Rain and wind were forecast with the dull skies underlining the likelihood but as we met at the car park the promised rain had yet to make an appearance even though the cold wind was making itself felt.
This familiar walk holds no surprises for us but is one of our 'hot chocolate and fluffy blanket' walks. Familiar and comforting.
We decided on the easy route up to the ridge - a short trek up the road past Overstones Farm, left onto the footpath then onto a track that led us up onto the ridge with minimum of effort. It's a wide view from here: the flat, sky filled vista over Friar's Ridge stretching north towards Bradfield, Penistone and beyond; Higger Tor to the south managing to look unimpressive from this angle; Stanage Edge sweeping north-west but not wholly visible from here.
The ground is distinctly soggy underfoot thanks to the downpours of the last couple of days which have left the peaty ground sodden. Thank goodness for the huge stepping stones over the worst ground.
We hop up to the trig point at 457 m like a pair of (not so) agile mountain goats and admire the view. Pity the cement works at Hope intrudes, its pale grey geometric outline alien in this rugged landscape devoid of right angles or straight lines. But we manage to filter it out of our vision whilst listening to the birdsong, too many species to recognise are determined to let us know that they are feeling spring fever!
From the trig point we amble along the familiar ridge discussing, courtesy of a current television series, the planets and physics. Just goes to prove that we aren't entirely frivolous.
There's hardly anyone else up here. It's probably too early in the day, too dull and too windy. But this is the beauty of being able to walk mid-week, avoiding the hoards that descend on the Peak District at weekends. You can't blame them, everyone must make the most of the free time they have, but we appreciate our good fortune and enjoy the area without too many human distractions.
We pause at various points for photographs and scan the distant moors, naming them, recounting our numerous walks over them, planning on revisiting some. We don't hurry along desperate to clock up the miles. That would be missing the point. We have to stand and stare, it would be wrong to do otherwise.
We stop for coffee after making the rucksacks pose for photographs and try to identify a very loud bird. No luck with the ID, perhaps I need to put a wildlife book in my already overstuffed rucksack.
A little way along we make a slight detour between two boulders, scramble back uphill then find a suitable rock to bask on and eat lunch as the sun makes an appearance. Yes, contrary to the weather forecast, it is turning into a fine day. Lunch has the tempting accompaniment of a small bottle of vino (early birthday celebration) which is savoured from plastic cups before the buns ('low calorie' fresh cream doughnuts) are devoured with unseemly relish. No rush. We sit and enjoy the views whilst putting the world to rights.
There are more people out now, mainly on the paths below the ridge, but the few that pass behind us don't intrude with anything more than usual walkers' greetings.
Rucksacks are shouldered again as we meander on, this really is a leisurely walk. There's plenty of water coming from the area known as White Path Moss and the many streams cascade over the gritstone edge as weak windblown waterfalls. Standing above them we are treated to a few drops of spray being blown back up at us, but we've been here before in fierce winds when we have been liberally doused by the water being thrown back. A water-rise rather than a waterfall, maybe?
We descend from the edge on the path down towards Dennis Knoll. Sadly the lane is badly eroded and eroded due to, in part, its use (overuse) by 4 x 4 vehicles whose drivers use the route for 'fun' whilst ripping up and polluting the countryside. Near the bottom of the track wide puddles extend across the whole width of the path with deep water-filled ditches on either side. Water runs from one side of the path to the other (the map says it's a ford but it hardly merits the description). To our surprise (OK, horror) we discover that the puddles are full, really full, of frog spawn. On closer inspection we see that the water-filled ditches are equally filled with the globular goo. With terrible fascination we envisage what it will be like here in a few weeks time - and vow to avoid the place for a while.
Our return by road is easy walking, not too much traffic and a fantastic view of the edge with an early moon hanging over it in broad daylight. There are lots more people on the top now, and a number of hardy souls climbing too. The running water beneath Sheepwash Bank is a tempting distraction but we must explore this another time.
The toilets provide a convenient break before we set off the up final hill alongside Cattis-side Moor. We maintain our pace all the way up and don't stop once. Not bad!
The car park is almost full with many people coming off the edge and others only just setting out, but we know we have definitely had the best of the day.