Waking on a pretty hill

Found myself in this recent heatwave with more time on my hands than usual but not so much money in my pocket and no car available, no better excuse needed to head back to the Hope Valley by train to spend a night on the hills.  I’ve already been up a few times this year but have no problem with returning, there’s always a few new corners to explore and when the weathers this fine it just feels great to be out.

Bivi bags can be as divisive as marmite, too claustrophobic for some and most lightweight tents don’t weigh much more and offer far more shelter, but when good conditions are more or less guaranteed I’m not a fan of zipping a door closed on a sunset or clear night, and you don’t have to be too picky about where you ‘pitch’. Then again maybe sleeping alone in a bag in the middle of nowhere with your head poking out the top isn’t ever going to everyone’s cup of tea. Just for the record I do like marmite.

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A vague route from Hope Station snaked 12 miles out on to Rowlee Pasture via Crook Hill, the sky had clouded over a little but it remained warm and dry with abundant  white buds of cotton grass bobbing around Alport Moor in the breeze. Past the higher ground of Bleaklow stones the wind picked up whipping the long sandy coloured oatgrass up like an angry sea, I liked the idea of sleeping amongst all of it and found a slightly raised area to call bed for the night.  One of the most serene nights out I’ve had in recent memory, watching the the night sky melt into orange red and pink before turning an inky black.

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The sun crept over the horizon before 6, bringing with it a warmth that felt unnatural but very welcome at over 600m and before 8am. I dozed for a while but ended up feeling too hot so went for a quick dip in a nearby stream and treated some water for breakfast. It was one of those mornings where I felt the temptation to never return home and spend the rest of my days wandering hills, waking up on summits to beautiful views and eating ginger nuts for breakfast.  I decided to come home as I’d miss the finale of breaking bad if I became a hermit (oh and the kids too).

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It was another long hot day with a 14 mile slog over Bleaklow and Kinder before dropping down Jacobs Ladder to the nearest train station. I passed the eerie plane wreck near Bleaklow Head, it’s always amazing to see how much wreckage remains and how widely dispersed it is.

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The sun didn’t disappear behind a cloud once and had bleached dry the normally dark and soggy landscape. Kinder Downfall had virtually dried up at the top though the nearby spring (cheers Yuri!) continued to give a healthy dribble of cold clear drinking water. The mid-afternoon heat was absolutely scorching and it was a relief to make good use of a plunge pool at the base of Jacobs Ladder (apologies for the cycling shorts).

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Two perfect sunny days and a tranquil night spent on a remote hill with 27 miles underneath my feet, can’t complain. The journey home was further enhanced by watching a Sheffield commuter who was stood on the busy platform with massive headphones on playing air guitar and mouthing along to whatever he was listening to without a care in the world. He even carried on strumming away whilst boarding the train.

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