Trigpoint Walks 5

SK 2849 7884 Flask Edge 395m
SK 2849 7884 Flask Edge 395m

I like moorland walking.  Its a great way to get fit, improve calf and thigh muscles and once you get walking across peat moorland with lots of grass tussocks it will definitely improve you ankle strength, all in all a winner. I was scared of the moorlands as a kid because someone, I cannot remember who, put the idea in to my head that they were dangerous places where people died. I have grown to love the high moors, the loneliness mixed with wild beauty has a transfixing effect on my mind, after a few miles walking I have completely left my other lives behind.

The path up to Flask Edge was almost a sheep track, it was so narrow as it wound its way through calf high heather. In places I had to divert due to the amount of standing water.  We have had so much rain this winter, peat bogs have become a soup as they stop being able to absorb any more rain.  The path rises to a small plateau with broken down walls forming a handrail to the triangulation pillar. As I arrived, a huge group of ramblers also appeared and what seemed to be a bit of a stand off ensued.  I wanted my photo they didn’t want to move.  I decided to say my good mornings and take in the view.  You can see for miles from here, across Sheffield, over to the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Power Stations, up in to North Yorkshire and down the Derwent Valley through Derbyshire.  Eventually the oldies grew tired of the metaphorical staring contest and buggered off down the path I had ascended.  I got my photo!

Then set off after them.  They were surprisingly quick and noisy so I let them get on ahead.  I am with Wainwright on walking.  Being alone is enough company and being quiet is even better.

Benchmark on Barbrook Reservoir Track
Benchmark on Barbrook Reservoir Track

There is a track that winds its way down to the old abandoned Barbrook Reservoir and I ambled along it enjoying the easy walking.  Along the track I came across a leaning stone pillar and noticed it had a benchmark with the levelling mark perfectly level, so assume this is how it is supposed to look and time has not pulled the pillar over.  It would be easy to become disoriented in the area there being no water in the reservoir, the bottom being well overgrown with moorland grass.  At first I thought, hang on, there should be a big blue bit here, then saw the hole, of Dambuster proportions in the dam.  There is no way this reservoir could ever hold water with a hole that big, whatever are the water people playing at, come to think of it what are OS playing at, colouring in water when there plainly could not be any.  By the way never ever ever call the thing that is supposed to hold the water in the reservoir a Dam Wall.  Dam builders become very agitated when hearing this.  The “Wall” is The Dam, there is no wall.  Got It.

I did a little nav exercise here to a stone circle not far away.  Got to the right point but couldn’t see the circle.  I was looking for a small circle of stones, maybe a few feet in diameter.  It slowly dawned on me that the stone I was standing in front of was part of a large stone circle and that I had in fact found it.

Lunch at a lovely little bridge where I enjoyed my Big Soup in my Thermos Soup Flask and some nice cheese and pickle sandwiches.  The boys played around and had the odd chew to gnaw.  Then we headed off across Big Moor,now part of the Eastern Moors Partnership of the National Trust and RSPB.

As we crested the hill I noticed quite a lot of people watching us, I could see their heads turned in our direction.  It was only as we got closer that I realised it was the herd of deer that live on the moor. It is purportedly the largest wild herd in England, I have no doubt this is correct. Once they had a whiff of the boys, or maybe it was me and all that man made base layer technology, they scarpered and were never seen by us again.

SK 2637 7585 White Edge 365m
SK 2637 7585 White Edge 365m

We hit White Edge just to the left of the trig, this is called aiming off in navigational terms or just plain lucky in layman terms.  The views were magnificent, Bleaklow, Kinder, Wing Hill, Lose Hill, The Great Ridge, Burbage and Stanage.  Then down the Derwent Valley deep into the White Peak ans going east towards the coast.  Viewpoints like this are magical places, giving a sense of scale to the landscape and the human. We really are of no consequence when placed in a landscape that does not even register our existence.

Ollie windsurfing on White Edge
Ollie windsurfing on White Edge

We worked our way along White Edge, the wind gusting strongly, but still quite warm.  Ollie enjoyed it tremendously and kept stopping to face in to the wind for a bit of surfing.  Monty was not so keen as the wind would have ruffled his coiffed hair doo.    Heading back to the car we passed two relics of a lost transportation infrastructure.

Guide Stoop Whit Edge
Guide Stoop White Edge

The side tells the traveller this is the Dronfield Road, it also has a benchmark on the face.  It was used to guide travellers between Sheffield, Dronfield, Tideswell and Bakewell.  There is further information at artsinthepeak

There is something satisfying about walking an ancient route.  I imagine all sorts of characters struggling along in dark days with howling gales across desolate moorland.  Trains of horses loaded with goods, monks moving from monastery to grange, journeymen, quarrymen, stone masons and of course vagabonds. Imagine being out on these moors in bad weather, the depths of winter, no fancy hi tech clothing, no maps or compasses, only stories and the stones to tell you the way.

Ladys Cross Big Moor
Ladys Cross Big Moor

There are several salt routes that cross the moors around Big Moor and Leach Fen further south, major trade and communication routes. Many were marked by crosses, Ladys Cross on Big Moor is the third and most complete example I have seen on these walks.  It still has some of its perimeter wall surrounding it.  As a traveller these crosses must have been a welcome sight and visible for many miles.

SK 2777 7811 Barbrook Surface Block 398m
SK 2777 7811 Barbrook Surface Block 398m

Shortly after leaving Ladys Cross I arrived back at my car and the third and final Trig Point.  This was the hardest to find.  No pillar just a surface bolt in a lump of stone below ground level as it transpired.  Some prodding around with a Leki eventually located it.  This would be a fine nav test.

Walking through thousands of years of history all within a nine square kilometres is one of the joys of being outdoors, made all the more special when that history is so easily to hand and visible.

Trigpoint Walks 4

Lady's Cross, Salters Brook Packhorse Track

Do you go walking on your own or with friends?  If you go walking on your own, how many people do you take with you?  I ask the question because I sense a feeling of being alone in spending time on the hills with people who aren’t actually there.  Never have a conversation with someone who is not in the room, goes the old maxim.  Well by that standard a good proportion of my walking day would be spent in absolute silence.  Am I mad, do you think?  Or, and this is where I ask you to be courageous, do you, like me rant and rave at people who you probably haven’t seen for a decade or more, with me it can be up to five decades, that’s how long back my resentments can go.  I only ask, that’s all.  You don’t have to fess up, although if this were to become a platform for long held resentments being outed then I am happy to provide the service.  Call it Resentments Inc.

Surprisingly there were very few time wasters on the latest trig walk.  It wasn’t a walk I was particularly looking forward too to be honest. Natural beauty would not be a phrase you could connect with the landscape. It was within the National Park boundary, towards the northern tip of the park.  The setting off point was the cross Pennine route of the Woodhead Road.  A thundering line of heavy goods vehicles transporting wonderful things made by the clever people of Yorkshire to be sold to the not so clever people of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, told you old rivalries run deep.

I set of along the old original cross Pennine route, the packhorse track of Salters Brook.  It was used to transport goods to and from the east coast to the west and vice versa.  Near where I joined the route are the remains of an old public house and lodgings for the Jaggers and drovers, you can still enter the cellar, but be careful.  On a high point of the route heading east is another old cross.  Lady’s Cross still has part of the column intact, it must have been a welcome sight after the pull up from either valley each side of the summit.

SE 1562 0031 South Nab 461m
SE 1562 0031 South Nab 461m

Back across the Woodhead to my first trig South Nab, sounds like a whaling station in the Antarctic.  A sign told me I could not use the bridle way due to severe flooding, no surprise really, and no problem.  My route lay north east of the trig, with Emley Moor transmitter as the aiming point.  Lots of windmills on the hills to the east, which to my mind look quite nice.  There is a great debate going on at the moment re wind turbines.  The fors and agins both have valid arguments and I for one would not want to see great plantations of the things, what’s wrong with out at sea anyway.  But the odd cluster I do not mind and if it helps make us cleaner then all to the good.

I headed across moorland, past grouse butts and dropped down to the Trans Pennine Trail.  On my way down I could be heard, if you had been there, arguing with someone I haven’t seen for more than a decade.  They probably have forgotten all about me, but I am made of much sterner stuff.  It’s not that they did anything to me, it’s that I didn’t win, or they didn’t do what I thought they should have done.

SE 1319 0331 Snailsden 476m
SE 1319 0331 Snailsden 476m

Skirting round a couple of reservoirs I made my way to Snailsden trig. The track winds round the hillside of out of sight of the trig, so I took the opportunity to do a little pacing exercise.  When I reached my estimated number I climbed up the hill to find nothing.  Not a sausage, never mind a trig.  I can’t have been that far out I thought as I scanned the land in front of me.  Turning round the other way, there it was less than a few metres away.  What a pillock.  Just remember to turn round next time.

Had my lunch here with fine views across the Peak District and on up to the Dales and North Yks Moors.  I’m trying out some new lunch time tactics.  Soup in a soup Thermos, with small sandwiches to dunk.. Today it was Mulligatawny and cheese with Branston.  Very nice it was too.  Monty and Ollie munched away on some twig sticks they seem to enjoy and then sat staring me out, willing me to give over the sandwich or anything else I had going.  Not a chance.

Whilst doing all this I plotted the route to my final trig.  Stay high I decided, lets not lose height just to gain it again.  Remember last week all that ascent and descent and the cost on energy levels.  At the end I had almost nothing left, in conditions that were pretty atrocious.  Lesson learnt there.

I decided to use a shooting track to get me up on to the saddle over looking Longdendale.  This did mean a descent at first, but avoided bog trotting and working my way through thick heather whilst ascending the other side of the valley I was looking down on from Snailsden, that was the direct route, but not necessarily the quickest.  This proved the correct plan, and although the line was longer it was easier going and saved hugely on time and energy levels.

SE 1244 0172 Dead Edge End 500m
SE 1244 0172 Dead Edge End 500m

The route to Dead Edge End, where do they get these names from, followed a fence marking the line of several parish come county boundaries.  Naturally I tried to remain on the Yorkshire side for as long as possible and only had to hop across to Derbyshire once I reached the trig. There were wonderful views from the trig, Kinder, Bleaklow, Black Hill, some great walking country and with plenty of Trigs some great walks to come.

Back to base now following the last leg of the triangle, heading for South Nab.  I passed over the Woodhead tunnel and saw that there was smoke coming out of the air vents. Apparently this is condensation evaporating and not ghost steam trains, personally I prefer the latter.

I enjoyed this walk, even though the landscape was not picture book.  After the previous walk, I took more care about route and timing and energy levels and that made a huge difference to the enjoyment.  Have you noticed I left all those people in my head behind some while ago, well before Snailsden trig.  That’s the beauty of walking in to a landscape, the land itself becomes my companion.

Trigpoint Walks 2

SK 24532 94653 Broomhead Moor Fundamental Benchmark TP0526 Spot Height
A fundamental benchmark on Broomhead Moor. Now used as part of the GPS network. The witness states “Height Above Datum”

Every Christmas when I was a kid mom and dad would drag my brother and I across town to visit Uncle Frank and Aunty Iris. It was a walk of 3 miles or more through suburban housing and odd open spaces.  We walked because we didn’t have a car, this was back in the sixties and walking wasn’t a pastime then, it was how you got about.

I looked forward to the walk because when we got to the Colin Campbell pub we had to cross some open land, that had a pond with stickleback fish in, weird dry grass and even more strange black hills about twenty feet high.  It was a very odd place. I now know it was an old coal pit, closed long before that whore of the city Thatcher got her hands on the school milk, never mind whole mining communities.

In one corner was this sinister obelisk.  It stood on one of the small hills, like a pyramid, the white bright against the black coal spoil.  It always freaked me out a bit because it sat there throbbing, a deep hum seemingly emanating from the inner core.  Of course this was in the days of the first Dr WHO programmes which I watched from behind the settee so perhaps it could have been my imagination.  I always looked out for the pyramid but never thought to ask what it was.  Such are the seeds of a future life wasted on trivialities and other such important stuff in life.

The latest triangulation walk covered ancient routes, astronomy, the global positioning network and the legacy of the privileged classes, quite a menu for a days walk.

Rain has been a constant companion for quite a lot of us lately, I see they are now calling the current weather a conveyor system, a pretty descriptive term as we seem to be getting massive pulses of rain interspersed with a day or so of cold blue skies. I had not chosen one of the blue sky days, more to the pity.  At least it didn’t bucket it down or freezing cold.

The first trig was at the top of a hill, so no surprises there then.  To get to it I had to walk up through two villages, first Low Bradfield and then High Bradfield along a lovely old stone paved trail, the gritstone slabs dished with hundreds of years of passing feet.  At High Bradfield a sign told me the church was open but as I vigorously rattled the door like one of Henry’s  boys from the monastic cleansing department, it clearly wasn’t.  Peeved me a bit that did as I wanted to use the porch to put on my waterproofs, as it was I had to don them beside an opened stone coffin which thankfully only contained an empty crisp packet, salt and vinegar flavour, and a chocolate bar wrapper.

Onwards and upwards through the most sodden ground I have seen in a long time.  There has been so much rain the ground cannot take any more.  Water sits in great lakes across the landscape, cascading off fields and down roads in sheets of rippled silver.

SK 27723  92949 Kirk Edge Trigpoint TP4248
SK 27723 92949 Kirk Edge Trigpoint TP4248

Kirk Edge trig point is pretty un-glamorous surrounded by grotty fields, a water board pumping station and broken down walls.  The view wasn’t even any good today as you can see.  There is some compensation though in the rather sinister and newly refurbished buildings to the east.  These belong to Sheffield University Astronomy department.  I have no idea what they do up there, but it does bring back similar feelings to my childhood forays to Aunty Iris.

Onwards then to a special trig via Rocher Edge a wonderfully isolated wooded area with towering cliffs just asking to be scaled.  My goal was a very special triangulation point, so special it had a special fence and a plaque.

SK 24532 94653 Broomhead Moor Fundemental Benchmark TP0526 Chamber
SK 24532 94653 Broomhead Moor Fundamental Benchmark TP0526 Chamber

This strange trigpoint is still in use as part of the GPS system today.  The picture at the top of the blog is of the top of the stone obelisk shown here.  It is odd isn’t it that today’s GPS hi-tech units still have to rely on a piece of technology built in the thirties.  It is called a Fundamental Benchmark because it was one of the first trigs established and is set on bedrock so is highly unlikely to move and therefore very reliable.’

Lunchtime and I found a sheltered spot from the wind and rain along a shooting track that led onto the moors.  It was quite a nice place, I was very comfy with my flask and pot of noodles, I rather enjoyed myself.

The final trig was only about 750m away from me but I decided to avoid the steep clough, didn’t fancy clambering down and back up again in all that wind and rain.  I followed the track round then turned east before cart wheeling head first in to a peat bog, the first of three that day. It is a part of Peak District moorland walking, peat bogs, and you just have to accept that at some point you will be sucked in.  There’s one born every minute as Sam used to say.

This was my little bit of nav practice in a howling gale with just the use of the map.  My objective was marked on the OS map as “New Cross”, which sat on a small featureless plateau.  I focused on a point on the skyline and headed for it through thick heather, peat grough and waterlogged marsh land, arriving bang on the cross with no time wasted looking for it.

SK 21550 92887 Remains of New Cross Hollings Dale nr Broomhead Moor
SK 21550 92887 Remains of New Cross Hollings Dale nr Broomhead Moor

I am unsure what the crosses were for, there are a few of them in the Peak district and I assumed they were some form of ancient way markers.  They always have a base where the post must have fitted, but is now long gone and always in a remote location in relation to today’s transport routes.  They do warrant further study, perhaps they were a form of trig point, albeit without the triangulation.

A simple bearing and some pacing took me across moorland to the final trig on a small hill over looking the Bradfield Valley.

SK 23987 93366 Emlin Ridge Trigpoint TP 3060
SK 23987 93366 Emlin Ridge Trigpoint TP 3060

The light was starting to fade now, time to get off the hill and out of the wind and rain.  As I headed back to the village the rain softened, big drops landed gently on my coat and made for a pleasant end to the day.