Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Dry weather promised; rain found

17th December 2009

My last visit to Scotland was with tempered expectations but only visited voluntary dampness upon me. Sunday’s trot in Derbyshire was predicted to be dry but turned wet from the east when I might have been hoping for a bit more in the way of sun. Was it an example of the weather playing up at weekends or hill country confounding predictions yet again? Whatever might be the answer to that teaser, I was in no mood to let a bit of dampness spoil a good day’s walking and it didn’t.

The yomp started at Edale’s train station and it looks now that I must have been displaying signs of a sense of purpose. Was that why two young ladies thought that I knew where I was going and asked where short strolls might be found? Whether I should have done so or not, I pointed them towards the grassy stuff beyond the Nag’s Head inn where there is gentler walking than on the nearby moors. That might have been my trusting their possession of good sense but I thought that I saw them again on the train back to Manchester so I couldn’t have done them much in the way of harm.

Grindslow Knoll, Edale, Derbyshire, England

Looking over maps can trigger moments of indecision that need to be cinched and my pondering this Derbyshire outing was no different. Though my first destination was Mam Tor, the option of going directly heading for Hollins Cross was in the back of my mind too, once I put a stop to any indecision. As it happened, I stayed on a bridleway for the “shivering mountain” that I should have used on a previous hike from Castleton to Edale but didn’t, for some reason, lost in the gathering mists of time. My course followed Harden Clough before I detoured around by Greenlands to make my way past the not inappropriately named Cold Side; it is north facing, after all. There were occasional parties of walkers and cyclists going the way, but these were nothing intrusive and spotty sunshine did its bit for the hillsides.

Going up on Mam Tor meant encountering a mix of occasional walkers, regular ramblers and spots of rain. There had been signs of murk upon the Ladybower and Derwent moors even as I started out but I paid them no heed. The plan was to make the best of the conditions, come what may. That murky dampness did make me don waterproofs but it was no real encumbrance to the prepared. In any case, an escape from Hollins Cross was always a possibility if things ever got too annoying. They never did and I took a chance on getting to Hope train station.

Back Tor looked more impressive than my memories of its crags would have suggested. The occasional hang glider was out and about but a fine sunny summer day would have drawn more of its kind. Later, the air dried up, and the sun made vain efforts to light up the land about me. Even so, any designs that I may have had on engaging in aerial photography of Castleton and Hope would have to await another day.

When I reached the top of Lose Hill, I began to wonder whether making the 15:39 from Hope station to Manchester was asking too much. In the end, I amazed myself by getting from the hill top to the train station in 35 minutes and that gave me a few minutes to wait before the train appeared as well; it was as if I had been travelling by fairy wind. It does leave me wondering about my perception of my own walking speed, but that may be tempered by the amount of travel over rough ground that I do. Regardless of my wonderment, it was a good way to end a good afternoon out in the fresh air. That I had mixed fortunes with the weather doesn’t even come into it.

Travel details:

Return train trip from Macclesfield to Edale with a change in Manchester.


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