We awoke to a winter wonderland on the hills which was perfect for the Great Ridge walk. Being completists we wanted to include all of the hills - Win Hill, Lose Hill, Back Tor & Mam Tor. Due to the slightly dicey road conditions we drove as far as Hope and left the car there, crossing the railway line just on the outskirts of the village to pick up the paths leading to the bottom of the hill. It was bitterly cold first thing and my hands were in pain despite wearing two pairs of gloves. It was such a mild winter last year I'd almost forgotten what painful hands felt like!
It was a bit of a slog up Win Hill in the snow esp as only a couple of other footprints had been before us. It was made better by the panoramic views all round though, it's been a while since I've seen skies as blue and clear as those in the mountains..
I was looking forward to a nice quiet top to enjoy the views. How wrong I was.. The top was really busy as I think a lot of people had come up from Bamford which is a short route up. We didn't stop for long as Emma has whinging about cold hands & it felt too busy to relax.
We followed a bridleway (popular with mountain bikers who weren't put off by the snow) then before it reached the wooded area we headed straight down the side of the hill to pick up another footpath to the road. It was nice to be back on our own again, and we had fun doing a bit of plastic bag sledging once we were on slightly less steep ground.
Heading back up Lose Hill was a bit of a sludge fest and it was again very busy. We passed some bonkers fell walkers careering down the hill & one of them managed to take a tumble, but quickly bounced straight back up again. The views once at the top of Lose Hill were impressive, the big Plateau of Kinder looking cold and menacing.
Due to the volume of footfall the path down was icy so we bunged on our microspikes and started overtaking people. They worked well on the icy paths but you had to take care not to stray onto fresh snow as they just ball up and become an accident waiting to happen!
The weather turned not long after Lose Hill and we started to get the forecast snow showers. Although Steve was a bit miffed we were missing the views I liked the drama of the dramatic skies. Back Tor was particularly impressive, especially when you look back at the craggyness of it once you have descended down. Apparently there is a winter climb on it (for sadists...!)
We annoyingly had to stop for food before heading up Mam Tor and had a very cold lunch spot on a tumbled down dry stone wall. It's at times like that you long for a small sandwich bag of bitesized foods so you can eat on the go. I'd forgotten how rubbish eating in winter on the hill is!
We had no visibility on Mam Tor so the trig point came to us as a surprise through dustings of snow fall.
We didn't stop for long there either and took the path down which follows the rim of the Tor. We took it steady using our poles to balance. Some people behind us were running and bum sliding down it which seemed a little silly given the drop just off the edge of the path.
More sledge fun was had before we descended back to Castleton.
Our brains were a bit mashed by then so we opted to follow the main road from Castleton to Hope until we came upon a sign which stated lane to Hope which when we checked the OS showed a route off the road straight to Hope. It has to be said the Peak Park really do make their routes clear and we were treated to a well signposted route back through fields with multiple arrays of bizarre gate fastenings which only seem to appear in the peak district too!
A route which is probably easy in summer was pretty shattering in the winter, well worth it though. We saw the mountain rescue vehicles pouring back through Castleton as we ended our route, we heard later that they had been to the aid of a walker who had slipped and broken their leg. It was easy to see how that could happen given the snow conditions that day, we are lucky to have so many people looking out for us in the hills...