24 hours on Bleaklow

Horseshoe Walk from Bamford to Edale

23 miles with 1497m ascent

A last minute day off work last week would have been an ideal opportunity to take care of my ever mounting chores and errands, however the common sense of procrastination prevailed and with a light pack I caught a train up to the hope valley in the dark peak to spend a night under the stars.

After leaving Bamford station and a brief roadside walk along the edge of Ladybower I took the track along Derwent Edge, the sun was out and set to remain. Heat lines and hard cracked dry earth were in place the more standard conditions of rain, winds and soggy peat bogs. The eroded gritstone shapes that populate the edge of the moors were clearly visible from miles away rather than eerily emerging out of the mist as they normally do.

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Leaving the track for Featherbed Moss involved a brief descent to Abbey Brook, a perfect wild camping spot complete with waterfall, icy plunge pool and soft grassy banks, however the day was still young and I fancied a higher camp tonight, with the sun still beating down I kicked off my trail shoes and walked bare foot. The moors were void of people but full of life, curlews whistled above, grouse suddenly burst out of clumps of heather and grass whilst hares dashed about, some still wearing the odd patch of winter white.

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Many of the smaller streams marked on the map had dried up to nothing though beyond crow rocks the water was fully flowing making a perfect spot to pitch with the door facing south looking down into the valley. It was still light, warm and dead still at 10:2o.

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Dawn broke with a little mist, though the warm morning sunlight soon broke through bringing another hot dry day. I could have happily wandered back and forth from the stream to make decent coffee and scoff my budget brioche for hours on end looking out on the world from my sleeping bag.

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Another plunge pool at — was too good to leave without having a quick dip, confident that nobody else was around for a few miles, the water was icy cold and warranted lots of swearing but how often can you for a swim in Dark Peak without catching hypothermia. Thanks to the sun I was warmed up and dry after 10 minutes. Just to prove I went in…..

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Spent the morning walking  under a beating sun through arid shrubs of burnt heather roots in the basin below Grinah Stones and Bleaklow Stones, up and out of brooks before joining the western edge of the Alport Valley, in this light everything looked like a perfect wild camping spot. The usual browns and greys of the moor were replaced by bright vivid greens and purples.

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Near the head of Alport Dale made a great place to stop for a coffee, aeropress and backpacking is the one of the greatest marriages of the modern age. Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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The afternoon was spent passing the the plantations on Alport Dale before crossing the Snake Pass to pass the (locked) Shooting Hut on Kinder before climbing up to the trig point on the eastern edge of Kinder. The ground around the trig point is remarkably eroded, with the concrete base of the point exposed by three or four feet. It made good for a final snack stop before a quick dash down Golden Clough to catch a train back from Edale. Just in time to  do the kids bedtime.

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It was near enough 24 hours since I’d left the train at Bamford, it’s always satisfying to know that for not much money, time or planning and using only public transport I’d managed to get a decent plod across some empty hills and empty moors, swam in freezing pools and had a great night under the stars.

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9 thoughts on “24 hours on Bleaklow

      1. Yeah, James said. Snowdonia’s a really horrible journey for us from over Manchester way. I think half the population here must have caravans/boats etc over in North Wales, and there’s a mass exodus every Friday and a mass come-back every Sunday. Everything clogs up. Might go up to the Dales myself, but can’t quite settle on a specific plan yet……..

  1. Love it. Especially this – “aeropress and backpacking is the one of the greatest marriages of the modern age. Life is too short to drink bad coffee.” (I take mine everywhere)

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