Dale Abbey and Hermit's Cave Family Walk - 20th Oct

Posted 20/10/2019

A party of nine assembled at the start point of this walk. It should have been ten, except for the fact that International Man of Mystery, Russ, set his satnav for East Midlands airport instead!

And so the seven adults and two kids set off from Pioneer Nature Reserve, near Ilkeston, down to Hermits Wood and up the steps to the ancient dwelling dug into the hillside.  Returning ot the main path, we continued into Dale village and the ruins of Dale Abbey. Little of this remains beyond an imposing stone archway but it is still quite a sight.  The published and waymarked route for this walk is a mere 3.5 miles and the plan was to extend on a bridleway near the church in Dale.  However, there were notices up warning of permanent closure from 2020 and our proposed route, sadly, was already blocked by a gate which was chained shut.

This left us with the options of the 3.5 mile route or a more ambitious extension to 6.3 miles.  Given the distance travelled to the start point and the glorious weather conditions, we chose the latter.  So taking a (very muddy) footpath out of Dale, we crossed a main road to pick up the Midshires Way for a short stint before returning to Dale, near the Carpenter's Arms.  Here the Lurch of Letwell (now Idiot of Ilkeston) demonstrated his secret agent skills, having made it from the airport to the correct start point and then tracking the group down!  The reacquainted ten of us then set off for ten yards before deciding that actually we might as well stop for a drink and returning to the hostelry.  After brief refreshments, we set off again up Dale Moor, skirting Lady Wood and back into Kirk Hallam and the nature reserve.  From here we drove to the Bulls Head in Little Hallam in the hopes of post-walk food but found the pub under interim management and the kitchens closed.  Some of our party stayed for a drink whilst others took their leave.

Thanks to all who attended and a couple of special mentions - to Oliver who (despite a couple of mini meltdowns) completed the whole distance unaided and to Russ for somehow actually managing to find us!