Saturday, 29 September 2018

Kinder Scout: the River Kinder and Kinder Gates

Intrepid explorers walking the length of the world's great rivers has become something of a cultural phenomenon in recent years - think Ed Stafford trekking along the course of the Amazon for almost two-and-a-half years or Levison Wood hiking the Nile from its origin in the Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda to the Egyptian shores of the Mediterranean.

With adventures like these in mind it's little wonder that we became suddenly inspired to walk the River Kinder a couple of weeks ago, from its source deep in the Peak District plateau to... Well, only as far as the Downfall actually, because we wanted a nice circular route that didn't involve traipsing downhill and back up again. And we didn't quite walk it from its source, to be honest, because - rather like the Nile - there are several indistinct points at which its waters bubble up from the ground and start their journey to the sea. If we'd put more time and effort in to complete the River Kinder's entire three-mile course, no doubt I'd have a book deal and probably my own TV show by now but we didn't so you'll have to make do with another verbose blog post and some occasionally over-exposed photos.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

High Wheeldon and Pilsbury Castle

Two significant Peak District rivers have their sources on the Axe Edge watershed - the Manifold and the Dove. Over millennia, their meandering journeys south-east carved out deep gorges in the bedrock, resulting in limestone tors and caves that have long drawn sightseers to the area (including William and Dorothy Wordsworth).

If you're in the White Peak, the breathtaking scenery of Dove Dale and the Manifold Valley should definitely be on your list of places to visit but you shouldn't underestimate the countryside north of these tourist hotspots. Here a generous network of footpaths weaves quieter routes through broad valleys or over rounded hills and provides plentiful options for short walks, be it a half-day excursion or a summer evening ramble of an hour or so.

Looking south-east from Axe Edge Moor, source of the River Dove and the River Manifold.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Western Carneddau

The day after we walked Pen Llithrig y Wrach on the eastern fringe of the Carneddau mountains I set off on my own to explore some of the peaks on the western side of the range. There was one major summit that I hadn't visited - Yr Elen - and I was hoping to do this via its north eastern ridge before having a more gentle wander back down over the hills to the north. I'd seen this ridge on a traverse of the Carneddau last year and it looked like a fantastic airy route onto the tops.

Yr Elen's north east ridge from a previous walk in the Carneddau.


Monday, 11 June 2018

Pen Llithrig y Wrach and Pen yr Helgi Du

Although I've done several walks in the Carneddau mountains over the past couple of years, Pen Llithrig y Wrach has somehow always eluded me - either by not fitting conveniently into a route or by making the hike unfeasibly long for my short legs. Its profile is a striking one from various viewpoints, not least if you're looking at it from the south: from that angle it rises proudly between the extended ridge (Y Braich) that leads to Pen Yr Helgi Du in the west and the jumble of crags that make up Creigiau Gleision in the east. This makes for an inviting and striking prominence that is satisfyingly pointy. It's been suggested that the resemblance of Pen Llithrig y Wrach's profile to a witch's hat lies behind its colourful name, which translates into English as "Slippery Peak of the Witch", but no-one seems to know for sure if that's the case.

Pen Llithrig y Wrach (left), viewed from Moel Siabod in 2015.


Friday, 11 May 2018

Wardlow Hay Cop and Cressbrook Dale

Cressbrook Dale is a beautiful limestone valley just north west of Bakewell. It's one of my favourite spots in the White Peak and there's no better time of year to visit it than spring, when its wildflowers put on a breathtaking display. If you walk the full length of the dale, you'll find yourself in ash woodland at the southern end and here in May the air is rich with the aroma of wild garlic. We've done a circuit that takes in those woods and the beautiful expanse of ramson flowers that spreads below their canopy, which you can read about here.

Wild garlic in Cressbrook Dale in May 2015.