With Barbara. We started at the rather full car park at the Monsal Head Hotel and walked down the steep slope to the viaduct. Across this then down again into Monsal Dale which we followed upstream to the A6. We crossed to the carpark where a footpath leads diagonally uphill. This branches more than once as other paths head off towards Taddington and into Great Shacklow Wood but our path for Deep Dale was signposted at these branch points and easy enough to find. Deep Dale is a lovely gentle climb up a steep sided valley towards the high pasture country round Sheldon. A couple of relaxed recumbent cows ignored us towards the top. Eventually we came out onto a road by the access track to Over Wheal Farm. A little east of here a field path cuts a corner heading towards Sheldon. The first field it crossed was full of cows the closest of which to the entry point glowered and pawed the ground a little ominously for our taste so we stuck on the road till the next field along which we walked up to regain the path. Slightly perversely, having done this, instead of carrying on to Sheldon, we went right at the road past Johnson Lane Farm, left at the meeting of roads and approached Magpie Mine over fields from the west. We didn’t have the place to ourselves. Some young men with very fancy photographic kit were there taking pictures of a young women. We left them to it and headed over the fields to Sheldon, stopping for a little refreshment at the lovely Cock and Pullet.
Then past the church and down the hill where a very steep path through the woods has been carefully engineered into a staircase. From the foot of this it is a lovely walk through the woods by the river to Ashford. We crossed the bridge and walked up Fennel Street and Vicarage Lane. Near the top of the latter a short path cuts a corner onto Greaves Lane and then heads north over fields t the Monsal Trail. The first of these fields brought the most exciting moment of the walk as it was full of huge English longhorn cows. These have a good reputation for docility but a terrifying appearance and, yes, that one at the top of the field, standing right slap bang next to the gate we needed to go through to get out of it, that was the huge and terrifying-looking bull. Anxiously, very quietly, we walked past him and through the gate and then on, without further excitement to the Monsal Trail. Here almost at once a path branches off right towards Little Longstone which we didn’t take. Half a kilometre further, the map seems to show another path crossing the Trail but don’t be misled – we were and got a little confused – it doesn’t, the Trail is entering a tunnel at this point and this path doesn’t connect with it. But our confusion was shorty-lived and we were soon back in the comfortable and civilized Monsal Head Hotel after a classic White Peak walk in glorious weather.