December 1st: 10am on a rainy December Sunday morning in Ashford-on-the-Water. Or should that be Ashford-under-Water?
Yes, our old friend the British winter weather hadn't let us down, and as seven brave souls stood shivering in Ashford car park in the rain, I'm sure more than one of us were wondering whether we might have been better off staying in bed, sleeping off the Saturday night beers??..
Nevertheless, off we trotted, ably led by the intrepid squadron-leader Lewis. Not far into the gentle ascent towards Monsal Dale the first glimmers of sunshine poked through the clouds, and by the time we reached the Viaduct at Monsal a couple of hours later, the sun was shining and fleeces had been packed away. From the top of the viaduct lovely views over the dale were to be had, with an even more welcome view of the Monsal Head Hotel behind us!
Sat by the roaring fire, nursing a perfect pint of Abbeydale Matins, contemplating a plate of spicy chicken wings, Sunday was looking a lot better than it had at 10 that morning! A couple of pints and a decent feed later, and we (now eight following a well planned pub-rendezvous) enjoyed a leisurely walk back to Ashford, now in glorious sunshine (and sporting sunglasses too!). Back to the cars just as the sun set, an excellent Sunday had by all.
The moral of the story? No matter how grim the weather looks from your pit, with the remnants of Saturday night buzzing around your head, it's usually worth the effort of dragging yourself out for a walk. And that is coming from me, renowned sleeper-in and accomplished idler!
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