Continuing our series of Everyday Adventures, Athena Mellor takes us on a ramble through the Peak District, her home, where she has been curating a walking guidebook for the last few years. Joining Athena along these newly explored paths are her faithful adventure companions, Oslo the Dog and her Core Roll Pack 20L
Words & Photography by Athena Mellor | @athenamellor
Exploring local has been a common occurrence for me over the past 3-4 years as I have been spending every spare moment working on a walking guidebook to the Peak District, my local National Park. In fact, around 20 million people live within a one hour’s journey from the Peak District, so if I can inspire a small percentage of those people to experience the joy of wandering a moorland trail; the view from a gritstone edge; the freshness of dipping one’s toes into the cold River Lathkill; or the smell of the deep purple heather in late summer, then I would be a very happy woman.
On this particular Friday in mid-summer, I had planned to test out a new walk for the guidebook. The weather forecast predicted the hottest day of the year so far, which for me meant getting up early to beat the crowds and the heat. After a coffee outside in the morning sun and a quick check of my trusty Ordnance Survey OL24 map, I bundled my adventure buddy, Oslo, into the car for the journey down south, into the White Peak.
Companion on the trail
"My Core Roll Pack is the perfect size for fitting all the essentials I need for a day hike: a fleece and raincoat; camera and spare lens; water and snacks. It has joined me exploring every corner of the Peak District; from Kinder Scout to Derwent Edge to Lathkill Dale, and now sits by our front door half-packed for any adventure."
Whenever I set out to test a new walk, I am always filled with a sort of nervous anticipation. Will it be suitable and accessible for my prospective readers? Will it be easy to follow, with beautiful views and abundant nature? Not knowing what to expect from a new walk is nerve-wracking but exciting, and drives me to do what I do. After parking in the village of Monyash, with its pretty stone cottages, I began my journey into Lathkill Dale just before 9am.
I am pleased to say that Lathkill Dale was everything I hoped for and more. Rich with abundant nature, yet with a wild touch that meant nettles grew thick amongst the swathe of colourful wildflower and birds of prey soared gracefully overhead. As I descended deeper into the valley, steep limestone walls rose around me and suddenly nature seemed to take over every inch before my eyes. I was pleased to see the rare and magnificent Jacob’s Ladder, a delicate purple flower that grows in the Dale in June and July; to find shelter from the heat in the cool and quiet woodland; and to dip my toes into the crispy, cold waters of the River Lathkill.
With the combination of flora and fauna a-plenty, the perfect orange rucksack, and a four-legged hiking buddy, heading out on a local adventure quickly becomes my absolute favourite thing to do. My Trailhound, Oslo, now recognises that when I pick up the bright orange pack and start wandering around the house filling it with spare clothes and dog treats and more, we must be going out for his beloved ‘walkies’, and his eyes light up in a way that I just can’t resist.