For some reason, only known to the webmaster, I am always designated to lead when the venue is Standing Stone.
Although a spectacular setting this starting point has two key disadvantages. It invariably attracts bad weather whenever Potters gather there, and its height means there is an unavoidable ascent back to the finish. Maybe Alex thinks I have the authority or perhaps the charisma to overcome such problems? Who knows?
Whatever the inside story maybe, this morning's events proved that there may well be an exception to every rule. The weather was glorious, and the finish did not feature a tiring climb. Do you want to know more? Let me explain.
In temperatures well into double figures, two walkers set off ahead of the main pack. Phil and Grant were appropriately clad although Grant's walking stick may well have given him the edge when it came to elegance. The six runners then set off on a route I'd previously used although nobody remembered it as that had been a day of rain and swirling mist. Today could not have been more different.
Conversation rarely moved beyond the twin subjects of fine weather and fine views. For those who were not there, I can now disclose the route so that you can slip away one fine day at your leisure and relive our experience:
From the start, the route went down through the woods to Toot Hill and then up the road to the Forest Chapel. There was brief conversation as to the availability of the chapel car park as a future venue before climbing up Charity Lane and into the Forest. Following the main path through the trees we then ascended to and crossed Hacked Way Lane at Ashtreetop, then the ups and downs of moorland to Warrilowhead Farm and Walker Barn. It was then a case of following the Gritstone Trail towards Lamaload but bearing right before the water we climbed up to the Buxton Roads, both old and new, through Greenways Farm (looking rather tidier than usual) and finally back to Forest Chapel. Following the lanes round to Standing Stone, no climbing of note was noted.
It was the journey's end in little over an hour and a half. Three of our number climbed a wall and did a little trespassing - they know who they are - but no damage was done and it proved to be a longer way back anyway. Just a few minutes later the two walkers returned undamaged and reporting on an excellent morning.
Then out came the flasks and tea and conversation flowed mightily. All was well with the world.
Part of the previous sentence is a bare-faced lie.