UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
The Limestone Way
Itinerary
MapDayDistance
Landranger 128115m
Landranger 119212.5m
Landranger 119315m
Landranger 110413m
Landranger 11055m
The Limestone Way
Day 1

The Limestone Way runs from Rocester in Staffordshire to Castleton in Derbyshire through mainly low lying countryside. It is mainly on public footpaths but there are a number of sections using country lanes to connect paths. Accommodation is available along the way, but on this occasion I had decided to wild camp. The walk was undertaken during December 2012 which, it has to be said, was not the best time of year to be walking in the UK, having said that, it increased the challenge of the walk from a steady walk to something of an endurance event and the end was a very welcome sight indeed!

I caught the train via Birmingham University and Derby to Uttoxeter. An interesting piece of information is that it was cheaper to purchase two tickets and split the journey than one single all the way. The connections worked (just) and I found myself and my faithful dog Josh stepping out at Uttoxeter railway station just after 10am and heading out to attempt to locate the Stafforshire Way which would take me via fields and river banks to Rocester and the start of the official walk. This was where the troubles started. I spied a single 'Stafforshire Way' signpost but nothing further in either direction so walked in the direction I thought it might be, only to be greeted by a huge Retail Park. I quickly abandoned any attempt to locate the route so decided to follow the road in the hope of further signage - there was none. Finally after a couple of hours and six miles of walking I entered Rocester; a very nice village and a suitable start to the way.

Ellastone is some two and a half miles distant through some very muddy fields and along the river bank until one arrives at the bridge. Ellastone is well marked so the confidence levels are boosted but still no official way markers. Through the town we came to Calwich Abbey and the first official way marker! From here more fields and more confusion - no official markers and several route choices. At one point I found myself on the wrong side of a stream and too low down but consulting the map I noticed that I could correct the mistake at Hutts Farm quite easily and pick up the official path again. The ridge is a long one to the main A52 through fields previously occupied by cows who had left their very muddy mark. By the time I reached the main road I was exhausted and filthy!

There is a short section of the road, then a gated road which lead all the way via Marten Hill and a stiff climb into Thorpe; a beautiful village and one not visited often enough. Through the village and off again at a path adjacent to the Peveril Peak Hotel. It was getting late at this point - there are only eight hours of daylight at this time of year; from 8am until 4pm so I decided to look for a place to pitch for the night. The ground was damp but it hadn't rained so I soon located a likely field that would do the job and set about putting the tent up. My tent, an MSR two man only takes a few minutes to erect and I was soon getting the stove on for a hot drink and some food. Unbeknown to me, the other side of the wall of the field was a road and I got something of a fright when two people walked past in the gloom and greeted me.

As with all wild camping, there is little to do once the eating and drinking was done so I soon found myself snuggled up in my sleeping bag for the night. I had savoury rice and sausages for tea followed by an Alpen bar. I set aside noodles and a soup for supper later.

Due to being warm in my sleeping bag and tired from the days efforts supper went uneaten which made me realise that I had probably packed too much food! Oh well, better that than not enough.

Day 2

It was an early start today, in fact I was up before the dawn which meant scrabbling around in the dark for about half an hour before it got light enough to see. Breakfast was a cup of tea and a couple of goodie bars which seemed to be enough for me. I was away by 8:30am which was a little later than I had hoped, but hey, it was my first camping expedition for some years so I was a bit slower than I should have been. The walk up through to Tissington wasn't too bad apart from the long walk from the gates to the village itself. The route goes through the churchyard and out into the fields again. Tissington is a lovely little village with an impressive 'big house' but today I pressed on through and on to Parwich which was reached without incident. Again there were numerous footpaths and no official signage, plus the map was a little vague and once again I found myself on the wrong path until set straight by a local walking his dog and someone I had greeted earlier. I had drifted off a short way and once again found myself correcting to pick up the right path through Ballidon and past the disused and disrepaired chapel followed by a stiff climb up to the top of the ridge. and on to the crossing of the High Peak Trail. Grangemill soon arrived but is best left behind as it is on a main road and has a huge quarry nearby that spoils the countryside quite badly.

Grangemill to Bonsall seemed to take forever and was punctuated with dozens of small stiles, some so small that I had to take off my pack to get through which was both time-consuming and very tiring. I have to say I struggled on from Bonsall, finally calling it a day at Winster where I found a barn to shelter from the rain and cold. As usual, the evening was spent eating and I was into my sleeping bag by 6:30pm. I had savoury rice and the remainder of the sausages tonight, plus a cup of soup and a goodie bar. I have to confess to a couple of nips from my hip flask to raise the spirits too! I was asleep by 7:30pm!

Day 3

I woke quite early as I wanted to be away as soon as it was light so as my water boiled I started packing and was off by 8am - more like it. The walk up to Youlgrave wasn't too bad but the rain came down pretty much non-stop all day so I was getting wetter as the morning progressed. Toulgrave looked pretty dull but I did recall that there was a Youth Hostel there at one time of day - I have no idea whether it is still there or not, but anyway, the way skirts the village, following the river, which makes for a pleasant walk. Of course, soon enough I was heading up and my pack began to weigh more heavily. Across the top and I began the descent to Cales Dale which is always a worry because what goes down goes up in the walking world. No change here and the climb to One Ash Farm as a tough one as was the walk out of the farm and onto Monyash.

Monyash is a nice village and the pub and cafe looked very inviting but I needed to press on - Castleton was still a long way off and I wanted to reduce tomorrows mileage as much as I could. Through the village and after several false paths I finally located the Limestone Way marker and headed across the fields punctuated on too many occasions by stiles that were obviously not designed for someone with a sac as high and as wide as mine - requiring me to take it off on more than once occasion which of course slowed me down and sapped the limited strength.

Time was getting on, it was raining and I have to say I was feeling pretty tired so when I spotted Knotlow Farm offering barn accommodation it was too much to resist. The barn was reasonably warm in that there was no wind or rain so no need to put up the tent - result! Once fed and watered I decided on a quick stroll up the road to see if there was any phone signal but it was still raining so as soon as I found somewhere it was a quick text, then back to the warmth of my sac.

Days 4 and 5

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