Sunday, March 08, 2009

Along the Monsal Trail

Yesterday was bright and sunny as we headed out across the green, patchwork hills under huge bright skies via Ipstones and Longnor towards Miller's Dale. Within an hour we were parking at the car park near the old station and ready to start the walk.



We followed the track, which is the old railway line, for about half an hour before we turned off towards Litton Mill.



We could see the old mill, millworkers cottages and other associated buildings in the valley by the River Wye, as we descended via the twisty path to the bridge which crossed into the village.



The Mill itself has now been converted into appartments, some of them for holiday lets, but you can still get the feeling, if you mentally add in the noise and dusty air, of how it would have looked when it was working. Litton Mill was a cotton mill founded in 1782 by the rather notorious Needham family. There are many tales of long working hours and poor working conditions, especially in the bad days of child labour, at this mill which somewhat discolours your appreciation of the place. How different a world we live in today, I thought, as we were passed by a father and two young girls all dressed up for walking the hills and chattering away to each other. The poor children who came from the east end of London to work in the mill did not have that luxury. Here is a link to the story of one of these children.



We then followed our footsteps back to the trail to continue until we reached the closed tunnel entrance. From the trackways across the hill above the tunnel was a great view of the whole mill complex, including the engine house, where it nestles, so innocent now, in the valley.



We turned back towards Millers Dale and took the footpath down into the village. It was lunchhtime so we stopped at The Anglers Rest for a cheese and salad roll and cup of coffee. It is a lovely, cosy pub and the staff were very helpful and friendly.


After lunch we again traced our footsteps back up to the trail and this time walked back towards the car park, passing the old station and continuing on, past the lime kilns towards the other closed tunnel. Then we went down the steep steps near the viaduct towards the river. There was a group of adventurous young folks abseiling down from the top of the viaduct.


The River which is home to both dippers and water voles was running very rapidly as it made its way through the valley.



We followed the path by the river until it brought us to steps near the main road which led up to the wooded area where paths led us back onto the trail and thence back to the car park. We had bought a parking ticket for four hours and got back about 10 minutes before it was due to run out, so you can imagine how long this walk took including our half hour break at the Anglers Rest. As we entered the car park we felt the first spots of rain, how lucky we were to have had good weather for our walk.

18 comments:

  1. Rosie, that must have been quite a long and beautiful walk. Your photos are so wonderful. I feel like I was there. Thanks for the journey.

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  2. At the same time as you were visiting Exeter.. I was on your walk!! I love your walks..they are so fascinating, as the countryside is so different to where I live.
    ;-)

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  3. Thank you for taking us on your walk. I am visiting the Wye Valley during the Hay on Wye Book Festival week and will retrace your steps. It's lovely to have a specific place to make for when in unknown places - sometimes I just waste so much time looking for them. And the pub food sounds great, Margaret

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  4. Pam, glad you enjoyed the walk:)

    Sal: as they say 'great minds':)

    Margaret - so sorry didn't mean to confuse you - this is the River Wye in Derbyshire - not the Herefordshire one which is the much larger, more famous one - how lucky to be going to the Book Festival I would love to do that:)

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  5. Loved this walk Rosie, thanks. Wish I could walk it for real. x

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  6. Jeannette St.G.8 March 2009 at 18:44

    Sound like you enjoyed your adventure - lovely photos - thank you for sharing!

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  7. It is great to have the history behind the photos. I read the account of life as a child you linked too. It sure puts a diffrent outlook on the place. Thanks for the journey.

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  8. What a lovely walk and what a peaceful place the mill looks - now, in such an idyllic spot. Nice old railway station too, just ripe for renovation, as they say! Quite strange to find any that havent been converted, I should imagine. Thank you for the walk.

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  9. Rosie, how amazing, I have just finished watching a new BBC2 programme, Railway Walks, with Julia Bradbury, and the walk she did was this one, the Monsal Trail. A great programme, made more interesting after having read your account this morning. Do you remember her series Wainwrights Lake Distric walks?

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  10. Are you watching "railway walks"? on BBC 2?

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  11. The Monsal Trail is great isn't it? You were lucky with the weather, it was horrible here from late morning - it takes me about 25 minutes to drive up to Monsal Head from here so we aren't that far away. The weather can be quite different though.

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  12. Have just followed the link - that is a dreadful story. It's hard to believe that even in those days anyone could treat children like that. One thing though, I have to say that I love Derbyshire oatcakes - though maybe I wouldn't be so keen if I had them 3 times a day every day!i

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  13. Rosie and jeanette - glad you enjoyed the walk:)

    Helen and Valeries - yes I did watch the TV programme - I really enjoyed it - we hope to go back and do more of the walk soon.

    Melody and Rowan - it is a sad and sorry tale isn't it? and Rowan how wonderful that you are so close to Monsal Head - we hope to go back soon and walk another stretch of the trail:)

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  14. I love the photo of the man in the trees!! And I love the moss. What a late winter walk today!

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  15. Sigh! What a wonderfully informative and enjoyable walk that was. You're such a great tour guide, Rosie... thanks for taking us along!

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  16. A second comment... followed your link to the stories of the children caught up in the industrial revolution. Knew it was going to be awful, but was even worse than I expected. I can't begin to imagine treating children like that. Dickens would be proud and relieved to know that, in part, his novels helped stop such appalling child labor.

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  17. It's going to be a railway. Look and they now own the track bed

    http://www.peakrail.co.ukalonmain.htm

    Martin

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  18. It's a while ago now, but I too have watched young people abseiling down from the viaduct. I was green with envy :)

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