Walk Diary Sunday 11 March 2018 Weather, 8°C. Clear.
Alstonefield Depart 10 a.m. 9 ½ miles Leaders: Jane and Dave
No. on walk 16
Purely by coincidence there were four groups of ramblers who had chosen Alstonefield as their starting point on this particular Sunday, although as we found out one of the groups had cancelled their walk because of a leader who was not well, however this didn’t stop some of their uninformed members from turning up and so chose another group to walk with. I don’t know what the collective noun is for a collection of ramblers, but on this occasion I’d like to say that Alstonefield was awash with a ‘confusion’ of ramblers.
We set off from the car park that has the well used toilets and headed north and then north west by the Rakes and immediately we could see how much snow they had had in this part of Staffordshire, by the large swathe of drifts still quite deep against some of the walls, even after many days of thaw. We followed the same line that eventually took us around Narrowdale Hill, great views from here towards Hartington. We dropped down to the almost derelict farm, that has a collection of old vehicles strewn around the place, pictured a Landrover.
Underfoot was not to bad considering the recent rain and thaw as we made for Beresford Lane Farm crossing the lane at this point and continuing in the same direction to Lower Hurst Farm. It was here, pictured, that we stopped to admire a huge Granite Bull, must weigh several tons just near to the farm entrance. At the footbridge we stopped for our first break and afterwards crossed over Mill Lane to Scaldersitch. This farm is now being updated with the addition of holiday ‘pods’ and near to the entrance a brand new cattle grid was ready there to be installed. After walking through the building site cum farmyard we joined the Sheen Road, following along it to Hume End. Lunch was taken in a very civilised manner, sitting at the picnic tables adjacent to the visitor centre, with all facilities provided nearby.
After lunch, taken in sunshine, we strolled briskly along the Manifold Way, rounding a bend to see the towering Ecton Hill before us, little did we know then, that we were about to climb the northern shoulder. A steep climb of three hundred feet over a very short distance, worth it when we stopped to draw breath at the top and admire the stunning views back down below. We followed our leaders along the contour joining the road at the Back of Ecton, turning left to walk the path along the lower slopes of The National Trust’s Wetton Hills, a continuous steady climb brought us into Wetton Village. I don’t know what the permanent population of Wetton is, probably quite low, as every other house we passed seemed to be a ‘holiday let’.
We left the village for our final leg, along the Ashbourne Road, confusing here as there is also an Ashbourne Lane off at the same road junction. After the first junction along the road, we took the field path on the left on a westerly line to enter Alstonefield once more via the playing fields, finishing another great day out in near perfect walking weather.