Monday, 15 November 2010

Monsal Head to Litton Mill (out and back) – (White Peak District) –(Derbyshire) – 12/11/10 – 5 Miles – Helen (Luther & Molly)

Believe it or not, Lab dogs Luther & Molly have not made any appearance on this blog (save for an inconsequential footnote) since late July. In that time however they appear to have picked up a little bit of a following, so if any of their fans are wondering whether it is worth reading on, I won’t spoil the plot too much, other than to say that on this occasion both of them nearly got drowned.

Anyway having decided it was potentially too windy to do the edge walk she was planning, Helen decided we would do something from Monsal Head. However given that Luther does not seem quite as agile these days, we decided to restrict it to around the 5 mile mark. So being ever helpful I managed to come up with one of my ‘Country Walking cut out routes’ for said vicinity, and thus we decided to go with that set one, rather than make up our own route (in the event the exact opposite, was how it actually turned out).

So starting at Monsal Head itself, and overlooking the viaduct, we descended down the stone steps until we had picked up the Monsal Trail. As we ambled along we passed on our left the former platform of the disused Monsal Railway Station. A little further on and we found ourselves looking down on our right at Cressbrook Mill, which according to Helen is being converted into luxury flats.

As there was no visible livestock around or large groups of walkers (in fact we were the only ones) both dogs were happily running around off the lead. So as we descended some stone steps our route continued by crossing a bridge over a very fast running weir cum waterfall. Thus before we knew it, bonkers Molly had already lept into the water, and was basically about 6ft away from the edge of the waterfall. Well lets put it like this, if she had gone over it, she would probably have been injured against the rocks, drowned and swept away, and neither of us could have saved her (I guess those ‘keep dogs on a lead’ signs weren’t just for the livestock’s benefit then). Anyway she was smart enough to immediately sense the danger and leapt straight back out of the water before anything happened.

So having got ourselves over that one, and crossed the weir bridge, we couldn’t help noticing that our supposed (Concession) path along the limestone walls of Millers Dale, was basically flooded (see picture). So not being all that keen on a spot of indeterminate wading in terms of both length and depth, we stood about for a bit looking at maps and scratching our heads. Meanwhile Luther, no doubt bored with this, decided to leap down onto what he thought was a pile of leaves, but was in fact an old culvert. Helen who saw this said his head disappeared under the smelly water. Now Luther is a bit of a one to panic (bit like me really) so when he found he couldn’t get out, he was both paddling and whimpering about in the water. Having ignored Helen, he just about got close enough for me to grab his collar and thus yank him out. However like most dogs, a couple of minutes later he had forgotten it had even happened.

So giving up on the suggested path for now, we ascended up the steps again, and followed the course of the river, with the intention of picking up the the route again at Litton Mill. No bad thing either, as the views were far more spectacular than anything we would have got at river level. We found a nice stony spot to have our packed lunch, all the while wondering what was going on with the vehicle in the disused/closed tunnel of the Monsal trail below.

Eventually we picked up our route again at Litton Mill approximately two and a half miles in, only to discover that Helen had left her woolly hat (whoops Fleece hat – get it right), back where we had lunch (she had been using it as a cushion). So rather than abandon it, we decided to leave the official route, which we had been diverted off anyway, for another day. This was now going to be a straight out and back mission to retrieve said hat. Again no bad thing in my book, as all routes look different to me in the opposite direction, and the scenery was no less spectacular coming the other way. Fortunately the one couple we met coming towards us, having had the same problem with the river, had left said hat alone and we were soon able to retrieve it.

Picking up the Monsal Trail again, Helen decided to slightly change the finish, as she doesn’t like straight out and backs, and thus we finished by crossing over Monsal Viaduct itself. A good time to finish too, as the rain was starting to come down, with the light getting ever more gloomy. However with GPS in hand, I did have to reach the car by a circular route of the expensive car park, in order to get the distance up to an official 5 miles.

Walks since last blog entry:

1 x 9.25 mile (9 kg ruckack walk) – Putney to Osterley.
1 x 15.5 mile (9 kg ruckack walk) – Richmond Stn/Park (outer/inner loops).

1 x 6.5 mile (run)/walk – Grand Union/Osterley Park.

1 x 6.5 mile walk –Osterley Park/Grand Union.


  1. Glad the Labs survived the experience! They certainly know how to scare the life out of their owners!

  2. Hi Ruby/Jen

    The thing is in normal circumstances they both like a dip in the water, but on this occasion it was a dip too far.

  3. Ruby loves a dip too and did a similar stunt a while ago on the walk near Little Missenden and had to be dragged out by her dad(human dad.

  4. I regularly go walking in the area you described and know about the often submerged stepping stones in the river. I think they need to be more clearly signed...and marked on OS maps.

    Glad to read the dogs were alright.

  5. Hi Lee

    What caught us out here was assuming the 'keep dogs on a lead' signs were purely for the benefit of the livestock (which weren't about). So I agree, the dangers of the water for loose dogs should also be signed.

  6. Hi there! I was just wondering how long your walk took?

    Thanks :)


  7. Hi Marion

    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Anyway looking at the photo of my GPS, it appears we took 2:58:07 hours to do this one, which is quite a long time for 5 miles (however we do dordle about with the dogs).

    Is this area/walk local to you, or is it one you have in the pipeline?