Posts Tagged ‘Peak District’


The view from Monsal Head (taken on a different occasion)

Since I retired I’ve been able to get back to doing some walking in the Peak

District. I’ve been pleased to find that I can still do 10 to 12 miles over the hills, although the longer distance does now leave me tired. This year I’ve been out a handful of times. A couple of these were quite hard – I remember one in the upper Derwent Valley when I went badly off the path and spent a very tiring half hour floundering through waist-high bracken and heather which was very successfully concealing uneven ground below; the result was several stumbles and much hard work. I was glad to finish that one. But in mid September the weather cleared up after several days of rain and I went out again, to an area that I’ve never really walked – just to the north of Monsal Head.

The walk was about 10 miles round altogether, and was quite easy underfoot. It divided nicely into two – out and back. The outbound half took me to Foolow Village. After a couple of miles climbing up not-too-steep slopes the route levelled off and I had another couple of miles walking across the limestone – pretty level, and good underfoot. This was a really good section. A final stretch along a lane took me into Foolow village where I ate my lunch – alongside the pond, no less.

After more walking across the fields to Wardlow Mires the return section begin in earnest at the entrance to Cressbrookdale. This continued easily for a mile or more, and indeed I could have stayed on the path in the bottom of the dale all the way to Ravensdale Cottages, about three miles or so. But I was tempted by a suggested diversion on a side path, steeply up the side of the dale to the rim for the sake of the views, and I did this. Readers, the views were great but it was hard work! Then down an equivalent path back to the dale bottom. Beyond Ravensdale Cottages there was some road walking untilI I reached Cressbrook and the river Wye, where the path took me up to the Monsal Trail. It was about a mile along that to the viaduct over Monsal Dale, followed by the sting in the tail – the climb from the viaduct up the Monsal Head hotel, back to where I’d left my car.

As ever I had my camera and took a number of pictures. Looking at them on the computer I decided that they felt very ‘monochrome’ so that’s how I’ve processed a number of them.

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Not far from where we live is a National Trust property, the Longshaw Estate. It was originally (19th century) a shooting lodge for the Dukes of Rutland and was part of a very large estate on the SW side of Sheffield. During WWI Longshaw Lodge became a military convalescent hospital, and after that war it returned to the owners for a short while. In 1927 the Duke sold the estate and the Lodge to Sheffield, who used this part of the estate as a water collection area. Then concern was expressed about possible housing development plans on the area, and various charitable groups raised the money to buy the estate from Sheffield. This happened in 1931, and it was then handed to the National Trust. It’s only a few miles from us but for some reason we’d never visited it until the Trust upgraded the carpark in the first half of last year. Since then we’ve started visiting.

The estate is basically an expanse of Peak District moorland, with way-marked paths of various lengths. One part of it runs down to a stream – a classic babbling brook – which descends quickly over stones and rocks. In summer the banks of this are a very popular weekend family picnic spot. Then the stream descends more steeply into Padley Gorge, which ends at Grindleford station on the Hope Valley line. From there a walk takes you steeply back up onto the moors and eventually back to Longshaw Lodge, the tea room, and the car park.

We’ve now visited it a number of times – there’s one particular hour-long walk that’s just right for a cold, crisp winter morning. So here are some photos from this area, some from the higher, moorland area and some from Padley Gorge.

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surpriseview_dec2016_4254This morning dawned cold and grey, with fog blanketing my area. By about 8:30 the sun started to break through and I immediately thought of going to the Hope Valley in Derbyshire – it’s a location famous for holding on to mists and fog after it’s cleared in the surrounding areas. But the best thing about the Hope Valley is that it’s surrounded on all sides by steeply-sloped hills, along which run roads, footpaths, etc, all of which make it easy to get views down into the valley, hopefully still fog-filled, while you’re up in the sun. So off I went to a well-known viewpoint, Surprise View, and found that I was right – the valley was indeed still filled with fog

It wasn’t quite perfect as there was still enough mist and high cloud to mute the sun somewhat – I’ve seen some images (not taken by me, alas) where the hillsides are in very bright sun while the valley is filled with what looks like a sea of cotton-wool. But it wasn’t bad, albeit in pastel shades.

At the end i took a few images of the area surrounding where I was stood, and I think I got the feel of how cold it was – it was still below freezing when I was taking the pictures.

(Why is it called ‘Surprise View’? When you’re driving from Sheffield to Hathersage along the A6187, you drive for a couple of miles across a featureless, almost level moorland. You approach a sharp right-hand bend, with a large rock outcrop on the left-hand side which extends partway round the bend in front of you, and this obscures the view ahead. When you get past that the view up the Hope Valley suddenly opens up, and you have an amazing viewpoint several hundred feet above the valley floor. It’s a definite “Wow” moment – I can still remember the moment I first saw it over thirty years ago. So – “Surprise View”.)

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I went out to Froggett Edge yesterday (Black Friday) and took these pictures.



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One of the joys of last year, my first year of retirement, was rediscovering my love of walking. When we first moved to Sheffield over thirty years ago, I used to go walking quite often at weekends. But some years ago I suffered a slight but niggling injury to my knee – I took up cycling for exercise, and one day stained something in my knee when pushing too hard up one of Sheffield’s many hills. It took a long time to clear up, and was always liable to reappear if I pushed things too hard, so out went not only the cycling but also the walking. Then after leaving the Civil Service I got jobs that were either a long way from Sheffield and entailed living away, or involved very long hours, or both, and I lost the appetite for spending more of my precious free time walking.

Last year was different, of course. I went back to the walks quite carefully – I was worried about overestimating my capabilities and getting myself into a situation where I would need assistance. However, I found that I was still able to do 10 to 12 miles, i.e. four or five hours on my feet, and I had some wonderful times. I tended to stay on the eastern side of the Peak District – i.e. fairly near to home – but there’s a range of walks available in that area, either in the north on the millstone grit, further south on the limestone, or in the middle, along the Mam Tor ridge.

Everything stopped for the winter, however, despite my thoughts at one time that I would try to keep it up. The very wet weather early in the winter didn’t help. But yesterday (13th of April) was wonderful – a classic spring day, warm enough, blue sky, dry and not too windy, so I was off out. As a starter I just did four or five miles. Starting from Abney village I walked up the narrow lane near Fold Farm, and where it ends (GR SK189802) I turned right onto a path. At the end of that I turned left onto Shatton Lane, an old upland track, and followed that down to the point where it turns sharp left where I left it and followed a footpath across open fields down to Offerton Hall. From there a sharp right turn and a stiff climb took me up onto Offerton Edge, with the path continuing across the open moorland and crossing Siney Sitch. A (more or less) straight line across the moorland led me to the slope down into the other end of Abney village.

All in all, about 90 minutes or so walking on a wonderful spring afternoon.

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