Pecsaetan – Ancient Peak District tribe

Some thing for the weekend. How about stepping into a time in the Dark Peak, when the Peak District was not a district at all, it was the northern edge of territory for the Pesaetan tribe way back in the Anglo-Saxon era.

Stanedge Pole on the boundary of Northumbria and Mercia
Stanedge Pole on the boundary of Northumbria and Mercia

The boundary is still there today at Stanedge Pole which sits on the boundary of the old Northumbria and Mercia territories, now it separates Yorkshire and Derbyshire and the Sees of Canterbury and York.

The Peaklanders as they were known called Kinder Scout “Cyn dwr scwd” which translates as “The hill of the waterfall”, Kinder Downfall.

Dwr gwent “the white water” became Derwent.

The many “lows” Bleaklow, Shuttlinsloe, Pike Lowe, White Lowe, signify an ancient burial-place. Perhaps there is something to the Longdendale lights after all.

It seems perhaps odd to our modern day minds that these places should be inhabited, maybe that is because for many years mere mortals were banned from setting foot, it was the privilege of the chosen few. Not too different from when it formed part of the ancient Peak Royal Forest then.

This weekend, have a walk in an ancient landscape, there is plenty of information on this blog to wet your appetite and you can find lots more in my book Dark Peak Walks.

Dark Peak Walks Book by Paul Besley, published by Cicerone Press. 40 walks in the Dark Peak with detailed route descriptions, maps, photos and points of interest.
Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

This weekend in the Peak District

The weather is looking mixed this Easter bank holiday weekend. Saturday sunny-ish, Sunday and Monday cloudy with a bit of rain, wind is forecast gentle to moderate all three days.

So what to do. If you have my book Dark Peak Walks here are some suggestions to escape the crowds.

Walk No.7 Wyming Brook to Stanage Edge – 11 Miles

A superb gorge with a tumbling stream, a lot of history and then Stanage Edge. Throw in some benchmarks, trig pillars, Stanedge Pole, and those water bowls and you have a great walk.

Walk No.15 Low Bradfield and Dale Dyke – 6 Miles

A relaxing walk, that can be done in a morning or afternoon. Huge amount of history, beautiful woodlands, lots of raptors to be seen and ice cream at the end. What more could you want.

Walk 23 Kinder Scout – 10 Miles

Its been really dry of late so how about a venture into the centre of Kinder Scout, test you navigation skills and not get your feet wet. It can be done.

Walk 26 Dunford Bridge to Ramsden Clough – 11.5 Miles

The chances are that you will have the place to yourself on this walk. Famous last words I know, but rarely do I see anyone and this walk has some magnificent views in a little visited area. Try something new.

Four walks all with mixed terrain, ascent and distance with plenty of things to see along the way. Easter holidays and something for the weekend.

Beats decorating. So Alison tells me.

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Peak District in the snow

Winter is just rubbish this season in the Peak District National Park. Too warm, too wet underfoot and calamities of calamities not enough snow, any snow, snow that stays around for days and weeks, not just a few hours creating mayhem then slinking away like an errant child.

I have had some wonderful winters in the Peak District. Proper winters, with cold and snow and the Snake, Woodhead and Cat and Fiddle closed and blocked with stranded vehicles. Winters where you have to pinch yourself because you are the first person, ever to walk into Dovedale went it is covered in snow from the previous days snowstorm. All the snow just drapes across the trees and the walls and the fields, great billows of cotton. And not a single foot print in sight save for those of birds and sheep.

Walking around the Upper Derwent Valley and having to post hole for 9 miles, wishing you’d brought a slower companion. Cant he stop and look at the scenery, its magnificent. The groins paid for it after though. A full six months before I could walk normally again.

Sitting in Grindle Barn and just looking at the scenery down the Upper Derwent Valley. Snow covering Bamford Edge and Win Hill. Snow in all the fields, right down to the reservoir edge. Drinking spiced Bovril from the flask and thinking last time you did this was in the bird hide at Ditch Clough I gave my Ranger mentor for the day a cup because she loved the smell.

Walking along the pastures below Rocher Edge and seeing a truly gift card scene. A monochrome landscape in perfect balance. Nothing out of place at all. Later the dogs getting snow balled up as they dived in and out of the snow.

Ice crystals at Kinder Downfall, but far too soon for any ice climbers. A day on Kinder in the winter, planning a walk that was far too long for some and using the short cut to get back on track. Then into the Snake Inn and meeting friends old and new, all having had a great time in the Dark Peak snow.

How the wind blows snow against the walls and leaves the opposite side clear. Great drifts forming where the wind packs the snow. Suddenly having to navigate without walls and fields and boundaries for reference because there aren’t any, they are all under great big piles of washing. Bright white, a brilliant blue white like in the washing powder commercials.

Thinking, next year I am going to get snow shoes or learn to ski. And next year comes and will there be snow this year, perhaps not, so don’t waste my money. Then I remember the time I nearly got stuck on the Snake, but managed to make it back to Glossop and a 8 hour round trip via the M62 to get home.

I love winter and I have missed it this year.

Parkin Clough to Win Hill

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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

Safety in the Dark Peak

On the subject of my Facebook Post
regarding the family I met yesterday who were wanting to go on Kinder. There have been quite a few replies to the original post all offering views, some in agreement with each other. Here is the conversation between me and the parents.
Dad.. You look like a person who knows what they are doing. Can you tell me the way to Kinder?
Me… You cannot drive on to Kinder
Dad… We wanted to walk up but cannot find the way.
Me… If you park here you are likely to get hit, the tractors are quite big and your car is sticking out a bit. You might find it safer to park in the car park 50m down the road..
Dad.. Oh Ok.
Me….Have you been up onto Kinder before
Dad… No we wanted to take the kids up
Me… OK. Do you have a map
Mum… No. But I know how to use a compass
Me… You really could do with a map, there are no signposts on Kinder and its easy to get lost . The cloud is quite low so visibility will be poor. Do you have your compass with you. You could buy a map from the visitor centre.
Mum… No I dont have my compass but my phone has googlemaps
Me… That wont be really any use Im afraid. Look to be honest, if you are asking me how to get to Kinder from here its a fair chance you might get lost and Kinder is not a place to be lost on with children. Why not go on one of the low level walks around here, there is some really nice walking, you could even get a leaflet from the visitor centre with them in.
Mum… We could buy a map for Kinder.
Me.. OK if you want to do that then the easiest way up from here is up William Clough its about 3 miles from here and the route isnt clear and it can be rough underfoot. If you do go up and the weather turns, come straight back down the way you came. Whats your name….tells me name.
Mum.. we will be alright
Me… well you have a good day, if you feel you are getting lost just stop and turn round and come back. it will be cold on top so make sure you and the children keep warm and dry. If it starts to rain or snow get down as quick as you can.
That was the conversation. I am a park ranger and that kind of conversation is not unusual and to be fair it is usually the woman who is more adamant about continuing on. I think people should be able to make their own decisions and being in the outdoors means accommodating different weather conditions, we as walkers know that. I do think I have a responsibility, children or otherwise to explain the facts to people, but I cannot stop someone from taking their own decision. I did not come across the people on Kinder nor when I returned so maybe they took my advice. One of the problems the Peak District has is that so much of it is near roads. You do not have hours of a walk in to get to the start. This gives people a false sense of security and people are just not aware of the possible dangers. Only if you have been in a tight spot, and I suspect we all have, are you aware that things can very quickly go wrong.
With regards to reporting to the police I am not sure about that. Naivety and ignorance are not really a crime. For sure the addition of children into the mix makes it a little more serious. So I did the best thing I could think of, ask their name and take note of the car reg when I walked on. If needed later on it could be useful information. As a ranger I always ask where people are coming from and going to. It may come in useful if they are reported missing and it helps me give them some interesting info about where they are going. Its what I do and its nice to have a conversation with people about the Peak District.
People should be encouraged to get out on to the moors more, but it should be tempered with education about the reality.
Thats my thoughts. You comments are welcome.

Kinderscout Grit

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Crow Stones, Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District National Park

Last year I walked one of my favourite routes in the Dark Peak. I followed a bed of Kinderscout Gritstone for several miles, using its vertical edges to cross the landscape.

Kinderscout gritstone is interspersed with layers of shale and mudstones. These can often be seen exposed in sharply incised cloughs, where a stream has cut through the edge of the gritstone bed and revealed its many layers. Going up or down a clough can literally take you through millions of years.

In places the gritstone is 150m thick and at Crow edge both the top and bottom edges of a gritstone layer can be seen. Kinderscout  gritstone tilts both south and east as it flows down the Upper Derwent Valley from Swains and form one half of the watershed. To the north and west gritstone mixes with the coal measures of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Bleaklow Stones, Barrow Stones, are good examples of gritstone left behind through erosion. Bleaklow Stones is a particularly good example, it is as if someone just walked away from a game of marbles. The Horse Stone is similar but has weathered differently showing a the wind sanding down the softer layers to leave a pancake stack effect. In places erosion has weathered the gritstone to form precariously balanced rocking stones, some of the best place to see this is on the tors and outcrops, Crow Stones is I think the best example.

Following a geological walk gives me a very different experience of the landscape and leads to areas well off the beaten path which often reward with wonderful surprises.

The other mass trespass

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Abbey Brook from Cartledge Bents

The other day I did a spot of checking for one of the walks in my Dark Peak book. It is always a quandary when I have more than one possible route. Which will be of more interest and why. Some routes are better at certain times of year, or have a completely different character. Walk on Bleaklow in summer with the cotton grass, golden plover, common lizards and bilberries and then do the same walk in deep winter, with windswept snow and ice  and only the white mountain hare and a few brave walkers for company and you have two very different experiences.

Abbey Brook is a case in point, not so much for the seasons, although it presents a different face at each turn, but because there are so many walks that can lead to it. That is not by accident either, Abbey Brook was a major route across the area in the past. The area was owned by Welbeck Abbey who used it for sheep and the monastic outpost that was situated in this cleft in the hillside was connected to the Grange at Crookhill a little further down the valley by a path. On the moorland above tracks fed into Abbey Brook from North, East and South, the small valley providing easy access to the west.

One of the most prominent was the Dukes Road, named after the Duke of Norfolk, which led from Bar Dike over on Mortimer Road to Abbey Brook and onwards west or alternatively Bradfield Gate and Derwent Village. One of several ways to head east to west in the age before roads. The route was always public until the Duke decided to close it for his Grouse Shooting.

GHB Ward of the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers was none too impressed and was convinced it was a public right of way and carried out research to prove so. It was decided to make a stand, this was several months after the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout and things were still tense between walkers and land owners. On Sunday 18th September 1932 several hundred walkers set off from Malin Bridge in Sheffield and headed towards Broomhead Moor and the Dukes Road. They were intent on walking on to Bradfield Gate and returning back to Malin Bridge. All seemed to go well with only the odd Gamekeeper spotted. That was until the reached Cartledge Bents overlooking Abbey Clough, where the Dukes men attempted to stop their progress. A small fracas ensued before the walkers were allowed to proceed unhindered.

The protest did not make the news nor the impact they probably desired and this was very likely due to the outcry that had followed the Kinder Mass Trespass and the imprisonment of the so called ring leaders. Nonetheless, a further blow had been made for walkers.

It must have been a fantastic site to see hundreds of walkers marching down the Dukes Road. Today you get the odd group of Ramblers, some fell runners and the lone single walker.

I have researched the route the mass trespass took from the Tram sheds at Malin Bridge and will walk the route come spring, who knows it may well make it in to the book. It might be nice to have two trespasses.