5 am alarms are not ones I relish. And starting walking at 5.30 was not what I had planned when I first considered this trek. But needs must. The hottest day on record was forecast, and I needed to walk 10 or 11 miles. Given it was expected to be 31 degrees by 10 am there was no option but to get started at silly o’clock. The sun looked pretty lovely though.
It seems to be almost normal now to make a wrong turning early on in the day. Maybe it’s before my brain gets in gear. I misread where a footpath was placed and had to back track a distance before I’d even left Rocester. And then the correct footpath was overgrown. It’s most invigorating to walk through waist high brambles and nettles while in shorts. The brambles brought the first blood of the walk, and the nettles led to electric shock like tingling for the rest of the day.
A new trail today, the Limestone Way. This runs from Rocester for 46 miles into the White Peak area of the Peak District in Derbyshire. I was on it for a short period today, as I’d replanned the walk to include more road. Although I don’t especially enjoy walking on road, after getting so hot yesterday I wanted to be near a possibility of David coming to rescue me if necessary. Him being here for this very difficult section with the heat has been completely invaluable, I question how I’d have managed without him.
But the morning started off road, following the trail along the river Dove. This initial three miles or so was a delight. The ground was easy to walk on, the sheep were chatting to me as I passed, the birds were in full throated song and the river pottered along beside me. This gentle morning made me feel so lucky to be doing my walk, and fortunate that my leg is just about holding up and that I therefore could enjoy the experience.
After Ellastone I took to the road. This appeared to be a quiet one according to the map, but sadly did not turn out to be the case. It seemed to be used as a rat run for fast cars and big lorries. Not continuously, but enough to keep me focused. It required concentration to watch where things were approaching and be ready to wait in the verge. About 3 miles, maybe a bit more, a less than enjoyable contrast to the beginning of the day. Things improved after Mayfield, thank goodness. Maybe it was the relief of getting past that section without incident, but I found the war memorial in the village very moving. The names were discreetly placed in a garden in front of a row of houses. Perhaps those remembered had lived there.
Some much quieter road walking followed, including a section through parkland by Okeover Hall. The sheep had more sense than me, lying down quietly in the shade.
Okeover hall is a stately home owned by the Okeover family who have lived there since William Rufus. The barriers made it very clear it was not open to the likes of me.
I found it quite extraordinary to go past a marker indicating that I was now in the Peak District. Of course I knew that’s where I was, but it felt almost impossible that I’ve come so far. The Peak District feels very much like the North to me. And that’s a long way away, and I’ve walked there. Generally I just get up each day and do the day’s walk and then plan the next, as opposed to looking at the overview. The marker nudged me to think about how much I’ve done already.
I wouldn’t have needed the sign to tell me that things are different now. There are increasingly undulating hills, the houses are in grey stone as opposed to the red brick or ochre stone of the recent Midlands. And the accent is changing almost daily. Very noticeable is the change in the stiles. This area is big on pinch gates, with large boulders placed so that animals can’t get through, but at an angle so that in theory humans can. I made something of a meal of these whilst wearing the rucksack.
A short and very welcome off road section before calling it a day in Tissington. I’d hoped to go a couple of miles further, but I was hot and tired and having the luxury of David to pick me up meant that I could leave the rest for tomorrow. Tissington is another village owned by a big house. It’s very attractive, with the Manor House particularly impressive. It has a number of wells still extant, and according to the information board the villagers enjoy dressing the wells for a week every year. Got to get your fun somehow.
David was there to meet me as I arrived. He’s had to get up early too, and has had to do a lot of hanging about and driving, all to support me.
All the walking for the day was done by 9.30 am. We celebrated by going to Ashbourne for breakfast, where I enjoyed but failed to eat all of a cheesy Staffordshire oatcake. My eating is still a bit unpredictable, my appetite tends to improve as the day goes on, but whilst I’m walking, and straight afterwards it’s hard to get anything in apart from liquid.
The rest of the day was spent trying to avoid the heat by having excursions in our wonderfully air conditioned electric car. We enjoyed the eponymous Bakewell pudding (same ingredients as the tart but a very different vibe). Then it was admin, washing, resting my leg, all trying to stay something like cool.
Distance travelled: 11.5 miles
Total ascent: 1430
Calories burned: 1500
Local tipple - Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde ale
Dinner at The Sycamore, Parwich. Huge portions.
Cod monroe with veg
Video of the day
Number of pairs of sunglasses now lost since starting: 2