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.

1 comment:

  1. Thats a good walk still Dave and you got a memorable wild camp in. So some gain there. The walk is a classic. Best done in good weather in June I would reckon for long days of sunshine.