The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday 11 April 2010

Day 19 - Hathersage to by Hingcliffe Hill

Sat 10 April
Distance: 14 miles (Tot: 325)
Number of bee/wasp stings: 2
Number of mountain hares: 1
Audio accompaniment to the day: the cackling of grouse

At the risk of sounding a bit repetitive: what a fantastic day we've had!

It had an extraordinarily lazy start, as there was no benefit in us arriving early at our night stop, what with it being an unlawful camp rather close to a ranger station.

So, it was 9.40 before we ambled out of the campsite and headed up to the already-heaving Stanage Edge.

Joining the edge beyond the most popular area, we didn't find ourselves surrounded by others, and skipped along in the sunshine with magnificent views.

After Stanage Edge (and not before a break for elevenses, which thanks to our late start came later today than its name would suggest) came Derwent Edge where the sky was still blue, the views still first class and the gritstone shapes interesting. Oh it's a hard life, walking through this sort of area on such a fine day!

The first sting of the day came at Back Tor, where we agreed with the dozen and a half people already there that it was a good lunch venue. With hunger dealt with, and feet rested, a move was just being made towards continuing on our merry way when an exclamation came from Dave following a wasp taking exception to his arm. Assuring us that he was fine and it just smarted a little, on we continued.

At this point in the day my original plan (taken from the End to End Trail route) took us down to Derwent Reservoir before climbing back up to the edge beyond Cranberry Clough, following Rights of Way. Last night the descent-to-reascend was pointed out to me and a revised plan was hatched to stay up high, and cut between paths by a bit of pathless yomping, (choosing to ignore the bog symbols on the map and names such as Featherbed Moss and Middle Moss). As well as avoiding an unnecessary 1000 feet of descent, it also cut about 2 miles off the day.

Our way at this point was about as clear as they come. John is strongly against the flagging of the peaty morasses that serve as paths in this area, so he was not overly pleased to find that the path leading up to Back Tor has been paved, and was even less pleased to find that the flagging continued for some distance afterwards.

It sped us along, but we didn't stay on the path forever, as we had some yomping to do and it was just as we were pondering the map to decide where we were best to leave the path that John took his turn with the bee stings.

Oh the fuss he made! The air turned blue. Either his was a far more painful experience than Dave's, or John's a bit of a girly wuss...

The pathless yomp that ensued turned out not to be pathless. Unsurprisingly many others had opted for the same plan in the past, and for most of the way there was a clear route through the peat and bog (not always a practical route, if you wanted to avoid losing a leg, but clear all the same).

It was good walking, and definitely more intersting than the flagstones, but it wasn't the fastest walking.

It was also across this 2km section, just as we came across the only patch of snow we've seen, that we spotted a mountain hare (in winter garb). It was even kind enough to sit and pose for a while, albeit not close enough to get a photo. That was a first - I've never seen one before.

Eventually we did re-emerge onto the edge path (with incredible views), just before Margery Hill (wonder how many people called Margery Hill have ever been up Margery Hill?). The path doesn't actually go up to the trig point at the top, and we likely wouldn't either, except that Phil had told us that it's the highest point in South Yorkshire and on that basis we felt obligated to take the detour.

All we had then to do was to drop down Cut Edge and along Mickleden Edge to find ourselves some pitches for the night.

My original plan for a pitch was abandoned when I saw how nice it looked alongside Mickleden Beck and so that's where we headed.

We're now waiting for a reasonably late hour before we pitch, after a very pleasing day indeed.
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