East Lancs Backpacking Trip

Arkwright's Mill Chatsworth House in the distance Edale Skyline in the background Eeny meeny miny mo, which way is it??? Glorious Derbyshire Dale June shows the way to the pub Let us out! Gate at Chatsworth Monsal Head Viaduct Peter and Ian climb the Cork Stone Spectacular view from the Edge
The Inn Way to the Peak District.

7 – 12 May 2011.

Starring – Hilary, June, Ian & Peter

We met Alvin and John in the Dales last year (see 2010 Archive, Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales) and they told us of the Peak District walk they had completed in 2009 and recommended it very highly, so our choice for 2011 was easy.

In true East Lancs style we left the organising of this year’s backpacking trip to Hilary. So we knew it would be another great success.

After the hottest and driest March and April ever recorded we girded our loins for a May backlash and it came just an hour after leaving Hayfield on day one, it was a bedraggled foursome who squelched into the Snake Pass Inn for a well earned bowl of soup. After drying out a little we were out again in the rain following what was supposed to be the line of a Roman road, I think this Roman road was built without the use of a surveyor or a piece of string. We eventually crossed into the Hope Valley and down the steepest path ever seen to arrive in Bamford our first stop.

After a good meal in the Travellers Rest and an excellent breakfast we were off in bright sunshine and a warm wind to Hathersage by the back way and from there a steady climb up to Stanage Edge stopping only to view Little John’s grave. The edge was crawling with climbers, now I know why they get called “Crag Rats”. The wind, although quite warm was in our faces as we walked the edge all the way to the trig point then across the moor to Higger Tor, it was only after this point that we lost view of Hope cement works, a huge blot on the landscape in Hope Valley that brings much employment and wealth to the local area. After tea and cake at the National Trust tearoom in Longshaw we passed by several White Lodges, either they have little imagination in these parts or a large amount of white paint to use up, I can’t make up my mind which. The afternoon warmed up nicely for our last few miles into Baslow where we spent the night in the Wheatsheaf, nice room, average meal and a decent breakfast.

The next morning was glorious for our route through the magnificent Chatsworth estate. Lots of people busy getting the grounds ready for the weekends horse trials, shame the façade of the house is covered by scaffolding though. After an early morning coffee stop we had in our sights the only pub on the days route for lunch, we got there a little early, 12.15 on Monday, to find that they opened on Wednesday. A picnic of crisps and muesli bars in the warm sunshine is almost as good as a pub stop, isn’t it? A steady climb out of Stanton-in-Peak had us soon at a stone circle and then the Cork Stone, a lump of gritstone at the side of the path. The Victorians placed iron rungs to aid the short climb to the top, an early form of climbing wall I suppose. The black clouds were gathering ahead and the waterproofs were on just in time for a short but violent hailstorm as we took shelter under a very poor Hawthorn canopy. After passing Robin Hood’s Stride and Hilary’s seat the rain eased a little and then stopped as we approached our next B&B, The Old Bakery in Youlgrave.

The next day was a real treat, seven dales, a disused mine, an old railway and ice cream were all on the agenda. Typical Derbyshire Dales landscapes now, steep sided flat-bottomed valleys with rivers, flowing one minute the next disappearing into the cheese like structure of the Limestone below. Another very steep descent to yet another White Lodge before the steady climb up to Monsal Head for lunch. Back down again to the viaduct where notice boards tell of the imminent opening up of the tunnels to walkers and riders, should be interesting and attract even more people to this nice part of the world. Arkwright’s Mill was next then through the oddly named Walter-Cum-Jolly Dale and on into Tideswell to Poppies B&B.

Wednesday morning was a little cooler and so a fleece jumper was required at the start, we retraced our steps out of Tideswell and headed for Cressbrook Dale to find the magnificent outcrop of Peter’s Stone, surely the highlight of the whole week. We all were so enraptured by its presence and stature that time stood still and all was peaceful in the world. Actually, I posed for a picture, Ian grunted something and June just carried on reading the map, oh well.

The next place was Foolow and this is probably the prettiest village in England. A white gravel footpath opens onto a manicured village green with a perfectly formed duck pond adjacent. A village pub completed the scene. A longer than usual coffee stop in Eyam gave us time to read about the tragedies played out in the houses of this famous plague village. More climbing to the tiny village of Abney and on to Brough where we took a slight detour to the same Travellers Rest we ate in on Saturday night, however no food was available and the effort of making a pot of tea for four was just too much for the landlady in an empty pub. A crisps and muesli bar lunch was had by the bus stop. Hope was a different kettle of fish; the tearoom was very friendly, scones with homemade compote and clotted cream with tea for £2.50. After that it was across the fields by the cement works to Castleton and the Swiss House B&B

The last day, with a bus from Hayfield to Glossop only every hour we needed to get a move on to avoid Manchester at teatime. The first shower hit us only half way up Cave Dale and lasted all the way up and over Mam Tor, after that the showers were so frequent we left our waterproofs on all day. The wind and rain was so bad on top of Jacob’s ladder a chap coming the other way advised us to wait before going on to Edale Cross. Walking into the rain was preferable to just standing so we carried on regardless hoping that it would stop and dry us out before getting onto the bus. It did, we arrived in Hayfield in bright sunshine with 10 minutes to spare for the bus. The bus was on time and the train to Manchester went through some places I have never heard of. June’s gloating at the reduced fares paid on the bus and train faded somewhat when she was informed her Yorkshire bus pass was worthless on the tram and she had to pay full fare.

All in all a cracking walk, with excellent company. A very enjoyable few days away. Thanks to Hilary for faultless organisation once again, June for keeping us on the right track and Ian for his good humour.

Special thanks to Craig for the lift to Hayfield for the start of the walk.

Approaching Castleton Descending to Edale Duck pond at Foolow Entering Cave Dale Leaving Eyam Peter below His Stone Taking shelter at the top of Jacob's ladder The long road ahead