Sunday, 15 April 2012
After a certain amount of confusion over the location of our parking spot in Pleasley (Medan Square), we were off walking in this former industrial area of Derbyshire. After traversing a path beside the infant River Medan, we made a short climb to get up onto a former railway track. This was the Medan Trail, which is special due to the magnesium limestone under ones feet and along the embankments. Apparently this thin broken strip stretching between West Nottinghamshire and Durham, is the only place in the world (along with a small area of Poland) where this is visible above the ground.
As we came to the end of the trail we decided this was as good a place as any to have our sandwiches (handy rocks to sit on), however we didn’t dwell too long given the chill in the air, and the imminent rainfall. So moving on we passed a row of handsome cottages (Pleasely Vale Village – 1854) before passing St. Chads Church, and beginning a loop that would take us back to the church from another direction. During the course of said loop we walked alongside a steep escarpment known as Little Matlock, named due to its similarity (albeit in smaller form) to its much bigger sibling.
Our next site of interest was a large complex of former industrial mills in Pleasely Vale, which nowadays seem to be occupied by the occasional small trader, but in the main by site security. Thoughtfully the powers that be who run the area, have cut down the speed limit to 20mph, so that the migratory toads who also use these roads, have at least a sporting chance of survival.
As we left there we then picked up the Archaeological Way (although we both need to look further into why it is called that), before eventually making a hard left at an electricity sub-station. As we followed a tiny stream on a path approaching Stony Houghton, Helen decided to stop by some old unoccupied farm buildings for a coffee. I must say these buildings really creeped me out (think the ending of The Blair Witch Project) and I was half expecting someone to come running out at us with a chainsaw at any moment.
Anyway having reached Stony Houghton, there didn’t seem to be a lot there (save for cars coming at us in all directions), so we carried on before eventually crossing the A617, to continue on the bridleway (longhedge Lane). To the far left of us was Pleasely Country Park, as designated by my route cut out from Country Walking magazine (which is where this walk came from). Helen’s slightly older OS map (Explorer 269) referred to it as ‘slag heap’.
Having continued along there for 2km we spotted the former ‘pit head’ (photo’s too rubbish to show here), but got somewhat distracted by this, and thus ignored the final section of the walk where we were meant to pick up a bridleway leading onto another disused railway. However it was too near the end of the walk to cause a real problem, except to divert the last half mile back to the car through a housing estate.
Overall this was a coldish grey and drizzly day, which was probably appropriate for this ramble through the darker industry of Derbyshires past. This was certainly no Peak District, but we both agreed it was a walk well worth doing, on just the one occasion only.
Walks since last blog entry:
Osterley Park (circular) – 2.5 Miles (Helen)
Putney to Osterley – 9.25 Miles
Grand Union / Osterley Park – 7 Miles