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Milldale walk

New walks book sampled today - Short Walks in the Peak District (Collins/Ramblers Organisation). We opted for Viator's Bridge, Milldale for a relaxing 2 1/2 mile afternoon stroll. Gorgeous clear, sunny day and 21 Celsius. What could be better. 

We headed up the back roads towards Grindon, relishing all the lacy, wayside cow-parsley and buttercup meadows left alone last weekend, when the mass silage cut seemed to be widespread.  
 
The delightful, old Grindon village - like stepping back into the past - was tranquil before milking time, so no herd of cows to wait for in the lane. The road out, leading down to Weags Bridge and The Manifold Trail opens up to stunning views above The Manifold Valley and over to Beeston Tor. In the sunlight, the lush fields, studded with hawthorn blossom, provided a great reminder for me of why this is such a beautiful place to live.  
 
We wound our way down to the valley along the narrow lane with its canopy of trees, luckily without meeting a vehicle, and crossed the Manifold Trail and Weag's Bridge. The winding ascent on the other side always impresses, reminding me of French mountain roads with its steep hairpin bends, wandering cattle and grass growing up the middle of the road. 
 
At the top we continued towards Mill Dale and parked in the free car park a short walk from the village.  A sprinkling of walkers were passing through the picturesque village on the Dove today - a lean day for ducks compared to summer weekends. 
 
The walk leads alongside the river towards Dovedale for about a mile before taking a left turn just before Dove Holes, at a finger post indicating Alsop Le Dale. This was new territory for us - Dovedale Dale is so lovely, especially when as quiet as this, that we've continued along by the river on other visits. 
 
We found ourselves  ascending gently through grassland on a narrow path which soon became more of a stony, woodland track, lined with wild garlic, a mossy wall on our right. Crags called The Nabbs 'guard' the top end of Nab Dale. I was too focused on trying to identify mystery clumps of yellow flowers clinging to them to really appreciate their presence but at this point we emerged into open country, the buildings of Hanson Farm on our left. 
 
The path led up towards a series of stiles a little to the right of the extensive farm buildings, through cattle pastures and along side a dry stone field wall. Soon the terrain levelled out and revealed panoramic views ahead of Dovedale, Milldale and Wolfescote Dale. A final stile led us onto the steep but gradual, zig-zagging descent down to Milldale, the limestone hillside dotted with tiny, jewel-like, alpine flowers and quaking grass. We found low, rocky outcrops ideal for a refreshment break and for photos like the one above. A shame that the Milldale hole-in-the-wall, Polly's cafe wasn't open as an ice-cream would have been a perfect end to this late spring walk!