It was a walk on the wild side day. A day to lose oneself in thoughts. It was lightly raining, blowy but Mam Tor my favourite peak was calling. There is always an adventure to be had on a walk.
From the car park in Castleton, I walked along a footpath with brook babbling prettily alongside. The only sounds were water trickle dribble and the tweeting trilling of birdlife. That’ll do nicely. This pathway eventually joined a tiny road at the start of my journey. Traffic free. Yippee. Breathing fresh air.
Whoa! What was that up ahead in the distance.
It was a tractor with a hedge trimmer attached. It blocked the entire width of the road. I guess it was travelling at around 5mph. This road was usually invitingly empty. A walker’s exclusive patch. Then a car raced past me and came to a halt behind the cutter. Then a van. Now there was a queue building that relatively speaking might have started shaming the M1.
The noisy hedge-cutter continued at its languid pace. The two vehicles were now tantamount to stationary and pumping exhaust fumes from their rear ends. I couldn’t now overtake three vehicles. I had slowed to a standstill. I was in a queue!
I’d come to the countryside to escape queues and traffic noise. I’d discovered both it in the most unlikely of settings.
Eventually the cutter turned off to a tinier road and the other two vehicles sped forward.
Agh! My route followed the cutter. There was no way I could attract the driver’s attention. Was he wearing ear muffs? I followed on foot surmising a worst case scenario that he was somehow bound for Mam Tor summit too?
Thank God he eventually looked in his mirror and drew his vehicle to the side to allow me to pass. Now I was free.
This was not a traffic route. Then I saw a large van heading towards me. Into the bushes for safety I leapt. What on earth was a van doing here? What next? A bulldozer? It was a van advertising plumbing services.
Ok the plusses of this walk? Wow it was strenuous but great as I got going. I saw miniature ponies. I only sighted around half a dozen people. I had a 15 minute chat with a delightful young American lady whose company sold staff development ideas to the American government.
She was based in Maryland near Washington DC and had no time for Biden and his government. She was staying in the UK until December and had decided she wanted to walk in the Peak District: “It’s a great experience,” she said. In the middle of nowhere I meet someone from a world away.
On the downhill stretch which leads down Winnats Pass and past the Speedwell Cavern I met Gaz with his dog who had come to walk in the Peak District from Coventry for the day.
“People ask me why I walk on my own. Because I prefer it now I have the dog,” he said.
” I used to spend too much time indoors on my own. My dog changed everything. Now I get out and about every day. I used to swim for Coventry and that’s a loner’s sport.”
We exchanged our thoughts about company and solo walking and he asked my name and I told him. He extended his hand and said: “Really great to meet you, Alan.”
Plenty of kindred spirits out there on them rolling Derbyshire hills – if you get past the grass cutter.