An extremely warm and sunny day was forecast for today’s walk.  A linear walk of around 8 miles around some of the most beautiful dales in the Peak District National Park led by Dave T.  There was a really good turnout today with 47 members boarding the coach at Waterdale.

Jean had some announcements, informing members that the last day for booking the weekend trip to the Lake District was 13th July.  Also Jean had some sad news –  particularly for all the members who had helped to support the fantastic work of Jeanette Fish, founder member of the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust who had sadly recently passed away.  Many of our group had accompanied Jean each December, helping to support the Memory Tree in the Doncaster Frenchgate Centre that each year raised funds to assist in the purchase of specialist medical equipment to benefit members of our local community living with a cancer diagnosis.  Jeanette will be sadly missed.

Jean also reminded everyone that as a very hot day was expected, copious amounts of water and suncream should be the order of the day.  Jean informed everyone that she had brought suncream for anyone that needed some.

6 Non-walkers were dropped off in Bakewell with the remaining 42 walkers beginning the walk from Ashford in the Water. Again with a little adjustment to the route,  Andy, our coach driver, was able to join todays walk with the group.  From Ashford, crossing several field, the group joined the Monsal Trail, where after walking through  533 yard Headstone Tunnel, the most spectacular views opened up across Monsal Dale from the Headstone Viaduct nestling below Monsal Head.  The Viaduct was built in 1863 and is now the subject of a preservation order.  Following a stop on the viaduct for coffee and to take in the beauty of the panoramic views, the walk left the Monsal Trail behind, dropping down the lovely banks of the River Wye, walking under the viaduct and across meadows framing the banks of the river.  Wild flowers, including violets, cowslips, celandines, and pink campion were spotted, along with yellow marsh marigolds or king cups in the shallows of the river.  A lone heron was also seen stalking small fry in the water’s edge.  There were also plentiful sightings of spring butterflies – Orange tips, Brimstones and Peacock flitting amongst the meadow flowers.  A rather spectacular weir was reached and provided a good photo opportunity – see gallery.  After a short time, the sound of traffic could be heard from the busy A6, where the group negotiated the carriageway to reach a car park, with picnic benches and some rather smelly but ecologically sound  dry sanitation composting toilets.  Moving swiftly on, and climbing carefully up a shallow steam bed, the group sat down for lunch in a lovely sheltered spot on the approach to Deep Dale.

After a refreshing lunch stop the group headed upwards, climbing steeply to reach Great Shacklow Wood where there was some welcome shade.  The first bluebells of spring were seen, accompanied by their heady scent. The route then meandered down to the banks of the River Wye again, and its course was followed back into Ashford in the Water where a well deserved pub stop was enjoyed by all.  As the weather had been so hot and draining, walkers were given the choice of a short ride on the coach back into Bakewell or following the course of the River Wye on an undulating 1 mile walk back into Bakewell. Today’s back markers were George and Trevor.

A short time was available in Bakewell for ice cream or a spot of shopping before boarding the coach at 4.30 for the drive back to Doncaster.  Dave T was thanked for leading such a lovely walk- taking in spectacular views of the area at this exciting time of the year with the fresh greenness of spring all around along with the flowers and wildlife.

Thanks as  always to Dave Ty for photo contributions for our gallery.