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Apr 05 2014

Walk 79 – Back Tor Basics

Back Tor Basics

route: back tor from ladybower inn
Date: 5th april 2014
distance: 10.5 miles
ascent: 1591 feet
time: 5 hrs
walkers: dave, graham, martyn, sandra & simon

What a difference a week often makes. Last week we had glorious conditions whereas today we were going to get wet, it was just a matter of when! Not that the thought of rain dampened the spirits of those in attendance, and we were changed and ready for the off in under five minutes.79th Walk 1The customary team photograph was taken and after a quick map check we crossed the road and began long but gradual climb towards the only summit/trig of the day, Back Tor.79th Walk 279th Walk 3The initial climb followed a wall and whilst not too steep it did get my lungs working nicely for a short time until we reached a gate. From here the path still climbed but to be honest you couldn’t really tell you were gaining height it was that easy. Away to our left we could see the front edge of the ridge we were aiming for but for the time being we were walking in the wrong direction. There was a time when some people (normally L’Autobus) would question why we weren’t going directly towards the ridge, but as they now well know , it isn’t all that simple.79th Walk 4The route stayed just to the right of some electric pylons until we reached a point near Cutthroat Bridge, where we turned back on ourselves and continued on our ever so gradual ascent. You could feel the moisture in the air as the mist sat low but it didn’t feel like rain was imminent at this stage, not that you always get a warning.79th Walk 5After another 10 minutes of moderately paced walking we approached a junction of paths. One branched slightly left and began to descend back towards Ashopton. The middle one went straight on or maybe a fraction right but dropped away quite sharply down towards the reservoir…79th Walk 679th Walk 7The other path turned at a right angle to ours and headed upwards. Ramblo didn’t even wait for us to confirm this was ours, she just knew. We have a standing joke that if there are multiple options we always end up going along the toughest of them. It was true in this case and we all set off after her as she headed for Derwent Moor.79th Walk 879th Walk 979th Walk 10We had established from an earlier map check the today’s route would have numerous points of interest and we soon reached the first of those, the Wheel Stones. This formation of Gritstone is otherwise known as the Coach and Horses due to the resemblance when viewed from a distance. I have to say I didn’t notice it and nobody else mentioned it but I am sure it does (maybe if you squint a bit). We spent a few minutes having a nosey round the off we went once more in search of the next rock formation.79th Walk 1179th Walk 1279th Walk 13Ahead we could see White Tor right on Derwent Edge and with a clear target we headed straight for it, not that there was anything other than an obvious path to follow. Upon arrival we once again had a few minutes inspecting the formation and G had a look off the edge towards Ladybower Reservoir. I joined him for a minute or two but we didn’t venture too near the edge due to the gusting winds and the drop below.79th Walk 1479th Walk 1579th Walk 16We left White Tor and had another short hop to the Salt Cellar which is a funny shaped boulder perched on the edge of the ridge. In the past we have struggled to identify the weird and wonderful named stones we have encountered on our travels. This one was obvious, not necessarily because it looked like a salt cellar, but because it was obvious this was something a little different in the correct location. In the past we have thought we had found a certain stone only to Google it when we return and find we weren’t looking at the right thing 🙂79th Walk 17As we left I spotted a grouse sat on a stone away to our left. At first I could only see its head sticking up above the stone in front, but after both of us moved slightly I got a decent shot of it, and I am sure it had one eye on me!79th Walk 18Moving on once again we headed for Dovestone Tor along the purpose built stone walk way. The path rose slightly and just to the right of it was a sign announcing we were now official at Derwent Edge. It listed a few of the inhabitants and although we saw plenty of grouse, the mountain hares remained elusive. Hopefully one day we will get to see one, but I suppose to do so we need to be in the right place at the right time. I was happy enough with the grouse though as I love their call and want it as my ringtone if I can find one to download.79th Walk 1979th Walk 2079th Walk 21Dovestone Tor was soon upon us and as with the aforementioned stones we had a good nosey round. The first thing that caught our eye was a large flat stone with a hole in the middle. It seemed almost too perfect to be natural but none of us saw any reason why it wouldn’t be. There was another interesting stone which we assumed would be the Dove Stone. As for whether it was or not, I just don’t know.79th Walk 2279th Walk 23Next on the agenda were the Cakes of Bread and we set off intrigued by what these would look like. Unfortunately they were set back from our path to the right and in the gloom they were too far away to make out. We did spot some sort of silhouette and we were sure it was them but we opted not venture over and instead carried on past a couple of sheep who seemed a bit shocked to see us.79th Walk 2479th Walk 25On we went, following the stone path at a good pace which still wasn’t fast enough for Izzy (the dog). She would run on then turn and run back again and again. It was funny at the time but she had been doing this from the moment we left the Ladybower Inn and it would end up taking its toll. After a short time we reached a boundary stone and used it as a reason to take a couple of minutes to rest. We weren’t in need of one though and soon set off for the only trig of the day, Back Tor.79th Walk 2679th Walk 27If anything the mist seemed to be getting worse as we covered the short distance to the trig point. I knew from research prior to the walk that it was sat on some large rocks, what I didn’t quite realise until we saw it through the mist, was how high those rocks were. It wasn’t as if they were dozens of feet up, but the trig was situated higher than I expected.79th Walk 2879th Walk 29Martyn was already at the trig by the time I got there and had climbed up. Below me Ramblo was looking for a way up as was Beaky, who seemed determined to get Izzy the dog up there too. He lifted her up onto one large rock that must have been nearly six feet from the ground and I tried to get her up to the flat point near the trig. After a couple of failed attempts due to the stones being too slippery we eventually got Izzy and Beaky up to the trig. Ramblo wasn’t happy with that way up and went round to another spot and was assisted by G at first, and then myself before we could finally take a team trig shot. More or less as soon as this was done we climbed down and focused on the next step of our journey with a quick map check.79th Walk 3079th Walk 3179th Walk 32With today’s one and only trig point safely ticked off it was now a simple case of finding a nice route back to the pub. If the day had been a sunny one there would have been some merit in retracing our steps back along Derwent Edge, but there was no point in these conditions. We had no view to enjoy so opted for a nice stroll alongside the reservoirs in the valley below. First port of call was Lost Lad which was only a matter of minutes away. We guessed that the view from here must be quite good on a clear day as it had a plaque complete with surrounding peaks and the directions they can be found. Today we couldn’t see anything other than grey gloom.79th Walk 3379th Walk 34The stone path continued on until we reached Lost Lad Hillend where it dropped quite sharply and in doing so revealed the vastness of the surrounding moors. Visibility increased the lower we went which allowed us to spot a couple of mountain bikers and also another couple of groups of walkers who always look so serious compared to us. Maybe we look equally as straight faced to others, I just know we have a laugh on the way round. We passed one group going the other way and exchanged pleasantries as is the done thing, I always give people an extra nice “how do” when they are the ones heading up and we are on our way down 🙂79th Walk 3579th Walk 3679th Walk 37We soon caught sight of water and below us was Derwent Reservoir, which was used during WW2 to practice for Operation Chastise. I am sure most people will know of that operation and the raid on the German dams by the more common name Dambusters. In total 19 Lancaster bombers took part in the operation that breached the Mohne and Eder as well as attacking the Sorpe and Ennepe dams. Based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, 53 of the 133 men of 617 Squadron that took part were killed during the highly skilled and dangerous operation. We are now 71 years on and 617 squadron was disbanded in early 2014, RAF Scampton is still in use however and is home to the Red Arrows.79th Walk 38After a gradual descent the path dropped quickly and I could feel the muscles in my legs working hard under the strain. There were numerous people about and everybody apart from us was going the other way which made a pleasant change. We continued down into some trees passing a group who had been checking the map for a good ten minutes since we first saw them from our vantage point higher up. As we went by them they didn’t give me the impressions they were too confident about where they wanted to go, but at the same time I didn’t feel I needed to say anything. For one, I am sure they were more than capable, and secondly, I am not exactly an outdoor guru. I passed by in silence, acknowledging them with a smile and made my way to the side of the reservoir.79th Walk 3979th Walk 4079th Walk 41From this point we would follow Derwent Reservoir then Ladybower Reservoir back to the car so the hills were all behind us. From now on it was flat tracks which meant for a good pace and we had soon reached the end of Derwent Reservoir. I knew the dam wall had towers on it and I believe that was one of the reasons it was used to practice the aforementioned operation, as two of the German dams had towers so it would feel and look as close as possible to the real thing. I may be wrong in saying that but I am sure I have read that somewhere.79th Walk 4279th Walk 4379th Walk 44We walked past the dam of Derwent Reservoir and chose to descend a path rather than stick to the road. This made no real difference to time or distance as it re-joined the road a short distance further on, we just like to be off road where possible. It was roughly about this point that the heavens opened and we began to get wet. We have experienced a small amount of drizzle whilst higher up in the mist but nothing too wet. This on the other hand looked like we could end up drenched by the time we reached the car. By now we were alongside Ladybower Reservoir and the aqueduct that runs across it. Along the banks were hundreds of geese that seemed happy enough to be there. I don’t know if they were migrating or had just arrived here from far away shores. I am pretty sure they were Canadian Geese so I may have to research that where I finish typing this.79th Walk 45Apart from the rain the only other noticeable change was the fact the member of the team with more legs than any other had decided that she didn’t want to walk anymore. All the running backwards and forwards earlier in the day had caught up with her and she was now being carried by Beaky.79th Walk 4679th Walk 47And then once she because too heavy for Beaky, G took over. I had offered but it seems G had got there first so I continued carrying Beaky’s bag for him.79th Walk 48With Beaky back on dog carrying duty he obviously wanted to get back to the car and increased his pace to the extent he began to walk away from the rest of us who weren’t hanging about. Eventually he stopped and put the dog down while we caught up. It was as we set off again that she began to follow, albeit with a slight limp.79th Walk 4979th Walk 50After a while she downed tools once again so we came up with a plan. A short distance further on we would reach the main road. Ramblo would cajole the dog towards the road and the rest of us would go for the cars and come back to meet her. With that plan in place we set off, then as we lost sight of Ramblo it occurred to me that if the dog won’t move Ramblo wouldn’t be able to carry her all this way. I said to G we should have waited and we stopped to see if Ramblo and Izzy came into view. We were just about to set off back for them when they came into view moving slowly towards us. Once together we walked to the road together and once we knew they were in the pick-up point G and I completed the walk passing the bottom end of Ladybower Reservoir as we did.79th Walk 51With the girls picked up and us all safely back together another walk came to an end. I think that this walk would rank quite highly on my list of favourite walks without anything amazing happening. I think the ridge would be fantastic given the right conditions, so I may well be back one day to have another look around. It was certainly a fitting way to end our time in the Peak District, at least for the foreseeable future. Next up we would return to the Dales and then enjoy (hopefully) our first ever walks in the North Yorks Moors. The six walks we have done in the Peak District have all been enjoyable so I am sure it won’t be too long before we are back.

Sir Edmund

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