20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool.

20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool. 

20100427-07_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.haddenWhen : 27th April 2010

Who : Me and Craig

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Maps : Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 222

Start + End Point : Cawston Grange Estate, SP47,73 and Farthest Point : SP464,726

Approx Distance : 2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Heights : None to speak of really (30-foot rise from Potford’s Dam Pool to Brickyard spinney max) 

20100427_Evening Circular Walk – Cawston Woods and Potford’s Dam Pool.

Following my previous post about an evening wander in the Cawston area of Rugby, here’s a short diary post about another evening stroll around Cawston but this time on the other (southern) side of the Coventry Road. This was again with my son (then aged 8 ) and I really like him wanting to come out with me on these little expeditions; who knows in later life, when he’s bigger and fitter than me, he’ll be taking me out for a walk out in the countryside. 

20100427-01_Potato ridge and furrow - parallel line perspective by gary.hadden

From our home on the Cawston Grange Estate we headed up to The Coventry Road, turned away from Bilton/Rugby and then took a left into Cawston Lane and set off down the country road. The fields on both sides behind the hedges were still pretty much bare, but one in particular had been tilled up into the very distinctive ridge and furrows of a potato crop. I like the strong lines that this produces, especially with the low evening sun casting shadows across the field, enhancing the perspective effect of converging parallel lines. 

20100427-02_Bluebells - Cawston Woods - Fox Covert - Rugby by gary.haddenAfter a few hundred yards, Cawston Lane makes a bit of a bend to the left with a dirt lay-by on the right, large enough for several cars. From here a path heads off into Cawston Woods (Fox Covert to give the proper name here) passing a quite ugly looking disused circular water treatment construction on the way. Once we were a little further into the woods we were greeted by a carpet of bluebells, one of those sights that just can’t help but lift the spirits – We’re so lucky to have the woods so close to home – it even works for youngsters, evidenced by Craig dashing back and forth along the paths criss-crossing through the flowers. 

We eventually arrived at a sizeable farm track that divides the woods in two, and promptly crossed straight over into the trees on the other side (now called Cawston Spinney) to follow a winding narrow path down to a mini-stream and from there we found our way 20100427-06_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.haddenout to a small expanse of water. For description purposes, (although it’s rather subjective) I’d say it’s bigger than a pond but smaller than a lake, maybe a good sized pool is apt enough … but maybe you’d be better off just looking at my pic’s to get an impression of how big it is. My map doesn’t actually name this small reservoir, so I guess any one of several names would fit :- Cawston Woods Reservoir?, Cawston Pond?, Potford’s Dam Lake?, or my personal fave’ Potford’s Dam Pool …. anyone have a definitive answer? Please? 

20100427-10_Nesting Coot in Reeds - Potford's Dam Pool by gary.haddenThe pool is not an overly exciting place in terms of national landscape, but I like it here! It is very roughly triangular in shape, bounded by the woods down half of one side and a steep bank and a line of trees along another, the remaining margins open up into ploughed farmland. There is a tranquility here that seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This was exemplified by a coot sat on its nest in the bank-side reeds, no more than a few feet away from the path – she (or he?) was completely un-phased by our presence.

20100427-11_Reeds - Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.hadden

20100427-12_Potford's Dam Pool - Near Cawston Woods (Rugby) by gary.hadden

20100427-13_Tranquility Shattered by gary.haddenWe had only moved on a short way, when the peaceful almost mirror like waters were well and truly shattered, when a dog appeared all of a sudden, launched itself off the bank, to land with a large splaaa-doosh in the water – quite spectacular, but it did destroy the quiet time we’d just spent watching the coot a few moments earlier. The dog and its owner soon moved on, leaving the pool to return to the placidness of before – Lovely. 

20100427-15_Moon-rise_Potford's Dam Pool + Cawston Woods by gary.haddenTime was now pressing on with daylight giving way to a special pinky-blue light of late evening; We were superbly fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to see the moon rise, peeking over the tree tops of the now shadowy, gloomy woods – Beautiful is an overly used word sometimes, but this was, simply, beautiful!

20100427-14_Moon-rise_Potford's Dam Pool + Cawston Woods by gary.hadden     20100427-17_Moon-rise over Cawston Woods + Oil seed rape field by gary.hadden

With evening rapidly drawing in, it was time to head back home and we easily found the path that heads from Potford’s Dam Pool up to Brickyard Spinney. For once the path was actually on the ground here (it often isn’t) which I was really, really happy about, especially as it rose straight through an oil-seed-rape crop as tall as Craig’s shoulders and sometimes completely above his head. The icing-on-the-cake, so to speak, was again watching the moon rise above the tree line (it’d disappeared from view as we left the pool) and the soft remnants of the sun setting over the horizon, beyond Lawford Heath. 

20100427-18_Sunset over Lawford Heath from Cawston (Rugby) by gary.hadden

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my pix ….

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20100416_A mini Cawston walk – Chasing the sunset

20100416_A mini Cawston walk – Chasing the sunset

20100416-09_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.hadden

When : 16th April 2010 …. Who : Me and Craig

Where : Cawston, Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Maps : Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 222

Start + End Point : Cawston Grange Estate, SP47,73 …. Farthest Point : SP465,737

Approx Distance : 1.25 miles (2 km) …. Heights : None

20100416-02_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.haddenThis is a short account about a very short walk I did at even shorter notice with my son Craig ( then aged 8 ). We were both at home when the glow of a nice looking sunset started to build, casting an orange glow into our living room. So remembering how we’d been rewarded with a fantastic sunset the year before (Sept-09) we quickly donned some footwear, grabbed my camera and headed out into the wilds of Cawston farmland. I say wilds, it’s really quite tame, only with some occasionally boisterous cattle sometimes in the fields immediately to the west of where we live. 

The route taken was out onto the main Coventry Road, headed away from Bilton for a hundred yards or so before turning right onto a bridleway path almost directly opposite Cawston Lane. It’s this path that heads out north-westwards into the local farm fields. Although pretty, the sunset hadn’t really intensified very much, but the promise was still there that it might get better. 

20100416-03_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.haddenIt’s quite surprising how quickly a sunset moves and we ended up moving quite quickly ourselves, chasing the sunset into the distance. The promised sunset never really materialised and never reached the levels of stunning, remaining pretty on the scale of intensity as we reached the new footbridge over the equally new Rugby Western Relief Road. Perhaps we needed a little cloud cover instead of the near perfectly clear skies we actually had. 

20100416-04_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.haddenCraig played the eternal game played by generations of kids, of seeing how many returned waves he could illicit from the cars and lorries that passed beneath us, whilst I played at taking some photo’s of the bridge. I liked the way the soft light reflected off the metal surfaces whilst at the same time being silhouetted strongly against the rapidly darkening sky …. So, I was finally rewarded with some OK pic’s, but not necessarily the ones I’d anticipated when we first set out. 

20100416-05_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.haddenThe walk back across the fields was more problematic than the outward journey, just because we were walking away from the little light that was left : Picking out the frequent cow-pats on the floor in the gloom to avoid stepping in them was, errrmm, taxing. Thankfully we both managed to reach the road without any unwelcome smelly stuff attached to our shoes, and we soon reached home back on the Cawston estate without any further ado. 

20100416-07_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.hadden

20100416-08_Sunset behind Lawford Heath + footbridge over RWRR by gary.hadden

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my pix ….

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20100220_Snowdrops and a wander in Wolston – Warwickshire

20100220_Snowdrops and a wander in Wolston – Warwickshire

20100220-16_Snowdrops near Wolston community centre by gary.haddenWhen : 20th February 2010

Who : Just me

Where : Wolston, Warwickshire, Village roughly midway between Rugby and Coventry

Maps : Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No.222, Rugby and Daventry

Grid ref : SP413,755

Approx Distance : about an hours wander, distance doesn’t really come into it.

Heights : None to speak of.

Parking : With care and consideration on street parking, or near The Village Leisure and Community Centre – Just be careful because the gates can be closed and locked up at times I think.

Public Transport : Bus services do run through the village, ‘cause I’ve seen them, but don’t know how frequently; I believe they run between Rugby + Coventry and vice-versa.

If you want to see the photo’s larger, just click on the image and it’ll launch from my flickr site …. If you still want larger, then click on the “Actions tab” ; choose “View All Sizes” and then pick “The Size” you’d like to view …. Another little trick is once looking at a photo on flickr, just left click on the image and it’ll relaunch with a black background which can look really good. Left click on the pic again takes it back to white background.

This is a going to be a short post, so much so that I’m not even going to write an initial summary like I normally do. I’m currently sat here in early June, with the sun shining and it’s really quite pleasant (ignoring the occasional showers that are around today) and I’ve just looked back at some of my photo’s from a walk around the local village of Wolston. 

20100220-04_Snowdrops near Wolston community centre by gary.haddenSo, in counterpoint to the previous handful of my “big” walks diaries, this post is to show that it’s possible to enjoy a wander for an hour or so without getting all sweaty and tired, lumping ruck-sacks over hills and dales, etc. etc. – It’s good to do the little things as well ! 

I can hardly remember why I ended up in Wolston – probably to do with classes that my son used to do there a while back, but, what I am sure about is that it was a cold crisp morning with some snow and frost on the ground and some blue sky breaking through the clouds … a 20100220-10_Snowdrops near Wolston community centre by gary.haddenperfect late winters day to wrap up warm, get some fresh air and have a play with taking a few photo’s. 

I parked at The Village Leisure and Community Centre, towards the western end of the village (GR. SP406,753) and nearby there is a very narrow strip of woods which is where I started my wander. I only got a few feet along the path when I stopped, before I’d got started really. 20100220-12_Snowdrops near Wolston community centre by gary.haddenThis was because of the lovely drifts of snowdrops naturalised in the undergrowth, their droopy blooms a real picture poking through the remnants of recent a snowfall, leaf litter and trailing ivy. I spent quite some time trying to get some photo’s, and I think I did OK despite shivering in the cold, not having a tripod and not wanting to kneel down on the wet ground [it’s a long way down to ground level when you’re well over six foot tall !] 

20100220-15_Crocus buds near Wolston community centre by gary.haddenAnyway, after a while I set off again, and I was lucky enough to see some of the first crocuses of the year whilst dropping through the narrow strip of trees with some gentle views over stubbly fields down to St. Margaret’s’ Church. The Church was to be more or less the furthest point along of my stroll, but there isn’t a direct route across the fields, so, it meant following the path down into the village (this path is used by the “A Coventry Way”, “Centenary Way” and “Shakespeare’s Avon Way” named walks) and it didn’t take long to pick up, and then emerge from, a narrow enclosed path passing the local school. 

20100220-13_St Margarets Church - Wolston from near the community centre by gary.hadden   20100220-14_St Margarets Church - Wolston from near the community centre by gary.hadden

20100220-18_St Margarets Church - Wolston by gary.hadden

A turn left here took me along an access road, skirting the edge of a pasture, to reach St. Margaret’s church which is an attractive building in an unassuming way. From the church I took the footpath down to the bridge over The River Avon, just a hundred yards or so away. This is in fact two bridges, the old single-width road bridge (now traffic signal controlled) and a rather utilitarian (at least in my eyes) metal footbridge just for pedestrians. I was rewarded with a beautiful pair of swans swimming on the river below me and the low weak sun sparkling off the water’s surface.  

20100220-21_Pair of swans on The River Avon - Wolston by gary.hadden   20100220-22_Pair of swans on The River Avon - Wolston by gary.hadden

 20100220-25_Pair of swans on The River Avon - Wolston by gary.hadden

20100220-26_Stream through Wolston Pasture by gary.haddenIt was cold though, especially near the river, so I didn’t hang around, moving off back towards the village centre. This brought me back to the pasture (with a small brook running through it) already passed by earlier. Even the sheep looked cold; they couldn’t even be bothered to get up from their sitting positions when I got close to them – Very un-sheep-like. Rather than retrace my steps back to the church, I walked back to the village along main street and I was soon at the centre where the brook is culverted between brick walls and with several small bridges spanning it. 


20100220-20_Sheep in meadow - Wolston Village by gary.hadden   20100220-27_St Margarets Church - Wolston by gary.hadden

20100220-28_Stream through Wolston Village - Main Street by gary.haddenOver-all the village is quite attractive with a mix of buildings including half timbered cottages, but it doesn’t feel like a touristy destination – it’s a real living place with pubs, shops, library (for for how long in the current climate of cuts) and housing.  

At the memorial cross I turned around, found the alley-way passing the school and then retraced my steps up to my car this time not stopping to take pic’s of the snowdrops. 

Later on in the day I headed down to “The Green” in Bilton village (on the outskirts of Rugby) to take some pic’s of the crocuses, which make a superb display every year. I was rewarded by the flowers emerging from the snow in bright sunshine – Lovely. 

20100220-34_Crocus in the snow - Bilton Green Rugby by gary.hadden

20100220-32_Crocus in the snow - Bilton Green Rugby by gary.hadden

20100220-35_Crocus in the snow - Bilton Green Rugby by gary.hadden   20100220-33_Crocus in the snow - Bilton Green Rugby by gary.hadden

20100220-29_Crocus in the snow - Bilton Green Rugby by gary.hadden

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and pix ….

T.T..F.N. Gary

Midland Hill Walkers West East Traverse of The Peak District (Stage-1 of 4)

20090405_Midland Hill Walkers West East Traverse of The Peak District (Stage-1 of 4)

When : 5th April 2009

Who : Midland Hill Walkers – Walking Club

Where : Bollington to Goyt Valley, Peak District, Not far from Buxton, England

Maps : O.S. Outdoor Leisure Map No. OL24 – The Peak District – White Peak Area

Start Point : Bollington SJ.93,77,

End Point : The Goyt Valley at Errwood Reservoir  (around about SK.018,759)

Approx Distance : ???? miles … B-Team normally walk about 10 miles and the A-Team normally about 13-15 miles maybe, so I’d guess they probably did that sort of distance this time out.

Red text is addition to my original post, now that I’ve learnt a little more about the walk.

I didn’t do either the A or B walks for this, the first leg of a four stage walk across The Peak District, mostly in Derbyshire. This was because at the time I hadn’t actually joined The Midland Hill Walkers (walking club) when they did the walk, but I did do the later stages 2, 3 and 4, so I’m putting this into my diary blog so that all four routes can be read, one after the other, with as much continuity as I can manage. 

I think I heard that the start was somewhere near The Roaches (but I’m not at all sure about this) and finished at Bunsal Cob near Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs in The Goyt Valley. I’ve asked one of the MHW leaders if he can fill me in on the route taken, but I’m fairly confident about the finish point, as this is where the 2nd stage started from (at least for the A-party). 

I’ve now been told that the walk (according to one of the MHW’s leaders) … was on 5th April 2009 and went from Bollington, over Shining Tor to the Errwood Reservoir ….”. From this info I can summise that they probably didn’t do The Roaches, as that area (although not a million miles away) is quite a bit further south.

Another assumption is that they probably went up and over Kerridge Hill (on the Gritstone Trail)  immediately to the south of Bollington, including passing by the White Nancy Monument. Why do I assume this? … because there’s a photo on the MHW web-site gallery of a group of people stood in front of this oddly shaped and very distinctive construction. Beyond the above, I can’t say much more about the walk as there are a multitude of paths criss-crossing the countryside between Bollington and The Goyt Valley.

However, I’ve now allowed my imagination to run riot and devised a route that I think would be worth doing, that’d incorporate the known sites along the route …. and it’d go something like :- Bollington, White Nancy, Kerridge Hill, Tegs Nose Country Park, Ridgegate/Trentabank Reservoirs and Macclesfield Forest, Shutlingsloe, Wildboar Clough, Cumberland Brook, Cat and Fiddle Pub, Shining Tor, Cats Tor, and finish at Errwood Reservoir. This would be about 14-15 miles long and lots of ups and downs – Just about right for the MHW’s A-Party. It’d be interesting to see how many places coincide with what was actually walked back in Apr-09.

There’s not much more I can say, except repeat the little bit of recent info’ from the MHW web site, which goes :-  

“Our March [2011] walk was the final stage of the Derbyshire Peaks West-East Traverse. This is a beautiful walk created by Bill, who set up the Midland Hillwalkers in 1992. As the name suggests, we crossed the Peak District from West to East …..” 

I can certainly vouch for the beautiful scenery of the second, third and fourth legs and now feel disappointed I hadn’t done the first stage, it feels like I’ve unfinished business. 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

T.T.F.N. Gary

20091018_MHW_West East Traverse of The Peak District-2 … Goyt Valley to Peak Forest Linear Walk

20091018_Goyt Valley to Peak Forest Linear Walk – Midland Hill Walkers A-Walk – 2nd leg of a 4-walk trek across The Peak District starting in the West and Crossing over to the East.

This is a re-publication of my diary dating back to October 2009. Re-posted so that it has continuity with the post immediately below it, so that the West-East Traverse of The Peak District reads one after the other. I hope you enjoy. Cheers, Gary. 

When : 18th October 2009

Who : Midland Hill Walkers – Club Walk – A-Walk

Where : The Peak District, Near Buxton

Maps : O.S. Outdoor Leisure Map No.24 – The Peak District – White Peak area

Start Point : 018,759 (Goyt Valley)

End Point : 114,794 (Peak Forest)

Approx Distance : 12.7 miles, 20.3 km

Heights : 2165 ft ascent + 2070 ft descent

(Heights are totals per my memory map programme and include gentle ups and downs as well the more strenuous slopes/terrain)

Transport : Full size luxury coach – From Car Park in Kenilworth.

Summary : Goyt Valley, North West facing slope of Combs Moss, Combs Edge, Dove Holes (village), Peak Dale (village), Tunstead, Wind Low, Hargatewall, Peter Dale, Hay Dale, Dam Dale, Peak Forest (village).

My sister had been on a few walks with The Midland Hill Walkers and she’d suggested I’d probably enjoy a trip out with them too. The M.H.Walkers go out once a month (on a Sunday) and the first date I could join them was on their October Walk 2009, billed as the 2nd stage of a west-east traverse of The Peak District (It’s a pity I’d missed the first stage, but hey, that’s life I suppose). I do like walking in The Peak District, so I made some ‘phone calls, paid some money and was booked on for this walk and the next one in November (Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas) in Wales.

It meant a very early start though, as I had a bit of a drive (A45 + A46 mostly) to get from Rugby to Kenilworth for before 7-o’clock in the morning, which is when the coach departs for the day. I found it a little bit daunting climbing aboard the bus full of total strangers but soon found a seat near my sister and brother-in-law who were also out with them for the day.

Once on the go, one of the leaders made his way up the bus to talk through the two walks options with me; the A walk being more strenuous than the B. The club normally recommends newcomers to start with a B-walk, just to be on the safe side, but he agreed after talking through my experience that I’d cope with the A-walk, so that’s what I decided to do.

After passing through Buxton the coach picked up the A5004 and then soon turned left into the minor road of Goyt’s Lane to descend steeply towards Errwood and Fernilee Reservoirs in the Goyt Valley. I didn’t get a good view of the lakes though, as the A- party was dropped off just beside the small knoll of Burnsal Cob on the eastern side of the reservoirs. As it happens, my sis’ & her husband stayed on the coach to walk with the B-team.

Just for description purposes, I can effectively split the walk into three stages. It would seem sensible therefore to start at the start of stage-1 :-.

1st Stage :

As often happens on walks, the route started off steeply uphill and at a surprisingly quick pace and the group was soon spread out over a fair distance as we rose up a track swinging round in a generally north easterly direction. Several people spoke to me on that first climb, their opening line generally something like “I haven’t seen you out before, is this your first time with the club?” … a good way to break the ice and I was quite happy to have a chat as we all rose through the grassy moorland. The views back over The Goyt Valley were superb! I loved the autumnal colours spread out all around. Being towards the back of the group, I must admit I felt a tad out of touch from the leader, not a good feeling for the first time out and I was quite relieved when the whole party regrouped where the track crossed the A5004.

The path crossed straight over the main road and continued to rise still quite steeply and I resolved to keep myself closer to the leader now; just so I’d feel more comfortable in myself – it’s amazing how much easier the pace seems to be when you’re nearer the front than at the back. The terrain was quite wild; tussocky, grassy moorland and after the path had made a few twists and turns (including passing behind White Hall Outdoor Pursuits Centre) we crested over a rise where my legs appreciated the little rest-bite from the climbing done so far. The views ahead had really opened up by now with a series of knolls and rocky edges forming part of the vista dropping steeply from the mass of Combs Moss above us on our right. 

I’d never walked in this part of The Peak District before and was enjoying the views northwards across a slightly lower and much tamer area of farmland below. The higher rougher ground formed a rough shaped bowl around the green almost manicured meadows and the handful of farmsteads beneath us; a lovely contrast, especially with a scattering of trees turning various shades of red and orange. The weather had begun to close in a little as well, but I think the contrast between the sunlit bright areas against the more gloomy shadows added a super depth to the landscape. By now we were again climbing quite steadily on a faint path, diagonally rising to the flatter almost plateaux like edges of Combs Moss. The path on my OS map is shown as a black dash line  (not a right of way) so I assume the recent open access rules have opened up the moors to walkers – definitely our gain today!


A small group split away at the front, getting their heads down for the pull up to a small shooting hut positioned above a steep sided side valley cutting it’s way into the high ground. It was here that the party regrouped with a short refreshment stop and everyone enjoyed the views. I particularly liked the ridges on the hillside covered with drifts of purple heather and the shiny shimmering silver of dried grass tussocks; the soft colour palette in counterpoint to the harsh looking gritstone walls and rocky outcrops.

The last mile or so had been pretty much westwards but we now swung north for a few hundred yards before turning almost west, ignoring an inviting looking track, to instead climb a rough slope for a short distance up to a faint path running alongside a drystone wall (beginning to look like it’d seen better days). The views back across the lowland bowl to where we’d come from were brill’, amazing to see just how far you can cover by just keeping a good steady pace.

 By now I’d relaxed into the walking much more, keeping up with the leader quite easily now even to the point of taking a couple of ‘photos of him in a rather clichéd pose on top of a rocky outcrop above Alstone Lee.. The MHW’s are currently using my pic’ in a fun caption competition asking “What’s Brian saying”. I feel quite honoured that they think my pic’ is good enough to use in this way.     


The path and wall were now contouring easily around the edges of the moor swinging round from east to west and then northwards again … the last rocky outcrop we traversed is called Combe Edge before we dropped steeply down a short way to a minor road close to an ancient fort at the northern tip of the moor. We then turned right for a section of road walking probably for the best part of a mile.

2nd Stage

After the rough terrain of the moor the smooth tarmac was quite welcome at first, being easier on the ankles and concentration in equal measure. I wasn’t sad however when we branched left onto a path into farmland at Cow Low, passing through Cowlow Farm before rejoining the road just on the outskirts of the village of Dove Holes.

This really marked the start of and by far the most uninteresting stage of the walk which I’m going to skip over pretty quickly … I didn’t take any pic’s for at least a couple of miles, which tells its own story. Dove Holes has a pretty name but is an ugly place – Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, but there’s no other way to describe it; the villages overall facade mirroring the extensive quarrying in this area north of Buxton not protected by National Park status – I guess industry has to have its place but this area looks pretty much devastated over large areas and it doesn’t look like there’s been much attempt to mask the impact. Having said that, we all like our roads and other constructions and the raw materials have to come from somewhere.

There was now some considerable amount of road walking as we left Dove Holes heading southwards to the next point on route, Peak Dale ; again a nicer sounding name than the reality. It was here that we stopped for lunch, spread out on the touchline of a community football pitch. This has to go down as one of the stranger places I’ve had lunch on a country walk. After lunch there was more road walking, to reach Buxton Bridge, where we crossed a railway to then climb steeply, still on the road. After so much tarmac it was good to turn off onto a path, in a stand of trees, heading towards Tunstead. The views down the hillside, overlooked the grey ugly plant of Tarmac’s Tunstead Works. Although undeniably ugly there’s something compelling about these types of industrial landscapes, and they are photogenic in their own way.

3rd Stage.

Leaving the works behind marked the end of the 2nd stage of the walk and the start of a more rural final stage of the day. Instead of the gritstone moors of the morning and the industrial stuff in the middle, we were now heading into limestone countryside [The White Peak] and we crossed the invisible line back into The National Park, just before skirting north of the settlement of Tunstead itself. We were now heading eastwards away from the works and I wasn’t sad to see the back of them as we rose up to the ancient site of “Wind Low”. No one knew quite what the strange lump of stone was on top of the hill and there wasn’t an info’ board to tell us … so guess work was the only option –

  • An ancient burial site ?
  • A drinking trough for travellers horses ?
  • An ancient boundary marker at the top of the hill between ancient hill tribes ?
  • Or my wild guess of an alms drop off point ? like the ones around the Eyam area when villages were isolated by the plague ?

A subsequent look on the internet has told me it’s on the “List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the National Park” and is noted as “SAM No. S13351” and the sites full name is “Wind Low Bowl Barrow & Standing Cross”. According to several sites I’ve looked at : The stone is the base of a medieval stone cross which in turn sits on top of a bronze age barrow (burial mound) ….so, Wind Low is really two things on one site.

The route was very much easier now as we picked up a track at Hayward farm. The easiness didn’t last long though as we came across a rather horrible difficulty as we passed Hargatewall. The walled track now doubled up as a shallow slurry pond stretching out ahead. There was no option but to paddle through the liquid cow poo deep enough to reach half way up our boots. Some of the back markers crossed into a side field in an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent the mess, but in the end they had to hold their noses and splash their way through … Yuk and double-Yuk.

Eventually we emerged from the not-so-green green-lane into grassy fields descending steadily to reach and then drop down into Peter Dale to join The Limestone Way quite near to Dale Head. I was now on familiar ground as I’d walked here on a number of occasions before. The Dale is shallow with quite an open aspect, the upper slopes a line of craggy limestone outcrops. This, combined with the autumnal trees makes a very pretty scene especially if you’re lucky enough to get some sunshine on the cliffs …. unfortunately the sun didn’t grace us with its presence and although dry it was quite grey giving a certain flatness to the view …. however, when looked at more closely there were some lovely colours in the trees and the landscape as a whole.

Turning left, heading northwards, the dale became even shallower, now not far from our final destination. Although a continuation of the same long valley the dale changes its name several times …. Further south it’s called Monk’s Dale then becomes Peter Dale where we joined it towards its northern end. It then becomes Hay Dale and Hay Dale becomes Dam Dale and then it peters-out into virtually no dale at-all as we finished the walk over easy farmland into the small village of Peak Forest;  passing a large church on the way in. We then had a short time to enjoy a pint (or two)  in The Devonshire Arms before the journey back to Kenilworth.

A good walk … well the 1st and 3rd sections anyway and more importantly, an enjoyable first time out with The Midland Hill Walkers, I was now looking forward to the November Walk already booked.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. if you read straight on now, the next post down is the 3rd leg of The West East Traverse … Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir via Cave Dale, Castleton, Mam Tor, Edale and Kinder Scout’s southern edge.

20100425_MHW_Peak District West East Traverse 3 – Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir Linear Walk – A-Walk.

20100425_MHW_Peak District West East Traverse 3 – Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir Linear Walk – A-Walk.

When : 25th April 2010

Who : Midland Hill Walkers – Walking Club

Where : White Peak and Dark Peak from Village of Peak Forest to Ladybower Reservoir

Maps Used : Ordnance Survey OS Explorer Map OL24 The Peak District White Peak area, and Ordnance Survey OS Explorer Map OL1 The Peak District Dark Peak area. 

Start Point :  SK 114,794 …. End Point : SK 169,872

Approx Distance : 12.7 miles, (20.4 km)

Heights : 3x significant ups and downs totalling 2900 ft of ascent (about 883m) and 3200 ft of descent (about 978m)

Summary : The Midland Hill Walkers A-Walk, April 2010 starting at Peak Forest and taking in Old Moor ; Cave Dale ; Castleton ; Mam Tor ; The Great Ridge ; Hollins Cross ; Vale of Edale ; Ringing Roger ; Southern Edge of the Kinder Scout Plateau ; Crookstone Hill ; finishing alongside the western arm of Laybower Reservoir in The Woodland Valley on The Snake Road.

20100425-27_Rock Outcrops-Ringing Roger-Kinder Scout Plateau by gary.haddenIf you don’t want to read my words, then you could go to my flickr site and just see the pic’s as a slide show

It’s now over a year since I did this walk, with The Midland Hill Walkers (MHW) – and this was the third of four walks crossing the Peak District rom West to East. My pic’s have been on my flickr site now for quite some time, but now it’s time to put some words together, to go with my photo’s and if you read straight on at the end of this diary, it’ll lead into the fourth leg (Ladybower to Sheffield including Stanage Edge etc.). 

The coach left the car park in Kenilworth and travelled up the country to regurgitate us onto the side of the road in the village of Peak Forest exactly where we’d finished the 2nd leg of The West East Traverse and so keeping the continuity going perfectly. I’d ummed and arrrred on the coach as to whether to do the A or B walk, and as I felt reasonably fit and because I just love Cave Dale, I chose to do the A-walk (the B-team weren’t going to do the limestone mini-gorge down into Castleton). 

20100425-01_Hazy morning over Peak Forest by gary.hadden

Anyway, back to the start; the coach stopped in Peak Forest (on the A623 Baslow to Chapel-en-le-Frith road) and we all disembarked to recover our rucksacks from the hold and the A-party moved off first and at quite a reasonable pace. At first this was road walking heading north on Church Lane and then turning right into Old Dam Lane rising very steadily with views opening up, back over Peak Forest and much wider vistas over The White Peak. At Brecktor, the made up road became a dry stone walled rough track, still rising and later easing as it crested onto a high plateau-like area of limestone pasture and moorland, pot marked by the remains of ancient mining (for lead I think).

20100425-02_Climb away from Peak Forest by gary.hadden

20100425-03_Between Peak Forest and Castleton by gary.hadden

Super wide views opened up ahead of us and the walking became much easier as the gradient softened and then started a gentle descent onto Old Moor, passing one of the characteristic dew ponds of the area as we went. The tip of Mam Tor was just visible in the distance poking it’s head into view and it was here, as I tried to take a photo of the scene ahead, that I realised my camera’s battery compartment had inadvertently opened and all my batteries had fallen out – Oh bother! I exclaimed [only in slightly stronger terms] and explained what had happened to the gent’ beside me. 20100425-04_Dew Pond near Old Moor-Limestone Way by gary.haddenHe replied, Oh I saw some batteries on the ground just a short way back, and low and behold after back tracking 20-30 feet there they were and were soon loaded back into my camera – Yippee! …. I could now take the aforementioned pic’ and in a way it was even better than before, because the rest of the A-party had disappeared into a hollow and the resulting image I think has a wide, open and remote feeling that I think would have been lessened with maybe 20+ people in centre-view. 

It’s really interesting just how big a gap can be opened up in just a few short minutes and it now meant stepping out a little to catch up with the rest of the A-team. Not that I was overly concerned as I’ve walked this area numerous times before and knew the route the group was taking (and I had a map with me, which helps) …. it only took maybe a hundred yards (if that) before everyone came back into view and we were soon reunited within the main body of the group. 

20100425-05_Top of Cave Dale - Near Castleton by gary.haddenWe were following part of The Limestone Way and we soon picked up a shallow depression which deepened to become a gentle dry valley, which in turn started to become quite craggy and rocky on both sides.The path in the bottom however was wide and easy to walk on and there was lots of chat going on: it would seem everyone was full of the joys of spring as the pace fairly bounced along. 

20100425-06_Descent into top of Cave Dale near Castleton by gary.hadden

20100425-08_Peveril Castle above Cave Dave - Castleton by gary.haddenThis dry valley is the top of Cave Dale and it soon begins to deepen with the sides becoming steeper and more rugged and then all of a sudden the path plunges steeply as the valley becomes a full blown gorge – very dramatic – the drama is perfectly enhanced by the tower of Perveril Castle perched atop a sheer cliff. I believe the gorge is the remains of a collapsed river cave system and in times of rain the rocky path becomes a small running stream, meaning care must be taken on the slippery wet limestone rocks. There are small side caves suspended above the valley floor, on the flanks of the gorge, indicating how the cave system may have been quite complex in millennia gone by. 

After a while (after the path has dropped in height quite considerably) the sides narrow significantly and then, all of a sudden, it emerges right out onto the streets of Castleton. The contrast is remarkable, going from drop dead gorgeous scenery, to drop dead gorgeous Peak District Village with 20100425-09_Castleton Village by gary.haddenits understated stone buildings, village greens, small shops, youth hostel and pubs all crowded around the centrally placed church. I love it. I don’t think I could ever tire of visiting here, even given the understandably high number of tourists that throng the place at times.  It’s a real honey pot of a place for visitors. Castleton also has a sizeable car-park and tourist info’ centre and public loos which is where we set off for and nearby was a shop selling ice creams so our short rest stop was extended a small amount whilst we enjoyed the treat in the sunshine. Whilst walking on the edge of the village, we passed a sign advertising the show caves of Peak cavern. In the past I’m sure it was sufficient to just advertise “Peak Cavern” but now it seems this is not enough and they’ve now tagged it “The Devil’s Arse!” … to my mind this is decidedly crass; The cave is a geological wonder and to me it’s a shame to reduce 20100425-10_Fascinated by The Devils Arse-Peak Cavern by gary.haddenit to such a base description; But, what do I know?, I’m just a hydraulic manifold block designer; what do I know about advertising?! Sorry, still don’t like it though! 

From Castleton we then headed out on a path climbing past the other show caves of “Speedwell”, “Treak Cliff” and “Blue John” caverns, crossing the Winnats Pass road in the process and rising quite considerably out of The Hope Valley in the process. The route was heading up towards the uniquely shaped hill of Mam Tor. The eastern flank of Mam Tor has over the years slipped away in a series of landslides destroying the old road (now replaced by the one through Winnats Pass) and also in the process forming the distinctive profile that’s so easily recognised. 20100425-11_Crossing rough grassland-Below Mam Tor by gary.haddenOnce fully out of the valley, our route turned up through rough grassy moorland steepening rapidly to climb alongside the sheer face of Mam Tor, the striations of the loose carboniferous shale and sandstone layers in plain view, indicating why the hill is so unstable. The climb certainly raised the heart rate (and the lactic acid in the old legs), but although steep it didn’t last long and we’d soon crossed through the earthworks of the ancient hill fort near the top to reach the summit trig-point. The views from here are superb in all directions and definitely and always worth the exertions to get here. (By the way, there is a very much easier route up20100425-12_Steep ascent of Mam Tor by gary.hadden from a car park less than ½ a mile away – if you want the easy option). Mam Tor, The Ridge of Rushup Edge, and The Great Ridge along to Lose Hill mark a change from The White Peak to the south and The Dark Peak to the north. It was The Great Ridge that we were to follow, downhill on a flagged path, heading north to start with and then swinging round to the east in a wide arc affording fantastic views over The Hope Valley (with Castleton nestled in the bottom) and across The Vale of Edale to the mass of Kinder Scout on the other side. I absolutely love walking this ridge and would do it again tomorrow, at the drop of a hat if I could!

20100425-14_Heading away from Mam Tor on The Great Ridge by gary.haddenThe extremely well used path (hence the flag pathing) drops to a saddle called Hollins Cross which sits midway between Castleton and Edale Villages. At least seven paths converge here, at the lowest point along the crest, and as such it nearly always has a good number of people milling about – it’s a natural picnic spot given the right timings on a walk. Today however, there didn’t seem to be many fellow walkers about and the view along the ridge was superb, with Hollins Cross being backed by Barker Bank, Back Tor and in the far distance Lose Hill. I can’t say it enough, the views are just fantastic here and the scene was enhanced by contrasting sunshine and dark clouds, the resulting shadows picking up the contours of the surrounding hills and dales brilliantly. I just love it!

20100425-15_Looking along The Great Ridge to Lose Hill from near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-16_Heading along The Great Ridge near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-17_Edale Valley and Kinder Scout from near Mam Tor by gary.hadden

20100425-19_Hollins Farm-Edale-Back Tor behind by gary.hadden

All too soon, we reached Hollins Cross and promptly turned left to descend away from the ridge on a path dropping quickly to Hollins Farm.

The farm is in a superb setting but had a rather scruffy feel about its immediate surroundings, not helped by the ram shackled and rather ineffective looking fence that had been cobbled together using corrugated iron sheeting and old wooden pallets, loosely held together with some rusty barbed wire :-

                                              Not an attractive look! 


20100425-20_Drop into Edale-Kinder Scout Plateaux on horizon by gary.hadden

20100425-21_View across Edale to Mam Tor from Ollerbrook Clough by gary.haddenFrom here, we picked up a farm track, still dropping steadily; to cross The River Noe in the valley bottom and soon after, reached the only road running the length of The Vale of Edale. We had to turn right along the road for a few hundred yards before turning left again up another track to soon cross over a railway and then continue northwards to Ollerbrook Booth; and then continuing in the same direction (now a permissive path) climbing alongside the Oller Brook, the path steepening as we went.  The views back over the valley to Mam Tor and The Great Ridge were again absolutely brilliant. 

20100425-22_Stormy Clouds above The Nab-Edale by gary.hadden

20100425-24_Acscent towards Ringing Roger on Kinder Scout Massive by gary.haddenAfter a short while, rather than carry straight on up the hillside, we turned left on a narrow path (just above a wall) to contour around the hillside. On my map this is a faint black dotted line, indicating the path is on the ground but not actually a right of way. Not that that mattered because we were now above the intake wall and now had open access to the huge southern flank of the Kinder Scout massive. The easy gradient wasn’t to last long though as we reached The Nab and turned north once again to immediately start climbing quite steeply rapidly rising above the valley below. 

20100425-26_Grindsbrook Clough-Kinder Scout from below Ringing Roger by gary.haddenAs we climbed, a super view over Grindsbrook Clough emerged to the west, encapsulating the feel of Kinder Scout perfectly and brought back memories of my very first proper hill walk (I was a very green 18-year old and the climb in the mist and rain was … errmm … an experience).

Still, something must have gotten under my skin, coz I’m still walking up hills nearly 30 years later). 

20100425-28_Rock Outcrops-Ringing Roger-Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.haddenThis was to be our last significant climb of the day and although only about half a mile long I found the top (and steepest) bit really quite taxing. It was as if someone had suddenly tied a set of lead weights on my legs, not nice and not helped by a few drops of rain in the air either. However the scenery was worth the climb upon reaching the top at Ringing Roger; the gritstone rocks here are sculpted by the weather into fantastical shapes. With a little bit of imagination and maybe a squint of your eyes you can make out all sorts of shapes, like dinosaurs and bee-hives or just intricate patterns, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. 

20100425-31_Lose Hill-Edale Valley-Edale Youth Hostel by gary.haddenThe top of Kinder is a bleak wild place and it’s said people are divided into two camps: you either love it or loathe it. Generally I’ve favoured the softer White Peak area over The Dark Peak but I do love the Derbyshire Gritstone Edges, so it seems I have a foot in both camps. Our route from the rocks of Ringing Roger was to follow the southern edge of The Kinder Plateau (in a generally eastern direction) on a narrow but plainly visible path through the heather moorland. I really liked the subtle colours all around juxtaposed with the bright man-made colours of our water-proofs, all of which seemed to be intensified by the rain that had now properly rolled in whilst still having bursts of bright sunshine, all at the same time. 

20100425-29_Heading East on the southern edges of the Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.hadden

20100425-30_Heading East on the southern edges of the Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.hadden

20100425-32_Guard of honour_A-party passing B-Party on Kinder Plateaux by gary.haddenThe going was now easy, and my legs soon kicked off the lead weights of the recent climb and the pace fairly bowled along, so much so that we caught up with and passed through the B-party who had been walking ahead of us (they’d taken a shorter route from Peak Forest to Mam Tor, missing out Cave Dale, Castleton and the climb out of The Hope Valley).

As a bit of fun the B-team members divided either side of the path almost like a guard of honour and then regaled us with jokey comments as we passed by … including my sister and bro-in-law that I hadn’t seen since leaving Peak Forest all those miles before.


20100425-33_Crossing Gully-Crookstone Outmoor-Kinder Scout Plateaux by gary.haddenAnyway, we continued on, the path pretty much on the level, with the occasional ups and downs where streams crossed our path, the big lump of Kinder Moorland to our left counterpointed by the drop down into The Edale Valley on our right.

After crossing over Crookstone Out Moor we kind of branched right to descend steadily to Crookstone Hill our surroundings softening as we went. 

20100425-34_Twin Peaks of Crook Hill from Crookstone Hill-Near Ladybower by gary.haddenIt’s worth noting that at one point, we were walking directly towards the twin peaks of Crook Hill in the distance. Unbeknown at the time, the right hand peak would be the first climb of the next and final leg of this west-east traverse of the Peak District in March 2011, almost a year later [I’ve already published that walks diary, so you may have read it already].

20100425-35_Woodlands Valley-Near Hope Cross by gary.hadden

20100425-37_River Ashop-Woodlands Valley-Ladybower by gary.haddenGetting back to this walk, we were losing height quite quickly and had by now left the wild moors behind. The scenery was then to change completely, when, at Hope Cross, we took a left turn onto a footpath entering coniferous woodland. The path steepened through the trees to emerge into the open at a bridge over a river. The river is probably either The River Alport or more likely The River Ashop [my map is inconclusive at this point] but one thing is for sure, it was a pretty little spot; the water here flows into the top of the western arm of Ladybower Reservoir. 20100425-39_A57 Snake Road-Woodland Valley-Near Ladybower by gary.haddenThe walk was very nearly over and all that remained was to walk up a track to join the A57 Snake Road and then just a tiny bit of very careful road walking past the head of the man-made lake to find the coach. 

We in the A-party had managed to get back before the next shower of rain rolled in, unfortunately the B-party got caught and finished the walk a little damp. Despite this we’d all had yet another superb MHW walk. 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

T.T.F.N. Gary.