I have been in the uk now for 6 days visiting my children and grandchildren. I have a few days off before continuing my visits and am spending it at Tideswell, staying at Rockingham Lodge. Tideswell is an ancient settlement, where Bronze Age remains have been found. It was originally called Tidiwall, relating to an enclosure created by the Saxon chief Tidi.
Today, I walked via a back road to the edge of Litton, along a lane taking me to the heights of Litton Edge from where you can see views of Longstone Edge in the east and towards Buxton and the dales in the opposite direction – that is assuming you don’t get caught in a heavy downpour as I did, drowning out all distant views.
It’s worth taking a look at the organisation of the fields. The walls are located according to old farming practices and follow the routes of the plough drawn by oxen. They couldn’t turn easily at the end of the field ( rather like Jeremy Clarkson, if you’ve seen his farming programme), so developed specific patterns in the landscape, which were enclosed by walls in the Middle Ages.
At least I didn’t have thunder and lightning which we had for a couple of days in Matlock. As I set out, it did look threatening over Bill’s mother and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would have to don my rainwear.
I had never been on Litton Edge though I have been to Litton in the past. When I came off the sheep meadow I joined a lane to the left that would take me to the start of Cressbrook Dale. The Derbyshire Dales are always a surprise, being tucked in steep crevices in the otherwise relatively flat terrain. They began as a tropical lagoon 350 million years ago, with reefs, containing lots and lots of aquatic species, which died and lay embedded in the mud in the seas. Over these millions of years, the force of the underwater pressure created the limestone we see today.
Cressbrook Dale is very pleasant, and a walk you could easily take carrying your baby in a papoose or dragging your reluctant toddlers along the path. It is grassy and flat, albeit muddy in places. If you expect to see water in this dale you may be disappointed. There was certainly none in sight today, as it drains through the limestone until it hits the clay below. Only when the water table rises will dry stream become a wet domain.
It starts with open land engulfed by steep cliffs, looking very attractive, and Peter’s Stone sticks out like a sore thumb, enticing you to go and visit it. I was not tempted and stayed on the lower routes which soon after became a wooded valley, criss crossing through the dale, with birds singing in the trees.
If you want just a short walk, you can turn off and up Tansley Dale which would take you back to Litton.
Cressbrook Dale merges into Ravensdale at Ravensdale Cottages, and from here there is no direct route beside the non existent stream, although there is evidence of its hidden presence by the stepping stones across the riverbed. However, this particular path goes nowhere, so if you visit the stepping stones you have to return via the same route.
The path continues along a leafy lane until it meets a road, where it is most sensible to turn left, but I continued onward and upward as this appeared to be a pleasant path – and it was… only eventually you end up at the same place as you would have done on the lower route and missed out some pointless ascent.
So, I am now at Cressbrook, close to Home Farm. The footpath follows the River Wye, very much a river with lots of water – and is directed between some houses. There is a higher path if the river path is flooded. Keep right below the cliffs all the way to Litton Mill, via Miller’s Dale. In my mind, I had remembered Litton Mill as being a thriving place with a cafe and places to sit. Whether this is just my faulty memory or whether it has changed in the many years since I have been here, I don’t know, but it really is not an interesting place to walk through and you can’t walk beside the river (if you want to) until you are almost out of the village.
The river walk up to Litton is very pleasant, and today the reflections in the water were just beautiful. Be prepared for mud, there is plenty of it, and there are plenty of birds flitting about the greenery. Much of this area is owned by the Wildlife Trust, so designed to encourage nature to thrive.
As it was I was finishing my walk by going up Tideswell Dale. In many ways, this was my favourite dale of the day, possibly because it had a lot of wild flowers growing on the banks, and the stream seems very happy tumbling gently down the dale. It doesn’t have the steep sided cliffs of other Dale’s but it is just as delightful.
This was a reasonably long walk of 8-9 mile with just under 800 ft of ascent, mostly at the beginning and end. There are endless alternatives for shorter or longer routes.