Hot And Sunny In The White Peak

James had postponed a backpacking trip to Wales due to the weather forecast for the Sunday, and instead contacted me to see if I was up for a day wander in the White Peak on the Saturday. As it happened, I had also postponed a wild camp in the Dark Peak due to the weather forecast for the Sunday…so a wander on the Saturday – which by all accounts looked like it was going to be dry and warm – seemed like a very good alternative.

We met up at the tiny village of Grindon, in the Staffordshire Moorlands, just west of the Manifold Valley. Dixie and I had got there rather early as, not knowing how long it would take us to get there, I’d allowed loads of time. We decided to have a little wander around the village while we waited. Unusually, as we pottered around the village green, I noticed that there was no sign on the church gate that said dogs weren’t allowed to set paw on the premises, so we went in and nosied around the peaceful churchyard. There was also no sign on the church door that said dogs weren’t allowed inside, but I decided that maybe that was pushing our luck a bit so we didn’t go in. On looking up Grindon on the internet later that day however, I wished I had gone in, as apparently in the south aisle of the church is a memorial plaque made up of wreckage from a Halifax bomber.

‘…It is in memory to eight men who lost their lives in the severe winter of 1946/7 when the aircraft crashed on these upland hills whilst bringing food to the village which was cut off at that time by a heavy fall of snow. Among those who perished were six crew members as well as two photographers working for the local media…’

Some of you out there may already know that I’m a bit of a plane and helicopter nut and like visiting the aircraft wreck sites in the Peaks, so it’s a pity I missed that.

Anyway, James and Rueben were soon parked up and ready for off too, and they led the way out of the village and down towards the Manifold Valley.

Before too long we were down at the valley floor, which we crossed and straight away started climbing up out the other side.

The Manifold Valley is now a much used footpath and cycleway but was originally (1904-1934), the site of a narrow gauge railway, used mainly for carrying milk from dairies in the region and acting as a feeder to the standard gauge system. It also provided passenger services to the small villages and beauty spots along its route.

One of those beauty spots was Thor’s Cave, which we got a splendid view of as we crossed over the cycleway.

Notice the huge tree at the bottom of the photo too – obviously come down at some time, maybe with the weather we’ve had this year?

Thor’s Cave is apparently a natural cavern, but over the years has yielded many bones and artifacts. I can quite clearly remember visiting it on a school trip when I was a mere 10 years old!

Anyway, climbing out of the valley, I soon began to wish I hadn’t put such warm trousers on. The sun had come out with a fierce determination and I was starting to overheat. It was also becoming apparent that there were no puddles or bits of water around for the dogs to drink, and they were beginning to wilt somewhat. A plan was hatched. As we reached the village of Wetton at the top of the hill, we decided a pub stop was in order. We could then buy some drinks for us, and they kindly allowed us to water the dogs to their fill and replenish our water bottles, so that we had plenty to give them later on in the walk. Good plan, don’t you think?

Once everyone was rested and re-hydrated, we set off out of Wetton in a north-easterly kind of direction.

Once alongside a 371m top near Wetton Hill, we cut across the access land straight up the slopes, to the summit. This was a perfect spot for a late lunch.

Lunchtime refreshments eaten, we continued on down the western slopes of the hill, before climbing back up again to the trig point north of Broad Ecton Farm. Climbing was hot work again and Dixie spotted a water trough in one of the fields for a long drink. I also splashed water all over her to help cool her down. She liked that.

There was a lovely, refreshing breeze on this edge, so it seemed another good excuse for a break to let the dogs cool down again after the climb.

On the home stretch now, we followed the edge southwards until we picked up a lane that took us back down to the Manifold Cycleway.

James had obviously planned this walk very carefully, as a welcome cafe was next on the agenda. Ice-creams, coffee and tea were eagerly enjoyed while Dixie took the opportunity for another rest.

And the final climb of the day back up to the village of Grindon, was a short, sharp reminder that White Peak walks are not always the easy option to Kinder and Bleaklow.

The shadows were already lengthening as Grindon finally came into sight. It had been an unexpectedly hot afternoon, but as usual James had come up with an excellent route.

25 thoughts on “Hot And Sunny In The White Peak

  1. Phew, at least you did not mention my ‘relaxed’ navigation method in getting us off of Ecton hill……………

    It was a suprisingly warm and sunny day in the hills, good to feel the warmth of the sun. possibly for the last time this year on a walk. You can’t beat the odd refreshment stop on a walk either! It’s always good to read someone elses write-up of a trip you have been on.


    1. No, I certainly wouldn’t be so presumptious as to mention how you managed to get us ‘off path’ and ‘off access land’, and how we trolled through several fields before getting back to where we should be…
      Says she with fingers crossed wondering what’ll happen next time she does the navigation…


    1. Thanks!
      I didn’t know the area well either. I’ve done more cycling in that area of the White Peak than I have walking, but it was very pleasant – and pretty quiet too. As long as you keep off the Manifold Trail, you don’t see too many people.


    1. No we didn’t, but I suspect it might be quite busy up there these days. When I was there on my school trip many years ago, it was a bit of a muddy scramble up to the cave, but I’ve heard that there’s a man-made stepped path now. Did you go up?


  2. Ecton Hill was one of my favourite haunts when I lived up that way, great to relive it again here as well as the many times I downed a cold one at the pub in Wetton.
    “Memories, like the corners of my mind……”
    Never mind!


    1. For the record, we only downed cold cokes at the pub – extremely welcome ones mind!
      You’ve got a lot to answer for though – I first spotted this comment as I was turning the computer off last night, and then couldn’t get to sleep for that song worming round and round my brain… 😀


  3. Dovedale and the Manifold were the most accessible hilly areas from Leicestershire when I was a kid. We went there quite a bit, and always insisted on exploring any caves on offer. I don’t remember it often being hot however: that’s a turn up for the books!


  4. Chrissie,from this post down I can`t manage to see your blog properly.All the pics and script are jumbled up it seems.Maybe the problem is at my end or have you changed your template recently ? i had similar problems when giving mine a makeover.


    1. Sorry about that Alex. I changed the template whilst recuperating with the ankle – probably in April/May? No-one else has said they’ve had any problems…have you tried using the ‘page titles’ at the top to access stuff? I’ll have a go myself at accessing stuff at work tomorrow, where the computer will think I’m just a visitor to the site…


  5. Just been perusing through your very interesting blog.

    This particular one, mentions some of the plcase I used to frequent as a child, many of which I really ought to visit again.


      1. Sadly I have lived in the West Midlands all my life. But, my mother came from Denton, in Manchester and my Grandparents, my mother’s parents that is, came from Belper and Darley Dale.

        As a result, a lot of weekends and holiday times were spent in the White Peak.

        My Dark Peak ventures were a personal desire to push the boundaries when I was 18 and able to get around on my motor bike, back then.


        1. I originally come from Co Durham and my childhood holidays were in places like Swaledale and Ingleton, so much as I love the Peak, my nostalgic memories are all from the Dales. All made more poignant of course by the fact that I’ve lost both my parents in the not too distant past.
          Do you not still have a motorbike then? My hubby Geoff has a BMW Adventure thingy and he does all sorts of exciting things with it like taking it to Morroco and all over Europe. Not sure what he’s got in mind for his next big adventure!


          1. Sadly not, i no longer have a motor bike. My wife has put her foot down quite firmly on that, and its the only thing she’s put her foot down on! :'((

            Even more so recently, after I had been diagnosed with DVT, from an old injury, (not health related I’m happy to say), in my left leg. That was the leg I smashed in a bike crash at 17!

            My motor biking days were late 70’s, with classics like the Suzi kettle, the Honda K and F series, Kwak Z’s and many more.

            However, I’m allowed freedom in the hills and never questioned, too much, on that shiny new bit of kit I just had to buy…..

            I was for a few years, a Scout Leader, undergoing training similar to the WGL, to lead Scouts and Explorers in to the hills and on the moors. But politics got in the way and I walked.

            But the training was fab and improved my nav skills by light years, making hill walking a far more pleasurable hobby, including the winter skills, using ice axe and crampons.

            Their loss, my gain. :-))


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