Walking in the Peak District

Dark Peak weather at the Humber Knolls. Peak District National Park. Dark Peak Walks. Author Paul Besley. Published by Cicerone Press.
Dark Peak weather at the Humber Knolls. Peak District National Park

Well hasn’t this been a fine summer so far. Blue skies, warm sun and dry as anything.

In truth this is pretty typical Dark Peak weather, probably typical British summer weather although I am sure come winter the weather men will be telling us what a dry year it was with below average rain fall and above average temperatures. The heating came on last night of its own accord, but I may have got the thermostat set a little high.

Wet weather in the Peak District National Park just means two things really, fewer pictures and muckier boots. Dark Peak and White Peak offer up different aspects of the muddy boots. In Dark Peak its peat, liquid now with all the rain, so it’s up to your thighs in the stuff. It takes some getting out of too, all that water creates a suction effect. There is no getting around it in times like these. The path across Howden Moor on PB Walk 16 in Dark Peak Walks will be an absolute delight now. You are not going along that without falling flat on your face in a peat bog and coming out looking like a character from a 60’s horror movie.

I once got stuck in a grough. I was an idiot for going down into it in the first place and remember thinking as much as I slithered down its banking, the peat folding like wet chocolate cake beneath my feet. At the bottom which had a surface as slick and shiny as gloss black paint my boots went into the peat and just carried on going down further and further until I was in up to my, well it would not have done to unzip my flies!

I was stuck and with nothing to claw at the only way out was a sort of rocking to and from, each rocking motion accompanied with a slight raising of a leg. Then, prostrating myself across the surface I peat swam out, rising panic, flailing arms, slightly hysterical squealing.

But I was not finished. I still had to get out of the grough. The only way I could do it was to kick steps as in winter mountain walking and jab my fingers into the grough wall. It was like ice climbing in a way, maybe I had invented a new sport. Grough climbing. Near the top my peaty fingers grabbed the flimsiest piece of heather and pulled. It’s strong stuff heather and can hold a huge amount of weight. Only this time it didn’t and I flew backwards, smacking straight into the liquid peat at the bottom with a satisfying slap.

I think I may have cried at that point, not sure really, but it is probable. Long story short, it took me the best part of 30 minutes to get out.

It was not elegant. But it is a good story to tell. Dark Peak gives you that.

PB Walk 16 can be found in Dark Peak Walks. You can buy a copy here.

You can read reviews from walkers here.

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. Author Paul Besley. Publisher Cicerone Press

 

 

Trigpoint Walks 11

SK 1770 9697 Outer Edge 541m
SK 1770 9697 Outer Edge 541m

The classic walks of the Dark Peak offer the walker enjoyment of the highest order whatever the weather, come rain, snow or sunshine. The degree of isolation especially in winter when on a featureless high moorland deep in snow that is invariably being driven hard into the face by an unremitting wind, is a character building experience best savoured in warm surroundings with a hot mug of tea. The walker having endured such a day will quite rightly have earned the soft green hills of the White Peak the following spring.

The walk along the three triangulation pillars that look out over the Upper Derwent Valley is one of the great edge walks of The Peak District. It is not a long walk so there is plenty of time to stand and stare, or, better still find a vantage point and sit and watch, there will be much to view and learn.

I started from The Kings Tree at the end of the public road that winds its way up the valleys western side. A track leads across the young Derwent river via the Slippery Stones bridge, transplanted from the sunken Derwent Village, and heads off up the valley following the river. Above can be seen the edges that fringe the valley and it is to one of these that a shooting track climbs up from the river towards Crow Stones Edge and then onto the first trig at Outer Edge.

The views from the triangulation pillar are magnificent. Bleaklow, Kinder, The Great Ridge, Bamford Edge, West and North Yorkshire, all are there to be seen and no doubt on a crystal clear day well beyond that as well.

SK 1891 9569 Margery 546
SK 1891 9569 Margery 546m

The next triangulation pillar, Margery is in line with the valley and in a dry season is a pleasant walk, in wet and continuous rain it is a completely different matter. This is peat grough country, dark, thick, oozing, leg sucking. There is no avoiding it, so you might as well be prepared. Gaiters are a must as are tight laces to save lost boots. You can skirt some groughs but a strange and probably natural mathematical formula means that you can never ever escape the final ignominy of flailing about in a childish fashion whilst trying to look as though you are in control. It is also a natural law that having seen no one all day, as soon as you become stuck a ramblers group will appear out of nowhere, to ask if you need help, to which the answer is of course a firm NO.

From Margery I chose a little bit of a nav exercise, taking a bearing from Featherbed Moss to the shooting track of Dukes Road means a yomp across moorland, navigating between the wetter marsh areas to gain the track across Cartledge Bents. Near by is an old cross possibly used as a marker to the Grange at Abbey Clough nearby and well worth a visit.

SK 1976 9099 Back Tor 538
SK 1976 9099 Back Tor 538m

The slabbed track for Back Tor which can be seen on the skyline, threads through peat and bog, so at least the feet keep dry. I’m not sure about these paths, I agree they do reduce erosion and something had to be done, but they are sore on the feet, so I was glad on reaching Back Tor, to climb up to the trig, remove my boots and sit back and relax.

The vista really is superb, I was glad I had brought some binoculars so that I could watch the birds and hares and pick out favourite places on the horizon. After half an hours rest I set off down to Fairholmes visitor centre via moor, woodland and track, a great days walking whatever the weather.