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
From Aston I took the lane up towards the hill
and then up the path over the open moor
There’s the summit – Win Hill Pike – up ahead.
It was windy up on the summit, but there were good views all around
Looking down to Ladybower reservoir
Lose Hill and the bulk of Kinder Scout over the Vale of Edale
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
before descending down to Fulwood Stile Farm and Townhead Bridge. From there I took the path up towards Lose Hill.
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
Looking towards Black Tor and Mam Tor
The view back towards Lose Hill
Looking back as I descended the steep path down Black Tor
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
and across to Lose Hill
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.