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]

Tuesday 4 January 2011

From Bleaklow

A fantastically comfortable night’s sleep was had. In fact, the most comfortable night’s winter camping ever. The Exped Synmat got full marks from me for both comfort and warmth, even if I’m struggling to get to grips with the built-in pump. It’s a pity that it’s so bulky, because otherwise I’d happily take the weight penalty to take it on the next Big Walk, but as it is there’s no way that it’ll fit in my long-distance pack (the OMM Villain) if I also want to fit in a few days worth of food.

Having managed to extract half of myself from the snugness of my sleeping bag, a cup of tea was in order, and minus 6 degrees said the thermometer when I started groping around in the porch. If that was right then it made it surprising that the water hadn’t frozen in the water bottle, although it did immediately turn to thick slush upon pouring some into the pot.

Only needing to switch gas canisters once (we had two almost empty canisters with us), from the one that had become too cold to use, to the one that Mick was hugging in his sleeping bag, cups of tea were made and breakfast eaten. By just after 8am we were packing away, noting the occasional stray snowflake as we did so. Still, at least it wasn’t the latterly forecast fog, even if we didn’t get the previously-forecast wall-to-wall sunshine.

Our walk out was a short one. Down the Pennine Way we went, finding conditions a touch slippery in places as we variously encountered snow, sheet ice, bare flags and just plain frozen ground.

IMG_2031Then, just over a mile later, on reaching Old Woman, off we turned down Doctor’s Gate. It’s one of those paths that inexplicably I’ve long wanted to walk (and very nearly did last June), but yet have managed to avoid thus far.

It was snowy and slip-slidey down the first bit of the path, but soon we were below the snow line, and heading down the rather pleasing valley.

IMG_2033You can just about make out the route of the path half way up the left side of the valley in this (washed-out) photo:

IMG_2035A few people were met on the way down, including more fell runners. Added to those we’d seen on Sunday we briefly pondered whether people from Glossop have a propensity to take up fell-running, or whether fell-runners tend to gravitate towards living in Glossop. Either way, they’ve not got a bad location to stretch their legs and lungs.

Just over four and a half miles after leaving our pitch, we were back on the edge of Glossop and a few minutes later were heading towards the cooked breakfasts that had been calling our names.

The stats for the outing were 12 miles with just over 2000 feet of ascent on Sunday and just 4.75 miles with almost no ascent on Monday.



  1. Well done you two. I was stretched on the sofa planning 2011. Haven't camped in winter for years!

  2. Surely your trip to Ben Alder in April 2008 counted as a winter camping trip? It involved snow, crampons and your backpack blowing off - which must be winter conditions even if the month could strictly be described as spring. That wasn't that long ago.

    What plans did you hatch up from the sofa? I see that Topwalks is still stuck in 2010.

  3. Ah, yes, I overlooked that!
    A fine programme for 2011 has been planned from the sofa, but the sofa was abandoned before I could update the web site. week......