Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 12 November 2011

Monday 7 November 2011 – Fountains Fell

Pen-y-ghent from near Stainforth

“Any walks planned in this neck of the woods in the near future?” pinged a text message from Heather, who lives in the Yorkshire Dales.

There were no plans, but that was no hindrance to my setting off on Monday morning to Long Preston, and thence to Stainforth to the start of a stroll up Fountains Fell.  I’d forgotten my wallet, so Heather had to pay for the parking (sorry, Heather).

It was a lovely fresh autumnal morning as we headed out of the village and up to Catrigg Force, which was gushing pleasantly, but was difficult to photograph in the contrasty light.

Catrigg Force

There’s a fine view of Pen-y-ghent from above the Force.

Catrigg Beck and Pen-y-ghent

Today, Heather was eagle-eyed when it came to spotting Waxcap mushrooms.  The one below is a Scarlet hooded Waxcap, and we she found larger specimens of Crimson Waxcaps and Meadow Waxcaps.  Apparently most Waxcaps are edible and it appears that Heather may have vast quantities stashed in her freezer.

Scarlet hooded Waxcap

We reached the trig point at 593 metres in good spirits, before the cloud immersed us.

Heather reaches the trig point at 593 metres

Navigation to the summit of Fountains Fell proved quite straightforward, as Heather is an expert mountain leader (ML).  She passed her ML Assessment a couple of weeks ago – not an easy task – and should be congratulated for that.  Congratulations, Heather.

Meanwhile between the trig point and the summit, my map, a scratty piece of A4 paper, had accidentally blown away.  I had no spare.  Luckily, Heather had her own rather more secure version.

On the summit of Fountains Fell

We met Lionel and Susan Bidwell on the summit of Fountains Fell.  They were ‘bagging’ summits – Lionel is Munroist number 4584 and has climbed about 480 ‘Marilyns’ - hills with a 150 metre prominence relative to their surroundings.  He is striving to extricate himself from the ‘Corridor of Obscurity’ to the ‘Hall of Fame’ that conquerors of 600 or more Marilyns are eligible for membership.

I have to thank Heather for getting us to that summit, as following the loss of my map I discovered that my compass (yes, I had one!) had reversed its polarity, sending me south when I thought I was going north.  I had a trusty Garmin GPS in reserve, of course.  Its batteries turned out to be flat.

We bade our farewells to the Bidwells and trundled off along the Pennine Way on the route shown below, passing Dale Head Farm, which surprised Heather by the absence of its usual pack of baying hounds.

Lunch was taken at this delightful spot beside Churn Milk Hole.  Well, most of lunch was ‘taken’ – it transpired that I’d left half of mine on the kitchen table at home.

Churn Milk Hole

By now the cloud had completely taken over and this morning’s crisp brightness had deteriorated into a cold greyness.  That didn’t stop Heather pausing to identify several more Waxcaps, admiring their virtues as culinary delights.

Another tasty Waxcap

I don’t recall them being quite that corrosive!

Then suddenly she bolted off towards Stainforth, in search of refreshments.

Heather leads the dash to the tea emporium

What an excellent day out.  21km, with 570 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours.  The route is shown below and a short slideshow is here.

Our route - 21km, 570 metres ascent, 5.5 hours

Friday 11 November 2011

Sunday 6 November 2011 – A Monyash Meander

Starting from outside The Barn (Limestone Cottages) - Gaynor, Jill, Hilde, Jacqui, Sue, David, Sue

On a lovely sunny morning, Sue and I popped out to the White Peak for a day out with a few friends who were staying at 'The Barn' (Limestone Cottages).

I’d planned a route, in line with a specific request.  It was rejected on the grounds of potentially muddy fields and a ‘boring’ section of disused railway.  So I reverted to familiar ground and the motley crew set off in the opposite direction to that planned, from outside The Bulls Head.

We soon missed the path beside the church that provides a link with the Limestone Way.  I was distracted by the sunlight in the foliage…

Late leaves in Monyash church yard

Anyway, it was easy to retrace our steps (nobody seemed to complain), pass the church and cross fields, to join the Limestone Way, which was followed all the way to Youlgreave.

There were lovely views across the White Peak from the path which pottered along to reach One Ash Grange Farm, where we expected to enjoy a chat with the pigs which live in houses beside the path and are usually very talkative.

Unfortunately, the pigs appeared to have been baconised, but we were befriended by Donald, who needed a cuddle!

Sue catches supper

After a slithery descent into Cales Dale and a steep pull out of the dale past a huge group of ramblers, we proceeded towards a bench near Lomberdale that Sue E had recced for an elevenses break.

Sadly the bench was surrounded by another huge group of 30+ ramblers, so we moved on to enjoy a cuppa in the shade of a fine old tree.

Elevenses near Lomberdale

I think the remaining leaves are ready to drop, but calm weather is prolonging our enjoyment of the season’s colourful foliage.

Late leaves

Soon we were down in the valley, marching beside what remains of the River Bradford.  The river is a little low in places - it's a limestone area that has been heavily mined, so drainage is maybe too good.  There are normally trout in the river, but none were spotted today, and the bird life – coots, moorhens, etc – was shyer than usual.  At one point the river has been dredged to form a pool suitable for bathing, but that was a shallow mud bath today.

Our path skirted below Youlgreave and entered Lathkill Dale below Alport.  We strolled along the west bank, with stomachs rumbling, re-crossing the river at the mediaeval Conksbury Bridge, beyond which there’s an excellent spot for lunch.

Lunch in Lathkill Dale

We were joined for lunch by a couple of mallard, but the coots that nest just here were on their holidays today.  Further up the dale a swan was hoovering the weeds, and dabchicks were popping up and down from the river bed, but there was no sign of the usual dippers and heron.  We passed a series of weirs, indicating that there was once a mill near here, and in places, as in Bradford Dale, the river is dammed to form ponds for the fish.

As the sun dipped below the high sides of the dale, we were cooled by the sharp change in temperature.  Over Haddon leered at us from its sunny hill top position.

Over Haddon

‘Caves’ and drainage channels at intervals along the dale provided a reminder of lead mining activities in days past.  The section of the dale between Over Haddon and Cales Dale was once home to several very profitable lead mines, of which the most important was the Mandale Mine, which was worked from the 13th century until operations finally ceased in 1851, defeated by water problems.

By 2.30 the sun was already low, and by the time we re-emerged from the dale and returned to Monyash via Bagshaw Dale the departing orb was casting a golden glow on the Bulls Head.

The Bulls Head

Here’s the route of this 20km walk with about 300 metres ascent:

Our route - 20km with about 300 metres ascent

It was 3.30 – too early for the pub, but before returning home to cook Sunday dinner Sue and I found plenty of time to enjoy tea and cake in the barn.  And Jacqui's birthday party was joyously celebrated.

Jacqui's birthday party

Happy Birthday Jacqui, and thank you everyone for a most enjoyable day out.

Principally for those who were there, there’s a slideshow (40+) – the first pictures taken with my new Canon G12 camera – click here.

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.