Me and Julie were invited by Joester,who we met on the Walking Forum,to attend his birthday bash from friday until sunday but as we had the hotel booked in the Lake District we could only meet and stay with them on the saturday,so we got up at 5.30a.m. ,packed and checked out and was driving away from the hotel car park by 6.30a.m. for the 170 mile,3,5 hour drive to Wirksworth in Derbyshire.We made good time as the traffic was light,had a break on the M6,even got lost trying to find the barn,had to phone Joe and stop at another farm for help,but rolled up at the barn at 10.30a.m. to find them all hung over and having breakfast.After saying hello to old friend's and meeting new one's we got our walking gear on and waited for the forum member's who were just attending the walk.So by 11.30a.m. our walking troup which consisted of Joester,Abi,me,Julie,Piston Pete,Gotmeheadshaved,Lynne,Sgt. Pepper,Emma,Ollie,Hayley,Peakbagger,Carolina and Granty,(Radder stopped in bed too hung over) were setting off to Alport Height's a short distance away,pictured here.
Alport Height's is also called Alport Stone after the conspicuous pillar of Gritstone that stand's 20 feet tall,the stone has 3 or 4 recognised climbing route's on it,Joe is pointing a route out that he has climbed.
The weather from the off was drizzly and we walked all day in our wet gear and didn't get any decent view's because of the mist.We then walked through a wood which sheltered us from the rain.
Came across this beautiful Celtic Cross.
We dropped down to a pub on the River Derwent for lunch.The landlord was a right miserable,moaning so and so,told everybody to take their boot's off,even though the floor was tiled,i didn't and was served by him.As Ollie had his dog and Abi brought the farm's dog with her they sat outside under the smoking shelter so we joined them.We ate our dinner here and after 2 pint's of lovely local ale we set off down the Cromford Canal.This canal now in disuse was constructed in 1794 and was 14.5 miles long,it was virtually all shut by 1944.We walked about 2 miles of it to the Leawood Pump House and the High Peak Junction of the Cromford and High Peak Railway,via the Gregory Tunnel.
It was here that Emma,Cliff and Lynne were struggling so Abi decided to take them to Wirksworth on the bus,Ollie and Hayley went as well so me and Joe took the dog's with us.
Next we walked up "Sheep Pasture Incline",it is 3 quarters of a mile long with a 1:9 gradient!.It is hard to imagine train's going up this very steep incline but they were pulled by mean's of a cable winch from the engine house at the top.Near the bottom of the incline is a pit to catch runaway train's,this was built after the cable broke and one of the train's hurtled downhill and crashed.
The incline lead's to Black Rocks,this being an outcrop of gritstone sculpted by the wind and rain, Black Rocks hang high above the village of Cromford with Cromford Moor behind and the High Peak Trail (the former Cromford and High Peak Railway) passing just below. It's a spectacular situation which affords a splendid view of the Derwent valley around Matlock and because of its popularity the area has been designated a country park.
By now the rain had stopped and it started to brighten up giving us a decent view.
Next we visited the National Stone Centre,it is a place crammed full with ancient tropical reef's,rock's and mineral's.Joe showed us some Crinoids in the rock's and we found it very interesting.We then walked into Wirksworth and met the gang and had another 2 pint's before walking back to the barn across field's in the dark with the aid of head torches.We arrived back at 7.30p.m. after walking 13 mile with 1,850 feet of ascent.We said farewell to Mike,Carolina,Granty and Radder,who couldn't get his car out of the car park as he was blocked in and had to wait for our return.
Joe made us a fantastic supper and we had a good chin wag and drink.After supper we split into team's to play Joe's excellent music quiz.
We then went outside to the bonfire to finish the evening off,a thoroughly enjoyable day and night with fantastic company.