The plan to stick to the main roads paid off and I got to Hathersage without any problems. However it got rather tricky when I decided to pay Outside a visit, I needed some new gaiters and fancied a fry-up before heading into the hills. In their wisdom they had left their car park open without attempting to clear any of the snow that had accumulated. The result being that I needed to be pushed into a space after losing all traction. My car is totally hopeless in snow and ice. As it turned out the fry up was rather nice and the gaiters out of stock.
15.2 Kilometres with 570 metres ascent
I left the car at the side of the road near the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, assuming there were no yellow lines buried under the snow. As we crossed the Ladybower dam it was good to hear the snow squeak under my feet. Although there had been snow on the ground for a couple of weeks in Nottingham, it’s just not the same when in a city. Here it was much fluffier and gave that satisfying sound when walked on.
Usually when I climb Win hill I go straight up the lung busting Parkin Clough. However I fancied a gentler ascent so we followed the shore of the reservoir for a while before taking a nice easy signed footpath. It was truly magical walking through the snow covered woods.
As we approached the edge of the moor it started snowing, curtains of white hiding the surrounding landscape for a while. Out of the shelter of the trees the wind nipped at exposed skin, yet at the same time I was sweating due to the exertion. Reuben however was as happy as a dog in snow. He was bouncing around tail wagging, bounding through the deepest drifts.
The rocky summit of Win hill was quickly reached and I stood for a while to soak in the view. Much of the surrounding landscape was hidden under a blanket of low cloud. However Win Hill gives a good impression of height out of proportion to its small stature, especially with the reservoirs far below. It was midday and I measured an air temperature of -3C with a wind chill of -10C, cold enough not to want to hang around too long.
The summit of Win hill is a small rocky cone at the end of a long ridge that leads to the eastern slopes of Kinder Scout. The mixture of snow and rock gave an impression of a much bigger hill after we descended to the north.
Thankfully the stretch of moorland towards Hope cross was easy going as a vehicle had recently driven and consolidated the snow. With the bales of hay dotted around I reckon it must have been a farmer out to feed the sheep. It was a good hands in pocket sort of yomp whilst Reuben bounded around. Even though visibility was poor I enjoyed occasional views down into both the Hope and Edale valleys.
Crab sandwiches and a flask of coffee was enjoyed with a dry stone wall and a belt of trees providing shelter from the wind. The crab sandwiches grabbed Reubens attention and he watched me eat with rapt concentration.
I had thought about ascending Crookstone Knoll as it is a mighty fine view-point. However it was hidden from view so we took the bridleway through the forest to Haggwater bridge and then the Snake pass. Crossing the busy road another bridleway took us steeply onto the ridge above via Hagg farm.
I have to admit that I was starting to tire, walking though snow being more difficult than I remembered. The next section along the bridleway at the edge of the forest was particularly tough with no footprints to follow. It was hard to tell if the snow was an inch deep or up to my knee. Occasionally there would be a hidden boggy patch to add to the unpredictability of it all.
The fields of Bridge-end pasture felt like tundra as I slowly plodded onwards, jealous of Reuben’s four pawed drive. He had no intention of slowing down. The twin topped summit of Crook hill came into view, almost a mirror image of Win hill across the valley. It gives a superb viewpoint and is very neglected in comparison to its much more famous twin.
However as I got to its base I had lost the enthusiasm for the short climb to the top. It was beginning to get dark and I was keen to get off the hill before being fully enveloped by the gloaming. A huge flock of sheep were gathered around piles of hay and they all turned round to watch Reuben and myself pass. As a group they all crept a bit closer before turning tail and running away. This was repeated a couple of times.
We passed Crookhill farm (which incidentally occupies a cracking location) to walk through fields down to the viaduct over the Ladybower reservoir. The road walk back to the car was a right old slog on deep slush filled pavements. Probably good exercise but as much fun as wading through treacle.