Today’s excursion took us to the Peak District – K decided we’d go for a “more manageable hike” than last Sunday’s perilous climb up Jack’s Rake in the Lake District. After all the Peak District is an altogether gentler landscape… right.
Now I grew up in Sheffield so Bakewell, Monsal Dale, Edale, Castleton and the surrounding areas are fairly familiar to me. I’ve already tackled Mam Tor and the neighboring peaks without too much bother. But I forget, I haven’t been Kieran style before. I swear I never knew there were so many waterfalls around Edale… perfect for scrambling up, and down it seems.
We started out in Edale (having already been via Bakewell and Monsal Head due to dodgy sat nav directions) and got straight into a quad burning 10 minute uphill hike. Already fighting for my breath I didn’t think this was going to end well.
But, we reached the top of the first hill and after a short ‘practice’ climb were rewarded with amazing views. Unlike last weekend, today was clear, although overcast to begin with, and we could see for miles. A little nerve racking for those adverse to heights (me) so I perched perfectly still on top of the rocks to take a panoramic photo.
Behind me I heard an odd scuffling noise and turned to see K spread prone across the rocks – he’d made a jump but forgotten he’d done tricep dips at the gym and his arms had other ideas about supporting his body-weight!
Anyway, we took the standard path for a little while but obviously that was too easy and was rather overpopulated with other day trippers. So we went off-piste. Directly across a peat bog. Very disconcerting when you feel like you’re walking on sponges and there are dark pools of peaty water only centimeters away waiting to claim your feet. Amazingly, we managed to traverse the bog without major incident i.e. we both still had dry feet when we reached the other side.
We climbed atop a rock and had lunch. Again the view was spectacular and we were so high, and the valley so deep, that we were actually looking down on a bird of prey hunting for it’s lunch.
Lunch over and to our first challenge of the day – a downhill scramble – which is a first for me. Down a waterfall that is. So not only are you sliding down rocks on your bum but you’ve got the added jeopardy of water and slimy green rocks. Lesson of the day: green = slippery. Tip of the day: if you want to go down a waterfall, a deep single leg squat to tentatively test the ground before you jump is an excellent way to stay dry footed. One of us took a dunking… I’ll give you a clue, it wasn’t’ me!
So with a few more leaps of faith we reached the bottom without further incident. Only for me to find out that we’re going straight back up again but this time via a slightly bigger, and higher, waterfall to the left.
This was a little more challenging for me – many of the rocks and foot holds were taller/more spaced out than my legs are long which called for some inventive techniques for ‘scrambling’ up them. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Waterfall two under our belt we set off back across the peat bog to re-join the more established route. We were thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet, the magnificent views, the sun beating down, birds tweeting, bees buzzing… oh and then one of her Majesty’s coastguard rescue helicopter flying around on maneuvers! Being so high up on the ridge we were virtually on a level with it.
Peace shattered, we rock-hopped down the river bed and walked through banks of lush green bracken punctuated with spikes of violet purple heather towards the bottom of the valley.
Five and a half hours and 17,000 steps later we arrived back to the car to refuel before the journey back to Leeds. A thoroughly enjoyable ‘walk’ with really varied scenery including shady woods, barren heather clad moors, peat bogs, rocky outcrops, rolling green hills and deep river valleys with plentiful waterfalls.