The bus journey to Tideswell from Sheffield started off by me helping a young Chinese woman, most likely a student, work out where she wanted to get off the bus. She just kept repeating the words 'Monsal Trail' and showing the driver her mobile phone. In the end the driver, myself, and another driver who was walking by worked out that she was wanting to go to Miller's Dale, the only place where she could easily reach the trail from anywhere along the bus route.
I arrived at Tideswell, and without looking at the map, headed out of the village in a westerly direction hoping to soon come to a footpath which would take me towards Peter Dale. Maybe this was a mistake because I needed to walk along a road for more than a mile until I reached the entrance to the dale. I don't like having to frequently stop to consult my map...it spoils the walk for me. This would become even more evident later on when I got lost by just heading off in the general direction I needed to be going and somehow straying from a footpath which looked to be quite straight, and straightforward, on the map.
There were some expansive panoramic views of the White Peak countryside from this stretch of road though.
It's a pleasant, and quite easy walk up Peter Dale and then Hay Dale, although I left the latter half way up to continue following the Pennine Bridleway along a well maintained track, then a short stretch of road until I reached the next footpath. There was then another short stretch of road...and then my problems began. I consulted the map, was confident that I'd memorised the route for the next mile or so until I'd reach the main A623 road. The path appeared to go pretty much in a straight line, and that's what I did - I could see where I was going and so just headed off in that direction. In one instance there was a well-defined path...and then a few yards later an open gate which I walked through without checking the map...then, a few minutes later a dry stone wall and no way out of the field. I retraced my footsteps and soon found another gate which was closed, but I only needed to lift the latch...so I assumed this must be the route of the footpath. Wrong again; more walls, fences and locked gates which I had to negotiate until I reached the road. I've just been studying the map again and I still can't work out where I went wrong...a bit of signage along the way would have helped here...as it would a bit later on past Sparrowpit when I attempted to climb over an old dilapidated gate and it broke, leaving me with a prominent bruise on my inner thigh to add to my recent collection.
I always walk briskly when I'm walking along busy roads so it wasn't long until I reached Sparrowpit. Most of the village was up a hill where I didn't need to go...but I did pass by the pub - and it's got a very unusual name, The Wanted.
After struggling to find the path again and having to forge my own route across open country I eventually reached Rushup Edge. The walk along this ridge was the highlight of the day as I enjoyed the views of the Vale of Edale and The Great Ridge - with the sun being at the perfect angle for photography.
As I approached Mam Tor I was aware that time was tight if I wanted to catch the next bus from Castleton and so consciously increased my pace, even breaking into a jog when I reached a tarmacked surface. I arrived at the bus station with about five minutes to spare; I think I must have jogged for about a mile [yes, mainly gently downhill] but I didn't feel tired, out of breath, or even that sweaty...my health and fitness is still improving and I'm getting younger by the day. I've discovered the fountain of eternal youth...I just need to invent a time machine now and maybe I'll be able to go back and put things right in my life.