Monday, 7 November 2011

Foolow Walk

Sunday 6th November, 2011

I was supposed to meet my walking group for this walk in the Peak District. We'd agreed to meet in Foolow which is a small village not far from the better known 'plague village' of Eyam. Alas, I got caught up in a roadworks traffic jam and missed the group by what must have been only a few minutes. It was a gorgeous day; a frosty start had led to warm sunshine and clear blue skies. Far too nice to be a normal November day and a great day for a walk.

I parked up and got my boots on. I couldn't remember the exact route the group were taking and so decided to do a figure of eight walk following what looked to be interesting paths on my map. I added in a few ups and downs, nothing too steep, but I did feel as though I didn't want any more flat after three days of flat walking in Norfolk.

I started by walking west out of Foolow past the tiny church and the duck pond. After walking alongside the road for a few minutes I turned north on the first signposted public footpath to the right. This took me across fields and through a farmyard at Grindlow where there was a tiny pony (Shetland? Dartmoor? I feel I should know this). The path then headed northwest uphill to a road. Directly across the road the path continued upwards through a small wood to another road at the far side. I walked westwards on this road which quickly turned a bend to the north. To my left there was an airfield with gliders taking off and landing. Looked like fun. When they took off they each had a long rope dangling with some kind of bulky thing attached. Once they reached a certain height the rope and bulky thing were dropped. I have no idea what this was or what it was for. I was just glad not to be standing directly underneath!

Once round the bend in the road I joined a footpath again. This took me northeast and dropped down part way into a valley before climbing back up again and arriving at the road I'd previously left by the airfield. The road had looped round and forked just where I rejoined it. I took the minor downhill fork to the right and walked towards Abbey Grange and Grange Farm. Just before the farm I took a path to the south and headed back downhill. After meeting a very friendly ram in a field I found a well placed bench by a wall and sat to have my lunch. It was in the sun and I could see straight along a valley to the airfield and so was able to watch the gliders whilst I ate.

Leaving the bench I continued down to the bottom of the valley and across a small stream. A kind of half bridge had been placed across it. This was a big plank of wood which for me was quite a big step up to get on to it and another piece of wood as a rail along one side. The other side was open and the plank was slippery. Fun times. Safely across I walked uphill again after first taking a bit of a detour when I saw an 'access land' sign. There was a path but it didn't go in the direction I wanted. I tried to make my own route to climb out of the valley but it was too boggy, so I turned back and took the proper path. This is steeply uphill. Rough steps have been put in to help with the ascent, but the workman who built them was presumably a giant. Some of the steps were thigh high. There were good views as I climbed and I could see back to Grange Farm on the other side of the valley and across the bit of access land I'd walked on. From my viewpoint I could see lots of pyramid shaped hills and wondered how they had been formed - man made for some reason maybe? Or just a natural phenomenon? I tried to get a good picture but they don't really show up on my photos.

At the top of the valley I crossed a road and immediately headed down through thick undergrowth along a path on the opposite side of the road. I could have continued to follow this southbound path to meet up with the road back into Foolow but wanted to extend my walk slightly. So I turned left and east onto a bridlepath and followed this to join up with the same road, just further out from the Foolow. Hitting the road I followed it southwest and then south back to Foolow arriving alongside the church.

I then had a bit of a wander round the village. I went into the church and round the duck pond. I puzzled over a stone structure alongside the pond that had steep steps leading down into a water filled space. No idea what it was (or is) for.

The second loop of my figure of eight walk was shorter and started from the far side of the pond between houses. The path is hard to spot until you're virtually on top of it as it's a narrow walled-in path running between the houses and gardens. The entrance has stone slabs across the front and the footpath sign is hidden in the foliage. I'd never had known it was there if it wasn't for me actually looking for it. Good job it's marked on the map.

This path leads west and soon leaves the houses behind to head across fields towards the south end of Silly Dale (great name for a dale). I then turned right and headed north along a bridleway that followed the top of the dale back to the road I'd originally headed out on this morning. I walked back along the road to Foolow. These roads are quiet country lanes and so quite pleasant to walk along.

I never got to meet up with my walking group but had a wonderful walk all the same.

Time - about 4.5 hours including lunch stop
Distance - dunno - but maybe as little as 5 miles. I walked quite slowly and kept stopping to look at things or take photos.
Map - Explorer OL24
Start/Finish - Foolow SK191769

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