on Sunday me and Mr P headed out into the Dark Peak for a wander, which in reality, being his first and only my second walk of the year, turned out to be a life threatening slog.
We started in Hathersage at 10.30 and walked to Leadmill Bridge, before setting off towards Brough along the river Derwent, on the path that runs along the side and for some reason is now called a heritage trail. As we walked along admiring the scenery and reflections in the river (gladly espying consistent blue skies ahead) it was pleasantly warm and quiet, and the easy pace meant we could work up slowly to our looming ascent.
As you reach the stepping stones a path heads left up steeply through the fields to the hamlet of Offerton. After an initial promising start we were soon breathless and stopped for a drink at the first stile. The next field took two goes and a further stop. We reached Offerton at a snails pace, only to see our next section ominously towering above us.
We zig zagged up a poor lumpy and tufted path up onto the top of Offerton Moor, by now so acutely aware of our lack of condition that we stopped perhaps 10 times on the way up. Finally, having seen and passed a couple of fake summits, we reached the top and looked back at the tiny thread of blue grey that was the river in the distance.
Crossing the moor we encountered some light drizzle, there were dark clouds amassing to our right over Bradwell direction, and a brisk wind, but this was a necessary companion to cool us down from the climb. We quickly crossed onto Smelting Hill and then took the path right past the edges of Abney and onto Abney moor, where we propped ourselves up out of the wind against a wall for dinner. The scenery and views on the moor were fantastic with the golden tufted grasses and yellow fauna starkly contrasting with the ink black portents of precipitation which were framing the scene. Dark clouds shadowed the edges of the moor on the skyline to provide a stirring scene of joyous contrast.
En route over the moor we found a disturbed burial chamber and a cove, an ancient two stone structure thought to be precisely positioned to frame the winter sun or particular stars. We soon came out in Abney Grange and headed round on the road past the gliding club. We should have cut through Great Hucklow woods but instead I insisted, wrongly, we literally follow the instructions, but eventually we wandered into Great Hucklow in afternoon sunshine to find the Queen Anne Inn heaving.
There had been a christening somewhere near by and the pub was rammed with families in their Sunday best. Despite this unseemly melee, we were served relatively quickly by the harassed but friendly staff, and managed to secure a table outside. I have to point out though, even amidst this sea of people, someone was still selfish and divorced from reality enough to pull up a stool and sit at the bar - this despite the fact that you could barely turn round with your drink to leave. Mind you, it could have been even worse, he could have opted to stand drinking at the bar, thus inconveniencing the bar staff as well as customers.
Anyway, there were two real ales on, Tetley Bitter and Bradfield Farmers brown Cow, which we both had pints of. My last visit had been perhaps 12 or 13 years ago and I had one of the Mansfield Deakins seasonal beers, but a lot has happened since then, and the Brown Cow, recently sampled at the Old Crown Handsworth, is a nice change.
I can't really tell you much about the interior because it was so crowded, but suffice to say, for a circa 15th century inn, its very traditional, with beams and flags and low ceilings, and is probably a fantastic place for a meal.. I will have to go back when its quiet to appreciate it better.
All too soon we were off tracing the path to come out on the main road from Tideswell. It looked like we would come out near the 3 Stags, but after following a clear pattern of signs and substantial if near unassailable stiles, the path simply disappears as you drop into a small dale. With time getting on we left the field by the gate and walked down to the 3 Stags Heads, turning our phones off prior to entering.
Inside they were taking the traditional values to heart and not entertaining modern intrusions like electricity, with no lights in either of the rooms. Once i Had managed to focus and after asking the barman, i realised there were 4 Abbeydale beers on. We had pints of the Deception which was very nice, before i tried a half of the Black Lurcher, a dark 8% beer brewed for the pub. I don't get very often, but every time I do I try this and its either old, tired, sharp and bearable, or its excellent smooth and enjoyable.
Alas this time it was the former, and although I could recognise its classic flavours it was a disappointing drink, although its important to stress that it wasn't off. And just to show us it was a conspiracy of random events, as we struggled out treading on feet and dogs and stubbing our toes on stools, the lights came on.
Our final destination was Litton, about 25 minutes walk away, and the Red Lion. The pub was busy, but we managed to get a table, and the beer choice was the Oakwell Brewery Bitter, Buxton SPA and Abbeydale Absolution. Mr P had the bitter and I the excellent hoppy SPA. We got ourselves a seat and a table in the small newly opened 4th room on the right and sat down to rest our feet and peruse the menu, just out of interest. In the end, the temptation was too great, so instead of finishing our beer and catching the half 6 bus, we opted to eat and drink some more and catch the last bus at 20.45 to Chestrefield then get the train.
This involved two fantastic meals in hearty portions, sold at usual pub food prices, between £8 and £9.00 for veggie sausage veg and mash, and steak pudding chips and veg respectively. Our extended stay also heralded the opportunity for me to have some Absolution, and then some more SPA, also to sit in the other rooms as the main dining crowd dispersed, before we finally caught the bus to Chez Vegas, and the 22.00 train to Sheffield.
A measure of how tired I was ( and I mean from exercise, not from refreshments ), came from the fact that i didn't even fancy stopping for a last one in the Sheffield Tap. I just wanted to get home, eat some food and go to sleep, which i did.
A quick update on a new bar to try and yet another pub I visited from the past. On Saturday night I took the soul destroying 70 minute journey to Crookes (that's just one bus all the way through) to meet Rob and friends at the Cobden View on Cobden View Road Crookes. I remember drinking in here many times in the early nineties and also Wee keefy and friends of ours go in still so I have been in in the last 18 month, but only now and again.
This unorthodox preparation for a day of walking involved a good session on the excellent Copper Dragon best, but there was Bradfield Blonde and other real ales available. I convinced myself that drinking the same beer all night would make me less hungover, but this was moot point Sunday morning as I came round from the 6 or 7 I had on Saturday. The Cobden is a cracking back street pub with a good mix of clientele, some pleasing neglected corners, and, a source of unending fascination through the evening, a cracked support beam in the front right room. No doubt this has been cracked for years but we wondered how popular the seats below are....
The new bar to try is in Leopold Square, and is called Popolo (I think). It serves a good range of bottled beers and strangely, more than one keg bitter, as well as a decent draught cider, and an interesting selection of spirits. I drank the Freedom organic dark lager, which, despite it making no mention of this on the bottle, carries a hearty sediment, making it an honorary real ale. Chala tried a few spirits and we also looked at the appetising food menu served upstairs. Downstairs is red lighting themed, with prints on the walls and comfortable seating, in a very modern overall look.
It might not be everyones cup of tea, but is a nice change when in the area, and can be the start of a night which includes the nearby pubs of Trippet lane and the Red Deer - where we ended up, with Chala on draught Leffe, and me on Bradfield Irish Dexter, eating probably the best plate of chips I have ever tasted in a pub.
Roll on Saturday for the Walkley wander!