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!

A November day spent around Ladybower Reservoir

26th May 2020

If it not for other intrusions, there could have been many an account from previous years making their appearances on here in an effort to clear a backlog. Some even might have thought it to be a retrospective like what Cairngorm Wanderer is doing, but that would be the wrong impression. Other missives might have share sunny moments from those previously limited opportunities for outdoor exercise like what Tarmachan Mountaineering has been doing. Alas, the worries of the moment overwhelmed me so it only is now that I am getting to flesh out this post for your perusal.

Thankfully, things are looking up a little now and the Spring Bank Holiday weekend saw me finding emptier corners for solitary relaxation. As you would expect, they turned up in some lesser frequented spots like around Pott Shrigley, Rainow, Higher Sutton, Bosley and North Rode. Each did me the world of good and there was no need to deal with human encounters given the added alertness required of the time in which we find ourselves.

Back in November 2017, none of this could be foreseen, and my task then was to recuperate and recharge after a stressful few years that life had sent me. When opportunities arose, I got out then and found quieter spots, but encounters with humanity had none of the edge that they do nowadays. The stroll described here had an immediate forebear and shared with it echoes of my early efforts at hill wandering. That came from my first-ever encounter with Ladybower Reservoir being on Holy Saturday in 2002 and this hike allowed plenty of time to admire that attractively placed body of water.

Returning to Easter 2002, the whole weekend had me spending a lot of time in the Peak District. It started on Holy Thursday when I tried out the Doctor’s Gate Footpath and a little part of the Pennine Way before returning to Glossop. Good Friday then was spent around Glossop and nearby Hadfield with a first visit to Longdendale, a place which appealed to me in spite of the electricity pylons. Though the collection of reservoirs hardly were so intrusive, I was left wondering how it might have appeared before they were built, and any appearances have done nothing to forestall return visits.

Ladybower Dam, Yorkshire Bridge, Derbyshire, England

Though it similarly is a piece of human landscape engineering, that thought about wildness in Longdendale never really enters my mind when it comes to Ladybower Reservoir. The more natural appearance of the setting might have something to do with it and the absence of electricity pylons has to help as much as sights of steep-sided valleys with fingers of water reaching into them. At least, that is how it always seems to me whenever I think of this area and the photos accompanying this piece of writing may confirm that.

In many ways, the hike from November 2017 that is described here also reprised parts of a journey taken on a damp autumn day in another of the early years of this century. Then, the day improved as I continued all the way to Edale, but the 2017 counterpart had no such need as it remained sunny all the way until sunset.

Looking west along Woodlands Valley, Hope, Derbyshire, England

Crook Hill, Ashopton, Derbyshire, England

Ashopton Viaduct, Ashopton, Derbyshire, England

Wheel Stones, Ashopton, Derbyshire, England

Both walks, though separated by more than a decade, took a similar course: on arriving at Hope train station, I started to make my way towards Win Hill. It may have been a place that I have visited on numerous but every time has been different. Such is the spread of seasons and variability of weather that it is difficult if not impossible to see it and its surroundings in the same kind of light more than once.

This time, my chosen route took me past Ryecroft and Thornhill Carrs on a variety of footpaths chosen to reach the top of Win Hill from the east. As I went over the top, the views all around and below me looked resplendent in the autumn sunshine. That I was not stopped in my track by the sights would be a surprise except that I had a circuit in mind before nightfall so that kept me moving, but the scenery was much enjoyed too, and the portfolio included views over Bamford and Yorkshire Bridge towards Stanage Edge as well as what you see above.

View east from Wooler Knoll, Hope, Derbyshire, England

Crookstone Out Moor, Edale, Derbyshire, England

Once over the summit, I dropped down to Hope Cross, after which I started my descent to reach the River Ashop in the Woodlands Valley. From there, I continued to Ladybower Dam while enjoying the fading light of day and with my legs feeling less energetic than might have been desired. There was nothing for the task but keep going up and down as the track shadowed the shoreline. Along the way, a farmer was out to see his livestock while my journey continued.

At the dam, curiosity overcame any physical fatigue to see where the northern end of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way was to be found before retracing my steps and following it as far as the A6187. All the while, daylight faded to darkness and my head torch was used not only for navigating the gloaming but also in the dark of night, with a field being negotiated without rancour or error.

That added challenge may have cost me time on the way to Bamford train station though and I missed a train departure by a mere minute. The next day came sunny too, as if niggles come in pairs. However, the fact that I had enjoyed a superb day out was more than enough recompense for any forgettable irritations.

Travel Commentary

A day when the railways faced major disruptions hardly was one to travel from Macclesfield to Hope for a walk in the Dark Peak but no one was to know ahead of time and it did not delay my arrival in any event. As it happened, the journey home was slightly blighted by my missing a train at Bamford by less than a minute. That forced a wait of an hour for me, and getting back to Macclesfield from Manchester also was complicated by disruption elsewhere in the rail network. Even so, rail travel travails on that day have done nothing to deter me from trying again; these things ebb and flow.

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