A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

On The Edge

Yesterday at 10.40am I decided on impulse to snatch a dry, sunny afternoon from the jaws of autumn. I packed my ancient Karrimor daysack with waterproofs, water bottle, flask of tea, two cheese and lettuce sandwiches, two oatmeal biscuits, two fresh peaches, hat and gloves, map and compass, and Victorinox multi-feature Swiss Army Knife. No, it wasn't a mercenerary expedition. Merely a quick raid on the Derbyshire countryside. By 11.40 I was off, and at 1 o'clock exactly had parked at Curbar Gap (OS Outdoor Leisure Map 24, Map Reference 263747). Up on the gritstone escarpment of Curbar Edge the views westward were very fine (the 1st photo was taken from the Edge looking down on the villages of Curbar and Calver in the valley of the river Derwent. The abandoned millstone is a reminder that the manufacture of millstones used to be a thriving industry in this area.) Climbers were out in force (see 2nd and 3rd photos) and a few walkers too. An obvious path led along Froggatt Edge and down through Hay Wood to Nether Padley. Stonechats darted across the way and bobbed their heads on nearby rocks. There was a feel of autumn in the air, with a chilly breeze on the higher ground. I noticed some of the ferns and some of the birch, oak and sycamore leaves were starting to turn rust-coloured; and the leaves of the fading rosebay willowherb were changing from green to purple. Resisting the temptation to call in at the Grindleford Station Café - which is almost as famous among the outdoor community as the Pen-y-Ghent Café in Horton-in-Ribblesdale - I made my way past the entrance to the 3 mile long Totley tunnel towards Padley Chapel, which used to be the medieval gatehouse of long-ruined Padley Hall. After a more open, grassy area a lovely path leads through woods above the railway line. Somewhere round here I ate my packed lunch, perched on a convenient, lichen-stained rock. I love eating out-of-doors, don't you? Eventually the way passed under the railway and joined a riverside path which skirted Grindleford, went straight through the pretty village of Froggatt and took me all the way back to Calver. My mind switched off and I meandered in a trance-like state along this pleasant, generally level, uneventful path. At Calver there's a wild, marshy, streamside patch of ground where you may find such rare animal species as the brook lamprey, the great crested newt, the water vole and the harvest mouse. It was a slight shock to have to complete the short, sharp climb back up to Curbar Gap and the car. After the calm of the valley, the chill wind here seemed to have increased in velocity and chilliness. The clouds of late afternoon had closed in. I got in the car and made for home.


am said...

Thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your autumn walk and seeing the photos. I have ancestors way back in time (no one knows for sure when it was), on my mother's side of the family, who probably lived at one time in the vicinity of a village in Derbyshire called Somersall. Now I can better picture the landscape they may have seen when they went walking. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, solitary walker.

Andy Howell said...

Quick raids are great thing!

(Just wondering whether I can dash off somewhere next week)