Thursday, 2 June 2011

Come with me, for there are jewels in the green and something new for us to explore.

An old familiar trail this; one we have walked in all weathers and seasons.  It is a popular walk, busy with old and young, fast and slow.  We have traversed sections of it with our boys over the years; now they are big enough to scramble the banks and trees by themselves.  The Monsal Trail runs along the old Bakewell rail line, it is straight and good under foot, a lovely walk for children.

Today we will start at Hassop station, This has changed over the years, from the tatty-ish but successful bookshop to the smart cafe you see here.  It would seem that knights stop for tea here, although this young squire had only a dustbin lid to defend himself from the dangers of the road.

After stopping for fortifications we set out on the adventure ahead; for this time we knew we would tread somewhere new, somewhere that would fulfill the childhood ambition of one of our party!
Along the trails edge is a carpet of green: nettles, burdock, dock and cow parsley grasses of varying hue.

Nestled in the greens are jewels to be found, delicate blues, gentle purples, brilliant yellows and subtle greens.  Each of these jewels needs to be searched for, there is a treasure trove of vetch, herb robert, campion, wild geranium and others.

There are also treasures to be found away from the mantle of green that covers the ground.  Up the sides of the cuttings are the giant ash and oak that shade the traveller, providing the weary with a restful shadow to cut out the sun.  Under the grown trees are the remains of others, long gone but still leaving a place for the living to grow.

And so we ambled and rambled along the way, enjoying the sights and sounds, in the company of good friends.  But then....

....the object of our journey, the reason we had come:

The Headstone tunnel.  Closed since the days of Mr Beeching, this tunnel has long been on Tim's list of places to explore.  For years it has been too dangerous to walk through.  As a boy he and his brother played along the trail, climbing, running, exploring; once again he was able to go through.

(NB: edit, I have had a telling off, the Midland Central line was closed by Beeching, the tunnel was walkable until Tim's teenage.  Then the cutting at the entrance became unsafe so it was closed.  That will teach me to get my facts straight)
Along the walls are the years of soot from steam trains; what journeys they must have been?  The tunnel curves so that you cannot see light in front, until a greenish glow starts to creep along the walls.
It is an exciting walk, with side alcoves to explore and echoes to be heard. 
And at the journey's end:

The spectacular views over the edge of the viaduct.

So with the quest fulfilled, one happy husband and his merry band turned towards the sun and wended their merry way home.

And when they got home?  well that is another story.


  1. Love this little journey! Also I really enjoyed the musical pieces you have posted. Martha and the Muffins were marvelous! And.... I just adore your illustrations. Really do.... your rabbits are so full of movement and life. I'm just heading out to my drawing class. Working on a color pencil/pastel of a row of little owls. Not too excited about it yet, but I haven't worked in awhile so maybe I'll get into it today. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  2. Hello Charlotte,

    I had to Google this location . . . delighted to discover that it was in Derbyshire. I have plans to visit there this summer, and will add this walking trail to my list. Did you do the entire eight miles?

    MOST FERVENT THANKS for the spectacular reading list you left on my blog. Shall I say that we are definitely on the same page? I just read The Little White Horse for the first time. LOVED it. I'm interested in your opinion on Skellig. Is it usually successful with your kids? I liked it, but I didn't feel sure about it. I'm just about to read The Graveyard Book. We will definitely read an Ibbotson, but probably The Star of Kazan as several of them have already read the Journey/River Sea one. Have you read Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen? When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead? What do you think of Diana Wynne Jones?

  3. A very enjoyable journey, such a lovely place to go walking. Hope you have a lovely weekend.