Walk: Fairholmes

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The poet checking my map-reading! (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

We didn’t go out anywhere last weekend. We were both under the weather and the poet was on antibiotics. So we stayed indoors.

The weekend before, however, we did go for a short walk. We went on the Saturday, though, as we had a Monkey Dust gig to go to at teatime on the Sunday.

The walk from Fairholmes to Derwent Reservoir is one that I’ve done before. But this was the first time we did it as a “family”. (Me, the poet, the dog!)

It’s a short walk, only 1¼ miles, but it’s a good one for starting out on a new fitness/stamina regime.

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One of two benches strategically placed to make the most of the view. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The walk starts at the exit from the car park at Fairholmes. We crossed the road and went through a gate that took us up an “easy climb”. (I swear some of these guides can be “done” for misrepresentation!)

The path crosses a water conduit via a stone bridge. Then at the first junction, we turned slightly right and went up some stone steps to skirt the woods, keeping the reservoir to our right and the main woods to our left.

These steps lead to another “gentle rise”, but then it’s all level or downhill from there.

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The memorial to Tip the sheepdog, who stayed beside her master’s dead body for 15 weeks during the winter of 1953/54. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

At the highest point of the path there are two benches engraved with inspirational verses designed to encourage the visitor to sit and rest a while and enjoy the view.

Then the path drops downhill to join a road that runs alongside the reservoir. Here, the poet left us to get closer to the water and to take the picture below of the reservoir.

When he re-joined us, we strolled along the path and saw the memorial to Tip – a sheepdog who stayed with her master’s body for fifteen weeks during the winter of 1953/54.

Rufus had his picture taken here, but he wouldn’t keep still, so it’s a bit blurry, which is why I’ve not shared it here.

Next up is the dam wall, which sometimes has the gate open so you can visit the small museum commemorating 617 Squadron of “dambusters” fame. The gate was closed (it was closed last time I did the walk too), but the poet was still able to take a picture of the memorial just inside the gatehouse.

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Memorial to 617 Squadron, “The Dambusters”. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

In the past few years we’ve been up to see the Lancaster bomber fly-past. I think it’s stopped flying now, so it was quite emotional the last time we went.

The whole area can get very busy, though, particularly on anniversaries.

Both the reservoir and the car park at Fairholmes were quiet, but there were still a lot of cars parked. Lots of people use it as a base for longer walks and there are a lot of cyclists who visit too.

We continued along the road until we reached the far end of a roadside car park, then we turned left and dropped down a path that leads to a closer inspection of the dam wall.

We visited the dam wall itself only recently, and have lots of photographs from then. This time, the water wasn’t running, so we only had a small detour here.

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Derwent Reservoir. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we got back to the car, we continued on along the other side of the car park, adding another ¼ mile to our walk.

Down some more steps on the other side of the car park wall was once a farm, which was flooded when the dams were built.

Once we’d completed our walk, we visited the kiosk and bought a Bakewell slice and a bottle of pop each, which we sat and consumed in the car.

We only walked 1.45 miles, or 6,104 steps, and it took us an hour and twelve minutes with all the pausing for pictures. And we burned 217 calories.

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Lancaster flypast

I had a very busy week last week, but I completed the book I wanted to finish by the end of Friday and sent it back to the client, along with the invoice (hurrah!), but I did devote much of my work time to finishing that. I wanted to clear it so that I could have a fresh go at the next one on the list in as few sittings as possible. That’s already printed off and ready to go, but it’s a biggie. A very biggie. I’m going to need more paper again before printing off the next one.

I hope you didn’t feel very neglected while I concentrated on work. I did already do 4 posts in 2 days last week, though, so hopefully everyone had their fix. 🙂

Friday, then, we chilled.

On Saturday, we drove down to see my parents and had a good long chat with them. On the way we visited a local farm shop, which the poet fell in love with instantly. We picked up some bread, cake, juice and jam for my parents, and already my dad’s been on the phone to say how nice the bread was.

On Saturday evening we went out with friends to see more friends in their band. It was nice to see everyone, but the venue was one where I already knew a lot of other people too.

On Sunday, following a message from another friend, we decided to head over to Derbyshire, to Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs, to witness the last 2 airworthy Lancaster bombers fly over on their way back to RAF Coningsby from the Southport air show. Our friend asked where I went last year in order to see them, but last year they were on their way from Ladybower to Chatsworth House to do an air display there before heading back to base. I didn’t think they’d be going that way this time. So we all decided to try and get to Ladybower early, park up as close as we could and meet up if we could.

When we got there the whole area was rammed. There were thousands and thousands of people milling about the roads and paths, hundreds and hundreds of cars parked where they could on the roadside. Every single car park was full. So we drove out a bit while I checked the map and tried to work out their flight path from Ladybower back to Coningsby. I thought it might be worth going and parking up at Stannage Edge, just above Hathersage. If I was wrong, we could still have a nice picnic and a walk in beautiful surroundings.

I wasn’t wrong, and we’d thought of that just before everyone else seemed to, by the look of it. And just as we were climbing up the side of the hill, the Hurricane and Spitfire came into view and stopped the traffic. They were at our eye level. I wasn’t sure if they’d already done their bit and were going straight back to base, or if they’d be turning up again later. But we decided to park up on the roadside there, at a convenient spot, and hope we’d see them again.

We didn’t see the fighters again, but we did get a fantastic view of the 2 Lancasters. Again at eye level. They flew down the valley in front of us, banked and turned, then flew back up again. Some people thought that was it, and even the poet said “Come on, let’s go”. But I dug my heels in and, sure enough, a few minutes later they came back.

We didn’t get to meet up with any of our friends, and there were quite a few of us there. But we felt very honoured and privileged to see these historic aircraft on what could be their last ever flight together, as one of them is back off to Canada in a few days.

Here is a video from the bombers’ viewpoints. Imagine what that would have looked like 71 years ago.

Below are some photographs nicked from our good friend Alan “Patch” Patchett. We did take some pictures, but, well, the poet’s isn’t as big as Patch’s, so ours seem a very long way away. 😀 Patch does a lot of band photography, but if you like the pictures and have Facebook, please visit and “like” his FB page here.

It took us a while to get home, confounded by the fact that when I smelled burning and we checked the engine, the poet’s car had hardly any oil in. So our priority was to go and find a garage that sold oil, but first we had to negotiate and join the very slow moving traffic creeping its way out of the area. Crawling along at 0mph didn’t fill us with confidence about the oil situation … but we got there safely and were soon on our way home.

This week, then, the poet has once again abandoned me. My parents were thinking of coming to visit for a few days from tomorrow, but that may not happen this time after all. I have this new edit to crack on with and some short material to get out and into the ether. So I’d best make a start.

Enjoy the pictures.

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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett
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Picture: Alan Patchett