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Sunday, 4 November 2018

Accessible Peak District - Tissington Trail and accidental Dovedale

Normally, by the last day of a holiday, I'm tired and achy and just want to get back home to my own bed, but by Thursday (our last day) I was really enjoying the week and really didn't want to go home at all. I could have cheerfully stayed for a second week, which is totally unlike me.

Tissington Trail

Following the success of the Monsal Trail, we chose from our remaining list of possible days out. Parsley Hay and the Tissington Trail were on our list and it's another disused railway. It could have been a bit samey but really, if something works, why not do more of the same?

Photo of the end of the Parsley Hay building

We parked at Parsley Hay, which is a lovely little centre, with toilets, food kiosk and a cycle hire centre. It looked like the cycle hire place did a good range of accessible bikes of various types... but I was using my mountain trike again and was more than happy as I was. Like the Monsal Trail, the Tissington Trail is a nice flat route - at least the bit we did - and a good surface with compacted gravel. We set off in the direction of Hartington Station, bearing right at this junction just after joining the trail. 

Photo of Liggy and I starting our walk

The thing that stood out most on this trail, was the beautiful scenery. It was a mainly sunny day but with some cloud and when the sun hit the hills, it made patterns through the clouds. This route felt a lot more remote than yesterday's and so, so peaceful. 

Photo of the distant hills with the sun shining on them

It's about 2 miles to Hartington. We forgot to look at the sign coming out of Parsley Hay but when we got to Hartington, we saw this one. It was nice to see disabilities represented on their code of conduct pictures. 

Photo of signpost and code of conduct including wheelchair pic

Although the actual route was remote and well off the beaten track, the station was quite lively. There was people having picnics and others parked up, beginning or ending their hikes. The station felt like a definite way marker. I don't know whether all the stations on the trail are the same, but the map would indicate good facilities throughout.

Photo of the station building

There is nothing like good toilet facilities but on country walks, the lack of loos is our biggest challenge. Many people can just pop behind a bush but that is too tricky for me. So this is just how grateful I am when we find good, clean, accessible toilets.

Photo of my excitement at good toilet facilities

At both stations we visited, there was also an outdoor tap, so getting clean water for Liggy was easy too - though on this occasion, it was more about washing off poo she rolled in, rather than drinking it. (photo later)

The trail there did feel very flat and it was only on the return trip that I realised it was all just slightly downhill on the way there. You know what that means - it was all slightly uphill on the way back! I managed absolutely fine though. It was the right level of challenge, though I would probably reverse the whole route next time. Here's a couple more pics of the route back.

Photo of little bridge over the trail

Photo of Liggy and me

As I mentioned earlier, Liggy rolled in some poo. She actually did this once in each direction, before being put swiftly back on lead. Thankfully, there was an outdoor tap, so Neil washed it off before we loaded her back in the car. What do dogs get out of this?!! Yuk! She doesn't look very pleased about being washed in cold water, does she? She did get a bath later with shampoo and warm water and much preferred that.

Photo of Neil washing Liggy

Accidental Dovedale

Next on the plan, was to drive to Tissington, have a look round the village and maybe do another section of the trail. However, Neil turned right instead of left and we ended up at Dovedale instead. On our honeymoon, Dovedale was one of our favourite days out, so rather than correct the mistake, we went with the flow.

From the car park, there is an accessible walk to the stepping stones, but that is where it ends. It's a shame there wasn't somewhere I could cross but we had a nice walk and some fun anyway. Liggy even had a little play in the river.

My favourite bit though, just demonstrated Liggy's ability to problem solve. The first photo shows her happily skipping over the stepping stones with Neil. He sometimes takes her for walks in places I can't go and she loves her 'daddy adventures'. She was probably expecting a nice hike off the path.

Photo of Neil walking Liggy over the stepping stones

However, we had been practising recalls in distracting environments and this was a good opportunity. Also, Liggy isn't that keen on water and still smelt a little poo-ish from her morning walk, so we were hoping to tempt her to have a swim. Neil let her off lead, and I called her to me. Keen to please, she set off running through the water, until it got deep enough to touch her tummy. Then she stopped and turned back. Not to be deterred, we tried again. Exact repeat. Third time, I called and she looked around her.

Photo of Neil letting Liggy off lead to come back to me

A look of 'duh!' crossed her face, as she realised there was an easier route back to me. With that, she left Neil squatting on the bank, headed back to the stepping stones and carefully made her way across, before coming and sitting square in front of me, for her good recall treats.

Photo of Liggy coming back over the stepping stones

I have to say, this was probably my favourite day out of the whole week. I hope we get to go back to the farm, the Peaks and do one of the trails again. Yesterday, I said I hoped Countryfile would do one of their rambles on the Monsal Trail but actually the Tissington Trail would be better. It's longer and has loads of toilets on the route.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Accessible Peak District - Monsal Trail

I'm back at work, which has given me less time for writing, but I am desperate to share the last two days of our holiday in the Peak District. We had a list of days out planned but, as Tuesday hadn't been the best day, and because we saw Steve Brown on Countryfile on the Sunday evening (as we cosied up in front of the log fire on the farm) and he did a piece on the Monsal Trail, we decided to change our plans.

Disused railway lines can be a perfect place for wheelchair hiking. They are rarely completely flat, but I don't want completely flat; I do need occasional low maintenance days. Have a look at the map of the trail. We did a little bit of forward planning on the Tuesday afternoon, on our way back from Chatsworth. We found, with some help from Google, Bakewell station. I wish I'd taken a photo of the ramp that goes from ground level up to the railway bridge. It certainly wouldn't have met any gradient rules at all! Then we spotted a sign with the little blue wheelchair and before I could scream obscenities at it, realised that the whole point was that this was NOT accessible but Hassop, the next station was.

I have to say, Hassop was lovely. We popped in, parked up and checked out the important things - toilets - which were cleverly at the back of the shop. As we were leaving, I spotted a lovely scarf/shawl, which I actually thought my mum-in-law would like the colour of... but then I touched it. It was 20% wool and 80% cotton and soooooooo soft! Neil, as he has a tendency to do after a tough day, immediately bought me it. I did tell him it wouldn't help my pain levels but I do love the scarf. It's the sort of texture that a small child would suck their thumb and stroke their cheek with it.

Monsal Trail

Having checked out Hassop, we went home and reviewed the map. No idea why, but I get quite excited by tunnels and I wanted to do a section that had tunnels and maybe some viaducts. Hassop is several miles equidistant from all tunnels, so we abandoned Hassop and parked up at Millers Dale. This was quieter, more remote, very peaceful and pretty (in spite of the redevelopment works going on). There was good toilet facilities and very easy access onto the trail. From there, we headed west to Chee Tor tunnels.

I had my Go Pro on, but that's ended badly! I transfered all the video to our new Chromebook but it bunged up the storage (which is tiny) and the Internet wasn't great, so it wouldn't sync. I thought I'd still got a copy on my SD card so I deleted the files. You can probably guess the rest and there's not going to be any video clips this time. Ooops! Because I videoed the whole day, we only took a couple of photos, but here they are:

Photo showing the entrance to one of the tunnels

Photo showing a close up entrance to one of the tunnels

You can see how lovely and smooth the surface is. It was great all the way that we did. It's also well away from roads, so Liggy got some extended off-lead times, which she loved. I was a bit concerned about whether she'd be frightened of the tunnels - in spite of some lighting, they were quite dark - but my bomb-proof pup was totally unphased. I loved the tunnels. They were cold and quiet but echoed beautifully. They were dark and eerie and you could only see other people as silhouettes. And then you got that 'light at the end of the tunnel', literally.

I also loved the scenery along the route, which I am unable to share, sadly. What I would love to do, is go back some day and do the whole route end-to-end. That would be a really cool challenge. Maybe Countryfile could make that their accessible ramble for Children in Need next year. The only downside on the Monsal Trail is the lack of toilets along the route. There are only two accessible ones, as far as I can tell. Thursday's day out may solve that little problem though, so you'll have to wait (as I keep being told about toilets)!