Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans!
We were to meet at Edale, an earlyish start, and hike up onto the Kinder Plateau. But events were conspiring against us. As I arrive in Hope a text message comes through. I pull up - PC will be late as she has gone to collect Mollie, but Mollie's owner has had a bereavement which will, naturally, delay her. Added to that, the road from Hope to Edale is closed! A quick message to PC informs of her a potential change of plan and that I'll meet her at Castleton.
When PC manages to arrive at Castleton we decide that it is too late for us to drive up Winnats Pass and down to Barber Booth, then face the Kinder walk in the time we have allotted to us. So we do a quick recalculation, drive up towards Treak Cliff Cavern, park up on the road and ready ourselves for the Ridge, one of our definite favourites.
Mollie is very keen to get out walking, it seems forever since she's been with us, but she clearly hasn't forgotten, nor has she forgotten the dog biscuits in my pocket! She has a new harness today and we're wondering how well it will work as she can be quite a puller.
We set off up the road and start catching up on gossip. It may only be a couple of weeks since we last saw each other but a lot has happened. How did we manage so many months apart?
There are quite a lot of people out today, unsurprisingly as the weather is bright and clear, and everyone seems cheerful. We decide that we're going to walk up the 'old' road, the one that the Shivering Mountain has managed to destroy, and it teaches us a very interesting lesson about the power of nature. The road was eventually closed in 1979 when the Highways Dept realised that they couldn't keep up with the constant, on-going repairs needed to keep it open to traffic.
For some reason both PC and I are finding it heavy going today. Maybe it is walking on tarmac, or maybe the months of idleness are now manifesting themselves. We definitely need to get fitter.
We head up the steps climbing to the summit where a small group are taking forever to snap a few photos. We look around, enjoy the views, wait patiently, but they seem determined to monopolise the trig point so we eventually move on. A minute later they start to follow us!
At Hollins Cross we continue straight ahead as there are still too many people about, and we prefer to eat lunch where it isn't so busy. It's a climb uphill from here, and the path is badly eroded, but it isn't difficult, and by the time we reach the top we realise that we have left most of the other walkers behind. The shorter circuit from Mam Tor to Hollins Cross and around is clearly the more popular one.
A nip of Ramblers Restorative first, that casts a rosy glow over everything, followed by a coffee. Not my best coffee, I think I'm overdue a new flask. Then we eat our sandwiches and salads (PC with the healthy salad, not me) and Mollie devours her biscuits. Then it is the bun of the day: Strawberry Oysters - shortcrust pastry, custard middle, a strawberry then cream on top. It's like the last taste of summer. We finish off with another coffee as Mollie starts to get a little twitchy. The para-gliders are out again, this time over Mam Tor and the ridge, and Mollie clearly doesn't like them one bit so we pack up and move on.
When we reach the base of Back Tor we pause to consult the map before deciding that we will continue. We've enough time if we don't dawdle.
Despite our concerns about our fitness, or lack of it, early in the walk, the stepped side of Back Tor presents no problems and we quickly reach the summit, then stride on towards Lose Hill.
Although we can see other walkers in the distance there is no one else on the path now, it is as though we have the ridge to ourselves. It's a short pull up to the trig point on the top of Lose Hill and we pause to enjoy the 360 degree views. No time to linger, though, so we're off downhill in the direction of Hope, and once we're over the stile and fence we veer right towards a cairn and the start of the return path through the fields towards Back Tor Wood.
We're making really good progress now, and when we are once again at the base of Back Tor we take the left hand path going down in the general direction of Castleton.
The path is fairly distinct but once we reach the bottom (after some slithering at one point) we find the gate onto the path we think we want. It is all very familiar, and once we have gone past the point of no return we realise that we are on Hollowford Road whereas we had wanted the next path along! It doesn't matter, though, this is an easy path to take and it won't add too much to our walk.
The deserted road takes us down into Castleton and in the village we turn left to arrive at the car park the 'back way'. From here we need only walk on up the road to where we have parked our cars.
The sun is still shining, the sky is still blue and there are still plenty of people about, but it is time for us to head homewards. Mollie is very keen to get in the car but we're sure she'll be eager to come out with us next week. Fingers crossed that we get another brilliant day.