Parkin Clough to Win Hill


, , , , , , , , , ,


Parkin Clough, Dark Peak, Peak District National Park

One of the toughest ascents in the Peak District can be found just by Ladybower Reservoir in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park.

Parkin Clough leads up to Win Hill, a total ascent of some 300m in little over one Kilometer. The path, such that it is, is the old boundary wall running up the side of the stream which tumbles down the hillside. Parkin Clough is a narrow V shaped gorge cut by the stream, with steep sides, you would not want to slip down. It is very slippery under foot in wet weather as you are walking along what remains of the wall, with some high stepping required in places to get the thighs and calfs burning.

The climb up Parkin Clough is something of a test piece for fitness, the test being to make it to the top in the shortest time, the quickest I have heard of is 12 minutes unladen and a little over 15 minutes with full hill kit. The test for lesser mortals is to make it to the top without stopping.  Ascending to the summit begins at the foot of Parkin Clough by the Peak and Northern Footpath Society signpost and ends when the hand touches the thoughtfully placed triangulation pillar on the top of Win Hill. The views across to the Upper Derwent Valley and along the skyline to Kinder Scout and Bleaklow make the effort worthwhile.

The climb appears in Walk 9 of Dark Peak Walks

Peak District Walking


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.

Dark Peak Monuments


, , , , , , , , , , , ,


Nelsons Monument on Birchen Edge from “Victory”

This is one of my favourite photos of one of the many monuments to be found in the Peak District National Park. Taken on Birchen Edge, almost at the very end of the eastern arm of the Dark Peak, it shows the monument erected to Lord Nelson viewed from Victory one of the three gritstone tors that stand slightly back from the edge.

The monument looks out over the valley to the north-west and the monument to Wellington on Baslow Edge erected some 60 years later. Below Birchen Edge a large area of flat moorland is dotted with ancient cairns and field systems as it spreads out towards Gardom Edge with its Menhirs and cup rings.

A good place to spend a few hours exploring ancient civilisations going back to Neolithic times.

Secret places

I have a secret place. A place I do not name.

It is my place.

I visit it maybe once or twice a year, once in summer, when I pass through on my way else where and use the time to experience this secret place in a different way. Summer is a time for sitting still at some spot within the places boundary and looking. Seeing how the image has changed from that of winter and building up scenes in my mind of what went before in that place. It is a fine place for a summer camp, no tent, just a sleeping bag laid on bracken and soft grass, a brew and the noises and smells of the night.

In winter it is time to explore. Nature retreats and the season strips away the green cloak and reveals the skeleton of this place. The hand of man is evident all around and yet there are secrets here too. Stones placed in a peculiar way, the odd piece of metal, a quarried face. Sledways, one of my favourite imprints in the land are visible in winter, especially in snow and I spend hours tracing their courses and imagining what activities were carried out. From different viewpoints you get a different image, a patchwork of views which when stitched together form a scene from the past.

Dark Peak Cabins


, , ,

I love cabins. In the early to middle of last century “Cabining” was often part of a walk, either as a bothy or as a lunch stop. Most cabins in the Dark Peak are there to provide cover for Grouse Shooting parties during lunch.

I like to brew up in a cabin and sit and dream of the people who have been in the past. Alison and I once walked to the Ronksley Cabins on Christmas Day for our lunch. Snow and ice on the ground, blue skies and when we opened the door, a cabin full of people having their Christmas Dinner. That was a surprise. With no room at the Inn we had to spend lunch next door in the beaters cabin, the Ronksley cabins being one of the few that has a cabin for the paying guests and a separate one, open to the elements mind, for the beaters.

Above are ten photos of cabins, locations or huts. Can you identify which ones they are and where. If you think you know, write it down in the comments section, numbering them one to ten. Hover the cursor over the picture for the number.

Mountain Rescue Funding


, , , , , ,

Woodhead Mountain Rescue on Black Hill January 2016

Team members of Woodhead Mountain Rescue manning the Trigger Race checkpoint at Black Hill January 2016

Looking back at the photos from 2016 I came across this one taken of fellow team mates on a very cold January Sunday at 08:00 hours at Soldiers Lump triangulation pillar on Black Hill.

The reason why we had got up at an ungodly hour on a cold, frozen, snowy day was to walk in the dark, across the moor from Holme Moss Transmitter Station and set up a transmitter station and checkpoint at Black Hill for the fell runners taking part in that years Trigger Race from Marsden to Edale.

Woodhead Mountain Rescue team members man all the checkpoints and provide safety cover, especially needed on days like this picture shows. The fell running community are great supporters of Mountain Rescue and this is one way that they raise funds for the team; donations that are badly needed.

Winter is still holding back in England, but it will arrive and with winter comes accidents and people in distress. Already this year Woodhead Mountain Rescue have rescued a lost walker in harsh winter conditions and rescued a badly injured climber in the middle of the worst storm this year.

All this takes money, not to mention the time members of any Mountain Rescue team give voluntarily, leaving jobs and family to go and help total strangers. Money is critical in a voluntary service. It buys fuel for vehicles, provides funds for premises and training, and buys specialist kit for team members. Team members also buy their own kit too and the fuel to get to a callout. Each year a team knows it has to raise enough money to remain operational, if they aren’t there, who else is going to go out and find a lost walker, rescue the injured climber. That amount can be anything from £25000 upwards. It’s a lot.

Raising the money takes various forms. Team supporters, without whose help teams would not be able to function, hold collection days at local venues, sell merchandise, provide hot food and drinks at fell race events. Pubs and shops put a collection tin on the counters for locals to drop the pennies into. Local children raise funds through village fairs, school events. Local and national businesses provide donations to buy equipment.

All donations are welcome. One of the most treasured is from the people teams are asked to go and help. Mostly individuals who send a cheque and a thank you note; those are really nice to read. Sometimes, as in a recent Mountain Bike accident, friends of the injured party do something special, like cycling the Pennine Bridleway to raise funds for the team, a really wonderful way to give something back and fantastic to receive. One person sells a special beer and has raised thousands another sells neck buffs with team logos on. Team members play Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, Guy Fawkes in their communities at traditional events and helps raise funds. People give through websites such as Just Giving  which increases the amount donated with Gift Aid. Donations range from the thousands to a 50p coin pocket money from a child. It all helps.

To those who give, it makes a huge difference to someones life, literally. Without your donations Mountain Rescue could not do what it does. What you do is vitally important.

So thank you.

Christmas Lunch 2016


, , , , , ,

The traditional Christmas day walk and lunch was up in the higher reaches of the Upper Derwent Valley. Very few people about. The weather, unseasonably warm at 12 degrees even with a strong wind coming in from the west. The lack of cold has not killed off the last of the autumnal colours and so the valley and cloughs remain resplendent in their reds and browns and yellows. Alison had made some spicy tomato soup, very warming, which we then followed with fresh brewed coffee. The infant River Derwent was quite deep causing much too-ing and fro-ing at Stainery Clough as we sought a crossing without getting feet wet. The grasses on the bank side were flattened and there was  a great deal of silt and grit around, signs of flooding after the heavy rains. We thought about carrying on to the cabins but decided to turn for home, having Scout with us we didn’t want to stretch his legs too much. Once again he kept diving in to the river and just enjoying himself whilst Monty and Olly played on the banks. A lovely Christmas lunch and  a great part of the world.

Act of Banishment


, , , , , ,


Stanedge Pole graffiti

1697 and the Act of Banishment that banished all Roman Catholic priests from Ireland. The Roman Catholic church, persecuted went underground, held secret services, and communicated in secret code. Being found in possession of Catholic material could lead to death almost certain if you were of the church and holding communion. The Padley Chapel Martyrs, two Catholic Priests were hung drawn and quartered for holding a Catholic service.

Banishment in 1697 was a much a political as religious statement. Acts of defiance often took the form of secret codes and messages. The conjoined ‘V’ inverted often stood for the Virgin Mary and denoted Catholic presence. On Stanedge Pole this graffiti with the inverted ‘V’ making an ‘M’ underneath the date 1697 could possibly have been an act of defiance against the Church of England and the Crown.

Dangerous things to be doing and a painful death if found.

Be Safe


, , , , , , ,


A few years back Alison and I were walking up Cut Gate on a cold autumn day that had a wind cutting in to you with icy strokes. As we approached Mickleden Edge Alison wandered off to have a look at something and I carried on a little then waited for her to catch up. As she approached me she seemed to be walking slowly and a little ungainly. I asked her if she was OK and she said her legs were tired and she had no energy, she said this with a slurring voice. We had not been out that long and the day was dry, but it struck me that she might be suffering from light hypothermia. I got her out of the wind and gave her some hot tea to sip and cake to eat, whilst putting on a few extra layers. I could see the woods around Langsett Ranger Station, it was ridiculous this could be happening, we had hardly walked any distance, Alison had recently run the New York Marathon so was not unfit, but here we were dealing with the effects of wind chill on the human body. Alison recovered quickly and we made our way back to Langsett. It turned out that some medication she had been given had thinned her blood making her more susceptible to cold.

Norah Leary was not so fortunate. The seventeen year old rambler from Sheffield froze to death on Broomhead Moor on the 14th December 1937. A rescue party made up of police, local people and gamekeepers, found her body beneath a 10ft snow drift. The report, above, from the Manchester Guardian on the inquest gives further details. A photo here shows the rescue party bringing the body down Mortimer Road towards Ewden Beck. The clothing on the rescue party would have been very similar to the clothing worn by the ramblers.

A recent rescue of a walker near to the Cut Gate path could have had a very different outcome if Woodhead Mountain Rescue had not found them in time. A day walk in good conditions had turned into a life threatening event in harsh winter conditions with snow and sub zero night time temperatures. Being correctly equipped can make the difference between getting home safe or not at all.

The Dark Peak makes you pay for simple mistakes, especially in winter. The area can be at its most beautiful at this time of year, it can also be at its most brutal. So far the winter has been mild, many of us had wished for better winter conditions, hopefully it will come, for there is nothing better than walking across moorland in snow with a blue sky above.

Professional advice on hill walking from Woodhead Mountain Rescue