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19th September 2014
Present: Dave Bates, Robert Brown, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Graham Fildes, Adrian Hammond, Robert Holmes, Larry Johnson, Kevin Jordan, Alan Larsen, Kevin McDonough, Mike Melia, John Nelson, Noel O’Toole, Bob Riall, Dave Whittle, Mike Worthington
The group was in a buoyant mood following the previous day’s Scottish independence vote and the day’s fine opening weather. It was as likely as not purring more loudly than Elizabeth, sat in her chambers at Buckingham Palace ruminating over how to deal with her recalcitrant prime minister. The Kingdom remains united!
The British weather is perfectly capable of changing even the most buoyant of moods and defeating the most fastidious of meteorological soothsayers. We departed from Manchester Piccadilly on the 10:49 to Sheffield under blazing sunshine and blue skies only to be greeted by low cloud and diffuse light upon our arrival at Hope. Several members responded to the ambient climatic signals by donning additional layers of clothing before we began our ascent up Bradwell Edge. The mist had now become quite dense and its opacity completely obscured our views around the surrounding countryside. Unsurprisingly, it began to rain as the surrounding air had become as pregnant with moisture as the bramble bushes were in the hedgerows with ripened blackberries. Our sympathies were extended towards Robert B who had neglected to furnish himself with a water repellent jacket and any heartless individual who considered admonishing him, given the clemency of the weather earlier during the day, would have been regarded as somewhat churlish. Dave W did his utmost to volunteer the shield of his umbrella to Robert but the restrictive nature of the path that we were walking along prevented him from doing so. Several of the group took full advantage of the availability of luscious blackberries which by this time were glistening with rainwater. Warning reminders were issued about the fibrous nature of the fruit and the distance remaining to the nearest available amenities.
A rain soddened group began its gradual, tortuous descent into Bradwell village and proceeded further into Smalldale where the first hostelry awaited us: Ye Olde Bowling Green Inn. The tight narrow path proved to be something of a nightmare given the recent rainfall. The state of the ground afforded minimal adherence to the group’s mud caked boots. Indeed, Kevin J suffered a fall which transmitted a shock wave through his shoulder and elbow of sufficient intensity that it provided a painful reminder of an already broken humerus bone in his shoulder; the break having been inflicted some weeks earlier but, for reasons best known to himself, he had neglected to seek medical attention for it. Several of us learned on the following mid week walk that Kevin will be incapacitated for several weeks and it will be highly unlikely that he will be attending any walks in the near future that require any sustained level of physical exertion.
We duly arrived at the Bowling Green where we enjoyed pints of Hobgoblin, Harvest Pale and Tribute bitters together with Thatcher’s cider. Upon arrival, we sat down at one of the available tables just as a couple of individuals who had been dining had decided to depart upon our arrival. We all assumed that this was purely coincidental. However, prior to their departure, they had left a considerable portion of their meal behind including a still steaming portion of chips. As the Fildes brothers sat down, the chips quickly became the sole focus of their attention as the walk so far had begun to accentuate their prodigious appetites. It wasn’t long before the chips began to disappear and, after partly sating their own desires, duly offered the residual scraps to the remainder of the group. I casually glanced over at Robert B who appeared to be rapidly heading towards stage one hypothermia. He felt the need to conserve his dry shirt for later in the evening as the rain may yet have decided to make a return. So for the present, he was condemned to remain in his now saturated attire. I overheard a comment from Dave D that he felt fully justified in paying tribute to his pint of Tribute.
We were enjoying pint number two when Alan suddenly announced that we had twenty-five minutes to complete our extant neckage prior to our departure at 13:30. Mystified looks were exchanged between us all as the time was presently 14:05. Kevin M in his inimitable and typical spontaneous fashion provided an apt quote from Hilda Baker who played Nellie Pledge in the 1970’s television series Nearest and Dearest: “I must get a little hand put on this watch”. Alan, in his defence, blamed his erroneous time keeping on the dubious quality of his fake Rolex watch that he had recently purchased in Spain!
Following our departure from the Bowling Green, we made our way towards Bradwell Dale and walked up to Earl Rake. The dense mist was unrelenting and continued to obscure our views of the undoubted panoramic views that lay just beyond. We proceeded along the Limestone Way towards Cavedale.
Upon our arrival at Castleton, we headed into our next port of call, the Castle, where Lees Pale, Doombar, Adnams and Black Sheep bitters were on offer together with Aspall’s cider. Dave D vented his chagrin at the Lees Pale as he concluded that it was a ‘pale imitation’ of the quality that he has experienced and consequently come to expect.
We then proceeded towards Ye Olde Nags Head where, again, Lees Pale, Doombar, and Black Sheep bitters were served together with Rudgate. Andy F unfortunately suffered the ignominy of being short changed by the bar staff to the tune of the princely sum of £1. However, we all sympathised with him as most of us would agree that an incident of this nature does stick in one’s craw.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese proved to be the next venue that appeared in our crosshairs. Here, we enjoyed Acorn Barnsley, Absolution, Castleton Smooth, Chatsworth Gold and Moonshine bitters and Olde English cider. Dave D and Kevin M, heads both bowed in deep debate, conducted a comparison of their respective estimations of our distance travelled so far: Dave using global satellite positioning equipment and Kevin, his trusty pedometer. I recollect that a considerable discrepancy emerged between the two. Regarding the accuracy of the output of each of the individuals’ equipment? The jury is still out.
Our penultimate venue was the Old Hall Hotel. Kevin M and Dave D however, as an accidental precursor, decided to visit the Peak Hotel. Kevin’s subsequent report of his Adams was: “Superb!” Dave, in stark contrast, complained that his eyes had watered following his pint of Piledriver! The Old Hall served Theakston’s Best, Old Peculiar and Dizzy Blonde bitters.
Our final hostelry was the Traveller’s Rest, which reminded me of the Half Way Inn that I used to visit some years ago. I believe that it has now been subsequently renamed the Virgins’ Rest. The Traveller’s Rest took us to within a cock’s stride of Hope railway station, albeit the walk to it was a formidable distance along a poorly lit road frequented by high- speed traffic. Farmer’s Blonde, Wainwright’s, Cobra and Stone’s awaited us at the bar.
The Manchester local football cognoscenti may or may not be interested to learn that an animated, jocular and nostalgic discussion took place, led principally by Larry J and Mike M, which endured for some time regarding the historical composition of the Moston 6/11 team members.
Our heartfelt thanks once again to Alan for his unswerving dedication to the O.C.O.T. cause in providing a top quality walk. We extend our condolences to Kevin J and wish him a speedy recovery and an imminent return to future walks.