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Mar 29 2014

Walk 78 – Over The Hills

Over The Hills

route: blakelow hill, oaker hill & moor plantations/stanton moor from birchover
Date: 29th march 2014
distance: 10.0 miles
ascent: 1811 feet
time: 5 hrs 30 mins
walkers: dave, jane, sandra & simon

My thoughts as we arrived in Birchover were that this was going to be a tough day for me personally. A trip to A&E the previous evening resulted in only 3 hours sleep, which meant I was tired before we even got out of the car. Always one to look on the bright side I saw this as ideal training for our Lyke Wake Walk attempt in June, when night walking would mean we get no sleep at all. The other three in attendance were full of beans and it was clear today wouldn’t be lacking laughs.78th Walk 178th Walk 2A slow stroll through the village enabled me to have a nice gentle start to the day and gave me time to wake up before the tougher challenges to come. We soon reached our footpath and headed over the lush green fields towards Clough Lane which we would cross on our way to Winster. We encountered a few squelchy patches but nothing too drastic although I did submerge my boots at one point by not taking care.78th Walk 378th Walk 4The morning was a hazy one and we could tell the sun was up there somewhere, it was just going to take a little while to burn through before we felt the full benefit. The good news was it wasn’t cold and it was only going to get warmer, plus there was 0% chance of rain according to the Met Office forecast for the Peak District. We followed our path as it headed downwards before levelling off for a short while, then came the inevitable climb up into Winster. The climb wasn’t too bad and we reached the centre of the village without stopping for a breather.78th Walk 578th Walk 678th Walk 7A quick map check next to the village Post Office to avoid any confusion enabled us to find our route without any trouble at all, and we began the gradual climb towards the first trig of the day. The path angled across the incline so at no point was it ever too steep which made for a nice change and good progress. We came across a couple of stones stood up-right alongside each other, but as with the fence we had encountered on our walk to Ox Stones they seemed a little lost. After a brief inspection we couldn’t work out why they were there or what purpose they used to serve, so we continued on and soon joined the Limestone Way.78th Walk 878th Walk 9We followed the Limestone Way as it crossed Bonsall Lane and continued forwards up towards Bonsall Moor. We spotted at least a dozen sheep in various places using an eating technique that always makes me chuckle. I have no idea why it amuses me but I do find it funny, almost as if it is lazy eating 🙂78th Walk 10The bridleway reached a junction of tracks and we turned right, almost back on ourselves and followed a walled lane up to the first trig, Blakelow Hill. The silence of the day was only broken by me asking questions from the pub quiz I had been to earlier that week. This led us onto Eggheads and our upcoming appearance, which surely must be imminent (we filmed it on 13th April 2013!). As the lane ended (conveniently at the end of the geography round) we climbed a gate into a field a the trig came into view for the first time. From here we scaled the wall at the far end of the field and ticked off trig number one of the three we had in store.78th Walk 1178th Walk 12Once ready, we retraced our steps from earlier and headed back down the lane. Along the way I informed the others that somebody in attendance was reaching the milestone of 600 miles as a Badger on today’s walk. After a brief period of uncertainty Ramblo realised that it was her and she seemed quite chuffed about it, and rightly so. It still amazes me when I think about how far we have come and the places we have been since we did our first walk back in 2010. Proof if any were needed that it is never too late to change or enjoy new hobbies 🙂78th Walk 13At the junction we turned left and headed past Cottage Farm before turning right when we reached Bonsall Lane for the second time today. Shortly afterwards we past Brightgate Farm and spotted a big pile of carrots and parsnips in the yard. We could still smell the parsnips as we disappeared into the distance in search of our footpath.78th Walk 14Our path went through a gate and followed a wall for a short while before we joined another path at right angles, although we continued for a while longer than we should. Fortunately I had a quick look at my GPS and found that we had passed the path to our left and informed the others. We swung left and headed in roughly the correct direction checking both map and GPS to ensure we had the minimum diversion possible. We could already make out the white trig from our vantage point as it perched on Oaker Hill above Lobby Farm.78th Walk 15As we were now back on track we continued to descend through some lovely countryside as we made our way towards the aforementioned Lobby Farm. As we made our way through the yard and out to the road we spotted a couple of quirky carved heads in the wall. Ramblo then spotted another one just to the left, but we couldn’t see any more. In any case, we were more concerned with plotting our final route to the trig on Oaker Hill.78th Walk 1678th Walk 1778th Walk 18There was a path directly opposite us but this took us away from where we wanted to be so we chose to follow the road for a short while before climbing a gate and heading up the steep hillside. It was short which meant only one quick pause three quarters of the way up, then on we went once again as it levelled off slightly before we reached the trig.78th Walk 2078th Walk 19It was now just after midday so we had a bite to eat and spent nearly half an hour sat chatting. One conversation developed from a cow pat we spotted near the trig, which we thought was a strange place for a cow to have been. The only theory we could muster was that there must be a group of cows ticking off trig points with the obvious name for such a group being the Rambling Cows. Conversations like this are common place whilst we are out and about and the topic faded as quickly as it appeared. Myself and Beaky made sure of the route and we said goodbye to Oaker Hill or is it Oker Hill? As we reached the bottom of the hill near Darley Bridge we checked an info board to find it had a rent spelling to our OS map.78th Walk 2178th Walk 22A short distant along the road to Wensley our was the path we required to take us to Oldfield Lane/Clough Lane. As we reached the finger post it left us a little confused as to if we were ok to access the land or not. The post clearly said it was fine although a notice on the gate seemed to suggest the land was private. When in doubt we turn a blind eye to the sign we like least and carry on anyway. That sounds like we tread without care or regard for the signs we come across but it isn’t like that really. We did proceed but upon reflection the footpath may have been moved to the other side of the wall.78th Walk 2378th Walk 2478th Walk 25It wasn’t very far into the woods that we saw a sign saying we were allowed to be there so we felt a little happier about that. The path curved to the left then began to drop until we were confronted by a fallen tree directly across our path. Above us another one was creaking as it swayed in the wind and we chose not to hang about too long, just in case…78th Walk 2678th Walk 27We crossed the little wooden bridge over the beck and climbed again to meet the lane we would follow for over a mile. We could hear the nearby industrial works as we continued and it did seem to spoil the moment. Not that there was a moment to spoil, but it had been an otherwise quiet day until this point. Fortunately it didn’t last long and it began to fade into the distance as we approached Cowley Knoll. Beaky had been walking a good 30 or 40 yards in front of the rest of us but he had stopped and was looking directly down at the ground. As we approached we could see there was a frog/toad motionless near the edge of the road. After careful consideration we decided that being in the sun was bad for it and lifted it to a shaded area in the hedgerow. It was afterwards I wondered if it was purposely trying to warm up, either way we saved its life. Not more than 30 seconds after we set off again a 4×4 came flying past and drove right over the spot our little friend was previously occupying.78th Walk 2878th Walk 29As the path reached the edge of Cowley Knoll it twisted and began to rise a little more sharply which resulted in Beaky once again disappearing into the distance. The three of us resurrected the conversation of the Rambling Cows and wondered if it was only black and white animals that would set up walking groups. Skunks, magpies, pandas and zebras all got a mention. I said I would check for rival websites to see if there was any truth in our suspicions but at the time of writing I am yet to do so. Our crazy conversation lasted long enough for us to have gone over Cowley Knoll with a couple of stops on the way up. As the path levelled we came across numerous tree stumps that had been scored in two directions to resemble an oversized nought and crosses board. None of us had, or have idea what they are there for. If anybody reads this (and I am not sure anybody ever does) and knows what they are for, please let me know.78th Walk 3078th Walk 31Clough Lane continued for a little while longer but we didn’t follow it to the end, instead we turned to retrace steps we had trodden nearly 4 hours earlier. We weren’t interested in heading for Brichover just yet though, we had another trig point to reach first and we headed for Stanton Moor via Barn Farm.78th Walk 3278th Walk 33As we entered the farm we noticed that there were cottages and bunk barns available to rent and we made a note for future trips especially due to the location. Some of the more southern trigs and peaks of the Peak District are a big drive for us so we tend to go for the convenience of the northern ones. From here we could have a nice weekend tackling some of the surrounding peaks. As we passed through the yard we caught a glimpse of something moving on top of the roof and were delighted to see a peacock. It wasn’t the only one and we spotted five in total before we decided to move in in search of the final trig. 78th Walk 3478th Walk 3578th Walk 36Stanton Moor seemed to be a busy place with numerous couples and families wandering around enjoying the sunshine and getting a bit of exercise. We followed an elderly (hard to put an exact age on them and don’t want to offend anyone) couple for a while before cutting across the moorland and the trig was soon in sight. For all the people we spotted, nobody else seemed interested in the trig and we had it all to ourselves for the duration of our stay.78th Walk 3778th Walk 38After taking the pictures and checking my phone to see if I had a signal to tweet to our few followers we decided it was time to find the Cork Stone. It was only a short walk south and there it was, stood on its own. We took a few snaps and discussed how and why a solitary stone is left like that. The hand grips that were running up one side of it were just asking to be used and sure enough Beaky decided to give it a go. He made a decent start and had gone up a few rungs when I reminded him that if he got up it would be a lot harder coming down. I don’t know if this put him off or his arms were feeling the pinch but he looked over his shoulder and leapt backwards, luckily avoiding both the puddle and the stones sticking out from it. It is safe to safe Ramblo used a few extra heart beats as he began to fall.78th Walk 3978th Walk 4078th Walk 4178th Walk 42We made our way off the moor and along a little road passing more than a dozen people going the other way. We had intended to walk back along the road until we came to a finger post and checked the map. We must have missed on our initial glance so we were happy to have this added bonus even if it wasn’t for long. This path dropped through the woods and came out right night to the pub, which was a very pleasant surprise to all.78th Walk 4378th Walk 44We changed in the car park and headed for a well-earned drink to finish off the day. It turned out that the day had been relatively simple apart from a couple of short sharp climbs so the lack of sleep hadn’t been an issue. The scenery was great and it seems that each time we visit the Peak District it grows on me a little more. I was pleased I had scheduled a walk in for the following week so I wouldn’t have too long to wait. 🙂

Sir Edmund

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