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2015 Results

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2015 Event. Peter Whitehead Reports

Peter Whitehead gives an entrants view of the 2015 Goyt Valley Challenge:-

The Goyt Valley Challenge, Sunday 4thOctober 2015

24.2 miles and 13.3 miles. Organised by South Manchester LDWA 

It was still dark as I picked up my friend, Simon, from Hadfield for the drive over to Buxton for the start of the 1st GVC. Dawn had broken by the time we parked up in a large field a few hundred yards from the event venue at the Burbage Institute. Even though a little mist and low cloud were lingering in the Buxton basin, we were reassured by a very good weather forecast for the day, with no rain. This was particularly encouraging as the weather the previous day had been pretty poor, with almost no visibility on the hills. We’d decided to walk the longer route (to be completed in under 11 hours) and had printed off the nine Wainwright-style linear maps as our guide. The maps turned out to be a joy to use as they not only provided a perfect description of the route, but were full of interesting facts and amusing comments. After a quick registration, and having attached the clip sheets to our rucksacks, we gathered with well over 100 other keen walkers a short distance away from the BI for the official starting point. At 8.00am we were on our way out of town, along pavements scattered with the first leaves of Autumn. As this was Buxton, we were already at 1000 feet above sea level and so it was a gentle climb up along dry woodland paths, through the Country Park, to the first self-clip point at Solomon’s Temple (1370 feet ASL). 1.4 miles completed. We were now in open countryside and we already had good views of the hills and Buxton below us as we headed west across the fields. I was glad that I’d worn shorts, rather than trousers, as the day was already warming up and the sun was breaking through the early morning cloud. Watched by grazing cows and sheep we made our way along the grassy paths, over stiles and through gates for about a mile, before turning south over Anthony Hill along farm tracks. We were never in doubt of the route as it had all been very well marked with strategically placed GVC arrows, as well as red-and-white plastic strips on bamboo poles. After passing between the sinister looking buildings of the Health and Safety Flame and Explosion Laboratory, we continued south west along tracks and narrow footpaths, through woods and over Leap Edge before joining a tarmac road that took us up to the first proper checkpoint at a layby on the A53. 4.2 miles completed. There was a great selection of cakes, biscuits and sweets for us to munch on. I like Battenberg cake! Refuelled, we then climbed north up to Axe Edge Moor, over 1650 feet ASL. On a wet day this could well have been boggy terrain, but not today thankfully. The views were now beautiful in all directions and the weather was near perfect, the blue sky almost cloudless and with barely a breeze. After negotiating narrow grass paths for the next couple of miles we started the descent down Berry Clough, scrambling through thick bracken before crossing the River Goyt at the Packhorse Bridge. We were now less than 1000 feet ASL and on the flat for a while as we walked along the serene woodland path next to the river. Further paths led us to the second checkpoint at the Errwood Reservoir car park. 8.5 miles completed in just under 2.5 hours. No rush as it was such a lovely day. The food available at this checkpoint, thanks to the wonderful volunteers, was incredible: all the usual things plus homemade cakes, sausage rolls, cheese and onion pasties, pork pies, etc. Great coffee too. It seemed a shame to leave. The next section of the walk was probably the most demanding in that it was a long uphill (15-20% gradient) climb to Shining Tor (1830 feet ASL), where there was another self-clip checkpoint. And more friendly volunteers. The runners (who had started at 9.00am) had already begun to overtake us. Impressive. We probably watched about 30 of them go by before the end of the event. By now Simon and I were down to just short sleeve tops, and remained so for the rest of the day. The route then took us briefly along a paved section, before heading steeply down a moorland track in the direction of Lamaload Reservoir. Unfortunately Simon’s shins started to give him some trouble on this descent and from then on he had to take the more demanding downhills slowly, sometimes walking almost sideways! After a mile or two of grassy, peat tracks we reached the eastern side of the reservoir. We then made our way over stiles and through woods around the north of the reservoir before a fairly steep ascent up a pretty, gorse-lined path to Yearns Low farm. More tracks, paths and roads through open fields then took us past Clews Head farm to the third checkpoint on Smith Lane. 13.5 miles completed. And more delicious Battenberg cake. After passing Blue Boar farm we then entered an open meadow and encountered the trickiest part of the walk. Ahead of us was a very boggy pasture and we had to work our way carefully through it before a steep descent down a narrow path to Summer Close farm. Poor Simon and his shins! The route then became very varied, with many stiles, gates and changes of terrain. Thank you Map 6 for being an excellent guide on this section. We arrived at checkpoint four (Kettleshume Primary school) just before 1pm. 16.4 miles completed. Soup and hot dogs were on offer inside. Then we were back out into the golden glow of the afternoon autumn sunshine. This walk could never be described as boring as the next couple of miles up to, and south along, Taxal Edge seemed to have a bit of everything, including lovely views of Windgather Rocks and the surrounding countryside. For some reason the easy descent to Fernilee reservoir, in the Goyt Valley, via Hurst Clough felt particularly enjoyable. (Strangely, maybe, it was at this point that I suddenly felt that there was probably nowhere else I’d rather be at that moment. That was a very nice feeling.) Having crossed over the dam, we then walked the length of the reservoir, rounded Bunsall Cob, and continued on a path above Errwood reservoir, before reaching another self-clip checkpoint on a bridge over Wildmoorstone brook. We then had a steep climb to the fifth checkpoint at Goyt Lane. 21.9 miles completed. As we only had 2.3 miles to go to the finish we decided not to take advantage of the fruit and cakes on offer, but gratefully refilled our water bottles. The last leg of the walk was a gentle stroll along what had been the route of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, before going over Burbage Edge and then down Bishops Lane to the finish at the Burbage Institute. It had taken us 7 hours 41 minutes to complete the GVC. We sat down on a bench in the BI, and as we tucked into our baked potatoes and chilli (thank you) and picked up our attractive-looking certificates, we reflected on the fact that it had been an excellent day. The weather had certainly been kind to us. It would have been a very different walk on a rainy, windy day. Simon and I thanked as many of the fantastic volunteers and organisers of the event as we could. It had been a brilliantly organised day.


I later found out that 122 walkers and runners completed the long route and 33 the short route. A video of the whole route has been posted on YouTube by San Tou. He ran the 24.2 miles in 5 hours and 48 minutes. It’s all on there!