Peak District Walking

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Walking in the Peak District and the Peak District National Park including Derbyshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands.

On this blog you will find lots of information about the Peak District and the Peak District National Park, its geology, history, natural history and the Peak Districts magnificent landscape.

My book, Dark Peak Walks, published by Cicerone, guides the walker through 40 walks across the gritstone and moorland landscape of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District.

Something new in Dark Peak Walks

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New Packaging for Dark Peak Walks books

The new packaging for the Dark Peak Walks book.

I fully believe in adding value wherever I can. As a writer, I make my living by showing people something they may not be aware of, some interesting facts, beautiful walks, wonderful photos, being helpful wherever I can and generally spreading the message that outdoor walking is great, especially in the Peak District.

I earn money by selling my book and writing articles. I like to add value by being a little different. Anyone can sell something, but making that purchase special I think takes a different mindset. Lots of people have bought the book through our shop and that makes me feel a little emotional if I am honest. Being told that someone trusts the work is quite a powerful thing.

I sell my book Dark Peak Walks from our online shop at Wapentac. I know you can get it for less elsewhere. When you buy from me, you get more and hopefully that added value makes a difference. Whether it is the special gift wrapping the book now comes in, or collection on a rainy day in the Dark Peak, or some advice about a walk on Facebook or Twitter, or the general banter about walking in the Dark Peak, guidance on who best to go to for training, I think it all makes it unique. In the coming months I will add more to a purchase, to make it even more special. I hope this adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and that makes the pound or two extra worthwhile. If it does, thank you, really I mean that, because what you do helps me continue, and I very much want to do that, because I just love being involved in this community of walkers.

Happy walking.

Penistone Stile – Peak District

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Penistone Stile and Howden Edge

Penistone Stile and Howden Edge

Looking out over a failed attempt at using land for agricultural purposes. This land, Penistone Stile, sits between the higher former common lands of Featherbed Moss which lay beyond the most southern of the Howden Edges and the 1811 enclosures lower down the slopes of the Derwent Valley, known as Hey’s, Upper, Nether and Cow.

Hey’s fell between the Outpastures and the enclosed lands with tenants of the Hey lands having greater rights than in the Outpastures higher up the slopes, where the number of stock was tightly controlled for each farm, Tenants could cut peat on the Hey and apply lime to improve the peaty soil. Walking across this landscape today peat cuttings and and sled ways can be spotted as well as the occasional pile of lime, the only remains that can now be found.

The experiment in improving the land for crop production by the introduction of lime and other soil improving chemicals proved that the land was unviable for agrarian uses and the trials were terminated in the 20th century.

John's Field Howdens

John’s Field Howden. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/index.html

A little further down the valley at John’s Field Howden, can still be viewed the remains of the crop trials, in a large mound of lime, now overgrown with grass, contained within a rectangular dry stone wall structure. The enclosure protected the crops, probably black oats, from livestock and provided a controlled environment for the experiment. The structure is not easy to find, even though it is marked on modern day Ordnance Survey maps. Its walls, quarried from a nearby outcrop, are almost at ground level now and they are easy to walk over. It is a regular favourite for navigation courses, the student, expecting to see a 5 foot high enclosure is perplexed when they arrive at what they think is the spot, only to find a flat field, or seemingly so.

All of the items mentioned in the post can be found on or near Walk No.14 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press.

Dark Peak Walks – Book Launch

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Dark Peak Book Launch

Typical Dark Peak weather for the Dark Peak Walks book launch

Lots of people who ordered my book, Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press, from my own blog had suggested a book launch and that they would like to come and collect their book in person.

There was only one place to have the launch of a book about walking in the gritstone and peat area of the Peak District National Park known as the Dark Peak, that was on the gritstone and peat moorland that make up this unique landscape. I chose Whinstone Lee Tor as the venue, easy access, good views, and on both a public footpath and a bridleway, so people could bring their dogs and bikes too.

It was quite humbling to see 25 people brave constant rain,  quite typical Dark Peak weather, to celebrate the book launch. Of course you cannot have a launch without cake, Alison from Wapentac baked flapjack and a very nice Yorkshire Parkin. Plus we had a wonderful surprise where a fan of the book Col Wood of Everyday Adventures had baked a special cake with a picture of the book on it.

As we ate cake, drank coffee, talked and got wet I looked around the gathering. We ranged in age from a few months to the late sixties.

Some had walked, some had run. Some people were new to the area, some were old friends of the Dark Peak. A few local Mountain Rescue teams were represented, Moors For The Future were there, as was the Peak District National Park.

People had travelled from all the major cities and towns that surround the Peak District and that make it one of the most visited national parks in the world. Discoveries were made too. Debra from Moors For The Future had her first sip of Hot Vimto, an old Dark Peak favourite, which proved valuable of that cold rainy day.

I like to make a nice presentation of the book when people purchase it from me, all that wrapping had me singing My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music. Some lucky people who had bought early also had a gift of a Wapenmap too, so as I handed the parcels out I hummed the little tune, some people even sang along with me. Then it was time to cut the cake and eat.

It was a magical day. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed it, lots of laughter and talking about days out in the Dark Peak. It has such a great community of people, who love and care for the area deeply. It is wonderful to play a small part in it.

The most marvellous thing though is how young people are discovering the Dark Peak, exploring its delights and having great adventures. It means the story keeps on developing and that’s what should happen to a landscape.

Young adventurers are discovering the Dark peak

Great to see young explorers like Neve out having adventures in the Dark Peak. Photo by Chris Blake, with permission.

You can purchase a signed copy of the book Dark Peak Walks here

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Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

 

Wyming Brook – Peak District

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Wyming Brook Wildlife Marker Post

Wildlife Marker in Wyming Brook, Peak District National Park.

This time last year I was at Wyming Brook part of the Eastern Moors Project in the Peak District along with the Sheffield Wildlife Trust.

Sheffield is often cited as a green city but not many people know quite a lot of the Peak District falls inside the city boundaries.

Wyming Brook used to form part of the Rivelin Chase hunting grounds, kept private for the nobility.

Today it is a true haven for wildlife, especially birds, Crossbills being a major attraction for bird lovers. A trail around the gorge that Wyming Brook tumbles down leads the walker through the habitats of many species, the one above os for the Wren, a lovely little bird.

Its well worth a visit, you can spend as long or as short a time as you want. You will not be disappointed.

All of the items mentioned in the post can be found on or near Walk No.7 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press.

Dark Peak Walks Book

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Dark Peak Walks Books waiting for dispatch

Dark Peak Walks Books waiting for dispatch

My book Dark Peak Walks arrived yesterday from Cicerone. People have ordered signed copies from our Wapentac  shop and we will need to replenish our stock soon.

The Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park is a unique place in Britain to my mind. No where else I have found the combination of gritstone edges, vast peat moors and the plateaus of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow. It has an enormous amount of history, geological interest and some of the most spectacular wildlife sights that can be found anywhere. For a sense of wilderness and isolation that brings a raw emotion to me when I experience it the Dark Peak cannot be beaten. It is a land full of comedy too, ask anyone who has sat and watched a friend desperately trying to extricate themselves from a peat bog, all sense of dignity gone, language become basic, anger rising. It is the best fun a person can have, watching this, its free too. A friend showed me a photo of an Adder, taken last week on Big Moor, it was just off the path and taking in the first hint of summer in the warm sun, a sight never to be forgotten.

It was Mark Richards who suggested my name to Cicerone for the guide-book to replace Marks iconic High Peak Walks. One day I dragged Mark through the bracken on Bamford Moor, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I had got lost.  Afterwards he made the suggestion perhaps I would like to write the book. It was a dream come true for me and I am very grateful to Mark and Jonathan Williams at Cicerone for their faith in me. The book took two years to research and write, many of the walks being covered several times, so that I could get the absolute best out of the landscape. Gone are my days of 30 mile walks in a day across peat bog. In the book I have attempted to produce walks that have interest and views, a little navigation here and there, making good use of the landscape, but most of all days that are memorable, the ones you want not to end and always to repeat.

In one of those odd turns of fate a new Facebook page Dark Peak UK was started by Paul Bridge and this has quickly become a community of like-minded people who all love the Dark Peak area and are not afraid to get out there and have some fantastic adventures. I realised that there was still a growing passion for the outdoors, that people were out there having great days out and sharing it with other like minded souls. The world has changed, and in this instance it is for the better.

We live in an age of instant notification, I was born in the days of press button A or B, and some of you will know what that means. But, it is the written word that still remains important and sits at the centre of all we do. It is the words that take us to places we have yet to see.

One Year Old

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Its Scouts birthday today. Born on 29th February 2016. Scout is a Killiebrae Border Collie and comes from working sheepdog parents. He is also a trainee search and rescue dog for SARDA England, the Search and Rescue Dog Association of England, and works with me in Mountain Rescue.

Scout joined our family about 10 months ago. He has a lovely nature and fits in well. Scout started hi SARDA training when he was twelve weeks old and he just loves been out on the hill, learning how to find people and ultimately find his toy, which is his reward.

Scout was named after Kinder Scout and also the character Scout in Harper Lees book, To Kill a Mockingbird. On Kinder Scout there is a triangulation pillar known as the Scout Trig so it all seemed to fit in.

Now he is a little older we can go for longer walks and I get to spend time with him in a none training environment, which has resulted in us becoming firm buddies.

Happy birthday Scout.

SARDA Registration

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Scout reached a milestone this weekend at the SARDA training camp in the Brecon Beacons. He went there to carry on with his obedience training for his registration test that allows him on to the formal Search Dog training programme. The trainers had other ideas, the first being a final stock test, he had passed two already.

The stock test involves being placed in a field with a flock of sheep, about 60 this time and then have the sheep run past and be ignored by Scout. Have them walk in between Scout and me his handler and then come back to me on a recall through the sheep, still ignoring them. Then getting his favourite ball from the middle of the sheep and still ignoring them. He passed with flying colours.

The second and unexpected test is called the Registration Test and a pass formally allows the dog on to the training programme so it is very important. The first is walk to heel, no problems there. Second is a recall to my feet. All good. Then speak on command, he barked really well. Then a down from a distance on command, he hit the deck good. and finally the big one. A ten minute down stay with 5 minutes of that being out of sight of me his handler. Pass.

He was exactly 8 months old and has worked really hard, whilst maintaining his lovely sweet nature, which I feel is so important. Scout is a very confident dog, happy in his own company but enjoying playing with dogs and humans. I am so proud of him.

The following morning he was presented with his official SARDA training badge in front of all the other handlers. A great moment for a wonderful dog.

In the time he has been with us he  has grown from a puppy in to a teenager. He loves to go to his favourite shop and see his favourite assistant and search for food under the shelves. Taking him in shops and around town where there are noises and people is a great way for him to become accustomed to different sights and sounds and smells.

His favourite place though is out on the moors and hills of the Peak District. He loves Kinder, diving down in to the Groughs, and running along the streams. He especially likes to stand on edges and look out across the moors, you can see him smelling whats out there and he has no fear of the edge and respects the boundary it places on him.

He is happiest working hard on the hills and moors and we are gradually increasing his time out walking so that he does not develop any hip problems. We have many hours in front of us and lots of adventures.

Well done Scout. I am very proud of you.

Growing Up

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This is me aged seven months old at Edale Moor Triangulation Pillar on Kinder Scout. It’s known as the Scout Trig as it carries a memorial plaque to the Venture Scout unit from the area.

I was named after Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. This was my first visit there and I loved it. My bones are still not totally set yet so I still have to take it steady and not do too much walking. I loved been on the moors and jumping down into the Groughs.

My training is progressing well. I can now walk to heel, recall back to my handler, sit and lay down. I am working on my down stay out of sight and once that is done then I am ready for registration so that I can start my formal training in search and rescue.

I have done two stock tests which I passed, ignoring sheep whilst close to them

On Kinder Scout I saw my first Mountain Hare. It suddenly popped up from nowhere and ran off at lightning speed.

I’m really loving my training and want to be out on the hills as much as possible.

Scottish Holiday

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thumb_IMG_1772_1024August was my first holiday, first time on the beach, first time in the sea, first time in the mountains, first time swimming in mountain pools. It was fantastic.

We went up to Wester Ross which is a long, long drive up to Scotland’s west coast. It’s a beautiful place. We couldn’t do too much mountain walking as my body is still growing and knitting together, so we picked out places where the walking was not too far or there were plenty of stops on the way.

I really love swimming, especially in mountain pools with waterfalls. Swimming is good for me as it exercises my muscles without stressing my bones. Swimming in the sea is good too, I get the ball every time as I am a stringer swimmer than Olly.

I still practised my obedience lessons on holiday and I am getting pretty good now. But sometimes I just don’t want to do it so I ignore my handler, then I get in trouble and have to do it right. My handler keeps muttering something about it being time to get it done.

I have started training during the week with groups of other SARDA dogs too which is brilliant. The more I train and the more I do with other dogs the better I will get.

I am getting near my registration test, where I show that I can behave and be obedient, once that is done then I will go on to Stage One of learning to be a search and rescue dog.

Having Fun

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Two months since the last post and Scout has really grown. He is nearly as big as his two brothers Monty and Olly now.

We have been concentrating on his core obedience skills, socialisation and getting used to lots of different environments.

He is getting good at walking to heel, laying down on command, recall (when not distracted by something, anything else). We have been having problems getting Scout to speak but this turned out to be his handlers fault for not being so animated. The training really is for me, the handler, and not Scout.

A good way of socialisation is for Scout to meet lots of dogs and people. So he walks three times a day up at the common and once at night around his local neighbourhood. He comes with me to team meetings and equipment nights at Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team, but he is too young to take on exercises yet.

Another good socialisation exercise is to take Scout shopping. His favourite place is PetsatHome. There are some really nice assistants who give him lots of attention plus there are all those different smells of food and pets and people. His favourite place in all the store is under the food shelves where all the spilled food collects. There are lots of other dogs there too so he gets to meet and be friendly. He is really good at ignoring dogs that do not want to play and doesn’t let it bother him.

Now he is a little older, 5 months on August 1st, he can take part in SARDA training days. He has been on two weekends now, training in puppy class and won the heart of Jacquie Hall the trainer. He did well too, once again its me who is the problem. Scout has also started training at night and on Sundays locally, which introduces him to more handlers and dogs. All the handlers are so helpful, everyone just wants the dogs to do well. I learned some useful tips along the way, one of the most important was to plan the exercise out first on my own before involving Scout and being exact in what I say to him. Consistency and repetition are the keys here.

Different environments are also important, to increase his confidence in mixed habitats and help him be comfortable overcoming things that are new to him. July saw Scout take his first wild swimming sessions, thankfully he loves the water. He does a wonderful breast stoke, good and strong. The only problem is getting him out of the water, even when he is shivering, which means me going in to get him. We also took him on a wild camp with his brothers and they all loved it, settling straight down for the night even with a river running close by and geese flying overhead.

A good two months for Scout. Lots of fun and lots of learning. He is well on his way now, working towards his first benchmark the obedience test.