It is nearly always a pleasure to admire the views and the terrain from Shelf Stones, Sometimes the Welsh Hills can be seen and, nearer, the bright lights of Manchester, except on this night’s outing from Doctor’s Gate, there were even brighter lights apart from the cloud hidden sun. These were the flames from heather burning on Span Moor just above Hurst Reservoir near Old Glossop. The flames illuminated the afternoon sky (3pm start) and the smoke was blown westwards to Glossop and on to Manchester thus maintaining its murky reputation. Coincidentally, smoke was also seen on the way to Doctor’s Gate, on the moors near Strines, perhaps a seasonal busy time for burning?
The strong easterly wind propelling the smoke to Glossop and beyond also made hard work for us getting to Shelf Stones via Crooked Clough but relief was available behind the Stones themselves where extra layers were donned. Of course, we were reminded of Pete G in his hyperthermic state struggling in the wind to put on more layers on a previous windy and dark night.
Now, suitably clad, we set off. There had been much chatter before we set off from Doctor’s Gate but being absorbed in mutual discussions on health queries, some of us forgot to check where we were planning to go. So, some of us in this ignorant state hurtled (in our imagination) down a very gentle sloped and pleasant (dare I say) groove from Shelf Stones. Of course, pleasantness has to end in the form of a steeper slope and some of us did start to question where we were meant to be going. On the basis that a loss of height is not helpful because we might have to climb back up, we decided to contour around the James Thorn area. Our reward, a meeting with the well-informed Slow Warts who were sitting (yes) waiting for us in full view of the pond, which turned out to be where we were meant to be going.
Having been harangued by the Cap’n for being headless chickens (except Jim who had left for Hern Stones), we contoured back around to The Pike to check that the cave was still there. It was.
We’d avoided the battering of the east wind whilst sheltering under the westerly hillsides near James Thorn but now, climbing out of Yellowslacks, we faced its full fury though there was some respite at Hern Stones where Jim was waiting patiently for us.
There’s no way of hiding It, but it is a long way from there to the car park even if the Pennine Way is chosen. So, there was no choice, just grin and bear the mainly rough ground whilst also looking forward to the calm warm welcome of the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. Of course, the Inn did not disappoint and we left satisfied we’d had another great outing.