As I write this I realise that I picked the wrong day weather wise to go out for a hike this weekend. Today it is warm and sunny whilst yesterday brought some heavy rain and a rather testing strong wind. However Saturday is the day to visit the Peaks, for some reason much quieter than on a Sunday. These days I struggle to find new ground to explore so often end up visiting the same favourite places. Fancying something a bit different we decided to head for the ‘other side’ of the Peaks to the moors near Buxton. A slightly longer journey to get there so the hills are not quite as familiar. We plotted a long varied walk taking in wild moorland, deep cloughs, scenic dales, forest and a rocky peak – a perfect day in the hills.
13.4 miles with 860 metres ascent
We left the van on a minor road at Dane head and took a boggy track passing cheeks hill. I forgot to check the map and ended up descending too far meaning we had to climb back up to Orchard farm. From the farm a high level path contours round the hillside toward the Danebower quarries, giving views of the isolated houses squeezed into the fold of hills. The rain soon swept in, but being optomistic that it was just a brief shower I did not put on my waterproofs hoping a windproof jacket would keep me dry. Within minutes it was too late and I was soaked to the skin as near gale force winds blew the rain up the valley obliterating the views. Optimism turned to pessimism and it was head down in a wet windy grey world, at least it was warm so there was no risk of freezing. I just hate walking in wet underpants!
Danebower quarries are a great spot with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, the rain quickly passed and I managed to get the camera out to snap the old chimney up on the hillside.
A dash across the busy A54 and we took the bridleway up Danebower Hollow and into the mist. The wind soon wipped this away and we were back in a world of colour with some of the most extensive views I have seen on a summers day. The air was exceptionally clear and we debated if the hills to the south west were Shropshire or Wales. We could see squalls of rain tracking across the wide plains.
A signed path descends into Cumberland Brook where we met a couple pondering their guidebook. The directions they were following really did not make any sense and there was not even a sketch map. I could not work out where they were meant to be heading so pointed them in the direction of Wildboarclough and the nearest road. Cumberland Brook is a scenic valley especially lower down where it becomes wooded, with a nice little isolated cottage in an eviable location.
The wind and rain started again so we descended into the woodland and sat next to the river for lunch. The midges were really out in force in this sheltered spot so we ate till we could bear it no more and headed up into the wind. The path brought us out to the road at Wildboarclough where we crossed the river and took a tree lined path that contoured the hillside. The views down Wildboarclough were idyllic with a perfect blend of pasture, woodland and a topping of moorland. Its a shame that the valley is not that well served by public footpaths.
It was heads down for the climb to the rocky top of Shuttingsloe where we met the only significant groups of walkers of the day. The sun was now out and the views extensive in all directions. Manchester looked vast to the north west with Winter hill behind it in the clear air.
The flagstoned path across the moor leading to Macclesfield forest had blended in really well and was almost invisible from above. This gave quick easy progress into the shade of the trees.
We were soon heading back down to the head of Wildboarclough and into Clough Brook, another scenic little valley which in its upper reaches leads the eye back to Shuttingsloe. I was not looking forward to the short section of road walking after Torgate farm and was pleasantly suprised to find a concessionary path that led into Chest hollow and up to the road at the Peak View cafe. Bonus number one was no road walking and bonus number two was finding a great cafe we did not know existed!
Filled with cake we took the path to Stake farm then over the moors to descend into the Goyt valley, another scenic Peak district gem. A path descended to near Goytsclough quarry before our last big ascent of the day up Berry clough. It was here whilst climbing through deep bracken that we could tell that Autumn was not far around the corner, there was a hint of brown to the ends of the leaves. This however was in stark contrast to the hot wind that was blowing up the valley.
We arrived back at the van tired as we had been up hill and down dale all day. I will have to make sure that I visit this part of the Peak District more often as the variety of the scenery gives a day of welcome contrasts.