So we were both awake before dawn, but the first hints of light were beginning to materialise to the northeast. The pocket rocket was fired up and a brew on the go within a few minutes. Breakfast was one of those flapjacks that you will have seen on an earlier blog. Not great, but the chocolate chips helped. Black coffee always helps to kickstart me in the morning, in more ways than one, so a trip to the wilderness toilet was had. The turf was replaced and a huge rock placed over it to ensure it didn't escape. I resisted taking a photo - some things are best left unrecorded.
Today we had decided to walk the shore and join the road at the Ashopton Viaduct which would take us around to the westernmost point of Ladybower. After the shoreline section, the road was not pleasant, although the A57 was thankfully very quiet with it being early on a Sunday.
I think my wife must have been praying, because the teawagon on the A57 was there, open and a steaming cup of tea was ready for us to purchase. A smashing chap runs that wagon - and I urge you to stop by if you are driving through. Some nice fellas were in front of us, be-gaitered and ready to go off hiking. One of these men appeared addled, and was clearly confused that he had lost something, but was making no sense when I questioned him. He was ushered away by his 'pal' who I asked what he had lost - he too said he didn't know. We came to the conclusion that he had some form of dementia. That thought stayed with me and troubled me for a while after we left the lay-by.
After being caught short again, I had to catch up with Den who had walked on slowly ahead. Every time I looked up - he looked back over his shoulder, and started running off. This he did about a dozen times, until I finally caught up with him. How we laughed.
|Looking back down the Woodlands Valley over to Ladybower|
|Len's Path, that's Den by the way, not Len|
- British Superbike
- World Superbike Champion
- MOTO GP Champion
- TT Champion
- Eddie Kidd
- Evil Knieval
Each of these were on their DT50's with muddied out number plates. I resisted the urge to stop them for their autographs. Didn't want to bother them on their days off.
The initial distasteful appearance of Len's Path (now known to me as Den's Path) gave way to a really lovely route which became so at what appeared to be a small settlement at around SK164867. For some reason I failed to take a photograph here, but I couldn't quite work out what these places were other than long deserted homes. I wondered if the owners might have been cleared as in the Highlands.
From these mysterious steadings the path leads through dense conifer plantation (which may or may not confirm my clearance wondering). Despite my having a real dislike for dense conifer plantation, the path was a joy to walk, being sheltered from the wind and full of atmosphere. Punctuated with lush and verdant grassy clearings to the southwestern side, this latter section of ascent eased off in steepness as we gained the ridge.
|The coniferous tube of Den's Path|
The views over to Kinder were fine at first, but Mother Nature seemed to have her felt pens out and quickly coloured everything to the west in grey. She spared us for some time along this never-ending, long tongue of a hill. It was a lovely place to be and I felt like I could have walked along it for hours. I'd say from the point where we joined it, to the summit rocks, was around 2.5 miles of loveliness.
There was a varied, sandy terrain of neatly grazed grass, interspersed with tussocks of tougher grasses, and heather in places. There were several pits which dotted the top of the spur-like plateau and we wondered what they might be. Evidence of open-cast mining - but of what? Sink holes? We remain clueless.
The highest point is marked by Hope Cross which seems to have had its top stone removed and all that remains is the upright and a metal spike where the top stone once rested. At least that is what I can glean from a quick Google search. I might have been looking at the wrong marker post I suppose(?). Anyone got any better info?
|Den on the Roman Road - summit bound|
|Some you Win. Lose Hill from Win Hill|
|Grass, Heather, Sand, Erosion, Mist, and Den|
The summit moment was poignant, but brief due to the gale-force battering we were getting so we set off downwards for a steep and very careful descent to Yorkshire Bridge.
|Den in his lovely new Spyder jacket. The armed guards weren't far away |
on account of its ludicrous value.
|Me at the Trig - you'll not believe the number of times that Garmin knocked me on the head. |
Note to self - reposition next walk. It didn't even get switched on!
My trusty Fizan poles had had a good outing and continued to prove themselves by making this descent far less troublesome with them in hand.
We regained our knees for a spell at Yorkshire Bridge and I phoned home with a quick progress report whilst Den caught his breath with a much needed roll-up. Nuthatches were shouting in the trees above us and as if to tease us, remained disguised by their silhouettes or hidden by the boughs. A little way up the lane all manner of small songbirds erupted from the trees by the road and my eyes scanned for the cause. In that moment the culprit, a male sparrowhawk, burst empty-handed from a bramble and flew off along the line of trees. Doubtless cussing the wasted energy. There's usually a moment like this on our walks, a real treat.
The next couple of miles along the peakland lanes were a bit of a slog, but I enjoyed getting into the rhythm with my poles. I paused often to suck up the views down over Bamford, I remember thinking that it was a shame it would soon be over.
Shortly before we reached the parking spot at Dennis Knoll - a honeypot for Stanage climbers - Den noticed the car, stile a mile or so away. It was a welcome sight, and given that I couldn't see any bricks supporting the axles, I was all the more pleased.
We slumped into the car, checked the map for a while, scouting a pitch for the night, and headed down into Hathersage to fill the tanks and resupply. After driving about looking for suitable spots to camp close to the road, we decided that we'd head for the North Lees campsite and pitch there. It was a little soggy, the facilities were clean and serviceable - although the lights in the loos seemed to be switched off overnight and only came on after dawn - go and figure that one out. Oh, and there was no cold water either. Bear this in mind if you are thinking of staying.
Therein lies the tale of my first bit of backpacking in what seemed like an age. How quickly one can get back into the groove. Quite apart from the fact that our initial route plan was dumped on day one, we had a great walk, a good wild camp, and a memorable weekend outside.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much a I did recording it.
|Finishing where we started, beneath Stanage Edge.|