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:
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2020
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