Castleton to Edale; via The Roych, South Head, Mount Famine & Edale Cross.
On my last trip I came across a potential route extension to the west of Edale, that would include an elevated ridge-type walk, ultimately dropping down towards Hayfield. This week I thought I might take this route, heading out to Castleton to give myself a different starting point.
I just about caught the 09:00 bus, (272), from Ecclesall Road/Hunters Bar, after leaving 45 minutes to get down there from home. Definitely going to make it an hour next time. The sun was out, though when shaded or in the wind, the temperature dropped considerably. The forecast was given as being changeable, a statement whose manifestation was one of the defining features of the day.
After alighting from the bus, and taking a few minutes to sort myself out, I set off down the main road out of Castleton proper, heading towards Treak Cliff. I took the path up and contoured around to the shop at the Blue John Cavern where the south-west face of Mam Tor shined in the sunlight. A couple of groups of guided climbers were aligned along the bottom of the scree-strewn face, oblivious to the weather system that was quite obviously coming in from the north-west, (the first picture doesn’t quite do it justice).
I walked onwards to Rushup Edge, there were people setting up refreshment stops for some fell race I hadn’t known about; glad that I wasn’t intending to stick to any of the usual paths, at least until Jacob’s Ladder at the end of the day. Around the height of Lord’s Seat, the change in weather hinted at earlier, began to transpire. Firstly came soft but firm hail, these gradually got harder and fell more densely, helped along by a scathing wind coming in off and over the top of Kinder Low. If this was what I was in for throughout the course of the day, I was glad to have gone with the Buffalo. One slight annoyance was that without my balaclava, my face was a little more exposed than it might be if I had a Buffalo hood, as opposed to the Montane version I purchased recently.
Anyhow, perhaps winter isn’t completely done with just yet.
As with my previous trip, I dropped down from Rushup with an aim to take up the Pennine Bridleway leading towards The Roych. The Roych has recently been subject of a motorised vehicle ban, served to help the regeneration of the area, which has been in decline for a while. Annoyingly, it seems that all the signs announcing this change in the law have been torn down, and that 4×4’s are still using the path. The Discovery that passed me was duly photographed and the photo including the registration was sent in to the Peak District National Park. I would urge you to do the same should you see this happening in that location.
Instead of dropping down to South Head Farm, I continued west along the bridleway, skirting the bottom of South Head, then taking the steeper, unmarked but stiled path, up the south side of Mount Famine. Again, after a short period of illumination, the wispy, enveloping cloud swirled around, and as it did so, it pelted me with the harsh hail that I had similarly experienced before. But almost as quick as it had come over, it was disappearing into the distance; the north-west horizon banded grey and blue, suggesting that there was more to come on the north-westerly wind.
Once this particular wave had passed, the clouds opened up and produced a sunlit vista of a unique quality in this part of the world. Perhaps only unique for me, or also those relatively unfamiliar with this hill and viewpoint, but stunning nonetheless; with views out to Pym Chair and Crowden Tower in the east, and as far as even Manchester in the north-west.
After soaking up the views and taking some photographic documentation, I proceeded downwards, crossing the River Sett and taking up the road at Coldwell Clough that eventually begets the bridleway leading to Edale Cross. After three up’s and down’s and around 10 miles already, I was beginning to flag a little by this point, thankfully the sun disappeared for a while and a decent, cooling wind got up.
After a little rest at Edale Cross, the path pretty much just drops downwards, rounding Jacob’s Ladder towards Upper Booth Farm. After passing the remnants of whatever fell race had been held, I decided to take the road back just in case I could make the next train. The latter didn’t transpire, so a drink in the Rambler Inn wasn’t amiss.
Looking at the coming weeks forecast, it seems that this was probably winters last; a day that definitely recapitulated this winter past, in microcosm. Who knows what the coming summer will have in store.