After a few weeks of sunshine here in the UK it was kind of inevitable that the day I’d booked to go on a guided walk would be the day the rain decided to show. I’d been invited to attend a free guided walk over in Dovedale, Derbyshire and thought it looked fun. I’ve not been on a guided group walk like this before and the moderate 5.5 mile route looked like it would provide some good exercise and instagram fodder, so used it as a good excuse to spend a Saturday outdoors. Oh and it included free tea and homemade cake at the end, so you know, deal done. I signed up over on the Meet Up website, booked a last minute Premier Inn just down the road (to avoid an early start on a Saturday!), grabbed my trusty walking boots and my waterproof coat, and headed across.
It might have been wet but the scenery was still beautiful.
A sea of waterproof coats and pack covers… and one umbrella. I’d told LincsGeek he couldn’t bring his brolly – oops!
The walk started at the HF Holidays property Peveril of the Peak, which is a hotel in Thorpe, Derbyshire from which the company run “active holidays”. I was fully expecting a sales pitch when I arrived and found the room to be set up with projector and rows of chairs, but while there was a short introduction by the guy running the hotel and a nod to the lady from the marketing team who’d come along with her husband for the walk, we were not asked to watch any video or made to sit through any kind of presentation – we were simply encouraged to ask questions during the walk or afterwards if we wanted to know more about HF Holidays. Even when we returned to the hotel at the end of the walk for our promised tea and cake (homemade carrot cake – yummy) it was all very low key; just all about the walking. This was refreshing and appreciated.
Happy walkers even in the rain.
The easy going path along the River Dove.
There was some initial confusion over the walk time and distance as the Meet Up website had it listed as 5.5 miles and 3.5 hours, but our walk leader Alastair had organised a 7.5 mile and 5 hour hike. Not a problem for me at all, and everyone was quite amenable to the difference. Thankfully I had packed some snacks and filled my water bladder fully so knew getting back well after lunch wouldn’t be a problem – a reminder to always go hiking prepared for it to take longer than you think! After a short briefing we headed out of the hotel and straight into the countryside, what a beautiful location.
The River Dove has several natural and man made weirs.
Walking along the River Dove.
Listening to the legend of Lover’s Leap.
Alastair confidently lead the 15 or so of us along a variety of terrain including grassy meadows, muddy paths and well made trails. For the most part we walked along the River Dove, which gives Dovedale it’s name, passing Lover’s Leap, Natural Arch, Tissington Spires and plenty of caves. Along the way he pointed out various features we could see, from flora that was specific to this location, fossils in the stone slabs we were walking on, caves and arches in the cliffs, and a lion…
Heading up to see one of the caves a bit closer.
On reaching one of the caves, where we had a short banana and chocolate stop and sheltered from the rain for a few minutes, Alastair decided we would not attempt to climb up the very steep path to the plateau due to the rain and mud making it very slippery today, but would instead retrace our steps along the river, walk over the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones, and back to the hotel via a different route. While this was a shame in some ways – I love a good view from the top of a hill – it was definitely the sensible choice and didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the day.
From inside a cave.
A quick sugar stop.
A lion. Can you see it? Do I need to draw it on? Please comment if you see the lion!
Ha ha thanks guys! Left is Mical (I think, so sorry if this is not your name!) and right is Alastair – our guides for the walk. These guys definitely made me want to do more guided walks.
There is something about a slightly angry sky that fascinates me.
Thankful for waterproof layers.
Fossils in the steps.
Heading back to the Stepping Stones.
Apparently the previous weekend, which was August bank holiday, there had been a 30 minute queue to walk over the Stepping Stones – not so much today and I managed to get a snap with no-one in it, but even with the rain the maintained path along the river was very popular with groups and families and we did come across traffic on occasions. It’s good to see lots of people getting outside and enjoying the fresh air, nothing a good waterproof coat doesn’t help with.
A line of people walking over the Dovedale Stepping Stones.
Steady does it… especially in the rain!
Quite a big step for little legs.
Dovedale Stepping Stones.
If you fancy trying out a guided walk sometime, whether you are a regular hiker or not, then I’d definitely recommend watching out for more HF Holidays pop up walks. It was well guided by Alastair and very relaxed, and even though the weather was not great, it was kept up beat and fun. It was nice to be able to walk and chat to other people who simply enjoy using their feet to explore the countryside, and a great excuse to get outdoors even in the rain. And I think I snapped some decent enough shots to share here on Splodz Blogz too!
The best views of the walk were behind us as we climbed up away from the river and back to the hotel.
I think I need to get to the top of that sometime!
I attended the free pop-up guided walk with HF Holidays because I thought it looked like a fun way to spend some time outdoors. If you want to see what else they do take a look at their website.