Tuesday - New Years DayI had to work during the day on NYE so we headed up in the evening to stay with Mike. It was slightly odd travelling on trains which were so quiet. It didn't take up too long to get there and we didn't stay up much past midnight as we had walking plans the next day.
We met up with Clan Joester for a walk in the White Peak. I'd forgotten my camera for the whole trip so all the photos in this blog are Mikes. The sun was shining which was a rare surprise given the weather we'd had over Christmas. I'd been feeling ill a few days before going away and still wasn't feeling great on the walk. I nearly joined in with the kids groans when I saw we had to go up the steep hill which is Thorpe Cloud.
It was very windy on the top so we didn't stop for long, we headed down the steep slippery slope towards the river. The combination of steep slope, wet grass and slipperly lime stone was too much for my boots and I bumped down onto my bum and bounced down the slope. Only Emma was close enough to laugh at my misfortune!
Looking down at the river which was in fast flow
Dovedale was awesome full of big dramatic cliffs and hollows
We stopped and had lunch in one of the caves. I was still feeling really sick and could only manage a banana and cereal bar, which probably wasn't great for me as my energy levels was then pretty low for the rest of the walk. I was glad when Joe suggested that we head back long the otherside of the river when we reached our crossing point.(rather than going back up high as planned)
We headed uphill on a path which said it was impassable in wet weather. It seemed okay so we had a bit of a laugh about the unnecessary sign. As we continued up we passed a group of people who gave us grave warnings about how bad the path was further on down. We chose to ignore them and carried on regardless, we were joking about how the path wasn't all that bad until we got further down the river and the path went into the river for a few metres. This meant wet boots for Abi and I as we helped respective kids over the wet bit. Boots emptied out it was onwards, unfortunately this meant upwards through a muddy woodland path out onto the fields to descend a nice grassy ridge. We were going to bag another mini hill but the weather looked like it was coming in so we abandoned that plan to scurry back to the cars. We ended our day in the pub which Emma enjoyed as they sold haribo :)
I'd love to return to Dovedale when I'm feeling less shattered and ill, hopefully soon :) It was good to see a different side of the Peak District and to walk with another family.
Wednesday - Delamere
The forecast for Wednesday was bad, very bad. Heavy rain all day not stopping till 6. We had a lazy morning and eventually decided to head to Delamere Forest. We were planning on hiring bikes, but it's really expensive and I thought it may be a bit too muddy for Emma to manage. Emma was placated by the suggestion of lunch out in the woods. We went to the Forestry Commission cafe which was excellent, really decent home made food and affordable prices - few and far between in tourist attractions! We did a short circuit of Delamere taking in Blakemere Moss and Hatchmere. Blakemere Moss is a relatively new stretch of water - apparently a load of trees came down in 1990 and the area flooded out. There was a point where it looked like you could enter the lake to swim, only issue would be crashing into hidden tree stumps and debris under water. It was a very odd place!
It had stopped raining very quickly and there was a mist hanging over the lake making it all Twin Peaks like
We found a stone bank which let you walk out some way into the lake
We headed on to Hatchmere which it has been negotiated that swimmers can swim there. You can only swim between posts as the fishermen have the rest of the lake. I wished I had my swimming stuff as it was so mild for winter. We found a rope swing on the way there.
Hatchmere looked beautiful in the evening night with the mist over it
We headed back marveling at the lengths the fishermen had gone to, to stop people getting onto their jetty's.. one even had razor wire on it! We headed through the woods in the dark with the eerie deer barks as the soundtrack of the night.
Marshmallows by the fire was a fitting way to end the day
Thursday - Bleakness on Bleaklow
The weather forecast for the Peak District wasn't too bad for the Thursday so we decided to have another shot at Bleaklow. Mike had been there many times before, but I'd only tried to get there the once. I was poorly on the day I attempted it and was on the verge of passing out so had to turn back so I had unfinished business. We thought including a bit of a scramble might please Emma so we bumped for Yellowslacks brook. We parked at the top of Snake Pass and came out into the howling gale, mist and drizzle - not unlike the last time I was up there. The only saving grace was the air temp wasn't that chilly.
How inviting it looks!
We headed off along the Pennine Way to bag the top of Bleaklow Head. I got very hungry on the way there and needed to eat as soon as we arrived, Mike and Emma decided to look for a geocache so I crouched down in a spot out of the wind and stuffed my face. When I looked up for them they were gone, I started to panic a little after some time had passed - having no map on me, and only my GPS/Phone it was not ideal. It felt very lonely in the blowing wind and mist. After sometime they did arrive back explaining it was further away than they thought. Should really have been carrying a map just in case..
Panic over we headed onwards, I managed to get 'bleaklowed' on our way on going in deep into a peat bog. I could feel the bog sucking me down but managed to get a leg out which was enough to get the other out (with a little help from Mike). Our route on then took us on duckboarded route through more bogs. The duckboards were covered in slime and like stepping onto an ice rink. Emma loved them and found them easy, us adults not so easy, once you started slipping on them you couldn't stop, I managed to slip right off and have a fall breaking my fall on my wrists. Luckily nothing was damaged.
It was then with some regret we had to head into the groughs/hags themselves. I read someone describing them to be like a labyrinth which is exactly what they feel like. When we finally escaped them at the edge of the descent of Yellowslacks Brook it was with a big sigh of relief. We decided to descend and see what the river level was like. Once at the river we got out the survival shelter which I'd bought earlier in the year, but hadn't yet used. It was a welcome relief from the drizzle and rain & Emma loved it. We ate our lunch and none of us really wanted to get out of it. We checked the time again once at the river, it was 2pm, looking at the map we decided we did not have time for the scramble - if it had been just Mike and I we would have been okay I think but with Emma as well and river levels high it just seemed foolish to take the route. Our only option then was to reascend the otherside and cross some moorland to our next destination. Heading up the steep slope was pretty horrible, but we had the fence for support. As we were heading up we saw a white mountain hare which was amazing as I've never seen one.
I remembered I had a galaxy in my bag which caused some happy smiles after the horrible ascent up. The less said about the second moorland crossing the better, Emma enjoyed it but I was shattered, still struggling to regain my fitness after being ill. Mike had out the GPS and probably got sick of me asking how much further it was till we reached the plane wreck we were headed for. We finally reached it - it had crashed there in 1948 and bits were sprawled over the moorland. In the weather we were experiencing it was easy to see how a plane could come down. It had quite a creepy feel in the bleakness. The drizzle and low cloud was soaking us and I wrung our gloves out a number of times attempting to squeeze some warmth out of them. From the wreck it's a short walk over to the top of Higher Shelf Stones, Emma found the geocache and we didn't stop for long. No plane wreck shots as it was too wet, but here's one of us looking shattered on Higher Shelf Stones
The views finally cleared from not long after this point and it was a relief to finally be back on a path. The weather finally cleared - better late than never and we had a pink sky as we headed back towards to parking area.
Our plates were piled high in the Glossop carvery the bad conditions of the day soon forgotten. Was glad to have Mike with us and the back up of the GPS, it felt like quite a serious place to be and conditions underfoot much worse than I expected. It's worth bearing in mind when planning a route how much extra time it takes when negotiating the pathless moorland groughs/hags.
Friday - quarries and peaks
I wasn't really looking forward to our walk on the Friday as the forecast didn't seem much better. Met office said 50 mph winds on the summits, MWIS said 30 mph winds - which to believe?! Both said drizzle..
We drove our way over Snowdonia in the sunshine enjoying the views and sunshineand playing name that peak. We parked up in the slate museum carpark and met with Kirsh and Pete (Mikes friends) plus Kirsh's dog Pinkle.
The route up to Elidir Fach was awesome, we walked through all the old quarries checking out various old quarry buildings and machinery. The sun was amazingly still shining and the views were fantastic - all the Snowdonian giants peeking in and out of the cloud.
It was so warm out it felt like an autumn day, it was so good to be walking on rock (as opposed to bog/mud) and not to have the waterproofs on. We found a building which contained a few remnants from the quarrying days. (the items on the bench not the graffiti)
There is a route up using old ladders but we took the bypass instead as was not possible to get a dog up the ladders and not safe for Emma. Emma was loving having Pinkle on the walk and kept looking for sticks to throw for her.
We had fun trying to move the old mine cart back onto it's rails, but to no success. I had a go and landed on my knees on the wet grass!
After a few more inclines we were up onto a grassy slope leading to the top of Elidir Fach, the cloud was rolling in and we were treated to an almost inversion
Grassy slog up
We still had good views over to the Carneddau
The views kept on coming
Tyfan and Y Garn
Getting up onto Elidir Fawr was a scree path, Pete who'd had the grand idea of bringing sweets on the walk gave Emma some more to keep her going and we were soon on a very windy top. The rocks which hadn't been blown dry by the wind were very wet and slippery. We didn't stop for too long and decided to carry on with our intended route taking in Mynydd Perfedd and Carnedd y Ffiliast. At one stage it got quite narrow and thankfully Mike gave Emma a hand as I was struggling with the height a little bit.
At this point we were trying to decide if we had time to continue but we'd reached the point where it was probably longer to take an alternative route, so it was up another 40 metres or so onto Carnedd y Ffiliast where again we paused briefly to sort out the way on. We decided to have another think about it when we reached the access road. There were only two options really, to head back upwards and descend through the quarries or head down to follow roads all the way back. I pushed for the off road route as I really don't enjoy road walking especially with Emma in tow. Heading back up the access road the weather turned itself up a notch and got drizzly and quite gusty. I don't think Pete appreciated the route decision making, especially when it started getting dark. We arrived at the quarry and it was head torches on. I must admit I was quite concerned about us finding our way through but Mike had the route through in his GPS (a different one to our route in) and it went without hitch - a scramble up a slag heap, descent using a fence down an incline then onto a track which led us out. Emma enjoyed the adventure, not sure Pete did so much as his knees were giving him grief having not walked since November last year. We followed a few local roads to pick up the woodland trail back through the lower half of the quarries.
We were relieved to get back to the carpark before it was locked - we arrived at 6.30, carpark lock up was 7! and in time for munchies in Peat's Eats
Struggling to fit it all in
(thanks for the shots Pete and keeping Emma happy!)
The route was something like 13 miles with as much ascent as Ben Nevis (or more!) again very chuffed with Emma for managing it so cheerfully. It was nice to meet some new walking buddies, and we really enjoyed having such an entertaining dog to walk with who seemed to love the hills as much as us.
Saturday - Marbury Country Park
We were shattered on the Saturday so had a restful morning. The sun was shining so we grabbed some food and headed to Marbury country park for a ripoff coffee and picnic. The park used to have a mansion type house, but that is now gone. The grounds remain and are nicely landscaped. There is also an outdoor swimming pool which you can use in the summer (for a fee)
There is another Mere in the woodland, again used heavily by Anglers, but a local swimming club also run swims there. We did a short circular route taking in some very muddy fields and the canal.
So wild mushrooms still growing
Trent and Mersey canal
A great post Christmas week away and lovely to spend some time in Mikes neck of the woods exploring the area