Thursday 30 July 2015

Burbage Rocks and Stanage Edge

Or, "How Poor Decision Making and Stubbornness Deprived Me of My Beer and Made Me Late for Dinner."

A station house, clad in white painted wooden boards with black painted edging.
The Dark Peak is famous for its huge grit stone edges, draws for walkers and climbers alike, but few are quite as impressive as Stanage Edge: viewed from its southern end near Upper Burbage Bridge, the six kilometre sweep of millstone grit undulates before you like a breaking wave, permanently suspended above the Hope Valley. From the 458 metre vantage point of High Neb, Win Hill and the peaks of the Great Ridge seem diminished, while the vista over towards Eyam Moor is a gently rolling, pastoral affair; only the dark bulk of the Kinder Plateau beyond them feels like it can match this iconic escarpment in might.

My walk was to take in Stanage Edge as its climax but I also wanted to explore Burbage Rocks first, another escarpment that runs south in the form of a broken crescent, from Upper Burbage Bridge to the Longshaw Estate

Saturday 18 July 2015

Corn Du and Pen y Fan

To do the classic horseshoe ridge walk in the Brecon Beacons has long been an ambition of mine so when we booked a few days holiday in Cornwall, a stopover in South Wales on the way seemed the ideal way to realise this.The long range weather forecast had seemed a positive one so we booked into a B&B (the wonderful Mount Pleasant Inn in Merthyr Vale, which thoroughly deserves its numerous five star reviews online) and packed our walking gear alongside our beach and bar wear.

A shallow river running through woodland and cascading over rocks.
The Taf Fechan
Thus it was we found ourselves parking the car one drizzly morning in the Taf Fechan forest. The fine weather promised had disappeared but the revised forecast of occasional light showers and sunny spells didn't bode too badly. With that in mind, I jammed on my sun hat as well as my waterproof jacket and we set off over the river into the woods. 

The walk at this point was a gentle incline but the air was quite close between the trees so it was a relief to come out of the cover of branches and leaves into an area that seemed to have been cleared for timber. 

As the woodland thinned we got our first glimpse of the mountain walk ahead of us - the Graig Fan Ddu ridge appeared above the foliage on the left and Craig Cwm Cynwyn became visible on the right. The northern end of the latter, where the summit of Cribyn stands was ominously covered in clag.

The terrain was surprisingly boggy here, and the slippery, thin logs placed hither and thither along the footpath made crossing the wettest sections a tricky balancing act. As we approached the dam of the Lower Neuadd Reservoir, the ground grew more reliable under our feet and it became safer to look around as you walked instead of constantly looking down to assess the solidity of the earth.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Thor's Cave and Ecton Hill

Thor's Cave above the Manifold Valley has long been on my list of places to visit and at the end of June we drove out late one Sunday afternoon to explore this area of the White Peak. Along the lower reaches of the valley itself runs the Manifold Way, from Hulme End to Waterhouses: this was once the route of the relatively short-lived Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway (L&MVLR), which maintained a economically-precarious existence from 1904 to 1934 before finally giving up the ghost. The Wiki entry on the Manifold Way mentions a wag among the railway workers on the line describing it as a "line that started in the middle of nowhere, and ended up in the same place", and his quip succinctly explains its demise.

Our walk started at the northern end of the trail at Hulme End. The station at the head of the railway line once stood here and  there is a pay-and-display car park, public toilets and a visitor centre. It was fairly late in the afternoon when we started out but the weather was glorious and the sunset wasn't due until after 9.30 so we relished the thought of a walk into the early evening. As we followed the tarmac path (the trail has good accessibility for pushchairs and wheelchairs though occasionally shares a route with motor traffic), Ecton Hill appeared to our left. I'd mentioned to Rich that there was a hill at the end of the route but when it suddenly loomed into view I prudently decided to keep quiet for now that this was it.

Across a meadow, a green hill with trees.
Ecton Hill