Even after an early 3pm start in late February, there was only limited light. The thick mist on the James Thorn and Shelf Stones area had put a dampener on our expectations of glorious sunset views over Manchester. Nevertheless, at this stage of the outing from Doctor’s Gate, near the summit area of the Snake, it was turning out to be a classic Warting experience.

Many absence notices had been sent out, i.e. not fit enough, pushed off bike, too much alternative activity, infectious grand-children, recuperation from operation…………….., all of which meant there were only five stalwarts ready to pit themselves against the elements and the terrain. So, this fine group ventured out on the rather soggy Doctor’s Gate path consisting of a series of swamps connected by submerged flagstones. So no chance of dry feet but what should we expect after what seems to have been so far, a long, cold and very wet winter?

Pathless moor, other Warts in the distance (look very carefully), photo thanks to Jim

It was a relief to leave the path after crossing the Pennine Way to reach pathless misty moorland where, joyously, a white hare was seen, before setting off towards out intended target of the bridge in Birchen Orchard Clough. However, in the mist we gradually drifted towards the A57 and so had a close encounter with tarmac in the area of Cabin Clough. A change in direction was made and in the latest Warts’ approach to navigation, we declared we were “near enough” and duly descended into the mist free Shelf Brook.

Here, the only way was up and back into the mist via one of the longest climbs in the Dark Peak (the  Cap’n’s enthusiastically relished choice) and it certainly felt like it, requiring an intermediate stop as we watched the ghostly figure of Moz giving us the bejeebers as he emerged elegantly from the mist (sorry no photo). Our climb included the memorial pillar to the victims of an air crash on James Thorn. 

The memorial to the B29 Superfortress at Higher Shelf Stones, photo thanks to Jim

Alternatively Jim had descended earlier into Shelf Brook and climbed directly, steeply and heroically to Higher Shelf Stones before visiting the remains of the B52 Superfortress bomber wreck for the first or second time. Later, he had declared that it was unusual to have seen the remains of a washing machine like item on the moors until he had realised it was part of one of the B52’s. engines. 

Possible “washing machine”, B52 Superfortress engine wreck thanks to photo thanks to Jim

For the remaining Warts, a wide tour around the top of Ashton Clough happily avoided a more direct and peaty path to Lower Shelf Stones where the path was rejoined for Higher Shelf Stones trig point. Our immediate thought about this very exposed summit, was of Pete (G) previously struggling in similar wet and windy conditions to put on more clothes as he shivered in his flimsy shorts.

Higher Shelf Stones trig, photo thanks to Jim

By now two hours had passed since we had started and our rapid return was hindered by a very swampy way across the upper reaches of Crooked Clough, now a wide and deep quagmire, reflecting both erosion and the recent wet weather. The subsequent effect was a preference to go down the surprisingly rocky PW path towards the car park instead of a short cut directly across the  softer moorland.

Doctor’s Gate car park maintained its reputation for a wild changing spot which encouraged thoughts of getting to the YBI as soon as possible. Our conversations there, verged almost on the hallucinatory as topics ranged from self-administered vaccinations (in the finger) for fowl pest, later first aid treatment of the aforementioned dislocated finger, weighing young chickens and the dangers of wearing a Hawley’s woolly hat, apparently it caused loss of balance, according to Moz.

Despite all the incidents, including actually visiting only one of our intended checkpoints, our two and a half hour outing was declared a great success.

Thanks to all.


Categories: Warts