Weather forecasts suggested lots of rain and storm force winds for last weekend in the Peak District and granted I got the rain but not the wind. However, conditions on the whole were much better than predicted – which goes to show to use forecasts as guides and not gospel.
Growing up in the country, you learned to know how the climate played locally and frequently visiting a particular area in a national park as I do – you do tend to pick up such details and nuances in your favour.
So, on Friday I chose to jump off the train at Grindleford and make a pleasant walk through gorge and wood before making my way higher up onto the moors for a pitch for the night.
This move proved to be a blessing in disguise – I passed by some wonderfully scenic rivers, flora and fauna which contrasted with the bleak and featureless tops above. Saying that, having to pay closer attention to my nearby surroundings in the clag made me more aware of a variety of mosses on the nearby gritstone. Now, I’m well aware that mosses may not feature high on anyone’s interest list – but on closer inspection some of them really are quite fascinating to look at – and besides, it’s not like I had much else to feast the eyes on.
I eventually reached the area I planned to camp but chose to sit out the rain for a while and see if conditions improved – namely so I could pitch high with a fine view and not miss out on any such opportunity by setting up camp lower down.
After acknowledging the company of some nearby sheep and the odd passing fell runner, I decided the time was right for me to fling out the tent and get set up for the evening – the storm force winds had not materialised and it was getting quite late in the day. Grudgingly I got my shelter sorted for the night in the rain when sod’s law should have it – the clouds parted and revealed the sun about to set on the distant horizon.
No matter – it made for a special end to the day of which I savoured any remaining light by keeping the head torch off and taking in the ambience with another fine Fuizion meal and mug of white wine. In fact, there was hardly a breeze, the sky was clear and the valley’s began to fill with fog – it was a very pleasing sight and one that just goes to show how conditions can vary in a single evening in good old Blighty.
With the sun gone and the stars out, I got into my sleeping bag and slept with my tent doors open and tied back so I could admire the night sky in peace as I slowly but surely nodded off to sleep.
The next day I woke at around 5am to low cloud and mist – so a fine sunrise was now out the window – nevertheless, I got a brew on and hoped things would clear a little later. If I had been pitched a couple of hundred feet higher then I’d have perhaps got the chance to be under blue skies and above the cloud.
Some time later, I was making my way along Stanage Edge when I met two gentleman with large shovels digging away in deep soaked peat. One of them turned out to be a Park Ranger.
“We’re getting the place cleaned up for the new owner” he informed me with a cheeky wink. “The Park Authority have put this place on the market due to austerity cuts and we’re hoping the National Trust will buy Stanage Edge”.
This came somewhat as a surprise!
“With shares sold to the public and other bodies, hopefully in future ‘boom’ years the Park Authority can buy it back and all will end well – that’s the plan anyway”.
It turned out the ranger and his volunteer were making gentle repairs to the well worn path that runs along the edge – trying to restore water levels and ensure any run off heads back to the moor and not over the rocks below.
After some more chit chat I made my farewell and headed off noting early bird climbers on the crags below – all the while the sun desperately tried to push through the cloud.
By the time I reached High Neb the sun was out and air was warm and from here I made my own path to Hordren Edge to inspect a fine stone circle and then head further on to the Ladybower Reservoir where at a local inn I was to meet a friend.
It was turning into quite a trip bearing in mind the weather forecasts a day or so earlier.
Once my friend Dave arrived from London, we headed off up the nearby fell with the aim of heading into the upper Derwent Valley where we were to meet another couple of fellow wild campers.
I’ve not explored this area of the Peak District before and I have to say it’s quite impressive. The views on offer are extensive in every direction of the compass. Your eyes lead out and into the Edale Valley, Kinder Plateau, Bleaklow and more. Following the gritstone edges we passed numerous distinctive tors where we picked one and made our camp for the night.
We discovered a nice spot sheltered out the ever increasing chilly breeze and collected water from small pools amongst the gritstone tors.
Not long before sunset, Yuri aka Moonlightshadow and Andy arrived and we enjoyed a relaxing evening catching up on what trips we’d been on since we last met.
I shared with Yuri one of the Fuizion meals I have on test and took in some night time views of the nearby city of Sheffield. It was quite a sight – the modern landscape of man light up like Christmas lights – while in the other direction the pitch black darkness of the Peak District moors.
The next morning was windy and extremely wet – but that was of no concern as we headed back home but it made for a damp bookend to my latest weekend soiree in this part of the world. The start and beginning may not have been a good read but the middle chapters made up for it.