Thursday, 3 February 2011


There had been some early doubts about today's walk. Yesterday had been bitterly cold with a biting wind that had made us wary of venturing onto any high ground, but this morning all was clear, cool and relatively still, so we set off for Bamford Edge feeling optimistic.

We park up in the lay-by on New Road next to the access stile, pleased that no one else is there as there's only room for three, maybe four, cars.

Setting out we encounter our first (and hopefully last) problem. I bound athletically over the stile (only a slight exaggeration, honest) and wait eagerly at the other side for PC. And wait. And wait. The stile is eye-wateringly high and PC, conscious of keeping her bionic hip where it's meant to be, is struggling. However, with a suitable amount of cussing and contortions she heaves herself up and joins me on the far side. And we're off.

It isn't a very steep track up towards the disused quarry almost due north of the stile, but we're aware of the incline and keep using the bionic hip as an excuse to pause and admire theextensive views rapidly unfolding as we climb. The bionic hip, naturally, is fine. It's the lungs that seem to suffering. We're obviously carrying too much weight - in our rucksacks!

The light falling on distant Stanage Edge is wonderful, sculpting the rock face into sharp relief. Fingers crossed that the camera does it justice.

The quarry is quite overgrown now with a boggy morass in the middle, but there is a rough track up the side . I'm sent up first to try it out. If I fall PC won't follow, but hopefully she'll phone for help. As it is, I clamber up easily, it isn't as bad as it looks, and PC follows with ease. Once up there one side does drop away quite dramatically, but my remark about falling into the ravine is not appreciated, so we rapidly ascend to level ground before stopping again.

From here we admire the full length view of Stanage Edge. It's rare to be able to see all of it in one swoop of the eyes, and this is an excellent spot. PC tries out her magic camera skills, hopefully to be followed by magic computer skills, and I'm glad that I don't have to cope with the photos.

Then we skirt the top edge of the quarry and walk along a track following a slightly higher elevation than Bamford Edge itself. Here we're quite exposed and the wind is beginning to make itself felt. We walk along the well-worn track between boulders and the burnt-back heather. We wonder if this has been a controlled burning - it is extensive - or an accident. It's easy to see how moorland fires could quickly spread out of control up here on these barren, windy expanses.

We decide it's time to stop for a drink so we find a big boulder to sit behind out of the wind. Out comes the secret flask and the coffee flask. A couple of measures of Ramblers Restorative does just what is says on the bottle and PC, since she isn't driving, holds her cup out for a top up. Once the Ramblers has taken effect we enjoy a coffee and sit a while enjoying the view and feeling mellow. The buns are brought out for display - they're for lunch - but they prove an incentive to get moving and find somewhere to stop to eat.

A short distance further on we follow a path down onto Bamford Edge.
Whenever we come here we have to stop and stare. The views are spectacular. OK, so the cement works manages to rear it's ugly head - couldn't it be disguised, it really is a major eyesore - but ignoring that we can see a wonderful panorama taking in Abney, Castleton, Mam Tor, Win Hill, the distant Kinder range, and as we proceed along Bamford Edge's wonderfully rocky ridge the views of Ladybower and Derwent Edge open out. We can see the Derwent Dam, the Wheel Stones and Crook Hill, all places we've enjoyed walking, and will revisit again as soon as we can.

We have to keep stopping to enjoy the views. It is a must on this walk and it has to be one of the best places in the Peak District to get an impression of space. Perhaps we should keep it secret, though. It doesn't get as many visitors as it deserves, and it is all the better for that.

The ridge path descends and crosses a tumbled dry stone wall and heads across wilder Bamford Moor, until relatively recently the sole preserve of grouse shooters. The wind is blowing keenly now so we head up onto the moor a little way so we're less exposed. We find a comfortable nook and settle down for lunch. As we eat we see a lone walker trudging along the track towards Bamford Edge. He waves, we wave back, he continues on his way. That is the only encounter we have we another soul all day. It's wonderful up here.

At last the buns emerge. Lemon Muffin Cheesecakes: muffin pieces, creamy tangy cheesecake, white chocolate flakes, biscuity base. Perfect. Thank you Mr Morrison, you've done us proud.

Suitably replenished we set off back, the first part of our return journey retreading the path we've just been on. In the time it's taken us to eat (and drink, and chat) the wind has gathered strength. There is always the chance of strong gusts on this exposed edge, but now those gusts are powerful. We keep well away from the steep drops wherever possible. For some reason the smell of the burnt heather is very strong now although we didn't notice it on the way out. Perhaps the cheesecake has sharpened our senses.

We ignore the path up to higher ground and start the long, steady decline passing an old quarry with an almost-complete millstone abandoned in situ. What a lot of skill wasted, but it is rather a poignant monument. Much better than it being stuck in someone's garden as an ornament.

As we lose height the wind loses its ferocity. Looking back, though, we can see the clouds racing across the clear blue sky. PC quotes a line from a film, I immediately recognise it. Oh, how wonderful to be film buffs! (Actually, it was from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - not exactly highbrow but a classic in it's own way.)

Crossing the brown, bracken-covered slopes we notice a number of square stakes stuck into the ground, some in lines, others in squares, some seemingly randomly placed. We're curious, but have no idea what they're for. Perhaps on a later walk up here we may reach enlightenment.

It isn't long before we're in sight of the car, with only the stile to negotiate. It's easier this way, fortunately, so there's no opportunity for a humorous photograph. Never mind.

We did well today. Later in the afternoon the wind's strength began to build and by late evening a gale was howling and the rain was beating down. It makes a change for luck to be on our side but we won't complain . We've had brilliant weather. The big question is, how long can our luck hold out?