SOC’s Finest on Tour: The Derbyshire Peak District September 2016
SOC’s Finest on Tour:
The Derbyshire Peak District September 2016
In 1932 some 400 walkers embarked on a mass trespass of Kinder Scout Moor in a campaign to assert a right to roam in order to escape the polluted environment of industrial Manchester. These days pollution is imported into the majestic setting of the Peak District National Park in the form of vehicles, the disgorging of humanity into the fleshpots of Bakewell & Castleton and the interminable drone of a thousand motorbikes. Yet the majesty of this place remains even though its fragility is plain to see.
This is the first occasion that I have explored the Peak District in any detail in what was an approximately 65 mile hike through both the Dark and White Peak. Eleven of us made our own assault on the Peaks. Starting at Hathersage we made our way via Baslow, Youlgreave, Eyam to Edale. The group consisted of James & Barbara Gravenor, Geoff & Ann Wall; Caroline Stott, Yvonne Armitage, Peter Knowles, Graham Moss, Trevor Thurlow and Graham & Glenys Rogers (who biked the route).
It was hot; very hot and unseasonally so. Not even pints of ‘Amnesia Bitter’ (Elland Brewery) could combat the heat and traffic noise of our first night in Baslow. But this is a minor quibble. I will not detail every step of the walk but it is superb walking country that has something for everybody interested in landscape, geology, ornithology, history and archaeology and for those not interested in any of these but just want to imbibe the fresh air and the friendship of good company. There is a lot to take in.
James Gravenor navigated and led the way at an impressive pace. Most of the sections are a steady twelve or thirteen miles. The longest day was an 18 miler from Youlgreave to Eyam. Yvonne was the only female member of the group to undertake and complete this section and was duly promoted to ‘Honorary Real Man’ though she failed the initiation rite of three pints on arrival. I preferred a bus ride for the last three or four miles and fulfilled Yvonne’s initiation rite without any problems.
All of us would have our favourite sections, moments and locations. Mine would include the iconic parkland setting of Chatsworth House, created by ‘Capability’ Brown and with it the romantic and idyllic village of Edensor modelled by Joseph Paxton; the pattern and weave of medieval field enclosures integrated into the more recent landscape; for the literary cognoscenti we passed North Lees Hall which arguably is the setting for Thornfield Hall in Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ though Norton Conyers Hall near Ripon may have the stronger claim; the dales walks through Lathkill Dale, Deepdale and Miller’s Dale where natural beauty of the present meets the industrial heritage of the past; Eyam village and church with their reminder of how fleeting was life in yesteryear; the flocks of house martins who may have delayed their own ‘Brexit’ because of the late summer warmth; the high ridge walks in their panoramic setting; the sculptures of eroded rock formations high above Edale which can take on any shape the mind’s eye wishes; finally, the tattooed and portly gentleman in Castleton who bellowed at my wilting form “tha should get a move on or tha’ll git to look like me!’ as more lager gushed down the front of his off-white T-shirt displaying the immortal words “Proud to be British”. “I’m trying”, I replied but actually thinking more about the pint at the end of the road. These were five wonderful days, not just because of the glorious weather (for the most part) but because the days were filled with many, many moments when nothing impinged on sight and the senses.
Walks are indeed a montage of such memories and moments.
Many thanks James and Barbara for making it all possible once again!! (and to Trevor for some fine pictures which capture a sense of place and fun)