The Peveril of the Peak is situated in prime position for an excursion to Dovedale; all it takes is a short walk first up the hill towards Thorpe Cloud and then down again to the river and world-famous stepping stones.
Our HF leader Tessa told us that on a good day (and it was a very good day) those stepping stones gather quite a crowd, counting up to a million visitors a year (what?!).
What I didn't grasp immediately was that those visitors on the whole drive their cars to the nearest carpark, walk down to the steps, walk across the steps and back again, and depart. So my fears of having to cope with an almighty foot traffic jam along the river were unnecessary.
Mind you, when I saw those steps, my unconscious musical brain began to sing "Is that all there is? Is that all there is? If that's all there is my friend..." Not very spectacular, are they? 1,000,000 a year???
Makes you look at the Great British Public with different eyes, doesn't it? Rather sweet, really.
What was also sweet, was the hulk of a man carrying his enormous Husky across, shouting "e's afraid of the water!" all the way. I wasn't fast enough on the draw of my iPhone, otherwise I would have photographic proof for you. Golly, poor dog, that water was at least 3 inches deep!
But none too soon we rambled along the river bank, and left all steps steppers far behind. And I adored it! What a pretty, friendly river the Dove is. The footpath was flat enough in most places to walk with eyes on the scenery (instead of constantly watching your feet)and the pace was more relaxed on this walk, so I could leisurely take photographs and chat to my fellow ramblers.
And those limestone cliffs took my breath away (in a good way this time, no hyperventilation going on thank you very much).
There were natural caves*, and a little peak called Lover's Leap where some unfortunate young woman in Napoleon's day had tried to throw herself off but failed, and lived to tell the tale.
*Tessa told us of the Prehistoric bones found in the cave in the photo below, and of the mystery about the Roman coins also found there, which pre-dated the invasion of the Romans.
Hey, no mystery to me: the Romans simply traded with the Celts before they invaded, in fact that probably was the reason they invaded in the first place, they wanted the tin and lead mines for themselves - elementary my dear. You can post me the honorary seat in Oxbridge post haste and I'll pack my bags to come!
Just to put things into perspective for you, the sprightly man in red on the right is 81 years old. Neil was fitter than me. Just saying.
We followed the Dove upstream for a while towards a small village called Milldale, passing stunning rock formations along the way.
Well, to me anyway, since the highest rock in my neighbourhood measures 2 cm.
Milldale has the much needed toilets. Perhaps I should explain the concept of 'a comfort stop' to you first?
Us blunt Wetlanders are used to speaking our mind in all situations, so I would say "I need a wee" whenever...right? And have been known to drop down wherever as well. When a woman needs to go, she needs to go...
Not so in civilised Derbyshire! Neil explained the comfort stop to me and it had nothing to do with having a beer (as I had hoped!). Obviously I needed a comfort stop. Behind a conveniently placed limestone rock. But the rest of the women all held out until Milldale. Good for them!
The gorgeous Milldale packhorse bridge (Viator bridge)with the toilet building on the other side.
Milldale is not only an attractive village, it has the added bonus of Polly's Café. Polly sells delicious cakes and ice-cream as well as soup, coffee and tea out of her tiny front room.
From Milldale we ascended (steeply!!!) to the footpath on top of the hill. And I am chuffed to be able to tell you that this time I was winded but fine.
If you are a rambler yourself you already know this, but it is greatly satisfying to reach the top of a steep climb!
The footpaths back to the Peveril of the Peak led us through sheep pastures, and sometimes cow pastures as well. Climbing all those limestone walls was sometimes hilarious, as the styles definitely were built pre-obesity times. Someone in our group re-named them Weight Watcher Styles.
This signpost made me laugh: we did climb the walls all week, and so do the other ramblers. 'Please use the steps and styles provided' would be a better one!
It was a beautiful ramble, I enjoyed it.
It was a 7 mile walk (11 km) with 600 feet (180 m) ascent, 19.076 steps for me, in sunny weather with 22 degrees C.
You can find Polly's on Millway Lane 2, Milldale.
Want to ramble with me some more? I will be uploading a new hike in this series soon.