Last week I set out on a backpacking trip with Geoff Gadsby who is a fellow member of the The Backpackers Club. The plan was make our way to Derbyshire by public transport and then bimble around the county; the only target being to visit Tissington to see the well-dressings. Apart from that, we’d go where our feet led us.
Well dressing is a old tradition in Derbyshire and Tissington is the first village to make them during any one year. Essentially, large boards are chucked into the village pond and allowed to soak for months. Once retrieved, mud is applied to the boards and flower petals are pressed into the mud to make a design; usually religious in nature. Tissington was the first-ever village to do this and started in 1349, possibly to celebrate the purity of the well water. The pictures really don’t do justice to the colours and impact of the dressings.
The first day, we arrived in the county around lunchtime and made our way to Brassington only to find the pub shut as it was past 2pm. They stick to the old ways in Derbyshire! With a heavy sigh, we shouldered our packs once more and ambled over hills and dales to Parwich in glorious sunshine. The countryside looked green and lush with spectacular views of undulating land. Once in Parwich, we set up the tents and, in due course, ambled down into the village to sample the delights of the Sycamore Inn. We were accompanied by Terry, another Backpackers Club member, who by sheer chance was camping in Parwich as well. A convivial evening was had with excellent beer and food. The Sycamore also doubles as the village shop and I topped up essential supplies.
The next day I woke up to find heavy condensation on the outer fly of my tent-a Terra Nova Laser Competition. Not surprising as it was hot and humid but annoying, especially as Geoff’s Henry Shires TarpTent dried in seconds…or so it seemed. After I had dried my tent, we set off to Tissington. It was really hot and sunny by now and a cup of tea was in order before seeing the well-dressings. Eventually, we set out for Biggin as it was relatively near and it was very hard work carrying a pack, albeit containing ultralight gear, in the blazing sun. In fact, we walked the whole incline French Legionnaire style aka dead slow. I found two geocaches which ended my geocache virginity!
Once at Biggin, we pitched at the Waterloo Inn where a much-needed shower was taken before good beer and food. The next morning dawned bright and hot. Again, tent condensation was a problem for me but we soon set out along Biggindale. At teh foot of the dale, we turned and walked along Dovedale beside the River Dove. Around 1230 we hit Asbourne with enough time to grab an ice cream before catching the bus to start the journey home.
All in all, a really great trip in beautiful countryside and the well-dressings were top-notch. Thanks to Geoff for his encyclopedic knowledge of Derbyshire and his great company.