Aug 11 2012

Walk 53: Moor or Lees

Lees Moor from just outside Bakewell

route: Calton Pasture & Lees Moor from Bakewell
Date: 11th august 2012
distance: 5.9 miles
ascent: 784 feet
time: 4 hrs 15 mins
walkers: Dave, Leanne, Sandra & Simon

We had initially planned to begin this walk from Rowsley but after careful consideration it was decided that we should start from Bakewell instead. The reason for this was simple, Wu Tang said so, and being a considerate husband I listened and swiftly knocked a couple of miles off the route. She had been finding the walks increasingly difficult and after discussing with the other Badgers we all agreed to do whatever it takes to ensure she can attend for as long as possible. If that means reducing the distance, ascent or just all round difficulty then that is what we shall do.

After readying ourselves and throwing a few quid into the pay and display machine we headed off for Calton Pastures taking time to chuckle at the parking attendant who was pacing up and down looking at the car parked over three spaces. As the guy came back from the machine the attendant told him he was incorrectly parked to which the guy replied he was just parking near to the meter whilst he got his ticket. This made us laugh for a little while afterwards but I suppose you had to witness it to find it funny. We followed the road away from the car park past a couple of lovely houses until we came to a gate and our path. The gate had a sign on it saying walkers only or words to that effect so it was with a little surprise we went through to be nearly flattened by a couple of kids on mountain bikes. I don’t know if they lived there or were visiting as across the road we saw dozens of tents in what looked like a makeshift campsite. We didn’t give it any more thought and began the gentle climb at a sedate pace. Just over 100 yards later the path went right where we were confronted with around a dozen alpacas. At least we thought they were alpacas, they could have been llamas, so if anyone if an expert on either or both of the aforementioned, please email us on theramblingbadgers@gmail.com and let us know.

It was a bit of a shock to see something that is native to South America but they were probably just as shocked to see some rambling Badgers. As we continued on all I had going round my head was Monty Python’s Llama sketch from the “Live at the Drury Lane” album. “La llama es un cuadrúpedo que vive en los grandes ríos de la Amazonía. Tiene dos orejas, un corazón, un frente, y un pico para comer miel” (find the sketch on You Tube for a translation). I kept it to myself as I was pretty sure the others wouldn’t have heard it and even if they had, Monty Python is an acquired taste. Sure the popular films like Life of Brian or Holy Grail may have reached wider audiences but in my experience the average sketches are a bit too far out there for most people, but I digress. By now we had been going nearly half an hour so it was time for Wu Tang to stop for the first toilet break of the day, the problem was finding somewhere quiet. We had a couple following us up the path and as they took another footpath we joined the golf course which wasn’t the best spot for her to go.

The course looked quite nice and we crossed it making sure we rang the bell, even though we were going in the opposite direction and made our way into Manners Wood. Beaky went ahead and followed the path for 100 yards or so as I waited at the back. The girls found a secluded spot half way in between us both and powdered their noses before we all re-grouped and continued on. This was the only fairly steep section of the walk as the path cut upwards through the trees into the ever decreasing light. It wasn’t pitch black but the tree tops blocked the sun light from reaching the ground and Ramblo did really well to spot a frog sat right in the middle of the path just in front of us.

We watched him jump to safety then carried onwards and upwards until we saw light ahead and we left the trees behind and found ourselves on the wide open expanse of Calton Patures. The next 10 or 15 minutes were spent slowly sauntering towards the trig point whilst discussing the coastal footpath myself and Wu Tang did around Jersey last year. The sun was starting to come out and it reminded me of many previous walks in that at that moment I wouldn’t want to have been anywhere else in the world…

The trig was tucked away next to a wall and alongside a five foot high barrier of nettles and overgrown grass. Fortunately for us it was accessible and we quickly took our team shots before we looked ahead to Lees Moor and the fun that could be in store for us. We haven’t really had many encounters with woods and certainly not overgrown ones that we believed this to be after we had read up on it prior to our walk. We headed over, scaled the stile then decided to plan our route.

With the decision a team one we set off into the undergrowth at the same time hoping that we had made the right choice.

After a while it became clear that this was going to be fun, or not, it just depends on whether you are a glass half full or empty person. I am a half full so I was enjoying it even though the choice of shorts meant my legs were getting scratched, cut and were increasingly itchy. My only concern was the hidden nasties (hidden bog or puddles, tree trunks or fallen branches etc) that lurked underfoot and the persistence of the annoying flies. Beaky would call out each time he encountered something and I would pass it down the line to help Wu Tang and Ramblo. All this added up to pretty slow progress before we eventually saw daylight ahead and reached a clearing

The delight at reaching the clearing was short lived and we soon found ourselves heading into the undergrowth once more.

By this stage I think the girls were beginning to get bored of this and I have to admit it was a little tedious. I kept looking at Gordon for assistance as we tried in vain to find something to signify the top. In the end we agreed that we could be chasing our tails for a long time and L’Autobus decided they had found the top.

I think in all honesty we had walked over the top a little while earlier but I daren’t speak up and plus I couldn’t prove it. It was pretty nasty in all this stuff and while I like to know I am correct in reaching a summit, this one was one I was happy to say we did without actually knowing for sure. We had spent a long time wandering round looking for it and it was pretty difficult to find a distinct high point. Maybe I sound like I am trying to convince myself, but I am at ease with our decision and can’t see this being somewhere we go back to for a second look. We left the makeshift top and headed downhill hoping to find another track which would lead us out of this nightmare. Initially that plan didn’t look to be going to plan as we waded through waist high bracken, but eventually we found the track and continued our journey.

The girls celebrated exiting their long grass hell by stopping to powder their noses again as me and Beaky carried on. After nearly half a mile we reached a sign facing away from us and cranked our necks round to read it as we passed it. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting to read and we both felt a little guilty for walking through it but we had no way of knowing. We hastily covered parts of the sign up to create signs that wouldn’t get us into trouble as the girls finally caught us up.

It wasn’t until the girls reached us that we noticed that we were in fact near some sort of German wildlife area otherwise known as a Vildlife area. It raised a little chuckle as we continued on for a short distance before finally joining the footpath that would lead us down and away from our wooded torture.

Once out of the woodland path we immediately decided to have some lunch which we had postponed earlier due to flies. As we chomped on our food we had a team map check and decided which route we would take back. We had the options of a track that would take us past Coombs Farm onto Coombs Road straight back, or we could skirt the edge of Haddon Park before joining a footpath that followed the River Wye. Even though the latter was longer, it was going to be more scenic and therefore received all four votes. Once our snacks were consumed we made our way towards the river making good progress until we reached a gate and came face to face with a field full of cows.

At first Beaky was a little apprehensive and I think we all were a little. Sometimes when confronted with things that are bigger than you with great big horns it is hard to convince yourself they are more scared of you than you are of them. I know Wu Tang is always a little edgy at times like these so I wanted to try and reassure her with being overly cautious to make her nervous. We entered slowly and sure enough they all began to move away allowing us to sneak past without making a fuss.

With the initial herd behind us and a smaller second field full also successfully negotiated we were now almost down to the river for the last mile or so of nice flat walking. The path we hoped would have the “side of the river” feel to it, didn’t, as it was just too far away and when close there was often trees between us and the water. It wasn’t really that much of a disappointment but it had been one of the reasons we chose the longer route whilst having lunch half an hour or so earlier.

We soon came across a big old tree that was fenced off and we could see it had a sign attached to the fence. We thought it may be down to age and we all guessed how old we thought this old ash tree may actually be. The guesses ranged from 250 up to 800 years and we approached with a sense of anticipation to see who would be nearest to win a prize. We had no idea what the prize would be and in truth there would be no prize but it made it more fun. As we reached the sign it was a little bit of an anti-climax to find the tree was “very old” so each of us claimed we would have been closest and we moved on.

From here back to the car was a simple task although the sun was beating down and the lack of wind made it feel quite warm. Wu Tang was beginning to flag and we were both glad we were nearing the end and we caught up with Beaky and Ramblo who were waiting for us at the next gate. We caught the occasion glimpse of the river away to our left as we caught sight of civilisation up ahead. The numbers of tents we saw earlier had grown and the whole site was looking a bit busier. People were sat outside playing music and enjoying a few cold beers and it became apparent that this was more than a camp site. There looked to be some large marquees at the far end of the field which turned out to be various refreshments and one contained a music stage I believe. The reason for this was the Bakewell Festival and we slowed our pace to look at the various different camper vans and tents that were pitched, the best of which was a tent on the roof of a land rover or some similar type vehicle. It looked pretty cool but I am not sure I would fancy that after a few beers. Beer was now firmly on our minds as we made our way through the festival goers and reached the car park to find the place full. We quickly got changed in the car park trying before saying goodbye to Bakewell and calling at a pub on the way home. Today had been a nice stroll but one which proved we may need to look at the distance and amount of ascent moving forward due to Wu Tangs ever increasing size. This didn’t bother me or any of the other Badgers in attendance, in fact we were more than happy to do whatever it takes to facilitate this. Our biggest strength as a group is the fact we are a group and long may that continue.

Sir Edmund


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