Monsal Dale

My first trip out with the Rambling and Hillwalking Society did not look promising; it was pouring with rain, it was grey and it was the sort of day where you just want to stay inside, cuddled up in a blanket. But I was so excited to be able to go to the Peak District that I forced myself to brave the weather and headed off for the bus stop.

Thankfully, once we arrived at our starting point, the rain seemed to have passed on and we could enjoy our walk in dry weather. I must admit that, yes, we were all still wrapped up in waterproofs and jumpers but it’s better to be warm and dry than warm and wet.

I chose to go on Walk Two (there were two different walks being run that week of varying length and difficulty) which looked like it would be fun. It was a 13.7km walk reaching an elevation level of 210m. The short description which led me to choose this specific walk stated that: we would begin with a short gentle stroll, transitioning into a steady descent into Cressbrook Dale before almost immediately leaving as the route presses on towards Litton and the gritstone edge beyond. After walking the length of Litton Edge, we were going to descend into Tideswell Dale, following it all the way round to Litton Mill and the winding Millers Dale. Just short of Cressbrook Mill we would cross the Weir and climb up to join the Monsal Trail. Then we could enjoy a walk through a disused railway tunnel, passing beneath Monsal Head before circling around to the summit of Monsal Head via Little Longstone. It sounded fantastic!

There was some beautiful scenery on the walk; valleys of green grass and bushes and small sections of stone and rock dominated the beginning of the walk, providing many photo opportunities and breathtaking views. As we emerged onto the flatter landscape at the top of the climb there were dozens of stone walls littering the fields which were interspersed with stone cottages and farmsteads. It was a picturesque landscape, like one you would see on a village or countryside calendar. The weak sunlight which was breaking through the clouds made the grass shimmer slightly as the light refracted in the drops of rain sitting there.

The River Wye was also stunning; it raced along its course and glittered in the sunlight, which gradually grew stronger as the day progressed. The sense of being surrounded by trees and water was very therapeutic and relaxing, giving a short time of inner peace and making me feel thankful that I was there, in the Peak District, experiencing such wonderful elements of nature. Despite the muddy path, and hundreds of puddles, our progress was quick and everyone was enjoying themselves. The views from the top of the bridge, just before entering the disused railway tunnel, which looked over the river and deep valleys were amazing.

Seeing nature in this way, being able to walk through it and alongside it, really made it come alive. It encourages you to explore the countryside and to go rambling as often as you can, although with the busyness of life it seems like there is little time to do so.

In the modern world, where many crave the bright city lights and built-up urban districts, it seems that nature is losing its appeal but the fact that gems such as the Peak District still exist, and are popular with young and old alike, highlights that nature is still valued. And I believe it will always have a hold on our hearts.

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