Posts tagged ‘Derwent’

January 31, 2015

Thundersnow and a freezing night on the Derwent Moors

by backpackingbongos

It had meant to be a sociable weekend camping on the high moors in the Peak District. However a threat of snow had folk dropping out at the last minute. My rucksack was already packed so I headed off anyway. I erred on the side of caution and took the Bongo with its 4WD, also somewhere to sleep if turned out to be snowmageddon.

The ground was decidedly snow free when I pulled the Bongo into the car park at Langsett. I was lucky to get a space as this popular spot was almost full, even on a raw winters day. The path along the north shore of the reservoir was busy and I ended up walking its length chatting to a local guy who regularly does the circuit. Although he has a health condition it has not diminished his love for his local hills and he tries to get out for a couple of hours as much as possible. We soon parted company and I continued to the west, parallel with the busy A616 and its constant growl of traffic.

A track led me south onto the moors, brown and foreboding with patches of snow remaining. The sky was grey and overcast adding to the bleakness. I passed the cabin at Upper Hordron and descended into Hordron Clough, a sheepfold providing a sheltered spot for a late lunch.

The plan had been to cross the moors to the south and head for a wild camp up on Bleaklow. Suddenly there was a rumbling noise which at first I though was a low flying aircraft, this was soon repeated much louder and I realised it was thunder. This is my biggest fear in the hills, having been caught out in exposed places in the past during some violent thunder storms. I beat a hasty retreat back down to the valley just as I was engulfed in a furious snow shower. Within minutes everything was white and the black clouds above continued to grumble their displeasure. The shower disappeared as quickly as it had arrived and I started climbing again, only to see black clouds once again gathering to the west. Sod it I thought, there was no way I was going onto the moors if there was a further risk of a thunderstorm.


In the end I decided to pitch on a nice flat grassy patch next to the stream. It was early but I was well placed to get onto the hills the following morning, where hopefully the promised sunshine would make an appearance.

Th next heavy shower arrived as I was pitching, the wind picking up and making the task more difficult than it should have been. It was with relief that I could brush myself free of snow and climb into the Wickiup and put on a brew. It was barely past 3.00pm but I was happy to have a lazy afternoon and it was unlikely that anyone would pass me just an hour or so before sunset.

The snow continued to fall for most of the night and I had to frequently bash the sides of my shelter to encourage it to slide off. At one point I even had to go out and remove some of the snow that had accumulated around the bottom of the Wickiup. With the inner taking up the whole of the shelter and with no porch I managed to bring in snow with me. Despite the cold I was snug inside and with good mobile reception I could watch the traffic reports, the busy road not that far away closing due to the conditions.

After a long sleep I was keen to get up before dawn, the world clear, windless and frozen solid. Stars still shone in the sky and the eastern horizon had a smudge of yellow. I enjoyed the crunch of virgin snow under my boots as I wandered round with a cup of coffee in hand. It was gone 9.00am by the time the sun reached camp, only warming me psychologically, the air remaining far below freezing. It was tough going taking down the Wickiup, the snow and frost nipping at my bare fingers as I wrestled with a frozen flysheet.




The stream was a black streak in the white snow but easily forded. I followed a faint track past some grouse butts before striking up across heather covered snow. The heather was knee-deep with a few inches of snow on top, not the easiest of walking.



Once on the plateau the ground was wind blasted, miles of white hills ran to the horizon towards the west. If I ignored the steady drone of traffic on the Woodhead pass I could have been on a remote hilltop in the Highlands. There were even a string of wind turbines nearby to give it that Scottish authenticity.



I wanted to pay the Crow Stones a visit, they were not very far away but I underestimated the toughness of the ground around Stainery Clough. I’m sure that the snow did not help as I attempted to cross various deep peat groughs.

The Crow stones however were worth the effort. They are located in a remote spot close to the head of the river Derwent, the huge bulk of Bleaklow beyond, Kinder Scout on the horizon. A welcome spot in which to get out of the wind and boil some water for a brew on my stove. One of the benefits of backpacking is having the kit to make a hot drink.




Weather was building again in the west as I packed up and headed towards the trig point on Outer Edge. It overtook me as I picked a way through the rocks, snow and mist blotting out the sun.


Visibility was seriously reduced on Outer Edge and it was a bleak crossing to get to the security of the Cut Gate path. I passed a couple of groups of runners, rather them than me with so little kit on such a day. A quick chat with a National Park Ranger on the summit of the pass before putting my head down and yomping back to the Bongo.

Luckily once down at valley level the snow had melted, no issues in getting home. A short and sweet route but it’s amazing how a few inches of snow transform the familiar into something much bigger and wilder.

November 16, 2011

Mist, fog and mucky dogs across Cut Gate

by backpackingbongos

Warning: This blog post may contain mist.

10.5 miles with 680 metres ascent

It seems to be common these days for the weather forecasters to get it completely wrong.  The forecast for Sunday was for early morning mist and drizzle to disappear by midday and for the sun to come out.  There was even a hint in the mountain forecast that an inversion could well be on the cards.  Well it was very misty when I arrived at the car park at Langsett Barn, a dark dank mizzle causing the trees to drip loudly onto the roof of the car.  I had arranged to meet Chrissie for the day, a fellow dog-owning outdoor blogger, her site being Dixie – Walking the Pennine Way and other adventures.

Chrissie was dropped off by her Husband Geoff and would be picked up later in the day at Fairholmes, on the other side of the moors in the Upper Derwent Valley.  The plan was to walk with her to the summit of Cut Gate before disappearing off across the Derwent Watershed to visit Outer Edge and the Horse Stone.

We were soon both being towed along the track on the north shore of Langsett Reservoir by two enthusiastic hounds.  Chrissie had warned me that her dog Dixie who is a ten year old boxer, is a bit of a grumpy matriarch.  However after a few minutes of Dixie informing Reuben that she was boss, an equilibrium was reached and they got along fine for the rest of the day.

We did not even glimpse the reservoir as we walked alongside it, the mist was so thick.  We were soon climbing up the bridleway and onto the moors, chat coming easy about common interests.  With no views I grabbed an opportunity to snap the two canine friends.

The higher the bridleway climbed the wetter and boggier it came, the firm surface soon disappearing in a morass of liquid peat.  I soon regretted wearing my inov-8’s and no gaiters, as in no time I was covered in the black stuff from the knees down.  However it was good to have a spring in my step that boots don’t allow and although wet my feet remained warm.  With height the mist turned to a fine drizzle, further reducing the prospect of climbing out of the cloud.

At the top of the bridleway I noticed the cairn that indicated my route north and into the pathless hinterland of the Derwent watershed.  The idea of walking solo into the murk suddenly lost its appeal.  Earlier Chrissie had said that Geoff had offered to drop me back at the car if I walked to Fairholmes.  I decided that now was the time to take up that offer.

Lunch was taken just before the descent towards the Derwent.  There was a sense that we were on the edge of the plateau, a feeling of space in front of us but completely obscured by a wall of grey.  It was cold, damp and windy and we did not linger for long.

Down in the valley near slippery stones, a little bit of colour started to fill what had been a monochrome world up on the moors.  We also saw our first hiker which it turned out to be Geoff with Tilly the chocolate lab.  Up until that point the only people on the moors had been peat stained mountain bikers.  The Howden Reservoir soon came into view, the mist skimming the tops of the trees which were still flourishing a late autumn display of colour.

The track along the east side of the reservoirs is firm and relatively flat, giving quick and easy walking.  The day trippers  becoming more numerous the closer we got to the car park.  Reuben and Tilly got many off lead moments and spent them bowling along at dangerous speeds threatening to send us flying on each return leg.

Annoyingly there was another couple with a dog up ahead, they were walking at a much slower pace and we were quickly gaining ground.  At a distance determined by Reuben to be close enough he decided to make a break for it and introduce himself to the golden lab with a flurry of kisses and a wagging tail.  The response by the lab’s owner appeared to be one of panic and there was the rather pathetic image of them picking their dog up so Reuben could not say hello.  I have a feeling that their dog may well develop ‘issues’.  Reuben was quickly leashed so that his wagging tail could do no damage.  Sadly as an owner of a Staffy it is a reaction that I will have to get used to.

Every now and then there would be a hint of brightness, a fleeting patch of blue above.  Overall though, the mist and murk remained.

Geoff had done the sensible thing and avoided the expensive car park at Fairholmes, using the free layby just up the road.  I was soon whisked back to my car at Langsett, the mist there still as thick as when we had set off.

Although a view free day it was a pleasant walk with good company.  It is not often that I get the opportunity to do a linear day walk, so a big thank you to Geoff for going out of his way to drop me off.  I think that Reuben rather enjoyed the company of his new lady friends!