Archive for January 26th, 2012

January 26, 2012

Robin Hood’s Stride and Stanton Moor

by backpackingbongos

I woke to a grey and miserable morning, the strong wind blowing the rain against my bedroom window.  Thankfully I had arranged to meet Chrissie and Dixie in the Peak District, otherwise I probably would have gone straight back to bed.  The church in the village of Elton was to be our rendezvous, the place being unfamiliar to both of us.  The wind was stronger as I drove through the village, located at 270 metres the main street was exposed to the elements.  The place was deserted except for a long line of vehicles parked along one side of the road.  There were no signs of life at all.  I found somewhere to park next to the church and was soon joined by Chrissie and Dixie.  Reuben was re-introduced to Dixie as we set off along the lane at the side of the church.

7.7 miles with 420 metres ascent

The footpath down to Cliff Lane was a quagmire and it was difficult to keep upright whilst being pulled along by an enthusiastic dog.  Someone needs to invent a crampon specially designed for muddy slopes.  I quickly remembered why I rarely walk in the White Peaks during the winter.  The fields can often be impossibly muddy, especially if used by livestock.  The mud in this part of the world being particularly slippery and with the ability to stick to everything from the waist down.  Thankfully we both managed to stay upright throughout the whole day.

A short walk along Cliff Lane and we came to a path across access land that is not marked on the map, saving a longer walk along the road.  Cresting a small rise the impressive ramparts of Robin Hood’s Stride suddenly came into view.

Robin Hood’s Stride is so named because according to legend Robin strode between the tower-like stones at either end of the tor.  However we all know that Robin Hood actually hung out in Nottinghamshire.  A fact that is celebrated by the good city of Nottingham by allowing the Tales of Robin Hood to be turned into a Tesco store.  I was keen to have a bit of a scramble up the rocks, leaving Chrissie with the hounds.  The two towers are out of bounds to non crag rats so I was content to simply take in the view of the surrounding countryside instead.

Buffeted by the wind I carefully made my way back down and we set off along a path towards the impressive Cratcliff Tor.  Nestling at the base of the cliffs and hidden by yew trees is the Hermits cave which contains a 12th Century carving of a crucifix.  It’s a lovely atmospheric spot and we decided that as it was sheltered from the wind we should sit and have lunch number one.  I strongly feel that to fully enjoy a walk in the hills that there should be at least two lunch breaks, possibly three if it is a long day.  A walk is best enjoyed when sitting on your bottom.

Sadly there was no trig point for Reuben to pose on so instead he was persuaded that a rock would make a fine substitute.

It is hard to work out if the look on Dixie’s face is pure doggy love or the fact that she had to share one of her meaty sticks…….

One of the major hazards of the White Peak is the large groups of ramblers that prowl the land.  They are a peculiar species and one not to be messed with.  They tend to be found crossing the numerous stiles in this part of the world, a time-consuming process given their sheer numbers.  Thankfully we timed the stiles to perfection as we passed two such groups whilst walking the Limestone Way to the road.  The second group looked on in horror as Reuben the devil dog said hello to their dog.

Crossing the main road a gentle climb through the fields revealed a distant view of Robin Hoods Stride and the surrounding gentle countryside.

The plan had been to visit Rowtor rocks in Birchover, but somehow we passed them by without exploration.  By the time this dawned on me it was too late.  There is always another time.

Chatting away with Chrissie we were soon on Stanton Moor and being buffeted by the wind.  For Christmas my partner brought me a Kestrel 3000, a nifty device which measures information such as wind speed, wind chill, dew point etc.  A fantastically geeky product for the hiker and backpacker.  At every opportunity I could not resist whipping it out for a game of guess how windy it is.  We would both guess the wind speed and then find that we had totally over estimated it.  It was a fairly windy day and we frequently found ourselves being buffeted.  However the highest gust was only 27 mph.  I recon that much over 50 mph and you would risk being blow over.  It will be interesting to take it out into the hills over the next few months.

We passed the Cork Stone which looked much higher than last time I visited, sitting on the top with a mate drinking beer.  Chrissie tried to persuade me to climb to the top for a photo opportunity, but I resisted.

The early Bronze Age Nine Ladies stone circle is traditionally believed to depict nine ladies turned to stone as a penalty for dancing on Sunday.  Even on a cold windswept January day it was fairly busy.  It is a place to avoid during the weekend in summer as the area is popular with those seeking a party.  There are far better stone circles to visit in the Peaks that are unknown and hidden away.

Lunch number two was calling and we made our way to the Earl Grey tower on the edge of the moor.  There was one of those nifty dog stiles where you lift a post to allow the dog through.  I unleashed Reuben to allow passage and he bounded round to the other side of the tower.  I heard a shriek and ran after him to find him introducing himself to a man and a young girl eating their sandwiches.  With our chosen spot already taken we continued on for a while, finding a rocky outcrop with big views into the Derwent valley below.  Unfortunately much of the view was of Darley Dale which is pretty damn ugly, from above it looks like a large housing estate has been dumped there.  A massive industrial / quarry area on the outskirts adds to the overall grimness.  The immediate and distant surroundings however are lovely and my brain did its best to process out what it did not want to see.

Reuben and Dixie however were more interested in another meaty stick.

Walking along the edge of the moor there are plenty of rocky outcrops were you can stand and pose.

Descending from the moor we passed the campsite at Birchover.  A few years ago I was part of a stag party who rented out the camping barn there during a bank holiday weekend.  After a rather raucous night we hid whilst the groom received a good telling off following numerous complaints.

The place was deserted as we passed though to begin an assault course through several muddy fields to reach a  pleasant path through some woods.

I have to admit that things then got a little bit tricky on the navigation front.  On the map there was a sudden mass of green dotted lines, tiny field boundaries and squiggly contours.  Far too much going on in roughly a square centimetre.  In open country I feel that I am a master of a map, but often in the White Peak I am navigationally challenged.  Chrissie is an ex-mountain rescue deputy team leader , which I assume makes her a Jedi with regards to navigation.  I was therefore keen not to cock-up.  There was a bit of faffing about but the correct path was eventually located and my honour remained intact.

We were soon back in Elton and I was keen to get back to my car to see if all the windows were still intact.  This is no reflection on Elton itself but due to the fact I realised I had left my iPhone on the front seat.  Thankfully all was in order upon my return.

When we got home Reuben spent the rest of the weekend sulking in his bed, perhaps he was missing his new ‘older’ girlfriend?