A Weekend at Heathy Lea, Derbyshire

January 15th – 17th 2010
It seemed strange driving south for a weekend and it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped – Manchester/Stockport are the M25 and Birmingham of the north! Maybe not quite as bad, but still a crawl. By the time I arrived it was foggy and dark and I missed the track. I also missed the pub up the road to turn round in (I found out why later), but eventually found an icy lane that did the job. Thanks to Charmian and her flashing torch I made it on the second run. As half expected, the hut was freezing, in fact it was colder inside than out. There was plenty of wood for the stove but it wasn’t going to heat the place up any time soon. So we made an early trip to the pub, the Robin Hood up the road. After trudging up slushy snow it all looked suspiciously dark (no wonder I didn’t see it earlier). Maybe it doesn’t open until 7pm, we thought. But no lights came on at 7 and they didn’t answer the phone, so we walked back down the hill and into Baslow. We came across the Wheatsheaf and settled there; an extensive menu though not exactly brilliant food, and Sheila needn’t have travelled quite so far to get her local Ringwood brew, but it was OK (and warm!). Back at the hut the late car had arrived and stoked the fire up.

The forecast for Saturday hadn’t been good, and for once it was right with steady rain. Sheila had a pub walk from Country Walking which we adjusted a bit to take in Bakewell. It was good to walk straight from the hut and into Chatsworth Park. We saw plenty of deer, Sheila choosing to get even closer to them with a slide and a cry “Oh sh*t”, literally. Although a lot of the snow had gone it was still very icy in places. I ended up with a large lump and bruise on my knee after a slip and thud; it was difficult standing up again with ice all around!
Our first pub was in fact a café at Edensor. But it does do very good coffee. The last bit of the walk into Bakewell was down a steep path that had turned into a raging stream from the snow melt. By the end of the day a few people had wet feet. I think we came to the conclusion that leather is best when walking in snow or wading through water. Our second pub was also a café, in Bakewell (Adrian W, you must be wondering what’s become of us all!). Before leaving the town Sheila, Charmian and Chris went in search of traditional Bakewell pudding, which is much nicer than Mr Kipling’s version. Well done to whoever carried it back in one piece. Back up the hill and this time with the promise of a pub at Pilsley. But maybe the walk was written for summer months as the pub wasn’t open on a winter afternoon. On to Baslow and, still daylight, we finally made it to a pub. Good beer but no ambience so we decided not to go back there later. After an 8-mile walk we still managed to race up the hill to the hot showers. Oops, sorry, confusing it with another weekend. We huddled round the fire and one by one braved the cold to get changed. Another evening at the Wheatsheaf and then back for Bakewell pudding and custard.

I headed back north the next morning. Actually I went south first as I got totally lost around Stockport and Manchester and ended up at junction 20 of the M6 instead of 30. I gather most people walked both White Edge and Froggat Edge. A good walk I remember from a previous trip. I hope the weather improved; the promised sun did seem to be heading your way when I passed it and kicked it in the right direction.
A nice hut but small (not sure how it’s supposed to sleep 12) and cold, maybe better for warmer months. But at least you don’t have to shout at the outside toilet to activate the light any more!

Alison – January 2010

Some words about Sunday ….

Sunday dawned (eventually) to reveal a cold and damp morning in place of
the promised sunshine. Alison headed off home, Steve vanished to go
walking with some locally based friends and Shelia decided to stay local
to the hut.

The rest of us headed off through the fast melting snow to the path
behind the Robin Hood for the short climb through the woods to Birchen
Edge. The end of the edge was marked by the slightly disappointing
Nelson’s Monument. Although not marked on the map there was a clear path
heading North towards the A621. Unfortunately it included crossing a
bog, so by the time we reached the road there was much muttering about
leaking boots and dust bins.

>From the road the path continued across the moor, then another climb
through deeper snow and the increasings cutting breeze up to White Edge.
Traversing the edge we cowered in the partial shelter of some rocks for
an early lunch, then turned left at the end to head down hill towards
the Grouse Inn. On the way down a helicopter passed low overhead and the
local mountain rescue team and an ambulance had turned up. We learned
later that someone had fractured an ankle.

>From the inn there was a short road walk, then the path headed along
Froggatt Edge back towards our start point. Although lower than White
Edge, Froggatt has much better views over the valley and the rock
formations are more distinct and interesting. The sun had come out as
well, giving a really pleasant afternoon. We had a short stop to watch a
climber playing on one of the boulders, then along the edge to the
gently descending path back towards Baslow and the hut.

We quickly polished off the remaining Bakewell pudding and biscuits,
packed the cars and headed off home.

Geoff C – January 2010

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