A very happy belated Christmas & New Year to all. So far it’s been a cracker and a couple of days ago was no exception with jaunts To Chee Dale, Millers Dale, Arbor Low and Bakewell.
What’s surprised me however has been editing and putting together the movie you see below on my phone. I shouldn’t be amazed any more about what technology can do but I’ve been genuinely blown away about the possibilities of iMovie on the iPhone.
Anyway I’ll shut up now and you can watch the swollen river through Chee Dale try and wash me away. Have yourselves a peaceful and joyful New Year that spreads far in to 2014.
I’m back after a week in Bakewell in the Peak District having had a rather lovely break. There were several stand out trips from the week and rather than blog about them all, you get three for the price of one today AND they’re not even past their best before date…..
First up was a small walk from around Winster early in the week with the whole family, three generations together. Our eldest son Ifor (4 years old) led the walk using the Making tracks series of walking packs. I expected it to be great practice for reading, but the stand out aspect of the walk was seeing his confidence increase and his skills develop from leading. There was some strong emotion on seeing him check off navigation features and get a bee in his bonnet about striding on at the front. It was a joyous thing to see his outdoor life and independence start – I’ll be posting a review of the Making tracks series shortly.
One of the other family trips was just a short stroll up to Robin hood’s stride to have a bit of scrambling fun. It’s a set of rocks in the white peak near where Cath’s folks live. Ellis bounced about like a leprauchaun and I’m not sure he has actually developed his fear reflexes yet on the strength of his behaviour that day. Ifor was much more cautious, but again it was awesome to see their decision making skills coming on in leaps & bounds. If you have a spare couple of hours and fancy some easy non-scary fun scrambling, it’s well worth a look.
The final trip was a swift wild camp with Andy (AKA @mixedupmessedup). We took a Backpacking Bongos trip from a week or two earlier as inspiration and changed it around to make it slightly longer. The initial evening walk to our camp was uneventful as we headed up from Howden resevoir, but the weather looks more beautiful than I remember according to these photos. I’ll let them do the talking.
The second day was dreich as they say North of the border. I awoke to the sound of rain on the tent and it didn’t stop until the following day. We had planned to meet Martin Banfield of Postcard from Timperley fame on the second day to stroll with us. After packing away the tents, we strolled up from Grinnah stones towards Bleaklow stones where we were due to meet Martin. He had already spied our camp spot via the power of Social Hiking so we got a text to let us know he was at Bleaklow Head. Mobile signal was intermittent to say the least and whilst we were at Bleaklow Stones we began to worry as on the OS explorer maps, it is shown away from the most recongnisable rocks such as the anvil stone. To cut a long story short, we then had a joyous 3/4 hour of intermittent texts, with hill fog reducing visibility to 50 metres and the rain stepping up a couple of notches whilst we tried to find each other in amongst the Pinnacles of Peat. Eventually we found each other and it was a timely reminder of just how difficult navigation can be in crappy weather, especially in the Dark Peak.
Finally strolling on, the conversation flowed as easily as the rain did. The weather was totally crud but there are few areas in the Peak District that lend themselves as well as Bleaklow do to getting away from it all. We followed a straightforward route back to the Penine way, cutting down to Grains in the Water then up on to Allport moor for the obligatory trig photo. We then strolled towards Alport Castles before heading left down the hill back to the car. Dollops of wilderness and a sense of scale and height you don’t get elsewhere in the Peaks made for a wonderful day despite the dampness. Add in some decent company in the form of Andy and Martin and the day was over far too quickly for my liking.
Andy had been feeling pretty duff after a stinking cold so we finished up early, just in time for a swift drink in the Ladybower Inn. Whilst there, we overheard a group of farmers have a local land management presentation. It focussed on what they were doing to look after the moorland, particularly when they should burn heather. It was the most interesting 10 minutes I have ever heard on moors, of which the stand out facts for me were that Midges pollinate heather and heather only stands a 5% chance of germinating if it hasn’t been near smoke. All of a sudden the midges didn’t seem so much of an irritation. It never ceases to amaze me the balance and purpose there is in everything in Nature.
If you want to look at more pretty picture they’re here. Martin’s elegant report is here, James’ blog that delivers inspiration by the bucketful is here and our tracks in the rain can be followed below.
I was so looking forward to a Christmas wander but after I found myself on my bum, I figured it was time to head home. It’s always seems to be the way, you have a rare glimpse of the outside world planned and the weather does it’s best to derail you. I had been looking forward to a wander when we were due to be up with Cath’s folks in the Peak District after boxing day. I had planned a wild camp up near Back Tor but come the day, the MWIS gave a delightfully red forecast with gusts of 65mph to 85mph. My route was along the edges, Burbage, Stanage and then Derwent.
End result was a day spent battling winds just to make headway, watching an old duffer fall over in front of me several times before catching up and suggesting he dropped down to a lower level path – oh and seeing the air ambulance come in for a lass who had broken her leg after getting blown over on Stanage. Then I actually got blown on to my backside at which point I decided to take a time out. Although I was bloody irrirtated at having to duck out, I’ve also had a spot of time to reflect on what happened and although I would have survived I’m sure, I’m also sure I wouldn’t have had the most comfortable of nights either. A good call considering the damage the wind did that day.
We’re away in the Peak District for a week, and I am majorly looking forward to this. Camping with the family, friends to meet, the bonus of Grandparents to babysit, a nights wild camping and lots of walks are on the cards.
Shoulder height has dropped noticeably and it’s been a lovely morning so far catching up on outdoor blogs. Bliss.
I have been really enjoying setting up this blog and writing, but life has a habit of keeping me seriously busy these days. So much so, that I have only now had the chance to actually write this post about our week up in the peaks two weeks ago, after my first post about walking with Cath again.
The rest of the week was just as pleasurable as the start, and I felt great for getting some serious strolling in. The Thursday saw me head out with Dave from My Outdoors UK, and Andy from Walks around Britain to meet & film a walk for Andy’s site. As Cath’s parents live in the Peak District, we have explored the area in some detail over the years. Dave suggested a route we had not done before though from Stoney Middleton up Coombs Dale, and so I set off in anticipation of exploring somewhere I had never been to in the Peaks. The weather gave us a crisp beautiful day, the best of the week. Although I had met Dave once before briefly, it was the first time I had properly spent some time with him, and it was my first meet up with Andy. After 10 minutes walking though, it felt like I had known Dave and Andy a lot longer, the conversation flowing as easily as the stream we walked beside.
Dave’s wealth of knowledge of the local caves and area made for a wander that didn’t just touch on the beauty of what we had around us, but added a depth of experience that you don’t often get when walking. It made the walk that much more special, and I can’t wait for Andy to finish the editing to post up on his You Tube channel. My thanks to both of them for meeting up, we managed to steer mostly clear of geek talk about outdoor gear for all of 3 minutes by my reckoning…… What finished the walk off beautifully for me was the cliff path coming back in to Stoney Middleton. All of a sudden we went from Peak District rolling hills to some serious drops away from the path, giving a real feeling off exposure. It was even more delightful for it being so unexpected.
Just before we went back on the Saturday, I tweeted Helen Fisher, one of the outdoor bloggers I have had the pleasure of meeting online through Webtogs, to see if she fancied a walk in the flesh. Foolishly she said yes, and on a damp Saturday morning, Cath and I headed up to Burbage for a stroll. The rain came down and decided to stay a while – the entire walk in fact, and several items of gear got a serious work out. Cath discovered her 8 year old Meindl Burma’s have just about died when it comes to waterproofing (not bad considering the abuse they have had), and that her lightweight waterproof trousers, were in fact windproof and not a lot else! My G2 Moutain pants were lengendary, only leaking around seams and zips, and my love of these trousers continues to grow. I think Helen stayed vaguely dry, but you can make up your own mind from the photos below.
Nigh on 3 hours we walked, with a cuppa at the end in the NT cafe at Longshaw. I’ll tell you what. The time flew again. I’m not sure what is was about that week, but meeting and walking with new people who were all rather lovely, gave me a whole new view of the peaks. Interacting with people online, and then cementing that friendship in real life is a rather grand feeling. You can tell what people are like I think through their online chatter. The feeling of nervousness and anticipation of meeting new people, fading in the real knowledge that they are as lovely as their online presences, delivered a warmth that made this week in the peaks special. Helen was fine company and the conversation ranged as wide as our feet did.
I’m not sure when we’ll be heading back up North again to stay with Cath’s folks, but we’ll be calling on some new friends to be sure.