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Could we have been running too quickly from Broomhead to the upper footbridge over Oaken Clough? The sprint along Dukes Road and the Land Rover track had brought us to there after only 45 minutes so it was too early to head back to the cars. This was despite Phil taking the younger Warts on a one mile detour to somewhere near Flint Hill, for a bit of extra training, you understand. The background to this concern about time, resulted from last week’s outing from King’s Tree to Bob’s shed and Margery Hill which meant that most of us arrived home at about 10.30pm. (Note that refreshments were nevertheless taken.) Hence tonight’s frolic was designed to be shorter and, for a bonus, the girders were to be avoided to prevent any serious encounter with bracken which was in full magnificent bloom.
So, no long outing and no bracken. Having reached the Oaken Clough footbridge early, a route was decided upon to go from there to Fox Stones and then back via the shooting cabin, only a short distance, thereby bringing us back to the cars in reasonable time. The logic, as was plain to see, was impressive. We had a good line over the moor to Stainery Clough which was crossed without too much inconvenience, just a few slippery rocks, a small rock fall and a bit of bracken. Crossing more moorland over some old burnt and fresh heather brought us to Ewden Beck. Here we were treated to the sight (in torchlight, of course) and sound of a delightful waterfall fed by yesterday’s downpour. The crossing was a repeat of that of Stainery Clough, only bigger this time with the bracken above our heads. A little bit of open ground to Fox Stones provided some relief together with the whisky and jelly baby refreshments taken there.
It was only about one kilometre to the shooting cabin so it was thought we could make up for some of the time lost crossing the rivers. The logic, again, was sound enough but……….. the blooming bracken began to eat into that valuable time. The whole outing was planned to take 90 minutes and before we reached the second crossing of Ewden Beck, there were only 9 minutes available. We fought bravely through the over-the-head bracken and the clouds of insects interrupted in their slumbers by giants with one bright shiny torch eye charging through their homes. Sliding feet first (if you were able) through trees, clinging on to branches which inconveniently snapped, we were able to have another crossing of the Beck. This time we doubled our enjoyment by reaching an island which, by definition, allowed an extra dip in the cooling Beck. From there, we climbed uphill through the dense bracken which seemed to close behind us as we forced a way through giving any followers no advantage. There was some relief from a short stretch of open ground which deceptively was a deep and unforgiving bog. Such is the determination of the Warts, we nevertheless continued despite this false dawn (I hasten to add that we were not so late!). Encouraged and enticed on by those fortunate enough to have reached the cabin, we set about to cross the stream at the cabin, “there’s a path just opposite”. This last 20m involved probably the tallest bracken on the steepest slope leaving the Cap’n to perform a sort of somersault. The torchlit view of him upside down with legs in the air and framed by the bracken was not something I want to dwell on. We did reach the cabin and then the cars, but late, well over the planned time, and with an overdose of bracken. Ah, the plans of mice and men!
After that extreme bracken experience, a couple of things came to mind. Firstly, the run back on the track was tedious and, after a little while on it, there was a strange feeling of missing the excitement and challenge of the bracken. I’m happy to report that I have now fully recovered from that aberration. Secondly, it was pointed out that this experience would be of benefit for next week’s Hunter wreck night race in that there wouldn’t be the same intensity of bracken. So, the evening’s outing was possibly a form of therapy to prepare us for the race. You never know, it may work. We’ll see next week!
There was the whiff of parliamentary turmoil (Brexit, of course) in the air as we travelled to Birchin Clough on Wednesday evening. At least we could leave behind the machinations and rebellion of our government as eight of us(not including the Cap’n), plus a four-legged fell runner, headed for the hills into a strong westerly wind spiced up witha number of soaking showers. After all, what other weather should we expect on a Wednesday club outing?
Our first target was the ruined shooting cabin in Ashop Clough where we took advantage of the excitingly slippery wooden bridge to cross the fulsome river beneath. Thank goodness we didn’t have to wade it, we thought. A sighting of a fox encouraged us to start our climb towards the northern Kinder edge for a crossing to the Sandy Heys trig. I’m still not sure which combinations of slopes provides the most comfortable or the least uncomfortable way to climb. This one, to the edge was initially steep, then gradual with bog and finally very steep leaving some of us gasping at the edge path where, happily, a get-your-breath halt was called in the shelter (from wind and rain) of a gathering of weather-beaten rocks. It was almost pleasant there but pleasant seemed to be wrong so we continued westerly along the path, leaving it somewhere near Upper Red Brook for the trig.
Thankfully, there are many younger members of the club taking part in these Wednesday outings but the old lags of the club may remember that crossing Kinder was a distinctly slough of despond experience particularly in the misty, gloomy grey conditions prevailing. No more dark peat bogs meant we could be almost cheerful amongst the recently planted greenery (maybe in the last ten years or more?). Another possible phenomenon greeted us at the proudly standing trig. Its exposed foundations where at least as tall as the trig pillar itself. Possible, though not feasible (?) explanations, included either the sinking or shrinking of Kinder or the growth of the trig. In good tradition, the foundations were climbed and youth stood side by side with the pillar. More greenery and happiness took us surprisingly quickly to Kinder Upfall where we could enjoy the benefits of wind only generated Kinder river rain. The combination of the westerly wind and a full flowing Kinder river gave a spectacular show which made the outing all the more worthwhile.
Whilst this show had been thrilling, it was now distinctly dark and misty, so torches were now needed for a long crossing of Kinder from the river directly to Fairbrook Naze. Whether we had been conditioned by the earlier talk of parliamentary rebellion or that it was a generally misty murky wet and windy night but it was suggested that the outing had all the characteristics of a Warts’ epic so a declaration was made that it actually was a Warts’ outing despite it not being on the official Warts’ calendar. We may live to regret this decision!
Fairbrook Naze was in and out of the mist until we descended the steep section towards Ashop Clough. After following a fastish trod, the very slippery descent into the clough followed a by a challenging crossing of the river left us in no doubt that our earlier declaration was absolutely correct, particularly with the rather nasty climb back up to the forest track and then to the cars. Even after refreshments at the Ladybower we remained steadfast in our Warts’ declaration. What would the Cap’n say?
There were ten togged up Warts ready to go from Strines. A fine array of waterproofs was on display though there were a couple of brave be-shorted athletes thereby putting any track suited Warts to shame. The general and dismal impression of black and shiny clothing was fortunately illuminated by Eoin’s new but old model fluorescent green shoes not to mention Moz’s routine fluorescent top. There was plenty of rain not only during the run but over the previous three or four days so streams were in full flowing form. Having crossed the moor, we faced the traverse of the upper reaches of Abbey Brook which appeared more formidable than normal with the general surrounding mirk and the foaming brown cascades. A steep slippery descent brought us to the Brook where youth (Fi) and age (the Cap’n) combined to provide helping hands for the rest of us to wade across. A scramble to Beresters Tor brought welcome rest and refreshment. Of course, our epic journey so far was recorded in the log there.
A repeat of the slippery descent, the refreshing stream crossing and the scramble inspired us to reach Low Tor for the now traditional dash to the block house and then on back to the pub and its very welcome roaring fire (in June!) which was also shared by the water Warts wild swimmers. The post run discussion included next Wednesday’s Crookestone Crashout and whether a return to the original route of the Knoll, trig, Knoll would entice any youngsters out to break the old all-time record (Malcolm Patterson, about 29 minutes). This is not to say that veterans should not also attempt the record (again about 29 minutes) currently held by the then V40 cap’n. Cock-a-Hoop driven reminiscences of the glorious (we thought) feats and times of ancient fell runners caused the younger ones to start leaving the pub, presumably because they couldn’t comprehend such magnificent performances but surely not out of boredom? Nevertheless, we did all agree that wet as it was, it had been good to be out and by the way, there was a two hare and one-person count, thus confirming a good outing.
Having just about recovered from the trauma of last week’s trip to Priddock Wood and beyond, the Warts anticipated a less demanding and shorter run to complete the recovery. So, this Wednesday the shout was for a stroll over the undulating terrain from Broomhead. To bring us gradually down from last week’s high, there was a need have some small excitement through the rhododendrons and over the girders. Exaggeration of raging torrents and delicate balancing was not spared for those who had not experienced these delights. Indeed, the Cap’n insisted on demonstrating the girder crawl in the middle of the road, to prepare us all for this crossing of Ewden Beck. This safety demonstration was wasted on some brave Warts who, with youthful exuberance, walked across in some style, though one claimed the secret was to have big feet which spanned the gap between girders. All Warts were accounted for on the other side so tonight’s “newbies” will be able to enjoy exaggerating the dangers of this crossing to the next generation of Warts.
From the river there was a bit of bracken to interest the twelve or so Warts but otherwise it was a reasonably fast (for Warts) trip to Pike Low under the gibbous moon. There had been a plan to, at least, attempt to visit the wreck via Tom’s Tree. However, in the interests of having a less demanding run, a short cut was proposed and accepted, to Oaken Clough, thence to the Dukes Road, finishing via the cairn and on to Broomhead. A 180⁰ bearing was set and the steady pace brought us from Pike Low to Candlerush comfortably and surprisingly quickly enough (it was downhill), though the climb out of it, hard as it was, would have rated as only one out of ten on the Priddock Wood standard. By this time, our vegetation quota was gradually increasing particularly the heather content. Relief was possibly at hand as a deep tree lined clough eventually appeared on our left. Aha, Oaken of course, we’ll follow this up to the bridge and the shooting butts. After traipsing through more heather and no path, it was clear that they had been removed, for renovation perhaps? This self-delusion was short lived as Chris’s high technology GPS device (carefully protected by a low technology old, still white sock) seemed to put us somewhere in the upper reaches of Stainery Clough some way west of the shooting butts and Oaken Clough. Two or three schools of thinking emerged, though thinking may be another possible exaggeration, summarised by the bearings suggested, 110⁰, 140⁰ and 160⁰. Unsurprisingly, the Warts split into groups along these bearings, the Cap’n in one on his own, Tim and Fi in another and the rest of us in the last, 160⁰, group. These first two groups were not to be seen until we reached the cars!
Both the time and the vegetation quota were building up as we dragged ourselves over yet more and more heather eventually across the upper (very) reaches of Oaken Clough at last and, as Clive pointed out, close to the Hunter wreck. His downloaded GPS track and map give a wonderful view of our meanderings which brought us unknowingly at the time to Bruston Croft Ridge. Prolonged exposure to deep heather brings out the greyhound in us as we reached bowling green smooth Dukes Road. The 2km dash on it to the cairn would have made Warts’ admirers (are there any?) very proud. All changed after leaving the cairn as we resorted to stumbling around in yet more heather interspersed with some hidden rocks for added enjoyment. The smooth grassy area leading to the track to the cars was missed so we were fortunate to be able to clean our shoes in a patch of watery rushes. The other groups had met en-route and were busy preparing themselves for a visit to the Plough in Bradfield which we hoped would still be open when we arrived. We weren’t too surprised to realise that our little adventure had taken two and three quarter hours. John D and Bob who were both nursing their injuries, had chosen alternative mainly heather free and shorter outings and were happily settled at the pub by the time the rest of us arrived at about ten o’clock!
Though not exactly a short outing, it was memorable and, accidentally, we nearly got to the other wreck!
After last week’s weather modified venue, the Warts returned to the Ladybower and to the now compulsory (?) annual visit to Priddock Wood. Suspicions that this would be the shout for the outing, kept the numbers to a reasonable level to enjoy the immediate immersive experience of Ladybower Brook in full flow. This, of course, was just a foretaste of what was to follow. Desperate shouts of “Where’s the path?” and “Below!” created the right sort of atmosphere for a classic PW outing. The challengingly steep climb has everything, mossy slime, deep bilberry, tree roots, rotten tree branches which break off at maximum criticality, large rocks, loose stones and, for at least one Wart, a bottom clenching overhang. Some made better progress than others with the Cap’n unusually resorting to gloves, even gardening gloves, to enhance his grip crawling up the perpetual climb. The view of head torches forever above us whilst making laborious and what seemed like futile progress reminded me of the Greek myth of Sisyphus repeatedly and eternally rolling a boulder uphill only for it to roll back down near the top. In reality, our “eternity” only lasted about 15 minutes as we reached the bracken covered and relatively level Bamford Moor.
There, the fast running (yes, running, though fast may be a bit of an exaggeration) allowed some relaxation to the point of almost contemplation and expansive thinking. This is dangerous. Clive was thinking of an injury he had received some time ago in this vicinity when he fell, running over the remains of a wall. Whilst he had an elegant encounter with the ground, the generally agreed advice was, of course, not to think when fell running, so we didn’t, as we passed over the vertigo inducing Bamford Edge. As the mist laid its foggy hand on the edge, we headed in two groups for the stone circle on Bole Hill. At the end of the ruined wall “hand rail” which was found, a simple easterly bearing should guide is to the stone circle. However, it also took a bit of technology and the head torches of the other group who were already there, for our group to find the circle where refreshments were taken before the next check point of High Neb.
This time, Chris’s lone head torch light was already on Stanage Edge either to guide or to lure us there. Our collection of types of terrain encountered so far was added to with the moor crossing to High Neb. The tussocks were in fine condition and were enhanced by the running water between them. More bracken and a rocky scramble just about completed the full set of Dark Peak terrain. Our knowledge of place names was improved by being reminded that there are two named rocky outcrops north of High Neb, i.e. Crow Chin and Crows Chin Rocks which are about a mile apart. Descending from between them there was a plan to reach the stone circle near Hordron Edge. When the Warts have an inkling that the finish is not too far away, there seems to be a tendency to disperse and this night was no different, resulting in only one reaching 100m from the stone circle. A rush across Cutthroat Bridge and down the partially paved track took us quickly to the pub. Fortunately, one Dark Peaker, Tom W (good to see him), had kept it open for us by promising the landlord there would be about a dozen customers arriving soon. Farmer’s Blonde was on, the discussions were lively and two members were disappearing to Istanbul and Alicante to spread the Warts’ message overseas. Don’t worry though, they expect to be back for next Wednesday’s outing.
As always, Priddock Wood never disappoints, we had a wonderful adventure!
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.
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2019
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