60 miles across the Limestone way and beyond – sounds like a plan…

….a plan bought to fruition over the long winter, many miles scheduled but sadly not the Four Seasons….pah.  As the bank holiday drew closer the loaded backpacks, 20 mile days and nights tripping the light fantastic in Britain’s historic  “youth” hostels seemed less-and-less of a good idea.

The Limestone way, a nifty little route littered with historic sites and stories – Roman and Victorian in abundance but with Domesday mentions and more besides.  Britain may be at the nub end of austerity but there is plenty to do and well worth a few days of your time.

Annie Nunan togged in outdoor gear en route from Hope

Nunan sets the pace …

Hope station (optimistic) saw the merry band don their packs to take a leg warming 3 mile route march to the YHA at Losehill Hall.  Navigator nerves and a denied attempt at jumping over the wall meant an additional mile, don’t be fooled, just move the big wooden fence and shimmy on in.  One of the best hostels in the UK with glorious and original Victorian manor house features – not bad for £20.00.  Austerity I love you!  A quick jaunt to Castleton for an average supper, chips-on-chips-on-pie-on-chips at the George Hotel, take time to look around far better can be had.

Peak District May 2013 (29)

A sluggish 09.30 start under the watchful eye of Mam Tor and we hit Castleton and the Limestone Way.  After a slippery scramble up Cave Dale, past Peveril Castle and a posse of DofE grumpy teens we were on our way.  A day’s walk across dry stone walled field-after-field each surrounded by its own army of late season daffodils was delightful.  All Derby Dales and limestone hills, not too stretching in spite of a few up-and-downs.  The Angler’s Rest, a riverside, and CAMRA, pub strategically placed en-route meant this was a balanced if rolling, Storm Brewery’s Silk of Amnesia,  18 mile stroll.

Old stone farm building on the fields of the Peaks

En-route to Youlgreave

After another chip (triple fried) and pint stop (Peak district diet) at the still fab Old Smithy in Moneyash, we were promised a night of B&B luxury at the Old Bakery, Youlgreave, well maybe not luxury but better than a YHA.  A quick supper at the Farmyard Inn chips (groan) pints (of wine) and a landlady who should have been a stand-up made this a night to remember and thoroughly recommended.

Up at the crackle and straight down to the river – swift or slow always a sight worth a snap – with the sun rising in the sky our day began – 20 Miles to Ilam….the fine wine of the Farmyard was making its mark, ouch.  Our first stop was Robin Hood’s Stride and a bizarre hermits cave, (not really worth the detour).

Trees with little hearts strung up overlooking Peak District

Funny little tree love thing going on

Some evidence of Limestone quarrying but little to nothing of the old lead mining was seen as we pushed on towards Bonsall for a snack at the King’s Head (1677 wow) very Charles 1st tho’ run by an abrupt, but amusing, Danish lady.  Some fairly chunky hills but as we neared Ilam we were met with magnificent moss marbled hues bouncing off the great pyramid that is Dovedale.

Dovedale in the low light of Spring

Dovedale in the low Spring light – beautiful

Got kids, feeling broke, get yourselves up to Ilam YHA.  An historic hall donated to the nation’s youth by the McDougal (flour) family in 1935 and right on the doorstep of the Limestone Way and Dovedale.

A view of Ilam Hall

Ilam Hall – yes a YHA ….

Dawn broke and with yet another sunny day the 16 miler to Uttoxeter seemed a breeze, or so we thought.  Check out that map as our little detours meant it was closer to 20, ouch.  But with the best pub lunch on any walk yet all was not lost.

A picture of lunch at the Duncombe Arms

Camembert, rosemary, garlic and a pint. Loving this walk.

The Limestone Way is not the biggest challenge you will face but it is a walk with complexity and history, great landlords and a few fine pints along the way.  A few more pictures to whet your appetite.

Flowers under the Peak Dales

Flowers under the Peak Dales

Dovedale in the low evening light

Dovedale in the low evening light

On the outskirts of Youlgreave

On the outskirts of Youlgreave

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