A late Sunday evening was spent slowly ambling across Broomhead Moor through a wild landscape carpeted with thick coarse heather, soft tussocks and tall oat grass. With no real plans I’d set off so late that the sun was already beginning to begin its journey to meet the horizon, it was about six miles across rough ground towards Howden Moor and over to the head of the Upper Derwent Valley for a wild camp. A lack of daylight would hopefully be compensated for by the light of a full moon and a clear night, the moon was supposed to be slightly closer to the earth at this time making it appear larger than usual.
There was an unusual warm strong wind howling across the moors, it felt like walking into the path of a giant hairdryer. Walking out west towards the sun gave the dreamy sight of the oat grass being whipped around by the wind and coloured golden by the bright evening light. The usual flurry of grouse exploded out of the grass at regular intervals and large mountain hares darted over the ground. A few knee deep descents into a hidden peat bogs broke the silence with a squelch followed by a little swearing and laughing.
The eroded gritstone formations that dot the edge of the valley gradually drew nearer and the wind dropped with the sunlight leaving an unexpected chill in the air. It took a while to find a place to pitch, most of the ground was knitted with brittle white heather roots or damp springy moss covered tussocks, any sparse patches of grass seemed to be exclusively on sloping ground. The old strategy of ‘just keep walking’ paid off and a passable place to call home just beneath the Horse Stone.
It was a fine Monday morning to wake up on a moor, a clear blue cloudless sky and a warm sun to sit under and look out across the vast wild plateau of heather, moss, grasses and streams. Put Howden Moor and Bleaklow into any search engines and there are endless stories of a haunted moor with tales of strange floating lights, ghosts and UFO sightings. I must have camped and walked here more than any other place, in every season and most weathers and will be happy to return over and over to walk and sleep out…….or maybe I’m tempting fate……watch me get murdered by an floating alien ghost light on the next trip.
After a quick run and a reasonable amount of lounging about doing nothing more clouds drifted in and the weather began to turn. I headed off down through the high bracken to the birch and oak woods that sit on the banks of the River Derwent before tramping back uphill to Howden Edge.
The sky had become heavy and overcast and the odd drop of rain began to fall before turning into regular showers. Maybe I was tired or had a wandering mind but somehow I managed to completely walk right past the path back to the car and spent a further hour trying to figure out where I was. I managed to sink my right leg deep into one more bog before doubling back over the moors to find the way home.