A Trek from Tintwistle (3/07/2106)

A Trek from Tintwistle
I’m down for the Wenlock 100K in a fortnight, so this 26-mile walk, led by Peter Whitehead and listed in Strider magazine as ‘demanding’, might be useful training.There aren’t many punters, only 6 of us setting off; 3 Peters, (including me), Duncan, (from Staffs), and 2 ladies, Gill and Zara. A number of the usual suspects are either walking wounded or away, while the distance of well over 20 miles on awkward ground may have deterred others. Peter W. did a recce recently and says we’re in for a squelch after all the recent heavy showers. 
So it soon proves, as we traverse round to Lad’s Leap. Things improve underfoot for a while once we’ve descended to the Pennine Way. Much of the subsequent ascent to Laddow Rocks, (where we take morning coffee with the brave ones peering over the edge), and on to Black Hill being on stone flags.  
On Mill Hill we meet Peter the Ranger who gives us a talk on the early local mountain rescues. When folk came to grief up here and the local villagers were informed, they would knock on doors, get some kit together and attempt a rescue. After this had happened a number of times, they decided to keep a central store of the necessary gear, which greatly reduced the delay before a rescue could be mounted. Hence was born the country’s first mountain rescue service. He also tells us that there has been some £13 million of funding to rescue the moor, which is now green instead of the morass of bare black peat it was when Wainwright wrote his Pennine Way guidebook. Further money will be forthcoming and this will be used to try and return the moor to a cover of sphagnum moss in the hope that, as the years go by, the underlying peat blanket may be regenerated - an encouraging and unusual example of foresight and long term planning. 
It’s quite chilly up here with nowhere to hide from the stiff breeze for some time. It would be grim in bad weather. Now we face a real bog-trot back down to Crowden. It’s 6Km and seems to take ages. We meet a number of heavily laden people coming up - doing the Pennine Way by the old route - rather them than me. 
Bird life seems a bit sparse, but on 2 occasions we had a Meadow Pipit fluttering along the path ahead of us, to draw us away from its nest; we heard a Golden Plover and a couple of Skylarks and saw a Kestrel and a solitary Grouse.
We pause near the bottom for lunch, sitting on stone blocks at the Brockholes Wood quarry, where a spell of warm sunshine has been arranged.
There’s another quick pit stop in the shop and loo by Crowden. Jill’s boots have been disintegrating and she now has wet and blistered feet. She decides to cut her losses here and make her way along the valley back to her car. Sadly, that means Zara, who has been going well, will also have to leave, as they arrived together. Thus is the South Manchester tradition of losing a walker en route maintained, though dropping two seems a touch excessive.  
Now we men get the bit between our teeth to try and make up some lost time. We’re still only about halfway and it’s taken us over 6 hours; at this rate we might not finish before 8:30. 
Pushing on up Torside Clough we  start to catch up on the schedule, though I’m finding it hard work. Duncan, the next oldest member of the group after me, is 7 years younger than I am and his pace is similar to mine. The other two are younger still and it shows. They soon pull well ahead of us, but we manage to claw back some of that lead once the gradient eases. We’re virtually back on Peter’s 10½ hour goal by the time we all reach Bleaklow Head. 
It’s all downhill now, says our leader, and, as we wend our way along the Pennine Way towards the Snake Road and then down Doctor’s Gate, we believe him. We should have known better. After Old Glossop there’s a sting in the tail couple of hundred feet of ascent over to Padfield, with a nettle patch thrown in, plus a last bit of mud to ensure our shoes are suitably mucky as we reach the cars. We finish soon after 6:30 - not too late, after all. It’s been a good day and a useful workout for me.
Peter Schick