Limestone Way Day 2 - Taddington to Winster
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Day two of the Limestone Way! We set off bright and early to park just outside Taddington, in a lay-by we'd identified on the map. After a quick wee in the trees, we began ascending out of Taddington where the trail looks back across the rolling hills we'd walked across on the first day.
We pressed onwards, keen to get to Monyash where we'd promised ourselves a coffee break. After a slight detour (yep, I misread the map) coming out of Flagg, we walked into the centre of the Monyash - one of my favourite villages in the Peak District. It's a picture-perfect spot, with a pretty village green, a great pub and a telephone box full of books. It lies at the head of Lathkill Dale, where the River Lathkill is surrounded by large limestone cliffs and woodland. The first time I visited Monyash was on my silver D of E expedition, where we'd stayed on a little campsite there. That same night a mouse had got into my tent and terrified the life out of 14 year old me, so the fact that I still have overwhelmingly fond memories of it hopefully shows just how lovely it is.
After refuelling with some sandwiches in Monyash, we continued our journey up on the hills running parallel to Lathkill Dale. We eventually reached the River Bradford, and followed its banks downstream into Youlgreave where we sat down for some cake (contrary to how this sounds, there had been lot of miles since the sandwiches).
Although we were getting tired, we were just about to get to the best part of the day. Having studied archaeology and anthropology at uni, you can be sure that tumuli and caves really get me going. The last part of today's route joined up with the Portway, an ancient prehistoric track that runs from the edge of Nottingham up to Mam Tor in Dark Peak. Treading this old way made me think of the thousands of people that have walked there before me over the years, for all sorts of different reasons. It's strange to think that I'm walking it purely for pleasure, when in days gone by people would have been walking it out of sheer necessity.
On this small section of the Portway, we passed by a stone circle atmospherically overlooking the valley below, before passing in between the boulders and rock formations of Robin Hood's Stride and Cratcliffe Rocks. Within Cratcliffe Rocks lies a hermitage - a cave that used to be home to a local hermit (religious people that chose a life of solitude and contemplation). According to Historic England, this one could have been used in the 13th or 14th century, which is when hermits used to provide hospitality to weary travellers on behalf of the church. By this point, we tired walkers could have definitely done with coming across a local hermit to provide us with some hospitality.
I love the layers that get added to a place by reading the landscape around you. Fossils in the limestone reveal the geological history of the area - once a tropical sea. Now we were seeing the signs of early human activity in old burial mounds and stone circles, and heading towards more recent history with the hermit's cave. The goods just kept coming from this walk.
Like day one, today ended with a bit of a slog up the hill and in to Winster. With a further 14 miles under our belts, we headed back home for a well-earned curry.