I received two surprises on the very first day. Having missed the hotel on my way in to Matlock Bath I went on into the centre and discovered it is not the quiet spa town that I had anticipated! It was alive with hundreds of bikers on a sunny Sunday admiring each other’s machines and eating fish and chips – quite a sight.
The second surprise was to find that Ramblers Worldwide had gone ahead with the holiday despite having only six people in the group plus the leader, Martin. But one of the real joys of this holiday was to have fun with what turned out to be five feisty women and our sole male, Alf, who proved well able to cope when the numbers were stacked against him!
In fact, one of the great things about this holiday was the amount of fun and laughter we had even when the weather could have been a little depressing. By contrast, on our first day, we saw a group of kids doing D of E awards who we passed going in the opposite direction; they seemed to be walking at about 1/2km per hour and looking profoundly miserable.
One of Martin’s great skills was to improvise routes to suit weather conditions. On one occasion this took us on the Limestone Way and into a field absolutely full of orchids. It was a magnificent sight. In fact, for anyone interested in flowers this is a good holiday. There were huge drifts of cranesbill geraniums (whereas here in the Cotswolds we seem only to get little patches of them); and in one Dale we saw wild polemoniums (Jacobs Ladder).
Other unforgettable sights were dippers by a stream and a William Morris window designed by Edward Burne-Jones.