As you may have seen from a couple of previous posts, my plan for the last couple of months of the year was to walk the River Nidd Trail over a series of weekends with Chris. Unfortunately (for me, not Chris!), a new job opportunity arose and he is now working most of the weekends until the New Year and won’t be able to join me. As the trail is linear it really needs two cars to complete it in sections, so this is now on hold until 2020.

I still feel like I’ve got a bit of walking in me this year though, so I began hunting around for a short(ish), non-challenging, fairly local walk I could complete in four days. With only a couple of days annual leave to play with, I couldn’t spend much longer than this and I needed it to be fairly local in order to minimise the travel time and maximise the walking. I wanted to continue my “walking beside the river” theme and although it’s not my usual sort of terrain, I began to look at the Derwent Valley Heritage Way.

I put out a request for suggestions on Twitter – it’s a bit of a bile-filled cesspit at times, but it came up trumps this time for me and along with the DVHW, I got loads of great suggestions.

Some were too far away and would burn two of my four days in travel, but I filed these away for next year and looked more closely at a couple that were much closer to me.

In the end I got a couple of thumbs up for the DVHW and @WorthingWander pointed me to his journal of the walk from a couple of years ago. Someone also pointed out that @dean_read had walked the route and recorded a video diary of his journey. These convinced me that the walk held enough interest, suitably diverse scenery and something I could probably manage even in my current poor condition.

The DVHW follows the River Derwent from Ladybower Reservoir to Derwent Mouth, near Shardlow in Derbyshire. The source of the Derwent lies about another 8-10 miles north of the start of the walk, and as much as I would like to include it, I just don’t have time, so that will have to be saved for another day. See a map of the route at the bottom of this post.

Ladybower Reservoir from a walk in 2010

Initially I didn’t think I had time to get to the end and then make my way to a suitable public transport hub to get home inside the allotted time, not without making the last day 16+ miles and I really didn’t want to be doing that. So I had planned to walk as far as Derby train station, about 6 miles from the end of the walk, and catch a train home from there. However, I made a couple of changes and managed to squeeze another day into the holiday, so I can now continue to the end of the DVHW and walk a few extra miles to the train station at Long Eaton. As well as adding an extra day into my holiday (always good), I now have the added satisfaction of completing the whole walk.

A multi-day walk late in the year is becoming something of a tradition for me now. I did one a couple of years ago along a section of the Pennine Way, accompanied by glorious winter weather and another last year, along the Westmorland Way where it rained solidly for five days! Both were great walks and brought the walking calendar to a satisfying end. I’m hoping this year’s walk will be the same.

On the Pennine Way, frozen bogs, utter bliss!
On the Pennine Way, frozen bogs, utter bliss!
Battling wind and rain on the Westmorland Way
Battling wind and rain on the Westmorland Way

I love the fact that the days are so short – starting out early with the dawn, and finishing as the sun is setting, or perhaps even after it has set and the lights are on in the houses of the village as you approach, casting a warm inviting glow and teasing the possibility of a roaring fire if I’m staying in a pub. I love the fact that it may rain all day, but there’s that slim chance of blue skies and crisp cold mornings, ice in the puddles, the bite of frost on your nose and knowing that all you have to do is walk. One of my favourite memories of last year’s walk was finding a pub at lunchtime, after walking through the rain for 3 hours and the bowl of soup and the warm crusty roll was one of the best meals I can recall. Even heading back out into the driving rain in wet gear didn’t dampen my spirits.

This week’s news has all been about the flooding in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands and the terrible news of a lady being swept away and drowned in the River Derwent near Matlock. The terrible dichotomy has not been lost on me – on one hand, the river being a source of joy and pleasure and on the other, the cause of so much devastation and dreadful loss. I hope to see a calmer side to the Derwent when I walk beside it, but I know what it and the other rivers I’ve followed this year are capable of and I think that’s all part of their fascination!

I’ll be setting out on Wednesday 4th December and I hope you’ll follow along with me, as I’m planning on blogging along the way.

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1 thought on “One Last Hurrah!”

  1. Looks like a great walk ahead. I envy you Stuart. It is one of my favourite times of the year to walk in the UK — for all the reasons you noted and, for me at least, there are fewer people about and so feel more connected to the atmospheric surroundings. Given I’ve done about 3 months worth of long distance walking this year, I will be staying home this December. But I look forward to following your last adventure of the year!

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