We'd felt a sense of panic when our normal walking day had to be suspended, but luckily we were able to rearrange and we chose to walk up Win Hill. Fine, except we haven't as much time as usual. Are we up to it?
The last few days have been unusually hot, but the forecast is for rain, so we've come prepared with sun cream and waterproofs. No lingering in the lay-by today, we need to get a move on, so from our parking spot on the road next to Ladybower we're soon on the way. Then PC realises she's forgotten her walking poles so she has to go back for them. While I wait I check out the best route.
Off again and we're crossing the dam. The earth-bank wall is covered with blanket of yellow flowers looking bright and cheerful.
At the other side, the water isn't too high.
At the far side of the dam we turn right then take the track that climbs up to the left. It's quite rocky underfoot, and in places a bit soggy after the heavy rain and thunderstorms of last night, but we're able to push on at a good pace.
On reaching the top we come to a gate, go through it then pause to remove a layer. We're down to shirt sleeves, a rare event this year!
We turn left on a broad track which starts to climb slowly but steadily through the trees. There's no one else about and we have the path to ourselves. The conifers aren't planted too closely together here, so the woods aren't too dense or gloomy, and there's a broad expanse of grass and bracken at either side of the path.
We're surprised at how easy the walking is and how soon we meet the path on Parkin Clough, where we turn right and climb steeply uphill. We once walked the whole length of Parkin Clough, from bottom to top, an unrelenting slog where we debated who was going to be Sam and who would be Frodo. Not sure we ever came to a decision.
Anyway, we climb up through the trees, through a gateway in a drystone wall, then up again. We're in the open now and having plenty of stops. Ahead is the much eroded and repaired path up to Win Hill. I'm not sure whether I like the stone 'steps' or not, but they are a necessity on such a well used route.
Looking back the extensive views across all the Edges are beginning to emerge. Sadly, we also get a full frontal view of the cement works. What an eyesore!
We're on the last push to the summit now where we stop to enjoy the 360 degree panorama. It's too early for lunch but we decide to sit down for a coffee just as a group of teens reach the trig point after walking up from Hope. We find a spot a little way from them where we can sit and savour the view, the coffee and the contents of the secret flask.
It's very pleasant sitting here, though we've had to put our layers back on as it is quite breezy. There are a few more people about - Win Hill is a bit of a people magnet - but it's still relatively peaceful.
However, we're watching the clock so we pack up and set off again. A slight error of judgement (no, we aren't lost!) means we have to scramble around some rocks to regain the path, which doesn't actually go over the summit but skirts it, but we're soon back to easy, level walking again.
We leave the path, even though it is tempting to keep straight on, and take a narrow track through the heather. This starts to take us downhill and eventually we come to a gate in a wall leading to a partially felled plantation. The cut off tree trunks make a tempting seat so we decide to stop for lunch. We remember stopping here some years ago, in the pouring rain, but before the trees had been taken down.
Buns today are a little scrambled due to the heat, but after some improvisation of cutlery and plates we manage to due them justice. Fresh cream strawberry tarts with creme anglaise. They may not look as good as they did in the shop but there's nothing wrong with the taste. Perfect.
It would be too easy to sit here all day. We've lost the breeze, the sky is very slightly overcast which makes it comfortable, and the birds are singing their hearts out. But our eyes on the time we have to pack up and move on.
The path keeps us going downhill, in place a bit slippy and precarious, but we're descending rapidly. In no time at all we've reached the bottom track which hugs the contour of the reservoir. The banks at the side of the track are filled with airy grasses and foxgloves, and there is a sweetly scented honeysuckle twined around a hawthorn.
In no time at all we're back at the dam and heading back to the cars. We can just see the peak of Win Hill over the tops of the trees, and we congratulate ourselves on having managed the walk and a couple of stops with time to spare.