A reader who won’t let me quit

The Carpenters on the Curbar Edge.
The Carpenters on the Curbar Edge.

I had an idea that I would do one more post on this blog about our last day in London and then close it out. But Judy V. made the sensible comment that the logical follow to my post on my favorite rugby matches would be the top five favorites in my other categories that I used to cheat on the question “What were the trip’s five best things?”

So Kathy and I have divided up the task of fulfilling Judy’s suggestion; I’ll do hikes and museums and Kathy will do plays and colleges/cathedrals/abbeys (that last category is further evidence of cheating).

So for hikes:

  1. Has to be the Curbar Edge. It’s in the Peak District of north England and goes along an edge overlooking two villages, woodlands, pastures and other farmlands. You share the trail with cattle, rock climbers and other hikers. It helped that we had clear, sunny weather.

    A narrow boat on the Oxford Canal.
    A narrow boat on the Oxford Canal.
  2. The walk along the Oxford Canal to Kidlington. One of our first walks after we arrived in Oxford. The route came out of a book that detailed the path all the way to Banbury. The eight miles to Kidlington and a stop at a pub gave us enough of the flavor of the canal to feel OK about not going farther. But we often walked along the canal to get into the central part of Oxford.
  3. Avebury stone circle. An ancient place with a stone circle around a rural village and a processional between more stones that leads to an mound built by unknowns, probably thousands of years ago.
  4. Oxford’s Port Meadows: The maps we had of Oxford showed that this meadow was near our flat. We made a loop out of it by walking back along the Thames River and we found one of our favorite pubs, The Perch in Binsey.
  5. To the Victoria Arms pub: Another walk in Oxfordshire, this one in the opposite direction of the Port Meadows but of course leading us to a pub, the Victoria Arms. Before you get there you pass through Oxofrd’s Univeristy Parks, past college playing fields and through the village of Old Marston.

These paths are made for walking and we average five or six miles a day, with our longest day the sprint marathon in London. A great way to see things and to stay in shape (sort of — we both gained a couple of pounds; too much Guinness and tea cakes).

Bridge over the Cherwell River on the way to the Victoria Arms pub.
Bridge over the Cherwell River on the way to the Victoria Arms pub.

More hiking in the moors

Tina frames up a photo of son Ben.
Tina frames up a photo of son Ben.

Some landscapes cry out for a frame to put them in, and the Peak District National Park in northern England supplies just the thing to make that happen. Tina framed her son Ben not long after we drove into the Peak District Monday after leaving Leeds.

Ben framed.
Ben framed.

The plan for the day was to visit Holmfirth, a village on the edge of the district, then head down to Bakewell to try out the famous tarts that come from there. This was a recommendation by Joe Short, a native of Holmfirth and a young journalist I met on the media tour to Rugby School.

After s quick stop in Holmfirth to prove to Joe that we did visit, we headed west to Glossop and then southwest to Bakewell, following the Ford Focus’ GPS system and wishing we had a map that would show us a view that extended past the next corner.

The car park in Bakewell was packed, as was the town in general. That seemed strange for a Monday in post-tourist-season September until we turned a corner and walked into a busy open-air market. The lady in the cafe where we had lunch told us it was that crowded every market day. But the good thing was that we found a road atlas of the United Kingdom for sale at a book stall in the market — for two pounds, a bargain and a valuable aide for the rest of our travels.

Heading for the market in Bakewell.
Heading for the market in Bakewell.

After buying our Bakewell puddings to go, we stopped at the National Park information office and got a recommendation for a hike: Curbar Edge. It meant backtracking a few miles but it was also one that Kathy had identified in a guidebook as a possibility. It was well worth the slight return north.

The hike takes you high above the villages of Curbar and Calver in a 3 1/2-mile walk along the gritstone edge the area is famous for.

Hikers share the area with cattle, our favorite breed there the shaggy Highland cows.

David with cow.
David with cow.

We were fortunate to meet a local gentleman walking his dog along the edge. He led us to a place just on the edge of the edge that you could walk right over without realizing that the configuration was a likely indication of something manmade. Our newfound guide told us the circle of stone around a depression was a gravesite dating back as far as 4,500 B.C. He pointed out where a break in the stones may have been an entrance to the site.

A local hiker tells us about an ancient burial site.
A local hiker tells us about an ancient burial site.

We had intended for the hike to be a loop that would take us under the Froggatt Edge and then back along a trail under the Curbar Edge. We started down the trail to the Froggatt Edge, watched some rock climbers and tried to find the lower trail that would take us back through the woods. Never found it.

So we had to walk back along the Curbar Edge one more time, enjoying the views from a different angle and meeting more dog walkers.

Back at the car park, we set the GPS for Oxford and tried to figure out from our new maps where in the world the navigation system was taking us. There were many miles traveled on what the GPS identified as “unnamed roads,” which gave us no help in finding our place on the maps. Finally, we got back to the M 4 and a speedier return way to Oxford.

Ben, Tina, David, John and Kathy -- all on edge.
Ben, Tina, David, John and Kathy — all on edge.