“How about a walk in the Peak District tomorrow?” Corrina asked. This was in reply to my mooching around the house regretting not getting things together for my backpacking trip to the Migneint. I immediately said yes, it’s not very often that my partner will agree to head for the hills for a walk, let alone suggest it.
Driving up the M1 the weather really was not looking promising, in fact it was lashing it down and all my windows were fogging up. A grey world of spray and cloud. Should we just have stayed at home and had a nice morning reading the Sunday papers?
8.5 miles with 540 metres ascent
The road from Fox house to Hathersage is a delight when you reach the well named ‘Surprise view’, it is hard to keep your eyes on the road as the ground falls away to the left with the Derwent valley far below you. It does not help when the passenger says, ‘I can see a great view’. Luckily since we passed through Chesterfield the sun had made an appearance and the rain had made a good job of washing the sky until it was crystal clear.
I can never really resist a stop in Hathersage with its abundance of outdoor shops, I was even more exited to find out that ‘Outside’ had erected its bank holiday sale marquee. I really should not have been as all it meant was that they simply filled it with stock that was either extra large or extra small. I went in the shop and fondled a very nice Arcteryx Atom hoody before suddenly coming to my senses when I realised that £180 is a lot of money for a synthetic insulated jacket. I fondle the same jacket every time I go in that shop. One day it will be in the sale in a nice medium size. If Arcteryx fancy sending me one or there is a rich reader of this blog please get in touch!
We set off from the car park with me cursing the fact that I had brought my Paramo with me, I was immediately sweating under the warm sun. I had promised Corrina a ‘nice’ six to eight mile walk with not too many ups and downs. One day I will properly measure the map before setting out, this was going to be a ‘make it up as we go along’ sort of walk!
Just past Leadmill we took a narrow lane uphill to Hazelford hall and then a very steep path that rejoins the road further up, taking a big zag out of the zig zag. Views behind were really opening up with the air being exceptionally clear for late August. The reason for this? A pretty strong northerly wind.
Just before Leam farm there is a field with a large ‘No camping’ sign on the gate. In the field itself are a large amount of caravans, vans and large tents! We stayed here a few years ago and it is not your usual campsite, this then was most definitely a party field. Just don’t turn up here for a cosy weekend!
A path leaves the lane just past the farm and heads across the heather and bracken covered Eyam moor. The heather was in full bloom and the air buzzed with bumble bees. The dominant view across the valley was of Millstone edge and Higger tor.
It was already past 2pm and our bellies were rumbling, the incessant wind meant that the exposed moor was not a good place to sit down. The few pieces of dry stone wall were angled at such a way that it was windy on both sides. Sir William Hill road was a wind tunnel, the trees fully laden with leaves were groaning under the onslaught and it was difficult to progress upwards. Strangely as soon as the trees were left behind the wind dropped a little bit. A climb over a stile and a sit down behind the wall transported us back into summer, the sun hot without the cold wind. As lunch was eaten four sheep came legging it down the hill, greeting us like long lost friends. We were not sure if sheep should be given Tuna.
Back over the wall into the full onslaught of the wind. The view suddenly changed leading our eyes to the north this time, the furthest skyline being dominated by Kinder Scout. The quickly moving clouds throwing shafts of sunlight down on to the green fields, changing their colour every few seconds.
Further down you begin to see that the fold in the hills here hold a secret world of deep ravines and dense forests. We were soon on one of my favourite paths in the Peaks, a grassy track that contours the hillside giving views down into the greenery below.
At one point there is even a small rock outcrop, a place to sit and contemplate the scenery around you or a place to get your partner to pose whilst you bark instructions at her (why at that moment of being bossy did a group have to pass us by?).
The track heads on down, wide grassy and easy, perfect for letting your eyes feast on the surroundings without the worry of tripping up (for some reason I have an uncanny knack of suddenly ending up on my backside).
Down, down, down it goes, getting steeper towards the bottom where you plunge deep into the greenery. Once again out of the wind it was warm with the sun heating up the bracken to give a heady aroma.
Stoke Ford lays at the bottom of the deep valley with paths radiating off in all directions. The best way if you come here is to head off along Bretton Clough, full of strange drumlins. That however was in the wrong direction for us so we walked up Abney Clough, another gem hidden away in the folds of these hills. Every step was a pleasure and as a rarity for me in the Peaks, a path that I have not yet trod. At Abney there was a bit of confusion where one map ends and another begins. For some reason the OS decided not to overlap the maps, so we stood on the lane for a while trying to join up two large unwieldy laminated maps in the wind. Eventually the correct path was located and as we climbed toward Offerton Moor we had one final view of the way we had just come.
Descending back down to Hatherage we came to Callow farm and an honesty test. Someone had left a brand new walking book next to the stile. Would they be coming back for it? Which way did they go? If I leave it will someone else just come along and half inch it? In the end we left it where it was, just incase someone was on their way back for it. Fifteen minutes down hill we met a family who asked if we had seen a green book next to a stile at the farm! If only I had picked it up, it would have saved dad from running back up to retrieve it!
So far this year I have overlooked the Peak District as a walking destination. It’s just an hours drive away yet this is only the third visit this year. What always surprises me is how much I enjoy visiting the place, yet for some reason I happily sit in the van for 3 hours on the way to somewhere else. Mind you a nice sunny day helped with the enjoyment and for some reason the hills were almost deserted this bank holiday Sunday.