Monday, 23 July 2007


Today I re-visited Cronksley moor. It's only three weeks since I was up there last, but Colin (my brother) came walking today, and we decided to carry a BBQ, with all the accoutrements, over 14 miles, and up 2400 plus feet of climb. We decided we had started a new craze - extreme BBQing!!! I'll tell you what - I had all the food, and I really knew I was carrying it, as my shoulders ached with the extra weight. Colin took charge of the wine.
Talk about lunatics, and asylums HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Anyway, here we go. The day dawned just as the weather man had predicted, a nice day. We set off from Fairholmes visitors centre on Ladybower reservoir.

We walked up the left hand side (looking up the reservoir), and stopped for a look in at the Dambusters museum, which is housed in one of the dam turrets. This is a privately run museum, and is open Sundays, and bank holidays. It's free to look round, and is a great place to learn all about the dambusters, the bouncing bombs, and also the building of the dams. There's a wealth of photo's, artefacts and nostalgic pieces in the museum, and the guy that runs it is always helpful and chatty. Some of the photo's are from private collections, never seen before and unpublished. If in the area, please take time to look in.

This is what the bombers would look though when they dropped the bouncing bombs to destroy the Rhur dams.

A replica of the actual bouncing bomb.

Some of the contents of the museum.

This memorial is to Tip, the faithful dog, who's master died up on the moors.
Tip stayed by the side of his body for FIFTEEN WEEKS in the depths of winter.

With all the damp weather we've had lately, the fungi is starting to sprout, now it's warming up a bit.
This is a fly agaric. Pretty, poisonous, and very hallucinogenic!

I don't know what these are called, but they look lovely.
THIS was our goal, the shooting cabin. I know it doesn't look much, and it's not, it's VERY basic, but on a wet day, there's no more welcome sight. Today though, the weather was perfect, so we soon set about rustling up lunch!

WAITER......WAITER - where's my lunch????
(Notice - wine already poured)

COMING right up, sir!

First course, garlic, ginger and blue cheese stuffed Portobello mushrooms, with French bread.

Main course - lemon chicken kebabs, sirloin steak, roasted baby peppers.
(Yes - the peppers are SUPPOSED to be black - you just peel off the blackened skin to reveal the sweet, juicy flesh, and boy, they taste GREAT!)
THIS is the life!

After the meal, we set about walking back. You can see a short video here;

There are a few berries showing on the moors.
We saw some bilberries, and these, which I thought were lovely.

The river Derwent below us. Not nearly as much of a torrent as three weeks ago.

Colin deftly negotiates a crossing. Again, three weeks ago, you couldn't see those stones he's treading on.

A gaggle of Canada geese.

After this, it began to rain lightly, then turned heavier. Luckily, Colin had a new brolly, so that kept us dry until we got back to the car. A really good day, leaving me pleasantly tired. This kind of tired is great, satisfying, and makes you feel like you've actually DONE something with your day. Hope you enjoyed the pics.

Monday, 9 July 2007

A feast of Famine

Another Sunday - another 3,200 feet of ascent. It's like climbing Snowdon every weekend! Well, with these long Summer (???) days, I like to take advantage of the light. Today was given out as more showers than sun, but it ended up the other way around. The air quality was superb, and I got lots of really good pictures. The temperature was perfect for a hard walk, with a nice breeze again. Usually, at this time of year, it's hellish hot, and only fit for lying in meadows chewing grass. I also caught the sun quite a lot on my face (even though I had applied sun crème that morning).
Oh well, I MUST wear my hat next time.

So - where did I go, and what's that title about? A few weeks ago I walked along the Oaken clough path, and from there, you can see an impressive duet of hills, one of which is called 'Mount Famine' (the other is South head). As I had never been to either, I decided to go there. When the walk was written, it showed to be 13 miles but with a lot of up and down. This is why I really needed a lower temperature and a bit of breeze. The route started at Barber Booth. The first hill was straight up and over that ridge, almost at once from the car. You can see the faint path.
Just before this climb though, I went into the National trust information barn, which was on the end of this lovely old farm cottage. You can make a donation here if you want;

The views around me, and particularly back to the Edale valley, were to die for!
You can see the 3 peak sweep of the Lose hill to Mam tor ridge on the right there.
The straight ridge on the right is Rushup edge.

The other views around me weren't bad either!

On these high, but accessible, moors, damage from 4X4 wheels is usually evident - and severe!
We all need to live and let live, I accept that, but my take on this is simple. Powered wheels should NEVER be allowed on unsurfaced tracks, they were constructed when there were only feet and hooves.

The track down to Roych clough. This is the new 'Pennine bridleway'.
You can learn more about this long distance trail here;

Who could guess what weather we'd get today, with this sky???
Pretty as it is, those huge cumulus nimbus can drench you in minutes, if they decided to unload.

At the top of the track, another very steep path went up to the top of South head. The reward was well worth the grunt. This is Mount Famine, from South head. I had a long lunch on the crest of that ridge. Long, because I really didn't want to leave the views and the tranquillity. I sat ages listening to the lark, curlew, lambs and grouse calling. I could also see right across to the afternoons labours, which lay ahead of me.

There you go - welcome to my lunchtime view!

Again, the big picture was great, but right next to my feet were these little beauties!

After lunch, I walked down the track, losing all the height I had gained earlier! That's why there was over 3,000 feet of ascent today - it was like a roller coaster, up, down, up, down........

This must be a VERY old trough. Note the stone 'funnel' for the water to fill it.
Also, the front of the trough was subtly curved, a VERY rare thing.
Whoever made it either had lots of time, or lots of pride in his work.

Now I was on the opposite side of the valley, and could look across to South head and Mount famine.

....and when I turned, I could see the next hill and my goal - Crowden tower, on Kinder Scouts Southern edge.

The stupendous view from Kinder, through one of the weather-worn rocks up there.

Sorry, I just HAD to climb up onto Noe stool for a pic!

The rocks up here are blasted with wind, rain and grit. This produces some VERY interesting shapes, which wouldn't look out of place in an art gallery, or on the lawn of some stately home.

The daylight now waned, and it was time to set off down. I really HATE to leave on such a lovely day, but I still had about an hour of descent before I got back to the car. Also, there was a pint with my name on it in the Nags Head at Edale!
This is Crowden brook. The first 200 feet or so are VERY 'iffy', and you must take great care.
This is the stuff broken ankles are made of. Luckily, I seem to be part mountain goat!

Here, part way down, I look back, and you can see how rocky it is. This is the EASY bit!

The day done, I look across the valley to the striations in the flanks of Rushup edge, picked out by the evening shadows.
Unlike last week, the day ended in settled weather. I really knew I had done a walk today, and my legs were tired. I knew I'd sleep well tonight, after a nice, warm shower and some dinner, but first - that pint!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Fifteen miles of moorland

Yesterday, we decided to cock a snook at the forecast, even though it was DIRE. I am SO glad, as it turned into one of the best walks for AGES, probably in my top 20, and that's saying something. It DID rain, but I had a secret weapon - I carried an UMBRELLA! I've never done this before, but Nicholas Crane (of 'coast' on TV) always has one, and as a lot of showers were forecast, this time I took one. I have to say, it was BRILLIANT. Usually, in the summer, wearing a coat is purgatory. You get SO warm, especially as today had over 3,000 feet of climb involved. The brolly seemed to answer all these problems, and boy - was I glad I had it. It rained only 4 times, and never for more than 15 minutes. The brolly saved the day every time, I even had my lunch under it's protective cover. For the record - here is 'umbrella man'.
The walk started at the middle of the three dams in the Derwent valley, called the Derwent dam. The bottom dam, Ladybower, does not allow water over the top, it goes down two HUGE 'plugholes'.
As you can see from this pic, there was a hell of a lot of water coming over the top of Derwent, and the upper dam, Howden, was just the same (as you will see).

I wish you could hear the roar of this cascade, to stand at the side of it was exhilarating!

A much more serene scene - looking back to Derwent dam.
That right turret houses a very good 'dambusters' museum.

The view looking up the Derwent reservoir. This is the 'quiet' side of the res', and I only saw about 8 people in total, most on bikes. After I left the reservoir and progressed up onto the moors, I saw no-one for six hours.

Next was the Howden dam, with its own impressive overflow
Looking across Howden dam. The water was moving quite swiftly, and yet looked sort of still?

Looking back to Howden, only the turrets are obvious above the water.

Looking forward. This is where the people ended. You can see the path leading off into the wild blue yonder.
I always feel excitement when I see this, I can't explain it, I just go all shivery, and can't wait to get out there.

There was quite a lot of evidence of damage from the recent floods.
Here, part of the path had collapsed and washed down the hillside.

Slippery stones bridge. This was originally further down the valley, but when they flooded the valley, they dismantled it and rebuilt it here, at the top of the valley.

Further up the valley, the stream had increased in size from what it was usually - something I didn't think about!
To continue my intended route, I had to cross it. What to do?

Only one thing for it!
After my spot of wading, I climbed up onto Ronksley moor. NOW the views were really getting good!

I stopped at my favourite shooting cabin on the moors, and took time to sign the visitors book.
The grouse shooters come up here, but they don't walk, they come in land rovers.
This is what happens after a few seasons.
Remember, this track was originally at the same height as the top of the walls each side!

On the far side of the moor, the track starts to descend. The views here stopped me in my tracks. Today was just about as perfect as you can get, both temperature wise for walking, and air quality wise for pictures.
I described it as; 'a good to be alive day'
How green was my valley??
THIS green - that's how!
I always try to get the smaller picture too. This little beauty was captured by my lens.

You CAN drink this water - if you're REALLY desperate!
Look how brown it is from the peat.
It would be VERY acidic and hard to swallow.

Looking back as I climbed up ditch clough towards Alport castles. It was here I got my third shower.

It's OK guys - relax - I've only got an umbrella!

I crested the rise to be greeted by a really strong wind that would tear lumps out of you! NO chance of using the brolly up here if it rains. But look - doesn't this view of Europe's largest natural landslip, Alport castles, make it worthwhile?

A happy bunny (Speaking of which - I saw TWO hares today, both had lost their white winter coats though.)

As is so often the case on the moors these days, a flagstone path runs most of the length of Rowlee pasture.
At the end of the ridge, and just before I lost height, I was treated to a sunny view of the Derwent reservoir.
It was a day of paradox.
One minute, a sky like the one a few shots ago. Next, it looked like this.

As I said, shortly after this, I got my last shower of the day.
Was I disappointed? On a day like today, it was hard to wipe the smile from my face. It was a ten of a day by any standards, and I was reluctant to walk to the end of it. However, as I drove home, the rain REALLY came down and the roads were flooded.
I felt really blessed at what I had had today.

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