And indeed the last part too, as our time in the Dales - first Yorkshire, then Derbyshire has come to an end. We’re now just an hour or so from home - Patsy’s home anyway - in East Horsley, not too far from Guildford until the weekend.
Saturday saw us meet up with some friends from just south of Sheffield for lunch and a mighty good chinwag. There was a lot of catching up to do and Trev’s jaw of course got a thorough work out, but the rest of us did manage to get a word or two in as well. After a coffee at the ‘van we headed to - you guessed it - a pub to replenish our reserves - depleted from all that jawing. The Royal Oak in Hurdlow - about 15 minutes drive from the site - was the destination and being a Saturday lunchtime it was quite busy but they squeezed us in and boy, are we glad they did. We all had something different and all agreed it was stunning. Good honest pub grub well presented and in sensible sized portions - i.e. big enough! Add to that a selection of real ales and great company and it was an extremely enjoyable couple of hours or so.
We went our separate ways mid afternoon, us with an invitation to visit Peter & Pam for Sunday lunch the following day. A nice home cooked roast? Of course we accepted.
With lunch set for 2pm Sunday we took the opportunity to have a bit of a drive around in the morning and so headed south, stopping first at Ashbourne for a cuppa. The café was extremely busy, occupied mainly by middle aged men clad either in lycra or leather. No it wasn’t the tail end of some fetish party but clearly a popular stopping off point for the Sunday morning two wheeled crowd. Given the attire on view I still managed to get a few looks…
We headed north and east next, stopping briefly at Carsington Water reservoir. Lot’s to do here and it looked like a great place for families. It was clearly worth more time than we had - so, another place for a future visit.
Further up, just after joining the A6 was Matlock Bath, squeezed in between the river and steep hills, this too was extremely busy, clearly a favourite stopping off point for the two wheeled crowd - the ones with engines anyway. This also went down on the ‘must come back to’ list.
We turned off the A6 to avoid going through Bakewell again, instead passing the beautiful Chatsworth estate before joining the Sheffield road and arriving at our friends a little after 1pm.
Lunch was, as expected, delicious - Pam is a damn fine cook - and there was, thankfully enough apple pie for a second helping. We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
By complete coincidence - honest(?) the time of our departure meant we happened upon the Pack Horse Inn at around six pm - when they reopened for the evening trade. We had wanted to go back for another pint at least and with them being closed Monday and Tuesday this would be our last chance. Again, a friendly welcome and four new ales to try too. I only had two but they were excellent - this pub had a really friendly atmosphere and we will most certainly return.
Monday, and our last full day in the Dales. We had pondered getting the bus into Derby but with changeable weather again forecast we decided to stay relatively local and return to have a look at Matlock Bath and it’s neighbour Matlock. It’s certainly pretty and you can see why it’s popular.
While there is one main road through, there is a pleasant walk along the river to be had on one side, or if you need to fill your belly and empty your wallet cross over. A plethora of chippy’s and a few amusement arcades make you wonder if you’re at the seaside. Narrow steep roads climb the hillside behind.
A big draw here is the Heights of Abraham - a country park and caverns accessed by a cable car that takes you up from near the railway station. The views from the cable car alone I’m sure would have been fantastic, but with it being a bit misty we decided to leave it for another time. There were regular trains into Derby from the station too which was noted for future reference.
We had a brief wander around Matlock too - less touristy and more functional - before heading back to the site.
We had a good stay at Longnor Wood Holiday Park. The site is lovely - great facilities and a great location. It’s under the Tranquil Parks umbrella and so is adults only. The site is a relaxed place and there is no list of rules, you are just expected to use your common sense. Our pitch was fully serviced including a TV point - reception on the ‘van aerial was poor at times, so If you have an aerial cable, bring it. There was no mobile phone signal on either Vodafone or Three, and the mobile Wi-Fi dongle, with an 02 SIM card reported zilch also. There is site Wi-Fi and a weeks package will cost a tenner. There is no limit to the number of devices but data is capped at 2 gb. We got through that inside three days, so make sure those automatic updates are turned off!
Right, that’s out for now. Just one more part to come. Nearly there!