Monday, 27 September 2010


We'd had this one on our minds for a while. Stanage Edge is one of our favourite walks but we have never completed the full length, always dropping down and doing a circular route at the half way point or just beyond. The time was right for us to do the end to end walk, so we'd plotted and planned (it involved a car at each end and driving between start and finish) and after the initial ferrying about we were keen to get started.

We set off from the Upper Burbage Bridge car park, our eyes fixed east. The first bit is easy, a short stretch of level moorland track then a short haul up onto the ridge.
Even this small ascent gives wonderful views in all directions, but we press on across the slabbed path through the heather and rocks to the trig point. We always pause here but today the sky isn't really clear enough for a good photograph. However, we do get a sense of how far we'll be walking, although we can't see the end of the 3.5 mile ridge from here.
This is easy, familiar walking, and strangely quiet. Even on cold weekdays there are usually hikers and climbers up here, but we see no one. Maybe the grim weather forecast has put people off but although the wind is bitterly cold the distant clouds don't appear to be too threatening.
As we walk along the ridge we have clear views and can see that the trees are starting to take on their autumn colours. Some, such as the horse chestnuts, are already wonderfully golden but some are just turning to a crispy, muddy brown.
Fluffy legged grouse let out their peculiar cry - or is it a strangled squawk? - and run away from us only to stop and peer over the heather. They're safe, for now. We're not gun-toting 'sportsmen' and can't see the sense in killing for fun.
We ignore the heavily eroded track down to the left - Long Causeway, formerly a roman road from Doncaster - which is our usual descent and keep on the ridge. The path narrows briefly and a short step of rock has to be negotiated, easy-peasy for our nimble figures, then we're up and over the stile onto the second half of the walk.
The path on the OS map actually runs beneath the ridge, and is clear to see, but most people walk on top of the edge to enjoy the views, as we do.
The trig point at High Neb marks the highest part of the edge at 458 m but before we reach it PC trips up and the secret flask has to be brought out for medicinal purposes. She deems it to be a miracle cure, so we stop for lunch hunched up with our backs to the wind and the view. Our coffee (and the secret flask) are welcome accompaniments to the lemon and poppy seed muffins. They look odd sprinkled with black specks, but taste good with a proper lemony curd filling devoid of any fluorescent colourings. They are surprisingly filling, but that could have been because of our heavy salads.
As we set off from our picnic spot we see the first pair of walkers of the day going in the opposite direction, and we're the first they have seen. We all remark on how unusual it is, but how much better not to be milling around with the crowds. Then we part company and are off again.

From here the view is new to us, so we stop briefly at the trig point to look around then keep going to the edge to see what we can see. Much the same as before, actually, but from a different perspective which makes it interesting. We can also see the long S-shaped curve of the whole edge from this point and it is probably the only place from up here where you can just about see the whole length.

As we continue on the path we keep spying out old walks such as along Bamford Edge and Win Hill,and use the opportunity to check out other useful paths for the future. In general though, we're both agreed that this half of the edge doesn't quite match up to the other half, although it is probably less popular which has its own appeal.In places the path becomes quite wet and even boggy, it will probably be a quagmire when there has been a reasonably amount of rain. Stanage End is soon upon us and we descend a few feet to the 'proper' path. There are lots of gritstone walls here, high as though for enclosures or buildings, but without any proper form that we can see. Without exploring them we head on the gentle decline on the path through the tussoky grass towards the A57.
The sun has come out now and it's quite warm and very pleasant, far different from when we set off this morning. We pause to look back at the edge, but the view from here is unimpressive. It gives little a indication of height but no clues as to length. We agree that we have definitely walked in the best direction.
The walk down the road isn't pleasant with the fast moving traffic zooming past, but we reach the lay-by safely and are soon in the car on the way back to Upper Burbage Bridge. There we pause to plan our next outing, but looking back where we've been today we see ominous black clouds approaching quickly.

Going our separate ways I can see over to Castleton, and it is completely hidden beneath a thick grey fog of torrential rain. We've been lucky to have missed the rain, it made a good walk even better.

Monday, 20 September 2010


It's an early start for today's walk as parking is limited. There's only room for a couple of cars and we have to make sure they are ours!

We're in place a good half hour earlier than usual and the day, although bright, is much colder than it looks with an accompanying brisk wind. Rain is forecast for later too. We tog up against the cold and set off cheerful.

It's a long time since we last did this walk across Offerton Moor and Abney Moor so we're looking forward to it.

First of all we have to negotiate a number of stiles, easily done since we choose to go through gates instead which provide their own challenges, and after startling a few long-tailed sheep we're out on the moor following a narrow but distinct path.

It is all much wilder than we remember it, with stark moorland covered with low growing heathers and little else. It must be very barren and bleak here in the winter. However, the 360 degree views are stunning. We pause to admire the scene and take the opportunity to dig out the winter woolly hat! The wind blows with sadistic determination up here. We cross over the oddly named Siney Sitch which trickles lazily today and press on over the flat top of the moor.

Soon we're dropping down and the narrow path becomes slippery as the surface peat has become sodden in the recent rain. Thank goodness for the tall bracken which provides handholds. As we drop the temperature increases and the wind dips. It's off with our layers as we turn left onto the bridlepath which just misses the tiny hamlet of Offerton.

By now we're discussing history, more particularly the Norman Conquest. Just goes to show that we're interested in more than buns.

We cross Old Clough, not much more than a running puddle today, and start the gentle but slow ascent towards the track known as Shatton Lane. We pause to admire and photograph a large hairy caterpillar crawling determinedly across our path, and we wonder what it will turn into, and when.

The walking is easy, if warm, but at least it isn't muddy. Last time we had to pick our way over a quagmire when we reached the gate onto Shatton Lane, but not today. A few puddles make a half-hearted attempt to slow us down, but they fail miserably.

More views open out as we climb up Shatton Lane. We stand a while to point out the landmarks we recognise: Derwent, Bamford Edge, Mam Tor, the Great Ridge, Stanage Edge - miles upon miles of fantastic scenery and most of familiar to our well used boots. Seeing it all on such a wonderful, sunny day just reminds us why we do this, and why we want - no, need - to keep on doing it.
We're interrupted in our musings by a couple of motorcyclists; the lane is 'a route with public access' and although the map shows a fairly clear circuit of these 'routes' in the area, there is a part at the top of this lane which has no vehicular access at all. It doesn't stop the bikers.

We are fast(ish) approaching the monumental mast that stands on the moor and is, sadly, visible for miles. A few steps past the mast and the view beyond it makes even the towering structure of metal and antennae seem beautiful. The ultimate Blot on the Landscape has come into view. Yes, the cement works. It really is an eyesore, and the most hideous structure imaginable. In no way has there been any attempt to make it blend into the landscape. It just sits there, scowling, and alien creature in the wrong place, and just plain ugly.

Trying to ignore the eyesore we press on pass a tiny group of walkers, the first and only ones we see today, and hunt for somewhere to stop for lunch. We've made excellent time again, too good really, so we settle down comfortably, pull on our layers as we're being buffeted by the wind again.

This week the secret flask is opened without problems (phew) so after a warming toast we settle down to eat. Buns today are apple and cinnamon muffins, substantial and healthy (because of the apple!) and they are washed down with flavoured coffee.

Because we've made such good time we sit and talk until we see the predicted grey clouds looming, so we pick up our rucksacks and set off. The track follows the line of grey stone walls behind which are paddocks for numerous horses then veer onto the moor again. It's an easy stroll now and a few spots of rain fall, but not enough to make us even damp. By the time we're back at the cars the sun is shining and we're all fired up for next week.

Monday, 13 September 2010


Here we are for our first walk back after the summer holidays and it feels good to be out. We meet at the Surprise View car park under an unpromising sky of mist which threatens rain, not that it matters to hardy souls like us. We have loads of news to catch up with and are desperate to escape the accumulated post-holiday chores which have multiplied alarmingly in our absence.

We cope admirably with the parking-ticket machine which had us stumped on our last visit then set off gingerly, nursing a dodgy hip and back back - one each so they're equally shared.

The first stile is approached with caution but we cope with it easily. See, things aren't too bad after all! We almost immediately encounter a small uphill scramble, but experience of this means we know the easy way and we're soon on the open moor covered with a dense carpet of heather and spindly silver birch trees. The path is sandy underfoot due to the constant erosion of the sombre grey gritstone.

We're heading uphill here, but at a gentle gradient which gives us plenty of breath to talk about all that has happened since we last met up.

We pause to take photos of some of a couple of strangely eroded rocks that look like a pair of Komodo Dragons turned to stone, one looking north, the other south.

A short distance along we reach the towering bulk of Mother Cap, a large wind-weathered monolith that is visible from a great distance away. It is a popular site for climbers with a route up it being called, apparently, Conan the Librarian! Why? No idea.

After only a brief pause to admire the view, and to remove a layer of clothing - the sun has emerged - we head north towards the distinctive flat-topped rise of Higger Tor. We take a path that is not on the OS but is well used enough to be clear on the ground. Carl Wark, the iron age (or possibly even bronze age) hill fort is over to our right. Carl Wark isn't the only evidence of settlement here on Hathersage Moor although the fort is the clearest with the rest being buried beneath vegetation.

Our path dips at Winyards Nick with another crossing it, but we continue straight on. Soon we reach the only enclosure on the moor, a large rectangular sheepfold. As always we look for the 'missing wood'.

I'll explain. On a walk here some years ago, in snow and thick fog, we passed the corner of the sheepfold heading in the opposite direction and saw, heading roughly easterly, two cart tracks leading in to a wood of spindly silver birches. After much debate we decided to press on instead of going into the wood and forgot all about it. Until I went on a walk there some time later and - no wood! I asked PC. She remembered the wood too (I hadn't imagined it) so we went back together. Despite us both recalling the wood's exactly location and what it looked like, it quite simply wasn't there. A mirage? or some kind of window to a former time? We're still debating the point, and we look for the wood on every visit. One day we'll return in fog, just to see...

Skirting the enclosure boundary we head towards Higger Tor, which looms larger on our approach. We shun the direct ascent and skirt around to the east where we can climb up without undue effort. At the top we pause for a sip from the secret flask, but to our overwhelming frustration the top won't come off. We both try, even resorting to bashing the flask on a rock, but all we manage to do is form a hairline crack in the metal that oozes the odd drop of nectar. Grr.

Refusing to be daunted we set off on the clear path towards Upper Burbage Bridge. This whole area of the moor is very close to road so is easily accessible which makes for more visitors. There are quite a few small groups out, and we have to remind ourselves that although this area is on our doorsteps, it is actually a holiday location for many people.

We cross Burbage Brook by the bridge rather than the up and down scramble over the water. Our way is quicker, and safer, especially in our fragile states.

At the far side of the Brook we debate whether to take the high route on the top of Burbage Rocks on the edge of Burbage Moor or keep to the lower, easier path that forms, apparently, part of the Sheffield Country Walk. We opt for the easy route today but first drop down towards the Brook to sit on some boulders in the sun to eat lunch. The coffee is welcome, as is secret flask number 2 which is only brought out in times of dire need. It feels very civilised sitting here, sipping our drinks, eating lunch and contemplating the moors, the weather, life and everything. And buns. PC has done us proud. Two cup cakes - one lemon, one coffee - are duly presented for admiration before being ceremoniously cut in half and savoured.

It would be far too easy to sit here all day with life buzzing past inconsequentially, but we have to move so we hoist ourselves stiffly upright and head off.

We discuss which path to take, either the one on the top of the rocks, or the lower track. We go for the low track as it is track is so easy to walk and as such is far more popular than the paths on the other side of the Brook. Even today, midweek, we see more people than we usually do, and at weekends it will be like the M1. To our left the rocky ridge of Burbage Rocks stands starkly sculptured in the sun.We pause frequently to admire the views up and down Burbage Basin and across to Carl Wark.

When we reach the road we cross over and into the Longshaw Estate which gives us easy access back to the car park. We go over Burbage Brook by a footbridge then follow the stream side path to the footpath leading to Surprise View car park. When we arrive there we are surprised to see an ice cream van. Tempting, but no. Smugly satisfied that we can resist temptation we plan our next walk then head home with the sun still shining. An excellent first outing.