Walk Diary Sunday 2 April 2017 Weather, 12°C. sunny.
Milldale car park Depart 10 a.m. 9 ¼ miles Leaders: Janet & John T.
No. on walk 17
Another one of those spring, almost summery days, full of warmth and good cheer, a walk where we had the added accompaniment of bird song throughout. It was good to get to the small village car park before the hoards of day trippers arrived. Later on our arrival back at the village we found the small and only village refreshment bar doing a roaring trade, with a queue of forty plus people waiting in line to get their drink or ice cream. In fact we had to break through the mass of people, which completely blocked the small lane, to get back to the car park.
A lovely comfortable start, as we crossed the small bridge over the River Dove to walk the bank on good surfaces as far as Ilam Rock, a tall shaft of rock, standing sentinel over the foot bridge at its base. We crossed over the Dove via the footbridge to walk back away along the other side, until reaching the extent of Hurt's Wood. Here we gathered ourselves for the long but pleasant climb up Hall Dale, the first part of which can be tricky if wet, due to the many limestone rocks strewn along the first stretch. About three quarters of the way up we stopped in a very pleasant sunny location for our first break, so good that it was a hard job to get going again. After another couple of corners we reached the bottom of Allen's Bank, a very stiff, if short climb, took us away from Hall Dale towards Damgate.
At the top of the bank was an interesting redundant Lime Kiln, looking, as you will see from the picture, as if it has been part of this wonderful Derbyshire landscape from the dawn of time. Leaving the kiln behind us we ventured along the green topped hills, with Dick being his ever enquiring self, went to the highest point to see what was on the other side, most of us followed suit, although not to the top. It was not a wasted trip, from this vantage point we were peering way down on the very same Hall Dale which we had just ascended.
After passing Damgate Farm we headed northwest to Castern Wood Nature Reserve, continuing in the same direction along the very top of the ridge. Below us was the River Hamp. You will see from the rather hazy picture, that the river is already dry, you can clearly see the weir which, during wetter times, usually has water frothing over it. The river in fact is very much alive, it's just gone underground, this is what happens when the water levels drop, it disappears into the limestone channels beneath it, eventually re-emerging at Hamp Springs near to Ilam Park. We crossed over Larkstone Lane and at the top of the next rise stopped for lunch against a wall with a very sunny aspect.
With lunch over we then dropped down into Wetton, many making use of the facilities there. We passed through the village to walk east of Wetton Hill. On the hill to our right young hang gliders were showing their skills, descending towards us to land on the soft grassy area at the bottom of the hill. We rounded their hill and now made our way eastwards to the ever popular, pretty village of Alstonefield, more toilets which had the usual inspection, must be something in the water! It was then a short walk steeply down back into Milldale. Good terrain, good views, good weather and good company, what more could we ask for on an excellent walk like this.