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.
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2020
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