Day One, 2.01 miles
Backpacking at the moment feels a bit like a phased return to work. I’m trying to get out as much as possible, gradually increasing the distance and altering the terrain etc, in order to help The Foot along its recovery path.
Last weekend’s outing was a linear route from the Snake Pass to Hayfield. If you know this area at all, that would encompass a big chunk of the Snake Path, although I wasn’t planning on sticking religiously to it.
Dale said he was up for joining me.
Pebbles was desperate to come too, but the forecast was for rain, rain and more rain, and she hates rain, so I left her at home. She wasn’t entirely happy with that arrangement.
Geoff drove us round to the starting point late afternoon on the Saturday, and we set off, in the rain. I was only planning a couple of miles for this section, before pitching up for the night.
If you know the Snake Path, you’ll also know that between the Snake and Ashop Head, there are half a dozen or so stream fords to cross. Normally, these are so insignificant that you probably don’t notice them. But as we climbed higher, I began to wonder.
We hadn’t had a huge amount of rain really in the previous few days, but with the ground generally being so unbelievably dry, what we’d had was running straight off and into the water courses.
The first stream we crossed had a bridge, but the water under it was thundering along, and over on the other side of the Ashop we could see the (often totally dry) streams thundering down off Kinder plateau.
It wasn’t a total surprise then, when the next stream we got too was also thundering down, swollen with peaty water. A bit higher up in the gorge, Dale happily skipped across a couple of narrow planks, but I wasn’t keen on that. Three planks wide and I’d have been ok, but two planks was pushing it for me – balance isn’t my strongest point at the best of times!
The ford area was too wide for me to jump, and I have a bit of a healthy respect for water moving as fast as that, so realistically, the only way for me to cross was to go higher upstream.
After a bit of a Chrissie Faff in my head then, I suggested we trolled up the hill to find a crossing point, and we’d probably also find somewhere to camp up higher. Also, if we continued across the moors the next morning, we could miss all the other fords along the Snake Path as well, and hit Mill Hill from another direction.
So that’s what we did. It wasn’t far to the top, by which time the stream was almost negligible, and we soon found a pleasant enough spot to spend the night.
The rain had stopped by now and the views were opening out, but there would no doubt be more overnight.
Day Two, 7.26 miles
Well, I have to say, that I slept really badly. I don’t normally when I’m camping, but I did this time. It was pretty windy on and off all night, with some heavy showers, and wee excursions had to be timed to take advantage of the dry interludes.
Dry at breakfast time though, and the forecast was hopefully a drier one than yesterday.
We’d arranged to set off walking at 9am.
I’d sorted a couple of bearings to take us just south of the summit of Featherbed Top, and then across west to pick up the Pennine Way. As it happened, visibility was excellent anyway.
This area has always had a dreadful reputation for bogs and the like, but in actual fact turned out to be very pleasant walking.
Partly due to the dry summer we’ve had I suspect, but also the work of the Moors For The Future group – creating micro dams, seeding and the like – has had a huge, positive impact on the peatlands around here.
We hit the Pennine Way slabs in less than a mile.
Then Mill Hill – where Dale struck an Epic Pose.
I quietly wondered to myself about descending via William Clough, but quickly decided no. Not only would that stream be fairly full, the whole Clough has become very eroded of late, with new paths all over the place. We turned west again and went past the Liberator wreck. One of my all time favourite lunch spots
And so, a few miles later and we were back in Hayfield.
Thanks to Dale for his company on a Mega-Epic-Enjoyable-Nano-Micro Adventure, and Pebbles is now holding me ransom for a trip for her, as she says the weather wasn’t that bad after all…