This article was submitted in 2008, as our entry to the Willow Walk competition, run jointly by The Telegraph and Buxton Water. The “walk” needed to start and finish at the cricket ground and show Britain at its most beautiful. We thought we had a good chance of success, but unfortunately, we lost out to Bridgetown CC in Somerset. Further information and a full list of the runners-up can be seen here
Description of the Club
From sheep to ‘ducks’ in just two years………..
The Club has grown from idle boasting in the bar of The George to a thriving village team with a full fixture list and winter training schedule. We have twenty playing members, ranging in age from fourteen to sixty-eight, and the team reflects the diverse occupations in this Peak District hill farming community.
As a non-league team it is ideally suited to Sunday fixtures and has become an asset to village life. Inspired by some of the Church’s more playful examples of eleventh century stonework, we have become known as The Gargoyles.
Self Help Amenities
Description of Ground
The Alstonefield St Peter’s cricket pitch is at almost a thousand feet offering panoramic views of the White Peak, the limestone area of the Peak District National Park. Alstonefield is a “best kept” Staffordshire village, on the western bank of the River Dove which forms the county boundary. To the South East you see a curling indentation in the landscape that is Dovedale itself which, according to statistics, is the most visited beauty spot in England. To the West, you look towards high pastures that stand above the Manifold Valley with its disused light railway line that now provides a popular trail for cyclists.
An advantage of the high level limestone terrain is that it drains well. Games are seldom called off unless it is raining on the day. The dry stone walls characteristic of the area form part of the boundary, but a hefty six will put the ball into long grass causing an enforced pause in play. A short step down a farm track is the Memorial Hall where teas are taken, and a further step leads to The George where thirsts are finally quenched and games dissected in depth but with good humour.
The Willow Walk
Our 5 mile walk takes you past two sports grounds and two pubs, with magnificent views across Alstonefield and Wetton villages. The route is fairly easy with some moderate hilly parts.
Park at the playing field, (map ref SK129555). Enter the field, immediately turning left. On match days, carefully skirt the boundary, retrieving any balls hit your way. Go through the gate in the bottom corner, admiring the views of Wetton village and Wetton Hill rising to the right.
Descend through the fields, crossing Furlong Lane. Where paths cross at three wooden gates, go straight ahead. The path skirts Hope Marsh Farm through a series of clearly marked stiles and gates, crossing Furlong Lane again on the gradual ascent towards Wetton. Pass three trees, leaving the field by a large concrete water trough. Carry on in the same direction to reach a gate-stile onto Ashbourne Road. Turn right and pass a junction on your right and the Wetton village sports ground on your left. The road bends sharply to the right, passing Ye Olde Royal Oak.
As the road bends left, take the smaller road on the right, which rises steadily. Where the road peters out, continue in this direction through a stile to enter the National Trust area of Wetton Hills. Cross two stiles and walk down a fairly steep hill with a wall on your left. Ecton Hill can be seen on the forward horizon with remains of mine workings, once one of the richest copper mines in Britain. Follow the path around Wetton Hill to the right, at about the same level (do not descend completely into the valley) eventually coming to a stile in a wall.
Go through this stile, across a small field and right onto the road at Gateham. After a few yards turn left through the gateway of Gateham Farm and diagonally cross two fields and a small road (Long Lane). Continue in roughly the same direction through several more stiles to a road (The Rakes). Turn right for Alstonefield. Keep the village pump and the toilets on your right, left at the bend, then right to pass The George. Turn right again past the Old Post Office, sadly now closed. At the T junction with The Memorial Hall on the right and The Old School Garden on the left, cross the road, take the track opposite and enter the playing field through a small gate and turn left for the car park.
Post Match Analysis
Submitted by Brian Ross