This short trip report covers my progress in getting back into walking after a three week lay off due to illness. It also gives some background information with relevant links to accommodation and activities in the Peak District National Park. A truly lovely part of the UK, (see links section below). Not touched on here are the adjoining Derbyshire Dales that fall generally to the South of the main Peaks, and generally go under the name of the White Peaks. Another superb UK walking area that I will do Trip Report about before too long.
A poor summer and Autumn
2009 had started very well so far as my hill and mountain walking was concerned. Several really great winter trips to Snowdonia. And, into the Spring, a lovely long weekend with SP’s very own Lolli in Snowdonia. But come the summer a ’flue like bug that has plagued me on and off for close on 30 years decided to come and stay. So my normally reduced walking in the warmer months, (you can rarely call them hot months here in the UK!), was down even on a normal summer. By the Autumn I was getting going again, but with the bug always not far away. Slowing me down and making every walk quite a struggle at times. Then came late November when my daily training walks should have been building up to get my overweight body into some sort of shape for more visits to a hopefully wintry Snowdonia. But no! The bug attacked me harder than it had done for a number of years and I suddenly found myself confined to my house and not having done any walking at all for nearly three weeks. Not what I wanted as mid December approached, and with me booked back into Snowdonia for the whole of the Christmas and New Year period.
Walking companion to the rescue
High point of our gentle walk on the Sunday was this old hunting tower on the Chatsworth Estate.
I am very fortunate to have a small number of lovely people who walk with me from time to time. One is our Lolli from SP.
Another a very fit woman who specialises in long distance walking when ever she gets the chance, although she is nice enough to do short day walks with me from time to time.
And then there is a lovely lady who lives in the Peak District National Park which is largely in Derbyshire, UK, (but also extends into Staffordshire and Yorkshire). She had kept in touch while I was laid up with my bug, and as I started to improve she suggested I went to Derbyshire to spend a couple of days doing some gentle “recovery” walks with her. A suggestion immediately accepted.
So, still feeling far from 100% I set out from home early on a Sunday morning for the four hour drive to Derbyshire.
Some thought had already been given to the walk we were to do that Sunday afternoon, and it wasn’t long before we headed off together to the very large Chatsworth Estate. A typically large UK Stately Home set in an enormous area of rolling countryside which included a number of walking trails plus a higher level that looks down onto the House and the river that runs through the estate.
Typical of my thoughtful Derbyshire walking companion was the route she had chosen. A gentle uphill start on tarmac, “so you can just get yourself going again without having to worry about what your feet are doing”. Then an easy footpath to a high point circa 500 feet above our start. Followed by a circular down and up section in some woodland, passing the Hunting Tower that I was told can be rented at a fairly heft price for overnight stays!
We headed back to an earlier high point and I decided my energy was running out, so we took a direct route back to the car park.
A gentle 3 hour walk, that left me very tired. But able to enjoy a lovely meal with my walking companion, and an early night in the B&B I was staying in. Then over 8 hours of solid and much needed sleep.
A longer walk up onto two small Peak Edges
I felt a lot better after that very restful night, and whilst I was nowhere near fit enough to tackle a big Peak District Edge, my very considerate walking companion had worked out a walk that would continue to help my recovery.
Nelson's Monument on the top of Birchen Edge.
Highland cattle grazing near Blake Brook and a long way from their Scottish home! Wellington's Monument is not far from that of Nelson!
In dullish weather we started from near the Robin Hood pub, (Baslow), and after a gentle uphill section did the few steep rocky metres to take us to the top of one of the Peak Districts smallest Edges, Birchen Edge.
A gently uphill path took us past Nelson’s Monument, before we descended off the Edge and down towards Blake Brook.
I was feeling a lot easier on the walk than I had on the previous day, and enjoyed the gentle slope up to Wellington’s Monument. On the way passing a small herd of Highland cattle that for some reason had been brought here to graze from their native Scotland.
For me the next part was the best of the entire walk. A muddy and slippery descent though an ancient oak woodland that was on the side of a hill. A hill littered with moss covered rocks and boulders on the North facing slope.
Ancient woodland on a rocky hill side near to Baslow Edge.
It didn’t matter that it was a dull and cold winter day. I just enjoyed the woodland and the fact I was feeling a lot better for my exertions.
Another old woodland on the way to the top of Gardom’s Edge.
We stopped for our lunch in the woods before heading on down to the valley floor, passing some wonderful gardens close to the Sheffield Road. Then we were into more lovely woodlands and a gentle climb to the top of Gardom’s Edge.
For ten minutes I pushed myself at a more lively pace as we gained height, and could feel my old strength returning. What a relief that was after nearly three weeks of no walking. All too soon we were on top of the small Edge and heading back to the car park. Just under fours hours of walking, and this time I felt I had a good hour more of hiking left in the tank.
I left my companion and the lovely area she lives in on the Tuesday morning. Thanks to her I had got walking again, and whilst I still had the residue of the damned bug in my system, I felt I was on the road to recovery. And that provided I continued to pace myself gently I should be in a position to start much more strenuous mountain walking over Christmas and the New Year in the Snowdonian mountains of Wales.
Peak District Information
Despite the name “Peak”, these are not sharp pointed mountains. Indeed by the English definition of a mountain, (a summit 2,000 feet above sea level), there are only two actual mountains in the area. But plenty of “Edges”. Steep rocky cliffs that are a delight to climbers, scramblers and those who enjoy bouldering. Many linked by a superb network of paths and trails for those of us who walk and hike. Often starting down in a valley or below an Edge in a small village that typically will have a pub and at least one place where a decent light lunch can be enjoyed. Along with cream teas of course for those languid summer afternoons!
Accommodation is available to suit most tastes. From very friendly and reasonably priced Bed and Breakfast rooms up to very expensive and no doubt well appointed hotels. Plus plenty of camping opportunities.
For anyone arriving in the area short of walking gear the lovely small town of Bakewell, (it’s hardly bigger than a large village), has plenty of shops to stock up. But beware of Mondays as that is market day, (including a cattle market), and parking can be a problem. And of course Bakewell is home to the world famous Bakewell Puddings. You will have to make your own mind up as to which of the shops making and selling it locally do indeed make the very best in town.
Links to accommodation and activities
Both these first two links should you quite good information on the area, plus an idea of the wide range of accommodation. Including camp sites, available for visitors.
Peak District National Park
Visit Peak District
To search out various outdoor activities in the Peak District this site looks quite useful:-
Activities in the Peak District
And of course there is an SP page on the area as well, to be found at:-
Summitpost Peak District Page
Plus a Wikipedia page that gives a great deal of information on this lovely part of the UK.
Wikipedia Peak District Page