Two walks in Dovedale

Over the years I’ve walked in Dovedale several times, but usually in the particularly busy bits. My daughter’s first hill bagging experience was up on Thorpe Cloud last summer, and I’d seen the stepping stones, Lover’s Leap and Dove Holes caves a few times on shorter strolls. Anywhere in Dovedale is special – and I really don’t mind crowds, it’s great to see people out in the countryside. However, I wanted to see some of the other areas around the dale I’d missed before. So, over the past couple of months I’ve had a couple of trips back to try and see some more of the place – and what a contrast they were!

My first trip was in pretty grim weather, with wind and rain for much of the day. Down in the dale itself the views were still pretty impressive. However, while bagging the summits of Bunster Hill and Baley Hill I could barely see my hand in front of my face at times! However, a couple of weeks ago the first real sunshine of Spring came out, so I headed back to prove what amazing views there are from those tops – with Bunster Hill giving particularly amazing views out over Dovedale and the surrounding countryside.

Walk 1 – Dovedale, Baley Hill and Bunster Hill – 7.5 miles

Get the Dovedale, Baley Hill and Bunster Hill  route card here

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A great view even on a dull day.

After parking in the pay and display at the entry to Dovedale (sadly the car park at the entrance to the dale was missing it’s usual grumpy attendant – never make the mistake of asking him about the National Trust!) I was quick out and into the dale, crossing the river at the bridge by the gauging station before marching over Lover’s Leap. There are some amazing limestone rock formations all along Dovedale – and if anyone in your party likes a bit of a scramble the steep slopes are perfect, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.

At Dove Holes there was a team of climbers tackling the inside of the cave, then abseiling down from the roofs. They made it look easy work, but I’m not that nimble! Past the caves I was into new territory. As with the busier stretch before the dale is still easy walking with a solid path, but it widens out a touch, with Raven’s Tor looming in the murk to the left, and my target of Baley Hill out of sight up to the right. Viator’s Bridge at Mill Dale made a perfect lunch stop – the village really is as chocolate-box pretty as guidebooks make it sound, even on a gloomy day.

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Mill Dale

After lunch I took the route up the hill towards Baley Hill. All the way to the top it was pretty easy walking on clear paths, with a concessionary route connecting to the access land occupied by the summit. The ridge of Baley Hill forms a series of raised humps of limestone, which are fun to explore – which is just as well as the views were almost none existent! Working south from the summit is The Nabs, where the little humps of limestone expand and form small crags, which descend steeply down towards a side-dale. I followed the ridges straight down hill. For the most part this was fine but steep – however the last section before joining the path back to Dovedale itself was really a bit too steep, requiring me to hang onto the rock and trees to avoid slipping. It’s probably best to skirt along the top of The Nabs until reaching the top of the path near Hanson Grange. The path back down the side-dale is steep, and was very muddy – but being forested it provided something different to the more exposed nature of the rest of Dovedale.

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The limestone outcrops on Baley Hill approaching The Nabs.

Once back at the dale I turned left and headed for Ilam Bridge. My aim was to climb up out of the dale to towards Ilam Tops. The OS maps show a footpath apparently heading from besides Ilam Rock, so I tried to find this. A scramble up past the rock and I found what appeared to be a rough path, so followed it up the hill. It was very steep and direct, but always fairly obvious. At the top the path joins to a more well-worn and clearly planned path. I later found that this path (a newer path added as the old one was so steep?) actually appears in the dale slightly north of Ilam Rock, just before Hall Dale. Even this path is sign-posted as being very steep – but it’s probably the safest bet, especially as this initial part of the route I took required a small amount of very basic scrambling past Ilam Rock.

The path along from the Ilam Tops area towards Bunster is pretty clear, along with some ‘welcoming’ signs making it clear you mustn’t step foot off the approved line – which i’m not entirely sure is the ‘definitive’ line, but there you go. Bunster Hill itself is really just the southern end of Ilam Tops – it doesn’t even merit an addition on hill bagging sites as it’s prominence is so small. However, as with so much of the Peak District, the highest ground isn’t always where the walker wants to be aiming for (not least as Ilam Tops itself doesn’t have any ‘official’ public access – probably a problem considering the signage in the area!).

Like Baley Hill, Bunster is topped with small crests of limestone, which are great for exploring and give it a ‘dragon’s back’ appearance from Ilam (on a clearer day!). The actual summit is within a small copse of trees, but it’s barely any higher than any of the other bumps along the ridge. With no views on show today, I quickly took a fairly direct route down the steep flank of the hill, which is all Access Land. From there it was a short, but very muddy, walk past the Issac Walton Hotel and back to the car park.

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The ‘view’ from the top of Bunster’s south ridge.

 

Walk 2 – Ilam and Dovedale – 7 miles 

Get the Ilam and Dovedale route card here

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View to Dovedale from Ilam Hall – Bunster Hill’s two ridges to the centre, Thorpe Cloud to the right 
And, then, with the sun shining! This walk really highlighted just how amazing the views from the hills surrounding Dovedale are – if you get the weather right! This time round I started from the National Trust car park at Ilam Hall, and once on the Access Land at the foot of Bunster Hill I left the footpaths and headed straight upwards. Bunster Hill has two ridges leading away from it’s summit. One heads south-west to Ilam, while one heads east. If the River Dove hadn’t ripped it’s way through the hill the dramatic peak of Thorpe Cloud would be no more than the end of the eastern spur.

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This is almost the same photo from Bunster as above – but with slightly more of a view!
After taking in the views across to Thorpe Cloud and across the lower Manifold Valley I descended down towards Dovedale itself. It’s steep, but never too steep, and a rough path helps guide the way down.

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Thorpe Cloud – is there a more magnificent small hill?
Heading over Lover’s Leap I started looking out for the path up to the natural arch and Reynard’s Cave. I’d always missed it, concentrating too hard on marching along the valley, so I wasn’t sure if I’d find it difficult to locate. But, just meters into a pretty distinct path (about halfway between Tissington Spires and Pickering Tor), the arch opens out in front of you, like a trick of the eye (think the invisible bridge in Raiders of the Lost Ark!).

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How did I ever miss that?!
To get back out of Dovedale I crossed Ilam Bridge – and passed the start of the ‘easier’ path up towards Ilam Tops (see above). Hall Dale looks to be a dry valley, and slopes fairly gently (by Dovedale standards) up towards Stanshope. There’s evidence of working of the limestone, which is confirmed by the remains of an old limekiln at the top of a concessionary footpath leading from the dale to Damgate.

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Hall Dale
From here it was a simple stroll through the rolling countryside of the lower reaches of the River Manifold’s valley. The views across to wooded hills are a contrast to those in Dovedale, with gentler slopes, more green (especially at this time of year) and more cows! As the Manifold falls into the Dove the walk ended back at Ilam Hall. And I can honestly say there’s no better place to have been walking on a fresh, sunny Spring day.

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Manifold Valley

Re-resolving

First off, before we start, we all have to agree to not notice it’s already nearly March. OK? OK…

In 2016 I set myself a New Year’s Resolution – to do 1000 active miles throughout the year (but, cheating a touch, I included indoor miles in the gym…). I managed to keep up the activity all the way through the year and met my goal, to my own surprise, let alone other people’s (my wife was fairly suspicious I’d been replaced with some kind of replicant – a suspicion only given up when she realised I was still serving no purpose, useful or malign).

I lost some weight. I definitely got much fitter (which had been the goal). But the real bonus was the experiences I had in the great outdoors while clocking up some extra miles. There are are some photos below of some of the sights I would have completely missed out on if I hadn’t shaken myself into the habit of finding extra opportunities to get out and about for a walk, kayak, cycle ride or (and this was the shock) a run.

So, cut to the chase, I’ve set myself the same target for 2017 – but now all the miles have to be outdoors! So, 1000 miles, in any activity, all outdoors. To help me along, I’ve set up 12 challenges to clock up some of these miles – roughly one per month (we’re still all ignoring it’s nearly March right?). If anyone would like to join me on any of these please let me know – though beware, I am a slow coach, especially on a bike!

  1. A competitive canoe/kayak event
  2. Dawn to Dusk walk (December, on the equinox?)
  3. 10km run – anywhere, anyhow!
  4. An overnight canoe/camping trip
  5. Coast to Coast cycle route (in 2-3days)
  6. Do basic climbing course
  7. 100m bike ride (in one day)
  8. Three Lakes Challenge (not in 24 hours mind!)
  9. Striding Edge & Swirrel Edge – something to challenge my fear of heights!
  10. Moorgreen Duathlon – it’s less than a mile away, seems rude not to?
  11. Get onto moving water in a kayak – another challenging the fear one!
  12. 50 hills in a year (based on the UK Hill Bagging site)

Yorkshire 3 Peaks

 

Reaching the summit of Ingleborough, we stumbled around, not knowing where to aim for the final trig point on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. The bodies appearing out of the mist provided little in the way of help. The scene resembled an apocalyptic zombie film, with saturated, bedraggled and utterly exhausted bodies appearing out of the gloom from seemingly random directions. It was hard to tell if they were also searching out the elusive trig point or on their way back down. It seemed everyone’s internal compass was on the blink, from a combination of low batteries or water damage! Eventually the shelter appeared from the fog and, just beyond it, the trig. The last summit was done – it was all downhill from here. The hard work was over. Little did I know the remaining five miles would be some of the hardest on the route for me…

If Eskimos have 100 words for snow, on the walk that day we needed nearly as many to describe the murk we had to plod through. Fog, mist, cloud, gloo

Pen-Y-Ghent, really trying its best

m – none of them particularly enticing terms for a walk in the country. Especially a 24 mile one. The nearest we got to dramatic views was at the start on the climb up Pen-Y-Ghent. The summit did its level best to fight through the wall of grey, managing for a few brief minutes to provide a dramatic target for that first steep climb. It lost the battle fairly quickly however, and we were in the pea-soup for several hours before we dropped out of the bottom of it near Ribblehead.

Once the rain set in at the 10 mile mark it never really let up. It simply cycled between nasty drizzle and horrendous downpour for the rest of the afternoon. It put in a rousing crescendo on the last drag up Ingleborough, with hail and strong winds doing their level best to sap any remaining reserves of energy.

The last section of the route back to Horton goes through what I’m sure are, on any other day, stunning sections of limestone pavement. Today, the rain had conspired to combine wet slippery rock with even wetter, more slippery mud, to make it a real test – especially for my knees. My right knee (not the one I usually struggle with) took a beating, and was in considerable pain by now. However I was far too tired, wet and close to finishing to put on the knee support which had sat in my bag all day. So I just stomped onwards. If the zombie apocalypse really had occurred on Ingleborough, I’m pretty sure the good townsfolk of Horton would have gone for removing my head believing there was a better-than-average chance I was the infected rather than the heroic survivor I thought I was.

In the end we got round in 10 hours 15 minutes. Which I was pretty pleased with. If the knee hadn’t been playing up I may have ducked under 10 hours. Maybe if the really steep sections of ascent/descent were a touch less under water I’d have skipped over them a bit quicker too. But then, maybe if they were I’d also have taken more time to enjoy the views and had less resolve to get back as fast as was humanly (or zombily) possible. Who knows. I do know that despite the challenges I really enjoyed the walk. It’s a great blend of testing climbs and long sections where you can really get a head of steam up. I’d love to come back again – not with any aim of beating my time. In fact, quite the opposite. I’d much prefer to come back on a dryer, clearer day and take longer so I could really enjoy it.

Walk this route:

routemapThe route for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks is pretty self explanatory – there is now really good waymarking and finger posts on the route itself. There’s also a pretty constant stream of fellow hikers to follow if all else fails. Don’t be put of by that though – I thought it was good to be sharing a trail with so many others, especially one where you are all challenging yourselves – we spoke to a fair few others on the route, sharing experiences of this and other walks.

I’ve converted my Yorkshire 3 Peaks track on Viewranger so it can be downloaded as a route – I got wet, very wet, but we never diverted from ‘the’ route (mostly to avoid any extra time getting wet!), so it does follow the correct path. There are a few other links here too, all with descriptions and maps of the route:

The Yorkshire Dales website also has details of an app for the trail, an online store for souvenirs (the medals being recommended by me – they are copies of the waymarkers seen on posts around the route) and details of how you can contribute to keeping the route in good nick for future walkers too.

Eastwood Round

eastwoodroundcoverWhile looking through some ideas for routes to add to this site I found the draft for a route I’ve walked many times. I first wrote this up nearly 3 years ago, but I last walked it in May. The only bit of the route I had to change was were a ‘ramshackle old barn’ on the hill between Awsworth and Kimberley is now completely gone!

Eastwood is one of those towns on the edge – too rural to be seen as part of any city, but far too urban to be seen as rural. The second of these two is the most unfair. Despite growing hugely in the last 100 years, the town is still surrounded by some gorgeous countryside. 2009 Erewash Valley 008.JPGIt’s great walking territory . But I would say that, as it’s my home town? Well, this 16.5 mile route takes in a pretty wide variety of landcspaes to say you are never more than a mile from a decent sized town. There are green fields aplenty, with paths crossing lovely low hillsides with great views. There’s parkland to start and finish. There’ no shortage of waterside walking, with nature reserves following the ‘flashes’ (large ponds created by open cast working) at Brinsley (great for wildife); three rural canals (in various states of being!) and two rivers/streams. There’s also woodland at various points along the route. Despite it’s length it’s an easy walk too – with much of it along the canals being flat, and low gradients to the hills.

This area of the world isn’t lacking in heritage interest either. The town of Eastwood is very closely associated with DH Lawrence. The writer hated the town, but loved the countryside around it, with many of the locations around the walk being very recognisable in Lawrence’s books. The route also passes the sites of at least eight old collieries too – but you would never guess it now. All that remains are either deliberate reminders, like coal-trucks at Collier’s Wood or the the headstocks at Brinsley, or hints in the landscape which has almost completly returned to green countryside.

The one part I was never quite happy with was the small urban section through Langley Mill. Nothing against Langley Mill, but a busy road isn’t Giltbrook-Greasley 4.11 006.JPGwhat I wanted in the walk. But using the Cromford Canal would still have left road walking and cut out the lovely countryside around Brinsley, while taking the route out past Heanor would have made it a touch too long, and detracted from it being a circular around Eastwood. So, for that mile you’ll have to bear with it – but I promise the rest of it is gold. And you can at least use it to stock up on food and drink in the shops along the high street. Or have a MaccyDs. No-ones judging here.

There’s a map of the route below. But you can also:

  • Access an interactive, zoomable version of the Eastwood Round through Viewranger.
  • Download the PDF version, with full route instructions and information about the points of interest on the route via this Eastwood Round PDF link – or click the cover image above!
  • Download a GPX file – click the Viewranger link above, and download it from the sharing options on there (in the ‘menu’ section – you may need to sign up with Viewranger to access the GPX).

Kinder 1932 – Separating the Myth

The Kinder Mass Trespass. It’s the most well known of all the protests in the rambling/outdoor movement – it’s possibly the ONLY well known aspect of the movement full stop. And therein lies the rub. As its centenary begins to approach (the event was 84 years ago now, in 1932), it’s status becomes ever more legendary. But are we celebrating the reality of the event, or a myth? The tweet quoted above, from the Peak District’s Chief Executive (who has been doing a great job in representing and promoting the Peak District), got me thinking about the debates about the event’s place in rambling history.

mass trespass - libraryemsSo first, some of the contentions any rambler will hear…

  • The Kinder Mass Trespass was the first major protest in the rambling movement – MYTH! Many protests and trespasses had taken place in the 50 years before Kinder (1).
  • The Kinder Mass Trespass was the largest major protest in the rambling movement – MYTH! Some protests, especially those in the North-West, attracted tens-of-thousands of protesters – and got quicker results too (2).
  • The protest helped create or protect Public footpaths for us all to enjoy – MYTH! Public footpaths were already well-protected in law – the Kinder Mass Trespass was concerned with the Right to Roam over open countryside away from the footpaths.
  • The protest helped create our National ParksMYTH!
  • The protest was a major step on the journey towards securing the Right to Roam? MTYH? Ah, well, here’s where it gets interesting!

The Kinder Mass Trespass is now well established in the public’s eye as THE major event in the rambling movement’s long fight to secure a Right to Roam (a fight that still isn’t fully won). Evidence of this can be seen even in information available on the Ramblers website repeating many of the myths above (read on to see why this is especially ironic!). However, once you dig deeper there is a lot more controversy surrounding the protest’s actual role in helping secure greater access.

The Case For

While the Kinder Mass Trespass was a long way from being the first or biggest such event, it probably can be credited with being the first to bring the issue of countryside access to a wider audience. Previous events had either been galvanising to local communities or to those campaigning for increased countryside access. Kinder changed that. This was arguably not through the effects of the trespass itself but through the official reaction to it, especially the harsh jail sentences handed out to the people involved.

kinder trespass - matt bowdenThe draconian punishments given to the ring leaders pushed countryside access into the national eye, far beyond its usual reach, helping creating a surge in interest. Although protests rallies had already been held at Winnat’s Pass (close to Kinder) for many years, the interest generated by the court cases saw crowds surge to over 10,000 in 1932. Many of the new attendees were reacting to what was seen as an example of a ruling class determined to stamp out any claim to the countryside by those in the industrial towns and cities.

Over the years the legend of the Kinder Mass Trespass grew, becoming the poster child for new generations of ramblers, angry with a lack of progress in achieving the aim of a Right to Roam. This is arguably the protest’s lasting legacy, providing a ‘foundation myth’ to spur on new protest movements throughout the 1900s. Although many of these movements never forgot the role of other protests, or the role of other organisations, in the access movement, the Kinder Mass Trespass was always the go-to event to help the public understand the context of their actions, especially in press reports.

The Case Against

tomstephensonAt the time of the protest almost all the leading access campaigners of the day were against it. The Rambers Association, the Open Spaces Society, and leading campaigners such as Tom Stephenson all opposed the protest. Many other stalwarts of the rambling establishment were also critical, claiming the after-effects the protest would set the movement back by decades. Many people involved in the access movement had been attempting to engage with government and landowners to change the laws regarding access to open countryside, and were fearful that the protest would set this back. Some of the criticisms bordered on sour grapes, criticising the protest for not reaching the actual summit of Kinder for example. The leaders of the trespass were also criticised for being agitators, rather than ‘true believers’ in the countryside access cause, seeing it a convenient excuse to engage in a bit of a ruckus with those in authority.

These arguments against have created a powerful counter-argument to the more commonly understood narrative of the primacy of the Kinder trespass’ role in opening up the countryside.

Protest vs Dialogue

The disagreements over the impact and legacy of the Kinder Mass Trespass point to a wider debate regarding the best method of achieving change: a process of dialogue and engagement with authority, or one of actively rebelling against that authority. Tom Stephenson is the epitome of the dialogue approach. Over decades he worked tirelessly to campaign for the political change needed to open up the countryside. He led organisations like the Ramblers Association, and worked as a civil servant, drawing up plans for the Acts pennine way sign - Andrew bowdenof Parliament needed to turn the outdoor access movement’s aims into reality. Many of the things we take for granted in our countryside now come as a direct result of Tom Stephenson’s (and many other’s) work – in particular National Trails and our National Parks (3), but he was also a key player in the groundwork for defining the Access Land that was finally approved through Parliament in the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000, years after his passing. All involved in outdoor recreation owe Tom Stephenson a debt.

However, it’s also true to say that protest also plays an active role in delivering change, one that is often under-recognised. For a start, as with the Kinder protest, it brings issues to a much wider audience than they might otherwise achieve. A mass trespass event will always be a greater hook for the press to turn into column inches than the efforts of a civil servant sitting in Westminster defining terms like ‘open countryside’, however vital their work was (and is). Protest can have a galvanising effect, making clear the injustice, and helping promote the cause outside of the narrow interest-groups who initially raise any specific issue. Between the two approaches there needs to be better recognition of the ways each has helped push forwards countryside access, and fewer attempts to play down the achievements of others.

It’s a touch ironic that many of the official organisations that decried the Kinder Mass Trespass originally are now some of the biggest cheerleaders for its recognition – as witnessed by the tweet quoted at the start of this blog. Many in the Open Spaces Society now admit they were ‘on the wrong side’ in relation to the event, National Trust have a ‘Trespass Trail’ available for download. The Ramblers, led by Tom Stephenson for many years, promotes the efforts to preserve the story of the trespass, crediting its role in creating the right to roam. Even the current Duke of Devonshire, whose moorlands the Kinder protestors were fighting to open, admitted at the 2002 anniversary rally to remember the Kinder trespass that his family were on the wrong side of history! A cynic might suggest this is, at least partly, a symptom of the commoditisation of history – the Kinder Mass Trespass sells! But it’s also a reflect that, after time passes it’s easier to see that the efforts of both protestor and peace-maker were both instrumental in the long battle for access to our countryside – a battle not yet fully won!

For my part, as much as I thank those in the trespass for the role they played in securing greater access, I hope people like Tom Stephenson aren’t forgotten.

Don’t forget about the birds?

hen harrier - rob zweersAlmost as a post-script to this blog, there is a current issue that shows the ‘protest vs dialogue’ debate is not only still live – but also still relevant to many of the concerns of the Kinder trespass: protecting/accessing our countryside, the actions of landowners and the Peak District landscape. A recent blog post from the ex-Peak District Chief Executive Jim Dixon picks up on the issues surrounding the campaign for greater protection for the Hen Harrier. The article hands out a severe admonishing to the wildlife campaigner Chris Packham for committing the crime of becoming too passionate about the plight of the Hen Harrier. Chris apparently allowed his passion to spill over into counter-productive anger. Instead of Chris attending events to raise awareness of the issue, it is proposed he simply needs to get out onto the moors and start talk to game keepers – that’s the way progress lies. Through cooperation, communication.

Except, in many instances such an approach doesn’t work. Especially when it comes to Hen Harriers. For a few years campaigners have bemoaned the RSPB for precisely the opposite – for relying too much on cooperation and dialogue by taking part in the Government’s Hen Harrier Action Plan (the Hawk and Owl Trust have also been similarly criticised). However, after a sincere and committed attempt to work with this strategy, RSPB were left with no choice to pull out. You read more about why on Martin Harper’s blog post.

When the sheer determination of some stakeholders to resist change leads to organisations like as RSPB finding themselves unable to continue a dialogue the debate must be seen to be in a bad place. Such situations only serve to push ever larger groups to a more extreme, protest-based angle, as they see no other routes for meaning full progress. I hope, for the Hen Harrier’s benefit, some of the other key players, like the National Parks, DEFRA and others can see this and work positively. Rather than resorting to again distorting the debate by criticising campaigners who are starting to feel like all hope for a positive, consensus-based solution can work. With the Hen Harrier facing such a bleak future this is certainly this is an issue for anyone with a passion for our natural heritage to get involved in – regardless of whether your method of choice is protest or dialogue!

Footnotes / References

 (1) & (2) As an example the Winter Hill Mass Trespass was earlier (1896), bigger (well over 10,000 people) and more successful than the Kinder trespass (at least in the short term)

(3) This is why my own hackles are raised by some of the mythology surrounding the Kinder Mass Trespass – not because I don’t recognise its role, but because I want to see the role of people like Tom Stephenson given more credit!

Picture references: Kinder Trespass plaque via libraryems on Flickr; Kinder Waymarker via Andrew Bowden on Flickr; Tom Stehenson via Tricouni Club; Pennine Way fingerbord via Andrew Bowden on Flickr; Hen Harrier via Rob Zweers on Flickr.

 Some more reading on the Kinder Mass Trespass

Make up your own mind on the 1932 Kinder Mass Trespass with some of these sources!

7 Summits for 2016?

7peakschallengeIf anyone out there is still looking for inspiration for a challenge or resolution for 2016, Trail Magazine may have the thing for you. They have just launched their ‘One Year, Seven Summits‘ challenge, making an achievable goal for anyone’s year to come.

Now, I know the Peak isn’t, somewhat ironically, loaded with England’s highest summits. However, we think you can still craft a great list for the year from the region’s hills. I’ve suggested some themes below, and a hill for each theme – I’d love to add to these with your ideas. Add them in the comments below, or email them over.

1 – The hill less traveled – the hills we do have in the Peak District tend to attract more than their fair share of walkers of all descriptions. There are still some hidden corners however, which are more than worthy of adding to your lists.

high wheeldon summit - George WolfHigh Wheeldon – great views of the coral-reef hills of Chrome and Parkhouse Hills, and a stout little summit. You can make the route up very short, or into a decent hike!

 

2 – A new way up – even those hills that do get the footfall have some quieter ways up, allowing you to avoid the crowds.

parkin clough - dave wildWinn Hill via Parkin Clough – The direct route! A steep climb, best avoided in very wet weather, but it’s a rewarding way up this popular hill. Park alongside Ladybower.

 

3 – A head for heights – One of my aims for the year is to tackle my fear of heights – and there are some great places in the Peak to do this without needing the levels of exposure on a scramble like the Lakes classic Jake’s Rake.

parkhouseParkhouse Hill – a dragon’s-back hill, with a steep, but rewarding hike to the summit. The slopes aren’t sheer, but they are enough to give you goosepimples if your height for heights isn’t fully attuned!

 

4 – The classic – They maybe busy, but they are busy for a reason, with some of the Peak’s best views and climbs, along with easy accessibility.

mam torMam Tor & the Great Ridge – Hard to choose just one for my recommended list, but I just can’t look past Mam Tor. You can be up and down in an hour, or turn it into a nine mile circular hike you’ll never get bored of, with the Great Ridge and a bonus summit at Lose Hill.

5 – One on the fringe – The boundaries of the national park are more than just lines on a map – they suck people into the hills, dales and lakes of the Peak Park. Often this is to the exclusion of some great countryside outside it’s borders, with just as great a claim to call itself the Peak District.

crich standCrich Stand – the stand is the monument on the top of the hill (open to the public), a memorial to the Sherwood Foresters regiment. It’s visible for many miles around, especially from the east, where it represents the first decent sized hill of the Peak. on a good day you’ll see Nottingham and beyond from the top of the hill. You can cheat and drive all the way up – but I’d recommend walking up through the woods from the Cromford Canal / River Derwent and round the back of the quarry. The view will not disappoint.

6 – One in the Dark Peak – The Dark Peak’s hills are often left aside in favour of the limestone ridges of the White Peak, Kinder being the exception, but as the highest peak in the region is has it’s own pulling power to hikers. They are of a different character, often more desolate and windswept, and without the show-stopping views from the peaks. But personally I love a day on the moors – its a special atmosphere, and often much quieter and peaceful. You still get the views too, with views of the valleys and reservoirs sneaking out from the flanks.

black hill cairn - alex pepperhillBlack Hillthis hill can be walked from various start points. It can be very boggy in wet weather, but it’s all access land, so you can find your own way up if you are confident with navigation. Alternatively, chose a route taking in the Pennine Way and the flagged surface will take you right to the summit with your boots barely getting mucky!

7 – One elsewhere – We could fill the list with hills from the Peak, but it’s nice to fly the nest every now-and-again. So, as a gesture to the rest of the UK, I’ve included a free for all category. You could go literally anywhere, but my recommendation for just a single hill elsewhere would be:

crib goch - rockabilly girlSnowden – it might be as busy as Piccadilly Junction, or as quiet as a remote island (occasionally, maybe!). But it is the hill that offers everything – a gentle climb for most walkers, strenuous hikes and the airy thrills of Crib Goch* (pictured).

 

IMG_20160106_174354105An expedition – so many to choose from in the Peak! You can find many multi-day hikes on the Long Distance Walking website. But I think you should go for the 7 day tour in this website’s first post – if only so you can see how it fares in the modern walking world and feed back!

 

 

*Considering I think Parkhouse Hill is a test of my head for heights, you can guess my views on Crib Goch!

Picture credits:

 

A historic tour of the Peak

IMG_20160106_174328786A little while ago, while rummaging around on eBay, I picked this cool little guidebook to the Peak District. It was published by the Manchester Evening News in 1934, with the author given as simply ‘The Rambler’. I can’t see any indication as to who this mysterious (hopefully caped) hiking-superhero is – surely this is before even the great Roly Smith’s time though?! The introduction gives a little description showing some of the access context of the day however – apologising to landowners in advance for any transgressions in the routes and giving some token effort to encouraging readers to comply with any requests to divert from the shown route if requested. Maybe this was why the author’s name must be kept slightly underwraps?

I haven’t had time to read too deeply into the routes and see how they match up to modern walks. The descriptions and maps don’t link great in the text, making a skim read difficult. Check out the note to this effect in the image advising the reader to, ‘see map elsewhere’! They didn’t go overboard on the clues as to where… It’s also a touch fragile in its old age, so I’ve been trying to be gentle with it.

One route that did jump out however was a great plan for a multi-day hike across the Peak. Most of the shorter routes in the book get a full description, whereas each day on the tour gets only a basic paragraph. But this gives plenty of scope for adapting it to the modern path network around the region.

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7 Day Tour of the Peak from 1934 ‘Rambles in the Peak District’ book

I’d love to have the time to walk this route as a long-distance walk, and update it with new directions. I considered making it a new year resolution, but that would only damn it to failure! It does look a great hike though, taking in a broad sweep of the best bits of the Peak. These days you might need to rebadge it as a White Peak tour – it doesn’t stray north of the Great Ridge’s dividing line between White & Dark Peaks.

What does anyone think? Can you suggest potential routes to keep this faithful but but to date? Would a new tour take in the Dark Peak too – or do we just need a second tour for that?!