It’s always great when your group arrive late at night to the destination for your walking that weekend as the morning brings a wonderful surprise when they open the curtains to see the truly stunning landscape in front of them and the Peak District did not disappoint.
Friday morning also brought us clear blue skies with a crisp autumnal nip in the air as we packed our bags and set off for a wee walk up the famous Mam Tor.
Measuring a respectable 517 metres, Mam Tor sits in the High Peak of the area and even in the cold November weather provided us with stunning vistas across the National Park with the Edale valley nestled below.
After a chilly bimble up to the summit our group drunk in the surroundings around them before agreeing we had all earned some liquid refreshment at the famous Old Nags Head, start of the famous Pennine Way, in Edale so we could discuss our planned walk for Sunday.
For this trip our Marketing Director, Jo, insisted we must see more of the local area than just the Peak District National Park, she’d arranged a trip to Chatsworth for us all – it is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and put simply is stunning! Whilst we had an opportunity to tour the impressive ‘house’ (we lost count of the rooms after 20) unsurprisingly the real beauty of the place lay in its gardens and outlying landscape. You could lose yourself there for hours by exploring the grounds both on the Broad Walk (which provides impressive of the views of the house set against its natural surroundings) as well long walks around the park itself.
We even managed a quick team building activity with our group, myself and Jo when we tested our navigational skills in the Chatsworth maze, resulting in a muddy but laughing group when we emerged after a race to the centre!
As Sunday beckoned we finalised the details of our walk, our chosen area being the splendid Monsal Dale. Having been fortunate enough to bring many groups of young people here in the past it was great to finally experience the area without the distraction that supervising groups can sometimes bring!
Initially there is a sense of loss to a bygone age of steam travel and industry as you take in your surroundings descending the Monsal Trail steps but there is also something truly magical about walking in the footsteps of British industrial history – from traversing along the Monsal Railway through the Cressbrook and Litton tunnels to seeing the newly regenerated buildings that once housed the thriving textile mills of the late 19th century (the mills in question here eventually closed down in 1965) is a humbling experience.
Keen to get off the beaten track I guided the group up and out of the Dale – this gave me a great opportunity to educate them further about the ‘Right to Roam’ and the culturally significant act of mass trespass in 1932 on the nearby Kinder Scout mountain.
I often feel extremely lucky to do a job that I am so passionate about and this in part is due to the actions of the protesters that day who fought and won the right for all of us to roam more freely across the beautiful British countryside.
After passing local farms and what are now boutique holiday cottages, we descended back into the Dale to start the final leg of our journey up the River Wye passing the spectacular Weir and seeing the true engineering brilliance of the Viaduct above us.
An indecent amount of muddy steps later we were back at our start point of Monsal Head, red faced but invigorated by all we had seen and learnt.
PHOTO: Monsal Viaduct
I don’t think I will ever tire of the landscapes our little island has to offer us and the Peak District provides some of those views whether it’s summer or autumn.
As we arrived and left this magnificent place I couldn’t help humming Jerusalem to myself as the beauty of the Derbyshire countryside, once again, enchanted me.