Posts tagged ‘Peak District’

April 13, 2014

A nearly Black Hill slackpack

by backpackingbongos

I had not taken into account the Friday afternoon traffic, therefore it was gone 4.00pm when I pulled into the car park at Crowden. As I was getting my kit together I have to say that I was a little perturbed by the pile of broken glass behind my car.  A popular spot next to the busy A628 meant that it was not the most salubrious place to leave a vehicle overnight.

The campsite was filling with weekend visitors as we passed by, a queue developing at the barrier by reception.  We left the organised ranks of caravans and started the climb towards the disused quarry above Brockholes wood.  A guy returning back to the campsite said that he was envious that I was going to spend the night on the moor.  With blue skies and light winds I was glad that I was.

The last people I would see that day were passed as we started along the track that contours above Crowden Little Brook.  This really is a delightful walk into surprisingly wild country, considering the main Sheffield to Manchester road is nearby.  The path stays level for much of the length, providing an easy promenade into the the hidden depths of the valley.

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The path eventually turns into a sheep trod as it approaches Wiggin Clough.  I had originally planned to continue up to the summit of Black Hill.  However I really could not be arsed.  We sat by the stream for a while for a snack (well I had a snack whilst Reuben watched intently).   A change of plan then saw us climb steep slopes above the clough.

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It was a rough slosh across Siddens, the hillside being littered with an aircraft wreck.  It was surprising just how far the debris was scattered. Overhead planes were making their descent to Manchester Airport, spoiling any feeling of remoteness.

I had a spot in mind in which to pitch the tent, so we headed across trackless ground to the head of Crowden Great Brook.

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I located a great flat, tussock free spot to pitch on.  It was about as hidden from prying eyes as its possible to be.  I reckon that you could camp there for a week and not be spotted.  I’m not saying where it is, get out a map and match the photos to the contours.  A good way to boost map reading skills.

I was very keen not to have to drop all the way down into the main valley to fill up my water bottles.  I ended up finding a boggy hollow and skimmed reasonably clear water off the top.  It was well worth carrying a water filter which soon made it palatable.

Once again I had brought my large and heavy Voyager tent, a comfy palace for myself and Reuben.  After darkness I climbed the nearby rocky outcrop and failed to get a good enough mobile signal to call my wife.  However it was good to stand there in the darkness, the outlines of the surrounding hills just about visible.  Back at the tent I only managed to read for half hour before falling asleep.

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I must have felt relaxed as I did not wake until 9.00am and it was 11.30am before I had packed up.  A cold wind hinted at rain later that day. We climbed to the twin rocky outcrops to take in the fantastic view.  I had been tempted to pitch up there but was glad that I had not as the wind would have been too brisk for a comfortable camp.

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We headed up the valley for a short distance before crossing the stream and heading south on the Pennine Way.  Here I met a nice couple and their terrier which had its own tiny panniers.  Its barking and lunging turned out to be a way of attracting Reuben as she soon offered him her rear end.  This offer passed unnoticed by my innocent dog.

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Above Laddow Rocks we headed west to the undefined summit of Black Chew Head, an easy bag to add to my list of Dewey hills. Laddow Rocks however are rather impressive, leading the eye towards the brooding hulk of Bleaklow.

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We simply followed the Pennine Way back to Crowden, passing this sign that almost tempted me to see if the nearby bogs were dangerous.

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I was relieved to find the car where I had left it with all its windows intact.

May 6, 2013

The Roaches from Gradbach

by backpackingbongos

I probably should be taking training for the TGO Challenge more seriously.  I originally had planned to go for another backpack, but after the previous weekend exertions in Allendale I really could not be bothered.  Instead I decided on a really long day walk in the Peaks, getting used to miles under my feet, that sort of thing.  However I ended up getting up too late and got a bit lost on the drive as I decided I could do better than my satnav.  Therefore it was not far off noon when Reuben led me out of the almost deserted car park in Gradbach.  The mileage would have to be far shorter than planned.

17 kilometres with 600 metres ascent

Roaches

My usual route when walking the Roaches is to ascend via Lud’s Church, a fine rocky chasm hidden in the woods.  Fancying a bit of new ground we followed the Dane Valley Way.  We walked the section as far as Danebridge, a very pleasant stroll in the spring sunshine.  There were views across to Shuttingsloe, which is often comically referred to as the ‘Cheshire Matterhorn’.  It does have a slightly pointy top though.

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Just before reaching the road a concessionary path led us steeply up through some woods and past Hangingstone farm.  I did not know that the nearby Hanging stone had a concessionary path to it so I admired it from a distance.  Although to be honest I could not really be bothered to climb up any further.

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I had never walked the wedge of moorland named Back Forest on the map.  Judging from the path along the wide ridge it does not get as much foot traffic as the nearby Roaches.  It gave a pleasant airy walk, the odd outcrop providing some visual interest and somewhere to plonk Reuben so I could take a photo.

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The Roaches itself was strangely devoid of people, a nice surprise considering that it can be such a honeypot.  However the lack of people was balanced by the sheer amount of tissues that littered the path.  How can people be so careless when blowing their nose?

The weather forecast had promised heavy thundery showers and I watched a few drift by in the distance.  However, because I was keen to test out a new waterproof jacket we managed to spend the day under a small patch of blue that moved with us.  The Roaches provide a high level promenade without much effort required once height has been gained.

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Reuben has a special knack of enthusiastically greeting people who are not too keen on him.  He went bowling over to one couple sitting having a break to introduce himself to their small spaniel.  I was told that their dog was nervous so both myself and Reuben sloped off with our tails between our legs.

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Past Doxey pool and there was a voluntary diversion in place to avoid nesting Peregrine Falcons.  We took the right of way to the left which sadly misses out some of the best views towards Hen cloud.  We were soon out of the wind where I found a perfect spot to sit and have a late lunch whilst Reuben looked on forlornly.

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I started thinking that if I got home early enough I could share a curry takeaway with my wife.  Suddenly the idea of climbing Hen Cloud and looping up and over Ramshaw rocks became much less appealing.  I was now motivated by my stomach rather than any notion of increasing my fitness.  Ramshaw Rocks looked impressive on the horizon as we lost height.

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A farm track led us onto a lane which we followed for a mile or so.  During lunch I had decided that my new waterproof would not be tested by any of the showers that appeared to purposely be missing us.  However with it tucked safely in my rucksack a beefy hailstorm came along and gave us both a battering for a few minutes.

There was a bovine blockage whilst walking through the fields above Black Brook.  Every eye was on Reuben as we passed through cows with calves and then a group of bouncy young males.  I kept as close to the wall as possible in case I needed to make a hasty retreat.  The cows thankfully were no bother but a couple of the boys were much braver.  It took a bit of jumping up and down and waving of arms to stop their advance.  Dogs and cows really do not mix very well.  Cows aside it is a nice scenic section.

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Back at the car I realised that we were ten kilometres short of what I had planned.  I will have to train properly for the TGO Challenge whilst actually walking it.  On the positive side I got home early enough to order a lovely curry.

April 16, 2013

A big walk on Big Moor

by backpackingbongos

The clock really does seem to be ticking this year with regards to the approaching TGO Challenge.  After a Friday off work lounging in bed (due to complete laziness rather than illness) I decided that I really should make a half arsed attempt at getting fit.  I had backpacked the previous weekend but that turned into a bit of a slackpacking adventure, rather than gobbling up the miles as planned.

So early on the Saturday morning I took a rather excited Reuben to the nearest part of the Peak District, less than an hours drive away.  Most of my days on the TGO Challenge are around twenty to twenty five kilometres.  I thought that I should at least attempt that distance with a day pack.  I had also just got a new pair of Inov8 Flyroc 310′s.  After a few months in leather boots over the winter, it was a good opportunity to break them in and get my feet used to trailshoes again.

23.5 Kilometres with 630 metres ascent

Big moor

The car park below Birchen edge is one of those rare ones that remains free, you need to get there early to get a place.  Whilst enjoying a banana from the comfort of my car, I watched a group of ramblers kit up for what looked like an Everest expedition.  Reuben however had no interest in people watching and signalled his impatience from the back seat.  As we left the car park I admired the fact that one couple had brought stools so that they could put their walking boots on in comfort.  They even had matching bags to put their footwear in that looked to have been designed for that purpose (they were boot shaped).  People are fascinating creatures.

The path over the shoulder of Gardom’s edge to the main A621 is an enjoyable one, low open moorland followed by wooded slopes.  Crossing the road we then walked along the edge of some stunning grounds of a large house.  It’s all tumbling brooks and stones and trees and makes me feel rather jealous each time I pass through.  If I owned it I’m not sure if I would want unwashed ramblers walking through.

A sweaty climb in the dappled shade of woodland brought us to Baslow edge and the impressive Eagle stone.

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For the next few miles along first Baslow, Curbar and then Froggatt edges you are reminded that large conurbations are not very far away.  On this sunny day the place was heaving with every man, child and dog.  Although I do have misanthropic tendencies it is great to see so many people out enjoying such a great place.  It’s not somewhere to come to get away from it all, so with that mindset I enjoyed the hustle and bustle.  I wonder what Tracksterman would make of the place?  Reading his post dated April 8th gives me some idea……………..

Anyway, the views as we walked north were spectacular, somewhere where it is hard to resist the temptation to sit and gawp every now and then.

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Another main road soon shattered the idyllic scene but was quickly left behind as we entered Hay wood.  Here Reuben involuntarily lost his virginity to an over enthusiastic labrador twice his size.  Worth the price of admission alone to watch the well spoken elderly owner trying to get it to dismount.  Reuben took this undignified intrusion into his walk in his stride, although I did notice some nervous backwards glances for a few hundred metres.

Our lunch time destination was Tumbling hill, a fantastic perch within access land but off most people’s radar.  An enjoyable half hour in the sun with a flask and a dog who had a keen interest in my sandwiches.

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A short walk along the main road was followed by a pleasant track through the Longshaw Estate where Reuben was confronted by a mob of children who wanted to say hello.  I’m not really sure what he makes of little people, in Nottingham he views them as a free source of footballs.

Fox House to a pedestrian is an obstacle course of fast-moving traffic and badly parked cars on the verges.  It was with relief that the chaos was left behind for a walk across Totley Moor.  This was a place of lingering snow, deep and wet under the warm sun.  It was a bit of a struggle to be honest, especially in trail shoes which were soon cold and sodden.  The snow that did not hold would deposit me in the freezing cold bog hidden underneath.  There was a bit of cursing involved.

The trig point on Totley Moor at 395 metres was the highest point of the day, another pleasant spot to laze in the sun with Reuben.

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Descending towards Barbrook bridge via an ill-defined path the ground became marshy.  There is a distinctive feel to these eastern moors, a blend of fen and trees.  An area ignored by most as they head to the edges just a couple of miles away.

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The gate giving access to the track down Bar Brook was locked, barring the way to access land.  This was annoying and it was difficult hauling Reuben over the top.  A pedestrian access point really should be provided.

It’s a pleasant walk through the shallow valley and we managed to hop over the stream lower down to gain access to the expanse of Big Moor.  Here on a trackless walk to Swine Sty we came across a couple of standing stones that are not marked on the map.  For a moment I was transported to Dartmoor.

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I had planned to walk the length of Birchen edge but tiredness and the desire to get home and order a curry got the better of me.  Instead we were accompanied by the clinking of climbing gear as we made our way back to the car under the wall of gritstone.

January 28, 2013

A Win hill winter wonderland

by backpackingbongos

The plan to stick to the main roads paid off and I got to Hathersage without any problems.  However it got rather tricky when I decided to pay Outside a visit, I needed some new gaiters and fancied a fry-up before heading into the hills.  In their wisdom they had left their car park open without attempting to clear any of the snow that had accumulated.  The result being that I needed to be pushed into a space after losing all traction.  My car is totally hopeless in snow and ice.  As it turned out the fry up was rather nice and the gaiters out of stock.

15.2 Kilometres with 570 metres ascent

Win hill

I left the car at the side of the road near the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, assuming there were no yellow lines buried under the snow.  As we crossed the Ladybower dam it was good to hear the snow squeak under my feet.  Although there had been snow on the ground for a couple of weeks in Nottingham, it’s just not the same when in a city.  Here it was much fluffier and gave that satisfying sound when walked on.

Usually when I climb Win hill I go straight up the lung busting Parkin Clough.  However I fancied a gentler ascent so we followed the shore of the reservoir for a while before taking a nice easy signed footpath.  It was truly magical walking through the snow covered woods.

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As we approached the edge of the moor it started snowing, curtains of white hiding the surrounding landscape for a while.  Out of the shelter of the trees the wind nipped at exposed skin, yet at the same time I was sweating due to the exertion.  Reuben however was as happy as a dog in snow.  He was bouncing around tail wagging, bounding through the deepest drifts.

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The rocky summit of Win hill was quickly reached and I stood for a while to soak in the view.  Much of the surrounding landscape was hidden under a blanket of low cloud.  However Win Hill gives a good impression of height out of proportion to its small stature, especially with the reservoirs far below.  It was midday and I measured an air temperature of -3C with a wind chill of -10C, cold enough not to want to hang around too long.

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The summit of Win hill is a small rocky cone at the end of a long ridge that leads to the eastern slopes of Kinder Scout.  The mixture of snow and rock gave an impression of a much bigger hill after we descended to the north.

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Thankfully the stretch of moorland towards Hope cross was easy going as a vehicle had recently driven and consolidated the snow.  With the bales of hay dotted around I reckon it must have been a farmer out to feed the sheep.  It was a good hands in pocket sort of yomp whilst Reuben bounded around.  Even though visibility was poor I enjoyed occasional views down into both the Hope and Edale valleys.

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Crab sandwiches and a flask of coffee was enjoyed with a dry stone wall and a belt of trees providing shelter from the wind.  The crab sandwiches grabbed Reubens attention and he watched me eat with rapt concentration.

I had thought about ascending Crookstone Knoll as it is a mighty fine view-point.  However it was hidden from view so we took the bridleway through the forest to Haggwater bridge and then the Snake pass.  Crossing the busy road another bridleway took us steeply onto the ridge above via Hagg farm.

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I have to admit that I was starting to tire, walking though snow being more difficult than I remembered.  The next section along the bridleway at the edge of the forest was particularly tough with no footprints to follow.  It was hard to tell if the snow was an inch deep or up to my knee.  Occasionally there would be a hidden boggy patch to add to the unpredictability of it all.

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The fields of Bridge-end pasture felt like tundra as I slowly plodded onwards, jealous of Reuben’s four pawed drive.  He had no intention of slowing down.  The twin topped summit of Crook hill came into view, almost a mirror image of Win hill across the valley.  It gives a superb viewpoint and is very neglected in comparison to its much more famous twin.

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However as I got to its base I had lost the enthusiasm for the short climb to the top.  It was beginning to get dark and I was keen to get off the hill before being fully enveloped by the gloaming.  A huge flock of sheep were gathered around piles of hay and they all turned round to watch Reuben and myself pass.  As a group they all crept a bit closer before turning tail and running away.  This was repeated a couple of times.

We passed Crookhill farm (which incidentally occupies a cracking location) to walk through fields down to the viaduct over the Ladybower reservoir.  The road walk back to the car was a right old slog on deep slush filled pavements.  Probably good exercise but as much fun as wading through treacle.

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November 25, 2012

24hrs on Kinder Scout

by backpackingbongos

The weather has been pretty apocalyptic recently, constant heavy rain making the short November days even more miserable.  At this time of year it is easy for outdoors lassitude to set in, especially with regards to backpacking.  It gets increasingly difficult to force yourself out of your warm bed to walk over a wet and windy hillside.  However this weekend there was a brief promising weather window, clear and calm conditions over the Peak District in between weather fronts.  It would be a shame not to take advantage of it.

Late Friday morning (after enjoying a lie-in) I collected Rich from his house, Reuben whining excitedly from the back seat of the car.  We arrived at Chrissie’s house in Hayfield a couple of hours later after a pasty stop in Baslow.  We sat in her kitchen for a while to consume even more food and enjoy a coffee.  By the time we set off there were less than three hours of daylight left.

Total distance 10.8 miles with 750 metres ascent

Chrissie led the way though the large but attractive village of Hayfield.  We were soon walking through open countryside along Kinder Road, which we left just past the car park.  A surfaced track then took us beneath the bulk of Mount Famine and South Head, two underrated and rather neglected hills that give a good ridge walk.  We then started the climb on the bridleway that leads to Edale via Edale Cross.

I had expected clear sunny skies but soon after starting our climb clouds started to build from the west, lines of showers drifting through the low sunlight.

The outcome of sunshine and rain at the same time was a rather spectacular rainbow, dark skies and the western flanks of Kinder giving a sombre backdrop.  One end of the rainbow appeared to be coming out of the ground just a few metres ahead of us, something I have not seen before.

We made swift progress up alongside Oaken Clough, finally reaching Edale Cross.  This is familiar ground for Chrissie and she led us up a path that contours around the steep slopes of Swine’s Back.

Ominous clouds were building above Rushop edge but thankfully the sky was beginning to clear once again towards the west.  Hopefully we would be treated to a clear star filled night.

The aim was to pitch our tents and then sit and hopefully enjoy a sunset.  We were still a way from our intended camp spot when we were treated to a brief fiery display.  It only lasted a couple of minutes before the sun was swallowed by the clouds, successive ridges were dark silhouettes against the orange glow.

Our chosen spot was exposed but relatively dry for Kinder Scout in late Autumn, especially considering all the rain that had fallen the day before.  Tents were quickly pitched and we soon dived into our respective shelters to escape from the freezing wind, my weather device measuring a wind chill of minus three celsius just after dark.

Usually when I wild camp I am in the middle of the countryside, as far away from civilisation as possible.  Here on the edge of Kinder Scout we were pretty much on the edge of a city, the huge sprawl of Manchester beneath our feet.  The twinkling orange lights stretched as far as the eye could see, dirty jewels in the dark night.  It was like being at the edge of two worlds.  It was strange being up there, feeling so distant but at the same time close to those lights.  Standing on that airy perch whilst the Friday rush hour was taking place below.

We were all in our tents when I first spotted a torch light in the distance coming from the direction of Edale rocks.  Ten minutes later a figure emerged from the dark, sporting a head torch and an accent.  It was Yuri who had walked up from Edale railway station in the dark to meet and camp with us.  We managed to stand around chatting for about half an hour before the chill sent us to our tents for the rest of the night.

I slept remarkably well, both mine and Reuben’s body heat keeping the temperature just above freezing in the tent.  My alarm woke me just after 7.00am and I unzipped an ice encrusted flysheet to peer into a monochrome world.  The sun had yet to rise and the landscape had a soft milky texture to it, frost coating the grass and our tents.  I fired up my stove to make a coffee and we were soon gathered outside in the frigid air to await what would hopefully be a spectacular sunrise.  Reuben however thought better of this and remained curled up on his blanket.

It was evident that there was a cracking inversion over the Derwent valley far to the east.  Unfortunately there was slightly higher ground in the way of the rising sun.  Therefore after waking Reuben I set off with Rich and Yuri to climb the rocky tor of Edale Rocks in the hope of a better view.  Reuben obliged by pulling his ‘dog on the mountain’ pose.

From our vantage point it was evident that anyone on the summit of Win Hill that morning would have been in for a treat.  The upper Derwent was nearly full to the top with fog, higher peaks rising above it like islands.  In contrast the Edale valley below us was almost fog free.

To the south much of the white Peak was fog bound.  We noticed a couple of figures on the top of Swine’s back waiting for the sun to rise.

Edale Rocks is a great place to hang out in the pre-dawn light.

Unfortunately the sunrise never materialised, it was like sitting and watching a cheap firework display in a grand setting.  There was a brief fizzle before it was extinguished by a bank of cloud.  Time to head back to the tents for more coffee and a hot breakfast.

Packing up was a slow and rather painful affair for me.  A couple of days previous I had managed to shut a finger in a door at work.  The nail had turned black and my whole hand was still throbbing, any contact with that finger causing a lot of discomfort.  Stuffing gear into my rucksack proved to be rather tricky.  Actually the whole act of packing was made even more difficult by a dog that was more keen on being inside the tent than out!

Due to the age of Dixie (Chrissie’s 11 year old boxer) Chrissie thought it best to head back to Hayfield the way we had come.  Myself, Rich and Yuri decided to have a wander over to Kinder Downfall to see what it looked like after all the rain we have had.  En-route we stopped at the trig on Kinder Low which is an island surrounded by bare eroded peat.  The inversion over the upper Derwent was still there, its residents probably having a dank murky morning.

Strangely the popular western edge of Kinder Scout was almost deserted that morning.  Perhaps the weather forecast for the afternoon had put people off venturing out.  Already the sky had clouded over making the light dull, flat and uninteresting.  Above Manchester there was a long dirty skid-mark in the air, smog had formed above the city.  We continued walking north along the sandy path through interesting collections of gritstone boulders.

Due to the cold Reuben was sporting his snazzy new jacket underneath his backpack.  I was worried that he may feel a bit overburdened but once off the lead he was running about being his usual happy self, enjoying the freedom of the moors.

Kinder Downfall had reverted back to its usual trickle, which was a shame as I have always wanted to see it in full flow.  However it is always a grand spot, a deep rocky canyon making it one of the more impressive spots in the Peaks.  In summer this often means it can be an immensely busy lunch spot.  A worthy destination for a day out.

Rich had childcare commitments and needed to be back in Nottingham by two so we soon set off along the edge, the weather appearing murkier by the minute.

We had planned to descend via William Clough but spotted a path heading directly to Kinder Reservoir from Sandy Heys.  This gave a rapid knee jarring descent into the valley where a brisk walk along Kinder Road led us easily back to Hayfield.

It had been almost exactly twenty four hours since we had left but it felt like we had been out for much longer.  We had not walked great distances but a camp on the summit of Kinder had added to the adventure.  An enjoyable hill experience in good company.

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