Sunday 27 November 2011

A Curious Day on Stanton Moor

After yesterday's long day on the Bleaklow moors, a gentler day was on the cards today!  Colin and Avril had invited us to join them for a spot of curiousity hunting as part of their quest to visit all of those listed in the "Curiousities of the Peak District" book.  So we met them and Rich, Caz & Ewan near the Druid Inn in Birchover soon after 11am, where it was dry but quite cold & windy.

We set off walking along the road at around 11:30am, heading east out of the village and gradually climbing up towards the moor.  After around a kilometre, we reached a stile onto the moorland, which we crossed and followed a good track mostly sheltered from the worst of the wind.  After another kilometre, we reached the gritstone outcrop of the Cat's Stone where we stopped for lunch, whilst Colin did a spot of bouldering in the sunshine.

Tower on Stanton Moor
After suitably satisfying our hunger it was time to find curiousity number one of the day: Stanton Moor's tower, whose doorway had been bricked up, presumably to prevent people from gaining access to the inside.  The next curiousity was somewhat more tricky to find, given that all we had to go on was a 35 year old black and white photo of some rock carvings with the tower in the background.  However after much studying of the photo trying to work out which direction it was taken in, and Colin rummaging around in various bits of undergrowth he eventually found the carvings.

Stanton Moor carvings
The carving in question was quite impressive, with an intricate crown, a large letter G and the date 1854 below it.  It was now time to move on to the third curiousity of the day: the Nine Ladies stone circle, which was significantly easier to find!

Nine Ladies stone circle on Stanton Moor
Stanton Moor
We wandered around the stone circle and visited the King Stone, before picking up a good track across the moorland to reach the fourth and final curiousity of the day: the Cork Stone.  This large boulder had steps cut into the rock, complete with iron bars for handholds, making it a bit of an artificial ascent; although still quite tricky due to the steep and slightly overhanging start!

Cork Stone on Stanton Moor
After Colin had climbed up the Cork Stone and I had been most of the way to the top, we detoured across the moorland to the NW to visit the trig point, complete with a face peering round the side!

Stanton Moor trig point
We returned to the Cork Stone and followed the path west to the road, before taking a quite detour to the Andle Stone, which again had iron hand-holds and steps cut into the gritstone.  After returning to the road, we followed it south for a few hundred metres, before branching right and descending through the woods on a footpath, which brought us out by the Millennium Stone in Birchover.

Birchover Millennium Stone
As it was only 2:30pm and the weather was still reasonable, we took a wander up to Rowtor Rocks, which lie behind the Druid Inn, where Colin showed us all the interesting features, including seats carved into the rocks, several caves and a staircase through the middle of the crag.  We had a bit of a tea break at the rocks before returning to the car by around 3:30pm and heading home after a good day's interesting walking.

Rowtor rocks

Saturday 26 November 2011

Glossop to Hope: A Windy Moorland Walk

Distance: 26.5km; Ascent: 770m; Solo

Martin's recent Dark Peak backpack had reminded me that I wanted to take a look at Alport Castles and today I had a free day so I decided to go for a walk past them. However I couldn't use the car today so I plotted a linear route between Glossop and Hope stations, which meant I could use the cheap GMPTE wayfarer ticket. The weather forecast last night wasn't overly inspiring with its talk of gales and rain, so I almost decided not to go! However in the end I headed out soon after 7 this morning to catch the train to Glossop.

So I found myself walking out of Glossop station at 8:30am and wandered through a housing estate, followed by a woodland and park to reach Old Glossop. After almost getting distracted by the brewery, I headed up the track that led out into open country. This was a walled track, which in places looked to have been cobbled a long time ago and in other places just headed over the natural bare gritstone slabs.  After passing through the remains of an old quarry, complete with ruined buildings, I reached the trig point on Cock Hill. This seemed an unusual place for a trig point given it wasn't anywhere near the top of a hill, but I guess it must have been needed due to the moorland nature of the terrain.

Trig point on Cock Hill
I continued to head NE for a few hundred metres on a faint path to reach Glossop Low. Here I picked up a clearer track, which headed SE and E across the moor and had been "improved" with lots of boardwalks and even some bridges over some of the peat groughs! By now the wind was reasonably strong, but no where near as strong as forecast, and it was mostly dry with the cloud above the hills.

Boardwalk and bridge amongst the peat
At Torside Clough, I met the Pennine Way briefly before continuing up the clough to reach the interesting rocks of the Wain Stones. A short stroll NE brought me to the true summit of Bleaklow on top of a grassy knoll close to a large cairn, where I met a couple of fell runners.

The Wain Stones on Bleaklow
The two competing summit cairns on Bleaklow
I headed SE from here in an attempt to pick up the path shown on the OS map but soon gave up and just headed across the open moor. After a while I did find the path, which was clear for a few hundred metres before becoming indistinct. Then I contoured round the slopes to the north of the area ominously marked on the map as "The Swamp"!  After a quick break out of the wind, I crossed a fence and picked up a faint path heading S along The Ridge. After a couple of km this disappeared in a boggy area, and it started to rain. I crossed lots of peat hags and ascended slightly to reach a trig point, raised up on a slight platform and surrounded by water.

Trig point on Westend Moor
After a few more hundred metres, the rain eased so I opted for a quick lunch break in the dry.  The path now ran above the steep slopes that dropped down into Alport Dale, which resulted in a significant increase in wind speed and it was probably now closer to the forecasted speed. The rain soon started again and I opted to only have a quick look at the impressive Alport Castles, which reminded me a bit of High Cup Nick.

Alport Dale
Alport Castles
The path was now significantly clearer and even flagged for some sections as I followed it along the ridge getting constantly buffetted by the strong wind. By now it was clear that my waterproofs needed re-proofing as they had wetted out and I was soaked to the skin in places!  Eventually I reached the path junction and descened southwards into the relative shelter of the woods near Hagg Farm.  After crossing the A57 I dropped down through more woods to cross over the River Ashop at a bridge before ascending through the woods to reach Hope Cross.

River Ashop
By now the rain had mostly stopped and I followed the Roman Road and bridleway SE before dropping down to the S, thus avoiding Win Hill itself. Eventually I reached Hope, where I picked up a take away cake before reaching the station just after 3:30pm. I was glad I had decided to go for the walk as it was still quite enjoyable despite the wind and rain!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Tarn Hows

Distance: 3km; with Lynsey, Isabel, John, Steph & Sierra

Owing to the lack of space in the hostel car park last night, we had had to park in a nearby national park pay & display car park that was free until 8am, although it did have some of those nasty automatic number plate recognition cameras at it's entrance.  Therefore I was up and out of the hostel shortly after dawn to make sure that the car was out of the car park by 8am!  However this did mean that I got to see this fantastic view across Windmere at dawn, with the coloured clouds and moon reflected in the very still water of the lake:

Windermere at dawn
Anyway, now onto today's walk!  We had decided last night that we would go for a shorter walk today and found a very pleasant sounding stroll around Tarn Hows in our ATP walks book.  Therefore we set off walking from the National Trust car park soon after 11am and wandered down to the tarn.

Tarn Hows
It was clearly a popular place to be, but that's not really too surprising as it's a lovely spot combined with today's dry and sunny weather.  The path around the tarn was broad and smooth, which meant for easy pushchairing - no lifting the front wheel over rocks today!  At one point there was a fallen dead tree by the side of the path, which people had hammered coins into for some reason thus creating a money tree!

A money tree!
We continued round to the far end of the tarn, where we stopped for a pleasant picnic lunch at a conveniently placed bench.  As we finished lunch, the sun came out and we strolled through the woods of the Rose Castle Plantation.

Tarn Hows
On the SE side of the tarn, a small promontory was covered in around 50 pine trees with the surrounding area free of trees and instead covered in grass and bracken, making it quite photogenic.

Tarn Hows
We returned to the cars shortly before 2pm and enjoyed ice creams before heading home.  It had been a very enjoyable weekend and it was nice for a change to have come away to the Lakes for the weekend and actually spent the days walking alongside lakes instead of up in the hills (although the hill walking is obviously excellent too!)

Saturday 12 November 2011

Windermere's Western Shore

Distance: 10km (including ferry); with Lynsey, Isabel, John, Steph & Sierra

We were away in the south Lakes for the weekend, with John, Steph & Sierra, taking advantage of a cheap room and dinner offer at Ambleside YHA.  There was a nice sounding walk along the western shore of Windermere in our south Lakes ATP walks book, which we decided to go and do today with Isabel in her rucksack carrier.

We set off walking in the sunshine, from a car park approx 1km south of Bowness town centre, at around 11am and wandered the few hundred metres down to the ferry slipway, stopping en route for John to get his caffeine fix!  The ferry was on the far side of the lake, so we admired the views of the lakes, complete with many boats and a lone swan, whilst we waited.

After what has to be one of the cheapest ferry crossings in the country at only 50p per person, we arrived on the western shore, where there was a helpful sign quoting a phone number to ring in case we get stranded on the wrong side!  We followed the road for a short distance before picking up a path around the edge of a harbour filled with boats.

Looking N along Windermere from near the Ferry House
Harbour on Windermere near the Ferry House
Soon we were back on the road again, although this time it was a quiet, minor road.  We followed the dead-end road heading north alongside the lake, before stopping on the shore for lunch of bread, cheese and fruit at around 12:30ish.  The views were good and the sun even came out towards the end of our lunch break.

Boats by Windermere
Uprooted dead tree on W shore of Windermere
After lunch we soon reached the end of the public road and continued northwards on a good track through the trees.  After a few tens of metres we reached the decision point: the ATP walk turned sharp left here and headed uphill but the track alongside the lake also looked appealing.  We decided to choose both options, starting with the lakeside path first!

Beach on Windermere's western shore
Woodland track along W shore of Windermere
The puddly track climbed slightly as we passed behind a caravan park.  At the high point of the track, Steph turned back whilst the rest of us continued northwards with vague plans to try to reach Wray Castle.  However this proved to be somewhat optimistic given the short daylight hours and the fact that we needed to be back at the hostel for dinner at 5:30pm!  So instead we turned around at the junction near Belle Grange and retraced our steps southwards.

Small stream in Belt Ash Coppice
Upon returning to the bridleway junction near the road-end, we forked right and headed uphill on an old stone track covered in fallen leaves.  The path initially looked to level out after only a very short ascent; however this didn't last for long as we soon continued our upwards climb.

Stone path covered in fallen leaves
After a long haul uphill, the path finally levelled out and we stopped for a quick break.  From here there was a choice of paths and we opted for the left-hand option, which gradually led us back down to the lake shore a short distance from the ferry slipway.

Track back down to the lake
After catching the ferry, we headed back to the hostel for our free dinner of sausage and mash, followed by an evening in the hostel with suitable refreshments purchased from the hostel bar, which unfortunately were in bottled form as they hadn't bothered to put any beers on their 3 hand pumps.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Bleaklow in the Sunshine

Distance: 8km; Ascent: 130m; with Lynsey & Isabel

After a very misty start to the day, it was bright and sunny as we set off walking north along the Pennine Way from the top of Snake Pass at around 10:15am.  It was a little bit windy, but otherwise a fine day, so we had decided to head for Bleaklow Head this morning with Isabel on my back.

Higher Shelf Stones across tarn from Snake Pass
Hope Woodlands Moor
The wide path headed in pretty much a straight line across the moorland before dropping ever so slightly to cross the Doctor's Gate path.  Soon we started heading through peat hags, which whilst they limited the views, they did provide some welcome shelter from the northerly wind.

Pennine Way through the peat hags
After crossing another more open area of moorland, we dropped down into Hern Clough, which we followed almost all the way to the summit.  The path hugged the small peaty stream for around the next kilometre, crossing it several times.  It was relatively warm for the the time of year down in the clough, out of the wind, and we eyed up several possible spots to stop for lunch on the way back down.

In Hern Clough
We reached the large cairn, complete with stake, on Bleaklow head at around 11:45am, which was Isabel's first 2000ft peak.  Having seen hardly anyone else for the last hour or so, we met several small groups of walkers on the summit in the space of 5-10 minutes, some of whom mistook me for a Pennine Way backpacker due to the size of my rucksack!

Bleaklow Head cairn
After taking a few photos, we turned around and began retracing our steps.  Around half an hour after leaving the summit we stopped for a leisurely lunch break in the shelter of Hern Clough.  After lunch we continued down Hern Clough, admiring the views out over the moors to the east, before climbing ever so slightly up to Alport Low.

On Alport Low
Soon we could pick out the row of cars parked at the top of the Snake, so we knew we didn't have too much further to go.  After passing through a final area of peat hags, the path headed across the open moor heading for the road, with good views over the surrounding moors and across to Manchester in the distance.  We reached the car at around 1:30pm after a very pleasant sunny moorland walk.

Shelf Moor and Gathering Hill from the Pennine Way

Tuesday 1 November 2011

An Autumnal Stroll Alongside the Goyt

Distance: 3km; with Isabel

It was a lovely sunny day in Stockport, so I decided to go and explore the section of the Etherow - Goyt Valley Way near Vernon and Woodbank parks, which is somewhere I've been thinking of going to for a while.  I set off from the Vernon Park car park with Isabel in the backpack soon after 9:30am and headed down a leaf covered stepped path to reach the Way running along the river bank.

River Goyt near Vernon Park
We turned right and followed the path past quite a few low branches, which required me to duck frequently due to the height of the backpack!  At one point there were good views across to Pear Mill, on the other side of the river, home to an indoor play centre and a climbing wall.

Pear Mill and the River Goyt
There was now a large meander in the river, which the path followed until we reached a small weir across the river.  Here the path started to veer away from the river, became made of tarmac and gradually started to ascend.

Weir on the River Goyt near Woodbank Memorial Park
Soon we reached the large open grassy area, dotted with trees, that makes up the main section of Woodbank Memorial Park.  The trees looked spectacular in their autumnal colours lit up in the sunshine.  We returned to the car along the broad, long track through the centre of the park, reaching the car around an hour after leaving it.  It had been a pleasant stroll, although obviously a complete contrast to my previous few posts about my Cairngorm backpack!

Tree in Woodbank Memorial Park
Woodbank Memorial Park