A great family day in the Peak District

 

 

This is probably one of the best book reviews I have received, if not the best. Messages like this make everything worthwhile, especially when the young have such a fantastic time out in the Peak District.

Daniel Simpson sent me this message via facebook of a day out with his family. They chose to do PB Walk 5 Grindleford to Higger Tor. If you want to introduce children to walking and have a good time, then this is definitely the walk to do. Thank you to Daniel and his family.

Hi Paul. Just wanted to say how much we enjoyed our walk today. By far and away the highlight was just how much my son’s enjoyed themselves they wee enjoying it every bit as much as me if not more so. So often I feel like I’m cajoling them in to something they’re not massively keen on but the past two Sundays have been an absolute blast. I didn’t really use the guidebook whilst walking last week but we had loads of time today so I let my 10 year old lead the way following the instructions, when we were at the rear of the chapel and he realised where he was stood was the same as the one in your book it blew his mind…it was lovely honestly, he was almost starstruck and later on when we walked past the gritstones he recognised those as well and demanded the book to confirm what he was seeing was the one from the book. I managed to snap him posting and getting good really giddy, it looks contrived but he was going ‘look !…that’s those from the book’. Thanks again, really enjoyed it today.

Shop

Reviews

Winter on Hathersage Moor

Monty and Olly on Hathersage Moor, Peak District National Park
Monty and Olly on Hathersage Moor

As I look out of the window a few flakes of snow are drifting around, the first real snow flakes this year and the only second lot of snow this winter. Walking in the Peak District National Park when there is snow on the ground is a real joy. Care has to be taken as the weather often changes quickly from a nice winter scene to one of life threatening survival.

I have a friend out on Kinder Scout today, running the Kinder Dozen, a gruelling route up and down the flanks of the plateau. In winter conditions this is one serious undertaking, but well prepared can be a fine way of spending a day out on the high moors.

Some of the best days out walking have been in winter. Back in 2013 I was leading a group of walkers around the White Peak. It snowed heavily in the night, fifteen foot snow drifts were not unusual, so there was no use of the car. We elected to walk from the hotel down in to Dovedale and follow it up to Milldale. We were the first people in the dale. All was white and quiet, and curves. Not a single footprint existed, the land was formed by white billows of snow, obliterating walls and footpaths. It was like walking into Narnia. We all walked without talking, just enjoying the surreal experience.

The picture above was taken a few years ago on Hathersage Moor. When we set out it was just a normal winter day, no snow, but a heavy sky. By mid afternoon it had all changed and as we dropped down from Higger Tor the scene changed to a complete whiteout, unusual in the Peak District. We were heading for the enclosure but that had disappeared. Walking on a bearing we found the walls and then on to Mother Cap. At all times, literally just a few hundred meters away from a road, but we might as well have been in the middle of Bleaklow for all we could see.

Monty and Olly enjoyed it hugely and collected huge great balls of snow on their coats. A day never to forget. Getting out there is what makes the memories.

Hathersage Moor appears on Walk No.5 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press

Grindleford Cafe

thumb_img_2013_1024
A sign welcoming you to Grindleford Cafe in the Peak District National Park

I saw an article  recently entitled The Ten Best Cafes In The National Parks or some such. On the list was Grindleford Cafe, at Grindleford Station in the Peak District National Park.

It’s very well-known to all Peak District visitors. Not because of its food, which is simple, filling and, thankfully, of the none healthy variety. Its reputation comes from the plethora of signs and the grumpiness of its previous owner one Phillip Eastwood. The cafe is now run by his son, again Phillip, he is of a much more benign nature.

I remember the elder from my school days when he had, I think, a garden shed on the side of the Snake, selling bacon butties, tea and Kitkats. The station ticket office and waiting room became available and he sets up a cafe for all the walkers, not many bikers in them days, and the climbers. It was a no frills set up, hardly any decoration, the seating and old lights still in place, gas lights too but unused. The food was of the transport cafe variety, huge portions you ordered, sat down and then waited for your number to be called. The food was passed, there’s a euphemism, more like slid across a pass to you. If you didn’t hear your number it just sat there, that was your half of the contract, they cooked, you took away.

The order counter had signs of what you could and could not do and eat. Mushrooms were a favourite target for angst. STOP ASKING FOR MUSHROOM WE DONT DO THEM. HOW MANY MORE TIMES. READ THIS. Or similar. In later years the same invective was aimed at Latte. No but we do milky coffee, was often the reply. Or THIS PASS IS FOR FOOD NOT YOUR EMPTY PLATES. ITS SIMPLE.

When I had my business if we finished early on a Friday we would go there for dinner, not lunch, that was pretentious in Sheffield and if there was one thing Phillip disliked it was pretensions. A full blowout with pint mugs of tea loaded with sugar, sliced white with marge, brown sauce from a giant dispensing unit, was the best thing. In winter you could have that in front of a roaring fire. Can’t do that in Costa McDonalds.

Phillip would come and sit with us, us all in overalls and plaster dust and chat about this and that. I got the feeling he liked us more than the Sunday morning brigade who had driven out from Sheffield and walked no further than the distance from the car, maybe they pushed a little one in one of those massive carts they put babies in nowadays. Go on a weekday and it’s still walkers and now cyclists eating the same food, it’s almost a stolen pleasure in today’s health obsessed culture.

I miss Phillip, he was a character and he was real. There are few of those around today. He didn’t pretend to be something else, and he built a business that has become loved. Grindleford Cafe is as much a part of the Peak District National Park character as is its emblem the grindstone wheel, and that’s not a bad legacy to leave.

The Long Causeway on Stanage

Wild Ash trees in Bole Hill Quarry
Wild Ash trees in Bole Hill Quarry

I took a walk along Stanage Edge the other day.  A friend, Mark Richards and I set off from Grindleford station, bypassing the bacon butties and pints of tea and climbed up the old rail incline to reach Bolehill quarry.  It’s a strange looking place as you view the quarry through the vertical blinds of wild ash trees that have colonised the area since working ceased.  It makes for wonderful views and eerie monochromatic photography art galleries in London would probably pay handsomely for.   Light showers had put paid to most climbers attempts on the quarry face, but there were a couple working their way up towards the top.  On fine weekends it is just like a school yard, with lots of people milling around, climbing, trying new techniques, taking instruction, a hive of activity that is nice to sit and watch. 

We moved on past the abandoned millstones, these always make me wonder if the people who ordered them are still waiting for delivery, and crossed over to skirt the bottom if Millstone edge before claiming the top and a fine view down the Hope Valley, with the ribbon of the Sheffield to Manchester Rail line taking the eye on to Mam Tor and Kinder.  Another group of kids tried some bouldering on Owler Tor and as we passed them I pointed out a superb bivvy spot for future reference.  I know that wild camping and bivvying is illegal in England and Wales, but if it leaves no trace then I cannot see the harm.  I accept there are those who trash a place, there will always be thus, but the vast majority of people do it so that they can enjoy the seclusion and majesty of a night spent out on the hills and a welcoming sunrise to enjoy.

The rain had stopped by the time we reached Stanage, a few people were around, none climbing so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  It’s a wonderful edge walk, with fine views down the Hope Valley, and across to Kinder.  Descending The Long Causeway we could see recent damage caused by motorised vehicles, I guess 4×4 or trail bikes or maybe a granny in a Toyota Yaris!!  Huge great gouges in what is left of the surface with clear scraping marks on the rocks.  This is not responsible use of a green way, how can this destruction be seen as right.  Then again on Stanage we had walked across man made stone pathways placed there to alleviate the erosion caused by thousands of pairs of feet, so what’s the difference between tyre and boot??  Been up Black Hill lately of Torside Clough and seen what happens and what needs to be done to arrest erosion caused by our own need to demonstrate our legal right by walking where we want when we want and never mind the consequences.  A few days after our walk along the ancient pack-horse route a decision by the Peak District National Park was taken to close the route to all motorised vehicles.  The blue touch paper has been lit, it now remains to be seen how quickly the rocket goes off. 

We dropped down into Hathersage, narrowly missing tea at the café in Outside and caught the train back to Grindleford to pick up the car.  It was a nice days walk and a good way to explore the grit-stone corridor that abounds the rail line.  Leaving the car at Grindleford and returning by rail meant we could allow our route to unfold, taking direction as the will took us, with no worry about how to get back to our vehicles.    

Odd isn’t it that we used public transport to access wonderful countryside whilst at the very same time vehicular access was being removed to protect a ancient way.   

Maybe that’s how it should be.