Sunday, 23 June 2013


It's been a grim and grey few weeks, and not just with the weather. With PC off sailing the seven seas and family events taking over to a suffocating degree, getting out walking had fallen off the bottom of my list of things to do. But, joy of joys, an email from PC announced her pending arrival back in the UK for a friend's wedding and would I like to go walking the day after she landed. Would I?

Of course, the week leading up to PC's arrival had been bright, sunny and summery. The day of our planned walk dawned grim, dim and rainy. But undeterred we were still raring to go.

PC looks healthy and tanned (obviously not been in Britain, then) but had missed the moors and paths of the Peak District. She'd also missed proper English tea so had used up all her milk. Good job I have brought the coffee.

We meet at one of our familiar spots, the layby near to Cutthroat Bridge just above Ladybower, and we have a plan. Since we don't have Mollie with us today (too short notice to plan to bring her) it means we are free to roam on the access land leading across Bamford Moor to Bamford Edge. We've only done this once before, years ago (we tried once before that when the moor was first opened but the belligerent gamekeeper of the day considered a miniature poodle on a short lead to be a great threat to his game birds and turned us back before we got very far).  Back then we did struggle to beat our way through the thick heather to our destination. This time we're hoping to be luckier.

We walk down the side of the busy A57 and take the stile next to the gate leading onto the access land beneath Hordron Edge. We're on a clear track (frequented by gamekeepers and shooters) taking us gently through thin coniferous woodland which shields the moors from the road. It is so good to be out again, even if it keeps trying to rain.

Immediately we notice how much noise there is from the birds. We hear curlews and a cuckoo almost straight away, and there are others that we cannot identify. The track continues beneath Hordron Edge and when we come to the next woodland copse we see a bird up on the rocks to our left. I eventually manage to take a photograph, but although the bird is silhouetted against the light its long pointed beak is obvious. Is this the noisy but elusive curlew?

We continue along the track enjoying the chance to catch up on all that has happened in the last few weeks. It seems an age since we were last walking and apart from a few emails we haven't had the opportunity to exchange gossip. All that is changing!

As the track starts a gentle upward incline above the stream running down from Jarvis Clough we see a narrow but fairly distinct path on the opposite side. Recalling our problems on our previous walk, and the lack of any kind of path through the thick heather, we decide to drop down to the stream, cross over and follow the path.

This is done without an problems and we are soon walking up the path towards a single tree. We pause to admire the distant views of Stanage Edge before stooping beneath the tree and walking uncomfortably close to an old, disused quarry. The path levels out and we walk on a little way, following a drystone wall, then decide to stop for a break. We don't need a rest, but the secret flask and secret chocolate (yes, chocolate too) are calling.

We settle down on some flat stones at a broken section of the wall and pull out the secret flask. The Ramblers Restorative tastes wonderful, as does the Old Jamaica chocolate.

We have good, if rather murky, views across the Derwent Moors whilst behind us we can see (if we turn around) Stanage Edge. We have barely finished our drink and chocolate when the rain starts again, and this time it seems to mean it. We pack up quickly and pull on our waterproof trousers and coats before setting off again, keeping roughly to the line of the wall and the path.

The rain doesn't last long and by the time we have reached the rocks marked Pillars on the map the sun has come out and we need to remove the waterproofs as we're in danger of providing ourselves with our own greenhouse effect.

It is fairly easy walking, and the path is clear enough for us not to have to struggle through the heather. So far we haven't seen another soul out walking.

Before long we come to more rocks and decide to find somewhere comfortable for lunch. Once settled we pull out our food, and enjoy our buns (a cinnamon swirl danish and an apricot danish - we split them in half so we can have a taste of each) and a convivial drink of coffee. It is so good to be sat here enjoying the fresh air, views and company that we are most reluctant to get going, and we linger for quite a while. Eventually though we must move on and we pick up the path again.

The northern end of Bamford Edge starts to come into view, and we have a clear view of Win Hill across the valley, looking very stark and imposing from this vantage point. As we approach Bamford Edge we can see someone there, and when we get closer we realise it is a climber. He's holding a rope and looking over the edge, hopefully there's someone on the other end.

We walk along the wide path that tops the Edge giving us great views down to Bamford and across the Derwent valley, then further away to our left we can see the full stretch of Stanage Edge.

Up to this point we hadn't quite decided which route to take back, so we come to a decision and turn left to pick up the very indistinct path heading towards Moscar Moor. To begin with it is moderately clear, although we suspect it is used more by sheep than people, but eventually it peters out altogether. We could start compass work to attempt to find the correct route, but since this is access land we decide to strike out in the direction we want. Very quickly we are rewarded by another indistinct track, this time following some stone posts from a long gone fence line.

It's lovely out here with only the odd sheep for company. In places the heather is very high, though fortunately not where we are walking, and there are large areas of gnarled, whitened twigs where parts of the moor have been cleared. In amongst the low growing heather, though, are clumps of the while tufty 'flower' heads of Common cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium), a sedge which favours boggy areas. 

We have to skirt one boggy area where the ground dips, but we do that easily enough without losing sight of where we are going even though we seem to have reached the end of our line of stone posts. Ahead are the grouse butts and a stone wall, beyond that we can see the top of the track that we had started out on.

As we reach the vehicle track that runs from the grouse butts to the main track another walker strides across the moor and passes us without saying a word. We allow him his space and follow him at a distance. When we reach the main track we see him striking off across Moscar Moor towards Stanage Edge, but we decide instead to take the route over Hordron Edge where there is a large amount of bird activity. We spend a while trying to capture shots of them in flight but don't have much success.

Further along we see another man and realise that he is at the stone circle known as the Seven Stones of Hordron. He scowls at us as we approach, refuses to answer a friendly 'hello' then sits on one of the stones with his arms folded, glaring. As we look at the stone circle and start to take photographs he snatched up his bag and stalks off. Phew. Glad I didn't see him when I was walking alone.

The stone circle is about 16m in diameter and there are about 23 of them in total, if you count all of the smaller ones as well as the main ones. It is in a superb position with the hills and edges forming an amphitheatre around it.

Once we've finished looking around we continue along Hordron Edge then drop down towards the road. Sadly there is a taught wire fence at the edge so no short cut, instead we walk down to the conifer wood, reach the main track then go down to the stile. It's only a few minutes now and once we've walked up the side of the busy road we're back at the cars.

It has been an amazing day. Despite the promise of rain we've only had one wet spell and that didn't drench us. We've enjoyed a long satisfying walk and even been and seen places we've not ventured to before.

Once the wedding is over PC will be back to the ocean waves, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that family trials and tribulations will ease allowing me to get out again.