The Peaks -August 16-19th 2017

Walking along the South Downs a few weeks back we stopped to talk to a man who was riding up to the top of the Downs on his bicycle.  He was an artist and he mentioned that one of his places he loved was the Peaks.  So here we are as a result of a simple conversation with a stranger on a walk.  Our accomodation is at Goosehill Hall- it is a recently renovated listed 17th century small manor house in Castleton. The old farm buildings in the grounds of the Hall have been renovated to provide accomodation.  Surrounded by fields and with views towards Mam Tor, the Great Ridge and Winnats Pass, and only a short walk from the village. What a nice  little  spot we have- the Gardeners cottage. Everything you would want.

Thursday morning out we step from our place and start walking up the hills to the Limestone Way Path and via various ‘Bridle Ways and Public Footpaths’ we ended up at the top of Mam Tor. Mam Tor is a 517 m (1,696 ft) hill  in the High Peak of Derbyshire. Its name means “mother hill”, so called because frequent landslips on its eastern face have resulted in a multitude of ‘mini-hills’ beneath it. These landslips, which are caused by unstable lower layers of shale, also give the hill its alternative name of Shivering Mountain. In 1979 the continual battle to maintain the A625 road (Sheffield to Chapel en le Frith) on the crumbling eastern side of the hill was lost when the road officially closed as a through-route. From the top here we walked along the ridge to Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Loosehill. I think we saw more people on this part of the walk than we have on any other walk we have done so far.- perhaps because it was sunny though realistically the views were everywhere to be seen.  14 kilometres later we were back in our abode. Not before however walking through Castleton and finding a nice little  place for a coffee.

Friday morning we drove off to Lady Bower Dam to start our walk.  Derwent is a village ‘drowned’ under the Ladybower Reservoir. The village of Ashopton, Derwent Woodlands church and Derwent Hall were also ‘drowned’ in the construction of the reservoir. There is no formal memorial to any of the villages. The church held its last service on 17 March 1943. Bodies from the graveyard had been exhumed in 1940 and were reburied in the village of Bamford.[3] All buildings in the village had been demolished by autumn 1943, and the impounded waters of the reservoir began to rise by the end of 1944. The church spire was left intact to form a memorial to Derwent. However, it was dynamited on 15 December 1947, on the rational of safety concerns. We walked along the banks of reservoir for a couple of miles, mainly in the forested area before heading sharply up through the forest to the top, at Jagger’s Clough. Here we followed an old Roman Road to Hope  Brink which led us up to the top of Win Hill at 463m(1590 feet).  The colours of the hills all around were purple due to Heather growing everywhere. We were told it was extremely good this year because of the weather conditions.  We did not stay up here too long as we could here thunder  see lightning in the distant.  Descending through the Win Hill Plantation we stopped for lunch, but this was cut short as the rain started coming down. The rest of the walk down the Parkin Clough was wet and hazardous. A Clough is basically a riverbed coming down a mountain!!! This Clough was extremely steep and very slippery with the rain coming down it back home for a rest.  For the first time since the first week of our holiday we went out to dinner.  The Peak hotel pub- good pub food and a nice bottle of wine.

Saturday- time to move on to our next destination, but knowing that we could not check in till after three, we headed out of our door to do a small walk.  The walk ended up longer than we thought but what else would be be doing.  What got us to the Peaks area was initially our meeting with the artist on the Downs, but that only led Bernadette to look into what was there.  Winnats Pass showed up on so many of the Instagram pictures of the area.  The road winds through a cleft, surrounded by towering limestone pinnacles. The pass was once thought to have originated as a giant collapsed cavern; however, a more recent explanation is that it was a ravine between the coral reefs that originally formed the limestone. The name is a corruption of ‘wind gates’. A local legend is that the pass is haunted after a young couple were murdered by miners. We had already driven though it a couple of times and from a distance taken many photographs but had not walked it.  Despite the light rain off we went and walked beside the road to the top and then ventured back down along the ridge at the top. The photographs do not really do it justice.   Reaching the bottom of the Pass we walked along the public footpath towards our accomodation.  Seeing however Peveril Castle perched high above we altered course and walked up to it.  From the way we walked  we could not get to the castle but found another ravine walk, Cave Dale, that would take us down to the base of the castle.  This castle has been so ravaged by the centuries that it almost looks like a crag itself. Constructed by William Peveril, son of William the Conqueror, the castle was used as a hunting lodge by Henry II, King John and Henry III, and the crumbling ruins offer swooping views over the Hope Valley.  Coming back in to Castleton we stopped for a lunch at the ‘Castle’ pub for fish and chips and or course a pint. Walked back and picked up the car for the trip to Kendal in between the Lake District and the North Yorkshire Dales, our next stop.

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