About this blog

Just having a bit of fun here, posting about walks and other stuff. I need to get out more.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Derwent Watershed Walk (A failed attempt)

A quick post before I go off on my hols this weekend. A week in Skeggy with a hyperactive 4 year old granddaughter will be a test of my fitness levels if nothing else.

A couple of weekends back I thought it would be a good idea to have a crack at the Derwent Watershed walk, taking two days to cover the 40 odd miles around the watershed with a wild camp thrown in somewhere along the way.

The true challenge is to do the route in 24 hours.
Taking two days with a heavy pack was challenging enough for me.

I caught an early train from Swinton station, connected with the Trans Pennine service in Sheffield and alighted this at Bamford at around 08:30.
A steady plod ensued through Bamford village to pick up a path below Bamford Edge and then along an over grown path onto Bamford Moor with great views over to Stanedge Edge, looking a picture across the flowering heather foreground of the moors.

Bamford and the Hope Valley
From Moscar Moor I followed a good track down to Cutthroat Bridge and headed up the the fine vantage point of Whinstone Lee Tor.
This is a popular area for walkers and mountain bikers, rightly so as it offers great views of the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs and the surrounding hills.

Win Hill from the path up to Derwent Edge
The path rises steadily up onto Derwent Edge and the odd rock formations that abound in this area.
A friendly chap kindly pointed out the spire of Lincoln Cathedral, probably 35 miles away as the crow flies, despite the grey skies the visibility was excellent today.

Wheel Stones?
I plodded on, without much enthusiasm. My mood wasn't great and I started to question the reasons for taking on this walk. It would be easy to bail out now and head back to Bamford for the train home.

Back Tor rock formations
I didn't bail out, obviously or I wouldn't be posting this now. Instead I carried on, losing height to Lost Lad and Abbey Brook.
This was new ground for me and it is a beautiful, quiet area of the Peak District.
Feeling a bit brighter I took a steepish, overgrown path up on to Howden Moors and along the edge to Margery Hill, Cut Gate summit and Outer Edge.

Abbey Brook valley from Howden Moor
From Outer Edge, the route is vague to say the least. I hadn't done much research so was just winging it a bit, in and out of the many groughs that abound in this pathless area over to Featherbed Moss.
This is fabulous country if you enjoy solitude and a feeling of remoteness.
I saw no other walkers from Outer Edge onwards, just mountain hares and larks for company, I was starting to enjoy myself at last.
Mushroom stone in a pool on Featherbed Moss
Eventually, after going wrong a couple of times due to careless navigation, Bleaklow Stones came into view.
What a place!
I pitched the tent on a nice flat area and wandered around taking photos of the strangely shaped stones and soaked up the views all around.
Bleaklow Stones camp

Dinner time

The view North, for miles and miles...

20 miles and over 1100m of ascent in a sometimes suitably bleak mood had been rewarded with probably the best wild camping spot I have ever had.

I got a bit of a shock at 10 pm as I popped my head out of the tent to see a bright light coming towards me at an alarming speed. It turned out to be a runner out for a late night run on Bleaklow! I formed the opinion that he was a lunatic, he probably had the same opinion of me, having seen the weather forecast for tomorrow.

I awoke to a grey scene. The cloud was down on Bleaklow and worse still, the cloud was depositing rain.
Visibility was down to about 50 yards, just what I didn't need given that this is supposedly the most navigationally challenging area of the Peak District.
Map, compass and GPS (mainly GPS) were used to get me over Bleaklow hill through the deep groughs.
If there is a path hereabouts, I didn't find it.
Happily the badly eroded Pennine Way path is a good landmark and I joined this just 50 yards or so below the summit of Bleaklow Head.
It was now just a matter of following the Pennine Way off Bleaklow and over the Snake road to Mill Hill and Kinder Downfall.

Kinder Downfall through the murk
It was somewhere close to Kinder Downfall that I decided I had bitten off more than I could chew. I felt tired after the exertions of yesterday and this morning's protracted navigation over Bleaklow.

The Derwent Watershed walk  had defeated me.

I followed the Pennine Way all the way off Kinder to the Old Nags Head in Edale where I  had a well deserved swift pint of Guinness before catching the 12:30 train back home.

The Vale of Edale from the top of Jacobs Ladder
Not one to take defeat lightly, I vow to tackle this walk again in the not too distant future, maybe next spring as a warm up to the TGO Challenge....maybe.

Monday 5 August 2013

TGO Challenge 2013. Day 3: Loch na Caoidhe to "The House of the Hangman"

It had been a cold night down by the waters edge and it was still cold in the morning as I put the stove on for the first coffee of the day.
I unzipped the tent to find Charlie sat on guard outside his masters abode seemingly none the worse for his exertions yesterday.
Charlie is a fine dog and great company in the hills but he does seem to suffer quite badly from short term memory loss. In Charlies eyes, one minute you are his best mate and the next you are an evil stranger with intentions of beheading his master and making off with all of his biscuits.
Charlie had of course, forgotten who I was this morning, after all it had been 12 hours since he last saw me. Once he had remembered who I was, all was well and I was able to approach Richard's tent to discuss the options for today.

Charlie on guard duties.
We had both slept in too late for a realistic chance of beating the bad weather on a mad dash over the Strathfarrar hills, so the discussion was a short one. Today's route was to be an energy saving, low level affair.
The plan was to try to make it as far as Tighachrochadair (which wonderfully translates as The House of the Hangman) before the worst of the predicted bad weather caught up with us.
I am sure I saw Charlie nodding his head in agreement as the plan was declared.

   Heading down Glen Orrin.                                           Photo courtesy Richard Wood
It was a cold, grey morning, but we soon warmed up as we made our way below the crags of Beinn Mheadhoin, where I paused to look back towards the snow clad Strathfarrar Munros.
My timing was good as at that moment there was a majestic Golden Eagle high in the sky above us. 
We watched it circle for quite a while before it headed north and went out of sight. 
Not a bad start to the day at all.

An hour or so later we were making a brew in Luipmaldrig bothy. 
This is a cracking bothy and is probably rarely visited. I believe it was built for the navvies working on the Orrin Reservoir project and it is now owned and well maintained by the Strathconnan Estate.

We had a snoop around, as you do, and found a back bedroom complete with double bed. 
The bothy book revealed that the occupant of the bedroom last night was none other than The Goddess!
I expect she slept well, free from the alleged vibrations of fellow Challengers respiratory structures which had made her stay at Gerry's Hostel such a miserable experience.

Me and Charlie in the posh bothy.                           Photo courtesy Richard Wood    
Through the window I observed the unmistakable figure of Humphrey Weightman approaching the bothy. 
Charlie gave Humphrey a frosty reception as he entered the building but was soon to be charmed by Humph who was then accepted as temporary member of our gang.

Following a brief chat, Humphrey set off towards the wobbly suspension bridge over the river Orrin. 
We packed up and took a more direct, boggy line to the bridge. 
Charlie, fearing that he was to be left behind by Richard, took the direct, damp route across the river in pursuit of Richard who had opted for the more conventional method of crossing the river using the bridge.
Once across, we followed the river to it's outflow into the reservoir and then more or less hugged the south bank of the reservoir all the way to the Allt na Criche, which we easily forded. 
Crossing the river Orrin
Charlie had a great time on this stretch, splashing in and out of the pools and burns feeding the reservoir. He had obviously not learnt anything yesterday about pacing himself.

Orrin river flats
Height was gained fairly quickly as we left the reservoir behind to pick up a sometimes vague path over to the track above Gleann Goibhre.
The weather was closing on us now as predicted, the wind had freshened considerably and we felt the first spots of rain of the day.
View down to Orrin Reservoir.                                     Photo courtesy Richard Wood
The Hydro Bothy was a welcome sight and we were pleased to get out of the wind for half an hour for a brew and a bite to eat. 

Taking a break in the Hydro Bothy                            Photo courtesy Richard Wood
Then it was just a matter of pushing on for a further 5km along the track to our chosen destination of Tighachrochadair.

Squally  rain showers, sweeping through from the west greeted our arrival and with the help of some borrowed nail pegs (cheers Richard), I managed to pitch the tent beside Richard's tight up against the gable end of the hangman's house.

Sheltered camp, Tighachrochadair
Half an hour or so later, we were joined by Peter Molenaar, who had noticed our tents from the track above the house and headed down the heather clad hillside to share our sheltered pitch.

Charlie let Peter know in no uncertain terms that he was not to come too close to Richard's tent and it took liberal handouts of Peter's beef jerky supply before he was to be accepted into the clan.

I was now well ahead of my planned route, leaving just a short walk tomorrow to the fleshpots of Beauly.
The plan to get ahead of the bad weather had proven to be a good one.
It was not pleasant outside the tent tonight,  but at least we had shelter from the worst of the elements which we might not have found in the hills to the west of us.

Excess supplies of food and Jack Daniels were consumed and text messages sent back home before I eventually settled down in the sleeping bag for the night.

Another good Challenge day.