Thursday, 13th July.
The Monsal Trail
I woke up facing the opposite direction to which I fell asleep.
Hmm. Unrelated fact: The rain had been belting down during the night.
Breakfast consisted of some naan bread, cheese, yoghurt,
juice and some chocolate fudge cake!
The Monsal Trail is listed as being eight-and-a-half miles long
(whatever the hell that is in kilometres) but the start, near
Glebe Farm, is several kilometres out of Buxton. Under threatening
skies, I set out from the campsite and along the road. Those of you
diligent enough to have battled through my tiresome account of the
Isle of Wight would remember my dislike for walking on the
road. So as soon as I could I got off-road
and walked along a path through the fields. Startled sheep fled in
front of me ("Don't run away! I'm not from New Zealand! And despite
what people from mainland Australia say, we Tasmanians aren't like
that!") and did very well not to roll down the steep hill. (My
grandmother once tried to tell me that sheep that grazed on hillsides
had two legs shorter than the other two so that they could stand
upright. Which reminds me of a joke: What do you call a cow with
two left legs shorter than its two right legs? Lean beef.)
The long grass was still wet from last night's downpour, and
soon my trousers, socks and boots were soaked. Nice. The path
then led through a blackberry patch. Saturated, and covered in
prickles, I made it to the start of the Monsal Trail. I stopped
and took off my socks and boots, wrung out my socks, tipped out the
water from my boots, and put them back on again.
The trail itself is based largely around a disused railway line.
I was trudging along, whistling my favourite songs from the
Mikado (ok, I was actually thinking about footy) when I came
to what used to be a tunnel. It was blocked off, and the trail
continued down by the river. Rated: "difficult at times". I'll
say. First I walked I walked on a path by the river, then I walked
on the river's edge, then I was walking on the bloody river!
See those stones on the lower right, at the base of the cliff, in
the river? That's the path!
Soon enough I was walking in gluggy, stinking, mud. I was being
a bit of a girl about it all, avoiding what looked like deep mud.
Then I came to a point where I had no choice, and I had to take my
chances on the mud. I went in up past my ankles and yelled out a
very rude word. But nothing my Mum hasn't heard before. At that
precise moment a school group rounded the corner coming towards
me. Turned out they were northern lads and lasses, so their
parents would've taught them that word early on, if it wasn't indeed
their first word.
One of the lads asked me what the mud was like. Very deep, I
replied. Are you from America? No, I'm from Australia. What are
you doing here? Very good question. Hey you guys, he yelled to
his friends, I've just met an Aus-tra-li-an! I love being such a
novelty. In London you can't swing a cat without hitting a bloody
Australian. They're everywhere.
Most of the trail I travelled in solitude, hatching plots.
And then everyting went terribly wrong. I made it to Monsal Head,
and managed to take a wrong turn. Stupid boy. I ended up grumpy and
in Ashford. Instead of happy and in Bakewell. I did make it to
Bakewell, and sampled a Bakewell Pudding. WEIRD FACT: In Bakewell
(pop. not many) there is an Australian Bar Diner. A sign on the
wall says "We Welcome All Our Neighbours From Home And Away". Bring
me a bucket.
Smelly and tired, I took the bus back to Buxton. The walk up and
over the hill to the campsite just about finished me off. I'd
trekked for about 20km with my sodding great pack on my back.
Not bad for a skinny kid.