The second (ish) of my Peak Challenge walks was completed with my brother on a cold December day. It passed through 6 grid squares but only netted me 3 new ones, as I’d done a couple of sections before. Despite that, it didn’t feel repetitive, as the challenging weather and good company made it an enjoyable walk.
The walk started at Torside Car Park, although we realised soon after leaving the car park that there are a couple of car parking spaces down the road for free. I’ve marked those on the map for your benefit, but Torside is a National Parks car park so at least the money goes to a good cause.
We got off to a good start by leaving the car park the wrong way, heading up the wheelchair-accessible path which zig-zagged through the woods, instead of the steeper route straight up to the Longdendale Trail, which follows the former Woodhead Railway Line and forms part of the much longer Trans Pennine Trail. Last time I used the Torside car park, I was running a support team who were dishing out sandwiches and Haribo to a group of Air Cadets who were cycling the full coast-to-coast trail.
The first part of the walk, along the disused railway, is not particularly exciting. It goes by quickly if you’re cycling, but it drags a bit if you’re walking, but at least progress was brisk. Here we met a young couple from Poland, who were in the UK to visit family over Christmas, and wanted some advice on how to walk to the wreckage of B29 Superfortress “Over Exposed!” at Higher Shelf Stones. The man was navigating using Google Maps alone, which is next to useless on the open moorland of Bleaklow. The Pennine Way is shown as a thin green line, on the big green blob that represents the Dark Peak, but that’s all you’ve got… I let them take a photo of my OS map and suggested that they stick to the path.
We soon reached the Pennine Way, which we followed steeply uphill towards Clough Edge. The snow and ice made the stone steps very slippery, and we both found it easier to walk on the grass where there was less chance of losing our balance. The fog hides it in the photos, but the drop to our left was severe, and we both stayed well away from the rocky edge.
Our cue to turn off the path was a field boundary on our right, but the map showed that it was about 40 metres from the path, and with the thick fog I was unsure whether we would be able to see it at all. Thankfully the two streams crossing the path were very distinct, thanks to the recent rain, so it was easy to keep track of where we were, and although we couldn’t see the wall from the path, it came into view pretty quickly after that.
We followed the wall, and several rabbit tracks left in the snow, up to a farm access track. I had hoped to divert to the meteorological station which was fairly close by, but the path to it was completely obscured by the snow, and we decided to give it a miss this time. We were both getting hungry and it was time to start thinking about lunch. We had both taken dehydrated meals: I had an Adventure Foods pasta bolognese, and my brother had a “Summit to Eat” macaroni cheese. These take at least 10 minutes of soaking in hot water before they are ready to eat, so we stopped, boiled some water and added it to the pouches, them put these back in my bag (inside my spare hat for insulation) whilst we carried on walking for another ten minutes.
At this point we met some fencing contractors (the only other people we saw on the top), which should have prompted me to be more aware of the fencing situation. But I was deep in conversation with my brother, so we carried on walking, and ended up a bit too far down the track. I maintain that the fence I was looking for must have just been removed by the contractors, but as we had gone too far downhill, we now needed to head back uphill, so we decided to stop and eat our now-cooked lunches. I don’t normally rate the Adventure Foods meals, but this one was very nice. We didn’t stop for too long, as the temperature was still below freezing, so we ate quickly and headed back up the hill to Peak Naze.
The next couple of legs of the route were across open fields, and although the distance being covered was only a couple of hundred metres, the fog was so thick that we couldn’t see more than 20 metres in each direction! I took several compass bearings and we leapfrogged our way across the open ground, before arriving at an odd kidney-shaped enclosure which dates back to at least 1899. If anyone knows why this enclosure is there, or shaped as it is, please let me know in the comments. The fog was so thick that it was difficult to get an overview of the area, but my best guess is that the enclosure guards the rocky edges. Perhaps they were quarried at some time in the past, as historic maps show a variety of quarries in the area, although not inside the kidney-shaped enclosure.
We continued northwards and reached the ruins of a small building by Ogden Clough. From there we jumped over the clough itself, and climbed slightly over Nell’s Pike to reach Bramah Edge. I didn’t check my Aircraft Wrecks book before I set off, which is a shame, because I missed the chance of visiting the site where a United States Air Force de Havilland L-20A Beaver aircraft crashed in 1956. I’ve found a GPX file containing waypoints for all the Peak District aircraft wreck sites and I’ve imported this onto my Peak Challenge map, so I don’t miss these sites when I’m planning walks in the future.
The view from Bramah Edge should have been impressive, but instead the fog made it eerie. We could hear the traffic noise from the road, but all we could see was white mist. We followed a wall on our right hand side, and were joined by one on our left, which quickly funnelled us into a series of narrow enclosures only 15 metres or so wide. The ground got wetter and wetter and I realised that the thing being enclosed, was a stream! We hopped over a broken section of the wall into the adjacent field, and found our way back onto the Pennine Way.
We made our way carefully back down the slippery steps, walked back along the Longdendale Trail and back to the car at Torside. All in all it was a great day out, with some pleasant (if obscured) scenery, good conversation, and some fun navigation in the fog.
If you’re following along (and nobody is) then you may notice that I completed 1 extra square in the north-east corner whilst walking the dog. I added it to my map but I won’t be doing a write-up. I’ll cover that area again when I do my Ewden Beck walk next year.