Spending a day going from Bamford to Hathersage via Stanage Edge7th June 2020
Not only does this trip report the last of a trilogy describing three different visits to the Peak District during the autumn of 2017, but it also is the last one from that year that still needed writing. 2018 is next and 2019 follows, though my hill wandering appears to have stopped mid-year for a number of reasons that I can recall readily at this moment. Still, these were different times compared to what we are going through at the moment, so it is good to be transported. Hopefully, we can enjoy more like them again sooner rather than later. Old memories are most useful, but the collection always needs augmenting.
After days spent around the Great Ridge and Ladybower Reservoir, another idea prompted me to devote one to the countryside around Stanage Edge, and that is what this trip report describes. It was a return after a break extending back to the early years of the century, there were several day trips to this part of the world, and they brought home to me how hard it can be to find a marked right of way on pathless ground. There are times when general direction of travel is all you need, so map and compass work without so much regard for legality is then the way to proceed.
That meant there was an experiment ahead of me on arriving in Bamford, though I picked my way along lanes at the start. Designs on going up a bridleway through Bamford Clough were dashed by signs indicating excavations as part of maintenance works on the electricity supply network. Others were more courageous (or foolhardy, depending on what lay ahead of them) while I stuck with tarmac tramping for a little longer before I found an alternative footpath leading me from Ashopton Road to New Road, thus achieving a not dissimilar outcome. Doing so might have granted me less restricted views of my surroundings, though, and one of those appears above.
Eventually, I found the desired path that would lead me away from New Road and into the wilder emptier countryside that I planned to revisit after such a long absence, especially since it was to grant me ample amounts of the solitude that I so needed at the time. It also was bringing some challenging route finding that I wanted to use for testing GPS navigation on a fine crisp clear sunny day, albeit one with a stiff chilling wind to give the endeavour more of a wintry feel.
Going through abandoned quarry works that nature was reclaiming proved a little too intricate for dependence on a GPS receiver, but added map consultation and backtracking to salve any qualms at lack of route adherence were sufficient to achieve the required combination of peace of mind and onward progress.
Eventually, it was time to cross pathless moorland, with some useful features like walls being so broken down that their visibility and usefulness get diminished. That though sends my mind back to a laden with memories of unguided cross-country tramping in failing light that eventually landed me in Bamford after scaring me more than a little. That day, banks of heather started to look like walls, so that is why their appearance on an OS map may not give you the handrails that you need. This was no saunter for those who depend on human landmarks for way finding guidance.
Such mirages were not to present themselves as I used the GPS to find the right line on the ground as I continued towards Stanage Edge over ground that at times had the consistency of a soggy bog. Neither waist-high rushes together, or dead bracken were to drive me from my course as I made my way from Bamford Moor to Moscar Moor and then onto Stanage End. The chill of the way was inescapable, so headgear and gloves were pressed into service, along with the warm fleece that I was wearing.
Though offering plenty of solitary hiking, the endeavour brought a time penalty since it was clear that it was nearer the end of the hours of daylight than was ideal. While the supposed proximity of the urban outskirts of Sheffield offered a possible alternative, I stuck with a return to Hathersage that took me past High Neb and along Stanage Edge itself. Light was declining all the while as I traipsed the trail, with some parts being boggier than others. None did anything to take away from the satisfaction of the stroll.
As the day approached the onset of its gloaming, I left Stanage Edge and the route of the Sheffield County Walk, to drop onto a byway that would lead me towards Dennis Knoll. As I did so, climbers were coming away from crags where they had spent time on what was a sunny day, one that lured out many an outdoors enthusiast. It was as if I were in the midst of other outdoor lovers at either end of my walk.
After Dennis Knoll, I resolved to stay on the lane descending all the way into Hathersage as some insurance against the looming loss of daylight with its attendant need for use of a head torch to light one’s way. There are times when things need to be kept simple, though it was only on the outskirts of Hathersage itself that I recall losing all daylight. Finding my way through the village after recovering from a minor route deviation, I was at its train station in plenty of time before the next train to Manchester, so I was repeating what had happened in Bamford the previous Sunday when I missed a train by mere minutes. A two-hour wait was avoided (a new timetable halved service frequency) so I could begin my journey home after a satisfying day laden with good memories.
Outbound train journey from Macclesfield to Bamford followed by a return journey from Hathersage to Macclesfield with both having changes of train at Manchester.
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