I have a week off work and aim to get some photography in the bag while I have the chance. Today I decided to head out into the Peak District and go for a hike.
I chose a location that I’ve not visited before, the village of Tideswell. Or, rather, Tideswell would be on my route. I studied my map beforehand and planned a circular path that would take me from Tideswell Dale car-park (about a mile below Tideswell itself), down the dale to the bottom where it meets Miller’s Dale. The route then followed the River Wye up Miller’s Dale until I would head north up Monk’s Dale. At the top, where the dale meets a road, I’d head back east and then cut through the footpaths in the pastures back to Tideswell, and then back to my car.
The hike would be around six miles, albeit with a lot of altitude to lose and gain along the way, including some steep climbs. While not a long hike, I knew that my backpack and tripod would add some weight and make it more strenuous than if I were travelling light. The part I didn’t really factor into my plans was the trail through Monk’s Dale. Whereas the earlier sections of the walk had been on well defined and surfaced tracks, the path through Monk’s Dale is somewhat more basic. For much of the dale it hugs the stream that runs down the valley and is very scenic, but today, after quite a lot of heavy rain, the path was quite slick with surface mud and I had to keep careful watch on my footing. Further up the valley though is where it got more serious…
Here the path enters into a steep-sided section of the dale which is densely wooded. Over time, the limestone cliffs on either side have shed rocks and boulders which litter the valley bottom and the footpath becomes a half-mile endurance test where every step is a potential sprained ankle, broken hip, or worse! My hiking boots have a nice tread that grips well on many surfaces but, as I found out today, not on worn limestone rubble. It probably took me the best part of an hour to traverse this section of the route, the trees all heavily matted with thick coats of almost orange moss, and I was beginning to think I’d actually lost the footpath and was now just clambering over rocks beside the stream bed (luckily, the water that had been flowing further down the valley was no longer in evidence here, presumably taking an unseen subterranean route through the porous limestone).
I was becoming quite hot from the exertion and sweat was dripping down my face and at one point I almost took a tumble, thoughts about how long I might lay there undiscovered if I became incapacitated flashing across my mind. Thankfully, if this had been the place where I took a fall, I’d have been seen as I then noticed a man nearby examining plants in the undergrowth a little further up the path – he was the first, and only, person I saw on this whole section of the walk, the only other evidence of anyone having passed by being a set of someone else’s footprints that I noticed from time to time in the mud. I stopped to catch my breath, wipe the sweat from my brow, and chat with the man for a while. He’s been to a dental appointment that morning and decided, as he was passing on his way home, to take a look at the valley as it was the first time he’d visited in some time. He was able to tell me that I was maybe more than half-way through the difficult stretch (I’d have preferred to be near the end, to be honest :)) and at least reassure me that this was, indeed, still the actual path.
Continuing along the trail, the way began to become a little easier, albeit still with treacherous footing and the occasional fallen tree to clamber over or duck under, and I eventually managed to reach the open field close the the road. While the worst was behind me, the road itself had a punishing camber that really made my thighs put in the work. The remainder of the route took me through a patchwork of pasture fields back over to Tideswell. I eventually reached the village and found a cafe where I bought myself a sandwich and a slice of “farmhouse slice” – a very tasty shortcacke concoction filled with a selection of juicy dried fruits to eat when I got back to the car – my treat for all the effort!.
The remainder of the route was all downhill back to the carpark and it was with a real sigh of relief that I sat back in the car.
I shot a couple of rolls of film through the Yashica Mat 124G, plus several frames of 35mm with my OM-2. As ever with my blog, these will turn up somewhere down the way after I go through my existing rolls (I have a pretty strict, OCD-style, queuing system for publishing photos if you hadn’t noticed! 🙂
Anyway, to keep things on a bit of a related track, here’s another Peak District photo, this one of Over Owler Tor and a different part of the park. These are gritstone rocks and my boots don’t slip on those!
How long would I lay
Undiscovered in the woods
If I took a fall?
Olympus OM-2N, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 & Kodak Tri-X Pan (expired 2003) + orange filter . Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20°.
Taken on 6 April 2021