After leaving Eyam I was intending to travel toward the Derwent Dam, but as I approached Chapel en le Frith Strict Lady tried to take me under another low bridge.
It was a close call as to whether Thebus would or would not get under, and I decided to stop to assess the situation. There was a huge empty carpark just on the corner past the warning sign so I pulled in to do some research.
Stopping I realised just exactly how tired I felt, and now with possibly a long detour ahead I thought I would be foolish to carry on travelling. The carpark had no signs or restrictions of any sort advertised, but it was right next to a large darkened factory. Was it their carpark? Was the factory currently in operation, or had the current economic climate closed it down. In the event I decided to chance at least a few hours there, and was pleased I had done as driving whilst tired is never a good idea.
All night long the wind howled and the rain beat down. Thebus went into his rock and roll routine, there was lots of flapping from the scooter cover and lead, and bits of tree were noisily showering onto the roof. I woke several times, and checked on Phoebe, who doesn’t like these noisy nights, plus the wind makes for a cold Thebus. The last time, tucking her in under a blanket I went to go back to bed and she hopefully followed me, and relenting I allowed her to get up into bed with me. Sharing your duvet with a Great Dane is not the best of ideas, but I must say she did keep me warm and toasty. And when I awoke she was lying next to me with her head on the pillow. It is something I shall need to actively discourage in the future. Its amazing how quickly an old dog can pick up new tricks when its something they want to do!!!
So we left in the pitch dark pouring rain, with the wind still buffeting Thebus around. Although I thought I had reprogrammed Strict Lady to avoid the bridge she was still intent on taking us under there, and the A6 even in the middle of the night is busy. In the end I gave in and parked up in a layby to wait for morning to cast some light on the situation.
Off we went again. This time we managed to avoid the wretched bridge, but at the very next town the road was CLOSED. That was it - it just said ‘Diverted Traffic’ then left you to get on with your own devices. A huge arctic trying to turn over a narrow bridge got jammed and the entire town seized up. I turned the opposite direction only to find another ROAD CLOSED sign. The day just seemed to progress from there. In between heavy downpours and dodging the branches that the wind had brought down the night before, and some seriously big trees as well, though thankfully at the side, rather than across the road, we ground on. Making little progress as it seemed that the first town suffering from road closures was not the only one, and during our journey we came across another two. At one point I simply could not even work out where I actually was, and as Strict Lady seemed happy to take me up all and any road, no matter how narrow, or what bridges were in the way I was more or less ignoring her.
My next destination had originally been Derwent Dams, but with the incessant rain I felt this was pointless and decided to visit the next place on my list which was The National Coal Mining Museum, as the rain and bad weather was hardly likely to affect us hundreds of feet beneath the ground. But after endless detours it seemed we were not much nearer the place and the day brightened a bit so I thought Derwent Dam might be worth a try after all. Then after getting lost yet again in another little town with a closed road the rain came back, and I reverted to the underground option. In the event we arrived minutes before they closed, and then had to head off to find somewhere to spend the night with a promise to revisit in the morning
I have to say today was almost the first day I felt that I had neither enjoyed nor achieved or seen anything, but looking back (now I am not driving through endless rain, traffic and small stone built towns) I feel that I have a least got a feel of this part of the country. I think the places we went through were roughly Chapel en le Frith, Buxton, Hayfield, Glossop, Hollingworth, Stockbridge and Barnsely and we variously travelled the A6, A628 A57, M60 and M1 Not in that order, and some of them more that once.
Most of the time we seemed to be travelling though endless small linked towns with rows of stone built houses, for the most part blackened, either by the exposure of the surface of the stone to the air, or more likely from the effects of years of coal smoke from the many fires and local industrial pollution. Once I saw a terrace of new houses built of the same stone and they were a charming light honey yellow. In places it seemed as though some buildings had been cleaned and were now a cross between the two.
In one town I spotted a couple of house which must have been clad in the red Virginia Creeper I had been reminded of earlier, and true to form, though the blue day yesterday had probably seen them looking a stunning, flaming red spectacle, after last night’s storms they had been reduced to a few brown lines of clinging creeper, with a couple of red leaves as a memory of their magnificence.
For a few miles we left these valley houses behind and travelled up and over some open moorland. It might have been Snake Pass, and the spirits lightened a little, especially as the rain had lifted, and was merely low cloud over the far hills, but by then I was so totally confused I hadn’t the vaguest idea where I was as my total lack of sense of direction and knowledge of geography kicked in with a vengeance. I will be very wary of any further travels in this area.
Finally we seemed to be getting near our destination and picked up some of the brown tourist signs: Strict Lady was having no truck with any of these and continued to try to send me up any narrow lane she could find, but I just ignored her till we finally arrived, as I said about five minutes to closing time.