Archive for April 16th, 2013

April 16, 2013

A big walk on Big Moor

by backpackingbongos

The clock really does seem to be ticking this year with regards to the approaching TGO Challenge.  After a Friday off work lounging in bed (due to complete laziness rather than illness) I decided that I really should make a half arsed attempt at getting fit.  I had backpacked the previous weekend but that turned into a bit of a slackpacking adventure, rather than gobbling up the miles as planned.

So early on the Saturday morning I took a rather excited Reuben to the nearest part of the Peak District, less than an hours drive away.  Most of my days on the TGO Challenge are around twenty to twenty five kilometres.  I thought that I should at least attempt that distance with a day pack.  I had also just got a new pair of Inov8 Flyroc 310’s.  After a few months in leather boots over the winter, it was a good opportunity to break them in and get my feet used to trailshoes again.

23.5 Kilometres with 630 metres ascent

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The car park below Birchen edge is one of those rare ones that remains free, you need to get there early to get a place.  Whilst enjoying a banana from the comfort of my car, I watched a group of ramblers kit up for what looked like an Everest expedition.  Reuben however had no interest in people watching and signalled his impatience from the back seat.  As we left the car park I admired the fact that one couple had brought stools so that they could put their walking boots on in comfort.  They even had matching bags to put their footwear in that looked to have been designed for that purpose (they were boot shaped).  People are fascinating creatures.

The path over the shoulder of Gardom’s edge to the main A621 is an enjoyable one, low open moorland followed by wooded slopes.  Crossing the road we then walked along the edge of some stunning grounds of a large house.  It’s all tumbling brooks and stones and trees and makes me feel rather jealous each time I pass through.  If I owned it I’m not sure if I would want unwashed ramblers walking through.

A sweaty climb in the dappled shade of woodland brought us to Baslow edge and the impressive Eagle stone.

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For the next few miles along first Baslow, Curbar and then Froggatt edges you are reminded that large conurbations are not very far away.  On this sunny day the place was heaving with every man, child and dog.  Although I do have misanthropic tendencies it is great to see so many people out enjoying such a great place.  It’s not somewhere to come to get away from it all, so with that mindset I enjoyed the hustle and bustle.  I wonder what Tracksterman would make of the place?  Reading his post dated April 8th gives me some idea……………..

Anyway, the views as we walked north were spectacular, somewhere where it is hard to resist the temptation to sit and gawp every now and then.

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Another main road soon shattered the idyllic scene but was quickly left behind as we entered Hay wood.  Here Reuben involuntarily lost his virginity to an over enthusiastic labrador twice his size.  Worth the price of admission alone to watch the well spoken elderly owner trying to get it to dismount.  Reuben took this undignified intrusion into his walk in his stride, although I did notice some nervous backwards glances for a few hundred metres.

Our lunch time destination was Tumbling hill, a fantastic perch within access land but off most people’s radar.  An enjoyable half hour in the sun with a flask and a dog who had a keen interest in my sandwiches.

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A short walk along the main road was followed by a pleasant track through the Longshaw Estate where Reuben was confronted by a mob of children who wanted to say hello.  I’m not really sure what he makes of little people, in Nottingham he views them as a free source of footballs.

Fox House to a pedestrian is an obstacle course of fast-moving traffic and badly parked cars on the verges.  It was with relief that the chaos was left behind for a walk across Totley Moor.  This was a place of lingering snow, deep and wet under the warm sun.  It was a bit of a struggle to be honest, especially in trail shoes which were soon cold and sodden.  The snow that did not hold would deposit me in the freezing cold bog hidden underneath.  There was a bit of cursing involved.

The trig point on Totley Moor at 395 metres was the highest point of the day, another pleasant spot to laze in the sun with Reuben.

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Descending towards Barbrook bridge via an ill-defined path the ground became marshy.  There is a distinctive feel to these eastern moors, a blend of fen and trees.  An area ignored by most as they head to the edges just a couple of miles away.

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The gate giving access to the track down Bar Brook was locked, barring the way to access land.  This was annoying and it was difficult hauling Reuben over the top.  A pedestrian access point really should be provided.

It’s a pleasant walk through the shallow valley and we managed to hop over the stream lower down to gain access to the expanse of Big Moor.  Here on a trackless walk to Swine Sty we came across a couple of standing stones that are not marked on the map.  For a moment I was transported to Dartmoor.

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I had planned to walk the length of Birchen edge but tiredness and the desire to get home and order a curry got the better of me.  Instead we were accompanied by the clinking of climbing gear as we made our way back to the car under the wall of gritstone.