road during rush hour traffic so it took me a while to get across it. If I had wanted quietness, I picked the wrong day and it wasn’t until I passed Calton Lees and its car park that I emerged into quieter environs. Saying that, I did veer off the right of way proper to avoid the constant passage of people going to and from that car park.

Chatsworth House and River Derwent, Baslow, Derbyshire, England

The Derwent Valley Heritage Way on which I had been travelling since Baslow was still well travelled, but numbers were by now in single figures. The well trodden turf simplified navigation as I progressed from field to field before briefly entering woodland to emerge onto a defined track. Before too long, I was in Rowsley. It’s a pretty sort of spot but finding the continuation of the DVHW might confound the unaware. The trick is to head for the old railway station and enter the woodland at the end of the car park. After allowing some cyclists pass (they probably shouldn’t have been on the narrow path but I don’t believe in starting needless arguments while out and about), I was on less frequented terrain. Road noise from the A6 may have shattered the peace a bit, but I was to get away from that too, after the short hop to Northwood, the terminus of the preserved Peak Railway, formerly part of the old Midland Railway to Manchester.

Emerging into Darley Dale took me away from the A6 and through fields to Churchtown and Darley Bridge. Field wandering with some tarmac bashing was the mainstay for the rest of the journey to Matlock. The sun was back in control by this time, but my mind was filling with thoughts of making my way back home so I pressed on rather than dawdling in the evening sunshine. As I neared Matlock, more folk were encountered but they were no encumbrance to me. I could have stayed on the DVWH all the way to Matlock’s train station but I decided to leave it to be sure of my bearings and my bus home. Ironically, that left from the train station anyway, but it’s always better to be sure than sorry. A good few hours had been spent, even if quietness and wildness was far from being the order of things on the day.

Travel details:

A GMPTE Wayfarer ticket very conveniently covered all my travel costs for the day; just scrape the appropriate panels for the date and you’re away. Buses conveyed me to Baslow (Bowers’ 58 & TM Travel’s 218 with a change at Buxton) and from Matlock to Stockport (Trent Barton’s TransPeak & 199, again changing at Buxton) for a train home.

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