Saturday, 27 May 2017


Working on the principle of third time lucky, and with a weather forecast in our favour, we are heading up to Lost Lad today, our last chance and last walk before PC heads off onto her boat for a few weeks of guaranteed sunshine.

We are going up by the same route we used last time, a few years back now. It is quite a long way around, nothing like the shorter routes that  most people use, but we are looking forward to it, especially given the sunshine.

There are a lot of people out today, most of them clustered around Fairholmes, but we doubt that many of them will be heading up on our route.

We take the usual path away from Fairholmes and along the bottom of the Derwent Dam wall, then up the steps at the side. When we emerge on the track at the top of the wall we can see the low level of the water. It is some time since we have seen it this low and we wonder if it is partly due to the recent hydroelectric works around here, though it is pretty extreme.

Derwent Reservoir
The waterline is so low, it looks as though there are huge beaches to lounge on. And approaching the Howden Dam it is even more apparent, though the top and bottom reservoirs (Ladybower and Howden) are pretty high.

Approaching Howden Dam

We find our path on the right of the track and walk up to the gate at the top leading onto access land. Although there is a clear path straight ahead which, yes, goes up to Lost Lad, we take the left hand footpath which follows the line of trees and a stone wall. Soon, we are over a stile and onto a path surrounded by the open moors.

We have superb views down to Abbey Brook in the valley below, and the Howden Moors ahead.
The path has a fairly steady incline, though in places there are some quite big downs, with big ups to follow - which does mean we end up divesting ourselves of as many layers as possible. It is warm enough with the enclosing hills adding to the heat, though in reality it is very pleasant. A 'no-coat' walk is a real treat.

Cogman Clough

 We have a dip down to Cogman Clough, then back up again. We see a pesky grouse up ahead, which keeps on bobbing up and down on and off the path. Though it did pause long enough to have its photograph taken.

We are finding that this route is longer than we remember it. Still, it doesn't really bother us. The day is wonderful and there isn't another soul in sight. Just us, a path and the moors. Perfection.
Once we've done most of the ups and downs the path is pretty much smooth and level. There is an immense feeling of freedom when the only sound is from the slight breeze, the curlews and the occasional bleat of a sheep - oh yes, and our conversation, naturally!
The path narrows and begins to wind a little as we begin to circuit around Howden Dean with Howden Edge over to our left. We must get back up there again sometime soon.

We look back the way we have come, and realise that the next time we'll do this walk in reverse and get the different views.
Looking down the Abbey Brook valley
From here it is a short walk to the small crossing over Abbey Brook, but although this is the route of the footpath we veer off to the right and up Sheepfold Clough. There is a path of sorts here, or rather, more than one path, and a number of fences for the sheep but with the gates open, so a bit of careful navigation is needed to keep on track. Basically, go straight ahead, through the first fence in front (the gate was open, but there is a flimsy stile) then keep the second fence to your right and it's plain sailing.

Panorama from Sheepfold Clough

 (The stile can just been seen on the far left of the panorama shot above)

From here it is a bit of a slog. Not because the walking is particularly difficult, but because we haven't stopped to eat. This is mainly because if we do, we won't want to get going again. We prefer to enjoy our food when we know all the climbing has been done. I have, however, succumbed to a piece of Kendal Mint Cake but PC declares that she isn't that desperate. She really doesn't like it one bit. Mollie has had a few biscuits to keep her going.

We debate stopping for a coffee, our pauses are getting more frequent, but Lost Lad is on the near horizon and we know that we will be better just keeping going. 

Sure enough, with a last pull uphill we make it. There's only the three of us (PC, Mollie, Me) and we are, honestly, quite surprised. It's a wonderful day, why aren't there more people up here? Never mind, we take some photos, enjoy the views, then drop down to a comfy spot to enjoy a very very late lunch.
Lost Lad summit
Mollie enjoys a drink and biscuits, then finds a clump of coarse grass and promptly does the sensible thing, and falls asleep!
Remarkably, PC has found a small bottle of wine in the bottom of her rucksack so we not only have coffee, sandwiches and buns (strawberry and fresh cream charlottes) but a welcome tipple too. Bliss.

Panorama, Lost Lad cairn in centre, Back Tor on right, Howden Dean on left with Howden Edge beyond

There is a huge temptation to sit here for hours. After all, there's plenty of daylight, and we have earned a linger. But eventually we decide we ought to pack up and move along.

As we set off a young couple reach Lost Lad from Back Tor. They pause for just a moment before starting to descend. We stand aside and let them go past. They clearly have no intention of hanging around to enjoy the views, they aren't even walking closely together. It's yomp on.

PC and I have never really understood the need to complete a walk as fast as possible, unless you're in training for something. After all, who are these speedy walkers competing with? Themselves? The clock? Life? They must miss out on so much, all those magic moments to breathe and look, those small easily missed treasures, the chance to talk and enjoy shared companionship. Ah well, everyone to their own. Perhaps age helps you to reflect more, and be more thankful for such simple pleasures.

Down from Lost Lad

It is, as they say, all downhill from here. The path continues along then curves around to the left heading towards Green Stitches before joining the footpath from Bradfield Gate Head.

From here it is simply a case of following the path. It splits and we take the right hand footpath which soon brings us up above Derwent Reservoir and very familiar territory.
The large cairn gives us an option of routes and PC opts for the 'straight down, it isn't that steep' route.
Actually, it is that steep, and rutted, but it is the quickest way down. To our surprise we pass two sets of walkers on their way up, neither particularly well shod for such a rough path.

However, we soon reach the bottom, where we hit the path at the side of the reservoir, and more people than we have seen all day. The lovely weather has brought people out in droves, and who can blame them. It is a perfect late afternoon for a stroll with the family.

We, however, head back to the cars extremely satisfied with our walk, and a little tired. But it has been worth it. A perfect walk on a perfect day.

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