Me and my Dad took a snowy Dovedale walk in one of my favourite places, Ilam, in the Peak District. Ilam has a stunning Youth Hostel, an amazing National Trust cafe and the grounds are a paradise for children and grown ups. In Summer it is wonderful for picnics, in Autumn the trees burn every shade of auburn, red and gold and in Winter, well, it’s he first time I have visited, but in Dad’s words, ‘it’s like fairy land’.
We started at Ilam and walked across snowy fields to the Dovedale stepping stones.
I wanted to do some longer walks, get away from the house and spend more quality time with Dad. When you have children those freedoms soon vanish. It was wonderful to have uninterrupted conversation. It’s also two years since Mum died, it felt like a positive thing to do at a difficult time.
‘Is that an email?’ said Dad as I twiddled on my phone.
‘No, I’m looking at my photos, wifi doesn’t work here.’
‘Good. Have you switched off yet?’ asked Dad.
‘Yes’ I smiled, sipping my hot chocolate mixed with Dad’s coffee, from a bench at the top of a hill overlooking the river.
We both couldn’t resist the chance to take some snaps, or in my case, snap my Dad taking snaps. We met very few people on our walk, but we were greeted by some hungry ducks and followed by a very tame robin.
‘I’m going to get blogged now, aren’t I?’ said Dad.
‘Yep!’ I said.
We walked along the river Dove and climbed up the steep banks of the gorge which Dad told me was once a cave many, many years ago. The strange spiky pillars of rock that remain alongside the river would have been the cave walls. What makes this walk so amazing is the contrast of gothic Ilam Hall and grounds, with the surrounding countryside with its fields, riverbank and hill views.
We passed through snowy fields and debated the way. Dad was reminded of seeing artic hares. There was so much snow at times that I couldn’t resist the temptation to gallop through it. ‘Do I remind you of an artic hare?’ I asked.
‘Not really,’ said Dad.
We met some sheep and Dad held conversations with them, as he does.
We ended up in snow higher than my wellies at one point and then had to zig zag and walk crab style down the hill it was so deep and slippy. We both fell over lots and laughed lots.
‘Are we nearly there yet Dad?’ I sniggered.
We finished back at Ilam 3 hours later, sadly the National Trust cafe was shut but the visitors centre had cup a soup in the vending machine and I had bananas and a bar of dairy milk which we shared. You’ll eat anything when you’ve had a walk like that.
My word for 2013 is ‘free’ and I’m glad to say we completely achieved it on our Dovedale walk.