Peak District Weekend - 5/6 April 2014

Following a suggestion by Gerry and suitable encouragement from Maureen 15 of us eventually signed up for a weekend walking in the Peak District from Bretton Youth Hostel. It was with some trepidation that we gathered on the Friday, some of us having walked during the day others straight from work - Would we all get on together for a full weekend? Are we fit enough for the hills? Are there dragons this far north? Will it rain all weekend? The answers are yes, yes, no and not all. But for those of you who wish to read on…….

We arrived during the Friday afternoon, found a bunk and a cup of tea and sat down to chew the fat (and the cakes) in front of the log fire. We eventually decided that, having already tested the fire alarm, we ought to do something about a meal. Maureen had bought pizzas, potatoes and coleslaw for the meal but various people had also brought along extras so we settled down to some homemade parsnip soup with bread, had our pizza, jacket and salad and finished with a selection of cheese cakes, fruit pies, pastries and other cakes along with a selection of tea, coffee and wine. Suitably refreshed we continued to discuss the important matters usually prevalent on the minds of TV group members (I can’t remember a thing about it except outbursts of laughter) until it was time to retire to our bunks.

Saturday morning arrived early as we sorted out the logistics of 15 people washing, having various breakfasts and getting ready for a 9.00 start. With Maureen cracking the whip we surprised Gerry by being ready by 8.45, 14 of us walking and one doing their own thing for the day. The day started well enough with a cloudy sky but not actually raining while we set off across Abney Low, Offerton Moor and alongside the river Noe to Bamford where we stopped for coffee. By this time we had been exposed to the sun, rain, mist and cloud, what would the weather eventually do? Suitably refreshed we set off, up the slipperiest steep track I can remember, towards and then along Bamford Edge where the rain decided now that there was no shelter it would begin in earnest. Undeterred, and with Gerry assuring us that there were fine views of Ladybower reservoir to be had, we crossed Jarvis Clough and along Hordron Edge to drop down to the A57 to the end of Stanage Edge. Now buoyed up by Gerry’s assertion that we were nearing lunch (just at the top, not far now) we eventually sheltered behind the only wall in the correct orientation to act as a wind and rain break. Lunch was a fairly short stop and we were soon back on the edge (both literally and metaphorically) with Gerry again assuring us that there were fine views to be had. Dropping down off the edge we stopped at the road (welcome public toilets) then set off across the hills to Hathersage for tea. Here people split into their natural elements (café, ice cream shop or outdoor shop) then reassembled for the relatively short hop via Hoghall, Highlow Brook and Bretton Clough back to the YH. It was a surprise to find that the route was only 19 miles as it seemed much further (if we allowed for all the slipping and sliding it probably was) but the 4500 feet of ascent could have explained some of the tiredness. We all enjoyed the day, well no-one said they didn’t, and set about showering (2 showers between 15 of us), hot drinks and cake in front of the log fire again. I’m not sure if someone organised these things or they just happened but everyone seemed to muck in and we were quickly clean and refreshed. Enquiries were made at the local pub but 15 for dinner on a Saturday night was too much for them. By now the thought of leaving the fire to eat out was getting less and less appealing, fortunately someone had the bright idea of take away fish and chips. With enough cheese cake, fruit and cakes remaining we settled on the chippy, phoned through an order and collected it. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of the weekend. An informal meal on our own, with enough wine still left, we had a really good evening of eating, drinking and chatter. It was now raining hard and the forecast for the following day was worse than Saturday so we went to bed to get a good night’s sleep in the expectation of 12 miles in the constant rain.

We awoke on Sunday morning to a damp day, but not really raining yet, we breakfasted and packed ready for our departure at lunchtime. Someone else decided not to walk with us today but offered to clear up after we had gone out so again we were 14 strong on the walk. This time we set off east from the YH past Sir William Hill (what were the odds on that happening?) and back to Hoghall and Hathersage by a different route. This time we went through to Hathersage Booths, Upper Padley and along Derwent Valley, stopping at Grindleford for coffee. But where was the threatened rain? This was turning out to be a good walking day; dry, not too hot and a slight breeze, although it was still very muddy underfoot following the overnight rain. We continued along the Derwent Valley to Froggatt where we headed off up the hill past Riley Graves into Eyam where the ice cream parlour experienced a sudden rush. Several of us had not been to Eyam before, we knew about the plague and the villagers’ brave stance but as you walk through the village there are signs on the houses recording who died in that fairly short period and it certainly brought the history home. Continuing up out of Eyam (and I mean up) we hit the road and walked back to Bretton YH, a nice half day 12 miles in good walking weather. Then just time for a final cuppa and cake before departing for our various homes.

An enjoyable weekend and I believe well worth repeating another time and maybe somewhere else. We got to know each other a little better than just a few hours walking, we found some common interests outside walking and we had the pleasure of new walking territory. Thanks to Gerry and Maureen for all their work organising this weekend and thanks to everyone there for their company and for making it such a good weekend.

Ron Doole

Photos by Steve Mee, Ron Doole and Anne Mograby