Friday, 6 February 2009

A walk in the snow around Monsal dale, Tideswell and Cressbrook.

Every winter, for the past few years, I've wanted heavy, sticky snow to fall. The closest I've been to it was the day I did the Newlands round walk in the Lakes,
but the snow here in Derbyshire has been disappointingly sparse. However, as we all know, because most of the country got some, this last week has produced some REALLY good snow, and it fell the day before our day off, so it was PERFECT timing!
I got some great pictures today, but I wanted to put THIS one first, as I am so proud of it.
It reminds me of pearls in a golden ring clasp, only it was made by nature, not man!
Left click on the picture to see a larger version of it, then click on the back arrow to return to this posting.
Today, we had the company of three friends; Tom, Andre and Toms dad, Rob.
We can see Longstone moors from our cottage, so we knew there was a lot of snow up there. We managed to drive to Monsal head, and this was the view of the moors as we stepped out and booted up.
There weren't many people using the seats today - or the car park, for that matter.
Why would ANYONE miss a view like that today?? We thought back a few months to when we sat here in the warm, evening sun and watched it set down the end of the dale;
Today it was a tad colder!

So, after a burst of photography, we got going. My plan was to walk to the high ridge on the opposite side of the dale, but in deep, fresh snow, with no other footprints to follow, well - the best laid plans, and all that...........
Anyway, even if we DID get lost, what a lovely situation to get lost in!
We weren't lost quite yet, so I admired the beautiful way the snow looked on the branches.
We walked to the wall, and took in the view that always excites me - the viaduct in Monsal dale.
This dale is always pretty, but today, with a mantle of fresh snow, it was sublime!
Lots of miles to cover, so lets press on.
Having fun on the path down to the viaduct.
Lovely, sticky snow on the bushes and branches.

We got to the middle of the viaduct, with just ONE more set of prints in front of us, and looked left to the lower part of Monsal dale........
.....then right, to upper Monsal dale.
After crossing the viaduct, we headed up the track to Brushfield, covered now in virgin snow. I intended to try and find the newly opened open access path that runs along the very top of the dale, but without signage, it never appeared. Mind you, this bit of getting lost had its compensations.
The view to Fin cop, for one.
And this view for another.
Where IS that path??????
We admitted defeat, and dropped back down to the trail, taking a look up to the hotel at Monsal head, where we started from.

At the Water-cum-jolly end of the trail, we posed for a picture, with Cressbrook mill in the background, before dropping down the path towards the dale bottom.
Were we downhearted about not finding the path?
Do we look it??
Cressbrook mill.

Again, my intentions were quite different from what actually happened! I was going to walk what is known as 'the Alpine path' above water-cum-Jolly dale, but for one reason, I wasn't sure exactly where it was, and the other was I felt a bit responsible for the four people I had with me. A slip on that path in this weather really did harbour the possibility of sliding over the edge to your death.
I wanted to enjoy today, so plumped for the path through the dale instead.
This is the old mill pond which used to feed Cressbrook mill.
Shouldn't there be 'seven swans a-swimming'?
This is why I didn't want to take the others on the top path.......that dot on the top is a guy walking where we would have walked - that cliff in front is where you would go over if you fell and slid unchecked!
Anyway, it was nice enough down here.
The new buttress walls in Litton mill yard had some interesting patterns on them with the snow.
And the snow on the berries was just fabulous.

After Water-cum-Jolly, we turned up Tideswell dale, and that's where we lunched.
We were surrounded on all sides by lovely snow 'pictures' in the branches.
I could include many, many shots of this, but these few just sum it up.

The skeleton of walls around Tideswell.
After that, we turned up towards the high meadows. With the winds having nothing to stop them, this was snowdrift country and we started to see some quite deep drifts.

Lovely patterns everywhere, even on the silage bags!
Drifts against the walls.
Making our way down Tansley dale.
A deep drift against a gate

Ok, ok, I 'doctored' this one!!
Looking down Cressbrook dale.
Climbing up to the top of Cressbrook.
I wouldn't have believed it could get any better than Tideswell dale, but this really was the 'bees knees'!

Carefully making our way down the virgin snow path.
Sue gets a shower of fresh, cold snow!
I've taken this picture LOADS of times, but I always think it deserves another shot.
It's just SO picture perfect, I always think.
I just wish there'd been a wisp of wood smoke from one of the chimneys to add that final touch of magic.
We saw some pretty long icicles at the side of the path (which we promptly ate)

Then, with the light fading, but noticeably later now, we arrived back to the newly-painted Monsal head hotel for a well-earned pint.
We'd walked just over ten miles, with just over 2,000 feet of ascent/descent.
We left the icicles on the table, looking like frozen candles.
A short video from a snowy Derbyshire

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