It had all started so well. I arrived in good time in town thinking that maybe I would be ultra early but unsure as to what I could do at Duffield station for over an hour whilst I waited for the 11.10 Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR) train to Wirksworth. The network rail station isn’t staffed and has no refreshment facilities and I didn’t envisage that the EVR station had any facilities either as their publicity suggested that the “Pullman Cafe” was up the valley at the main Wirksworth station. Deciding that I’d rather not drink Network Rail coffee I installed myself in a city cafe and planned to catch the 10.20 train to Matlock.
Fortunately I arrived at the ticket office in good time, but was puzzled to find no Matlock on the destination board. A quick chat at the ticket office revealed that those trains were not running. A sudden change of plan found me boarding the familiar 10.10 TransPeak bus. As long as I could get to Duffield EVR for 11.10 all would be well.
Alas, best laid plans (and all that) were thwarted by an unusual delay before departure at Nottm and Derby. It was now going to be a fine line between getting that train or missing it. There was nothing for it I had to go for it, the alternatives could only be considered if I missed the connection.
I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare but unfortunately on the wrong side of the platform and watched in bemused resignation as the train moved off. Okay, plan b, c, and d came to mind and failed instantly as all the alternatives ran through Duffield at the same time. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Some of the locals were very helpful with advice and commiserations and in reasonably quick time I was now taking a taxi to Wirksworth with a very friendly and talkative lady. The adventure was beginning to be more interesting visually. Approaching Wirksworth in a totally different way to which I had been before we passed through some very green and rather pleasant countryside. This was the longer silently less steep and rambling approach to the town rather than the more immediate ascent from Cromford. I sat back and enjoyed the view; after all it had come at an unexpected cost! But soon enough I was standing in the Market Place, triumphant, I had made it from base camp!
The Brackenfield Bandits were happy to see me, fresh from their retro cuppa in the Pullman Cafe, if not a little crossed eyed by the abundance of trains spotters. Obviously the Pullman was a local more sedate version of the Hellfire?
Time to start the garden tour.
First stop was Green Gates all very interesting with a variety of features. But lunch and a glass of cider was beckoning at the top of the hill. Enough said…………slurp.
Refreshed, I allowed the Brack Bandits to guide me around town, picking out a few of their favourite gardens and attempting to discover some of the gardens they had not seen before.
Orchard house was pretty amazing. An eclectic work in progress with dens, summer houses, animals, vegetables. A riot of activity! I particularly liked the pond and the fisherman. There was also a fantastic cake stall. I can recommend the Raspberry and Vanilla Victoria sponge and the lemon cake I brought. All very scrumptious.
We then went back up the main street to St John’s Street, described as “making the most of what I’ve got”. I think it’s safe to say that the owner certainly was making the most of a tiny space.
A minor detour via the Church and few Shops where I was most amused by St George and the dragon. I am not sure why they were there, but charming they were and also a view that shows Wirksworth for what it is for me. Lots of narrow alleys and buildings but beyond lovely views of the countryside. Many years ago we used to drive past places like this and Cromford to the show stopping delights of the High Peak, but these places are as, if not more charming to see now.
The ascent of Greenhill to Babbington House was a bit of a climb. A very impressive Grade two listed house which stands in small disused quarry. Previously it had been a workhouse and a cottage hospital. Very charming in its grounds with views over the town. Further up the hill was “Wild Cherry”. Atop one of the steepest inclines I’ve seen in a while.
It all got a little confusing in the Puzzle gardens, lots of paths taking us around in circles but we managed eventually to find the Old dairy and the Dale.
By this time we had really covered the main central gardens and I had run out of time to see the outer ones so there was just enough time to have a nice cup of tea at the station and catch the final train back to Duffield.
The train journey takes about 30 minutes, through very pretty farm land and it would be nice one day to come back and take the train up to the stone centre.
It was a very adventurous and fun day. It was a shame that the sun didn’t shine but at least it stopped raining. I hope the Brackenfield Bandits enjoyed it as much as I did and that their choice of cake was to their liking too.
Shame that the local brewery had run out of beer due to the Jubilee weekend LOL.
When you start the day, you never know where or how you will end up sometimes 🙂
P.S. The dry, proper ham was delicious, yummy like the shop assistant 😉