The snow had arrived on the tops and, not unexpectantly, the Snake Road had been officially closed with barriers at the Ladybower traffic lights. The planned outing from the Hagg farm layby was therefore changed to the Ladybower car park where about a dozen frozen Warts gathered. The immediate discussion there was on the number of layers of underwear, a fine introduction for new member Sam to overhear. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, he stayed on and joined the run.
And, there was more running than expected, possibly because of the Capn’s absence due to a heel injury. Bob had taken over route duties with the first climb being from the back of the pub up the track towards Ladybower Tor. Since the last time I used this zig zag track, it has grown both wider and, in places, narrower and deeper. Thoughts of why this had happened were quickly dispersed by the general snowy steepness of the climb and by the junior Warts ahead actually running uphill. Generously, they did wait at the path crossroads (crosspaths?) at Whinstone Lee Tor before dashing off again on the lower edge path and then down to the shelter barn. Some Warts then decided that the next climb to Pike Low was a hill too far, announcing an alternative up the Mill Brook valley towards the pack horse bridge. The rest of us went to the summit following the snow cleared line made through the heather by the juniors. A very brief stop was made there, taking no whiskey but some sweeties including, possibly for the first time, some Rolos, and then a steep and slippery descent by the wall encouraged us to plough through the heather to get some slightly improved grip. A conversation on the enforced change to the route of this year’s Edale Skyline (around rather than over Mam Tor summit) diverted us somewhat from the grinding climb to Salt Cellar through snowy tussocks, heather and boulders. A call for lights out gave us a grand view of the stars in the moonless sky and an appreciation of the unsurprising benefit of head torches! Then, back to running, over relatively hard packed snow back to the pub via the rather tricky descent down the zig zags.
Maintaining the initial theme of the outing, discussions in the pub drifted around to underwear again, old and holed thermal vests, cycling tops, inner and outer gloves and mittens and so on……… It’s possible that these mind expanding conversations were driven by the cold (it was, after all, a feels like temperature of about -9⁰C) and the availability of Farmer’s Blonde at the Ladybower. Nevertheless, and, in a moment of absolute clarity, it was declared to be an excellent night out.
Definition: grand or heroic. It certainly felt like that for the Warts’ longer outing in the snow, ice and westerly wind over Kinder and Brown Knoll territory. The mountain weather forecast had promised about 0⁰C and a “feels like” temperature of -7⁰C, so we had been warned. Even before we set out from Edale, the car journey there was ominous in that the heavy sleet brought out the now, routine comment, “Well, it is Wednesday night after all, what else would you expect”. There was, perhaps, a slight regret that we hadn’t taken the train like Penny and Moz. Nevertheless, Eoin and I persevered to Edale where, almost disappointingly, the sleet stopped and the skies cleared. Did we all really deserve this almost good weather?
First gathering point was Grindslow Knoll where we were in full cooling snow and wind conditions, almost welcome after the warming climb from Edale. Unusually, we continued on a path as we followed the Capn’s route initially towards the head of Crowden which was circumnavigated rather than directly crossed, as was the original plan. And the path was made of slabs! To compensate, there was a thorough foot soaking across the rather full head of Crowden Brook. After here, some mild grumblings and likening of feet to blocks of ice and “Why didn’t I wear my neoprenes” were heard. I felt it was my smug duty to report my feet were almost warm in my neoprenes. That wasn’t received too well, I hasten to add. Having suffered a dose of the slabs, we were entertained by some significant bogs which Chris referred to as Kinder custard, albeit of the lumpy variety, on our way around the Woolpacks, Pym Chair and Noe Stool. We felt that slabs may have some attraction after all. Nevertheless, we ploughed on towards the headtorch lights of Fi, Sarah and Eoin who were in front taking a direct line to Kinderlow trig. We were now thankfully away from hazardous paths on relatively pleasant grassy pastures though our abhorrence of paths had drawn us northwards away from them, and not westwards. A cry of “Let’s check the technology” was made, with the proviso that the battery may have frozen. Whilst this was checked, the pointy thing guided us westward towards a significant path on the edge of somewhere and, to add to our enjoyment, the mist rolled in. Such was the spread-out nature of the group, that someone did find the trig about 200m south of where we met the path. Ah, success, rewarded by a few jelly babies and pastilles.
Brown Knoll next. Straight forwardly south, of course. We ran over a rocky outcrop, thought to be Swine’s back, descended a bit and came to the top of a cliff with an impressive network of paths below. The technology was called up again and together with a bit of map scanning, it was Pete who put us right. We were now at the top of Swine’s Back and the previous set of rocks were, in fact, Edale Rocks. After an exciting descent, more slabs followed though this time their iced surface now made the alternative semi frozen bog much more attractive, especially if you’re wearing neoprenes. We were drawn too far down a path leading to South Head before cutting across the open moor to the Brown Knoll trig. The freezing wind along our subsequent long traverse of the famous BK well-conditioned bogs provided us with sufficient motivation to move relatively quickly, but too far. As the looming outline of Lord’s Seat came ever nearer, more technology and map consultation confirmed we had missed the large cairn near Horesehill Tor by quite some distance. A rapid descent very steeply towards Edale was therefore called for. This is all very well if you have a decent pair of shoes. My pair of well-worn, partially disintegrating Hokas were no match for the combination of slushy steep soggy grass and bilberry. So much for being smug about neoprenes! Come uppance comes to mind.
A gentle wander past a slightly ghostly bunk house and more, remarkably slimey fields brought us back to Edale Station and the Jolly Rambler where it was noticed that our Warts’ group included four previous Pertex winners. Does that signify anything?However, was it an epic outing? Well, maybe it was for Warts but Jasmin Paris puts us all into the shade with her epic victory in the Spine Race!
Two recent races, the Crashout and Moz’s birthday run, and another one, Bob’s night race, about a month ago, meant that we’d spent quite some time roaming around the delights of Kinder in mist, wind and rain. The prospect of another outing to Kinder from Blackden felt that it might be a step too far. However, the weather was relatively clement with a mist free clear sky, a crescent moon and a crisp, frosty ground. If this wasn’t enough to lift our spirits, the route, thanks to the Cap’n, was only marginally on Kinder as we turned almost immediately left after crossing over the river Ashop from the Blackden car park.
Walls were to become a bit of a theme for the outing as we, thirteen of us, contoured round Dean Hill following a wall, before climbing then descending into another “unnamed” clough (what about Innominate or Dean, Clough, perhaps?) with a non-holly tree and, apparently, a waterfall. I somehow missed the latter in the dark. To continue the theme, the first check point was a wall corner incorporating a sheepfold. When we arrived, the wall corner was declared to be the best in the Dark Peak mainly because it required a bit of precision navigation to reach it. Can anyone think of a better wall corner? Leaving this prime example of stone masonry, we ascended towards Kinder, at least, to a kind of finger of it thereby taking us out of our reverie of wall corners and into the harsh reality of breathlessness. On the edge there was a wide diaspora of lights, all supposedly aiming for the same check point of Madwoman’s Stones. Eventually, there was a convergence though there was a claim that there was quicker route though it seemed to take longer. Such is the danger of making claims like this in the vicinity of Madwoman’s Stones. Subsequently, waywardness was absent as a very crispy, crunchy, icy, fast and narrow path was taken to Druid’s Stone where I think a limited amount of sanity was restored. Though, please note, no whiskey had been taken at this stage. Next check point was another wall corner.
This time, at the top of Rowland Cote Moor, though this corner did not have the same accolade as the previous one, it being a bit easier to find. The thought arises of devising a list of wall corners with their categorisation, from best to worst, i.e., the Dark Peak WC index. If there can be a Dark Peak 15 trigs long distance outing, why not a Dark Peak WC Round or, perhaps, Square? From the wall corner, a direct line was taken through a fair bit of vegetation (oh joy) across Ollerbrook Clough on to the rocky Ringing Roger where the usual refreshments were taken. These, of course, included jelly snowmen/babies; maybe, in future, they could be made in DPFR colours to add a bit more entertainment at these feeding stops? I was surprised how quickly we reached the next check point at the Blackden Trig and then there was the usual dash to the finish, hopefully following a ruined wall taking us to a descent down a nose into Blackden Brook. However, this wall eluded us and instead there was enjoyment to be had from scrambling down a small stream into the Brook.
Post outing analysis was at the Anglers. It was not really too serious Kinder terrain and the weather was definitely kinder than recent previous experience so it was generally good to be out on the tops. Again, an excellent outing and we look forward to next week’s early excursion from Edale Station to, yes, you’ve guessed it, Kinder again, perhaps?!
A bit of advance notice for a change:
Andy says that on 16th Jan, which is a Sportsman night, there will be an alternative run from Edale railway station:- an early start at 5:45, allowing anyone going by train to get the 5:14 from Sheffield which calls at all stations to Edale. Otherwise park in the sliproad below the Ramblers or car park. There is a return train around 9:30.or 7:30 if doing a short one.The early start is the 2nd of 3 designed to allow a longer outing, especially as the group are getting older! The first one from Doctors gate in November was good, we were out for over 2:30
Who would have thought it? It is possible to find the most challenging tussocks almost within the Sheffield City boundary, even waist high ones with the added attraction of bogginess in between them and, of course, in the darkness and cold (it was Wednesday night after all). All this no more than half a mile from a road which can count as some sort of civilisation to non-Dark Peakers. Bashing through these tussocks, the level of grumbling rose to a group groan only to fade as the now almost routine navigational discussions, notably “we’re 180⁰out”, lead to a general dispersion of the larger than typical Warts’ group. Suddenly there were runners ahead, behind, to the side and above us, all apparently going to Boot Folly. On the surprisingly steep climb (no tussocks by now) we were encouraged or harangued, I’m not sure which, by the birthday boy as we approached the Folly. Having been sheltered from the wind in the valley we had just climbed out of, it was a bit of a shock to be chilled by the south easterly though, only briefly, as we then entered the eerie rhododendron tunnel near Sugworth Hall. Needless to say, the wind caught up with us approaching the ruined cabin on Ughill Moors and, from thereon, it was to be an almost constant companion for the rest of the night’s outing.
Some wide very runnable tracks took us past Moscar to the start of Strines Edge where we declared Cakes of Bread to be the whisky stop. It’s a long way on Strines Edge before the left turn towards, but not to, the edge. Here we had the pleasure of meeting the Sportsman roadies who had been temporarily chucked out of their regular slot there and had been forced to take to the hills instead. We, thankfully, were now on proper moorland fully exposed to the very bracing wind; it was double Buffalo and double thermal vest weather for me and I was still cold. Such is the independent spirit of the club, an alternative stop was called by a breakaway group, at a sheltered grough nearly at Cakes of Bread. Our lot stuck to the original plan for whiskies, jelly babies and raspberry ripples, and a rendering of Happy Birthday to the Cap’n. The race to the Strines pub was now on and it was illuminating to see so many points of light spread out across the Strines Moor. In all of these random routes, surely the optimum one must have been found. However, not for me. On the final track up from Strines Dike, I always look out for the 15cm steel bar sticking up in the path but having thought we had passed it, promptly fell over it with a pretty spectacular dive. I survived!
The warmth of two fires at the Strines Inn and the presence of the roadies was good enough to take off the chill of the previous couple of hours. In this convivial atmosphere, the outing was declared to be “interesting”.
It was the first of two early Warts starts planned for the 2018/2019 winter season, this one from Doctor’s Gate near the Snake summit. Even at 5.30pm, torches were needed on this rainy and windy corner of the Dark Peak and over trousers were also in evidence. Nevertheless, ten Warts, including one new member, Mike, set off slightly later than planned because of a last-minute car sharing problem and because of a forgotten, and now, retrieved pair of studs. Caution was thrown to the significant wind after a few minutes of running up Doctor’s Gate. Efforts to keep our feet dry were quickly abandoned as we went up the paving stones which were channelling all the rain water neatly down the hillside. By the time we arrived at the Pennine Way path, shoes were very wet but clean.
Misgivings were expressed by all as we strode, well, jogged into the thickening mist along the hard surface of the PW highway. Fortunately, we soon left the PW and descended into the soft rough of Crooked Clough, the first of two deep and dark ravine traverses. It has to be admitted that hand holding was exercised by some Warts to avoid the possibility of being swept down by the swollen stream in the bottom of the Clough. No names were taken so no expulsions from the Warts have been made, so far.
There was a pre-published plan for tonight’s longer outing, of about 8 check points (subject to review of the weather and body conditions) so, leaving the Clough, an approximately north bearing was taken for Higher Shelf Stones (CP 1). Yes, we did arrive there, after a scrambling climb out of the Clough though this was a mere training session for what was to come. In daylight, it’s obvious where Shelf Stones are, but in the mist and the dark, it’s a bit different and it was a relief to us all that, suddenly, there was the trig point. This was not a whisky stop so there was no hanging around particularly as there was scant shelter from the wind, although I think that, at the most, two rather than ten of us could shelter behind a trig cairn. A soft, relatively even, wide and downhill grough gave ample opportunity for running (!), though it wasn’t quite taking us in the direction of the Pike (CP2) above Yellowslacks (CP3) so some adjustment was needed to take us to the edge of the second ravine of the night. Here, it came to mind that explorers like Livingstone and others would have heard the roar of waterfalls long before they actually saw them. So it was here, as we peered down into the abyss not able to see any water, only misty darkness. Sliding down towards the still not visible, roaring (well, maybe noisy) cascade, we bravely watched the even braver sacrificial Warts in front to see if any of them were to disappear. We’d know then avoid that route. Arriving at the bottom, the stream was not a disappointment and, above it, was a fine waterfall invigorated by the recent rain. The rehearsal in Crooked Clough was useful for us to use hand holding again to cross the stream. It was definitely a hands and knees experience to climb out of the clough, with the added excitement of seeing headtorch lights apparently vertically above us. What! We have to go up there, up Dog Rock (CP4)?
We did and we survived to take stock and, yes, there were still ten of us. Our night’s target was Torside Castle (CP5), a mere 700m from where we emerged from Yellowslacks. If anyone was expecting a Peveril like castle structure, they might have been disappointed if, indeed, we had got there. On a solo recce, Pete G reached within 50m of it so, for those who hadn’t visited, they could let their imaginations run freely and build a castle in the misty air. To make up for the disappointment, we stopped for whisky, Liquorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies at John Track Well. Also there, a review of body, soul and weather guided us to omit a trip to some rocks (CP7), The Swamp (CP8) and North Grain Cabin (CP9). Instead, we went along the PW to Far Moss (CP6,) as planned, but on to Bleaklow Head, Hern Clough and then direct to the car park over the moor (not much PW) via the rather convenient fence which could be followed to the car park.
Post run analysis of the splendid outing was at the welcoming Angler’s Rest.
Andy has called an alternative for 7th November from Doctor Gate (last stop before Snake Top). It will start at 5.30, as a bit of an experiment, with perhaps a slightly longer run of 2 and a half to 3 hours.
After our recent experience at other hostelries the post drink beer will be taken at the Anglers Rest in Bamford.
A need to move his furniture had landed the Cap’n with an injured knee which prevented him from appearing at the Warts’ outing from Rowlee Bridge on the last Wednesday before the clocks changed from summertime. So, the route was planned by Bob who suggested one with more path running than was typical of the Cap’n’s routes. Indeed, there was even some road and path running from the bridge on our way to the Jubilee cabin. After a regroup, a long contour took us, initially on track, paths and then on tussocky ground, to the Blackden valley which provided some shelter from the increasingly strong and buffeting north westerly. We were back on a path but what a path! Dignifying it with that name could lead to accusations of misrepresentation. Nevertheless, it was a way, of sorts. The route up the stream was runnable but only in short stretches, otherwise, there was rock, bog, bracken, running (which was more than we did) water and scrambling up the steepening “path”, climaxing in a near vertical climb through heather and loose scree to the very wild and windy edge path. Bob’s plan was to continue on the edge path and then leave it at a patch of peat to reach the Blackden trig. However, after the regroup at the head of Blackden, there was a drift to the Three Minute crossing and two groups emerged, one on the edge path and the other over the tops and, specifically, not on a path. The wind was strong on the edge and tested our ability to run in a balanced way. It was like being drunk without the benefit of alcohol. Whichever direction we moved in caused some sort of control effort, into the wind almost stalled us and, with the wind behind, we moved too fast for any safe passage and with sideways on wind, we developed a leaning gait which any corps de ballet would be proud of. The trig and the pavement around it did not give much shelter although, to be fair, it gave us the very limited opportunity to run unhindered by any underfoot hazards. And then……it was a rush down the traditional Crookstone Knoll Race descent, mainly on a path until the final bracken covered slope. Isn’t it annoying to have both feet caught together by the bracken resulting in a need to leap upwards to escape the stuff and then to find you’re hurtling out of control into yet more bracken.
Having survived all that, it was the general view that, despite the path running, this outing was worthy of being classed as Warty!
Memories of significant injuries linger and sometimes there is a curious urge to revisit the incident site. So it was at this Blackden outing, that the Cap’n and Chris planned to peer down into a crevasse explored accidently by the Cap’n two or three years ago. This “exploration” resulted in a serious injury needing a few months recovery, not to mention the effort required at the time by fellow Warts to extricate him from the gaping chasm. Chris was also keen to see whether the crevasses were widening and whether we were in imminent danger of a further landslip. You see it’s well worth joining the Warts for these possible earth moving experiences.
Before this nostalgic visit and as we prepared to set off from the Blackden lay-by, the spectacle of a series of racing motor bikes going wheely fast encouraged we eight stalwarts to rapidly escape to the hills. It was noticeable that the bridge over the river was holding back a tangle of branches following the recent very heavy rain; the bridge fortunately had remained sound so no wet feet, yet. A further short stream crossing however provided a fine opportunity to indulge in a bit of foot wetting, possibly a bit disturbing for Clive who appeared in a sparkling new dayglow pair of Innov8’s to illuminate his way round in the dark.
However, both the shoes and Clive survived the crossing unscathed so we could then follow tonight’s junior Warts’ section of Fi and Eoin up to Seal Stones. The descent to Snake Bridge was via Bob’s Spring though, sadly, Bob’s injury (hamstring, from descending the path to Slippery Stones last week) prevented him from joining the outing. With the danger of path running, therefore, foremost in our minds, we duly avoided the Gate Side Clough track and went directly over Seal Flats to the bridge. It did prompt the thought that whoever considered this bit of land to be flat must have had a distorted idea of flatness as, now in the dark, we ploughed through heather (some burnt), bracken, swamp and ditches all combined with precipitous descents. At least we avoided the path so it was really enjoyable. A proposal to reverse this descent was suggested and enthusiastically taken up for a later outing; make a note in your diary.
An equally steep route took us up to Oyster Clough though the gem of tonight’s outing was the scramble over the broken rocks to the edge of Cowms Moor; hands, knees and gasping lungs were much in evidence. We were now approaching the crevasses so the Cap’n took the lead, very carefully and nobly. At least if he fell in one, we would know to avoid the area. No such accidents but, shining a light down a very deep one, suggested it may not be too long, in geological time at least, before the next landslip. We agreed that jumping in unison on this delicate feature would not be advisable so we left softly. We’re not sure of Chris’s verdict on whether the crevasses were widening but, critically, we survived without incident to allow us to enjoy the hospitality of the Ladybower where all agreed it was a classic Warts’ do!
Bob had announced the route for tonight a week in advance so we were well primed, at least in theory, and eager to go from King’s Tree. There, it almost looked possible to cross directly to the other side of the Derwent valley with dry feet, the reservoir being so low. Instead, we sprinted up the track with its strong pine disinfectant odour following all the forestry tree felling work being done. (They were even working when we set off. I do hope they kept detailed logs of their work hours.) The Warts’ desire for well cooled and wet feet was satisfied as the river was crossed for the climb towards Long Edge rocks. No rest here to enjoy the view, as has been routine, but up another 100 feet or so to the edge where a strong wind battering was enjoyed by all, courtesy of the first of the autumn gales, Storm Ali.
My previous week’s experience on holiday in the Isle of Wight had accustomed me to gentle tropical breezes amongst palm trees (plus lizards) and to the sunny and smoothly cropped, gentle Ventnor Downs which were bereft of any tussocks. Yes, I did actually look for them. Tonight, however there was no need to search for them, as we fought the 50 mph winds and shivered in their chilling effects in the dark (torches now on), the tussocks came aplenty on the way eventually to Wet Stones. There wasn’t enough room for all of us to shelter behind the rocks though the odd nip of whisky provided some sort of warmth. Here wasn’t going to be the official stop, instead we were promised seating, shelter and a table (!) within running distance, which was a touch difficult to believe in these wild conditions. However, the easterly bearing took us somewhere, not sure where, so we back tracked roughly southward with some west and came across a sheltered deep grough with table, seating and a sort of roof, all with the added extra of running water through the middle. It was almost tropical. Raspberry Ripples, jelly babies, whiskey and photos were taken.
Thus replenished, the sugar rush prompted a race (it felt like that) to Margery Hill where, Emperor penguin like, we tried to shelter behind each other from the increasingly strong blast. Whilst Bull Stones was suggested, there seemed to be little appetite for them so, using the fence for guidance, we enjoyed more tussocks, rushes and bogs to reach the Cut Gate path. By this time, the group was well spread out and despite efforts to catch up, torch lights remained stubbornly in the distance. Though by now we were sheltered from the battering gale, it was time to have our balance and feet tested again, this time down the rocky section of the path to Cranberry Clough. Dancing over the steps and stones using the Warts’ Waltz, we arrived safely at Slippery Stones which, fortunately, did not live up to their name. There was then a short dash on the tussock free but muddy foresters’ track back to King’s Tree.
After the long warm sunny summer, there was wild wind, cold, bog, tussocks and darkness, just about all Warts could wish for, except for, perhaps, rain or blizzard. A thoroughly good outing topped off with a visit to the hospitable and welcoming Angler’s Rest.
Disappointingly and perhaps, unusually judging by the previous recent Wednesday nights, this outing was warmish and sunny. Despite this, we bravely set out up the seriously steep climb towards the ruined buildings. This diverted our thoughts from the slight contretemps encountered at the car park where our tightly packed parking had blocked in an innocent but upset non-Dark Peaker who had let us know of his feelings. Thankfully, some minor car shuffling released him. Brief announcements were then made about the routes for the evening, Dave H made a pitch for the sale of his blue van (repeated later at the pub) but, so far, no takers and new member Libby from Nottingham was introduced.
The moderately paced group (mainly Warts) led by the Cap’n took off on an anti-clockwise circuit over Banktop Hey having despatched the fast youths (Tim T and co.) clockwisely to Fagney. Our paths subsequently never crossed so the mainly Warts group avoided reality and could believe in the fantasy that our pace was rapid. Leaving the ruins, another steep climb by the fence through the tussocks provided a double dose of gasping and breath-taking which included the spectacular views back across the Howden reservoir. Along the ridge, reminiscences of a December birthday run nearly four years ago and the need to recce and finesse the route for the next running of it in December 2024 kept our minds off the ever-challenging tussocks. The bilberry descent into Westend gave us welcome relief from the tussocks and, up the river, we could enjoy the bracken, now at peak annoyance, and the luscious swamps, surprisingly glutinous before arriving for sweeties at the ruin below Ravens Clough.
In the Warts’ world, what goes down must go up, certainly in the Westend, so a climb out of Ravens Clough beckoned. Thus began a character challenging series of ups and downs across Ravens Clough and across two branches of Black Clough, each with its special combination of bilberry, tussocks, bracken, sphagnum moss and slippery stream crossings. The length of time we were out and the diminishing light curtailed our attempt at the Alport trig so Westend Moor was crossed in the gloaming to reach a rather pleasant trod (used in Nicky’s Summer Series) to the wood. The tree felling here has now made the descent somewhat tricky through a series of ditches and earth piles reminding us of the Grand National’s Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn.
We returned to the pub enjoying the site of a mountain hare crossing the road near Fairholmes so Eoin quipped that there was one hare out of place.
The verdict on the evening was that it was a truly splendid and enjoyable Warty outing, just missing some wind and rain and more darkness.
A good run!
Sheffield was glowing in sunshine as we, the Ecclesall lot, left for Doctor’s Gate near the Snake summit. On the way there, the in-car discussion topic was about the news that the mountain hare population in Scotland had declined to about 1% of its level in the 1950’s. At the Gate, we were joined by the Loxley, Hope Valley and Totley lots, all of us hopeful that some hares would be seen in the Bleaklow area tonight.
The Cap’n had been planning the outing for a couple of days and we were not to be disappointed in his mainly direct line navigational approach to tonight’s little saunter. We could see the sunny golden glow of Sheffield as we aimed linearly for Shelf Stones, crossing Old Woman, Devil’s Dike (surely there is no significance of their juxtaposition?) for an exhilarating climb out of Crooked Clough. At the Stones, we were treated, firstly, to a grand view of an approaching hurricane, according to the Cap’n, and, secondly, to Eoin’s long heroic wail into the westerly wind. At least, he felt better for it. The rest of us sheltered meekly behind the rocks hoping the clouds of rain would just miss us. Alas, of course, they did not and minimal wind and waterproof gear became the dress code with even little used balaclavas being extracted from pockets.
Shelf Stones, Hern Stones, Wain Stones and Bleaklow Head just about lie in a straight line which, of course, was followed, ignoring any paths and decrying anyone who did follow one. The subsequent direct line to John Track Well was taken but sadly a paved track was encountered on the way. Oh, how we suffered! Fortunately, leaving there, through the moss, up the stream itself, through the steep heather gave relief from the paving stones thus making most people happy (?). A lapse into path running as the stream was crossed, was short lived as we were drawn, ruler straight, across Dowstone Clough and Shelf Moor to rocks near Shelf Stones. The expansive view here allowed the final straight line to be planned across the rocky and tussocky Crooked Clough (again) to the cars at Doctor’s Gate.
Changing at the cars was robust in the wind, rain and, by now, semi-darkness. So, this splendid though, sadly, hareless, run was the perfect rehearsal for the forthcoming, proper winter Warts’ excursions.
PG's track stolen from Strava:
Rather amazingly in the calm, warm and humid Wednesday evening, the midges were rare for the outing from Fairholmes. However, this was little comfort as we fought off the flies every time we stopped, instead. We were therefore encouraged to keep moving as we left the Lockerbrook Farm using the Ian W firebreak through the forest. Today’s first mission was to find the cairn in the centre of the bowl below the Alport ridge and south east of the Castles as on Nicky’s Rowlee Zig Zags summer series race. A long trek with not too much running through the tussocks, found a small group of we stragglers overlooking the edge on what appeared to be the perfect line with the cairn directly below us. Perfection, however, is rarely achieved and the near vertical craggy drop emerged as we attempted the perfect line. Discretion therefore selected the route, around the edge of the bowl rather than down the cliff.
Mission achieved, the cairn was somewhat underwhelming and a few stones were added to enhance its rather feeble stature. Here, the fast group, including new member Joszef, was led by Tim T and they sped off, eventually to Green Clough. The next target for the stragglers was the canyon within the Castles, and definitely not the Tower itself. So, we enjoyed a long contour around the few rocky lumps leading to the canyon. It seemed as if someone had been busy polishing each blade of the yellow parched grass on the hillside as we slipped and slithered over it on the line of the contour. It was even a relief to be on the rocks and boulders where movement was a bit more secure. To help negotiate our way through, the Cap’n’s instructions shouted from the top of one of the rocky hillocks, were “Just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll be alright”. So we did, and found ourselves, despite the previous intention, ascending the Tower where, amid the distribution of jelly babies etc., the Cap’n announced that the next winter Crookstone (the 70th) would include a jaunt up it. Thankfully there were provisos, i.e. this section of the route would not be used if there was any significant ice and or snow. Remarkably, some of the cynical, struggling stragglers’ group suddenly remembered their December diary entries and announced that they would be busy that day.
Escaping from the Tower and the canyon, rare birds were seen by twitchers Chris and Clive. From the perspective of a none twitcher who was head down and concentrating intently on not falling over rocks and tussocks, they all had wings and were flying. This sighting and the arrival at the edge path motorway, encouraged more flying (at least that’s what we thought we were doing) back to Fairholmes. Spreading out to race (?) back, we took a variety of ways, including the Ian W and adjacent firebreaks, the “new” plantation to Lockerbrook farm, the long dog’s leg (for extra training, you understand) to the farm and a direct route to the car park.
Analysis of the outing, of course, took place in the Ladybower along with the Dark Peakers from the Bamford Gala race. Who had the best time? Probably, everybody. All round, it was a splendid summer evening experience.
In these desert days of July, we Stalwarts have encountered inexplicable and uncontrollable urges for the long-lost feeling of damp, if not wet feet, in our wanderings over the dusty, dry moors. Expectations for such wetness were therefore low in the sunny evening as we left the lofty and probably temporary cairn/pile of stones at the start of the Broomhead track. In deference to the current might and height of the Ewden rhododendrons and bracken, the chief Stalwart had planned a less robust route for the remaining five underling Stalwarts, by aiming up the track to the left towards to the Dukes Road more permanent cairn. Dodging through the heather to find the best going, Tim, Eoin and I reached the Dukes Road well to the left of the cairn and, as we were making good progress on the Road, the admonishing shout of “Road runners!” arose from the rest of the Stalwarts, Andy, John and birthday boy Clive.
It was all to change shortly afterwards. After a relatively short sprint along the Road, we headed off it to the presciently named Hobson Moss Dyke; that is, we had no choice, the chief was leading (we were willing followers), and both Moss and Dyke gave a possible hint of the upcoming summer delight. There was a strong sense of anticipation as we approached a bank of rushes (through which we did not rush) and we were fully prepared, through recent experiences of similar terrain, for disappointment.But, a squeal, yes, a squeal of delight arose from deep within rushes, “Ecstasy, ecstasy!” It is rare, nay, if not unprecented, for such a cry to be heard on a Stalwarts’ outing. The enjoyment of having the pleasure of both feet being fully immersed in dark brown peaty water after so long, was just too much for the chief Stalwart to control his emotion. In true Hobson’s choice manner, we all followed hoping for the same uplifting result but there were complaints (can you believe it?), “My shoes and socks are wet and dirty, I’ll have to wash them”, “Where are my thigh length waders? This latter query set off a wave of fantasy which, frankly, is utterly unpublishable so it will not be reported and will be left to the reader’s imagination, if it can be stretched to such depths.
The now dark feet, fell runners continued to the HMD stream via a steep, deep brackened descent requiring full body coordination to maintain some level of dignity whilst sliding uncontrollably to the stream. Some chose to go for a further feet wetting experience in the stream waters whilst, for others, the surfeit of the previous excitement was sufficient to warrant a delicate tip toe across the dry rocks. The uncontrollable sliding continued, this time as we tried to climb out of the stream through more bracken and heather. It was all worth it to reach the rocking stone on the corridor route and, of course, we six obliged by rocking the stone. Having enjoyed the HMD crossing so much, it had to be repeated to reach the Dukes Road near Bruston Croft Ridge. This proved to be an exercise in waist high heather wading. It’s useful to occasionally remind oneself of, and to practice such skills which require almost a hurdling style of motion, that being a cross between walking and running with high knee lifting. In the glaring evening sunshine and the deep heather, it appeared that six legless athletes were wobbling into the sunset. A sight to remember and treasure!
Whilst there was some attraction to going to the swamp at the Hunter wreck crater, it was considered to be a stride too far so we took to the path (?) down Oaken Clough and then along to the café (we deluded ourselves) shooting cabin. Having relished the previous deep heather traverses, my heel was beginning to object so, in what was, I hope, a temporary aberration, I (and John) took the track back to the cars rather than the direct line over the moor. John and I did experience the courtesy of a lady who stood aside to let us continue at speed along the track’s soft grassy central reservation. For future reference, the track is only marginally quicker than the direct line.
It was a great moorland outing with a count of four hares and, in the car on the way back to the pub at Bradfield, a ghostly white barn owl flew across the road. A splendid birthday present for Clive!
Bob suggested a run to the source of the Derwent for the Summer solstice, even though we were not sure whether we could somehow fiddle things so that we were at the solstice and not a day early.
Much trudging through heather and bilberry, coupled with a small amount of running got us to Barrow Stones, at which point the webmaster was heard muttering it was getting dark soon and that he would go straight back. being ignored by the assembled crowd everyone ran off to the source, which turned out to be only 150m away - good decision.
A good ridge run, pausing only to visit a patch of Labrador Tea plant got us back to the cars in only about 15 mins over 2 hours, another cracking run.
On a quiet but cool night a small group of 8 warts headed up to Hearn stones and on to Dog rock, which we slightly over shot; while debating the finer points of this behold a vision appeared heading towards us, as it grew closer it was revealed to be the person formerly called the safety officer come to see we were still all right, Mark himself. After a cautious descent into Yellowslacks Brook we trundled happily along but alas some of us were too low to find the pond at James Thorn and had to climb back up to find Dave, Bob, Moz and John already there. Still a whisky stop cleared the mind and encouraged the spirit as with the clag descending we found the Trig point on Higher Shelf stones and sped home only for Moz to struggle to switch on a spare torch which had all of 2 buttons. A grand outing that finished after 9 pm with all accounted for ,including new guy Mike.
The usual select bunch of athletes plus a few impetuous youngsters set out on this cold "blue moon" night. The delights of Piddock wood were mooted but in a rare bout of common sense, it was decided that we should venture up towards Derwent Edge instead. The run started well, although Capt. H. managed to lose his way within half a mile meaning we had to climb a barbed wire topped wall. Nothing discouraged, we set off towards the edge and the now strengthening blizzard which was lashing in sideways causing the ensemble to run like crabs to avoid being well scoured! The snow and wind was too much for the older generation (specifically Mr Holmes) and it was decided that we descend into "Suicide Clough" which was pleasantly deep in snow and slippery as a newly weds gusset! Having got down, we had, naturally to climb a long, long way straight up to the Salt Cellar where the night's whisky was consumed. By this point, we were all getting cold, wet and bordering on the desperate but no... the short way back along the admittedly blizzard swept track was shunned for the true warting experience of the open moorland with its snow filled holes and covered rocks, warting at its finest! Anyway, somehow we managed to get back towards Wheel Stones and by common consent, it was decided that we'd had enough fun for one night and the pub beckoned. We went down the way that we should have come up had Capt. Harmer not had one of his moments. All in all, a classic warts run, snow, wind, descents, climbs and holes to trap the unwary!!
A map of the run, courtesy of John Dalton, is below.
Hot, sunny and a cold blast
Moz had left by the time Stephi, Toria and I had arrived at the Nag’s Head in Edale for Moz’s birthday run on his classic route over Kinder. The 9.45 starters of we three and Andy, Tim W, Willy and others headed up the zig-zags in the bright sunshine to find the edge path to Druid’s Stone. There was ice, snow, an achingly cold easterly wind and even spectators in the form Dave Lockwood, Bob Marsden and Jeff Harrison, to contend with. However, following the advice given by the spectators, i.e. “Turn left and head for the snowy tops”, Andy and I followed a small trod to the Blackden trig and beyond before descending quickly (we thought) to Blackden where we met Tim W at the stile checkpoint. Willy followed a bit later but soon passed us up the hill out of Blackden. Toria and Stephi were well ahead and on the way up to Seal Stones, having used a very fast route from Druid’s, “sprinting” (to quote Stephi and Toria) along a path recommended by Fi over the top before dropping to Dean Hill and down to the stile. By this time the later starters (10.00) led by Dave and then Kirsty, were catching up and passing us along the edge path towards Fairbrook. Then, decisions, decisions, where to cut off to reach Kinder Gates? We reached a reasonably flat bit above Upper Seal Clough and followed the footprints in the snow generously provided by Kirsty’s team.
Though we arrived about 50m upstream of the Gates, we had crossed a few groughs and the possibility of repeating the almost groughless route often used on the Triple Crossing which finished about 50m downstream of the Gates, came to mind. Worth a practice run? From the Gates, we followed the river into the sun. Criss-crossing the icy water was a bit tricky but it took us to the plateau top which had frozen sufficiently hard for us to skip over to Crowden. A lower trod beneath the rocks took us to the edge path for Moz’s Knoll. Even though the sun was beating down and sunbathing might have been considered, the wind was almost violent, blowing us off the track and thoroughly chilling us. Relief came when descending into Crowden though I managed to fully immerse my foot in a deep bog at the stile. To add to the fun, the string on my compass somehow became entangled on the fence. That was truly a first for me; has anyone else suffered from this form of entanglement?
Having been well chilled on Moz’s Knoll, the sheltered, sunlit climb to the ponds resulted in overheating. However, the moderate wind at the ponds restored body temperature and, as always, the view of Edale was most welcome even though the descent was a bit steep to the even more welcome Nag’s Head.
Well done to all those doing this classic run and many thanks, Moz!
A perfect night, weather-wise! Freezing cold, a howling north-westerly and later on a complete white-out blizzard. What more could we ask for on the Capt.'s 70th birthday run! We set out from the pub, avoiding the field, which we never, ever run over and nearly getting killed on the short stretch of road (if the gamekeeper is reading this) to the access gate. From here in true Harmer form, we struggled through the usual waist high heather up to Howshaw Tor, losing Clive on the way, as is the norm! The forecast blizzard made an appearance at this time, rapidly turning into a bit of a white-out. From here, we stumbled down to the stream junction on Bradfield Gate and then back up the top of the Edge. At this point it was snowing like the Arctic and the Capt., showing his age, took us down the Foulstone path instead of the edge path i.e. east instead of south. To be fair on the old bugger, he did correct this grave error after he'd adjusted his monocle and put the compass the right way up and so we returned to the top and continued in the ever worsening blizzard to the Cakes of Bread, where whisky and truffles were taken and a hearty rendition of Happy Birthday was given. From here, it was but a long trudge back to the pub, avoiding the field, as we always do! Unfortunately the S11/S32 softies decided that the weather was too bad for them to stay and join in the birthday celebrations, so they buggered off leaving it to the S6 hard men and Tom Westgate, to attend the party! Driving back, it had to be said, required a change of underwear (on my part at least). However, we managed to celebrate the old Scrote's birthday with a pint of Belgian Blue at the Nag's Head, where it was merely pissing down!
On a very windy night due to the onset of Storm Caroline arriving at ours shores a select band of 8 warts started on a typically Harmerian run by parking at the end of first inlet on the dams up from Fairholmes.
We started on a nice track which very quickly gave up as we started to ascend the Ouzelden valley, really more like river bed. After much toing and froing we eventually found small muddy trod on the left hand ascending bank and proceeded to follow this to the top. It frequently disappeared and was plagued by muddy roots and broken down or blown down trees. We soon heard a couple of voices wondering who else would be daft enough to venture out on such a night, only to be joined by James and Callum.
After numerous slides and tumbles we arrived at the top of the valley and climbed the fence to more open terrain. The next “checkpoint” was a cairn down a steep slope on a small plateau, apparently. So we all set of directly into a very strong southwesterly wind over the tops and then a steepish descent. When we reached a valley and wall we were not where we had intended to be if indeed such a place existed, so we followed the wall for what seemed like an appropriate amount of time then climbed the steep slope that we had just descended but further round the corner. The strong wind now behind us made this ascent slightly easier.
On rendezvousing at the wall the two whippets decided they wanted a longer run than the old men so they disappeared north whilst the remainder of us headed back to the woods via contradictory bearings. On our way over some awful tussocky terrain we came across a previously unknown aircraft wreck and shortly after a small pond which can be seen from google earth.
We resumed following our finally chosen bearing to come across a steep descent to the trees and valley. Tim Ray shouted that it was ok and disappeared. As the rest of us got to the edge of a pretty decent cliff, we all had to take the climb down one at a time using a small rowan tree sticking out of the cliff face as assistance. Once down a nice descent down the valley back to the cars and off to the Ladybower for suitable beverages.
A very typical Harmerian experience.
Once again a "run" that was varied and slow! I say run, it was mostly scramble through waist high heather and dead bracken, although we did manage a run for hundred yards or so. All began well, despite the howling wind and lashing rain, 15 hardy souls set out and even stayed together until the cairn by the Dukes Drive. The next target was the bridge over Oaken Clough; amazingly the group managed to split into two in a truly headless chicken sort of way, one group turning right and the other going left up the track to Flint Hill (duly checked with the use of technology, maps are so last century). At this point, I received a text from Mr Holmes with a screenshot showing where they were, surely an abuse of technology, not to be encouraged on these runs, getting lost and losing people has always been a significant part of the enjoyment of a warts' run. Duly reunited, the group set off down hill towards the bridge, at which point I noticed a bomb shaped thing just at the point where my foot was about to descend!
Brent, our PFR foreign representative, who was with us, duly advised us not to touch, as it had an exposed and, as it transpires, a very active fuse. Turns out it was one of these nasty little devices (below), which had it been kicked hard enough, would have wiped out the cream of DPFR in one big bang! Mr Winterburn was duly informed (can't remember why) and he has informed the Bomb Disposal team. So fun all round! Anyway, after the excitement had died down, we staggered through Ewden Beck, which was a bit floody and up to Fox Stones where whisky and truffles were consumed. Ewden Pond was next and not for the first time, Mr Harmer came off too soon and we got lost again! Once again the technology rescued us and we headed back to the cars via the slimy girders, an adventure in itself and if anybody can enlighten us as to why there is a footpath on the map which suddenly ends next to them, apparently going nowhere, please let us know!
Nine finely tuned athletes set out from Redmires, to avoid the boring bits, including at least one warts virgin. Perfect night for warting, fog on the hills, no moon and as black as the proverbial! Stanage Pole and North Lees pond were the first checkpoints, notable only by the accident prone David Holmes going down a hole and twisting his ankle. This was intended to be a short run because of the Champs at the weekend but turned into a moderate epic because of the fog and the piss-poor navigation by Mr Holmes (until I took over and rescued the night!). DH managed to get us lost within sight of North Lees pond, one of his short cuts he assured us, which unfortunately ended with an 8 foot wall. Never mind, we did all eventually make it to Dennis Knoll (riding through the glen etc. etc.) and thence to High Neb and thick fog. A commemorative whisky was drunk here in memory of our Club president, Eric Mitchell, RIP. Next we sought the bus shelter, led by yours truly. Unfortunately it had moved since I was last up there...and we missed it, comfortably, only to be brought back by the use of Mr Holmes technology. Very strange I'm sure it was over there, when I last ran to it. Shortly afterwards it began to piss down in good old Dark Peak fashion and the navigation team (committee?) led us into the tussocks and eventually, the orange, glutinous bog which appears to have grown since I was last there in the 90s. After much wading and cursing, we floundered into Daffodil Valley and then via a circuitous, figure of eight David Holmes route, back to the cars. Not a particularly long run but a very varied one which encompassed just about every type of terrain available in the Dark Peak!
Midhopestones was the starting point for the northern Warts rather than Monsal Head for the southern Warts. It does beg the question whether running around the polished limestone of Monsal Dale really counts as Warting. However, ignoring such controversy, about a dozen of us, including newcomer Duncan, set off into the cool, dry, breezy night. Despite the lack of really wet and strongly windy Warts' weather, we bravely pushed on through some magnificent bog and heathery rock to climb to the dizzy heights of Pike Low. The landmark known as Tom's tree in Hawthorn Clough was the next target. Tom, however, was concerned about his name being used for this tree so Clive suggested, a la Prince, to rename it as the tree formerly known as Tom's. Honour satisfied?
To reach the tree, a crossing of the upper reaches of Ewden Beck/Candlerush was necessary. It's easy to get into the Beck in this direction but requires a bit of a steep, heathery and slimy climb out of it. There follows a stretch of either deep or burnt heather, the latter requiring some high knee lifts and the former, a degree of balance to avoid being tripped. It's not possible to rush over this terrain, so walking (quickly, hopefully) is the norm. This was also the routine to Margery Hill from the tree. I never thought it was quite so far. The high knee lift walking through the heather continued for quite some time until, with relief, we reached the trig point for whisky, etc. The shout now was for the quickest way back though there was a call for a further foray to Outer Edge or somewhere similar. This suggestion was quickly dismissed and high knee lifting continued until Cut Gate. Which was more challenging, the rocky uneven and boggy Cut Gate or the heathery moor? Climbing up through the heather to the trig point, I looked forward to the path but having got there, the heather seemed to be much more enticing. We regathered part way down the track and then headed off to join a pleasant grassy track which was used for sprint practice by the youngsters to the finish. The rest of us lolloped along to complete the outing in about two hours. In the post-outing analysis at the Nag's Head, values of the calories used were provided by Duncan who had had a slightly extended run and had also successfully managed to extricate himself from a leg-grabbing bog. He commented that he'd not realised just how much walking was involved Warting.
Welcome to the Warts!
The Southern branch had a much easier time of it, a mixture of mud, grass and limestone, even some real trail running - much too fast for this Wart. We did manage to conjure up a real Warting descent though. And the pub was only serving residents, much to Jim's disgust, so we had to divert to Little Longstone for refreshments.
It was suggested that this Wednesday's Warts' night outing should be cancelled until the weather became wet, windy and cold. However, we soldiered on from Rowlee Bridge in the almost clear, rain free evening, with the feeling that the weather was inappropriate. Maybe because the moon was in its gibbous phase, the weather had also gone into a different phase. In case you don't know what the gibbous phase is, well, it occurs just before the full moon. We were all grateful to Clive for providing us with this information at the start of the run.
With current political climate as it was, there was some sensitivity about, to the extent that when I tripped at the back of the car, I fell on to Eoin, knocking him into the boot. Clearly, it was necessary to apologise for this inappropriate behaviour and, fortunately, Eoin accepted my apologies so I was not brought before the DPFR behaviour committee. Phew! The run could continue, therefore, in peace and harmony.
The Cap'n had planned a route via Crookestone Knoll, Coffin Rock, the youth hostel, Kinder southern edge and Madwoman's Stones, most of which had a high content of Harmerian vegetation (HV). In retrospect, the climb to the Knoll was relatively mild with some form of path most of the way up, perhaps this may be considered to be inappropriate HV? However, the descent from Coffin Rock to the youth hostel provided almost the complete set of Dark Peak underfoot conditions. These included knee-high heather, which sometimes disguised chunky rocks, thigh high rushes with the associated swamp, a good dose of tussocky ground, dead and painfully brittle bracken, some serious mud near the stream and a steep climb through some mature bilberry and more bracken. Through this turmoil of conditions, Eoin was heard to make some remark which could be considered to be inappropriate but, to balance things out I forgave him and, thus relieved, he sprinted off like a sprung chicken.
At the youth hostel, a late starter, Willy, had caught us up so making the numbers up to 12. Having remarked that the underfoot conditions might put people off coming out, Bob replied that, evidently, they already clearly had been put off this official Warts outing by the limited number brave enough to make the trip here. The climb from the youth hostel was only blessed with some bracken and bilberry before reaching the edge using a thin and, latterly, rocky path. This climb prompted a detailed analysis of the route of Bob's night race from the Snake Inn (29th November). We were fortified at the edge by whisky, jelly babies, Liquorice Allsorts and some of Penny's Trick or Treat concoctions. We needed all this for the short (?) crossing of Kinder to Madwoman's Stones. Surprisingly for this section of the flattish Kinder plateau, there feels to be significant descents and ascents of the groughs adding up to something which isn't really flat. So, we went up and down grough after grough ploughing through some soft going until 11 of us arrived at some rocks with one lonesome torch at some other rocks. Were we at Madwoman's Stones or not? There was a strong sense of deja vue having done something similar three weeks ago. Nevertheless, with the idea of being a team, we went to join Tim's solitary torch but then having been sociable, we suddenly became anti-social as everybody dashed off to Rowlee Bridge. Even then, some inappropriate behaviour occurred when at least three of us went straight down the quad track to join the tarmac road to the bridge rather than diagonally across country. Dare it be said, I was almost happy on the road! However, overall, it was declared to be a good outing afterwards in the Ladybower where discussions on the most valuable piece of land was claimed to be on Kinder where a patch of un-grassed peat was used as a control for water table measurements. What about relays on this patch for old times' sake? Discussions later drifted into geology (there's a White Peak outing next week) and lectures were given in the car by Tom and Clive on sand dunes and red rocks. Aaaaaah!
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2020
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