21 Hathersage – Flouch

Hathersage to Flouch 20.25 miles (32.4Km.)

Hathersage departure

Hathersage departure

Having completed the first book between May and October in 2010 for some unknown reason, perhaps enthusiasm, I wanted to get started and the first outing of 2011 was in early February. I strung together four sections and planned to walk them over three days.

Gritstone post

Gritstone post

I’d visited Hathersage dozens of times in the past five years and had no idea it had lost the Hathersage Inn which marks the point of departure from the main street. Now converted to a gear and coffee shop it still bears a sign for Baulk Lane on the end wall. Our route up to Stanage Edge is part of the Inn Way to the Peak District, 84 miles, 6 days, 51 pubs. Perhaps if pubs on the Great English Walk were tallied it would encourage more to take up the challenge.

North Lees

North Lees

Hathersage churchyard may be the last place in England where you can find one of the original parking meters, now superseded by high tech on our city streets. I kept a sharp look out for traffic wardens while viewing the reputed grave of Little John.

Towards Stanedge Edge

Towards Stanedge Edge

It was an overcast day, as had been forecast, and while the pictures looked good on the camera screen, on detailed inspection many were blurred due to long exposures and camera shake in the increasing wind speed.

Back Tor trig

Back Tor trig

Passing the setting for Jane Eyre, not the film version but the original book, we pressed on to the ridge where the wind was really showing its potential and was doing a Kinder downfall on the many streams trying to flow over the gritstone edge. Although we were not in danger of being blown off the edge it proved difficult to walk in a straight line so we moved down to the lower path and walked among the many abandoned mill stones normally viewed only from a distance. I had always assumed these were defective or incomplete but they looked ready for dispatch so my thoughts turned to the men who had laboured hard in these bleak surrounding and perhaps received no payment for their toil when the stones remained unsold.

Lost Lad from Back Tor

Lost Lad from Back Tor

With access land all around it was disappointing that there was no worn path apparent, to avoid the section of main road verge down to the the junction with the minor road. This was a point of no return. No lunch time pub today, no shelter even for a sandwich stop. The wind continued to blow for England and the army of wind turbines. Leaving the road along a track towards Moscar House we noted the advice to leave the track and follow the gully. Study of the map in the comfort of home I see that it marks ‘fords’ along this path. Today the stream was a torrent which needed care to select a decent point to jump. We managed this operation but the ground beyond was boggy and my left foot suddenly went down and the water flowed over the top like a dam being breached, yuk I hate wet feet. If I’d noted the path passing through Moscar House I’d have considered staying on the track to meet it.

Dropping from Lost Lad

Dropping from Lost Lad

Climbing to Derwent Edge we took advantage of the only shooting butt with no puddle of water and sheltered to take refreshment. Is this a coffee or lunch stop asked John. I replied that there may not be another place to shelter for some time. Musing over the names given to the outcrops of millstone grit I wonder what names we would come up with today, some time ago I christened one on Kinder ET. We made the minor detour to take in Back Tor and Lost Lad, not a first but a must while so close. John managed to get up to the trig but watching as he stood unsupported at forty five degrees from vertical I bottle out but brace the camera on a rock to record his achievement.

Top of Derwent Reservoir

Top of Derwent Reservoir

The vast quantity of white water cascading over Howden dam was spectacular but I was slightly disappointed having anticipated that the strong wind would be lifting a plume of spray back into the reservoir. It was not. We had a short respite from the wind alongside the water and a good track to quicken our pace before climbing again to Howden Edge the highest point of the day. Across the top, with the wind behind us it was easy going but as we started to descend Mickleden Beck the wind came up from the valley bottom with such force that we were frequently taken off the path and into the heather.

Howden Dam

Howden Dam

As Langsett reservoir came into view so did traffic on the Manchester road and we could see journey’s end at the rather desolate spot where forward planning had confirmed that the Flouch Inn would not be open to greet us. When we arrived it looked closed for good but while we waited for a bus the lights came on. Previous research had indicated that it still operates as a Balti however a planning notice revealed an application to demolish the c1920’s inn and build 7 new houses, or dwellings in planning parlance. It may not happen because the notice also states “The proposed development is a departure from the development Plan”. But things look desolate for the desolate Flouch Inn.

Flouch Inn

Flouch Inn

I made a serious error by waiting at the wrong bus stop, we missed our bus and the next was a further two hour wait. With no specific ‘Plan B’ I suggested we set off down the busy main road towards Stocksbridge for onward travel to Sheffield. John suggested we thumb a lift but neither of us had the nerve to do this. Fortunately a passing farmer generously pulled in and offered a lift which was gratefully accepted. He took us right to the correct bus stop and we continued uneventfully on the journey back to the car at Hathersage. He would take nothing for his generous offer only asking that we make a similar gesture to some other person in need.

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Map of section 21

Map of section 21

Section 21 - the work

Section 21 - the work

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