I am really lucky in that Fridays are and Mummy and Rowan day – at least for the next six months until he starts school. Last week we went for a walk with the furballs, deciding to make Dove Stone Reservoir in the Peak District National Park our destination.
We have driven up to Dove Stone is the past. A late decision one Saturday saw us head up only to find that the car park was full. Getting there early at weekend would be recommended, but being Friday, we had no problems parking. We paid the small amount for parking (£1.30 for the full day) and headed to the smallest toilet in world. Think junior school size and you’d be about there. I wouldn’t like to get down to it after a long day up in the hills but it was clean and perfect for Rowan.
We collected the furry pair and headed up to the map of the area. Dove Stone is looked after by the RSPB (along with Oldham Council, United Utilities and the Peak District National Park Authority) and the information board told us about the different birds we may see whilst out and about. The RSBP also run guided walks, currently a Dove Stone Mountain Hare Walk and Talk. Information about the wildlife and events at the reservoir can be found here and is likely to be something we will return for in the future.
Rowan, being the adventure leader, decided we were going to take the clockwise route
along the reservoir so we headed along the wall towards the weirs then up onto a track with trees to our left and the lake to our right, surrounded by hills.
Despite being a really well made path, Rowan managed to get muck on his boots and trousers. A mini meltdown ensued – how could we possibly go on with dirty trousers and mud on his boots. We sat on a nearby bench and had a chat. Not being overly swayed by the fact that we wear adventure boots so we can get muddy, and they were clean clothes in the car for when we got back, I began to tell him about the virtues of mud. Mud is good – it helps the grass, trees and flowers grow and gives worms somewhere to live. This new information changed his mind, especially the prospect of it helping him “grow into a big man” and we continued on our way.
The day was bright but cold and we made it to the top end of Dove Stone in good time so, passing through a gate to reach the Yeoman Hay Reservoir dam, we decided to continue up alongside this reservoir. It was around this time that Rowan remembered I have a pocket full of jelly babies when we head out for our adventures, but rather than feigning aching legs he just excitedly reminded me they were there. Using blatant bribery, we agreed that they would make an appearance when we reached the fork in the path up ahead.
The fork reached and jelly babies handed out, we took the lower of the tracks, a decision made by me solely because the path ahead was pretty muddy from the tracks of a 4 x 4 and I wanted to show Rowan that mud would really do him no harm. He took it all in his stride, earlier worries of muck now disappeared and replaced with giggles and quotes from “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” – squelch squerch, squelch squerch – and claims of the mud helping him grow. I thought to myself that his height may not be at this moment, but his love of being outside is.
I looked back on how far we had walked and saw that the sky was started to become more overcast. Conscious of the time, we headed back the way we came and crossing the dam, we began to walk back along the opposite side of the reservoir.
A bridge allowed us to cross Dovestone Clough. The water cascading down the steps and weirs here was certainly worthy of a photograph but there were a number of dogs out walking at this point so, as our two can be a bit a barky at times, we quickly made our way to the picnic area at Ashway Gap to have a well-earned sandwich.
Feeling refreshed, we continued along the last part of our walk. Rowan loved the stile climbing over and a back a number of times, with the dogs and I opting for the gate. Man-handling wriggling hounds over a stile was in nobody’s best interest when a perfectly simple option was available, but I completely understood Rowan’s excitement. I still enjoy stiles now.
The sky became darker, filled with cloud and the wind started gusting stronger as we spotted the sailing club on the path ahead. Rowan began to feel a little nervous as he felt it was getting dark but we chased each other down the path and soon we passed the club building and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the walk we had just been on.
We made it back to the car before the weather got much worse. The route we had taken was four miles long with only around 100 metres climb but this was sufficient to have the three of them asleep within ten minutes of leaving the car park. Had we included Greenfield Reservoir our walk would have been around five miles. There were also a number of paths into the forests and up onto the tops that we will no doubt come back to explore soon.