Blue skies, wispy white clouds and hot, hot sun – it’s been an absolutely wonderful bank holiday weekend and it feels like the final kiss of summer. The last few days to enjoy the feel of sun on skin, grass underfoot as you wander around without any shoes on, feet hardened by endless weeks of summer sandals and nothing else. A final jolly before the weather starts to turn if you will, before the nights draw in and endless months of layers are upon you. The perfect time to book a weekend away as it turned out.
We’ve only been to the Derbyshire Dales once before and it was decided that it was time to go again. We found a little cottage called The Stables, near to the Manifold Valley trail. Packed up the absolute bare essentials and hit the road on Friday to be greeted by endless blue skies and soaring temperatures.
Was a 5.5 mile walk the best choice in such weather? Possibly not.
Did it often make me grumpy and bordering on a little bit tearful? Yes it absolutely did.
Was it worth it? Totally!
The guidebook was not always that easy to follow – veer left and then right across this field – and there were easily about 25 stiles on the route which is all fine if you have two legs but when one of you is a 4 legged, big yellow dog…it was…interesting shall we say. By the end of it he was pretty clever at knowing which ones he could scale easily and even found a solution through a tiny patch of barbed wire fencing at one point. I mean, clearly he’s a genius! I jest, I jest, but give him his due, despite wearing his giant fur coat and aforementioned stiles, he totally nailed it. In 30 degree heat. Not for the faint-hearted my friends, or indeed people who feel a bit emotional *chuckles*
If you’ve not ventured on to it before, the Manifold Valley is well worth it. You can walk, cycle, and even drive along quite a lot of it and it is honestly delightful. Wandering along besides bubbling streams, through old railway tunnels that do excellent echoes and a very easy path, there’s lots of different options for where and when you can pick it up.
It’s definitely worth pointing out that the route we were on was not idyllic the whole way and definitely included some very deep patches of mud, questionable ‘clamber’ over this stile moments and at least 3 jumps across streams that could have ended so much more differently, especially when one of you is prone to falling in any water… ahem … thankfully we all stayed dry (well, the two humans did, the dog obviously jumped in and out of every river, stream and muddy puddle he could find). Having said all of that it also included some delightful scenery, the first act of live music at a beer festival, and the very pretty village of Butterton with its lovely ford which is absolutely worth a trip if you’re ever in the area.
The next day we woke up to more blue skies, even higher temperatures and our departure day home. Short but oh so sweet, we headed to nearby Bakewell to wander by the river, take in some Austrian coffee (as you do) and then started to wind our way back northwards.
As we head into the last few days of August it feels like any sunny days we get now are an added Brucey-bonus. Do we ever truly escape the notion of the school holidays do you think? September will always equal new beginnings, new seasons, new shoes – well, the sandals will have to be put away eventually. But until then I’m drinking it all up, soaking it in and gorging myself on those rays.
Until next time…