Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Hike 16 - Errwood Reservoir and surroundings

A burst fish tank this morning distracted me (understatement of the year!), but now that the fish have been rescued and the floor has been mopped, it is time to tell you about day 4 of my 6 day ramble around Derbyshire. 

Three glorious sunny days and temperatures above 22 degrees had not prepared me for the start of my 4th hike.

The bus took us to the Cheshire's Cat and Fiddle Inn,the second highest pub in England and this morning easily the one with the chilliest car park. It was a rush to get the waterproofs on and by the time we started walking the thinnest ladies amongst us were shaking with cold.
Lucky for us we started out with a gradual descent towards the river Goyt and with the Errwood Reservoir winking at us when it wasn't obscured by drizzle or downpour.

I not being among the thin ladies I quickly walked myself reasonably warm, so that I could enjoy the wild landscape and lovely gleaming heather. The first part was along a ridge, so it had wonderful views and plenty of gleaming wet limestone walls to climb.

Some of us are real die-hards!

Now, to you this may be a bleak, grey, dull landscape, but to me it was magical.

We ate our lunch on the ruins of Errwood Hall, and shared it with millions of midges who were not deterred by my Dutch anti-bug spray at all. So I wasn't sorry when Rose pressed on, and we descended even further towards the reservoir.

Now, see this little old lady? She unfortunately twisted her knee but kept her British stiff upper lip rigid and didn't say anything.

And what comes down, must unfortunately go up as well...
But to help us along the sun suddenly came out in force and everyone had to shed their waterproofs pronto. We steamed! When we had climbed the first hill, I was rewarded with this view.

The reservoir, right< not myself!
When we were there two things happened: the rain returned and unfortunately the stiff upper lip notwithstanding, the poor lady could not keep up any longer, and Rose had to devise a short cut yet again (glad it wasn't for me this time). Her plan was to phone for a taxi, walk up to the nearest real road and load the lady in and...
No signal.
So we huffed and puffed up to the nearest road in the by now pouring freezing rain(took ages)- no signal.
One of the men suggested stopping the only occupied car we met, in which a lady sat planning to walk her dog. And here is something which never ceases to amaze me: she agreed to take the poor dear to the nearest town - British folk are so helpful! Whilst the lady was helped into the front, two of the other walkers quickly furtively shot into the back seat of the car, where the dog looked on in amazement.
The driver looked rather amazed as well, but she drove off anyway.

And the rest of us plodded along, making our way back to Buxton.
To get there, by GPS, we had to navigate a bog, where the only interesting thing we met, besides sure-footed sheep who baa-ed us continuously (no doubt shouting "Turn back, you fools! You are walking straight into a bog!") was these two lovelies.
I love cats, so this sight sort of distracted me from the black muck seeping into my socks.

All in all it was rather longer and wetter than we had anticipated. But that made my whisky back at the hotel all the sweeter.

Right. The nitty-gritty:
We walked 8 miles (13 km) according to the official route, according to my iPhone step counter rather more, and had 1,000 feet (300 m) of ascent.
The weather was not that friendly: mostly drizzle to rain to half an hour of hot sunshine, 18 degrees in the sunshine.
Buxton has toilets and café facilities in the park, all a bit run down but the tea was good.

Join me on my next ramble? I will take you along the Cromford Canal.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Hike 15 - Haddon Hall

This is the third part of my 6 day ramble around the beautiful Derbyshire tors and valleys.
HF gives their walkers the Mondays off - or is it their walk leaders? Anyway, I was very kindly invited by fellow rambler Neil to visit Tudor-built Haddon Hall near Bakewell.

Haddon Hall is a fortified Medieval manor house, and claims to be 'the most perfect English house to survive from the Middle Ages'.
Picturesque it certainly is, so it has been scouted as one of the great period costume locations for films and has lately featured as Mr. Rochester's home in Jane Eyre.

The great Houses are one of the most wonderful inventions of the British Isles in my opinion. I can remember visiting my very first one when I was 13: Hampton Court, and I was captivated and have been visiting them ever since.

Haddon Hall was first built in the Norman era, and it was extended and extended again during Tudor and Elizabethan eras, making it a fascinating hotchpotch of styles. The terraced gardens are in the care of Arne Maynard, who is a decorated RHS Chelsea gardener, and definitely worth a visit.

Photo by Neil Carruthers

There is something about those uneven paving stones of a great courtyard that makes my heartbeat slow down; for me it is not hard to imagine the people of the past crossing that courtyard carrying their cords of wood for the kitchen fires or baskets of freshly caught trout to be boned on the enormous slabs that serve as working tables, and it has a soothing effect on me. Time passes, without any interference from me and thus it un-stresses.

The video room showed a documentary about a Tudor feast prepared in the kitchens just as it would have been in Tudor times, and I was charmed by the (to me nameless) cook who spoke so enthusiastically about stoking fires until the temperature was just so and who painstakingly put real gold leaf onto a pie meant for the Lord of the Manor.Not to mention skinned a peacock and made it breathe fire...

But videos are little compared to the real thing, and will you just look at the walls of this church? Brought up in Protestant Calvin Holland, where austere church walls are plain boring whitewash, it was amazing to see that in Norman and Tudor times (before the Reformation that is), churches were made pretty by painting the walls with geometrical patterns and (in this case) the Tudor rose.
There was a tomb in this church; kudos to the sculptor.

What struck me that Haddon Hall had rooms that you can call cosy, even by modern standards. The wood panelling and ceilings made it warm (even on that chilly August day)and I could smell the wood smoke from the fire in the banqueting hall all the way up in the rest of the house.
My favorite room was the parlor, from c.1500, with a lovely view on the surrounding hills and gorgeous painted ceilings.

Haddon Hall is proudly called a home, in other words the present Lord and Lady actually live there. Obviously you get nowhere near their quarters and that's as it should be. They have added some pieces of their family's history, some interesting, some (to my eyes) weird. In one of the rooms there is a modern settee, stained and totally out of place. But I liked this study for a formal portrait very much.

When we took our illicit brought lunch into the garden, the sun came out. The gardens are filled with flowers and give you a stunning view over the valley. I will not bore you with the many photos I took of the flowers (visit my Google+ Collections Flowers page if you like, they are there), but this view of the river Wye from the top terrace you must see.

The nitty-gritty:
I walked 4.785 steps around Haddon Hall, and very uneven steps they were! In fact, that's a bit of a thing: if you are not very steady on your feet, you would be wise to take a cane/rollator or make certain you have a steady arm near you. Another thing is that dogs aren't allowed, but assistance dogs are welcome in the hall and grounds.
It has a good restaurant and a nice gift shop in the old stables just outside the gateway.
To get there set your GPS to A6: Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1LA. The entrance fees are 13.50 for an adult, 3.00 for the car and bring-your-own-lunch is forbidden. Well, frowned upon. Well, we were politely but firmly told off about it. We had just finished it anyway...hah!
Next time I'll tell you about a properly exhausting ramble around the Errwood Reservoir. Join me?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Hike 14 - Dovedale, Derbyshire.

On the second day of my 6 day ramble in The Peak District we descended to the River Dove, beloved by both Jane Austen and her heroine Lizzy Bennett.

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.
The nitty-gritty:
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.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Hike 13 - The Edges and Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Well, you prepare (or attempt to) for six months and then all of a sudden the time is there; you travel for 13 hours (car, metro, train #1, train #2, train #3, taxi)to go rambling in The Peak District.

The least said about this journey the better - suffice it to mention that 4 hours next to a kicking three year old on the lap of his mum was not the luxurious experience Eurostar had promised me...

To start this story off, I am the chubby incognito one in the hat close to lovely Tessa, one of our three leaders. Would you believe that bear hung there all through without complaining the once?

I met another Dutch girl in the taxi from Derby (a proper girl, not a middle-aged one like myself)and we were late for cream tea but just in time for the quick ramble around Thorpe Village. Our hotel, Peveril of the Peak, is situated next to Thorpe Cloud. Cloud is an ancient Saxon word meaning 'peak', Tessa explained, and the next photo will show you why those Saxons named this hill thus!

I would have given it another name; the old Dutch "tiet". But never mind that.
Thorpe was small but sweet, with your typical English church and graveyard.

Perhaps I should explain that I have 'a thing' for graveyards. They do not frighten me at all, and I visit them wherever I travel as I always find them very tranquil peaceful havens.

The Peveril turned out to be a somewhat old-fashioned but very friendly hotel with great food. Let no-one ever dare mention to me that English food is awful!Perhaps it kind-a was in the Fifties (-to Nineties), but nowadays it is good to great. 

The next day, up bright and (very) early due to the time difference I had my full English before booting up and boarding the rambler's bus to the Gritstone Edges of Froggatt, Curbar and Baslow.
The names alone made my heart speed up with anticipation! And I wasn't disappointed. The trail along the hill ridge was spectacular (especially for a flat Delta-dweller like myself), with amazing views, blooming heather, huge rock formations and very good company.
As this was my very first organized hike/ramble I didn't quite know what to expect - would I be the odd one out? But the other ramblers turned out to be an extremely friendly bunch.

By the way, my t-shirt reads " You Only Live Once"

After some hours we descended through Chatsworth House park, where it resembled Brighton Beach. Cars spilled over from the carpark into the gardens themselves, somewhat spoiling the view we had of Chatsworth House itself.

I was glad I had visited it before, unspoiled.
From Chatsworth, after lunch underneath a great oak, we had to slog up the hill to Edensor.

Quite a sweet little village, but for me the Gateway to Hyperventilating Hell.
After Edensor we had to climb a series of hills to get to Bakewell,and that 1,300 feet (300 m) ascent almost did me, flat country walker, in. First my head started to pound, then my vision started to waver, I became very short of breath and to top it all our leader Rose set off every time just as I heaved myself up to the others so I didn't get a chance to catch my breath.

In short, I couldn't keep up and was overheating. I panted my distress to another walker, Jane, who took matters in her own hands and shouted towards the front that "the Dutch lady" was in trouble.
By the time Rose had reached me I was kneeling on the grass and almost throwing up. But: I got extra water from the others, some kind man lent me his spare hat (so sorry mate, I have forgotten your name but I will be forever grateful)and Rose decided for my sake to take a short cut to Bakewell through the woods, so I could walk in the shade.
The only snag was that the descend was extremely steep, causing some of the others difficulties in turn...Sorry guys and girls - mea culpa! But it saved me. The hat helped straight away in keeping my head cooler, I got my breath back and the nausea passed to a memory I will not forget in a hurry.

In Bakewell we had 45 minutes to stand in line in the local pub and I bought myself a pint of blissfully cold and sweet cider to get my strength back.

I completed my very first proper Derbyshire ramble by taking a cold shower by choice(another first!)and falling asleep until it was time for our briefing for next day's ramble. 
Hey, I did it! But I was sore the next day...whoa.

The nitty-gritty:
We officially walked 9 miles (14.5 km) which came down to 24.097 steps for me (it certainly felt more than 14.5 km!!) in sunshine, temp. 23 degrees.
The name of the nice hotel I stayed in is The Peveril of the Peak, Thorpe, Dovedale, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 2AW, grid reference SK157505.