4 January 2011


Can there be a finer, healthier or more spiritually uplifting activity than simply walking? The English countryside is embroidered with stories of long ago - it's there in the field patterns, the stonework, the vegetation, the illogical curving of roads and paths. As you walk, you become alert to those ancient signs. The air is pure and clean. You feel free. Beads of sweat form on your brow, you huff and puff but essentially the pace of your walking is controlled by your body and how you're feeling.

One of my greatest pleasures is to grab a map, work out a circular walking route and bomb off into the countryside with my boots. Hence, on Monday, I parked up just outside the Derbyshire hamlet of Abney and headed off down Abney Clough and round the back of Abney Low - which is a circular hill farmed and occupied since neolithic times - as the term "low" would indicate.

Too much Christmas turkey, too much bubble and squeak and Christmas pud and Roses' chocolates... I really needed a walk. And it was invigorating to be out there in the crisp January air, walking paths still frost-hardened. Like a soldier, I could have marched all day but I limited myself to a couple of hours. In that fresh winter's afternoon - with the sun already heading for the western horizon, it occurred to me that in the sultry heat of Bangkok there may be days ahead when I will hunger for such wintry freshness.

Here's my little Abney Album in memory of January 3rd 2011:-
Hamlet sign just where I parked

Trees silhouetted in Abney Clough

View to Smelting Hill from Bretton Clough

Cockey Farm on the edge of Abney


  1. Elizabeth2:47 pm

    Cockey Farm; the birthplace of William Newton, 'the minstrel of the Peaks' whose poetry led to the end of the gibbet being used in Derbyshire.
    Glad you were able to blow the cobwebs away.

  2. Believe me , you won't find walking invigorating in the hot sultry weather.
    I don't think there is anywhere else in the world with walking like the UK. Your "freedom to roam" makes beautiful countryside so accessible and the Peak District is beautiful. Have you ever done the Monsel Head walk YP? It's delightful and when we did it the wild garlic was in bloom. It was also well dressing time in Ashford on the Water so we had a glimpse of a very old tradition too.
    Wish I was there again but as I'm not I'm happy to tag along with you!

  3. Our fair country has signs saying, "Private property. Trespassers will be prosecuted." I have also seen signs saying "Trespassers will be shot."

    Which rather discourages walking through the countryside as a hobby.

  4. You chose a beautiful area in which to stroll, YP. Thanks for the photos.

  5. ELIZABETH I knew about the poetry but not about the gibbet. I'll bet his dad would have been saying "Stop writing that bloody poetry and help me with the sheep!"
    HELEN Yes I have walked the Monsal Trail. There are so many lovely walks in Derbyshire and I'm pleased you have also known the magic.
    RHYMES I agree with you - most of America seems unfriendly to people who just want to walk. A Floridian restaurant owner was once amazed when we told her we'd walked the half mile from our hotel. It seemed as if nobody ever did such a thing.
    PAT ARK. Are there many designated country walks in Arkansas or do you hve to stick to national parks?

  6. Enjoy your ability to walk as long as you have it. Thank you for sharing yours, now I have some new photos to use as screen savers.

    Walking is practically impossible here, that's why a lot of folks head to the malls before the stores open, they can actually get out and stretch their legs. Plague is correct, there are trespassing signs in rural areas, where a walker would be seen as a potential vagrant who is maybe out to steal the copper wire from your water pump. There are lots of trails in the mountains, but you have to drive quite a ways to get there and they're not accessible in the winter except by snowshoes.

  7. YP - Good question -- to which I do not (currently) have an answer. I know there are hiking trails here and there but don't know if they are only in nationals parks. I shall have to investigate.

  8. Hi YP
    arrived at your blog via John's Going Gently. I am ashamed to say despite living in Derbyshire for 48 years I had to look up where Abney is! Happy to say though I do know where it is and have walked that area many times.


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