UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
The Limestone Way
Itinerary
MapDayDistance
Landranger 128115m
Landranger 119212.5m
Landranger 119315m
Landranger 110413m
Landranger 11055m
Days 1, 2 and 3
The Limestone Way
Day 4

Again off early and hey guess what, it was raining again! Flagg came up quickly and my first mistake of the day. In the rain I looked at the guide and thought it was straght on - it should have been left! I trudged on across the field to the main road and when I didn't see any Limestone Way signs, the alarm bells rang out. Out with the map which, as any schoolboy will tell you, means the wind and rain will increase; sure enough it did!

I soon found my error and had a little way to walk down the road to pick up the route again which follows far too much road for my liking at this point. There is a benefit of course in that the pace can be lifted somewhat and the miles eaten up. Crossing the A6 and it was a long downhill to Millers Dale - not too steep but would have been a slog in the other direction. In Millers Dale there were signs for the Monsal Trail and Chee Dale but none for the Limestone Way so the map came out again. The route it seemed was down the road a while then up a short track before entering a farm track. It was here that I saw my first (and only) other walkers who had stopped for a break. Clearly they were only out for the day - I think my sac was heavier and bigger than all of theirs put together!

From here the path got steadily worse and at some points I was wading through large pools of water just to make progress. Finally I emerged tired from the efforts of slip sliding my way along to be greeted by a downhill walk to Peters Dale where the fun really began. I could see Limestone Way sign which appeared to be pointing straight through a lake - it was! I cut the corner but quickly discovered that the entire Dale had now become a river. Nothing else for it but to make my way along as best I could, sometimes straight up the 'river', sometimes in the mud on the side. Whichever I chose was really hard going and eventually I found some rocks to take a break. Rucsac off, I was knackered.

Looking ahead I could see what I thought was the end of it and checking with the map confirmed it - although the Dale became Hay Dale so who knows what lay ahead! As it turned out it was much drier apart from the small lake at the start and once again I made progress. Knowing the Dale must mean a climb soon I prepared myself and sure enough I was heading up and out of the Dale to the top of the hill.

Turning left, it was yet more road to the main A623 which had to me walked down a short way before off road again to The Cop farm. At this point I was off my OS map and didn't want to stop to retrieve the next map even though my paper copy of the official guide had all but disintegrated so I had no idea how much further I had to walk plus the fact that the cloud was so low there were no visual references to help me.

Never mind, head down and plod on. It was then I spotted a sign for 'Castleton' - can't be far now!

It seemed to take an age to come to Cave Dale, the final walk in to Castleton and then another age into the village, but I got there.

There were no trumpets, no fanfare, no waiting press or family, just the gloom of a late winter afternoon in Derbyshire - it was almost 4pm - my hoped for target arrival time. As I walked into the town, my thoughts were on a place to stay and noting the 'Vacancies' sign on a pub window decided I deserved it so in I went to enquire. I must have looked in a sorry state but was greeted with the response I wanted and was shown to the room. Dumping my gear I went straight down with the dog to dry out a bit, have a beer in celebration and phone home to announce the news of my success. After the beer of course, I wanted another one but resolved to sort my gear first, try to dry some of it and have a well earned shower. After that, it was back down for a burger and chips, another beer - well Guinness actually and sit by the fire to watch my trousers and the dog steaming dry. The bed felt great!

Day 5

Not an early start today but I had managed to check the train times from the free Wi-Fi - the wonders of modern smart phones! Even so, I had to be gone by 9:30am for the walk to Hope - I told myself it was only a few easy miles so off I went and soon found myself on the platform with my ticket home. Two changes at Manchester and Birmingham so not bad. On the train I was greatly amused by the intercom announcement that the train was so busy (it wasn't) that the trolley serving drinks and food would not be going through the train. This was later changed to a 'technical problem' with the trolley - hard to imagine what technical problems could befall a trolley that would stop it moving - perhaps a wheel had falled off.

Conclusion

The Limestone Way is not an easy walk, or at least it is not that easy in winter, camping! On a nice summer long weekend stopping in B&Bs with way more daylight than the less than eight hours I had, then the route could be enjoyed much more. For me, days 1 and 2 were great, cold but great because I could take photos and it was dry. Days 3 and 4 were an endurance with the camera not venturing out for fear of getting water in - I want a new camera but not that much! I think the route markers could be improved in places, especially where there are numerous route choices, for example, in villages which can be very difficult to navigate through.

The few people I came into contact with were all friendly - in a couple of cases offering to bring me drinks! A nice reminder that there are still good friendly generous people around. Would I do it again, well, yes but maybe in the summer time.

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