Sunday morning dawned with heavy rain which looked as if it would continue into the afternoon, but our group decided to chance it by driving to the start of our walk at Great Hucklow. The sun appeared behind grey clouds and stayed with us for the rest of the day. We welcomed two new members, John and Wendy, who have recently moved from Runcorn in Cheshire to Newbold and were eager to explore the local area.
On leaving the main road to walk down a track, Julie’s eyes lit up to see a long wall covered in bright green, healthy moss, perfect for flower arranging, although we are aware that it is illegal to collect certain types of moss. We passed through the hamlet of Grindlow then followed a grassy track which, in part, was 6 inches deep in water. The leader, smugly wearing wellingtons, negotiated this with ease, others not quite so well but there were no complaints.
We reached Foolow after crossing three stiles and three damp fields and passed the small, very pretty Church of St. Hugh. This is a grade 11 building which was once a smithy. It was bought and renovated for less than £150 and held its first service in December 1888. Next door is The Bull’s Head, a popular inn situated opposite the village pond.
We headed towards Wardlow, turning right at Brosterfield Farm and negotiating a few stiles into more fields to arrive at Stanley House Farm where we were greeted by a friendly Border Terrier. On our left we spotted St. Peter’s Stone, a distinctive limestone knoll in Cressbrook Dale. Years ago, this stone was known as Gibbet Rock. Antony Lingard was the last man to be hung in Derbyshire and his body was displayed on the rock in 1815 as punishment for strangling a local girl.
In a field further on, Bob, who knows quite a bit about fungi, picked a few mushrooms to take home to cook. (Just in case you were wondering, we were told that Ruth refuses to eat them).
We spent some time inspecting four rams, grouped together on the other side of a wall. We were told they were probably a Dutch breed and further research shows they are likely to be Texel sheep from the Netherlands. They are a heavily muscled sheep that produces lean meat for the market.
Throughout the walk we were treated to broad views of a patchwork of verdant green fields crisscrossed by dry stone walls and occupied by many grazing sheep. Stone-built barns in various stages of dereliction were dotted around the landscape.
We returned to Great Hucklow and spent time looking at the Butter Cross which had been restored by the villagers with help from the Peak District National Park Authority in 2003. It is of secular rather than religious nature, set up to show where goods could be sold, but now standing in what happens to be the car park of the Queen Anne Inn.
The next walk of 4 miles, on Sunday 3rd November will be led by Steve and Julie Franks from Winster along the Limestone Way towards Bonsall Moor.
New members are welcome to join us at 12noon at the church gates when transport will be arranged. Please bring suitable footwear and a packed lunch. More information can be found by contacting Steve whose number appears on the back page of this issue.