“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.
It was a misty afternoon, with intermittent rain, but there were still pleasant views down the valley in the direction of Ladybower.
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.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
From there, a short amble up a well laid path drew us to the high point of this trip – Mill Hill, 544 metres.
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.*
Pleasant paths led down to Glossop, via a minor navigational faux pas (not my fault!) and a field full of friendly horses.
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.
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.