Eight walkers gathered outside Church on the 1st October. Steve and Julie led the walk once we had made our way to our starting point at High Peak Junction, so named because it was the site where the Cromford Canal met the Cromford & High Peak Railway. After eating our packed lunches and getting an ice cream for Victoria we started our walk.
From the car park we crossed over the River Derwent and walked along the Cromford Canal, built by William Jessop and completed in 1794. We walked past the restored Leawood Pump House, built in 1849 it was used to pump water from the Derwent into the canal until the canal closed in 1944. The beam engine inside is still operated on some weekends throughout the summer.
Crossing the canal by a foot bridge we continued along the tow path, crossing over the River Derwent and the Derby-Matlock railway line. Although much of the canal was filled with weeds and reed beds there were some areas of clear water where a couple of swans were gliding along. We walked through the 75 yards long Gregory Tunnel, rather dark! until after 2 miles from our starting point we reached Whatstandwell.
At this point we left the canal, and walked down to the A6. Here we once again crossed the River Derwent, before walking up through fields passing Lambert Hill. Here we could see Crich Stand, built to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment; it is currently covered in scaffolding during its restoration. We joined the Midshires Way, a 230 mile long distance footpath, which took us past Watergate Farm then Watfield Farm. At this point we wondered why three old tin baths had been fastened to the barn wall! – possibly to wash our feet as the fields had been squelchy with mud after the overnight rain.
After walking through a wood and crossing the B5035 we walked along Intake Lane, passing a busy caravan site on our right. Walking down a walled track we soon reached the High Peak Trail, joining the Sheep Pastures Incline as light rain started to fall.
This incline is one of many on the Cromford & High Peak Railway; luckily we were walking downhill as the gradient is 1 in 8 at this point.
Originally the line was built in 1831 to carry goods from the Cromford Canal to the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge with stationary steam engines used to drag goods on wagons up and down the inclines. After total closure in 1967 the trackbed became the High Peak Trail in 1971.
After ¾ mile we returned to High Peak Junction and after walking past the old workshops we returned to our cars for the journey home.
On Sunday 5th November we will be meeting at the church gates at 12 noon before travelling to Hollin Bank, near Hathersage for a 4 mile walk via Stanage Edge. Our leader for this walk will be Trish Law. Any new members wishing to join us will be made very welcome; just turn up with a packed lunch and suitable walking clothes.