10 December 2009


How long since I last walked there? At least ten years. The weather forecast was good for mid-December so by midday I was parked up in the hamlet of Alport ready for a vigorous walk along the lovely limestone valley that is Lathkilldale.

Where is it? It's in Derbyshire just south of the market town of Bakewell - famous for its Bakewell puddings and tarts. The sweet, clear water of the River Lathkill emerges from a cave near the head of the valley and by its margins rare limestone loving plants such as Jacob's Ladder thrive.

In the valley there are ancient mine workings and evidence of prehistoric cave dwellers - probably the same people who constructed the nearby Arbor Low stone circle which is sometimes known as "The Stonehenge of the North".

I walked for four hours solid along the valley and up to the tops via the ancient One Ash Farm with its curious outbuildings - including pig sties made long ago entirely from limestone slabs. All afternoon it was as if the sun was simply skirting the horizon for at this time of year night comes very early in northern England.

Cutting through the woods of Calling Low, I was looking to my left for evidence of a burial mound - suggested by the term "low" - when I fell "arse over tit" as they say in these parts. The path was muddied. It happened so quickly, as if an invisible wrestler had slung me to the ground. At the time, I was holding the strap of my little rucksack with my left hand and an ordnance survey map in the other. I landed heavily on my left fist. If anyone had been watching from the woods they would no doubt have laughed themselves silly but I was hurt. It felt as if Lennox Lewis had just thumped me high up in the ribs. It still hurts now.

I was still three miles from the Peakland village of Youlgreave which is Alport's big brother. Passing the fluospar workings I paced down the lane till the imposing tower of Youlgreave church appeared in the valley below and by the time I reached the car it was pitch dark. Some pictures... sorry none of me falling over!

See sheep grazing on the limestone edge in the last picture.


  1. That looks beautiful. I miss those kinds of winter walks.

  2. Sorry about the injury, YP but at least you didn't break your camera!

  3. Lovely! It's been a while since I've had a walk like that - - SUCH a busy autumn - - and I miss them.


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