As usual the outdoor plans for this weekend changed during the week. I had initially planned a three day backpack in the Lake District but the Bongo phoned in and threw a sicky last Monday. Unfortunately there is no NHS for Bongos so it had to go private to have its innards poked about. It has been a week of talking to garages and then phoning and ordering parts from specialist dealers, the fun of owning a non standard vehicle. Unfortunately it looks like it is going to be away from home for a few more days yet.
That left me with the good old public transport option, which to be honest is not great for travelling any distance over a Saturday and Sunday whilst attempting a good stomp in the hills. Therefore instead of hauling weekend backpacking gear onto packed out buses and trains, I thought that I would do a good linear day yomp across the Peak District using the ‘local’ service that runs between Sheffield and Leeds. I actually managed to get a bargain ticket at the station, £11.40 brought me a Derbyshire Wayfarer which means that I could travel from Nottingham and use most buses and trains in Derbyshire. Half the cost of driving the Bongo to the Peaks and it gives the opportunity of not having to walk in a circle.
13.7 miles with 1,010 metres ascent
Platform 2c at Sheffield station is a little different from most other platforms, as many people are dressed for a day on the hills, meaning everyone looked a little less glum. I don’t know where Northern rail purchased their trains from as this one resembled two buses welded together and then stuck on rails. It was packed out by the time it left Sheffield, like a commuter train but with more technical fabrics.
I apologised my way out at Hope, stepping into cold clear air for the pavement stomp into the village. I think that Hope is a brilliant name for a village, cheery almost. It’s a shame that I could not finish in a village named ‘Happiness’ to round the day off even better. Hope was bustling with visitors on this sunny morning as I headed along the Edale road and onto the path that leads to Lose Hill.
It’s a long steady climb to the summit which has views in all directions. There was already a small gathering at the top and I chatted away for a few minutes enjoying the warm and still air.
The ridge between Lose hill and Mam Tor is often referred to as the ‘Great Ridge’ and it separates the Vale of Edale from the Hope valley. It is a pleasant walk with good views either side. However I do think that the title is overselling it a little bit, maybe it should be called the ‘Fairly nice ridge’ instead? Shockingly I realised that I had not been up here since my twenty-first birthday, a fair few years ago. Something that has put me off returning recently is it popularity, it is buzzing up there! I probably passed a couple of hundred people between Lose Hill and Mam Tor, my voice beginning to falter as I said hello to pretty much every one of them! It may be best to print a sign to hang around your neck or simply ignore everyone which was the tactic of a few miserable looking souls that I passed. It is a bit weird saying hi to someone who simply looks through you before carrying on!
The first bump on the ridge that I passed was Back Tor, a small bit of mountain scenery when looking at it from certain angles. Here I passed a huge group of teenagers which had filled most of the train earlier. It’s good to see younger people on the hills and a few of them even looked to be enjoying themselves. I heard DofE being mentioned a few times so no doubt this time next year some of them will be straining under the monster sacks which they are instructed to carry.
Mam Tor was swarming with a huge mix of humanity, surely with all those feet climbing it everyday it must be getting smaller? The northern side had a colourful array of paragliders taking to the air, providing the throngs with a good spectacle. Something I would love to have a go at some day, although the thought of running off a hill strapped to a giant kite makes my tummy go all funny.
I left the trig point and headed east towards the crumbly cliffs with a large drop down towards Castleton, the Hope cement works looking incongruous in the background.
Descending a little further and taking care close to the edge I got this stunning panorama of the cliffs and the crumbling twisted landscape below. I could just make out the old main road that had been buckled and broken by this shifting landscape, now rendered unusable and with nature taking over.
My next destination was the continuation of the ridge on Rushup edge where the character of the walk changes completely. Once over the road at Mam Nick with its short distance from a car park the crowds simply melted away. Here is a view of the ridge from Mam Tor.
Climbing towards Lords seat I looked back at Mam Tor and it looked like it was swarming with ants and ants on bikes, here a few hundred metres away was solitude. The summit of Lords seat which is higher than Mam Tor has big views down into the Edale valley whilst Kinder Scout on the other side draws the eye. It was easy walking down towards the road, good striding out country. I then turned onto the Pennine bridleway as it heads north towards South head. Now it has to be said that this is not the most exciting of walking, although the views were good in the changing light.
I popped some headphones into my iPhone for the traipse along the rough surfaced track, keeping a careful eye out for the mountain bikers whizzing past. The alternative pop of Scottish band Kid Canaveral putting a well needed spring in my step. I soon found out that the track was much more hilly than it appears on maps with a large drop down into Roych clough. Here I was pleased to pass a couple of mountain bikers who had sped past me earlier, looking like they were absolutely knackered. I felt a bit smug being faster on foot than by pedal power. Although it was not even 3.00pm the sun was getting low on the horizon, bathing the surrounding landscape in a warm glow.
At the top of the track a narrow path leads to the summit of South head, a very underrated Peakland hill. From its conical top there are great views in all direction.
Towards Chinley Churn.
Towards the Goyt valley.
Mount famine and its well defined ridge.
Kinder scout dominates the eastern horizon, here looking towards Kinder reservoir hidden in a fold in the hills.
I now started to get anxious about getting to Chinley in time for my train. If I could get there before 5.00pm then there was one that went directly to Nottingham. I descended to the summit of the very busy A624, crossing over at Peep o Day farm (another good name). A track climbs up onto Chinley Churn which I left below the summit to walk along a great old miners path that twists and turns its way through the disused quarries. An interesting spot which deserves more time spent exploring but I was now striding through twilight under ever darkening skies.
I made the station with thirty minutes to spare, which turns out was a bit of a mistake as my train was then thirty minutes late. I sat on the metal chair getting colder and colder, all the warmth being sucked from my body. Rural stations are not fun places in the cold after dark and it felt like I spent half my life there. A bit of a downer after a great day in the hills but I think I will make more use of the line in future to plan further linear walks.