Day 4 - Tissington to Rocester (the FINISH!)
Today was the FINAL day of the Limestone Way! As we set off from Tissington, it was hard to believe that we'd walked all the way from Castleton.
As these posts have kind of turned in to lots of bits of local Derbyshire trivia that no one asked for, I'm going to throw some more in for you. If you're from the area, you may have heard of the local tradition of well dressing. For me, this is something I remember doing when I was in Brownies, and being made to spend hours and hours of sticking coffee beans into brown clay and not really understanding what it was all for. With the benefit of a few more years of life (and Google), well dressing is basically a really lovely tradition of decorating a well or other water source with flower petals and other natural materials to form intricate scenes and displays. From my very limited research on the topic, it seems like no one really knows where the idea came from, but the simple explanation of celebrating and giving thanks for a clean water source seems to make a lot of sense. Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning it is because Tissington is a place famed for its well dressing, and every year has a village event around the tradition. Tissington Hall website has a timelapse of how it's done and some examples of the finished results.
From Tissington, we soon reached Thorpe, the gateway to the very famous Dovedale and the Stepping Stones. This is a beautiful and notoriously popular spot on the River Dove. We weren't heading through it today, and continued out of Thorpe, crossing the River Dove (pausing for a trout watch) and looking back over to the peak of Thorpe Cloud watching over the valley below.
Once over the River Dove, we had crossed into the county of Staffordshire, which also marked us leaving the official Peak District National Park. We continued across pastures and fields, greeted by many sheep and cows and overlooking the town of Ashbourne in the distance. More sheep, more cows, and then - ALPACAS.
After chatting with the alpacas for a bit, we had some lunch and continued onwards. Then, disaster struck.
I'm being dramatic, but basically I was wandering along around the edge of a field, where I obliviously stepped on a wasp nest. The first I knew of it was feeling a sharp stabbing pain in my left bum cheek, before grabbing it in shock and shouting at everyone that 'SOMETHING'S STINGING ME REALLY HARD!!!'. My wonderful mum rushed to the rescue, telling me to pull down my shorts and I started to run away from the scene of the crime in my knickers. After two minutes of searing buttock pain, it started to turn into more of a gentle throb, and so we continued onwards. In my 26 years of roaming the countryside, this is the first time I have ever been stung by a wasp, and I'm not going to lie, it hurt a lot more than I expected.
We wandered through the village of Ellastone, rejoining the River Dove and following it downstream until the bright lights of the JCB World HQ in Rocester came into view. Fields eventually turned into roads, and trees into terraced housing.
We came to the end of the footpath at a rather anticlimactic road junction, where it joins the Staffordshire Way. There's nothing marking the end of the footpath at all, which is quite funny, but I think also rather fitting. With all of the beauty of the Peak District, the mystical ancient sites, epic history and rich wildlife, Derbyshire and Staffordshire have a lot to boast about. But for me, its the unpretentiousness of the area that makes its understated beauty even more bewitching. I've been exploring the outdoors in Derbyshire and Staffordshire throughout my whole life so far, and yet as the Limestone Way has proved, there is always more to see.