Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Dark Peak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dark Peak. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ramsoc Weekend at Castleton – 24/25 October 2015


This is the eighth Ramsoc weekend to be mentioned in these pages – Sue’s University Rambling Club reunion has come round again. This year she organised the event, with assistance from Sue W in her roll as YHA insider. Thanks go to both Sues.

Click here to view all the Ramsoc postings.

31 of us assembled at various times at the magnificent Losehill Hall YHA ‘hostel’ outside Castleton. This really is a luxurious place. I had a single en-suite room that was better than many a hotel room. Others had shared dormitories, in one of which a serial offender demonstrated (apparently) total ignorance of ‘dormitory etiquette’ whereby early risers should leave the room to rustle their crisp packets.

Forecast rain duly arrived just as we were about to set off on Saturday morning, but the forecast heavy rain turned out to be intermittent and variable.


A group of indeterminate size wended its way to the wet summit of Lose Hill. My Lumix FT4 waterproof camera was handy despite its lack of a ‘lens wiper’.


The path to Mam Tor was unusually bereft of walkers and cyclists.


By the time we got to Back Tor, our group was down to ten, the laggards having been abandoned to stroll along the cool ridge at their own lack of pace.


“That’s Edale down there” … “there’s a café” tweeted a canary, concerned about the waterproof qualities of its feathers.


Nearly there…


… and in the euphoria of reaching the fleshpots of the excellent Penny Pot Café on the station approach, and its delicious courgette cake, I failed to take any more pictures until our subsequent lunch stop in the lee of a convenient wall beside Chapel Gate.


We found a gate, but after several hours (or so it seemed) of searching, there was still no sign of a chapel.

So we wandered along Rushup Edge in the direction of Mam Tor. The conditions were excellent for ‘walking in’ the new boots that Sue and I were sporting, but they weren’t so good for canaries with leaky feathers.


After another tea break (see header picture) we were soon plunging the depths of Cave Dale. Here, many years ago, a river found an underground route, leaving a dry valley with caverns underneath. Then the caverns collapsed making the valley even deeper and gorge-like at the northern end. The Castleton entrance to Cave Dale had a narrow natural arch as recently as 200 years ago, a relic of the roof collapse. So it’s well named. We found caves, but they were barred from entry by plebs like us.

Peveril Castle came into view. It’s a ruined medieval castle with a long history dating back as far as 1086. It’s seen here from the northern end of Cave Dale. It has a rich history. Books have been written.


We continued in fine weather through the ambulance littered streets of Castleton to the haven of our private lounge at the hall. This turned out to be a large lecture room with many chairs and cushions but no tables.

Martin S provided tasty roast chestnuts. Despite the ideal room there was no slideshow as my potential victims hadn’t warned me of the excellence of the facilities, so I didn’t have one with me.

Never mind, we enjoyed a jolly evening.

Here’s our route for the day – about 21 km, with 750 metres ascent, taking 6.75 hours.


Sunday dawned fine, but Sue and I needed to get back home. We therefore enjoyed just a short walk from the hall.


We strolled back up to the Mam Tor ridge, reaching it just below Back Tor.


It was a good day to stroll along the ridge. Here’s Sue, with Lose Hill and Win Hill in the distance behind Back Tor.


We only went as far as Hollins Cross, from where the view to Edale and Kinder Scout was much clearer than yesterday’s.


There were lots of runners, and a few cyclists, on the well constructed ridge path today.


We headed down to do our good turn for the day by shutting the boot of an accidentally abandoned car, resisting the temptation to steal an incumbent Toblerone bar.

Just 6 km with 250 metres ascent, in 1.5 hours. Much better than going straight home though.


There’s no slideshow on this occasion I’m afraid. Next year, perhaps…

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

November 3-4, 2011 – a Dark Peak Backpack

Setting off from Heath Road, Glossop

“We’re going on a backpack tomorrow morning, starting from Glossop.  Fancy coming?” chorused Mick and Gayle in The Grapes last Wednesday evening.

It was a bit of a struggle, as I’d not been out camping with my own gear since the end of the TGO Challenge in May.  But I had both a new rucksack and a borrowed tent to try out.

The least I could do was arrange parking and refreshments in Glossop , before we set off up Doctor’s Gate on a murky day.  Then, after a short wander along the Pennine Way towards Bleaklow, we took a very pleasant path down Alport Dale.  Here are Gayle and Mick looking back up the dale.

Above Alport Dale

It was a misty afternoon, with intermittent rain, but there were still pleasant views down the valley in the direction of Ladybower.

Alport Dale

M&G managed to navigate us away from the valley, via a steep ascent, and up to a trig point stranded in a bog and surrounded by rain splattered puddles.

From there we moved briskly on to Alport Castles, the scene of a massive ancient landslip.  Today it was the only time we saw the sun, very briefly, before it slid down behind the long bulk of Black Ashop Moor.


Life became briefly frenetic, as we raced against the darkening sky to collect water (well, emulsified peat) and bash our way across uncharted moorland to the corner of a wood at Lockerbrook (SK 162 894), where I ‘froze’ in front of a heap of nylon whilst M&G quickly assembled Vera.  Their expertise was needed to erect my home for the night, ‘Obi’, a sample on loan from Webtogs.  A new, smaller, rucksack has finally persuaded me that I should get a lighter one man tent, and Obi is a kilo lighter than Callum Hord.  Anyway, after working out where sockets for the balls were, and inserting some fiddly clips, the tent was up and taut, even though a couple of guys weren’t found.  Then at last I could wander off with my trowel, etc, in the dark.

Obi 1P

We chatted and cooked for a while, then found books to read, then it must have been all of eight o’clock before we passed out for the night.  I did anyway.  It was M&G’s wedding anniversary – congratulations, btw – so I felt bad about pitching so close to them.  But I’m deaf at night, and I understand there was some noisy rain during the course of the night.  I didn’t hear a thing, and woke soon after 6am after my longest sleep of the year.

Obi may look a bit odd, and as you can see from above wasn’t particularly well pitched, but he proved to be very comfy.

Anyway, without any planned departure time, it was probably quite lucky that we were all ready to leave at exactly the same time on Friday morning – just before 8am.  (I know from previous trips with M&G that we synchronise quite well, though I did keep them waiting a bit on this trip – I was trying not to aggravate a knee jarred last weekend whilst I was trying to keep up with Superman [Graham Brookes].

We spent a fair part of the morning clad in waterproofs under a weeping sky.


It was pure luck that I had an A4 piece of paper with me with my guestimate of the area in which we would be walking, and that my guestimate had been correct, so I looked at my map and was definitely in favour of following a track rather than walking for a kilometre down the busy A57 road.  I didn’t expect a bridge to be absent, though, replaced by an uncrossable ford.

We proceeded across farm land to the south of the roaring River Ashop.  There were barbed wire fences, which needed to be crossed with care.  I have no issue with these and the use of wire cutters would have been totally inappropriate – we could have chosen higher ground that wasn’t fenced in – but we chose to stay low on this occasion.  “Don’t let’s have an Alan Sloman incident” asserted Gayle, nearly ripping her new trousers.

Wire damage

“Oops” said Gayle “I must talk less and concentrate more!”

The flesh wound soon paled into insignificance compared with the foot problem.  For some strange reason both M&G were wearing glorified plimsolls.  These are prone to leakage, though to be fair they had wrapped their tootsies in plastic bags as a second line of defence.

Blackden Brook

After crossing Blackden Brook and enjoying a brew before wandering on the correct, open, side of the border between farmland and the open moor, we finally reached a footpath, and even a bridge across the river.

The sun came out!

River Ashop

Having recently brewed up, we eschewed the delights of the Snake Inn and toddled on up the Snake Path towards Hayfield.

After a pleasant lunch stop below Ashop Head, we were in good spirits by the time we reached the Pennine Way path junction at the head of William Clough.

Mick, Gayle and Martin at Ashop Head

From there, a short amble up a well laid path drew us to the high point of this trip – Mill Hill, 544 metres.

The path to Mill Hill

After having been buzzed by a helicopter delivering products for the Kinder Scout regeneration project, we discovered the remains of an incident in 1944.  A Liberator ‘plane crashed here, but both crew survived.*

The Liberator crashed in 1944

Pleasant paths led down to Glossop, via a minor navigational faux pas (not my fault!) and a field full of friendly horses.

Descending to Glossop

Pam and Paul’s 24 hour café was still open, and we enjoyed an hour with them before hitting the road home.

This was a most enjoyable 40km excursion, with around 1400 metres ascent.  The route is shown below.

Our route - 40 km, 1400m ascent, 2 days

Thanks go to Mick and Gayle for inviting me along – I had a great time, sorry about the tardiness of this write up.

There’s a full annotated slideshow here, and Gayle’s postings are here (Day 1) and here (Day 2).

* “Crashed while on a ferrying flight from Burtonwood near Warrington to Hardwick near Norwich. On a very foggy morning in October, Pilot Lieutenant Creighton Haopt and Flight Engineer Jerry Najvar thundered down the runway into the grey wall of fog, so bad was the weather even the birds were walking! After smashing into several runway lights and two failed attempts to get airborne, the Liberator finally lumbered into the air, but only just.

It had been a shaky take off, but Haopt became more relaxed when he gained full control of the aircraft. Jerry unbuckled his harness and went aft to check for damage that might have occurred during the take off. Back in the cockpit Jerry gave the thumbs up that everything was ok and proceeded to take out a map, he noticed they were on a direct course for high ground. "I checked the altimeter and it was indicating 1,500 feet, we were too low to clear the hills," recalled Jerry. " I Jabbed my finger at the high ground on the map and read off the elevation for that area. Then I indicated with my thumb that we had better get some height." Haopt nodded as if he understood, but he made no attempt to climb. Had he misunderstood the signal to climb for a 'thumbs up - all's well' indication? Jerry was growing more concerned over pilot's inaction. Jerry peered out of the cockpit window when he suddenly saw something dark pass under the aircraft. " I grabbed the control column and pulled back on it with all my strength , the pilot realised what I was doing and tried to help." They were too late, they were travelling at 150 mph as the underbelly of the aircraft started slicing through the heather, then onto moorland grass and rocks, the aircraft disintegrated along the way. Jerry remembers waking up in hospital, and apart from the shock and some cuts to the face and some bruising, he had got off lightly. Haopt had more serious facial injuries, however they both made a full recovery.”

This information was obtained from the Astrecks website.

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.