Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Due in part to our lack of exploration last week, and also the prospect of a dodgy pay and display machine giving us cheap parking, we once again meet up in the Surprise View car park with a vague plan of action  to enjoy a more scenic route today.

We're still in luck, the parking machine will still only let us pay for one hour (card payments only!) which we duly do before preparing to set off. There are still remnants of snow and a heavy frost tucked into the tussocks of grass and shady side of rocks. The wind is a chill one too, but at least the sun is shining today - and it has brought out a fair few walkers too.

We head off on the path that rises up through the sparse woods at the back of the car park and climb carefully up the rocks. Fortunately millstone grit isn't slippery, unlike the White Peak's limestone.

Mollie finds a toy to play with and we head onwards on the path towards Mother Cap. We detour off to the right as a chatty family group start to catch up with us. They aren't well dressed for walking so we guess they won't be going too far, we move away to let them overtake us as we explore the stones on the right of the moor before winding back to the path.

Mother Cap is a very distinctive - and much climbed - natural monument of stone, visible for miles.

We walk around it and continue along the path heading towards Windyards Nick. Now we are on the same route as last week, only with a better view.

We can see for miles, and we have a brief debate on whether the birch wood (pictured) could, in certain atmospheric conditions, seem to appear near the enclosure/sheepfold on Hathersage Moor, which is still some way off. PC says Yes. I say No.

We reach the aforementioned sheepfold and take the route around its southern edge and head towards Higger Tor.

It's always a bit of a huff and puff climbing up here, but the views towards Carl Wark are worth it.
It is quite busy on the top of the Tor, and a bit too chilly too. We start to make our way down on the other side as PC declares that we need to head into the coniferous woodland through which Burbage Brook runs. It is, she says, a non-negotiable stopping place (for obvious reasons).

Fortunately we find a comfortable spot in the woods where we are out of the wind and out of sight (more or less) and although it would be nice to say it was peaceful the constant yelling and screaming of a school-group up on the Tor carries for miles. 

However, it is good spot for lunch and coffee, and the much anticipated buns (cinnamon swirls - more cinnamon next time, please).

With lunch over we have a brief debate as to where to head next and choose, to go down to the brook and cross over. This turns out to be one of our less successful ideas. Whereas there is a visible path on the other side reaching it is probably only possible for those possessing greater agility than ourselves.

To begin with we have to negotiate the lumber left over from the felling of swathes of the wood (either last year or the year before) then find that the brook is flowing fast and deep. Any stones that might prove useful for crossing are either submerged or covered in slippery moss. We decide, instead, to follow a sort-of path at the side of the brook - we clearly aren't the only ones who have trod this way.

It is a bit up and down, and a bit uncertain in places, but we never actually find a place to cross. And again we end up having to scramble over heaps of discarded branches. We end up letting Mollie off the lead to make her own way, there aren't any sheep about and she is much better left to her own devices.

Eventually, though we come in sight of the little footbridge that takes the main path off of Carl Wark. It is quite muddy in places as a young couple, not ideally dressed for a day out, discover when she slips down. Unharmed, though, they continue up towards Carl Wark as we cross the bridge.

A new bridge has been built here recently, looking quite stark against the muted hillside. 

We walk up to the  main path running under Burbage Rocks and aren't at all surprised that there are so many people walking here. It is an easy route, and we make good time to the end of the road and the path. 

Once over the road we go through a gate into the edge of the Longshaw Estate, turn right to follow the road then through another gateway and across a stone clapper-type bridge.

We follow the familiar route down and skirt the lower reaches of Burbage Brook, following it until we turn right on the high-banked path leading us back to the car park.

We have made pretty good time, and made so much more of the walk than last week. Fingers crossed we'll do as well next week.

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