As I was waiting at Sheffield Bus Station I noticed my favourite bus pass by; yes, I do actually have a favourite bus. It's a TM Travel double-decker, which sometimes, like this morning, only displays the letters BOB on its destination blinds: no service number or destination town - just the colloquial diminutive version of 'Robert.'
About an hour and a half later I got off my bus at the bottom of the hill at Matlock Green; a couple of stops before the town centre. I walked along the road for a few yards before I located the footpath which leads up the hill, across fields and pastures. It wasn't easy to find, there's no sign and the track I needed to take looks like it leads to a garden centre.
As I walked along here the sun was at just the right angle for perfect views of Matlock, a couple of miles away.
I lingered awhile to take some photographs, but soon arrived at the Wards End area of Starkholmes, located at the edge of the village. I then walked up the steep winding road until I reached Hearthstone Lane; a single track, tarmacked road which goes to Hearthstone Farm - which seems to be more like a hamlet. This was the highest section of the walk and there were still significant amounts of snow piled up at the side of the road. Further on, when I was walking along a section of footpath enclosed by high hedges, I had to walk through the remains of several deep snowdrifts.
I then walked down through the woods, past Lea Bridge Mill, and along a short stretch of road to reach High Peak Junction. Just before reaching the mill there was a field with three large horses in it. One of them was standing near to the stile in the corner of the field and although not actually blocking my way it was far too near for my liking - well within kicking range. I know that you should never walk behind large animals and so paused awhile to assess the situation. It was then that one of the other horses approached me and so I patted it on the head. This seemed to attract the attention of the horse which was causing me the problem, and it too started to walk in my direction; giving me the opportunity to climb over the stile.
High Peak Junction is the site of an incline railway where goods from barges on the canal were transferred into waggons, which were then hauled up the hillside by stationary steam engines. Everything is explained on the Wikipedia page:
There is a small interpretation centre inside the two railway brake vans which are located there.
I then walked along the canal towpath towards Cromford, and popped into Arkwright's Mill for a lemon curd ice cream. There was a steam traction fair being held in the village market place...and some very unusual, and possibly dangerous, animals on the loose in the millpond area.
Being careful not to get too close, I had a look for these crocodiles...and I thought I'd found one...
...but I think it was only a duck-billed platypus.
I had more luck with some of the other exotic wildlife though. On the next tree there were a couple of small koalas...and an upside down teapot.
A few seconds later I saw another unexpected sign; this time it seems that cats have the ability to hold up traffic.
A very strange place indeed, Cromford.
I then walked up the hill at the other side of the valley. When I reached the last building as I left Cromford I was slightly puzzled and perturbed by this sign when I thought it read 'Destruct' - it was only when I got close up that I realised that it actually is 'Obstruct.'
I climbed up through woodland, then skirted the edge of a quarry and continued across meadows and back down through more woodland, and a lot of steps, to reach a very busy Matlock Bath where I bought some fish and chips and then caught the bus into Matlock.