Sunday, 13th June, Hartington to Threapwood, 23.09 miles
The River Severn is also known as the Sabrina or, in Welsh, Hafren, in which a princess known as Sabrann, was drowned in this river. However, it got its name, Tommy and I will be linking into the Sabrina Way today at the start of the next part of our journey.
Tennyson signed the visitor book of the Izaak Walton Hotel, saying that Dovedale was ‘one of the most unique and delicious places in England’. A sentiment I heartily agree with. I sign the visitors book at Bank Top Farm, ‘thank you Jane, (for doing my washing) and making Tommy and I feel so welcome in your beautiful farm. I will be back…..probably not with a horse next time’.
Tommy will be leaving these little heifers who have been his field companions.
I’m up early to bring Tommy in and give him a wash before breakfast. It’s a long ride today so I’m keen to get away early. We are starting the Sabrina Way section of our journey, leaving the borders of Derbyshire and entering Staffordshire.
As we leave Hartington behind us
and start our journey into the lowland country, these dry stone walls will eventually be replaced by thick hedges, and livestock largely replaced by arable farming.
At Wolfscote Dale,
we encounter the first of many bridle paths we need to negotiate today that are covered by thick vegetation……here is the entrance to one of them,
where we emerge covered in leaves and twigs looking more like characters out of A Midsummers Night Dream.
before descending into the Manifold valley towards Grindon where we run into a Vintage car rally going on and have to step off the road several times to let these gleaming, pampered and polished vehicles, mostly open-topped, chunder their way up the narrow hill lane. A colourful sight indeed and how I wish right now we were back in the age when these were the only cars on our roads. How easy and what a pleasure our journey would have been then.
Going through a very narrow gate onto a bridle path, my rear pannier gets snagged and I have to make a few emergency modifications and repairs in the field before making our way through some wild flower meadows, often along paths that are barely discernible.
The massive recycling centre at Waterhouses poses a problem for Tommy who is nervous about the arrangement of pipe work the size of lorries, the imposing main building looming high above us into the sky and the loud hummmmm from the machinery. I have to walk him around these industrial works and with relief back out again into the country lanes. Some of the scenery today has reminded me of the rural Lot region in France.
As we are nearing our destination at Threapwood, my mobile phone rings and it’s our next host, Pat. She says she is going to come and meet us on her ID, thoroughbred cross, Edith. When I call her to say where I have got to, I can hear the clipperty-clop of her mare on the road down the phone. I then see what I think is a flash of her through the shrubbery and exclaim, I think I’ve seen you, are you riding a grey? She says she is…….but then, we don’t meet until at least 10 minutes later and don’t meet another horse either so what was that all about?
When we do meet, (and ask a friend of Pat’s to take this picture), she insists we go back via the ‘scenic route’ around the ponds. We have already had a long day and could have done without this little detour but oblige all the same. Arriving at last, 9 hours after setting off from the other side of Hartington, whilst we are unpacking and putting the horses out, Edith shifts around and relieves herself next to my bags. Silly me for not moving them out of the way. Its not as if I don’t smell horsey enough already! I rinse them quickly under the tap making a mental note that they will have to be washed on our next rest stop. Also, I notice the beginning of a couple of sore patches on Tommy’s back under his saddle. The result of our long ride today, I suspect, and I am mortified after so many miles without any such troubles. I will need to keep an eye on these and find a solution to relieve the pressure on these areas.
Having settled myself in my room, I take a cursory glance out of the window and notice Toomy appears to be grazing in the next field, not the one I had put him in. I ask Pat if she has moved him which she says she hasn’t and I go to investigate where he might have got through the hedge. Finding no gaps or any sign of trampled vegetation, I can only assume that he must have decided to jump the gate to get nearer to Edith! Maybe she reminds him of the little grey Arab mare, Rosie, his stable companion back home. Anyway, Pat is mightily impressed with my little pony and says she will happily have him when I am finished with him! We spend a lovely evening chatting over supper she has prepared in her kitchen. A remarkable lady who, at 75, is still so fit and able.