|"Ye Olde Royal Oak" in Wetton|
In Clint, my trusty South Korean chariot, I tootled over the hills to Bakewell and thence to Monyash and Hartington before arriving in the quaint village of Wetton where I parked up. I slathered exposed skin with "Nivea" sun protection, pulled on my little rucksack that sensibly contained two bottles of water, an apple and an orange and plonked my new sun hat on the Pudding bonce.
Before I continue, let me tell you about this hat. It was made for me by my lovely wife who is becoming something of a seamstress in her late middle age. To look at it you could not tell that it was homemade. In my life I have had very few hats - almost none - because my skull is so big that I can rarely find hats to fit me. How many times have I tried hats on - only to find them sitting precariously on my head as if simply balanced there? I am a freak of nature but it's all just bone - not brains.
I set off in search of Thor's Cave, high above the river valley. Archaeological evidence has revealed that this cave was visited by human beings from the beginning of human time on the island of Britain. Back in Victorian times, it was a popular tourist attraction as the small gauge Leek and Manifold railway ran parallel to the river. There was even a little station called "Thor's Cave".
When I got to the cave, four grown up people from Newcastle were there - demonstrating how difficult it was to get inside it. The entrance was a cascade of smooth limestone with no steps or ropes. It would have been very easy to fall but bravely your intrepid blogger followed the Geordie guineapigs and I did not fall. It was even harder getting out.
Then down to the river and along to Weag's Bridge with an arduous climb up to the village of Grindon. It was over thirty degrees centigrade and my shirt was so drenched in aromatic Pudding sweat that I could have easily wrung it out as I basked in the sun near All Saints Church, peeling my orange and glugging one of the bottles of Adam's ale.
Then up and onwards to Ossam's Hill soon to experience fine views of Dale Farm and the limestone plug known as Sugarloaf. I descended to Wetton Mill where I purchased an ice cold can of Diet Coke for £1 which is 71pence more than an identical can cost me from Lidl in Sheffield. Bloody capitalists!
There followed a punishing walk up Wetton Hill where panting sheep were sheltering from the sweltering sunshine in the lee of drystone walls. Just a little further and then up to the skyline. There was a quarry where I guess that most of the stones that built Wetton were sourced long ago. I was looking forward to a pint of bitter shandy in "Ye Olde Royal Oak" but damn me when I got there I found the door was locked. I beat upon it screaming, "Let me in!" but no one came.
In the scrupulously clean village toilet block, I guzzled a gallon of water from the cold tap - like a camel that has just reached an oasis. To use a common colloquial expression, I was well and truly knackered after this hike - driving homewards nearly five hours after I had arrived. But it had been wonderful and in that tropical afternoon I was so glad to be alive and able to plod those beautiful country miles.
|Dale Farm and Sugarloaf near Wetton Mill|