Well dressing is a very old custom in Derbyshire. Large wooden boards are soaked for months in the village pond, retrieved, coated in mud and then a mosaic is laid on the mud. Flower petals are used to make the mosaic “tiles” and the overall result is visually stunning. Tissington is the first village to present their dressings followed by many other villages throughout Spring and Summer.
This year the Backpackers Club had a mid-week meet organised to see the Tissington one. One of the joys of the club is that there are very few rules (leave no trace and follow the countryside code being the main ones) so you’re free to plot your own route between pitches. As I am recovering from a knee injury and ankle tendonitis it suited me to do relatively short distances although other club members did further than I. Here’s the route that a friend and I took:
Tuesday afternoon we all met up at the first pitch which was Ffoufinside Farm in the village of Parwich. Parwich is a charming village in Derbyshire with old stone cottages and surrounded by the undulating countryside typical of the White Peak. The daughter of the farmers is the landlady of the village pub called the Sycamore Inn. The inn doubles duty as the village shop and its a friendly pub with good food and excellent beer. It is the 2015 country pub of the year and has the certificate to prove it from Ashbourne CAMRA.
Tuesday night was cold with light rain but I slept well despite fighting with my sleeping bag. I’ve gone to using quilts now and I found the restrictive confines of a sleeping bag annoying.
Wednesday dawned bright, warm and sunny. The weather stayed like that all day. The pitch for the evening was at Alstonfield in Staffordshire. The route I walked was initially northeasterly to the right of Parwich Hill, then Lowmore Farm. Continuing northwards via the Nook and Gotham. Here we joined the High Peak Trail. At Upperhouse the route heads west to Biggin via Newhaven. After a lunch stop at the Waterloo Inn in Biggin the walk continued east before heading due South down Biggin Dale and the Wolfscote Dale. After a steep climb opposite Iron Tors the route ended at Alstonfield.
After pitching, a group of us decided to eat at a pub on the Wetton Road. Sadly, its closed on Wednesdays so we retreated to the George in Alstonfield. Food and beer were good but very expensive. To add insult to injury, we were told the pub closed at 9:45pm as the landlady had something to do. Not a very satisfactory end to a glorious day and a sociable evening.
Thursday dawned dull, cold and windy after a cold night. Mercifully, there was no condensation in any of the tents to deal with. My friend and I headed roughly West to Alsop Station and then walked to Tissington along the Tissington Trail. Tissington Village was quite busy as we had arrived in time to see the Well Blessings conducted by a procession of priests, vicars and a few nuns. Very interesting to see and the well dressings were spectacular. My favourite was a VE memorial at the Coffin Well. After seeing all the wells we walked north-east the remaining 2.5 miles back to Parwich to collect the car.
A great two-day backpack with good company and countryside plus the well dressings. Not a massive mileage but a good test of my recovery. Win win as they say!
Some photos of the trip taken by Geoff Gadsby.