So, having signed up a couple of weeks ago to do the Three Peaks with a bunch of work colleagues, I started to really look forward to the annual university friends reunion that we do every year around this time. We’re in the Peak District, the first time I’ve been here and I’m really liking the scenery. We’re staying in Chelmorton, one of the highest villages in England, and our cottage is situated close to the church and pub.
We kicked things off with a trip to Castleton on Saturday afternoon and after kitting friends Sam and John out for a walk, and me having invested in my first trekking pole, headed up the road and then farm track towards Hollins Cross on the ridgeline. We squelched our way through the muddy patches and puffed our way up the hill, taking frequent stops for those not used to walking.
Then, having gained the ridge we turned left to climb up to Mam Tor itself, a further exercise in mud trudging. We reached the top, which was suddenly much more crowded, with most of the newcomers having come up from the road just on the opposite side to us. But the other key objective for the day was a cream tea, and as we’d not started until the afternoon, were now running out of time to get back to Castleton.
So, led by Zoe and Jon, the more experienced walkers in the party, we cut down from the ridge in the direction of Castleton. The descent seemed to take a long time, and I was desperately slow, but somehow we made it to Castleton just before the tea shops closed.
Sunday involved lunch in the pub and then a decision by Zoe, Jon, Andy and myself to walk it off by a stroll across the fields. We took the path by the church and climbed up onto Chelmorton Low and cut across the fields towards Taddington. More squelching across mud brought us to the village and a break in a pub there, before we made our way back. But we chose a slightly different path coming back which turned out to be much more troublesome than the outward leg and must have veered off course somehow. As the light was deteriorating we cut across the fields despite the lack of stiles to recover our route and eventually made it back to the cottage, where we festooned every available hanging space with muddy gear.
Yesterday, everyone except Sam and John, who traumatised by their experience on Saturday had gone home, drove up to the Erwood Reservoir for a walk across Shining Tor. We took the road up to Oldgate Nick and then followed the even muddier ridgeline path up onto the Tor itself. Most of us did a decent job of avoiding the worst parts, but somehow Andy managed to sink up to his knees in a particularly bad patch. But we got to the top and then descended towards Erwood Hall, where we spent some time amidst the ruins before walking back to the car via the low level route along the road and through the woods.
I’ve really enjoyed these walks, but I know they weren’t that strenuous and were insufficient training for the 3 Peaks. But finally the new walking boots I got a year or two ago and only ever wore when it snowed at home, are getting some use.