|Roman Bridge over The River Goyt|
On Friday I parked at Dore and Totley Station once more ahead of another walking adventure on The Dark Side - that mysterious land to the west of the Pennine Chain. At Bamford in The Hope Valley, an elderly couple got on the train and sat opposite me. He had a walking stick and she had the look of a hungry weasel - her beady eyes darting around behind her silver rimmed spectacles as if seeking prey.
Now some elderly people are most delightful when they engage you in conversation but the woman from Bamford certainly did not belong to that category. Oh no. It was a case of Dilys against the world and by the time we reached Marple I felt overwhelming pity for her long-suffering husband, The whole world was wrong from sheep farmers to shop keepers, train times, people who choose to buy houses near railway lines, The BBC, litter, John Lewis department stores. In fact the only haven of sanity and righteousness on this tiny planet appeared to be Dilys herself. My idea of hell would be getting trapped on a train forever with Dilys bending my ear, saying nothing nice, positive or complimentary about the world we live in and not allowing me to get a word in edgeways. So spirited but so dreadful too.
Marple. Somewhere I had never been before. It sits eight miles east of Manchester and just to the west of The River Goyt. It is a town of 23,000. Once there were cotton mills there but now it owes a lot to those who live in the town but work in Manchester. Some lovely homes and two canals that were constructed in the very early years of the nineteenth century for purposes of trade - The Peak Forest Canal and The Macclesfield Canal. Now the watery domain of leisure craft - all narrow boats and people with dreams and pots of bright paint. One narrow boat went past with an elderly man at the tiller. The name "Freedom" had been professionally painted on the side.
|The Macclesfield Canal at Marple|
After a pot of tea and a sausage and tomato roll, I set off on my grand tour of the area. Out of town I descended to The Goyt which I crossed via The Roman Bridge. Actually that elegant structure had absolutely nothing to do with Romans. For centuries it was a packhorse bridge and its name was, I kid you not, Windy Bottom Bridge! No wonder prudish Victorians changed it.
Under Marple Goyt Railway Viaduct and after passing Bottom's Hall, up through the woods to Mellor and Towncliffe Golf Club. Then to the curiously named hamlet of Whetmorhurst and into the village of Mellor. It's eye-catching church - St Thomas's - sits on a bluff above the village on a site that has known human occupation for ten thousand years. I lingered here for half an hour and photographed the grave of Thomas Brierley as well as a Saxon stone font and the oldest wooden pulpit in Britain. A very interesting place.
|Under Marple Goyt Railway Viaduct|
Then down to Mill Brow where an Alsatian dog barked like The Hound of the Baskervilles, eager for my blood. Its owners were nowhere to be seen - probably Manchester commuters protecting their precious property with a rabid animal. I had to take a detour to avoid the frothing creature.
From Mill Brow to Sunhill Farm where another dog took exception to my scent. Fortunately this time there was a farm labourer nearby to bring the damned thing to heel. I wanted to boot it into the sky like a rugby ball. Bark now "Good boy"!
Then to Lane Ends and Cote Green and turning back through Brabyns Park, across an iron bridge constructed over two hundred years ago. The public park was once the extensive grounds of Brabyns Hall and near the old entrance there is a pet cemetery where the wealthy family that lived in the hall laid their pooches to rest and there was also the mysterious grave of Ben Lomond the Seagull.
|Cottage by Glossop Road, Lane Ends|
A smashing walk but I was knackered when I got back to Marple Station. I sat there for ten minutes drinking a bottle of water and chomping on an apple, waiting for the 17.11 to Sheffield via New Mills, Chinley, Edale and Bamford. I was hoping that Dilys's husband had clobbered her with his walking stick during their leisurely shopping trip to Manchester. "No more Dilys! No more!"
|In St Thomas's Church, Mellor|
The oldest wooden pulpit in England. Carved from a
single piece of oak during the reign of King Edward II
|Ramblers with dogs approaching Mellor Church|
|The grave of Ben Lomond The Seagull (1897-1912)|