My dear friend Emma and I have been meeting nearly every week since September for tennis, tea and a chat with prayer and, on one memorable day last January, decided to take our exercise outdoors, in nearby Derbyshire. We enjoyed a vigorous day-long hike (here they call it a "walk") along Froggat Edge, and since Emma and her husband are about to move to New Zealand, we thought we'd explore the Peak District one more time. We also thought it'd be a refreshing experience to visit in the summer this time!
It was a lovely day and even bordered on hot (I'd wager temperatures reached somewhere near 80 degrees) and it got very warm when the sun was out as we climbed steep hills. This time, Em and I drove to the Upper Derwent Valley, in the northern part of the Peak District, among what's known as the Dark Peak. No, it's not the home of the Dark Lord (my first guess) and is, in fact, not even one peak, but a series of rolling moorlands with cliff edges. With help from a friendly National Peak District park officer at Fairholmes Visitor Centre (where we parked, north of Bamford and the A57), we crafted an 8-mile hike with plenty of ups, downs, sweeping views and even a stroll through meadows and along the reservoir. It took us four hours with two short breaks for lunch and tea.
I'll let these photos with captions tell the rest of the story.
We didn't have a well-marked path (a detailed map is a must while walking on England's public footpaths) and managed to get a bit turned around during the early climb up these hills. But as the ranger instructed, we just kept on going up.
After wandering about the tamer hills a bit, we finally found our way onto the main path leading along the moor. Emma and I discovered that the moor in July looks pretty much like the moor in January (with the exception of a few wildflowers).
After a brief stop at Lost Lad mound, where there is one of those circular viewfinder things telling you what you're looking at but the name of which escapes me (sorry, it's been a long day of hiking and I am very tired!), we trekked on to Back Tor. This is the highest part of the Derwent Edge, with an altitude of about 1,500. It was about 600 feet at the dam and the climb up was a very steep trek that came all at once.
After walking along the Derwent Edge for about an hour, looking out over the moors and the reservoir and woods far below, Emma and I stopped for that very English tradition: a cup of tea. She and her husband Ade received the wonderful wedding gift of a tea thermos. It's like a coffee thermos except it has a special screw-on compartment at the bottom for keeping the tea bags in. We brought a little container of milk, too, so we could drink our tea in style at the top of the world. It went just right with a slightly melted bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate.
It was, in the immortal words of Wallace and Gromit, a grand day out. And now I eagerly drag my weary bones to bed.