December 15th:

Homemade mince pies, real coffee and a splash of spirits (ironically the ghosts of Christmas past from the hut's kitchen cupboard) greeted an eager band of intrepid walkers.  The group was soon made slightly smaller as the Good Doctor elected to look after his patient (Mike Johnson) on a shorter route.  Richard Harris joined them.

At 0930 coffee cups were drained, pastry crumbs brushed off and, a most un DPC fashion, 11 members set off in the same direction.  Our route took us into Coombs Dale and Pierce began to show his true mischievous colours by suggesting the 'best way'.  Unfortunately the leader humored him and within seconds realised his mistake!  A little bushwacking took the group back to the correct path and on up to Bleaklow.  We made our way across the fields to Great Longstone and arrived to the chiming of the church bells.  With no time to stop we made our way onward to Monsal Head, through Miller's Dale and, crossing the river via the wier at Water-Cum-Jolly into Cressbrook Dale.  Again at this point a well meaning route suggestion was made but having learned his lesson the leader chose to ignore it and carry on up the valley to Peter's Stone.   The stone was not climbed however as the 1300 hours rendezvous in the Three Stags Heads with the cyclists was approaching.

 

A roaring fire and a grumpy barmen were waiting for us and we squeezed into the back room and waited for the cyclists to arrive.  We were also met by a welcomed Derek Grayson, and the Good Doctor's party and Bob Grayson, who for the first time in his life, spent half a day working!  Suitably refreshed (though not making the mistake of drinking the 'Black Lurcher') we departed for the Barrel at Bretton via Foolow.  A brief stop at the chapel of Saint Hugh allowed stragglers to catch up before walking up the road to the Barrel.  The daylight was beginning to fade as the leader and a small advance party made their way back to the hut to aid with dinner preparation, ably organised by Martin Clowes.  The rest followed via the Miner's Arms at Eyam.