Sunday, 6 June 2010

Ilam, Manifold Valley and Waterfall

Big lad’s South Peak District yomp.

Despite having got away for the Bank Holiday Monday, I booked Wednesday and Thursday off to go out for a walk, knowing it would be far quieter ( although the ankle biters are loose, so its perhaps half term ) and statistically better weather.

I wanted to start in Ilam, but there are only two buses during the week, one from Ashbourne at 07.30, the second in mid afternoon – both utterly useless to me, although on a Thursday I could get there for lunchtime, but that was too late.

Instead I opted to start in Thorpe, which I got to by taking a train to Derby, a bus to Ashbourne and barely making the connection for the 442. Two hours 25 minutes after leaving my house I was at the Dog and partridge at Thorpe, not bad going considering the changes and mileage covered.

I walked through the village in hazy sunshine before waling down the steep hill into Ilam. I was going to follow the road to Rushley bridge and up to Throwley hall, then head into the Manifold valley, but the road looked an awful long way round, so I opted to find my way across the back of the hall park and up to Rushley, which I managed in spite of some laughable footpath signing, namely that there was none, and there being no visible path.

At Rushley I found a path up through Musden woods, a small rocky wooded dale thronged with endless wild garlic. Despite failing to find an imaginary diagonal path up to Slade House, I escaped onto a road at the edge of Calton and then took a path to the edge of the valley, and followed it to join the Manifold track.

I didn’t stay on it long, as I was soon at Swanlee bridge, following another virtually and then actually invisible path to the farm, before reaching Pitchens farm and heading over the hill ( on a path which was marked but very difficult to see ) on to the lane to Waterfall.

I had hoped to stop for a pint or two in the Red Lion, but alas the sign that greeted me before I turned for the pub informed me that they opened at 18.30 – still, at least they advertise their hours, and I should really have phoned ahead.

Thirsty in the heat after my slog, I headed into Waterhouses, where I found the George on the main road also closed, but did not spot any opening times. I also contrived to miss the bus when it seemed easier to have caught it, before walking past the closed down Old Crown Hotel. At least the shop was open….

I then decided to simply walk along the main road for a bit in the hope of happening upon a likely dreadful, but nevertheless open, roadside establishment, alas the footpath soon disappears and I took a ludicrously steep left hand lane towards Calton. Having wandered off the map I then tried to follow a footpath parallel to the road, but at the very edge of my map I noticed I was near Calton so tried to find another disappearing footpath into the village, which I eventually managed, with some nimble gate clambering.

I headed out of the village and stopped for directions having spotted a bloke doing some work, who not only pointed me towards the main road and a bus stop, but also kindly refilled my drinks bottle, which was much appreciated.

I reached Calton Moor Cross Roads with yonks to spare, so sat on a wall opposite the bus stop on the other side and waited for the bus to hopefully pull into the gateway I was sat next to, which it did, nearly an hour later.

Once in Ashbourne I figured I deserved a pint, so had a Pedigree at £2.85 in the white hart, which was a well kept beer, which lasted all of 5 minutes. I moved onto the Green man and had some absolutely brilliant Blue Monkey BG Tips, which was possibly 5.0% but went down like pop.

Having steadied the ship somewhat with one of their own Leatherbritches Dr Johnsons, I had more BG Tips and a meal, before having a dessert – which was a third BG Tips. I then had to fill in 2 and half hours without getting drunk, which isn’t easy at 20.00 in Ashbourne.

Lovely as the town is, its pubs and restaurants only after about 18.00, so I opted to try some new ones, having a half each time to try and remain sober.

My first stop was the Market Tavern, a pub just past the Green man that looks a little like a shop, and has two old fashioned upstairs rooms, and a trad bar room as you enter sporting quite a few handpumps. Here I had a half of a Marston’s beer that was about 3.4%, which seemed quite apt given my intended long wait for the bus.

I didn’t want to be rushing around, but I needn’t have worried about that, since I was aching and tired from the yomp. I went next to the George at the top of the square, where I had an enjoyable half of Burtonwood top hat; whoever it is brews that these days.

I then had a chat an a couple of halves of Bass in the vaults, before trying to find a pub past the bus station, which I did, but I can’t recall its name, and besides it was closed until mid June for a refurb. I returned to the main road, for some reason I didn’t go in the Horns, even though they always used to sell real ale, instead heading to one of the pubs on Dig Street near Somerfield, where I had a half of Pedigree.

My final Ashbourne pub was the Station hotel which also had bass on, so I supped it outside in the warm evening air, before heading for the bus back to Derby.

My final stop overall was the Station, where I had a couple of absolutely excellent bass from the jug, in the immaculate and relaxed surroundings that the Station provides.

All in all, I had some stunning beer and tried some new pubs, and got lost about 3 times, but it was a brilliant day out – I will now have to do it again with a companion, and no get lost (and go on a Saturday when the red Lion is open).

Wee Beefy.