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.