2 1/2 hours
Mable savours Cressbrook Dale and Litton
This to me is a special local walk as it takes in some scenery that I have been in awe of since moving to the Peak District. It takes in the beautiful Cressbrook Dale with its magnificent limestone walls and outcrops plus the majestic Peters Stone, so named due to its resemblance to St Peter’s Basilica, standing proudly at one end, near Wardlow Mires.
Peter’s Stone is infamous as it stands within The Gibbet Field where the last gibbeting was carried out in the early 1700’s. Walking through it today, it is hard to believe that this stupendously beautiful area could have such a dark past, but it makes passing the area just that little more thrilling.
Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself as we need to start at the beginning in Litton, near the Red Lion, although on occasions, when we have felt energetic, we have walked from Tideswell, where you can approach the village via the lane that leads passed Litton Church or alternatively walk up from Tideswell Dale. Both bring you into Litton Village square, with its pub, school, village green and stocks.
From Litton it is primarily road walking for the first twenty minutes out of the village, but it is worth it, trust us. You need to follow the road passed the Bretton Cottage bed and breakfast on your left, and you will find, 100 yards further down the hill, a gate that allows entry to the Dale.
At this point you are offered fabulous views of the Dale and Peter’s Stone and if you choose, it does make for a good walk, if you enter at this point. It is not our preferred walk, however, as I do not think it is Mable friendly, being too high up. I think it is well worth the extra effort to take a right at the main road ahead and “struggle” the 2-300 yards along until you gain entry to the Dale at Wardlow Mires. To access at this point is to enter at ground level allowing you to fully appreciate the majestic limestone heights in all their glory.
It is also a flat open route, ideal for one well behaved mutt, namely Mable, to search for random sticks and stones to carry and chase at her leisure.
The limestone outcrops can be seen striping across the grass banks to the left and drawing your eye towards the massive basilisk that is Peter’s Stone. It also forms cliffs and cracks, crags and caves, housing wildlife, throughout – Mable and I saw a rabbit dash for cover, on the day we walked it, bounding over 50 metres up the cliff as if on a spring, into its craggy burrow above. It was mesmerising feat of athleticism. The same outcrop, I decided, if you squinted when looking up, looked not dissimilar to a half finished Mount Rushmore, if you can imagine it. You can make out half carved faces near the top, which are picked out perfectly in the changing light. On the same day as seeing the rock climbing rabbit, we also managed to surprise three horses grazing above the cliff. They were obviously sure footed and well used to their elevated location, but looked out of place walking free so high above our heads.
Walking through the valley, with the sun streaming across it in, late afternoon, shadows accentuated the hollows and shingle slopes and highlighted the green grass and buttercups. Walking around Peter’s Stone and through the valley beyond filled me with a feeling of deep pride; proud to live where I do; proud to actually be able to walk this route anytime I choose and proud to be able to provide Mable with the freedom to enjoy it too.
After Peter’s Stone, you continue along the dale bottom, which eventually offers up the option of a right hand bend, or to carry on further taking you off to Little Longstone, should you choose. Mable and I take the right bend which brings you to a narrower dale ascending passed more crags and smaller caves, over aged worn sheep tracks, up to farms fields above. The place is an absolute treat. The geology throughout is so interesting, I would say, even to the most distracted and disengaged walkers – you cannot fail to feel something when ambling in this countryside. ( Mable feels it too, mainly in the nasal passages, I suspect, with all the smells this place has to offer, from abundant wildlife to plant life.)
Ascending up to the fields behind Litton, you eventually come to a stile that allows you back onto the Litton Road, at Litton View Farm, just at the front of their farm yard and almost into the centre of the village.
If you made the decision to start this walk in Litton, you have the homely and friendly Red Lion pub to visit for food and libation. Alternatively, you could pop to the local village Co-operative shop for snacks and drinks to eat on the green.
If you started in Tideswell, you still have a way to go and I would suggest the walk passed the Church again, to enjoy more of the Peaks beauty; the sheep fields; the fresh air; the cows; the Tideswell allotments and then the descent into Tideswell, with its overview of The Cathedral of The Peak, Tideswell Church – it’s worth the effort and justifies Fish and Chips or food at one of the local Tideswell pubs or cafes – after all, you have earned it!
Mable and I will just toddle off home for a libation of our own.