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Mid-Summer Walk - Saturday 2nd July 2016

Reporter: Bill Matthews

Leaders: Helen & Brian Richardson

In spite of 2 miles slow cycle ride steeply uphill from Grindleford Station, there was no-one else to greet me at Longshaw and the tea room, alas, does not open until 10:30; time enough then to investigate the area.

The rambling and impressive adjacent Longshaw Hall and its chapel, whilst hosting the Moorland Discovery Centre learning facility for wildlife and similar presentations (in conjunction with National trust) is nevertheless closed to the general public. Back in World War 1 days, its massive size made it ideal as an auxiliary hospital before incorporation into National Trust in 1931. I noted a neat grey stone duck on one end of the balcony-which turned out to be a real and friendly duck.

The very fine 1773 Fox House Inn by the car park entrance just into Yorkshire was named after a Mr Fox of Highlow rather than the animal and clearly of the same period as Longshaw. We didn't drink there!

Eventually 10 people (Helen and Brian Richardson, John Lea, John Concannon, Dave Shepherd, Paul Rushton, Wendy Barlow, Marie and Paul and Myself) arrived and, being already at the top of the hill, we set off via Long Estate lake downwards past the first of several ice cream vans (yes, I indulged!) into Long Wood which gives its name to Longshaw. Hence we dropped out of the early morning chill wind and meandered along Padley Gorge alongside Burbage Brook in spate on a rather muddy path. Here one of Wendy’s whippets took a high speed leap from an elevated platform full length into deep mud; a very definite error of judgement.

The path continued upwards through Nether Padley, passing the ruins of Padley Hall and the grade 1 listed Padley Chapel, an epitaph to the Padley martyrs: 2 Catholic Priests discovered in 1588 and hanged drawn and quartered at Derby.

On reaching Froggatt Edge, there was a dramatic and breathtaking change of scenery, up a few very worn steps, fortunately mostly in clear weather with now better conditions underfoot 'to boot'. In earlier times, Joe Brown climbed on this gritstone on such colourfully named pitches as "Sunset Slab" and Three Pebble Slab".

Later the route becomes Curbar Edge with equally majestic rugged scenery. Below lies the twee village of Curbar, which has some of the highest property values of Derbyshire. It's other claim to fame is the May 'Maybough' festival of unknown origin where a tree branch is decorated and displayed at local venues to the accompaniment of song and dance. I was sure you would want to know about this!

Lunch was taken soon afterwards as the sun re-emerged, by a car park with a rare vintage corrugated steel Citroen van, series unknown, serving tea and cakes-and another ice-cream van.

The path now turned through 180 degrees onto white edge and Brian’s weather forecast included the delirious suggestion that by walking quickly we could miss the heavy shower sweeping at 30mph across the valley towards us. But this proved to be correct!. Well done Brian for your competent guidance.

We headed northwards towards Totley Moor famous to us erstwhile fell runners for the Totley Terminator one of a series of gruelling runs by Totley Harriers.

Somehow, on the last leg of the walk we managed to overlook Little Johns Well, a Holy Well or Sacred Spring dated about 1809. It still has fresh water, I gather. It's hidden behind a tiny ruined James 1st, chapel arch In conclusion, the walk was a very enjoyable mix of all kinds of terrain from deep forest to open moorland, rocky crags to vast rural vistas.

We congratulate our leaders on their preparation and Helen for her forethought in reserving 10 cream scones for the tea room finally.

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