Archive for December 30th, 2011

December 30, 2011

A perfect winters day on Bamford and Stanage edges

by backpackingbongos

The plan had been to meet Chrissie and Dixie at a lay-by off the Snake Pass for a Sunday daunder.  Just as I got in my car in Nottingham I noticed that I had received a text from Chrissie (Dixie can’t text as she is a boxer).  The western Peak District, where she lives had received a large amount of snow the night before and it was still falling heavily.  A quick phone call and it was decided that the plan of action would be for me to drive to the eastern Peaks and investigate the conditions there.  Nottingham itself was looking decidedly not very wintry at all as I quickly made my escape.

Arriving in Baslow the slight dusting of snow seemed to be quickly disappearing under a blanket of low cloud and drizzle.  Pulling into the car park there was a brief moment of panic where my brakes appeared not to be working.  It felt like something was wedged under the car.  I got out to investigate and promptly nearly fell on my arse.  The wet surface was hiding a lethal covering of invisible ice.  I phoned Chrissie who had been out into her village to investigate the roads and had to help push several vehicles out of the snow.  She decided that it would be wise not to drive across the roads crossing high ground to come and meet me.

I therefore set off rather cautiously towards the Snake Pass, the road itself covered in a layer of slippery slush for the final mile or so.  A large lay-by near to Cutthroat bridge being a convenient place to leave the car.

9.6 miles with 530 metres ascent

Unfortunately the powers that be don’t want you accessing the access land direct from the lay-by, the moors being firmly defended by a high barbed wire fence.  Last time I attempted to cross it there was an incident with a brand new pair of waterproof trousers.  Luckily a path has now developed on the road side of the fence and it led us safely to a stile and the track that climbs up Jarvis Clough.  Thankfully Reuben did not spot the ‘No Dogs’ sign at the start of the track as his reading skills are yet to develop.  The no dogs rule is there to protect nesting birds, my small amount of ornithological knowledge informing me that they tend not to nest in December.

The snowy track climbed through the clough, the sun shining off the snow into my eyes.  I cursed leaving my sunglasses in the car.  I spotted a narrow path climbing the hillside on the other side of the valley so crossed the stream and climbed steeply upwards.  Stanage edge came into view promising a grand snowy promenade at the end of the day.

Once levelled out the path which is not marked on the map contoured easily towards Bamford edge, the views opening out towards the west.  The first thing that caught my eye was Win hill peaking above its forested lower slopes.

Then below me I spotted Ladybower Reservoir and its road bridge carrying the Snake Pass.  The huge snowy bulk of Kinder Scout dominated the scene, still capped by a bank of cloud.

After an early start I was hungry and thirsty and found a spot sheltered from the wind just before climbing onto the main part of Bamford edge.  From my lofty perch I sat and drank coffee looking down at Yorkshire Bridge and feeling rather content with the world.  Reuben sat quivering whilst eyeing up my cheese sandwich.

The chill wind soon got me moving again and after a short climb I was walking the grand promenade of Bamford edge.  I think that it is one of the best viewpoints in the Peak District, although some may disagree.  Thankfully it is still fairly unfrequented as there is no public footpath along it, although it is access land.

I stopped for a while doing my best to get Reuben to pose for the camera, he does have a habit of moving just at the wrong time.  I then passed a couple who asked if I was trying to get my dog to pose, I had to admit that I was!

A path took me down to the snow-covered lane which was followed eastwards.  The landscape that falls slowly down into the Derwent valley is one of hidden folds and woodland with the moors rising above.  There are some lovely houses scattered around which would involve winning the lottery for most people to be able to afford to live in.

I took the path through Bole wood and found a snow free spot in the sun for a second coffee break.  Completely sheltered from the wind it actually felt rather warm.  I sat with an empty mind enjoying my surroundings whilst Reuben looked on impatiently wondering what the hold up to his walk was.

The lane towards Dennis Knowl was covered with snow and ice and a vehicle passed me as I walked towards the car park, rather them than me.

From the start of the Long Causeway, the track that leads to Stanage edge and beyond to Redmire reservoir, I could see the glint of sun off vehicle windscreens.  It looked like a convoy of 4×4 vehicles were about to attempt a descent.  I did think about another route to avoid them but could not be bothered to detour.  In the end only one vehicle passed, the others must have thought better of it.  A quad bike passed me near the top, filling the crystal clear air with exhaust fumes.  As I reached the summit there was the unwelcome sound of high-pitched angry engines as a procession of scrambler bikes sped past.  Some people have a bloody weird idea of a fun day out in the countryside………..

With silence once again restored I climbed up towards the trig point on High Neb through a couple of inches of powdery snow.  The air was the clearest I have seen for a while and the views seemingly rolled on forever.  It was a place to walk slowly to take it all in whilst my boots squeaked through the snow.

Once again Reuben declined a trig point pose (I think those days are over as he has wised up to my evil ways) and we continued along to a break in the cliffs at Crow Chin.  Once again I was transfixed by the snow clad northern moors rolling towards the horizon.

An exchange of texts with Terrybnd confirmed that he was heading towards Bamford edge to do some filming.  My plan had been to head towards the stone circle at Hordron Edge before descending back to the car.  Seeing that I enjoyed Bamford edge so much the first time I thought that it would be nice to meet up with Terry and watch the sun set from such a splendid viewpoint.  Looking back Stanage looked amazing against a totally cloudless winter sky.

I passed a couple who had been deliberating for a while over a map.  They were uncertain of their route, the right of way across Bamford moor not really existing on the ground.  After a brief chat I pointed them in the right direction and headed across the moor myself, aiming for the highest point on the skyline.  A short descent towards the edge and I spotted in the distance a man in a bright orange down jacket with a video camera, almost certainly Terry.

Indeed it was Terry, busy with his video camera.  I disturbed his work for a while and we stood on the edge chatting whilst the sun slowly sunk towards the horizon.  Terry was going to spend the night on the hills, it was evident that it was going to be a cold night, the temperature already well below freezing.

Reuben in the meantime had decided to slink off and build himself a nest in the heather in a bid to keep warm.

It was clear that Reuben was feeling the cold so I left Terry to his work and descended back towards the car, aware that it was roughly an hours walk.  Thankfully with clear skies and snow on the ground there was no need to get my torch out even though we reached the car long after sunset.

It was a shame that Chrissie and Dixie could not make it as the day turned out to be one of the best this year weather wise.  A cracking day amongst some classic Peak District scenery.