I decided that I would be very good and leave Sheffield by the usual route. I would not take the road we had taken the day before. No. I had no excuse. After all, it would lead me five miles or so in the wrong direction and add time to a journey already long enough when I had to get to work. A commute a couple of hundred miles long on a Monday morning is not ideal at the best of times. So I would take my normal route and behave.
As if that was ever going to happen.
By a little after six, I was out on the road heading towards Higger Tor and Stanage Edge.
It was so early even the sheep were still lying by the roadside asleep. There was a stone too. Another guide stoop, perhaps? If so, it wasn’t one I remembered reading about… then again, it might not be in Derbyshire, but just inside the Yorkshire border. I had no idea where that ran and had only read about the Derbyshire stoops. Either way, I really ought to grab a photograph while I was passing.
“That road only adds about ten minutes to the journey if you stay in the car…”
“Mmm…” The texted rejoinder carried a wealth of meaning. Am I so transparent?
“…so it took me a bit longer…”
“Thought as much…”Apparently so…
But I hadn’t gone far… just tried the other fork of the road to see where it came out. Of course, that had meant going over towards Stanage Edge. And it would have been impolite not to stop and say hello, when the morning had barely begun to stretch its wings in an opalescent sky.
The evergreens on Burbage Moor looked like dark stains against the heather. A sign tied to a stile explained that they were removing the plantaion of alien trees to allow the natural vegetation to regain its hold. We had noticed the clearance the day before and it was good to know that the moor was being returned to itself.
The road… eventually… led me under the cliffs, between banks of bracken, right down into Hathersage. I knew exactly where I was and had to smile. We had visited the church here some time ago; a church that boasts the grave of Robin Hood’s companion, Little John, right outside its doors. The road led me down the lane we had taken to reach it. Had I turned left after that visit, we would have found this road.
The rest of the journey home was uneventful, apart from the number of hawks perched beside the road and watching. I managed to avoid detours and distractions, heading straight to my son’s and the first part of the fish crisis. By the time I arrived home, mid-afternoon, I was tired, but I had a lot to get through. First things first, I’d had a message from friends over from the US. What with one thing and another we had so far managed to miss meeting up, and they were leaving in thirty –six hours. A quick exchange and we had a rendezvous arranged for Tuesday after the morning at my son’s. We arranged to meet for a late lunch, an hour’s drive back the way I’d just come… and they had a couple of things they wanted to show me…