Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Tuesday 8 November 2011

November 3-4, 2011 – a Dark Peak Backpack

Setting off from Heath Road, Glossop

“We’re going on a backpack tomorrow morning, starting from Glossop.  Fancy coming?” chorused Mick and Gayle in The Grapes last Wednesday evening.

It was a bit of a struggle, as I’d not been out camping with my own gear since the end of the TGO Challenge in May.  But I had both a new rucksack and a borrowed tent to try out.

The least I could do was arrange parking and refreshments in Glossop , before we set off up Doctor’s Gate on a murky day.  Then, after a short wander along the Pennine Way towards Bleaklow, we took a very pleasant path down Alport Dale.  Here are Gayle and Mick looking back up the dale.

Above Alport Dale

It was a misty afternoon, with intermittent rain, but there were still pleasant views down the valley in the direction of Ladybower.

Alport Dale

M&G managed to navigate us away from the valley, via a steep ascent, and up to a trig point stranded in a bog and surrounded by rain splattered puddles.

From there we moved briskly on to Alport Castles, the scene of a massive ancient landslip.  Today it was the only time we saw the sun, very briefly, before it slid down behind the long bulk of Black Ashop Moor.


Life became briefly frenetic, as we raced against the darkening sky to collect water (well, emulsified peat) and bash our way across uncharted moorland to the corner of a wood at Lockerbrook (SK 162 894), where I ‘froze’ in front of a heap of nylon whilst M&G quickly assembled Vera.  Their expertise was needed to erect my home for the night, ‘Obi’, a sample on loan from Webtogs.  A new, smaller, rucksack has finally persuaded me that I should get a lighter one man tent, and Obi is a kilo lighter than Phreerunner.  Anyway, after working out where sockets for the balls were, and inserting some fiddly clips, the tent was up and taut, even though a couple of guys weren’t found.  Then at last I could wander off with my trowel, etc, in the dark.

Obi 1P

We chatted and cooked for a while, then found books to read, then it must have been all of eight o’clock before we passed out for the night.  I did anyway.  It was M&G’s wedding anniversary – congratulations, btw – so I felt bad about pitching so close to them.  But I’m deaf at night, and I understand there was some noisy rain during the course of the night.  I didn’t hear a thing, and woke soon after 6am after my longest sleep of the year.

Obi may look a bit odd, and as you can see from above wasn’t particularly well pitched, but he proved to be very comfy.

Anyway, without any planned departure time, it was probably quite lucky that we were all ready to leave at exactly the same time on Friday morning – just before 8am.  (I know from previous trips with M&G that we synchronise quite well, though I did keep them waiting a bit on this trip – I was trying not to aggravate a knee jarred last weekend whilst I was trying to keep up with Superman [Graham Brookes].

We spent a fair part of the morning clad in waterproofs under a weeping sky.


It was pure luck that I had an A4 piece of paper with me with my guestimate of the area in which we would be walking, and that my guestimate had been correct, so I looked at my map and was definitely in favour of following a track rather than walking for a kilometre down the busy A57 road.  I didn’t expect a bridge to be absent, though, replaced by an uncrossable ford.

We proceeded across farm land to the south of the roaring River Ashop.  There were barbed wire fences, which needed to be crossed with care.  I have no issue with these and the use of wire cutters would have been totally inappropriate – we could have chosen higher ground that wasn’t fenced in – but we chose to stay low on this occasion.  “Don’t let’s have an Alan Sloman incident” asserted Gayle, nearly ripping her new trousers.

Wire damage

“Oops” said Gayle “I must talk less and concentrate more!”

The flesh wound soon paled into insignificance compared with the foot problem.  For some strange reason both M&G were wearing glorified plimsolls.  These are prone to leakage, though to be fair they had wrapped their tootsies in plastic bags as a second line of defence.

Blackden Brook

After crossing Blackden Brook and enjoying a brew before wandering on the correct, open, side of the border between farmland and the open moor, we finally reached a footpath, and even a bridge across the river.

The sun came out!

River Ashop

Having recently brewed up, we eschewed the delights of the Snake Inn and toddled on up the Snake Path towards Hayfield.

After a pleasant lunch stop below Ashop Head, we were in good spirits by the time we reached the Pennine Way path junction at the head of William Clough.

Mick, Gayle and Martin at Ashop Head

From there, a short amble up a well laid path drew us to the high point of this trip – Mill Hill, 544 metres.

The path to Mill Hill

After having been buzzed by a helicopter delivering products for the Kinder Scout regeneration project, we discovered the remains of an incident in 1944.  A Liberator ‘plane crashed here, but both crew survived.*

The Liberator crashed in 1944

Pleasant paths led down to Glossop, via a minor navigational faux pas (not my fault!) and a field full of friendly horses.

Descending to Glossop

Pam and Paul’s 24 hour café was still open, and we enjoyed an hour with them before hitting the road home.

This was a most enjoyable 40km excursion, with around 1400 metres ascent.  The route is shown below.

Our route - 40 km, 1400m ascent, 2 days

Thanks go to Mick and Gayle for inviting me along – I had a great time, sorry about the tardiness of this write up.

There’s a full annotated slideshow here, and Gayle’s postings are here (Day 1) and here (Day 2).

* “Crashed while on a ferrying flight from Burtonwood near Warrington to Hardwick near Norwich. On a very foggy morning in October, Pilot Lieutenant Creighton Haopt and Flight Engineer Jerry Najvar thundered down the runway into the grey wall of fog, so bad was the weather even the birds were walking! After smashing into several runway lights and two failed attempts to get airborne, the Liberator finally lumbered into the air, but only just.

It had been a shaky take off, but Haopt became more relaxed when he gained full control of the aircraft. Jerry unbuckled his harness and went aft to check for damage that might have occurred during the take off. Back in the cockpit Jerry gave the thumbs up that everything was ok and proceeded to take out a map, he noticed they were on a direct course for high ground. "I checked the altimeter and it was indicating 1,500 feet, we were too low to clear the hills," recalled Jerry. " I Jabbed my finger at the high ground on the map and read off the elevation for that area. Then I indicated with my thumb that we had better get some height." Haopt nodded as if he understood, but he made no attempt to climb. Had he misunderstood the signal to climb for a 'thumbs up - all's well' indication? Jerry was growing more concerned over pilot's inaction. Jerry peered out of the cockpit window when he suddenly saw something dark pass under the aircraft. " I grabbed the control column and pulled back on it with all my strength , the pilot realised what I was doing and tried to help." They were too late, they were travelling at 150 mph as the underbelly of the aircraft started slicing through the heather, then onto moorland grass and rocks, the aircraft disintegrated along the way. Jerry remembers waking up in hospital, and apart from the shock and some cuts to the face and some bruising, he had got off lightly. Haopt had more serious facial injuries, however they both made a full recovery.”

This information was obtained from the Astrecks website.


Martin Rye said...

I do like the route you did. Not sure about that tent with its large cutouts Martin? I shall read your review with intrest.

Phreerunner said...

It was Mick and Gayle's route - a good one.

The tent was fine in calm weather, and as you know I'm used to a single skin so the 'cut outs' don't bother me so long as the deep 'bath tub' fabric of the inner keeps the water out. I've a feeling that the steep sided nature of the tent, and the good air circulation, may be helpful with regard to any condensation. On this trip I didn't notice any significant condensation, though I think M&G got some in Vera.
I do need to use the tent on a stormy night...

James Boulter said...

I do feel that the Woodland valley would benefit with a right of way along its full length. Looks like a cracking backpack despite the weather.

Alan Sloman said...

Nicely done, Martin.

That tent looks like it has half its flysheet missing! I'll be interested to see what you think of it in the wind & rain.

Cracking report on the plane crash too. Thoroughly good read, Sir!

Phreerunner said...

Thanks James, Alan. The Woodlands Valley isn't bad. It was misty higher up on the open moor, hence our decision to stay low; there were only two, relatively easy, barbed fences; and the ford would have been crossable if the river hadn't been in spate - then we could have walked up to the Snake Inn on the north side of the road.

Thanks go to Gayle for finding the plane crash report.

The tent is interesting. Better than I expected, and I suspect the 'bath tub' design of the inner will keep out all but the worst sort of deluge. Remember, Alan, I'm quite used to living in a single skin tent. As in the Phreerunner, I had to slip a few inches forward when the rain massaged my head during the night, but there was lots of space to do that as it's 221cm long.

Anonymous said...

Look forward to hearing more about the tent. I've often wondered about carrying some thick leather gardening gloves for hand protection when climbing over barbed wire fences.

Heather T-S said...

My, this brings back a few memories and you probably virtually walked past my old house on King Street! Harry Hut/Mill Hill/Kinder/Bleaklow/various plane bits/Doctor's Gate were all part and parcel of walks when living there as the access was so easy but it was a long time ago! Good bilberries at Harry Hut if sheep haven't got there 1st! Think paving was all done after left too. Really nice to see pics of these places again! (Horse field on my old dog walk) NB The Pub that did good food was the Grouse Inn en route to Hayfield/Buxton but many years have passed since going there!

Phreerunner said...

I think I'd rather keep my weight down in preference to carrying gardening gloves when backpacking. My routes very rarely involve fences such as the ones on this walk, which could have been avoided if we hadn't been overwhelmed by laziness.

Happy memories, Heather? There are still good berries in many places in the Peaks, and no doubt good mushrooms...
The paving certainly makes some of the paths much more environmentally acceptable than the wide swathes of walker induced bog that used to dissuade me from using some of the Dark Peak 'paths'.