Martin’s Peak District Trip

Martins Peak District Trip, November 2007

Grand Adventures!

Martin Stevens – December 2007

I decided on a whim, and at quite short notice that I fancied a few days away. Having bought a smaller, lighter and less-bulky-when-packed tent just for motorbike touring and having just picked up some bike-touring luggage what could be better than just giving it a go? The weather forecast was good enough so I decided to go.

So I did. I prepped and packed and on Tuesday 13th November I loaded the boxes, clicked them into place, strapped on a drybag with the tent and my enormous full-on sleeping bag in it and headed for the Peak. Within 15 minutes I was back home and picking up my fleece jacket before heading off again.

I paused and fuelled right up just before leaving Ipswich and headed west before turning north up the M1. Next stop, fuel in Chesterfield. Onwards into the Hope Valley.

I arrived at Hardhurst Farm, checked in at the farmhouse and parked the bike. I put the tent up – easy but why do they never provide enough pegs? Still, it was Hardhurst Farm and I’ve never not been able to find tent pegs just for looking.

Here’s the Beast with the tent pitched behind it, and in the far background the pimple is Win Hill.

The beast by the tent
The beast by the tent (click on any image to view in Flickr)

Off to Hope (the village, not a state of living) for supplies in what remained of the daylight. The walk back was in the dark, by which time it was suppertime. That being done, I retired, a little fatigued, for a little lie down, a glass of wine and a good book.

Wednesday 14th November

A nice day, as forecast. Breakfast out of the way, flask made and lunch packed and it was off to Bamford Edge, rock shoes and helmet also packed. Bamford is a favourite crag of mine. I chose to walk. After all, the crag can easily be seen from the campsite so how far can it be?

It took me the best part of a couple of hours to actually arrive at the crag, but that does involve pausing to take some pictures with the crappy-cam, pausing to find out that my SLR has film but the battery has gone flat so nothing works, navigating my way and pausing merely to wonder why I didn’t just ride the bike to the parking place.

Loose Hill
Here’s Loose Hill looking good in the morning sunshine

Having crossed Yorkshire Bridge it was a haul up the ‘New Road’ beneath Bamford Edge to the approach path.
Although Bamford Edge is on Access Land there’s no easy approach except at the approach paths, the surrounding fences are barbed wire in good order and it would be a hack through long bracken up a reasonably steep hillside.

Toward Bamford Edge
Toward Bamford Edge

It’s not called the Crappy-Cam for nothing!

Having arrived I paused awhile to take in the view before dropping down to the foot of the crag for some easy soloing.

Looking West
Looking West

Looking South
Looking South

No pictures of me soloing as the crag was deserted and I’d have struggled to climb and operate the camera.
However, I did manage to take a picture of a squeeze chimney that I struggled through…

I fitted through this . . .
I fitted through this . . .

It was a tight squeeze, and I found that whilst Paramo fabric is tough stuff, sometimes it’s not tough enough!

. . . but not without some holes
. . . but not without some holes

I had a grand time on the crag, climbing whatever I fancied and feeling no external pressure. I did on several occasions look at lines and twitch, and then make myself walk away rather than trying and finding out the hard way that I wasn’t up to the challenge. I did manage the Severe 4c start to Gangway after offering up and backing off a couple of times, the success of which pleased me but did indicate just how out of practice I am and really did discourage me from trying anything harder.

Given the time I’d taken to get to Bamford and not really wanting to walk too much in the dark I headed back in good time and was happy with the climbing that I’d done. I walked back via Bamford and Thornhill villages and reached the campsite just before dark.

Hot tea, hot meal and then despite the proliferation of stars in a clear sky the cold drove me to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Thursday 15th November

It really was cold in the night; in the morning there was every sign of a serious frost.

Frosty morning
Frosty morning

The contents of both bottles were frozen solid. Fortunately I have mastered the art of drinking black tea. A hot breakfast, several cups of tea and the making of a flask had pretty much exhausted my gas bottle so today’s walk (I certainly wasn’t climbing with the rock likely to be finger-numbingly cold) had to involve guaranteeing a supply.
I decided that given the superb blue-sky and no wind conditions that higher ground was in order. I packed up, carefully not packing my SLR – but I did pop the battery in my pocket in the hope, which I did not expect to be realised, of being able to pick up a replacement.

I headed into Hope Village, did the round of the shops there and picked up some extra lunch, a supply of gas and of al things a camera battery, and had a chat with the chap running the outdoor shop. He was very keen to suggest that the Hebrides is a fantastic place to visit. I’m sure it is, but that will have to be another Grand Adventure.

By the time I’d made my purchases and was ready to leave I didn’t think I’d have enough time to take in the walk I’d originally intended and still get back in vague daylight so I passed on Win Hill and headed straight up Loose Hill. Conditions were excellent and it didn’t take long for me to feel the need to pause to take of my fleece.

Along Loose Hill to Mam Tor
Along Loose Hill to Mam Tor

Given the quality of the weather I was bit annoyed that I’d not made the time to go back and get the SLR, but that’s making a choice in the morning for you.

I headed along the ridge to Mam Tor which was quite busy, especially for a midweek lunchtime.

On the descent I spotted a load of features set into the descent path and paused to take some pictures.


Face Plough


Torque Hut

From Mam Tor I headed around to pass South of Winnats Pass, where I paused for a late lunch.

Winnats Pass
Winnats Pass

Skirting around Pindale I worked my way down via a grotty quarry and behind the cement works and into Bradwell before taking footpaths back to the campsite, where I arrived just before dark.

It’s much easier to open tins of things with a can-opener, so I had to go off to Hope and buy one. That done, I made a good supper and retired to the warmth of my sleeping bag to drink tea and ponder the maps for ideas for the next day. Sadly the confines of the tent just didn’t lend themselves to good map scrutiny so I had to head off to the pub for a while, merely to have a big enough table to spread out two maps. Drink had nothing to do with it.
Maps consulted I lingered a while and then retired to bed where I drank some wine and before having a good nights sleep.

Friday 16th November

A slow start after warmer, damper night – no frost this morning. In my usual, ‘Oh, rain’ fashion I went back to sleep for a while in the hope it would stop – and within the hour it did.
After fast breakfast and packing for the day I headed out up towards Bamford again. Rather than climb (certainly too damp to be fun, I’d thought, and not even packed rock shoes) I headed over the moor behind the crag and eventually found each of the five cairns marked on the map. From there I headed down gently before heading up hill again and traversing along the foot of Stanage Edge. I made my way up around Stanage End and walked along the top of the crag. I was a little surprised to see half-a-dozen pairs of climbers but there are clearly plenty out there that are hardier than I.
At the Popular End I paused for a while after a late lunch to have a chat with a couple of paraglider pilots before descending and heading into Hathersage.
Bargain hunting was unsuccessful and it’s hard to have as satisfactory a fondle when you’re on your own so then I decided to head back to the campsite via the Derwent Way that runs south of the river. Its not that far but my goodness they do like their narrow gates and the path was very muddy in places. I didn’t get back to the campsite until after dark.
After some revitalising hot tea I took a stroll up Alston Lane and away from the light pollution. A fantastic starry night, although very cold but by this time something alcoholic was keeping me warm.
Back to the campsite for supper and wondering where all the caravans had come from. The whole site was crowded with them.

Saturday 17th November

A fine, fine nights sleep – and then I find the onsite cafe is open for breakfast! So I did the decent thing and went for the works. Eventually I dragged myself from the warmth of the cafe and prepared for a day out. I’d considered wandering south into the white peak instead of always heading north, and today was the day.
Over Rebellion Knoll and slowly the overcast sky clears as I head into limestone country, but the wind stays cold.
I headed for Silly Dale, just for the name and then for St. Peters Stone where, once I’d ascended, I stopped for lunch. Of all the places to take new climbers, St. Peters isn’t high on the list – I’d call it a tottering pile of choss but apparently “It’s really good for hard won belays” which is why the team of ML trainees were there. In talking to their instructor apparently there’s a cave beneath the Stone that’s bigger than the Stone…access via a metal plate in the cleft that forms the easy way up, if you care.
I took a parallel route back to the campsite, encountering some very friendly horses and seeing a pair of kestrels hunting the same small patch of ground. By the time I was back I was getting really fed up with the “squeeze” type stiles. They’re really not designed for the slightly less than streamlined and I encountered entirely far too many of them.

Back in good time although my feet were really beginning to protest at the amount of walking the trip had requested of them. I got to the point where it was easier to just keep gently walking around than to sit or lie down. The gently walking did take me back up Aston Lane a good way, where I got a good view of fireworks over Bradwell, although the stars weren’t nearly as good as the night before.

Sunday 18th November

I’d woken a few times in the early morning to the sound of rain, and it was cold too.
Eventually I was forced to get up despite the patter of the rain sounding worse, although as it always does it sounded far worse inside the tent than it actually was outside although at some point snow had fallen and some ice was still gathered in the creases of the tents flysheet. On the higher ground I could see that the snow had settled or at least not melted yet and the hills were white.

I found the cafe was open, and it was raining…a no-contest decision and I once again went for the cafe breakfast.
Having had a fortifying breakfast I couldn’t really not go out into the snow, at least for a short walk so I packed lunch and headed for Win Hill, well wrapped up against the rain and cold.
Above about 450m the rain stopped and became sleet, then snow, and snow had settled

Snowy path up Win Hill
Snowy path up Win Hill

Visibility started to become reduced and became correspondingly more careful with my navigation. I prevailed (it wasn’t that hard) and reached the summit where, given the almost complete lack of view I failed to stop and headed on down straight away, looping around towards the Ladybower Reservoir through the woods. Across Yorkshire Bridge and then I took footpaths down towards Bamford. Being suddenly followed by a flock of sheep isn’t the sort of thing you want to have happen to you and I’ve no idea what triggered it off but the whole flock just started to follow me…

They just followed me
They just followed me

Being a town-dweller I’m unused to such things and had to pause in the Outside cafe for a late lunch to help settle my nerves before heading back to the campsite. I’d had my fill of the Derwent Way the day before so took what seemed the expedience route along the road, a dull haul in the failing light.

By the time I got back, if it hadn’t been so dark I could quite well have packed up and gone home but finding a bottle of wine lurking in the foodbag put a new complexion on the matter. The gentle patter of falling snow as the temperature dropped just assured me that I’d made the right decision not to motorcycle home that night.

Monday 19th November

Packed up and travelled home after a slow start, taking it easy until the mist cleared once through Chesterfield.
In the vast scale of things just a few days away in the Peak but sitting here reading my diary notes, editing the photos and thinking back…what a Grand Adventure!


Leave a Reply