Archive for January 29th, 2011

January 29, 2011

From Burbage to Stanage

by backpackingbongos

My new hiking buddy was picked up from the rescue centre and we spent the weekend getting to know each other.  I was keen to see if he had the potential to be a hill hound, so with Monday booked off work the Bongo was pointed in the direction of the Peak District.  I was keen on a stomp on the high moors, but being unsure if Rueben would enjoy being dragged up a large hill I decided to play it safe.  The area around Fox house on the eastern edge of the national park is both easily accessible and pretty spectacular.  This is emphasised even more when you pass a road sign which indicates that you are in Sheffield city.  Are there any other cities in the UK that have such wild scenery within their boundaries?

6.5 miles with 290 metres ascent

There are spaces for a few cars on the Grindleford road.  However be aware of the police signs along this road pointing out that you will receive a £60 fine and three points on your license if you park illegally!  We dropped down to the footbridge across the Burbage brook and headed across the open moor towards the surprise view car park.  This is a very apt name as when you drive from Fox house to Hathersage along the A6187 you come to a sharp bend in the road and suddenly the Derwent valley is spread out below you.  I have come this way may times and the dramatic scenery always takes me by surprise.  It must do for other people as I have often seen the dry stone wall alongside the road with a car sized hole in it!

A path leads up to and along Millstone edge, which in my opinion gives some of the best views in the Peaks for the smallest amount of effort.  Reuben seemed to think so too as he stopped hoovering the ground with his nose and took time out to stand at the edge with his ears pricked, staring at the northern peaks.  Actually it may have been the wind that got his attention!

Over Owler tor is insignificant on the map but a great jumble of Gritstone on the ground, perfect for seeking a spot out of the wind for some food.  Higger Tor dominates the horizon here.

A further easy almost level stroll then brought us to the top of Carl Wark, an Iron age hill fort.

The wide path to the summit of Higger Tor ends with some gentle scrambling to reach its summit.  Here I discovered my new-found friends lack of scrambling prowess.  In fact I don’t think that I will trust him with route finding again!  Knowing no fear he would attempt rocks that were well outside of his grade and I would often get tangled in canine enthusiasm and a six-foot lead.  Anyway we made it and got to sit for a while on the Gritstone that rings its edges to contemplate the unfortunately dull and hazy views.

I soon came to a obsticle too far for Rueben, a particularly tricky stile if you do not possess arms, legs and problem solving skills.  We gave up on that one and attempted an easier one further along the road.  I climbed over first and called to him, he just sat there and gave me a look.  20kg of dog is not that easy to manhandle over a four-foot obstacle but we managed it with pride intact.  Suddenly the leaden grey skies were torn apart by shafts of sunlight illuminating the way we had come.

Our visit to Stanage was short, a quick visit to the trig point and back down to the road.  I have to say that it was tempting to walk its entire high level promenade but I did not want push my new hill friend on his first outing.

I had intended to walk along the top of Burbage edge but a spot of laziness and a nicely graded track beckoned me instead.  Typically as the day was turning to late afternoon and I was on the way back to the van, the sun started to win its fight with the clouds.

Stopping for coffee behind the shelter of a large boulder the lowering sun began to light up both Carl Wark and Higger Tor.  The Burbage valley here is a lovely wild corner on a Monday afternoon in January.  You can pretend to yourself that you are in the middle of a vast wilderness for a few moments.  That certainly is not possible at weekends when this area is simply teeming with people from the surrounding cities.

Rueben started shivering so we made our way back to the Bongo.  His first hill walk had been a success and it certainly gave the walk a different flavour for me.  As soon as he was strapped to the back seat Reuben was asleep, a tired dog is a happy dog.