After a mild and dank winter I woke up on the first day of meteorological spring to this.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During my trip to the Yorkshire Dales this weekend there was a twenty-four hour period when the weather was perfect. A combination of clear skies, snow, a bright moon and sub-zero temperatures meant that I spent a perfect winter’s night on the moor. For the first time I have attempted to capture one of my backpacking trips on video and talk into the camera.
The sound quality is not always brilliant with the wind sometimes obscuring what I am saying, no worries as I spent most of the time talking nonsense anyway! The usual trip report with words and photies will be along in the next few days.
The backpacking count is going well so far this year. Weekend number two and backpack number two.
Last night was spent once again on the Pennine moors, except this time the weather was less benign. Gale force winds and heavy snow gave rather difficult camping conditions. It is years since I last wild camped in proper deep snow. It is good fun until in the morning you try to remove pegs frozen solid into the ground, then stuff flapping nylon into a small stuff sack with really cold hands. At least we had a snug little bothy to while away the evening by a blazing fire and somewhere to cook breakfast and pack properly out of the wind.
As usual a full trip report later on in the week.
Worryingly backpack number three is planned for next weekend…………..
The day before had been a bit of a wash out except that it was not rain that had kept me indoors, it had been a huge dumping of snow. I had spent that day mostly standing at the window watching gale force winds blow curtains of snow across the valley. An attempt at a walk had to be abandoned on the moors above the cottage as the deep snow made going a bit too tiring. Thankfully today there was the promise of clear skies and a spot of sunshine, a cause to celebrate. However the van was still firmly stuck as to get to the now cleared road involved a couple of hundred metres of deep wet snow. The snow plough passing our track had also been kind enough to deposit a huge mound of the stuff at the entrance. A quick route was devised that would start and finish without mechanical means.
9.1 miles with 560 metres ascent
The neighbours a couple of doors down were busy with snow shovels when I passed, having cleared a large amount of snow already. They agreed to leave them out for when I got back to enable me to dig out the van. It seemed like the entire village was out that morning with bright orange snow shovels, clearing driveways and digging out cars. I would imagine that they are used to snow here high up in the southern uplands. My route descended to the lower part of the village where I took the unclassified lane that leads down Wanlockhead water. This part of the village felt a lot less bleak than that higher up, possibly due to being more enclosed in a valley. The drop in height meant that there was a little less snow and the snow free road gave swift progress. The views back up towards Wanlockhead and the high snow covered hills was stunning, especially with the combination of sun and cloud.
It was great to finally feel the warmth of the sun on my face, made much more pleasant by the lack of a breeze. I yomped further and further down the valley with the road finally giving way to a track. It was the first day in April and the sun was warm enough to ensure a rapid thawing of the snow. The track starts climbing towards the derelict cottage of Duntercleuch with its view of the rounded hills on the other side of the valley.
I passed two parked up 4 wheel drive vehicles full of hunting paraphernalia, dead crows and rabbits. Quad bike tracks led up the forestry track that I was following so I assume the owners were out doing gamekeeper type things. Once again I was pleased to be following in the tracks of a quad bike to make progress much easier. I was soon surrounded by dense conifers giving a completely different atmosphere to the wide open spaces. I have to admit that I found this part of the day a bit of a chore with the usual restricted views and sterility. Unfortunately the quad bike tracks soon deserted me and I had to plough on through unbroken virgin snow.
Then suddenly there was a gap in the forest and I could see for miles, endless rolling hills disappearing into the distance.
I once again found myself on the lee side of the hill, the track being covered in deep drifts, luckily the sun had got to work on the shallower sections.
A couple of hefty snow showers passed over whilst I was eating lunch, the snow being like that polystyrene that is used to pack boxes. It was great to watch curtains of white appear in the distance and get closer and closer, dump its goods on you and then be followed by clear blue skies. I was soon on my way climbing towards Highmill Knowe. The skyscape was stunning, a combination of winter blue skies and bubbling white clouds.
I soon joined the Southern Upland way again as it descended back down into the valley of Wanlockhead Water. Wet melting snow and tussock grass defeated the waterproof lining of my boots and made slow difficult going.
Sitting on the bridge over the river finishing my coffee and eating the last of my lunch it felt that spring was on its way. I found a different track back into Wanlockhead, this time passing through the mine workings for which the village is well know. This included a spoil tip that is shaped like the Matterhorn, a great pyramid that defies gravity. How did they get it into that shape? The final few hundred metres back into the village still make you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Wanlockhead is certainly a wild place.