A Short, (& almost wintry), Bimble Along The Great Ridge
With time as a PhD student pressing on, this weekend’s walk was a necessarily short and almost solitary one. I headed out alone, aiming for Hope on the 09:14 train. I say alone, both carriages were quite full, something I don’t remember seeing that often during the winter months, (not that it’s been much of a winter so far around these parts!). The first thing I noticed, as the train exited the Totley tunnel at Grindleford and the hills of the Peak begin to come into view, was the significant low cloud. We pulled into Hathersage, and a temporary lifting of the fog revealed just a hint of a smattering of snow on the highest reaches of Stanage Edge. I smiled as the latter sunk in, and my brain began to consider if I might detour up to Win Hill, or whether I should continue into Edale so as to maximise my exposure to this elusive but significant slushy blanket. Despite these internal time-wastings, the arrival of the train at Hope put paid to any further consideration of this kind.
Usually I’d walk into Hope proper and head up the path by the school on Eccles Close however, this time something spurred me into crossing the road and to take up the path that follows the River Noe going towards Kilnhill Bridge, (perhaps my subconscious was still struggling with the option of taking the Twitchill Farm route up to Win Hill). I travelled the road for a short while then took a path approximately east, really a muddy furrow ‘twixt two fields at best, and joined up with the familiar path up to Losehill Farm and ultimately, Lose Hill summit.
The ground was saturated along the whole low-level path. As I began to take on the incline, the wet ground became much more of a hindrance, each step sliding backwards at least half as much as it would gain. The route became pretty hard work, somewhat akin to walking on sheet ice, but at this level the sun was ablaze, contrasting against the dark rainclouds in the eastern Peak and city. Quite a lovely sight with the low, winter sun painting long shadows across the village and low-lying landscape. And speaking of contrast, a short while after passing the farm, a couple of inches of snowy sludge covered the ground and the summit of Win Hill was enshrouded in low cloud.
Upon reaching the summit, I was surprised at the wind’s ferocity, probably some good 40mph gusts at times. For the duration of my lunch stop I was completely surrounded by the fog and only as I dropped down onto the Great Ridge did windows of clarity begin to enlighten the views across the Edale Valley. The snow and low cloud looked significantly thicker on the other side, (typical!), and the wind prevailed from the north west.
With my Special 6 still in absentia and no real active insulation, it was pretty darned cold in the wind. With this only being a short walk I wasn’t all that bothered and despite forgetting to bring my ND Grad filter, I was more intent on taking the opportunity afforded by alone-time to spend longer on my photographs.
The Ridge itself was mostly well-populated, as usual, and at certain points I was sheltered by the way that the path dips below the ridgeline at times. And a good job too, the wind seemed to pick up over the course of the day, clearing the cloud over Lose Hill as it came. So much so, that when I reached Mam Tor and dropped down onto the exposed north-westerly side to take a couple of snaps, there were times when it was quite hard to even stand up.
Reaching the bottom of Mam Tor, I followed the road down to the Blue John Cavern then followed the path around to it’s Treak Cliff counterpart, at one point sitting down, quite unintentionally but at least somewhat slowly, on an overly-saturated grassy contour. Covered in shite. Nice! But at 7’ish miles and a slow, ca. 4 hours later-like pace, at least the Old Nags Head was to be my final stop.