Windy Peaks

Cressbrook Dale snaking it’s way through the White Peak

Some weather we endured at the weekend, eh? Well, it was bloody windy!

I took a family tent out for a spin with my wife in the Peak District on Saturday – one on test – and two steel poles bent at 45 degrees, a carbon pole snapped and parts of the flysheet were torn. Understandable you might say considering – but I recorded wind speeds of only 25mph on the campsite we used!

We deliberately chose a place that was sheltered noting what was potentially due in the coming hours and days.

Not good – but no matter, comes with the territory and I was soon dropped off to spend a few nights wild camping and filming in the White Peak.

Showers gave way to sunshine more often than not on this trip

On the whole, the views were clear and sunny spells were frequent for me – though the wind was ferocious at times.

All that aside I did capture most scenes I was hoping to achieve and along the way made some pleasant discoveries.

For example, I sought to visit Ravencliffe Cave in Cressbrook Dale – a natural shelter used since Neolithic times, a tricky place to find apparently set up amongst the cliffs and crags. I didn’t locate it but I had a great time exploring pastures new. I stumbled upon a large open ended shelter up in the limestone cliff faces which would make a fantastic bivvy spot – alongside which is a thrilling climbers traverse snaking it’s way precariously high above the dale.

I didn’t walk the whole route, mind. There were some very exposed areas on this path and common sense dictated to leave it be with the sudden gusts and strong winds which have characterised many folks trips out on to the hills over the past few days.

Secret camp amongst the Hawthorn trees

And an enjoyable camp was had in some wonderful hawthorn tree laden wood not too far from Cressbrook Dale. The wild flowers were out in full force, bird song was rife and I even had a lone horse for company from time to time – though he did startle me late one evening sniffing near my tent!

Some kit I’ve got on test performed much better than I imagined, too – no, not the family tent – but a Lowe Alpine Zenon 50 rucksack being one. It’s a light pack constructed from Dyneema fabric – it’s proven comfortable, strong and highly water-resistant and more importantly it carries the load extremely well. In fact, it’s one of those bits of gear you pick up and immediately fall in love with on initial use. More about that in another post.

And the re-launched Monsal Trail and it’s tunnels proved a joy to walk along, too. I’ve always been a bit indifferent to this trail – I’m no big fan of former railway lines. The views tend to be hidden by bushes and trees and the tracks don’t tent to be boot friendly – certainly the Tissington Trail near Ashbourne has contributed in my prejudice to such walks.

However, I was happily proven wrong with the Monsal Trail!

One of the many tunnels on the Monsal Trail

The views get better and better as you plod along, the tunnels are marvels of engineering along with the famous viaduct and there are to be found some very enlightening and informative audio/visual displays along the route.

Despite the rain, I had a wonderful time walking large parts of the trail and it’s one I’m very, very keen to go back and film.

So, all in all a pleasant trip – I’m just hungry for more of the same, now. I’ll be out and about in the Peaks next week and not long after I’ll be visiting the over looked Howgill Fells in Cumbria…


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice write up mate, got to love that pitch though proper gem


  2. GeoffC says:

    I'd not heard of Ravencliffe Cave, I guess there are many little known gems hiding higher up in the dales off the walking paths.

    I know what you mean about those long flat trails, the High Peak and Tissington trails are pretty crap for walking after a short while (great for running and cycling though). The Monsal Trail was a lot better as I recall because it was broken up by the closed tunnels to relieve the monotony. Now they are open I might have to visit them for the interest (probably only once!).


  3. terrybnd says:

    @Paul – I know. Everyone keeps saying that to me at the moment about that pitch/pic LOL It was a cracking place mate. Much nicer than it looks in the pic actually. Cowslips, bluebells, wild orchids dotted all around the area. Where I pitched was the only spot with no wild flowers!

    All it consisted of was a couple of mole hills, nettles and cow dung!

    @GeoffC – Aye, Ravencliffe cave is meant to be a big one but little visited. I can see why now, mind. Though the climbers traverse goes along much of the cliffs, you do need a head for exposure in places. The footing and track is good – it's no different to doing the Gable Traverse really – just more exposed.

    However, due to the nature of the route and being in amongst the crags it made it difficult to follow a bearing to the cave – moreover I came at it from the top. I know I got within metres of it but the winds pushed me back along with common sense.

    I agree on the trails – you must check out the Monsal Trail though. Much improved now. I'd rather cycle it still though


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