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).
Clear but cold the forecast promised, a good day to test out my new Buffalo perhaps? What with this potentially being the last of our winter weather I gave it a go anyway.
I arrived just in time at the station and took the usual train out from Sheffield to Edale, (09:14). It wasn’t as busy as I’d have thought it would be, what with the forecast being what it was.
I’d made rudimentary plans to do this route a few weeks ago, but work and other engagements had me put it off. However now there’s an extended version of this route here. From Edale station I would take a path heading to Barber Booth, from out of the back of platform 1. The path crosses the railway line twice, once heading north’ish when reaching Shaw Wood Farm, and once heading south just as you reach Barber Booth. The connecting path and stile/gate between the bridge and the path at Shaw Wood Farm is annoyingly concealed. It exists in a little driveway that otherwise says ‘No Entry’ on a gate at it’s end and should you not notice it, you will have to walk the long way round as I did.
At last, our weekend away finally arrived! One that was originally meant for Scotland, and for 6 of us, but none of that was to be. Instead, Sarah and I headed for the Lake District to take on the Helvellyn range from north to south via two wild camps, Scales Tarn and Grizedale Tarn.
Not much of what was originally planned actually panned out; one-by-one our compatriots dropped out for various reasons, complacency had us alter our first wild camp spot, and that damned south-westerly wind that has plagued our winter, tried to blow us off the ridge. Plus my Buffalo still hadn’t arrived so to remedy this, I popped into The Climbers Shop in Ambleside where, after weighing up it’s benefits over the Arc’Teryx Atom SV, I purchased a Mountain Equipment Fitzroy as a replacement insulating overlayer, but more on that later.
We made a super-early start on the Friday, (05:11 train from Sheffield), so as to make it to Ambleside in time for it’s awakening. We changed only once, in Manchester, and had reached Windermere just before 08:00. After purchasing a 3-day bus pass we set off for Ambleside, where we arrived after around 15-20 mins. We arrived well before anywhere was open and all this early morning travel had left me gasping for a coffee, so we replenished our spirits at Esquires, (some decent coffee there methinks), opposite the cinema.
We had ordered some New-Matic Grivel G12’s from Adventure Peaks, but upon arrival they had not them in stock, so G10 New-Matics had to suffice. We weren’t planning on doing anything so technical anyway. By the time we were sorted it was pushing 10:00, so being on ‘holiday’ we decided that another refreshment stop was in order, cue the pints of Hoegaarden! The lateral thinking afforded by such nutritious beverages had us check Sarah’s crampons, which turned out to have an extender bar fitted thus didn’t fit Sarah’s boots at all! We finished our sustenance and made haste, back in the direction of the Adventure Peaks store. Conveniently, it was shut for 5 mins, at least 10 in actuality but we were eventually sorted out. Anyhow, this kerfuffle was followed by a humid bus ride to Keswick, some sandwiches and another beer, before grabbing the bus out to the White Horse Inn at Scales.
We had intended to have a decent meal here before heading out early to our intended camp site at Scales Tarn. It turns out they stop serving food at 14:00! We’d arrived at ca. 14:15. Foiled, so another beer it was then, and not a very good one either. Balls!!!
Now for our next change of plan, for the sake of time and effort, we decided it would be best to camp on the other side of the main road. Leaving the pub, we walked back along the A66 until we could pick up the relevant path on the opposite side of the road.
Last weekend, (18th), I was back in the Peak, making my way from Hope to Edale. I decided on taking a high, (624m of elevation gain), but round-about route, (just over 9 miles in total), via the eastern side of Win Hill, Roman Road and Crookstone Knoll. A lone walker again this week, but to be fair the weather was a bit demoralising given the time of year.
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.
This weekend’s walk was actually my second outing this side of 2014, the first being an attempted walk out to Stanage Edge on new year’s day. I say ‘attempted’ as Sarah and I only made it to Lady Canning’s Plantation then turned back for want of light, perhaps due to a late start, (surely forgivable on new year’s day?), but also possibly something to do with an unintended, mid-route mulled wine stop at the Norfolk Arms.
Like that walk this one turned out to be a late starter, we missed the train by about 1 minute and the next train, (an hour later), was delayed by some mystery problem(s) on the track close to Dore.
Once we did get going, this week I was joined by James & Christine. both of whom are fellow PhD students and with whom I live along with my better half Sarah. Looking skywards, here the winter weather this year has been disappointing, though for those elsewhere in the country struck by catastrophic winds and floods, my best wishes are with you.
So, anyone who has been following these pages recently may have noticed that for a few weeks now, I have bemoaned the unequal size of my feet and the lack of width in the relevant boot. Last week I decided to do something about it, so I popped down to the footwear section at Outside in Hathersage. The boots I am replacing, the Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid, since March had done a few hundred miles so I reckon they’d had a pretty good run anyway. Whilst they offer excellent responsiveness and grip in all conditions they’d been thrown at, they are nonetheless, more of a scrambling boot that you can walk in and considering the distances covered by some of my recent walks, it seems that I need the converse, so more of a walking boot that you can scramble in.
One bug-bear about the Salewa’s, aside for the fit in this particular instance, is the presence of a fabric tongue and Gore-Tex lining. Whilst these features both reduce weight and add to the boot’s breathability, they are a source of overall weakness in terms of waterproofing, especially when combined with a ‘to-the-toe’ lacing system which ultimately sits on a high-flex area of the boot. It would seem that the inevitable flexing leads to weakness in the membrane and water ingress that gets worse over time.