Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The slog.

This year's walk was a simple premise: walk into Edale and camp for the night.

Of course I made it more complicated. We would walk from ladybower and leave the car at home. This meant I had to work out the bus's, train's and tram's we'd use. Secondly it meant we'd have to carry anything we wanted in with us. not a big task in the summer with a day pack, but in the middle of winter and with an over night camp, the stuff you need soon piles up...

Jim met up with me at mine. We bused to Meadowhell, picked up a tram, met Paul in Sheffield center and then a final bus to The Ladybower Inn (as we left sheffield mist and low cloud started appearing - not a sight good for the soul). We wanted sun and views, but you have to play with the cards you get dealt).
By the time we arrived there, Jim and I had already been lugging our packs for 3 or so hours and Paul had woken with a very sore back ..

Paul had done a reccie on the route a week or so before. In the day, on his own with little weight he'd done it in a bit over 3 hours. We'd also been on a walk in Rotherham a few weeks before with a full pack, just to see how we'd get on.
There were no problems, other than my tired old boots rubbing. This would be sorted by just wearing thicker socks on the day. Simple.

Setting off from the bus stop the sky started to clear and the sun came out. This was more like it, few people and the views were getting started.

We walked over the ladybower bridge, spending most of my time pretending to push Jim in the icy water as he peered over the edge.

We follwed the road down to the dam itself. It's really quite pretty, look:
After crossing the dam, we picked up a gentle, but muddy path. I started thinking that leaving my gators at home was a mistake but soon the path dried out as it was became steeper and steeper and as always, I started going red in the face as the others picked their way ahead of me.
As we left this narrow steep path we entered a rather knarly looking wood. I wouldn't be surprised it it was used in a future Scooby Doo movie. Just as I was  catching my breath, a couple of ladies came the other way. They warned us about how steep it was on the other side. I still wonder what their faces were like as they looked down the path that we had just come up.
Soon we started to come out of the tree line and we got our first real views of the day. This was swiftly followed by a push to get to the top. Look at the above photo of the reservoir and you'll notice the hill has a nipply bit on the top. So I settled back into my trudge. This part of the walk was really pleasant, a light wind quickly drying off any damp sweaty bits, but not so bad that it was cold. Suddenly, much faster than expected we were on the top.
The view was the best I've ever seen. We weren't that high, but we had views of the best bits of the Peaks. The flat top of Kinder scout, the ridge running off towads Mam Tor, Ladybower below us and the last vestages of Stannage Edge. It really is perfect up there. If you haven't been, book a day off work in the early summer before it get's too hot and go see for yourself. You won't regret it. If you think it's not for you, take a look. I'm sure you'll change your mind.

Going down was fairly straightforward, if steep at times. and brought us out at a farm. We were worried abought rights of way as the path seemed to just be access to the farm, but as we got closer we realised the path just went straight across the yard.. The biggest surprise came when we got there, there was a sign advertising rooms and get this - a swiming pool... slightly unexpected..
 After the farm, we picked up the a road that headed back dow towards the outskirts of Hope and a quick refreshment stop at The Cheshire Cheese.
Suitably refreshed, we set off up the next hill of the day.
This time things were harder. I don't know why, I'd climbed higher going up Scarfell Pike. I'd walked further and in much less time. But this ascent really hurt.
It started to go dark on the way up as planned, giving Jim a chance to pose for dramatic images..
Then it was time to get out the head torches, and by the time I made it to the top it was night proper. The stars were out and the temperature was plummeting. I was too tired to care by this point and the walk was rapidly turning into a test of endurance, with Paul and his bad back somehow still moving too. (if this never happens to you, rest safely in the knowledge that you have never pushed your limits).
We went past Backtor and followed the path down not long after. We were all tired now and stumbling over everything. Suddenly we seemed to be down most of the way and I called a halt for a fag break. Suddenly, the laughter broke out again and the mood lifted. We set off again feeling much better. We got onto the road and came out near the Youth Hostel. There was a group of people coming the other way and as we passed, us with full packs (which now had frost on the top of them), not knowing if there were any spaces at the campsite (at this time of year it's a pretty safe bet though). One of them turned to the another and said "now that's hardcore!"
This became the catchphrase for the rest of the trip. Why? I don't know. sometimes some things just stick..
After this things went quickly and smoothly. We soon covered the last mile or 2 joking along the road, got to the campsite, pitched the tent, went to the pub and went back to the site where I made a brew and the site owner came round, checking in on everyone (and making sure that people remembered to pay him in the morning too).

Early in the morning I heard the weather change. It had started to rain very gently on the tent, I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I woke up later, It had gone dark again. This confused the hell out of me - had I slept through the day? As I thought this, my foot tapped the side of the tent and suddenly the side of the tent slipped off!? It hadn't rained at all.. It had snowing, not raining and not at all gently).
Someone came past and was telling his mate that the roads were blocked and he couldn't get back to Sheffield. While we were discussing what to do the happy sound of a train drifted through the valley.

We decided to strike camp there and then, skipping breakfast in the hope that the next train would still come as well. Strangely, when we'd packed up and got on the road, it didn't seem as bad, but cars were having big problems, even on the flat.
We arrived at the train station and I put on a pot of coffee for us. It was still very pretty, white everywhere and silent, with no cars or crowds.
And that's it really. The train came, Paul went his own way back in sheffield and Jim and I struggled to get back out of Rotherham on buses that had pretty much stopped running..