We were back to the Peak District after rock climbing there just 10 days earlier. This time we were exploring the area by foot and testing out our new tent by wild camping…..
After a hearty breakfast at the very nice Maynard Hotel and plenty of coffee, we packed up our bags and set off on our hike. It was 10:30am by the time we left and the temperature was already uncomfortably high for walking with packs. We got a bit lost on the moorland near Grindleford despite having GPS (why do we always get lost?!) and faffed around in boggy marshland for a while trying to avoid sinking into the wetland.
We walked through the National Trust’s Langshaw Country Park and stopped for a cold drink at the Fox House pub. Sadly it didn’t open until midday so we had to wait 30 minutes in the blistering sun. A cold beer, proper toilet and the chance to refill our water bottles was well worth the wait. We were still full from breakfast so we took the risk and decided to skip lunch – a decision I hoped I wouldn’t regret!
We hiked up to the ridgeline and passed Burbage Edge, boasting gorgeous views of green heathland and rolling hills below. Unexpectedly, we found an ice cream van in one of the car parks and enjoyed a Mr Whippy for lunch! Our Mr Whippy’s were served errr sideways and we really struggled to eat them.
It was beautiful hiking along Stanage Edge and surrounds. Upon the ridge it was a little breezy, which was good as it was rather hot and there was absolutely no shade up there. Once we came down from the ridge we found some much-needed shelter next to a cluster of trees we passed. We stopped for a handful of nuts and a two-minute nap before heading up Bamford Edge, another steep climb!
We reached the Yorkshire Bridge Inn at 6:30pm just in time for our reservation. By now we were incredibly tired. We quickly ordered two pints of cold beer followed by two chickpea and squash burgers. Wow we were hungry, we demolished the lot! After our meal, we wandered around the southern tip of the Ladybower Reservoir, admiring its magnificent plug hole. Oh how I’d love to see it in action after heavy rain!
We hadn’t realised the time and the sun was starting to set. With little idea on where to wild camp, we continued along our planned route to Win Hill to see if there was anywhere to pitch up there. Carlos felt sick from exhaustion and I felt sick from exercising after such a heavy dinner. It was a long slog to the top and by now we were sweating buckets!
We had missed what looked like a spectacular sunset as I misjudged the steepness of the climb up Win Hill but not to worry, there’ll be other sunsets I’m sure. There was nothing up the top of Win Hill in the way of suitable camping spots but we saw two ladies eating hummus on the rocky summit who were planning on spending the night there with their bivvies. “Do you know where we can camp?” I asked. They pointed to a patch of grass where sheep were roaming below, another couple were walking that way too. They were also wild camping. It was dark by the time we finally decided on a decent spot, which was nice and padded thanks to long grass (and most likely sheep poo).
Setting up our new tent in the dark was fun! Our new Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 was incredibly easy to pitch so we had no issues at all. Our first night in the wild was incredibly windy just under the summit of Win Hill. The sound of our tent flapping around in the wind was so loud, it was like sleeping on a construction site. Let’s just say I’ve had better night’s sleep!
As we were packing up the tent the following morning something bit my crotch. I quickly pulled my shorts down and to my surprise, a giant beetle was in my pants! He dropped onto the ground but before doing so, squirted me with a black dye staining my shorts! After that ordeal, we walked up to Win Hill summit for the second time. It was quiet at 8am in the morning but there was still a handful of people up there. We descended down to the village of Hope for breakfast and re-supply.
Hope is a lovely little village well worth a visit. We had breakfast in The Courtyard Cafe which was such good value, under £15 in total. Carlos had amazing thick tiger bread with his Egg’s Benedict and I had Derbyshire Oatcakes with cheese and mushrooms, a local delicacy. I asked for Devonshire oatcakes and the waitress got confused – I was in Derbyshire, not Devon!
After breakfast, we walked up to Wooler Knoll and along the old Roman road. The route was easy to follow with lots of great views of the Hope Valley and plenty of sheep too. It was cooler now and great hiking weather. We stopped for a brie and cranberry roll on top of Crookstone Hill, sheltered from the wind by an old stone wall. It was certainly starting to pick up!
As we walked to the top of Edale Moor we encountered a brief period of rain. It actually woke us up a lot and made us walk faster. Now it felt like we were really out in the wilderness and we passed very few walkers. The path was tough and constantly required steps over rocks and boulders. It was rather technical walking but it made it more enjoyable. We were walking against the wind and had to keep our hoods up to try and soften the blow. This section of the route took a lot longer than I had anticipated and although the views were beautiful, the path did seem to go on forever at times.
We reached Kinder Downfall where there is a nice waterfall and views over the Kinder Reservoir and what I believe was the city of Manchester. We saw some people wild camping just before the waterfall but we wanted to clock another couple of km’s to make the next day a bit easier. This was the first of a series of wrong decisions, which led us to walk back and forth for the next two hours; tired, hungry and desperate to get out of the wind.
I hoped to camp up on Kinder Scout and to get there I planned to take a less-trodden path that following a large stream. It was a terrible path; hard to follow, muddy, rocky and just darn right wet. Back on the Pennine Way we felt incredibly exposed and it was too windy for a pleasant wild camp. Back to the smaller path we went. This was type 2 fun. It was 9pm, the sun had nearly set and we couldn’t find any suitable ground to pitch our tent. We had no choice but to set up camp on the sandy bank next to the stream.
Along came two middle-aged Asian tourists who were incredibly lost. They were over 10km away from the nearest town, Edale, and they weren’t suitably dressed for the rapidly dropping temperatures. They didn’t even have much of a bag with them! We directed them back to the main path and told them how to get back to Edale. It made me snap out of my over-tired grumpy mood straight away. At least we had a decent tent and the right gear!
The night was cold and windy but we remained snug in our sleeping bags. We woke in the clouds which meant everything was a bit damp, so we decided to keep half the tent pegged in to allow it to air dry while we packed up our stuff. Note to self: never do this in strong winds. The tent blew away! Luckily Marco caught it and we only lost one peg (which we found after 15 minutes of looking).
We decided to take the Pennine Way down because the route across Kinder Scout felt dangerous in low visibility and strong winds. We passed lots of people including a group of very friendly Indian men of all ages who had been walking since 4am. And an older couple who turned their nose up at our trail runners. I’m a big believer that walking boots are not suited to everyone, especially those with lighter packs (which we aspire to be!).
Views from Jacob’s Ladder were as beautiful as I was told they would be. Unbeknown to me, my knee gave way just as we started to descend – an old injury which flares up every year or two. This made the walk down to Edale incredibly painful but I kept quiet and didn’t let it stop me. Edale was a lot smaller than expected and very busy indeed. We got two cakes and coffees at the local campsite and sat outside on picnic benches. Re-fuelled, it was time for another steep ascent up Mam Tor where we were greeted by hundreds of people.
This ridgeline path to Lose Hill was stunning but there were so many people I didn’t enjoy it as much. I much prefer being out in the wilderness. We took the decision to descend into Castleton early and end our walk, mainly down to my knee and the now crowded route. We had still covered roughly 60km in 1 full day and 2 short days and I was satisfied with that.
The village of Castleton was busy but ever so nice with lots of tea rooms and pubs. We enjoyed a fantastic Bakewell Tart with ice cream at Rose Cottage before getting a taxi back to Grindleford. Now we were in need of a hot shower, an afternoon nap and a bottle of prosecco!
Our Peak District hike was a great adventure and we had great fun camping in our new tent. One thing I’ve learnt from this trip is how fast the weather can change upon the moorland. At just 500m above sea level, the temperature, wind and visibility can be just as gnarly as those I experienced 2000m up in New Zeland.
Never underestimate the weather, even in the UK.