Archive for the ‘Peak District’ Category

Cycling with the Hardman   20 comments

When I told people about this they were concerned for my welfare. Going cycling with the Hardman is like saying I’m off for a short stroll with John Muir. The Hardman is very serious about his cycling and despite his older years is seriously fit. He’s thin and wiry and in short everything I’m not. This is man who cycled from the coast to the highest road on Tenerife, a relentless unbroken climb of 2400m, in less than 3 hours. I’d agreed to go cycling in the Peak District with him. I sent him several “go easy on me” and “I’m really quite unfit” e-mails in the hope that I might stand a slim chance of returning directly home afterwards rather than via an oxygen tent in a lonely casualty department.

In the event he was a very considerate cycling partner, reducing his speed down to “middle aged mortal” level and allowing me and TBF to survive the experience intact 🙂

In truth the route was an easy one. North along the Tissington Trail, south on the High Peak Trail and back along the roads to the start. After an excellent breakfast at a garden centre (I had to wait for it to open, how sad is that at my age) we parked up the stunning village of Tissington ready for the off.

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It was a cracker of a day. A clear blue sky is the perfect day for a visit to the White Peak. The green fields and the white stone walls seems to radiate light and warmth

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The Tissington Trail is a wonderful vantage point (or stretch to be precise) to view it from on a bike as its elevated. More importantly the ascent is barely noticeable, in effect a flat ride. Perfect for us less fit types

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We made easy and swift progress to Parsley Hay where the views were superb and we celebrated with a cuppa. The White Peak was my local hiking/stomping ground around 15 years ago when I lived near Derby and I used to love it. The mix of open grassy fields and deep limestone dales and gorges was always one of my favourite landscapes and its a real shame I don’t get back there often enough

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Such was the quality of the day we headed up to the far end of the trail to see what it was like

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This section was especially fine and the easy cycling in such wonderful surroundings was a joy. There is plan in motion to link the ends of the Tissington, Monsal and High Peak cycle ways. When complete it will be a quite superb 2 day circuit through some of the finest scenery in the UK

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We headed south and back along the High Peak Trail. Another stop for a snack and a cuppa was in order but this section was exposed to the cold wind. We eventually found a really well sheltered spot just after this man-made causeway, itself really rather impressive

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We left the trail at Brassington and had a rather excellent sweeping fast descent down the road. The price to pay was a short steep hill preceded by a ford (which the Hardman disappointingly refused to cycle through). Me and TBF were well chuffed to make it to the top without needing to push although a couple of stops to admire the scenery were required

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The Hardman, being a more serious cycling type has a disturbing tendency to dress like a MAMIL!

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A final lazy roll back down to Tissington finished a memorable ride of 30 miles. I may at some point start to enjoy cycling (don’t tell anyone)

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Best way to finish off a great day and a superb weekend? A family meal at Wagamamas when we got home. Sorted!

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A Day of Two Halves   8 comments

Yet another of our traditional weekends – this really is starting to make me sound old, which of course I am – is an annual weekend up a chez-Fester in Manchester for some football/beers/curry on the Saturday and walking on the Sunday. TJS joined us this time and finally after many attempts got to see Man City win a game. And a very good game against Swansea City it was too

Sunday had a forecast of grey skies clearing to some decent spells of sunshine. Uncle Fester is the local expert and suggested a walk around Macclesfield forest and up Shutlingsloe, one of my favourite hills in The Peak. We parked up at te head of Macc forest above the reservoirs and set off into the cold gloom.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

The morning was very grey with little sign of the promised sunshine. Still the walking was pleasant and it was nice to let someone else do the navigating for a change. We’d parked within a short walk of the summit but were on a route that kind of spirals around Shutlingsloe before climbing it at the end of the walk. Turned out to be inspired idea but for the first couple of hours there weren’t many photo opportunities worthy of the name.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Still the walking was nice and the company good as we dissected many topics mostly football related and it’s always good to travel across new terrain

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

We reached the southern flanks of Shutlingsloe on a very fine traversing path and stopped near Higher Nabbs Farm for lunch. It was amazing how the temperature had changed. The day before had been mild and damp. Now it was bitingly cold. As we ate the skies suddenly began to clear and the sun came out.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

As we continued the traverse above Wildboarclough, the light just got better and better

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Onward and upward, very upward as for all its modest height, Shutlingsloe is a steep bugger.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

There was keen and cold wind on the summit. Not a place to linger but the views were majestic.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Less than 2000 feet high Shutlingsloe has a mountain feel and views to match that defy its diminutive size. The Cheshire Plain and the industrial spread of Greater Manchester make for fine views. Sutton Common and its transmitter made for a fine backdrop for the setting sun. Another small hill with disproportionately good views

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

It’s but a short walk back to the car and there is now a permissive path across Buxtors Hill. Boggy at first it soon becomes an extremely fine path above the forest and a really superb route. Well worth seeking out if you can survive the floating plastic matting on the really boggy bits.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

The light was fading fast and getting dark. A mist started to form in the trees and blow and waft about in a most beguiling manner.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

A fantastic finish to a superb day

Shutlingsloe

Shutlingsloe deserves to be better known. A superb spot and one of my favourites, climbed many times when I lived in Derbyshire. It felt good to re-acquaint myself from a new direction

Football, Curry and Hiking – the perfect weekend combination   16 comments

Past few years since I gave up my season ticket at Manchester City me, Uncle Fester and Geordie Munro have had an annual boys weekend away in Manchester. Tradition dictates a Saturday with a fried breakfast in a cafe, pre-match beers, the match, post match beers (involving visits to pubs from our University days) and then a curry. Sunday is a day for walking in the Peak. A classic weekend combination. This year the weather was kind to us and so were the football (City beat Everton 3-1), the beers at various establishments (a couple too many if I’m honest) and the the curry in West Didsbury. This year I even got my first ride on a Manchester tram so all boxes were ticked.

Sunday was a fine and sunny day and after another fiesta of fried pork products we headed out to the Saddleworth Edges for a walk.

The views across Manchester from Uncle Fester’s place were grand

Manchester, City of Manchester Stadium

Manchester

I’ve not been up here since my university days in the 80’s (a cold, snowy day if memory serves) when we used Public Transport to get about. I must have got the bus to Dove Stone, walked over to Black Hill and back to Glossop to get the bus home. As per one of my recent posts my memory in fact does not serve me well these days so who knows the actual details.

Times have changed though and we drove across this time, parking in a lay-by to avoid parking fees (we’re all prize tightskates) and, as it happened, to avoid a wasted drive into said car park as it was absolutely packed. Seems Dove Stone reservoir is now a well-known and popular spot. There were huge numbers of people and families walking and cycling by the lake shore and the lake itself was crowded with sailing boats.

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

dove stone reservoir, Saddleworth

Our route was to follow the Chew Brook up to Chew Reservoir and then along the western edges to Birchen Clough and Greenfield Brook before completing the circuit past Greenfield, Yeoman Hey and Dove Stone reservoirs. Turned into quite a long walk of nearly 11 miles.

Saddleworth

11 miles

Once we started up the road we left the crowds behind.

Chew Brook, Saddleworth

It’s metalled road so it takes something away from the remote surroundings but progress was easy and after a snack stop at Dish Stone Rocks we arrived at bleak moorland Chew reservoir complete with Helicopter in attendance.

Dish Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

Chew Brook, Saddleworth

After crossing the dam and the soggy expanse of Dish Stone Moss we hit the edge and the walk from here is tremendous, peering down over the reservoirs and across to the Tower Blocks of Oldham and the City centre of Manchester.

Chew Reservoir, Saddleworth

dish stone moss, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Oldham, Saddleworth

We were also under the flight path into Manchester Airport so I tried a few shots of the passing planes without much success. More practice needed at photographing fast moving objects through a zoom lens

Saddleworth

Saddleworth

We lunched somewhere near Little or Great Dove Stone Rocks and pressed on round the edge.

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

Great Dove Stone Rocks. Little Dove Stone Rocks, Saddleworth

GM left us to head home after we crossed Ashway Clough and me and UF completed the route following Raven Stones to Birchen Clough. This section was airy and elevated and real delight as were the dark confines of Birchen Clough itself.

raven stones, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

Birchen Clough, Saddleworth

The cloughs of the dark peak are some of my favourite places in the UK. It’s a pity that I get to see them so infrequently these days. I think a few weekends up this way are called for

After scrambling down the sides of the many waterfalls, we followed the long return besides the reservoirs. The sun that we lost in Birchen Clough returned and the views of the sun shimmering off the water were sublime.

greenfield reservoir, Saddleworth

yeoman hey reservoir, Saddleworth

yeoman hey reservoir, Saddleworth

As we approached Dove Stone so did the crowds so we pressed on back across the dam to the car without pause to complete what had been a really great walk and top drawer weekend.

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

Dove Stone Reservoir, Saddleworth

I await the football fixtures for next season to plan the next boys weekend 🙂

Living for the Weekend – Derwent Edges   16 comments

TBF being the wonderful warm hearted soul that she is lets me go out to play once a year to watch the football. I meet up with Uncle Fester and Geordie Munro for a day out that includes a nice fried breakfast, a game of footy at MCFC, a few beers in some of the old pubs we used to frequent and a fine curry in one of the many fine establishments that Manchester has to offer. City duly obliged in making the day complete with a 3-0 victory over Sunderland.

Yorkshire Bridge, Ladybower Reservoir

Yorkshire Bridge & Ladybower Reservoir

The weather forecast the following day promised warm sunshine and extensive blue sky, enough to convince even the reticent UF into a day’s walk. Both me and GM were keen for some proper Bleaklow bogtrotting but UF was less than enthusiastic so we compromised on the Derwent Edges around the reservoirs, a more than adequate, in fact a mighty fine, substitute.

11 Miles, 2,500 feet of ascent

On such a fine day the Derwent Reservoirs are a busy place but for some inexplicable reason we thought we might find a space at the Fairholmes car park. Fat chance.

Derwent Edges

Derwent Edges

We had to park near the Yorkshire Bridge and amend our plan somewhat. UF suggested we take in the small hills just to the west of bridge as a better route to Fairholmes.

Crook Hill

Crook Hill

He was right. I’d never heard of these hills before let alone walked them despite having lived in the area for a few years. The twin peaks of Crook Hill have quite a rocky summit, like mini versions of the grander Win Hill across the valley and the morning views across Kinder, Bleaklow, the Derwent Edges across the reservoir and particularly the Edale valley were superb.

Kinder, Edale, Ladybower Reservoir

Kinder and Edale above Ladybower Reservoir

Derwent Edges

Derwent Edges

Better than that they seem little known and we had the whole place to ourselves with not a soul in sight in contrast to the busier lake-shore. From the tops it was an extremely pleasant stroll over high grassy meadows of Bridge End Pasture in the warm sunshine back towards Fairholmes.

Bridge End Pasture

GM & UF, Bridge End Pasture

Kinder Edges

Kinder Edges

As we dropped down towards the car park we started to see more of said crowds but the views were still superb especially down by the Ladybower Reservoir and the crowds didn’t really seem to matter.

Ladybower Reservoir, Fairholmes

Ladybower Reservoir from Fairholmes

We breezed quickly past the car park and onto the Upper Derwent Reservoir Dam which had water flowing over it. Quite a becoming sight and something the kids would have enjoyed for sure.

Upper Derwent Reservoir Dam

Upper Derwent Reservoir Dam

Upper Derwent Reservoir Dam

Upper Derwent Reservoir Dam

As we pressed on past the dam along the reservoir we started to lose the crowds and peace returned. Our original plan was to use Abbey Clough as a means to reach the open moorland. Our faffing about earlier had reduced the time available so we struck up an access path along Hollin Clough to reach the objective in a shorter albeit much steeper way.

Hollin Clough

GM ascends Hollin Clough

Once out on the moor the views were again expansive especially north towards the vast expanses of the open moorland that extend around the Derwent watershed to Bleaklow.

GM and UF, fine figures of men?

It is truly a wilderness area, all the more amazing for the fact that it is so close to both Sheffield and Manchester. I love it up here and really miss the days of wandering across the peat hags and exploring the stone outcrops, edges and Cloughs. It really is one of the UK’s treasures

Derwent Edges

Derwent Edges

We wandered easily up to Lost Lad Hillend, Lost Lad and onto Back Tor, a lot less boggier than I’d thought and vindicating my decision to wear trail shoes over boots (apart from one schoolboy error putting my foot in a black hole of evil)

Back Tor

GM approaches Back Tor

Back Tor is a fine place and we found a nice collection of rocks in the sun and out of the wind to have lunch. The views were expansive with the Ouse valley and its massive power stations billowing steam visible in the distance.

Back Tor

Lunch at Back Tor

Back Tor

View east from Back Tor

The long stroll along the edges high above the reservoirs was every bit as special as I remembered it. Easy walking, wide views of the Peak and the variety of stone tors along the way. I love the wonderful evocative names of the tors up here. Cakes of Bread, Salt Cellar, Wheel Stones. I seem to remember one was callled the Coach and Horses but its not named on the map so I must be thinking of somewhere else. The hills we’d walked on the morning looked particularly fine across Ladybower, reinforcing the feeling I’d missed something by not climbing them before, tempered by the fact it’s always nice to discover something new.

Cakes of Bread

Cakes of Bread

Crook Hill

Crook Hill from Derwent Edges

It looks a long way on the map but progress is easy and the miles simply disappear. Our stroll was enlightened by a group of very cheery and very lost middle aged Yorkshire ladies and their dog. They didn’t seem to know how to get down to their car wherever it was so we told them how to get down to the reservoir and hoped they were ok. Shortly we saw them striking off, off-piste across the heather in no direction in particular, a sure-fire way to achieve frustration, wet feet and twisted ankles (I saw them as I drove home later climbing into their car at Yorkshire Bridge so a happy ending)

Wheel Stones

Wheel Stones

Derwent Edges

Derwent Edges from Wheel Stones

Wheel Stones

GM & UF approach Wheel Stones

Our own plan was to leave the edge at Whinstone Lee Tor and wander back through the trees to the bridge. The walking was so good and the edge so fine that we decided to carry on along the edge of Lead Hill and around to Ladybower Tor and hope we could find a way down without hitting the dark forest.

Derwent Edges

Beaches on Derwent Edges

Lead Hill

Lead Hill

We found an avenue through the deep bracken overlooking Bamford Edge and the bottom end of the Ladybower Reservoir before a short slog back up the road to the car and the long drive home.

Bamford Edge, Ladybower Reservoir

Bamford Edge and Ladybower Reservoir

Football + Beer + Curry + walk + sunshine = RESULT

Froggatt & Baslow Edges – long lost friends   8 comments

One of the great parts of being an outdoors, walking type of person is exploring every part of your “local” hills. Getting to know the best routes, places and hills, returning to them regularly, becoming intimately familiar with all their subtleties and nuances. As life and work takes you to new homes so you have new “local” hills to explore and the process starts again. This has the added benefit that when you return to your old stomping grounds it’s like renewing old acquaintances and discovering their charms all over again. The reason for this slightly rambling first paragraph. My local hills are currently the Black Mountains but my previous stomping ground was the Peak District having lived in Hilton (near the Toyota factory) for a few years. I was heading north for a rather mixed activity weekend and thought a short walk in the Peak was in order. Inspired by Terry’s video and it’s nearness to the M1, I chose the Froggatt and Baslow edges for my walk.

Froggatt & Baslow Edges - 8 miles, 1000 feet of ascent

I set off from home rather later than I wanted so I didn’t reach the car park at Curbar Gap until 1pm. The weather was pleasant without being glorious and I set off to find a quiet spot for lunch. As I walked onto the edge the memories came flooding back. I’ve walked Froggatt Edge many times and its a classic. easy walking right along the edge of gritstone crags (hint – don’t follow the main path it runs  several metres back from the edge) with stunning views across to the White Peak, down to Chatsworth House and along to the gritstone edges above Hathersage.

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

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Froggatt Edge

There are few better places for easy striding out with expansive views than these gritstone edges and I realised I’d been away too long. No navigation issues, no bog, no tussocks just long miles of pleasant soft valleys and darker moorland behind. Long lost friends

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Froggatt & Baslow Edges

There was a keen wind blowing so I had to dip down amongst the eroded rocks to find a sheltered lunch spot. ED over at Beating the Bounds had been promoting the benefits of carrying a stove for a fresh brew on day walks so I’d armed myself with a new lightweight kettle to go with mini gas burner cartridge.

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My little stove set-up

What a top idea, sitting with Froggatt to myself (it was a Thursday afternoon) sipping a fresh cuppa I felt pretty smug I can tell you. Life can be pretty chuffing good sometimes.

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Me in reflective mood

Still, had to get moving, it was an 8 mile walk I had planned and darkness arrives quickly this time of year.

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Looking south

The route is taken from the excellent set of guides to the Peak by Mark Richards, the proverbial bibles of White and Dark Peak walking. There was some lovely autumn light as I carried on down the edge and apart from a few folks out walking their dogs the place was empty.

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Eroded rocks on Froggatt

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Autumn turning to winter

The route works it way back by diving down to Grindleford and following a succession of paths across the fields in the Derwent valley before reaching the village of Froggatt itself. From there it follows the river all the way to Baslow. This stretch is a little more developed with a succession of large houses fronting the river. One in particular had a huge rolling lawn a good 400 yards long complete with its own figure 8 pond and iron bridge. Some serious money in these parts.

To get back to Baslow Edge the route takes you up the very steep road towards Curbar Gap. I’m sure there must be a better way to reach Baslow Edge but Curbar village is pretty and in the fading light I didn’t really have time to look for an alternative. As you exit the village Froggat Edge looms above you and it looked ethereal in the fading light with the moon coming up.

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Froggatt Edge from Curbar Village

I figured I had enough time to get up onto Baslow Edge as well so I strode out across the moor to its southern end. As I reached the top the sun was setting and the lights of the villages and towns in the Derwent valley were coming on like xmas lights.

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Sunset and lights in the Derwent Valley

Time for another brew. The wind had dropped so I was able to sit on the edge with my feet dangling, watching the fairy lights below as it got dark.

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Early evening brew

Amazing how quickly it gets dark at this time of year. There was more than enough light for me to set up my stove when I started but I needed my head torch to find all the bits 15 minutes later when I packed up. I walked the final mile back to the car in pitch darkness but the terrain on the edges is easy so no real problem.

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Stoney Middleton - I think!

Quality half-day catching up with an old friend or two. With hindsight I should have taken Terry’s advice and stayed high with a return back over White Edge to take in the wild moors and big sky – it was a bit dark down by the river. Still be there next time though. Off to spend the evening with another couple of old friends, EWO and TYG in Harrogate before more adventures under Yorkshire the next day.

Posted December 9, 2011 by surfnslide in Peak District, Walking

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