Saturday, 2 December 2006

Chatsworth Perambulations

Another weekend, another mid-winter ramble. Dave was back from his short sojourn on Tenerife's sunny shores, so we mustered at the Robin Hood car park and set off south for Chatsworth and Hob House. A big patch of blue sky blew in from the north west and although the Edge was in deep shade, the bigger buttresses looked surprisingly dry. Mind you, an air temperature of seven degrees meant climbing was only for stalwarts.I thought back to the last time I was there, back in early May when conditions were perfect, Puppet Crack, Pearls, Despot, Vibrio and a few others made for a great day out. We skirted round the small quarries of Dobb Edge, the temptation to have a poke round for 'last great problems' was tempered by the fact that I gave the place a good going-over when I wrote up Chatsworth for the BMC some years back.

We stopped briefly at the Hunting Tower, a substantial building with its expansive views out over the estate and inevitable 'private' signs. The path loops round the Emperor Lake which feeds the 'biggest fountain in the UK' far below. We mulled on the kind of wealth that allowed successive Dukes of Devonshire to construct buildings on a mind-boggling scale, and transform the landscape long before the advent of mechanised earth moving machinery, doubtless with an army of 'slaves' - or labourers as they were known back then.

A bit of a wander up marshy tracks led through the pine woods until we eventually arrived at a locked gate, the sign on the other side declaring 'private - keep out' - hey ho! A quick poke round Hobs Hurst House (an earthwork of unknown date) and lunch using the wall as a wind-break and we headed back towards the car. Glowering clouds and an increasing strong wind with spats of rain kept us on the move, as shafts of sun light up the distant gritstone Edges, there would doubtless be a few teams up there making the most of the remains of the day.

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