Walking has really taken over of late. Other interests have been put to one side if you like! Walking 2 or 3 miles early in the morning before work to lose some weight had had a positive affect, and the pounds were coming off. But I needed something a little longer! It had been years since I had walked any real distance and I needed to see whether my fitness had improve enough for me to be able to complete one. I needed a double figure route!
I spent a few days debating with myself on where to go, It had to be local and needed to be familiar, I didn’t want to spend time perusing over the map. So, finally on a foggy day in the middle of November I drove up to Middleton Top on the High Peak Trail, my chosen starting point for this epic wander.
I could not have picked a better day for it! Well I could actually; greeted by thick fog this was not going to be a day of scenic viewing me thinks. At a little after 8.00pm the trail shrouded in fog presented an ominous appearance, in an almost eerie silence. Well I shall not be on the trail for long! After leaving the car I head first to Hopton tunnel, its gaping entrance looking a little dark and foreboding in the gloom. but the tunnel is short and in no time I am approaching Hopton Incline.
Like all of the inclines on the trail, when this served as a railway trains were split and pulled up the slope a few wagons at a time by static steam-engines. Later though Hopton incline was modified to allow locomotives to make the 1:14 slope under their own steam; becoming the country’s steepest adhesion-worked railway incline.
At the top of the incline I continue on past the the old station house and through the gate, at the crossing I turn immediately left and cross the road. In a matter of a few yards I ascend the the stone steps in the wall giving me access to Carsington Pastures. The Pastures recently took their place in the 21st century when a number of wind turbines were installed. On this day though, due to the thick fog I was completely oblivious to their existence; not until a friend at work later asked me if I’d seen them and viewing the video afterwards did I realise I had walked within metres of them, in fact on the video you can just see the rotor blade in the fog, and hear the humming noise!
The footpath skirts the edge of the field close to a dry-stone wall, about halfway along this path we come to the lone rock formation that is Kings Chair. A little further on we reach Doglow Wood; with the wall in front of us we take a right turn and follow the path around one or two spoil heaps, a left over reminder of the lead mining industry. On a clear day be sure to stop when you crest the hill, with Carsington village nicely nestled below, the view I think would be quite invigorating! Today though with the fog down I am left with my imagination instead.
Steps cut into the earth form the path, which meanders down the steep slope to Carsington village. Keep an eye open for the little gate out of the field it is a concealed around the left hand side of a house, and going through it feels like you are stepping into their front garden.
Carsington village has a long history including Roman occupation, no doubt taking advantage of the lead resource. A Roman settlement was found close by but now lies beneath Carsington Water reservoir. The village is worthy of a little exploration in its self, but this walk we are leaving by the shortest route to the junction with the B5035 Ashbourne road, and crossing directly brings us to Sheep Wash car park and the start of our anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Carsington Water.
The reservoir opened in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II is the ninth largest in England. It boasts a visitors centre, cafes, shops, a watersports centre and Sailing Club. Bikes can be hired or you can walk the well graded circular path. Numerous bird-hides exist for the bird-watcher, and the reservoir is home to a large variety of birdlife, both resident and visitors!
Our anti-clockwise route takes us first past the one Quadrant towers that is still left, used by the R.A.F. in the 1940’s to plot bomb drops. Two existed then but sadly the second one was demolished when the reservoir was built. You can climb the tower to gain a view across the water. Leaving the tower our next stop is the Visitors Centre for a cuppa and a snack before heading out across the dam wall at the head of the reservoir.
An undulating path around the eastern side of the reservoir passes through a mixture of fields and woodland, and some open high spots give way to views across the water, and with the fog having lifted a little our route from Carsington Pastures can be seen clearly. Even the wind turbines do not look overtly out of place in the landscape. A few autumn colours remain, the last of the leaves still hang from their branches, a mixture of orange and yellow, a little reluctant perhaps to give in to the inevitable
At the northern tip of the reservoir we leave the path and cross the B5035 once again and head into Hopton, but only briefly before entering fields once more. The climb up the hill gets the heart pumping and the calves burning once more. More signs of a lead-mining past litter the fields before levelling out. Several more open fields are negotiated before crossing the Longcliffe road. Then its one final uphill push back back to the car park at Middleton Top.
Well I managed it; just a little over 12 miles! The feeling of accomplishment was great even with the aching muscles. I think the walking bug has bit once more, I wonder where my next walk will take me?
You can view a map of my route below.