Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label Bleaklow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bleaklow. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Sunday 25 June 2017 – Bleaklow Head


It’s a while since we had a proper walk with the Roberts family, so it was good to join them on a little jaunt designed to provide Andrew with a bit of navigation training for his D of E Award. Sadly Kate couldn’t join us this time due to a beach commitment.

We were all in a cheery mood as we set off behind a runner beside Shelf Brook from Old Glossop. (Note there is parking at the end of Shepley Street as an alternative to the car park by the Bull’s Head.)


There was however a rather low cloud base. I paused by the remains of a metal structure on a man-made mound, looking back towards Glossop. I have no idea as to the purpose of this structure.


The church bells of Old Glossop cheered us as we rose gently past large clumps of Crosswort, with its tiny white flowers. We had turned left towards Lightside and soon reached a stile leading to open country and, after Sue had adjusted her headgear, a misty challenge for Andrew to keep us on track to Bleaklow Head.


After Alastair had dispensed his wine gums, we continued on into the cloud past an assortment of rocky outcrops.


After an expanse of bogginess, and more than a little use of his compass, Andrew was careful to suppress his euphoria when we reached Bleaklow Head, and some rocks, the Wain Stones, that reputedly show two people kissing.


Alastair proceeded to address the novice navigator and his two assistants:

“Always wear fluorescent clothing to enable mountain rescue to spot you when you get lost!”

“But we’re not lost” mumbled Andrew, glancing anxiously at the 1980’s map provided by his father.


The maps have improved since the 1980s, as has the nature of the landscape around here. Whilst there are a few areas of peaty mess, the ground is much greener than it was before the Pennine Way path was surfaced.

Unfortunately it took us a while to find that path. There was a bit of toiling in the mist.


On reaching the path, we passed a fine specimen of Common Spotted Orchid.


As the Snake Pass road is approached, the surface of the Pennine Way path gets better and better. We encountered a family group with distressed children, and a few National Park wardens who would no doubt come to any necessary rescue.


Eventually a signpost to Glossop is reached at a junction. This is the Doctor’s Gate bridleway, down which we turned. Navigation was no longer an issue as the path leads inexorably back to Glossop.


There are new plantations.


The bridleway is well used. It’s a challenging technical descent for mountain bikers. None of them were braving it today.

There’s mud.


Shelf Brook is crossed where the path levels out. There’s a huge new bridge built in memory of a local celebrity. Or has Sue shrunk?


It’ll be interesting to see how the newly planted saplings change this landscape in years to come.


After a last look up the Doctor’s Gate path, we ambled back to Glossop in dry weather, having got a bit damp earlier in the 100% humidity of the cloud.


It was a 16 km circuit, with about 500 metres ascent, taking a leisurely 5 hours. If you look carefully at the blue line (click on the image to enlarge it) you might spot that we didn’t quite reach the cairned summit of Bleaklow, and the path on which we left the Wain Stones was a little to the west of the ‘correct’ Pennine Way path. More micro navigation practice needed, Andrew, or was this intended?


Most of Glossop’s tea houses were shut, so we made do with afternoon tea/coffee at a branded venue. Their carrot cake was excellent.

Despite the low cloud, a most enjoyable outing.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Thursday 7 June 2012 - Bleaklow

First of all, I’ve been informed by Heather T-S that Grant Cunliffe’s body was found on 7 June in the Braeriach area, as the snow line finally recedes in the Cairngorms.  You may recall a posting in January that I made at Heather’s request.  It’s very sad news, but at least his family can now grieve properly.  Our thoughts are with them, and with all his friends.

Andy and Gareth near Grains in the Water

Now then, Gareth and Andy had been camping out on Bleaklow.  Despite a rather dire weather forecast I popped out to meet them, as Obi 1P (last seen on a November backpacking trip with Mick and Gayle), who I wanted to borrow again, was languishing in Andy’s car.

I left Polly at 7.30 on the top of the Snake Pass, where the Pennine Way takes on a rather strange look.

The Pennine Way by the A57 road

Turning the other way, I wondered briefly as to my sanity, but the flowers were nice, and the plovers certainly noticed me.

The path towards Bleaklow

‘Welcome to the High Peak’ muttered a runner as he breezed past.  (Or was I imagining that?) 

Hope Woodlands Moor

The runner was one of only five people I saw on the hill today.  Two of the others were Andy and Gareth, who took some tracking down.

I was at Bleaklow Head by 8.30.  It’s a bleak sort of place and I didn’t feel like a long wait.  I knew that they were camping at Grinah Stones, some way off, thanks to Gareth’s ‘buddy beacon’.

Bleaklow Head

So, with the unexpected benefit of a phone signal, we arranged to meet at Bleaklow Stones.  We arrived there within a few minutes of each other, but Andy and Gareth didn’t think these were Bleaklow Stones, so they moved off to an obscure map reference just before I arrived and taunted me from there.

Bleaklow Stones

It didn’t help that I’ve still not learnt how to use the Satmap GPS, so I bumbled around, already having inadvertently turned 180 degrees on the path from Bleaklow Head to Bleaklow Stones.  It was that sort of day, I think Andy and Gareth did something similar.

Anyway, I zigzagged my way to their obscure location, half expecting to find an envelope with directions to my next ‘clue’.  But there they were, a jolly pair of backpackers in the rain, which was the dominant feature of the day’s weather.

At last - Andy and Gareth in the mist

After making our way back to Bleaklow Head, the navigation became very easy for the rest of the walk.  We simply headed back down the Pennine Way, turning left down Hern Clough to Grains in the Water, near where the dynamic duo are pictured in the top image.  Beyond there, Alport Dale narrows and the path moves high above the left bank.  It’s a beautiful dale, even in the rain.

Andy found a little difficulty in staying upright, banging his head and his knee at one point.  So G brewed up for him and all was well again.

A brew stop in Alport Dale

Andy’s spring had been re-wound, and off he went again as we contoured gently past Over Wood Moss and along the delightful contouring path across Alport Moor.

Alport Dale on a wet day

Opposite Grindlesgrain Tor, our route switched to the heights of Westend Moor, climbing steeply but briefly beside Glethering Clough.

Gareth and Andy on the pull up to Westend Moor

Andy was suffering…

Hard work for Andy

Soon we were up at the trig point on Westend Moor.

The trig point on Westend Moor

By now we were rather damp.  It really was raining quite hard.  Perhaps a little harder than on the first Sunday of the TGO Challenge.  It was certainly more wetting, perhaps because I’d deployed an old set of waterproofs for this day walk.

Cameras were stashed before they drowned, and we made our way along to Alport Castles where a left turn took us down the excellent path to reach Andy’s car at the hairpin bend near Fox’s Piece.

The Ladybower Inn then provided real ale and a large plate of chips, which went down very well.  In the next alcove a group of farmers had assembled to listen to a fascinating presentation on management of the Peak District moorland.  It seems that much good is being done, with new techniques revitalising the land.  We left feeling that there is much hope for the future wellbeing of the magnificent landscape and the flora and fauna, not to mention the crops and livestock, that are being helped to flourish in their moorland habitat.  One slide showed an area where there had previously been hardly any skylarks changing to the extent that their numbers are now uncountable!

Thanks for your company, and to Andy for the lift back up to Polly, and Gareth for the loan of Obi 1P, and if you want a bit of a laugh you can chuckle at my wanderings, as recorded by the Garmin gadget:

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Saturday 12 February 2011 – Off-piste on Bleaklow

Ramblers admiring the view from Bleaklow Stones, Dark Peak, Derbyshire, UK
[Note that hovering your mouse over the images may reveal more text.  Views expressed are those of the author alone and no criticism should be implied in any way of the other members of the party, who are all without doubt selfless, hard-working, worthy and appallingly underrated citizens.]

A last minute decision saw Sue and I enjoying the half hour journey from sunny Timperley to Torside Reservoir, where the cloud was lurking just above the height of the huge power lines that thread through this valley.

We were massively early for what turned out to be a 10.30+ start with Sue and Phil, Tom, David and not least, Graham, who was taking a day off from culling deer to kindly act as our much needed route guide and navigator for the day.

Sue, Tom, Sue, David, Graham and a clown, on the soft surface of the Trans-Pennine Trail

Graham softened us up with an easy few km along the Trans-Pennine Trail, passing over various streams that seemed to be doing their best to empty excess peat from the Dark Peak, in a bold effort to provide ‘Newcastle Brown Ale’ free of charge from the taps of the unsuspecting alcoholics of Yorkshire.

Well directed water heading from Rollick Stones to Torside Reservoir

We then forsook this excellent trail for a stretch of tarmac that ended abruptly before reaching a private house, ‘The Lodge’, above which lurked the unkempt remnants of an ornamental garden.

Rhododendron bushes mark the remains of bygone days in these parts

The plan, apparently (according to a scruffy piece of paper in Graham’s mitts), was to climb directly up to Deer Knowl before contouring eastish to reach Barrow Stones via Featherbed Moss.  Even had I not been vaguely familiar with the terrain hereabouts, that name would perhaps have sounded warning bells.

Anyway, we strode up the hill towards Deer Knowl, less than a kilometre away.  Progress was slow.  The steep heather was punctuated by rocks with deep crevices which seemed of particular concern to Tom.

Two Sues trying to dodge fissures in the rocks hidden by the heather on Graham's 'off-piste' 'path'

“I could die in there!” he worried.
”It’s ok, we won’t leave you” assured Graham, puffing like an old GW loco of similar vintage.

Sue found Horace, for whom 24 hours of excitement were about to commence.  More about him later.  He would not have been concerned by this evil trap, though.

A mink trap.  The clever grouse (the ones who don't fly) risk being eaten by mink, released from farms by animal rights activists to wreak havoc in the countryside

A tea break took place.

After nearly an hour of slogging up the hill, which had subsided briefly into a grassy plateau before returning to a cavity strewn rock-field, I thought ‘sod this for a lark’ and left the others to continue their relentless ascent of Deer Knowl. 

Deer Knowl - if you look carefully you can see some of our party, led from the rear (for obvious reasons) by Graham, heading for the barrier of rocks

A short traverse to the east (left on the above image) led to an easy path to the head of Shining Clough, and a long wait for the six adventurers.  At least I was now masked by the hill from the relentless clatter of rifles on the moor just to our west.  There must be a healthy population of grouse, some very poor marksmen, or hordes of synthetic pigeons.

We reassembled.  Graham thankfully saw the futility of his plan without too much encouragement from others.  Contouring across the groughs to Featherbed Moss would have been (even more)exhausting.  So we headed up onto the Bleaklow plateau in a southerly direction, following the imagines of an old land-rover track.  Phil strode off towards Near Black Clough, the others preferring to stray towards Stable Clough.  I tried to keep all in sight, verbal communication being denied to us by the constant whirring of helicopter blades.  We seemed to be a target. 

This helicopter spent all day dropping bags of hessian around us

I found Phil chatting to a couple of gents with a box the size of a rabbit hutch.  Were they trying to capture the mountain hares that were dashing about all over the hillside, I wondered?  ‘No’, was the answer to that stupid question.  It was a ‘GPS’ and they were using it to direct the helicopter to drop its loads of bags containing hessian matting into areas where the plateau was particularly badly eroded.  Special grass seed will be sown before the hessian is spread over it, stabilising the ground and enabling the seed to germinate and the grass to take a hold, before the hessian is removed.  We could see bands of hessian, looking like melting snow banks, doing just this job.  Further on, the black surface of the peaty plateau had developed a pale green hue where the grass was indeed starting to flourish.

It was very noisy.

There were lots of these groughs to negotiate on Graham's route across Shining Clough Moss Near Black Clough

Whilst Phil did his best to make a break for it with his wife’s sandwiches, he was eventually brought to heel (as he always is) on the watershed in the area of Bleaklow Hill, where the said sandwiches were eaten before they wandered aimlessly away to any other whimsical choice of destination.

Mountain hare on Bleaklow - they were scampering around everywhere

Here’s our lunch spot, and the view.  You can see the regenerating but very fragile grass that is taking hold in the peat.

Lunch on Bleaklow Hill - 12/2/11 The view south towards the High Peak area from Bleaklow Hill

Bleaklow Stones was our next objective.  This involved going ‘there and back’ across the fragile peaty surface of Bleaklow, churned up by thousands of boots, but nevertheless in a state of partial recovery due to the hessian/grass project.  Sue and I felt very guilty about the fact that we were with every step destroying work that had been done to try to prevent further erosion of the moor.

Fun was had at the Anvil Stone, at Bleaklow Stones, with fine views south to Kinder Scout and the hills around Edale.

Phil and Sue enjoy a rodeo ride on the Anvil Stone at Bleaklow Stones 
Here’s the video!

But this ‘fun’ was negated by the bad feelings I had about being here at all.  I wanted to be off the hill, or at least on a path that wasn’t wrecking the landscape.

Moods weren’t improved by the fact that the forecast good weather had first disappointed us, then lulled us up the hill by gradually clearing as we ascended, then when we got to the top it had in turn squirted rain, hail, sleet and snow, at us in ever increasing ferocity.

After squelching our way slowly westwards, Graham’s contingent, with no appointments except with their B&B, decided to erode their way to Shelf Moor, whilst Sue and I headed directly to Bleaklow Head to pick up the well constructed Pennine Way path back down to Torside.

Sue finally makes it through the snow storm to Bleaklow Head

As we descended, the weather relented, it was peacefully quiet for what seemed like the first time all day; we passed some stage struck red grouse, and the late afternoon sun made pretty colours on the hillside above Crowden and the huge pylons.

The paving of the Pennine Way - below this point there was much less sign of erosion.  This paving works. The view to Torside Reservoir from Clough Edge.  Note the spectacular rock gateway Red Grouse - "You can come as close as you like, I refuse to fly after all those gunshots!" Millstone Rocks and Lad's Leap - an easy walk from Tintwistle or Crowden on a summer's evening

Back on the Trans-Pennine Trail we caught up with Robin and James, who were looking tired and muddy after an afternoon adventure up nearby Wildboar Clough.  We hoped that James had some spare trousers for his walk up Black Hill the following day. 

Then, after 18km with 600 metres ascent, in all of 6 hours, we shot off back home via a food emporium.  Sorry, Mike and Katie, if your dinner was a little late, but at least we made it home before you arrived!

Bleaklow is fine, but ‘off-piste’ it can be either tediously difficult ground, or disconcertingly destructive underfoot.  I’ll try to stick to paths that don’t significantly increase the erosion in future.

For masochists and environment wreckers amongst the audience, here’s the route that Sue and I took.  The others continued their abuse of the fragile landscape with a visit to Shelf Moor.

Graham's adapted route for the day, excluding his diversion to churn up Shelf Moor

There’s a slideshow (26 images) here, should you wish to see more.