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  • Writer's pictureJames

Wild Walking In The Dark Peaks

September 2020

Crowden to Edale. 16 Miles

Bleaklow lived up to its name today. Bleak, damp weather. Mist. As grey as grey could get. I loved every minute up there. And yet, en-route along the Crowden Hills following a steep but surprisingly quick ascent in the rain, but heading into a world of increasingly poor visibility, I cursed the gods for all their mistily might. Bleaklow of all places, it’s preferable to cross in clear conditions. In the damp, swirling fog, I followed footprints, I stuck to as clear a path as could be identified and, eventually, with some relief, Bleaklow Head emerged through the haze. I was thankful I’d been up here a few times previously. Bleaklow can be an intimidating prospect.

I still had to find my way off. A change of direction from Bleaklow Head. From there, sporadic arrow posts point the way, the path heads down to a narrow corridor following a stream leading to Doctors Gate. From having had Bleaklow seemingly almost entirely to myself, the only sign of human life a solitary fell runner who passed me on Torside Clough, the closer to Snake Pass I got the more people emerged. I didn’t like this. Over to Ashop Moor, flagstones winding their way through the peat and the red and golden grasses up to Mill Hill. The northern edge of Kinder Scout on my shoulder, beautifully so. A Pennine Wayer wanted to confirm it was only five miles to Marsden. I told him to at least triple the distance, and reluctantly advised there were no amenities, in response to his next query. He appeared to be worryingly, and potentially dangerously, underprepared.

A water break at Mill Hill. A chance to gaze in wonderment at the beauty of the landscape. The Ashop Valley where I’d emerged from disappearing back into the distance, the vastness of Kinder Scout looming large. Thick, blackening clouds were gathering above. And the only way was up. The steep, rocky steps up the mountain to be met by a gushing and persistent wind at the top. A whole minute later, the heavens opened. A fist shake to the sky, a grimace and on I went. The rain lashed down. Through the Saturday crowds and onwards to Kinder Downfall. Crossing the shallow river, the wind blew the water back over the edge and in sheets, it soaked me.

A couple of miles over the rocky outcrop to Kinder Low, and even more people. I should have gone via the quieter Fairbrook Naze when I’d had the chance. The rain still persisted and, eventually, it grinds you down. I’d lived outside for a week, I hadn’t showered, I hadn’t eaten a meal indoors for five days. I could have camped, but it was early and what to do for hours until the crowds dissipate. Edale tantalisingly close and if no room there, there was always Sheffield. Soaking wet, weary, and a forecast predicting biblical rain that evening. It wasn’t a hard decision to make. Down Jacobs Ladder, and at the bottom, next to the picture perfect little bridge and the gentle stream underneath, it was the calm after the storm. Blue skies. No wind. Via Upper Booth Farm and warm sunshine as the last of the green fields were navigated through under a warm, sunny sky.


James' Walks & Wild Camps

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