Castleton

For the last day of my little break, I’d hoped to slot in another walk before heading over to Hope to catch the train back home. The weather forecast was, however, not looking so promising. Although I woke up to bright sunshine heavy rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. So not wanting to get caught up on the hills in a heavy downpour a change of plan was in order. I decided I’d wander over to Castleton village and have a mooch. Although I’d been to Castleton a few times I’ve never looked around the village properly, so that seemed like a good option before I walked back across the fileds to Hope station.

Castleton is located at the end of the Hope valley, on the boundary of the Millstone Grit plateau of the Dark Peak to the north and the limestone landscape of the White Peak. hemmed in by the “Great Ridge” to the north and limestone hills to the west and south, it would be a dead end except for the dramatic Winnats Pass and Cave Dale, steep sided valleys cutting through the limstone.

DSC09419
A close up shot towards Winnat’s Pass

It’s an old settlement, going way back to before the Norman Conquest. There were certainly people around here before the Ronans, with the remains of an Iron Age fort still visible on top of MamTor. After 1086 the area came under the control of William Peveril, allegedly an illigmitate son of William the Bastard, who had a castle constructed overlooking the village – it’s ruins remain today under the stewardship of English Heritage.

DSC09426
Peveril’s castle on the hill overlooking the village

Although today it’s a “honeypot” attracting droves of tourists, walkers, cyclists and cavers, it was originally a working village, the main industry being mining for lead, other metals and the fluorite banded mineral known as “Blue John“. There’ several shops selling jewellry and trinkets using the attractive blue and yellow stone.

DSC09456
DSC09457
DSC09450

It was a relatively short, pleasant walk through the fields from the hostel on a sunny morning. I fancied a coffee, but none of the cafes opened until at least 9:30, so I had a wander around the narrow streets of the village. There were plenty of attractive stone cottages that would have once been the homes of miners and other workers.

DSC09421
DSC09442
DSC09445
DSC09437
DSC09455
DSC09458
DSC09446
The war memorial cross
DSC09447
A closer look at the memorial

When you’re in the village, you can’t fail to notice a huge cavern set back in the hillside. This the Peak Cavern, one of the four show caves near the village, although that’s not it’s original name. Until a visit by Queen Victoria it was known as the ‘Devil‘s Arse’. In the past the cave system was mined and later there was a rope works here. In more recent time, as well as being opened as a tourist attractions, it’s been used as a concert venue and a cinema.

DSC09427
DSC09428
DSC09433

After wandeing around I was ready for a coffee so indulged at the cafe attached to the Visitor Centre, by the main car park. There were several frustrated motorists looking for change as the car park doesn’t accept payments by card and since the events of the past 18 months people are less likely to be carrying coins in their pockets.

Refuelled with caffeine I set off on the walk back to Hope to catch the midday train.

Menacing clouds were gathering over the hills to the west

It’s a pleasant walk through the fields with views over to the Great Ridge.

The clouds continued to move in and were starting to look menacing as I approached the train station. This was the view looking back

I boarded my train just as the cloud moved in. The train headed straight towards it and as it emerged from the tunnel at Chinley the heavens opened.

We’d passed through the cloud by the time we reached Manchester Piccadilly where I just made the connection to Wigan. It was sunny by the time I got home. But that was the end of the good weather for a while – all changed the next day!.

First time on Kinder

DSC09410

Yesterday was the 12 th August, the so called “Glorious twelfth” when artistocratic landowners and their wealthy friends and clients ascend the moors to start blasting grouse with their shotguns. Until relatively recently, landowners would ban the hoi poloi from enjoying the largely empty extensive tracts of moorland – all year round not just during the shooting season – to allegedly protect their investment (i.e. the birds). It was only the enactment of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act) that granted a public right of access to land mapped as ‘open country’ (mountain, moor, heath and down) or registered common land, known as ‘open access land’. It took many years of camapigning to achieve this right and given that most landowners weren’t exactly keen on the idea, it required more than gentle persuasion. In the 19th and 20th Century direct action was taken by more groups who organised “tresspasses”, the most well known being the one organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation, supported by radical walkers from Sheffield, on Kinder Scout April in 1932.

The Kinder Tresspassers Source: https://kindertrespass.org.uk/kinder-mass-trespass-history/

Now being something of a radical myself, I’ve been rather remiss in never having been up on Kinder (prononced Kin-der and not Kind-er), although I’ve looked over it from the “Great Ridge” on the occassions I’ve walked over there. But on the second day of my recen short stay in castleton, I put that right, of a sort as I didn’t follow the route of the famous trespass.

Kinder isn’t really like your typical mountain, rather it’s an extensive elevated plateau of peat moorland and there are a number of access points and criss crossed by many paths. It’s popular and I expected the routes up from the western end of Edale, near the station, on a fine summer’d day, would be busy. I had in mind a route I’d considered once before after my first ascent of Win Hill in January 2020 when I considered following the path over to and then on to the eastern side of the Kinder plateau. At the time, in the midst of winter, I’d though better of trudging through what was likely to be a morass of wet peat, which was probably the sensible decision. But in ealy August I reckoned the risk of being swallowed by the bogs would be low so I planned a route from the hostel, going across to Hope, where I could pick up a sandwich for my dinner, then taking the path that (probably) follows the course of a Roman Road, up to Hope Cross. I then climbed the relatively gentle gradient up Edale Moor, the eastern end of the plateau, via Crookstone Hill.

Making my way up the “Roman Road”
View across to Lose Hill from the “Roman Road”
and over to Kinder
Getting closer to Kinder
Looking across the valley of Edale to the Great Ridge
Hope Cross

Hope Cross, is a guide stoop, an ancient way marker to guide travellers such as over the moors. It’s about 7 feet high and dates from at least 1737. The names of 4 nearby towns – Hope, Edale, Glossop and Sheffield, are carved into the headstone. Facing the name, travellers would turn right to head in the right direction, so they were used in a different way to the more familiar fingerposts.

Looking back from Hope Cross
Continuing on to the moor
The way to Crookstone
Starting to climb
Crookstone Hill ahead
Millstone grit outcops – reaching the top of the climb

I then followed the path that hugged the edge of the moor diverting a little to have a look at the “Druid’s stone” where I stopped for a bite to eat.

The path along the edge of the plateau
Looking down Jagger’s Clough. Nothing to do with the Rolling Stones, mind. A jagger was a packhorse driver, many of whom would traverse the moors. The name ” Jagger”is, apparently, derived from a breed of packhorses, the ‘Jaeger’ imported from Germany
Looking across to back Tor and the Great Ridge
The “Druid’s Stone”
A closer look
Looking along the plateau
Approaching Ringing Roger

It was very quiet on the way up – I passed only one couple between Hope and the gritstone rock formations known as “Ringing Roger”.

The peculiarly named collection of millstone grit tors probably gets it’s name from is a corruption of the French word for rock; “Rocher” and the “ringing” echoes off the tors.

Millstone tors at Ringing Roger
View from Ringing Roger

I could have descended from here down into the valley to Grindsbrook Booth, the main settlement in Edale, but it ws not long after midday and on a fine day I decided to carry on along the path along the edge. It was noticeably busier now as I was approaching the parts of the moor popular with walkers starting from Grindsbrook Booth.

Looking across to Grindsbrook Clough and Grindslow Knoll
Looking across to Nether Tor and Upper Tor
Carrying on laong the path
Looking down to Edale valley and the great Ridge
Rock formations at Upper Tor
Looking back
Looking down Grindsbrook Clough

The path did a “dog leg” as I crossed over the top of the dramatic Grindsbrook Clough. This is a popular route up on to Kinder from Edale requiring some scrambling up a steep rocky gorge along a stream. I considered going down this way, but thought better of it (didn’t trust my balance and dodgy knees) so i continued on towards Grindslow Knoll, one of the higher points on the southern part of the plateau.

The “Mushroom stone”
Looking back across the clough from Grindslow Knoll
Looking across the clough to Higher Tor
Starting my descent
The view across Edale

It was generally a good path down to the valley, although there were some steep and rocky sections (no scree, though!).

Reaching the bottom of the valley

I followed a nice gentle path across the fields towards Grindsbrook Booth, the main settlement in Edale, joining the route of the Pennine Way!

The start of the Pennine Way

I always thought the Nags head, a few yards further on, was the official start, but there you are, perhaps they’ve decided to change it.

I stopped for a brew and slice of cake at the campsite cafe

Just what I needed!

and after a rest had a quick look round the small settlement

and then walked down past the church, the railway station and the main car park and made my way to the path that would take me up over Hollins Cross and back towards Castleton.

I was starting to feel tired by now but this was a necssry obstacle to get back tot he hostel.

Looking up to Hollins Cross
Looking back to Kinder

Looking back down I could see the old Edale Mill. A water powered cotton mill established in 1795 and only closing around 1940, today its been converted into fancy, expensive, appartments. During its time as a working mill, many of the workers lived in or near Castleton on the other side of the pass and they had to make their way up and down over the ridge twice a day and, unlike me who was lucky in having a peasant sunny day, would have to do this in all sorts of conditions all through the year.

Eventually my tiring legs reached the top of the pass

The top of Hollins Cross
DSC09410
Looking back across edale to Kinder

and then I started my descent towards Castleton.

Heading down to Castleton
DSC09413
Mam Tor over to the right
DSC09416
Zooming in on Winnat’s Pass
DSC09417
Zooming over towards Peveril’s castle

Reaching the bottom of the pass I followed a quiet track and path through fields back towards Lose Hill Hall.

A welcome sight after a long walk!

My route

It had been a long day, but a good one. I’d had my first experience of the Kinder plateau, but there’s much more to explore on the western and northern sides, including the Trespass route (including Kinder Downfall and Kinder Low) , the northern edge and Fairbrok Naze. Since I got back I’ve been doing my research and further visits are on the cards.

Bamford Edge and Win Hill

Trying to make the most of a quieter period at work during the summer months, I took a chance and booked another short break in a Youth Hostel, this time in the Peak District. Although not so far from home, I’ve never enjoyed driving there. I need to get round Manchester on what is usually a busy Motorway (due to everyone commuting into the city) and then the drive down the A6 through a number of Stockport suburbs and former industrial villages on the edge of Derbyshire can be a pain. It always seems easier driving north up to the Lakes, the Howgills or the Westmoreland Dales and, to be honest, the landscape is more interesting and the walking is better. But the Peak District has it’s attractions and the Edale and Hope Valleys are accessible by train avoiding the drive and the need for finding a parking spot (although, that does require changing at Manchester Piccadilly) and I’d taken that option a few times over the years. So, having managed to book a room at the Lose Hill Hall hostel near Castleton, and as the family car wasn’t available, I packed up my larger rucksac, boarded the train from Wigan Wallgate and set off for a couple fo nights. I was lucky with the weather and manged to get in a couple of days good walking before the black clouds and heavy rain arrived on the Wednesday.

The area is on the boundary between the peaty moors and millstone grit edges of the Dark Peak and the limstone landscape of the White Peak so the hills and valleys are different in character to those up in Cumbria. There isn’t the equivalent of the “Wainwrights” – although the Great Ridge and parts of the Kinder plateau can rival the popular Lakeland fells for the number of walkers. As usual, I’d pored over the OS map and consulted a few guidebooks in advance of the trip and had plotted out a couple of routes with an option for a third day. I’d walked the Great Ridge from Lose Hill (close to Hope station) to Mam Tor a few times, so this time wanted to do something different. I’ve found the two little Vertebrate walking guides very useful along with another book, The South Yorkshire Moors by Christopher Goddard with it’s hand drawn maps and interesting snippets of information. Of course, the Peak District is mainly in Derbyshire as is the area covered by the book! Now isn’t that just typical of someone from Yorkshire. Not satisified with it being the largest county in England they have to cheekily purloin parts of other counties and claim them as their own. 🤣 (I’d also recommend his book on the West Yorkshire Moors – which, in that case, actually are in Yorkshire!) I don’t necessarily stick rigidly to the suggested routes, but use them to give me ideas and inspiration.

I booked a return ticket to Bamford. I’d be returning from Hope but it was cheaper than buying two singles. My plan was to walk up across Bamford Edge, then over Win Hill down to Hope and then on to the hostel at Castleton. (Route). Alighting at Bamford station it was actually almost a mile down the road from the village. So a walk up the tarmac was required having decided against extending the route to avoid it. At the village I turned down a road that would climb steeply up towards the Edge. I hadn’t gone too far up the road when I spotted a sign telling me that the road and path were closed. It was being resurfaced. The workmen were having their dinner in their cabin so I had a quick word and, fortunately they told me that they’d completed the work that morning and I could proceed without a diversion.

The road was very steep and I was carrying a larger than usual ruscksack as I had packed for a two night stay. But I managed to keep on going taking the occassional stop to take a look at anything that caught my eye – like this sculpture by the side of the road (any excuse for a blow!).

Looking up towards the Edge. Grey cloud was looming but the forecast was reasonable. It was warm, but not too warm, and the risk of rain was low despite the thick cloud cover.

Reaching the road that runs across the lower reaches of the hills I crossed over the stile aonto the moorland proper

and carried on climbing.

These grit stone edges though, are flat topped hills flanked by steep gritstone cliffs, so after a relatively short climb it was easier going.

It was quite busy with groups of families and friends, many of them who probably parked up on the road below the edge so hadn’t had to climb too far and were clustered at the two major cliffs at the top of the path..

Looking across the valley I could see Win Hill and over to mam Tor and the Great Ridge as well as the great bulk of Kinder.

Carrying on along the path I was soon away from the crowds, encountering only the occasional walker

Looking down I had a good view of Ladybower reservoir

and straight ahead I could see Derwent Edge.

But my route wouldn’t take me over there, I was looking for the path that did a bit of a dog leg and descended down to the end of the reservoir. There was a lot of bracken which made it difficult to actually find the path. Reaching a stream (they’re not “becks” down in Derbyshire) the map told me I’d gone too far. Retracing my steps I spotted a trace of a path through the bracken so took my chance – it was the right one.

I descended down thick bracken and then more pleasant woodland

until I reached the main road directly across from the Ladybower dam.

Looking back towards Bamford Edge

DSC09358

I crossed over the dam and there was another one of those carved stones.

I took a path through the woods. It was easy going at first but then a sharp right turn and I was climbing very steeply up the flanks of Win Hill.

It was tricky in places and I wouldn’t have been keen on coming down this way. I eventually emerged onto moor land with the summit of Win Hill in view. Black cloud was looming. Rain was defintitely coming my way.

I reached the summit

I’d been up here once before, climbing up from Hope station, back in January 2020, when the Covid was just something in China that we’d heard about in the news. Nothing to worry about (if only). Despite the grey skies and flat light that wasn’t so conducive to photography, the views were excellent in every direction.

(We’ll pretend the Hope cement works isn’t there!)

As I stopped to take in the views and have a bite to eat, the rain arrived. It wasn’t heavy but it was time to put on my waterproof coat and attach the rain cover to my rucksack.

After a while I started to make my way down the hill towards the village of Hope with views of the Great Ridge under dark cloud before me. It was a steep descent in places, hard work on the knees.

Reaching the village the rain had eased off and I stopped of at a cafe for a brew and a flapjack. Rested I set off towards Castleton, passing the old Pinfold before taking the path that follows the river in the direction of Castleton.

Pinfolds were used to hold sheep that had strayed from their owner’s land. A fine then had to be paid for their release. The one in Hope is in good condition and was in use as late as 1967.

The path travered pleasant fields with good views over to the hills. The last time I’d been down this path the fields were drenched and for most of the way the path was so muddy it felt like I was walking through the trenches on the Somme. But it was quite different this time

Reaching Casltleton, a short walk along the road and then a long driveway and I’d arrived at my digs for the next couple of nights

A walk from Winster

DSC09132

The final day of my short break in the Peak District I followed another route from the Vertebrate Day Walks in the Peak District guide. Setting out from the former lead mining village of Winster, taking in woodland, heath, an ancient stone circle, gritstone rock formations and Elton, another former mining village. For at least part of this walk I would have been walking in the footsteps of some of my ancestors – my family history research had revealed that a great x 7 and great x 6 grandfathers had been born in Elton and my great x7 grandmother had been born in Winster. It’s likely that this branch of my tree originated a little further north, near High Wheeldon where I’d climbed two days before.

The family were lead miners and at one time, this part of the world, on the boundary between millstone grit and limstone geology, was lead mining country. My research revealed that, like a number of Derbyshire miners, moved to work in North Wales, in their case at the Minera mine near Wrexham. The father of the family died relatively young by modern standards at about 50. The nature of the work meant that lead miners were exposed to toxic dusts and other dangers and this was typical life expectancy.

I parked up in the free car park on the outskirts of Winster near the local school and after booting up and after a short walk along the road I climbed over a stile and set off across the fields, the grass still wet after the downpours the day before. No rain was forecast and although the sky was grey it brightened up towards the end of my walk.

I passed through a gate and entered the broadleaf woodland

The trees were quite dense and I had to duck under their branches in places.

After climbing up along the path I reached a track and then the route doubled back taking a dog leg through along a path higher up in the woods.

I passed the remains of of water wheel which would probably have been used to drain a former lead mine

I carried on along the path which emerged from the woods meeting a track. After a mile I turned off through fields of cattle and then past a farm and camp site before reaching the edge of Stanton Moor.

Stanton Moor is owned by Stanton Estates and managed by English Nature . The area has been occupied since prehistoric times and there are a large number of ancient monuments scatttered across the landscape, most of them hidden in the heather and undergrowth.

I crossed the moor

passing a number of millstone grit outcrops

passing Victorian folly, built to commemmorate the Reform Bill in 1832.

I eventually reached the Nine Ladies stone circle, an ancient monument in the care of English Heritage.

The names of the monuments derive from their associations with folk traditions, in which it is said that nine women were dancing on the Sabbath to a fiddler – the King Stone – and were turned to stone.

English Heritage
DSC09117

Time to stop and take a rest and a bite to eat, perching on a gritstone outcrop, and then carried on across the moor passing an old disused quarry

until I reached the “Cork Stone”, on of a number of “megaliths” found on the moor, Supposedly associated with ancient rituals.

The Cork Stone is certainly associated with one more modern ritual – the footholds carved into the rock are evidence of the Victorian version of “bouldering“.

A right turn and a short walk along a path took me off the moor, joining a quiet road. After a relatively short walk on the tarmac , I turned off opposite a stone works, crossed a car park and took a path through the woods until I reached the small village of Birchover.

I took the track past the Druid Inn, which looked like a god place to stop – but I carried on.

The track took me through pleasant farmland

and finally a path through a field.

Crossing the road and then through a field I reached a track which was part of the Limestone Trail. Turning right I follwed this route heading through fields up towards Robin Hood’s Stride.

I took a slight diversion to visit the Hermit’s Cave at the bottom of the Cratcliffe Tor gritstone outcrop

DSC09121

To be honest, I found it rather underwhelming!

Leaving the cave it was only a short walk to Robin Hood’s Stride, a large gritstone Tor.

DSC09129
DSC09128

The legendary Robin Hood is supposed to have between the towers at either end of the tor. He must have had extremely long legs!

Time for another rest before carrying on across a field before meeting a minor road. I then had to tread the tarmac for about a mile before climbing over a stile and descending down and then up a path crossing fields of cattle heading towards my ancestral village of Elton.

DSC09131

On reaching the village, the sun was shining. Given the family connection I had to explore a little. I had a look in the church graveyard but I couldn’t see any gravestones for possible family members. Not so suprising really as they lived in the early 18th Century and being poor lead miners it’s unlikely any ancestors buried here could have afforded a headstone.

I had a wander round the village . There were plenty of old houses, some of which may have been miners’ dwellings, although today they’re desirable and expensive stone cottages.

DSC09134
DSC09135
DSC09137
DSC09141

The village isn’t very big so it didn’t take long to explore. I carried on along the road before rejoining the Limestone Trail heading towards Winster.

My route took me through the older part of the village, which used to be a market town and larger than Elton

I passed attractive stone cottages that were probably originally the home of the better off miners.

I had a wander down the main street

The village shop is owned by the local Community

The old Market House is in the care of the National Trust and was the first property they aquired in the Peak District back in 1906.

The NT website tells us

The House itself is two storeys high and rests upon a massive stone base. It follows the traditional pattern of such buildings, originally having the whole of the ground floor open with the upper storey supported by five arches. The date at which these arches were filled in is not known but it was probably during the decline of the market, between 1795 and 1855. The upper chamber is mainly of brick resulting in an attractive contrast with the stone arches and facings.

National Trust

and the building is listed by English Heritage.

I was starting to feel tierd by now so made my way back to my car. It had been a cracking walk with lots of interest and a good end to an enjoyable break. I headed home hoping to get back in time to watch the England v Germany match on TV. I hadn’t realised it was an early kick off but managed to get home in time to catch the end of the first half.

Down by the Dove

The second day of my little break in the White Peak I’d decided on another walk from one of the little Vertebrate Publishing guide books of walks in the Peak District that would take me along the banks of the Dove, as far as Milldale then back via Alstonefield before returning to Hartington on a higher stretch of the Dove. The weather forecast was a little iffy with rain promised for Hartington late afternoon

The sky was looking moody as I set off along a track directly opposite the hostel, then through a field,

across a narrow road and down another old track (what would have been called a “lonning” in Cumbria)

This is dairy country

then around some fields and down a path leading down hill to the river

and emerging at Wolfscote Dale, a very attractive deep sided valley in the care of the National Trust, runs northwest to southeast and is deep and steep-sided with a series of weirs along the crystal clear waters of the River Dove. A riverside path runs along the Derbyshire bank of the Dove.

The scenery, even on a dull day, was impressive, as I passed a succession of massive limestone outcrops,

and through pleasant meadows and woodland.

At the end of Wolfscote dale the river is diverted west by a limstone mass known as Shining Tor. Search for this on the net and you’ll find plenty of references to a more well known hill of the same name on the moors not far from the Cat and Fiddle on the pass between Macclesfield and Buxton. there was a road crossing a bridge over the river and then running parrallel to it forking with one branch going up hill to Alstonefield.

Although my next waypoint was the attractive riverside village of Milldale, and the easy option was to follow the road, I took the harder, but more attractive option. Turning left I took a path running parallel to the road wending my way in the opposite direction to the village. After a short while Iturned right to take the path up hill to the top of Shining Tor. It was at this point that the heavens opened.

The wet weather was coming up from the south and as that was the direction I’d been walking I’d hit it as it was making it’s way towards Hartington. I expected that I was probably going to get rained on for the rest of the walk.

I donned my cagoule (expecting rain I already had the rain cover over my rucksack) as the rain came down in cats and dogs.

DSC09114

Reaching the top the path turned west along the top of the ridge. Despite the rain, grey skies and cloud the views down the valley were still pretty good.

Approaching Milldale the path descended steeply. I needed to take care as the limestone rock underfoot can be treachourously slippy in the rain. Time to take my poles out to give me some stability.

A narrow bridge crossed the Dove and led into the small village. An old packhorse bridge known as the Viator’s Bridge, it’s apparently mentioned in The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Milldale is the start of Dovedale, allegedly the most attractive stretch of the river which attracts a million visitors every year and there were quite a few people milling around. I was getting very wet at this point and needed to consult my guidebook. There was a stone shelter but it was already occupied by a few people, a couple of whom looked rather like motor tourists. Being careful of social distancing I tried not to get close and ended up trying to keep my guidebook dry as I consulted it standing half in and half out of the shelter. None of the occupants made any effort to make a little room for me. Rather selfish I thought.

As you’d expect from the name, there used to be a mill here. It wasn’t used to grind corn, though, but minerals mined in the area. Looking at the quaint scenery these days it’s difficult to imaging that this was once an industrial area, as indeed was the case throughout the Peak District. Indeed, even today industry isn’t far away, with a number of large, modern limestone and millstone grit quaries that scar the lanscape in some other parts of the Peak District

Carrying on I passed the attractive stone houses

I knew I had a stretch of road to walk along. It was very quiet, though and passed through a very attractive valley

I’d walked over a mile before I realised I’d gone wrong. There were two roads out of Milldale and as I hadn’t consulted my guidebook properly as I’d tried to keep it dry down in Milldale, I’d taken the wrong one. Consulting the OS map app on my phone (my paper map would have got soaked) I could see the road I’d taken would involve an extra mile than the “proper” route but it seemed that the best option was to carry on as returning to the village to take the other road would have involved a longer distance overall. So I had and extra mile to wlak on tarmac in the rain all uphill -yuk.

Reaching Alstonefield, wet and hungry I was feeling a little demoralised as I still had about 5 miles before I’d be back in Hartington and a dry room in the hostel. I lost the will to take photos and, in any case, the small town wasn’t so photogenic. I stopped and huddled behind a wall to grab a bite to eat and then set back off down the road. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the tarmac before I reached a stile and the path over the fields.

It might have been wet but the scenery lifted the heart and the rain started to ease off.

I descended down Narrowdale, by-passing narrowdale Hill. On a nicer, drier day, I’d probably have climbed up to the summit, but today I carried on descending down the dale.

After a while I joined another “lonning”

I reached the footbridge over the Dove at the point where I entered Wolfscote Dale in the morning.

I crossed over and followed the path heading upstream along Beresford Dale towards Hartington.

It hadn’t been raining for a little while but the wet long grass brushing against my trousers ensured they didn’t dry out as I walked.

The path cut across the fields away from the river, reaching Hartington near the car park I’d parked on the day before. And then the heavens opened again.

I called in the cheese shop to purchase some Stilton to take home, queing outside in the rain while I waited my turn – it’s a small shop and only 2 people allowed inside at any one time. Then I had a walk up the hill to the hostel as the sheets of rain descended. I was glad to get back into my room where I could discard my wet clothing and dry off.

I was glad to get back but despite the soaking, which wasn’t completely unexpected, I’d enjoyed the walk (well, most of it!). And tomorrow the forecast was more promising!

Hartington to Longnor and back – via High Wheeldon

It was the start of Wimbledon fortnight – time to escape the constant tennis on the telly!

I had a couple of free days at the beginning of last week and a search of the YHA website found me a couple of nights cheap accomodation in the grand setting of Hartington Hall in the Peak District so last Sunday I was up early and driving to the southern part of the Peak to set out on a walk.

The Peak District isn’t so far from here, but getting there is a bit of a pain. I can catch the train to the north eastern part of the National Park but for other areasmeans a stop starty drive along the A6 (made a little easier by the link road from the airport that cuts out the need to drive through Stockport) or via Knutsford and Macclesfield. It’s so much easier to get up to the Lakes. But I fancied a change and the more gentle landscape of the White Peak compared to the rugged fells would certainly provide that. The area I was visiting was not so familiar to me but I’d discovered something that meant it had a personal significance – my family history research had revealed a connection with a main branch of my family tree.

The long range weather forecast had initially promised sunny skies during my short break, but it changed the nearer I got to Sunday, and now I was expecting grey skies and rain. But hey, ho, what’s the bother with a little water falling from the sky!

Hartington is an attractive old village and, consequently something of a “honeypot” for both walkers and motor tourists – but it still maintains an element of authenticity – much more so than bakewell where I stopped briefly on my way home at the end of my break. It’s one of the places where it’s permitted to produce Stilton , although it’s some distance from the village in Leicestershire that the cheese is named after, and there’s a popular Cheese Shop in the centre of the village opposite the pond and green.

Although I arrived reasonably early in the morning, the “free” parking spaces were already taken, but there’s a large car park on the edge of the village so I parked up, coughed up, booted up and set off. I was basing my walk on a route in the second volume of the Verterbrate Publishing Day Walks in the Peak District. I was doing it in the reverse direction, went higer on access land for part of the walk and added a diversion up a steep hill which probably has a family connection from a long time ago.

Hartington Village green

A short walk on tarmac out of the village passing the old church

and after climbing over a stile I was out on open country climbing the hillside on the east side of the Upper Dove valley

The skies were grey and gloomy, but it was good to be out on the remote hillside

This was limestone country (hence the “White Peak”) with rounded hills cut through by deep dales with outcrops of rock and dry stone walls.

Keeping to the higher ground, which was open access land, I diverted from the route a little, by-passing the small hamlets of Pilsbury (and the remains of its Motte and Bailey castle) and Crowdicote – although I have in mind another route where I’d take them in if I return to the area, which I’m certainly tempted to do.

In the distance I could make out the limestone reefs of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (hard to see on the photo given the poor visibility) and also High Wheeldon

Looking back across the Dove Valley

and looking across the vally in the other direction

Keeping to the high ground above Crowdicote the summit of High Wheeldon was dead ahead

And now there were better views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill to the north.

These distinctive “dragon’s backs” are the remnants of coral reefs formed when the land that became England was submerged beneath a shallow tropical sea around 340 million years ago.

After a short, steep climb, I reached the summit of High Wheeldon

The land was donated to the National Trust in 1946 and ther’s a war memorial attached to the trig column

I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and, despite the gloom, enjoyed taking in the views

Looking north towards the village of High Sterndale

I decided to take the path down the north side of the hill. It was a very steep descent and I was glad I had my walking poles with me to keep me steady. But it didn’t take too long to reach the foot of the hill, facing a dramatic limestone cliff

I carried on and now rejoined the guidebook route, taking a path across the fields towards Longnor.

Looking back across the fields to High Wheeldon
Chrome hill and Parkhouse Hills to the north

Reaching Longnor I’d left Derbyshire and was now in Staffordshire

Longnor church

Longnor is another old village of old stone buildings with alleyways and passages leading to the old market square

The car park in the village centre was full

and although there were not too many people around the little cafe on the square was busy and there was no room for a lone walker.

After a short rest on a bench on the square I carried on, passing through the village

and then taking a path past a farm and through the fields to join the Manifold Way

I was now following the course of the River Manifold in a valley separated from the Upper Dove Valley by a ridge of hills. The countryside was “pastoral” and the route passed through flat fields, running parrallel to the river, which made for easy walking.

The landscape becam more rugged to the south

By the small settlement of Brund the route left the Manifold way, following paths through fields back to Hartington via the hamlet of Sheen.

Brund
Back in Hartington
Old farm buildings in Hartington

For a short while the cloud cleared above the village and I topped for a brew, sitting outside the village Post office which had a shop and cafe

Then it was time to return to the car, change out of my boots and drive up to the hostel to book in

A rather grand Youth Hostel

The hostel was in Hartington Hall, which dates back to the 17th Century and is a Grade II listed building. It’s been owned by the YHA since1948.

Win, Lose and the Mother Hill

DSC07872

Last Saturday I managed to get out for a walk, this time in the Peak District. I took the train into Manchester, changing to catch the train to Hope at Piccadilly. The journey time was an hour and a half, comparable to the time it would have taken to drive there and without the bother of having to find a parking space. I was risking the unreliability of Northern Rail, but all worked out on the day.

The Peak District hills are more modest than those in the Lake District, and the landscape isn’t as dramatic, but has its own beauty and attractions. The area is part of the Dark Peak where Millstone Grit covers the underlying limestone. North of Edale lie bleak, largely deserted, moorland covered with peat bogs. But to the south of the Vale of Edale, the landscape is a little more forgiving and is dominated by the “Great Ridge” running from Mam Tor to Lose Hill. For this walk I’d decided to climb up Win Hill, just to the east of Hope. I’d never been up there before, although I’d walked the “Great Ridge” to the west of the village a few times, most recently back in September, with my friend Pam, from Tasmania. I reckoned it would take me about an hour to reach the summit and then I had a couple of options in mind for the rest of the day, making a decision based on the conditions I’d encounter.

Disembarking from the train, there’s a path through the fields directly from the end of the station platform towards the small hamlet of Aston

DSC07843

From Aston I took the lane up towards the hill

DSC07846
DSC07847

and then up the path over the open moor

DSC07852

There’s the summit – Win Hill Pike – up ahead.

DSC07854

It was windy up on the summit, but there were good views all around

DSC07860
DSC07867

Looking down to Ladybower reservoir

DSC07862
DSC07863
DSC07856

Lose Hill and the bulk of Kinder Scout over the Vale of Edale

DSC07866

I found a sheltered spot out of the wind where I had a bite to eat and some hot coffee from my flask. Then I had a decision to make. I would have liked to carry on along the ridge and then walk over Kinder and descend to Edale. But given the conditions – a strong wind and muddy underfoot (and I reckoned it would be even worse on the higher hill, well known for its peat bogs) I decided to make my way down to Hope and then climb up Lose Hill and then walk along the “Great Ridge”. So I took the muddy path north along the ridge, heading towards Hope Cross

DSC07871
DSC07873
DSC07874
DSC07875

before descending down to Fulwood Stile Farm and Townhead Bridge. From there I took the path up towards Lose Hill.

DSC07876

I reached the summit of Lose Hill, which was busy with other walkers, many having made their way along the ridge from Mam Tor. I stopped to take in the view but there was a strong, cold wind blowing across from the north, so not a good spot to rest and grab a bite to eat.

I snapped a panorama across to the great mass of Kinder Scout.

and then took the path along the ridge towards Mam Tor.

Looking back over the valley to Win Hill

DSC07882

Looking towards Black Tor and Mam Tor

DSC07887

The view back towards Lose Hill

DSC07883

Looking back as I descended the steep path down Black Tor

DSC07889

I reached the “cross roads” at Hollins Cross. There’s MamTor ahead, silhouetted by the low sun

The wind seemed to get stronger as I climbed up to the top of Mam Tor, but it didn’t take too long to reach the summit. It was busy up there, but I managed to snap a photo which makes it look like I was up there on my own. I wasn’t though!

I decided I’d retraced my steps down to Hollins Cross and then descend from there into Castleton. There were plenty of walkers making their way up and down the path

From Hollins Cross, I set off down the hill towards Castleton

Reaching the valley floor, I looked back towards Mam Tor

DSC07898

and across to Lose Hill

DSC07900

I soon reached Castleton.

It’s something of a “honeypot” so was busy with walkers and day trippers. I stopped for a short while to browse in some of the shops purveying “Blue John” jewellery and to buy a bottle of Coke to slake my thirst. Then I set out to take the path back to Hope to catch the train back to Manchester. I could have walked along the road, but there’s a much pleasanter route through the fields. That seemed like the preferable option.

It’s a low lying path, running parallel to the river. But after all the rain we’d been having the fields were drenched and for most of the way the path was so muddy it felt like I was walking through the trenches on the Somme (I’d been to see the film 1917 a few days before and the conditions brought that to mind!)

I was glad I was wearing my gaiters. They kept the bottom of my trousers clean but my boots needed a deep clean the next day!

The muddy conditions meant that it took longer to get across to Hope than I’d expected and the train station is a good kilometre out of the village. It looked like I’d miss my train and have to wait an hour for the next one. But checking the National Rail app on my phone I could see that the train was running 10 minutes late, so I had enough time to get to the station with a couple of minutes to spare! For once I was grateful for Northern Rail’s poor punctuality. The train was busy but I got a seat. It filled up at Edale, the next stop, and it was standing room only until Manchester.

I had a tight connection at Piccadily and thought I’d miss it and have to wait another half hour for the next train. Arriving at the station I legged it across to Platform 12 to find the express to Windermere via Wigan was standing at the platform so I jumped on. 50 minutes later I was back home.

I’d trudged through mud and had been battered by the wind, but I’d enjoyed the walk. I’ve a few more routes in mind around there so hopefully I’ll get back across to the Dark Peak before too long.

A walk along the ridge

Untitled

Last Sunday I’d arranged to go out for a walk with my friend Pam from Tasmania, who was over on one of her regular trips exploring Europe. A typical Aussie she loves to travel and comes over every couple of years. This time she’d been to Helsinki and after a stop over in England to visit some friends she was off to Iceland and then to Poland. Jealous? What do you think!

When she’s over we try to meet up to get out for a walk. This year we’d planned to go up to the Dales, but after a cracking few days of good weather a front of heavy rain was forecast to gradually descend from Scotland. Checking the Met Office weather app, I reckoned the Peak District was likely to be our best bet to avoid the worst of the weather so that’s where we went. The new bypass from the airport to the A6 meant we were able to avoid driving through Stockport and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get over to Castleton, traffic being light on a Sunday morning.

Despite the grey weather with mist over the hills when we arrived, the small honeypot town was busy, but we managed to find a parking space. We decided on a brew before setting out.

Untitled

Castleton is a very pleasant village of stone cottages, overlooked by the remains of a Norman castle, the main purpose of which would have been to dominate and intimidate the local population and to act as an administrative centre, controlling revenues from mining and hunting rights in the Peak Forest.

The plan was to walk the ridge that stands between and overlooks the Hope and Edale valleys, starting at Lose Hill and making our way south west over Back Tor and Hollins Cross on to Mam Tor. The mist had lifted when we set out and their was a clear view of Lose Hill as we made our way along the path out of the village.

Untitled

As the ridge is easily accessible from Manchester and Sheffield, it’s always busy with walkers and, despite the grey skies, today was no different. We met quite a few walkers including a group of teenagers loaded down with heavy packs, on their Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.

Here’s Pam on her way up Lose Hill.

DSC07338

To the east of Lose Hill stands Win Hill. So what’s the reason for their names? Turning to the font of all knowledge (i.e. Wikipedia!)

In relatively recent times, the two hills’ names have prompted a fanciful tale concerning the outcome of an imagined 7th-century battle between the forces of Edwin of Northumbria and Cynegils of Wessex.[3] Edwin’s forces occupied Win Hill, while Cynegils’ men camped on Lose Hill. As the battle progressed, Cynegils’ forces advanced up Win Hill, and Edwin’s retreated behind a temporary wall they had built near the summit. They pushed the boulders of the wall downhill, crushing the Wessex soldiers and gaining victory in the battle. However, there is no historical basis for the tale, and no evidence of any battle ever being fought here.

Wkipedia

Well, it’s a good story anyway.

I’d done this walk twice, the last time way back in 2011 so another visit was long overdue. I seem to remember huffing an puffing a bit as I made my way up the slope but this time I seemed to stride up without any problem. I guess that after all the walking I’ve been doing lately I’m a lot fitter, and Lose hill is a more modest climb than some of the hills I’ve been up in the past few months.

Looking back across the Hope valley as we climbed.

Untitled

We soon reached the summit and stopped for the obligatory snaps. We could see cloud and rain coming in from the north over Kinder Scout, but the views weren’t too bad.

Untitled

It was relatively easy going from now on along the ridge. There was a short steep descent from Back Tor and then a gradual climb up to the summit of Mam Tor, but nothing too taxing.

This is the view down to Edale from Back Tor. Kinder Scout was hidden by the rain coming in from the north.

DSC07340

It caught us shortly afterwards, but it was light drizzle and didn’t last very long, so no problems.

This is the view looking back to Lose Hill with Win Hill just about visible through the murk in the distance, over to the right

DSC07344

and looking further along the ridge towards Mam Tor.

DSC07342

We descended down the path. This is the view looking back towards Back Tor

DSC07345

Mam Tor ahead.

DSC07346

Mam Tor means “mother mountain” and humans have lived around here for thousands of years. It’s the site of a prehistoric hill fort, and remnants of the fortifications – ditches and ramparts – are clearly visible running around the summit. 

Despite the weather the summit was busy. It’s a relatively short climb up from Castleton – even shorter for those parking up on the road above Winnats pass or the National Trust car park.

Untitled
70918594_1290599811110887_495398428616949760_n

We descended down to the road and then started to make our way back to Catleton via the old ruined road. Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain due to it’s unstable nature which has resulted in a number of slow moving landslips caused by its geology – unstable lower layers of shale overlain by sandstone.

Reaching the bottom of the hill we could see the large 4,000 year old slow moving landslip on it’s south eastern side.

DSC07347

The A625 Manchester to Sheffield road in 1819 lies in the landslip zone and had to be continually repaired until it was permanently closed to traffic in 1979 and the A625 diverted down Winnats Pass.

We followed the course of the old road and could clearly see the damage that’s been caused.

DSC07348
DSC07350

We left the old road and cut across the fields towards Castleton. The final field we had to cross was populated by a sizeable herd of cows with their calves, the majority of the latter congregating right on the path. We were a little wary as cows are very protective of their calves and far from being harmless, there’s been a number of people killed by them in recent years. The HSE advise farmers not to keep cows with their calves in fields crossed by public footpaths. Well, our Derbyshire farmer clearly was ignoring this advice.

DSC07353

We crossed the field very cautiously and kept away from the calves as much as possible and made it through without harm.

After a good walk it was time to grab a bite to eat so we made our way to one of the pubs in the village – there’s several .

DSC07356

After a hearty meal it was time to head back to the car and set back home. We’d had a good walk and by careful planning had largely managed to avoid the rain. Pam dropped me back home and after calling in for a brew set off back to Maghull near Liverpool where she was staying with another friend. A few days later she was flying over to Iceland and I was back in work 😦

Monsal Dale

IMG_2871-PANO

The last day of our short break in the Peak District, we’d planned to go out for a walk. I had a few routes in mind but decided to “suck it and see” depending on the conditions. When we woke up it was raining, but the forecast was that it would clear before the afternoon so we would need to restrict ourselves to a shorter walk as I was working the next day and didn’t want to leave it too long before we set off for home. So after picking up some bacon and a few other items at the Chatsworth shop, we drove over to Monsal Head, a famous Peak District beauty spot.

We parked up by the Monsal Head Hotel – the large car park soon fills up at the weekend but there was plenty of room on a Monday morning. It’s in an elevated position looking over the Wye Valley at a spot where the Wye, flowing eastwards, encounters a band of harder rock and is forced to make a sharp turn southwards, carving its way through a of limestone ridge.  Until the 1960’s a railway line from Derby to Manchester ran westwards along the valley over the Headstone viaduct and through a series of tunnels. Today the railway route has been turned into a walking and cycling trail – the Monsal Trail. From the viewpoint we looked down over the viaduct and the valley.

IMG_2874

Despite being a somewhat grey day, overcast with middling visibility, it was still a stunning view.

We walked along the trail some 26 years ago carrying my daughter, who was then a baby less than a year old, in a baby carrier strapped to my back. I remember her hitting me on the head to try to make move quicker! Since then the trail has been improved and the tunnels opened up so that you can walk or ride through them during the daylight hours.

Without a definite plan in mind, we decided to follow the trail westwards for a few miles and see where we ended up, so we took the path down from the viewpoint by the hotel down to the viaduct. This was the view looking north west along Monsal Dale

IMG_2877

and south west, downstream.

IMG_2876

We followed the former railway track, taking care to avoid being run over by bikes! It was reasonably busy despite being a Monday morning in early Autumn.

Views down into the valley itself were rather intermittent as the track was lined by trees that blocked the view for much of its length. Eventually the rather attractive Georgian buildings of Cressbrook Mill came into view.

IMG_2880

Despite being a peaceful valley today, at one time, during and after the Industrial Revolution, Monsal Dale was a hive of activity with the river powering cotton mills at Upperdale, Cressbrook and Litton and with lime kilns further west in Chee Dale.

The first mill at Cressbrook was built for Sir Richard Arkwright in 1779 but this burnt down in 1785 and was rebuilt by his son in 1787. The large Georgian building visible from the trail is an extension built in 1814.

IMG_2881Just after the viewpoint we entered our first tunnel.

IMG_2883IMG_2926 Emerging at the other side there was a view down to very pretty part of the valley known as Water-cum-Jolly

IMG_2889

Soon we were back inside another tunnel, emerging and looking down over Litton Mill. We climbed up the path to the top of the tunnel to get a better view

IMG_2893

Built in 1782 Litton Mill became notorious for the poor treatment of the workers and apprentices – and that’s during a period when workers didn’t have an easy life, to say the least!

At that point we decided to retrace our steps, walking back through the tunnels before descending down into the valley at the deserted train station at Upperdale.

We crossed the river over to the small settlement. The distinctive blue/green paint telling us that the former famm and mill worker houses were now owned by the Chatsworth Estate. The larger house was a Band B while the other buildings had been converted to rental properties. Very attractive they looked too.

IMG_2898IMG_2899IMG_2900

We followed the road for a short distance and then took a path that took us back over the river

IMG_2903IMG_2905IMG_2907

and then under the viaduct and along the river south west from Monsal Head

IMG_2910

Looking back towards the viaduct

IMG_2911

We carried on walking down the valley beside the river

IMG_2921

We didn’t follow the river all the way to the A6 but a short distance after the weir crossed over a bridge to the other side of the river and then followed the path that rose steeply up through  he wooded flank of the valley,

IMG_2918IMG_2920

eventually emerging back at Monsal Head

IMG_2921

We stopped a short while to admire the view and then it was time for a brew in the courtyard outside the pub next to the Hotel.

A walk along the Edges

DSC00974

The last day of our short break in the Peak District we decided to go for a walk along the gritstone edges to the east of Baslow. We drove a few miles up to Curbar gap and parked up on the National Trust car park. It isn’t very large, so we were fortunate to find a space.

The plan was to walk along White Edge and then return along Froggat Edge and Curbar Edge. We ended up extending the walk by a few miles through the Longshaw Estate.

IMG_0295

Leaving the car park we took the path up to White Edge.

DSC00917

After a short climb we were on top of the ridge where views opened up over desolate moorland – a lonely rugged landscape even though it’s only a few miles to Sheffield.

DSC00920

The path was a bit boggy in places.

DSC00925

Out on the wild and windy moor!

DSC00928

Looking north over Froggat Edge we could see the Hope Valley ridge and Kinder Scout in the distance

DSC00932

DSC00927

White Edge is an undulating ridge with a few gentle ups and downs, but relatively easy walking. On one of the “summits” we spotted this stone. Looking closely we could see that there were words carved into it. Being weathered, it was a little difficult to read at first but we soon worked out that it was a poem.

DSC00931

There was a web address carved on the stone too and as the reception on my phone was quite good I had a quick look to find out more. It transpired that this is one of a series of “companion stones”

“Companion stones are a set of twelve matching stones. Designed by local poets and artists and created by sculptors and masons of the Peak, are a similar stature, volume and material as their compeers. Like the guide stoops, each bears an inscription pointing, not to market towns, but towards the future. In doing so, they draw attention to the moors, an indicator of the trick environmental terrain we have yet to navigate” http://www.companionstones.org.uk/

The project was inspired by the Guide Stoops which were erected in the early 18th century to help travellers across treacherous moors, each stoop providing directions to the nearest market town.  This stone had a poem by Mark Goodwin and was designed by Jo Dacombe

image

(Poem by Mark Goodwin)

We carried on along the ridge, deciding to carry on towards Longshaw rather than cutting down to the Grouse Inn. We crossed the main road and set out along the path towards Longshaw Lodge

DSC00937

The Longshaw Estate was once the Duke of Rutland’s shooting estate but was bought by the people of Sheffield in 1928, being passed on to the National Trust in1931. Today it’s a pleasant Country Park which seems to be well used by people from Sheffield and the vicinity as well as visitors like ourselves.

DSC00938

We passed below a gritstone outcrop but couldn’t resist climbing up for the view. A rainbow could be seen to the north east.

DSC00941

After a while the path went through some woodland

DSC00943

before we arrived at Longshaw Lodge where there was a busy little café, so we stopped for a brew.

DSC00946

The lodge was built about 1827 to provide a retreat for the Duke of Rutland’s shooting parties. I believe that it has now been converted into flats.

It was a clear day and there were good views towards  Higger Tor

DSC00944

and Stannage Edge, the other side of Hathersage.

DSC00945

Setting out again we walked through woodland and moorland back towards Froggat Edge. We spotted another Companion Stone, this one designed by Kate Genever

DSC00950

with a poem by Ann Atkinson.

image

Looking back

DSC00952

we left the Estate and then walked a short distance along the road to the Grouse Inn. It looked quite busy and we didn’t need any refreshments so carried on cutting across the fields and through the NT carpark

DSC00954

crossing the road and joining the path that climbed up to Froggat Edge, initially passing through pleasant woodland

DSC00957

Looking back

DSC00959

There’s a small ancient stone circle just off the footpath. It’s not exactly Stonehenge, but interesting none the less.

 

DSC00961

Reaching the top of the ridge there were good views over the steep gritstone cliffs on the north side of the Edge

DSC00965

Along with Curbar Edge tot he south, it’s a favourite spot for climbers.

DSC00966

DSC00970

We carried along the ridge heading towards Curbar Edge

DSC00978

DSC00981

Looking east we had a good view of White Edge that we’d walked along a few hours earlier

DSC00983

We carried on along the ridge

DSC00985

and descended down back to the car park. There was a rather upmarket mobile snack bar which was tempting,

DSC00987

but we had decided to call in at the Chatsworth Farm Shop before heading home and it was getting close to closing time, so changed out of our boots and set off.

It had been a good walk. A lot easier than some we have done lately, but interesting nevertheless, with great views and a little culture too!