Saturday 6 January 2018

Longshaw, Burbage and the Eastern Moors

Where do I even start with today's humiliations on my scone mission to the Longshaw Estate in the Peak District? If you're a regular reader, you'll know that the first scone mission of the year usually involves some sort of disaster and today I worked out why: footwear. Specifically, my choice of footwear for January scone missions.

Longshaw Peak District

I left London in what I considered to be a pair of sturdy, almost construction worker-type, boots. Two and a half hours later the boots seemed to have turned into ballet shoes, or that's how it felt as I tried to negotiate two miles of muddy rocks.

Muddy Longshaw

The alarm bells started when I got to Grindleford train station and asked a woman if I was on the right path. I knew it was a 1.5 mile walk but I was still expecting her to say "yes, it's not far". She didn't. She said "hmmm" and thought about it for 5 minutes.

I eventually thanked her and strode purposefully off, passing a group of what looked like elderly walkers getting kitted up. I then made my first mistake: I failed to notice the incline of the hill and tried to maintain my purposeful stride. It nearly killed me. Determined not to let the elderly walkers pass me, I got to the top and could hardly breathe. 

But it's not the hills you need to worry about with octogenarian walkers. It's the mud. Having got to the top of the hill I then had to negotiate a mile of really difficult terrain. Within minutes the elderly walkers had passed me, each one springing past like a mountain goat while I slid about the place like a new-born foal. I tried to keep up with them, so I could follow in their footsteps and take advantage of their insider knowledge, but did they wait for me? No they didn't.

I finally emerged, bedraggled and weary, to a a sign telling me it was another half a mile to the Visitor Centre. At this point the terrain became more National Trust - eg much flatter and only a bit muddy. On I trudged.


The Longshaw scone
I was starting to despair that I would ever find the Visitor Centre or a warming cup of tea or any sort of scone. But just as I was wondering whether I should give up, there it was. The scone itself looked nice enough but when I picked it up, I realised it was warm and my heart soared. And for good reason; it was an excellent, excellent scone. Light, fluffy, fresh and tasty. Totally worth the mud. 

Longshaw scone

If you're reading this thinking "what a city-dwelling imbecile" then you are, of course, completely right. I have a friend who doesn't like the National Trust much, as he thinks that it gives urbanites like me a false sense of what the countryside is. I always argue that he's wrong but today I realised he's probably right.

BUT. Imbecile urbanite or not, I do appreciate the Peak District. It was the first National Park in the UK (there are 15 of them today) and it offers so much; fresh air, exercise, and the opportunity to spend time in the beauty of the natural world. I highly recommend it (and its scones).

UPDATE: Turns out the mud wasn't to blame; I'm just useless at walking up hills, as my subsequent expedition to Kinder, Edale, and the Dark Peak proved. 

Longshaw Estate: 4 out of 5
Scone: 5 out of 5
Continued failure to dress appropriately for January scone missions: 0 out of 5