Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The High Peak Trail

The High Peak Trail runs for around 17 miles, from Dowlow, just outside Buxton, to Cromford in the Derwent Valley. Like many such trails around the country, it follows the course of a defunct train line, in this case the Cromford and High Peak Railway, which connected the Peak Forest Canal in the north west of Derbyshire with the Cromford Canal in the middle of the county. You can see evidence of the line in the Goyt Valley as well as across the moorland above it, and the trail had been on my to-do list since I first visited that area last year.

Having walked on similar trails before, I was aware that long stretches can become somewhat routine, especially when they've been lined with bushes and trees or pass through extended railway cuttings. I decided to save this day out for winter, on the basis that a dusting of snow would lend some visual interest to even the most mundane of surroundings, and I also added on a few diversions from the trail - my feet certainly felt the effect of this by the end but each one was well worth the extra effort and mileage.
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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Brean Down

Whenever I see blue skies overhead my thoughts always drift towards the seaside, even on a cold January day like today. I'm sure it must be more a cultural than a personal thing - a product of the Famous Five and other books I read as a youngster, perhaps, rather than the occasional holidays of my childhood, which I seem to remember being predominantly grey and somewhat damp.

Weston-super-Mare from Brean Down.

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Combs Reservoir

There's something magical about waking to blue skies and a scintillating blanket of snow. You sense the transformation of the world outdoors even before you've drawn back the curtain or pulled up the blind. The light that steals below and around the edges has a quite different quality, brighter with a bluish tinge.

The snow we got at the start of December had been drifting down on-and-off for several days before Monday morning burst into cloudless, sun-shining life for us. It had fallen from wind-wracked, iron-skies over the weekend though, making house lights a necessity throughout the day and not just at its margins. It wasn't the sort of weather to tempt you outside, even if you weren't nursing a cold and sore throat, as I had been.
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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Howden Moors - Cut Gate, Margery Hill and Howden Edge

When I did my second walk on Howden Moors a couple of months ago, I was so taken with the area I plotted a third walk there soon after I got home. This took in another clough on the eastern side of the Upper Derwent Valley, followed by Margery Hill and Howden Edge. I'd walked these two summits last year as part of a longer trip but Rich hadn't, and I thought the terrain and views would appeal to him. Taking a punt on the forecast - 20% chance of rain - proved to be a mistake, though, and we spent most of the walk in drizzle and mist. Even during the dry intervals there was little to see or photograph and it became clear that we'd need to return on a better day to do the route justice.

At the summit of Margery Hill in September.

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Shropshire Hills: Caer Caradoc

There must be something in the beer in Shropshire. Normally, two walks in the same weekend would be a "hard sell" but by the time we were finishing our shandies, I'd clinched an unprecedented second walk in the same day and achieved it without bringing the next day's hiking plans to the negotiating table.

To be honest, our exploration of the Long Mynd hadn't been particularly strenuous - and we were spurred on partly by the increasingly fine weather and by Caer Caradoc itself. In terms of size it's a fairly modest hill but its prominence and the outcrops of ancient, Precambrian rock along its ridge make it alluring aesthetically. It had caught the attention of both of us as we approached Church Stretton that morning. In addition, the historical interest of the hill is more than geological, as an extensive set of earthworks lie around the summit, the remains of an substantial Iron Age hill fort.

We set off out from the town over the railway line and then across the thunderously busy A49. It was a relief to leave this behind and turn onto a quiet residential road, Watling Street North. This was named after an ancient track that had once passed through the valley, which had subsequently been paved by the Romans when they occupied the region. Eventually we came to a narrow thoroughfare that led to New House Farm and this we took, wondering where we'd squeeze ourselves in its neatly cropped hedges should a tractor come rolling along.
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