18th December:

Scheduled activity:- to walk from the Club Hut to the Shoulder of Mutton in Bradwell, have a drink or two, and walk back.

The morning was fine with a cool breeze - ideal for walking - and after the traditional coffee and mince pies we got away from the Hut by 10am. We soon split up, some going up the Cliff to Eyam and others following the leader up the lane. We were reunited at the top.

Progressing past the Miners' Arms and then the Youth Hostel on an ever steepening incline, we joined the tarmaced road going west and later made our way along a good overgrown track to Nether Bretton. Here, the footpath to Abney was hidden in the garden of a residence but, fortunately, the resident was in his garden and helpful, when asked. We were soon making the very steep descent into the clough and crossed the brook on a footbridge to go past Cockey Farm into Abney.

We took to Duper Lane - more tarmac- the troops were getting a bit restive over tarmac. They didn't appreciate its good qualities at all. Arrived at the head of Overdale, Pierce, by this time, had lunch on his mind and when we came to a bench at the point where the footpath from Abney Grange came in it was the obvious place to stop. We ate our lunch but didn't tarry there and were soon making the second steep descent of the day- and very muddy this one- into Bradda. There's an old saying:- Tidza tatters, Bradda rappers and Castleton swilltubs. What it means, I am not sure, but I have always taken it to refer to the respective inhabitants.

The Shoulder of Mutton welcomed us.  No need to take off our boots - a nice fire made some of us a bit too hot even. We sat down for a cosy interlude. Then the VP was spied through the window on a bicycle. Someone must have told him where we were going! He came in after a while along with Cotton who had motored out to meet us. Some horseladies came outside, colourfully dressed as elves. One of them came in and went out with three very large glasses of red wine. Drunk in charge of a horse? we wondered about that, and one of our group confessed to once being found drunk in charge of a bicycle; in the very distant past, of course.

The time to leave arrived. Cotton took Pierce, who had duties at the Hut, and Stout and Peppit,  both of whom had had operations recently, and saved them of the need to walk back.

The remainder left the Shoulder of Mutton at about 2:20pm and having exchanged pleasantries with the horseladies who were now planning their next pub call, set off through The Hills to Hazlebadge. A little bit more of tarmac and then past Quarters Farm on the path to Great Hucklow. After a while we met the VP on his bicycle, coming the other way. Apparently lost, he blamed his compass for pointing south when he thought it was north. Definitely confusing! We turned him round and off he went again.

 Once in Great Hucklow, the Queen Anne beckoned, but not strongly enough.  It was the beginning of a race for home. We took the road to Grindlow and the lane to Foolow. No chance for the Bulls Head. Down the field path to Eyam in the last of the daylight. As we looked back there was a colourful sky behind.  We had split into two groups. The leader coming up in the rear with Barnes, Brown and Hughes.  The descent of the Cliff in the blackness had its moments. All were back at the Hut by 5pm.