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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.