Thursday, 13 February 2014

Solitary Ramblings

The other day I desperately needed some time to myself, out of the house, for some quiet contemplation of things in my life. The day was notable for its dank dreariness but I pressed on with my plan in spite of the weather. It suited my mood anyway. 

So I got in the old Land Rover, anticipating a wet, muddy dog on my return, and drove to the Goyt valley, just 15 minutes away. I headed for the spot I had always driven past saying 'I must walk there one day'. That day had finally come. 

I parked up next to a small (very deep - according to the warning signs) pond, perched on the hillside, surrounded by sweeping moors and deep valleys. Thanks to the simultaneous arrival of a woman with two collies and a ball, I decided to take a different footpath to the one I had imagined - in order not to get mixed up with her and her dogs. I desperately wanted to be alone, just me and Lil. And so it was that instead of following the path of a one-time rail track, I plunged down through the winter grass and heather towards a bubbling moorland brook nestled in the folds of the hills. 

From here I crossed a wooden bridge and shortly afterwards was rewarded with a beautiful glimpse of the Errwood Reservoir from an angle I'd not seen it from in 10 years of living up here. It made me contemplate the time before they flooded the valley to form the reservoir, when the moorland streams that feed it joined instead to form the upper Goyt river weaving its way through a hamlet nestled in the valley, the sacrificial lamb for this reflective vista. 

The path took me to a gate with a pleasing sign on it saying no bikes, walkers only - the last thing I wanted was to be harried by cyclists. And so I continued on my solitary way up a track with a gentle gradient while more vistas of the lake opened up as I turned, still gently climbing, towards the south, following the curve of the hillside. The wide path from the bridge narrowed now into a muddy track studded with chunks of gritstone and edged by beautifully undulating drystone walls, complete and handsome for the most part, collapsed or broken in others. 

A few grouse burst out of the heather in a flurry with their instantly recognisable squawky call as I wound my way across the hillside. After about half an hour of walking I had a view up the valley, away from the reservoir, towards Goytsclough Quarry, the end point of the track. I would have loved to carry on but I had some jobs to do in Buxton before heading back to pick up the girls from school. 

So I turned reluctantly round and headed back along the route I had just taken. I am always surprised at the same path can look so different from the opposite direction and I wasn't disappointed today. I glanced down at the ground at one point and my eye was caught by a dark bronze coloured circle pressed into the mud. I picked it up and, after much peering, realised it was actually a pound coin, much weathered (not unlike myself!). I slipped it into my pocket. My lucky pound. Maybe someone loved me after all. 

Climbing back up towards the car park was more challenging than coming down, so I paced myself by stopping to admire a bird of prey hovering high above the hillside, its tail and wing tip feathers spread wide like fingers against the grey sky. A light drizzle began to fall and I was pleased I had my hat and waterproofs to keep me dry and warm. Lily was unbothered, a sheepdog in her element, loving every second, pausing only when I stopped, just to check I was ok. A girl's best friend for sure.


Lucy Campbell said...

Lovely photos - how are you?? xx


Hi Lucy - yes, fine thanks, but had a few things to work my way through recently. Will email you to catch up more fully. Hope all well with you. xx

Nutty Gnome said...

I love the Goyt Valley, but there are walks nearer to here that I sneak out and do whenever I neeed a bit of space. A goodly wander along Curbar usually does the trick for me!
Hope things are better for you now.

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