Mad Dog 2008
Top: Heading across the river
Middle: A view of Charles' bridge
Bottom: Peering down at the weir
Right: The weir in Monsal Dale
Who could have predicted that? Scooped by Julia Bradbury! Literally a couple of weeks before we were to undertake an official walk through the railway tunnels on the Monsal Trail (the first time this had been included as part of a Mad Dog location visit) Julia Bradbury takes a film crew through the Headstock tunnel for BBC Four's Railway Walks - and blows what was going to be an exclusive!
The attention that the programme brought meant that the walk, organised by the Peak District Rangers for Saturday 18 October 2008, was full to brimming with enthusiastic walkers - as well as three hardened Survivors fans.
Starting from Bakewell it's about a 45 minute walk to the first tunnel - the one which features in Survivors. Mad Dog tunnel takes just under 10 minutes to walk through. All too soon it's gone and you come out into sunlight on the viaduct. The door opens from the inside, so you can't get locked in. No stalactites or shards of ice hanging from the roof I'm afraid, not even on a brisk October Saturday. As late as the early to mid-1980s the tunnel (and the further tunnels on the walk) was actually open to the public to walk through. It was only when the Peak Park took over the managing of the trail that the tunnels had to be blocked up, for insurance reasons.
The walk then continues along the Monsal Trail taking in three very similar tunnels, and a number of places the public aren't allowed to go - which feels very satisfying! The Peak Rangers are very knowledgeable and as well as tea breaks and lunch there are often stops to point out interesting geology, flora, fauna, geography and railway history.
At between five and 10 miles your feet do know that you have been walking for most of the day, so the bus ride back to Bakewell station is rather welcome. A highly enjoyable start to a Mad Dog weekend.
Mad Dog valley can be cold and, although the autumn sunshine did its best, it certainly was a bit nippy for the six Survivors fans and Flash ('the wonder dog'), who made the trek down on to the viaduct on the Sunday 19 Octover, to walk in the long-lost paw and hoof prints of 1977.
Flash provided a reconstruction of the dog attack at the tunnel mouth right on cue! If you walk along the viaduct and divert behind the old Railway Station it brings you to the road bridge that Charles hides under. Passing over the bridge you stumble on (if you know where they are) many locations from the show. The run-down shack that Charles cycles by is now sadly in a better condition than Sanders' lean-to roof - which has deteriorated badly in recent years and all-but collapsed!
The property (Upperdale House) has recently changed hands and maybe this location will now become another casualty of time.
Back over the river at the footbridge, under the viaduct and off to Fenton's falls - where he waterfall never disappoints. Recent rain had swelled it magnificently. Then it was up hill to the spot where Charles falls from his horse. This location too is a victim of time, but with the aid of screen-captures you can sort out the action without the need for Time Team reconstructions of the wall from the few remaining stones now scattered along the ground.
It was then back along the viaduct for the obligatory group photo by the tunnel mouth and then the even more obligatory refreshments at the top of the hill.
There was just time before we lost the daylight to visit the rocky outcrop at the head of the valley - and boy was it windy!
My thanks to Chris, Colin, Steve, Darren, Mary, and of course Flash ('the wonder dog') for a highly enjoyable weekend.
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