20090418_Win Hill – Ladybower – Bamford Rocks Walk.
When : 18th April 2009
Who : Me and Lorne …. 2 grown up helpers not needed for an afternoon during an outdoor activities weekend for a group of youngsters from the Rugby area.
Where : Hope Valley, Derbyshire, Peak District, England.
Maps : 1:25000 OS Explorer Map OL1 – The Peak District-Dark Peak Area.
End Point : 216, 839
Approx Distance : 6.2 miles, 10 km
Heights up : 1920 ft (about 585 m)
Heights down : 1450 ft (about 440m)
Parking : We started the walk at the campsite we were staying at, so no public parking but there is parking in Hope Village (quite near the church I think).
I had offered my services to the group that were due to do walking as their Saturday afternoon session (I think they’d already done Climbing during the morning and were due to off road cycle on Sunday morning) … Anyway, they decided that there were enough older people amongst themselves that they didn’t need me, nor the help of another adult helper (Lorne) which left us at a bit of a loose end. So I found a quiet(ish) corner in the campsite car park for a peruse of my map and quickly formulated a plan for an afternoon walk. The idea was to drop into Hope Village, pick up one of the routes up to the top of Win Hill, drop down towards the dam holding back the waters of Ladybower Reservoir and then work out a route across the lowland farmland back to Hope maybe using a section of The Derwent Valley Heritage Way. It was a very loose plan and I just decided that as it was turning out to be a nice afternoon weather-wise that I’d just kind of let the walk evolve as I went. I explained my thoughts to Lorne, who quickly decided to join me. So once the three groups had set off in their various directions, we too moved off, leaving the campsite deserted. We had no choice but to start on a minor road for about a mile to get us to the village of Hope. Now I don’t particularly like road walking and I try to avoid it as much as possible but sometimes it’s necessary and in fact it didn’t seem so bad, probably helped by the sunshine and good views across The Hope Valley. Also walking with someone I didn’t really know left the opportunity for our chat to go in all sorts of directions. Even walking over a mineral line and a road entrance into The Hope Cement Works complex didn’t really detract from enjoying the freedom of not having the responsibility of having the youngsters with us.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed leading the morning walk, there’s a huge satisfaction in leading walks, but it’s different to walking on your own or in small groups. The pace can quicken and you can be more flexible in adapting routes etc. this soon happened after we’d reached Hope. As, after crossing the A6187 main road I took a detour into the local grocery store to pick up some extra provisions for the walk … Can you imagine trying to do that quickly and efficiently with a bunch of teenagers in tow …. No nor me!
We then picked up the Edale road heading north for maybe 500 yards or so before branching right down a side track to go under a railway where we had a choice of routes to ascend Winhill.
Option-1 was to take a long route at a relatively gentle angle northwards for a mile or so, before almost completely doubling back to rise up and along the ridge of Hope Brink to Thornhill Brink and Winhill Pike, maybe another mile and a half.
Option-2 was a much more direct route. Taking a right along a track near the railway before turning left rising quickly up to Twitchill Farm and thence angling steeply up the hillside beneath Thornhill Brink to arrive at Winhill Pike in a little more than a mile, less than half the distance of option-1.
After a little deliberation we settled on option-2 and set off through quite nice gentle green farmland, taking the farm track up to Twitchill farm. I had to stop to take the obligatory photo of some rough cut logs piled up by the side of the track. At the farm the terrain steepened greatly and the ridge top we were heading for disappeared as we climbed.
The lush green lowland fields quickly and dramatically changed to a rough heathland of course grasses and heather as we climbed. My fitness levels that had been perfectly fine all morning and during the afternoon up until now, started to fail me somewhat, my legs struggling to find a rhythm on the steeper ground. However, I put my head down and put in some real work, which soon paid dividends … My pace began to quicken to a level I was happy with and it wasn’t long before the slope eased especially after we passed through the broken-down line of a dry-stone wall as our destination of Winhill pike came into view. Seeing where you’re heading for can be a huge boost as it gives a target to aim for and ground covered is a tangible measure of success.
We reached the crest of Thornhill bank and from here it was easy going, even the little craggy climb up the tor of Winhill Pike. The views down to Ladybower Reservoir and beyond to The Dark Peak are stunning from here and I was soon asked by other walkers to take a couple of picture of them with the vista behind. They then returned the favour, with me and Lorne proudly propped up on the summit trig’ point. It’d be interesting to know just how many snap shots of people stood next to these let’s face it rather ugly concrete obelisks have ever been taken.
Looking eastwards, we could look over Bamford Moor, and it was there that one of our groups was doing their climbing, only about a mile or so away as the crow flies. Their mini-bus was to be parked on a minor road (New Road) just to the south of the small line of a rocky outcrop (Bamford Edge). It was now that we used the flexibility of route taking talked about earlier and we resolved to pick up our pace and walk over there to find the climbers and in the process get a lift back to the camp-site.
This wasn’t really a cheat (if that’s what you’re thinking) as it involved a very steep descent through the forest of Winhill Plantation and Parkin Clough to then cross the dam holding back the waters of Ladybower Reservoir and then a section of road walking uphill to hopefully find the mini-bus and the party of climbers, before they packed up and set off for the campsite.
I’ve kind of given the route away now, but suffice to say the drop through the forest was indeed very steep, almost painfully so as the path rapidly crosses contours by the side of a stream. With just a little imagination the path dropping into the trees could have been the entrance into the dark depths of Fanghorn Forest … could there be Orcs or goblins, hoards of giant man-eating spiders or benevolent elves hidden within ? (if you’ve read The Hobbit + Lord of the Rings you’ll know what I’m rambling on about here). Sorry, I’ve gone a bit off-story but it does make you wonder if Mr Tolkien had a place like this in mind when he wrote his tome of Middle Earth.
Back to the walk … After a good length of descent we picked up a contouring track that soon brought us to the western end of the Ladybower dam, the light and airy open expanse of water a total contrast to the claustrophobic conifer forest. Crossing the dam afforded super views north to The Dark peak Hills rising out of the lake and to the south over the tailbay and down the upper reaches of The Derwent Valley. The grassy southerly facing slope of the dam was covered in yellow dandelions … very pretty.
From the eastern end of the dam we just had to pound tarmac, firstly south by the side of the A6013 and then branching left onto New Road and a slog upwards until we found the mini-bus …. Hurray it was still there. We then quizzed a couple of very fit looking guys who’d obviously been climbing on Bamford edge and they gave us some rough directions to where a group of young people matching the description of our colleagues were on the crag. So we set off to find them, which we did with ease getting some more super views along the way. Not long after our meeting, the climbers packed up and we all set off across the moor back to the mini-bus for the drive back to Hope and Pindale Farm to cook a well earned dinner but not before stopping off in Bamford Village for an ice-cream/ice-lolly for everyone, a suitable reward for a fantastic days walking.
Just as an aside, if you want to use this as the basis of a circular walk, there is car parking in the villages of Hope and Castleton and there are numerous footpaths shown on the map that criss-cross the landscape between Bamford village and Hope/Castleton. If a pub is important to you on a walk there are several marked at intervals on the map throughout the Derwent and Hope Valleys … Having not used ANY of them this week-end I’ll have to let you do your own research on suitability.
Hope you enjoyed my scribblings,
Other walks of this weekend =
Next walk after these 3 outings = 20090508_Park Wood-Bluebells Walk With Dad.