Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wild camping (near to) Win Hill - 10/12/12.

A frosty morning on Win Hill.
 Another wild camp, and another good experience attained. It's not surprising though, as I am coming to really enjoy being out and about. So much so, that I do feel a bit cooped up if I don't get out during the month. I now very much look forward to my next outing, so much so that I tend to be planning my next trip while on the train home from my last! I can't say I'm surprised with myself. Right from the start I have always taken great enjoyment from walking and the idea of camping, which I have now begun to delve into. Something else that intrigued me since my first outing, was the site of this most recent wild camp; Win Hill...

Now, since my first trip to Edale and up Grindsbrook; I've always looked over to Win Hill in the distance. I think it was initially interesting to me just because of the fact that it was the furthest peak from where I was, that I could identify on the map just by looking. I would say the same of Lose Hill also, but obviously a little closer. Since I first decided to venture out that first time, I've always wanted to go as far afield as I could. With Win Hill being that furthest familiar peak away, I guess I'd ear marked it as a milestone for myself. The peak that would affirm my time in the area thus far and, although not deem me as any sort of expert, allow me to feel not quite so new any more. After walking two thirds of the Edale skyline, Win Hill still remained unconquered by me. So this time, I thought to myself "Why not finally crack Win Hill, and finish what's left of the skyline route?"

I set off pretty late on Monday but when I got to Bamford, I could see Win hill from the station. It was comforting to see it so close because the light was rapidly escaping the day. Most of the walk was right next to the main road though, so it wasn't the biggest of issues - but I didnt really want to try pitching my new Vango Tempest 200 for the first time in the dark. The road that leads from the station to Bamford village (Station Road) is pretty straight in that there aren't many side roads to get lost on. It didn't take too long to get into the village, and with Win Hill being easily in sight I quite enjoyed a leisurely walk with the sun going down. Looking around, it was quite charming. Residents of Bamford have definitely got a lot to admire right on their doorstep. The low winter sun, in a cloudless sky managed to cast a really pleasant glow over everything it found.

Sunset from Station Road.
I was headed for Yorkshire bridge, to meet the footpath that leads to the summit of Win Hill through 'Parkin Clough' and 'Win Hill Plantation.' Now, I've been past the Yorkshire Bridge Inn, and know it to be a reputable pub/guest house and I know that it takes its name from the actual bridge. But for those that wonder about the history of the actual bridge, I did do a little light reading to find out more for myself.

The bridge itself is an old packhorse bridge that dates as far back as the late 1500's. It is referred to in the Domesday Book in a passage about Bamford. Translated into early English 'Bamford' or 'Beam-ford', means 'ford with a beam.' It was written that "The 'ford with a beam' lay on an ancient trade route which led northwards from the Hope Valley and across the moors into Yorkshire and was documented in 1599 as no more than a wooden footbridge." [Taken from] When Ladybower Reservoir was constructed during the 1930's, it enveloped the villages of Ashopton and Derwent. The residents of both these former villages were rehoused in grit stone cottages built specifically for them. The hamlet was also named "Yorkshire Bridge."

Onwards, to Win Hill.
After I had crossed the bridge, the climb of Win Hill commenced. It was definitely strenuous with a 65ltr rucksack in tow. I think it might possibly be the most difficult that I've walked, more so than The Nab or Jacob's ladder which until now shared that title. Of course, all three would be a hell of a lot easier without a 65ltr bag. Time was pressing on, so I decided to take that course also. I hid my rucksack in the woods nearby after finding a suitable spot to camp and then pressed on to the summit to catch the end of the sunset. The temperature had dropped as quickly as the sun had, and was now down below freezing for sure. But it made for a nice fresh walk until I reached the trig point. It was pretty much fully dark by the time I had made it and the sun was a dwindling glow, no less enjoyable company to sit and have a cup of tea with though. I gave Sophia a quick phone call and took time to relax, looking upon the views I'd also have in the morning. By morning, they were sure to look alot different. Every view is a good view in this area though in my opinion so I was in no hurry to get back to my tent. 

Sunset on Win Hill, looking towards the Great Ridge.
The night was to be my first spent in the woods, and the first in my new tent. I decided that my Gelert solo was too small for me. In summer, it'd be ideal really. But in autumn/winter when the weather is unpredictable, its not as comfortable as I'd like to be in a tent. The Vango Tempest 200 is what I have gone for, and on first use - it's very good. I'll reserve judgement until it's seen a bit more use though. Finding a discreet spot in the woods wasn't very difficult, but I was disappointed to see a fair bit of evidence of camps passed. There were plastic bags, empty beer cans and bottles and the like, strewn amongst the fallen branches and trees on the forest floor. I find it hard to believe that people, having carried them in, couldn't carry them out. It's not a difficult task, just to be clean and respect your surroundings. I set my tent up in ever expanding darkness, with the aid of my head torch. It took longer than I hope it to take in future, but then it was my first time with it. One of the main reasons I chose it was the fact it has a very substantial porch area, and it was utilised straight away with me throwing my rucksack, tent compression sack, and jacket in there. It gave me a comfortable spot to sit while I sorted out all of my gear. It was noticeably warmer in the woods than out, and as a result - I had a really quite comfortable sleep. I've been really suprised by the Karrimor 'Hibernate 3' sleeping bag that I bought for just £17. I've been out on top of the hills twice, and now once in the woods with temperatures below freezing, and I've not yet been uncomfortably cold. I am a warm sleeper, and do use a 4cm self inflating mat, but even so! A £17, three season bag from a company that effectively slaps their logo on mass manufactured products from the far east for their cheaper lines. I'm impressed so far. I was awoken early by some owls, but the sound soothed me back to sleep. The morning was again, quite warm in the woods. I managed to pack up my gear in about twenty minutes, and got myself up the hill to watch the sunrise.

Dawn in the woods, my new Vango Tempest 200.
As far as for experiencing the sunrise, the morning seemed disappointing. It was extremely foggy and cloudy in every direction. It was easy to tell what season we're currently in, with a thick layer of frost too; everything looked cold and white. It was a fair bit colder on the top of Win Hill than it had been in the woods, but completely absent of wind. It was very silent, and really relaxing to have a cup of tea with no noise around. I spent alot of time peering through the thinning mist at all that surrounded Win Hill. Ladybower Reservoir could be seen to the north and north east, villages to the south. Looking east, Bamford Edge and Stanage Edge further in the distance. Looking westward, my route for the day could be seen, and as the view started to clear a little; a partly snow covered Kinder Plateau could be seen. It was my first glimpse of the Peak District in wintery conditions, and I think that it looked and felt every bit as inviting as in the warmer months. 

A very misty view generally northwards down to Ladybower.
The mist eventually began to clear, and the sun made a great appearance through the breaking clouds. It would definitely be a big kick starter to the day if you were in need of one. For me, it encouraged a longer stay though, to enjoy the pictures the morning would paint. I sat with my map, picking out distant points of interest while admiring some really intense scenes like in the picture below. Sometimes you really can just sit and do nothing yet still be thoroughly entertained, and this was certainly one of those times that prove to be few and far between in modern society. 

Patience and enjoyment of a good cup of tea led to a great view.
After a while, the clouds cleared out completely and it promised to be a wonderful December day. There was still no wind around, and blue was all that could be seen above. The sun, albeit low; was warm for December. I ended up becoming so warm that I had to pack away my fleece and 3 in 1 jacket to stop myself from sweating. I had a clear view now of the Great Ridge, and just how far I was aiming to get through the course of the day. My first stop was Lose Hill, but with there being no path directly there from Win Hill I had to meet up with the Roman road. I was passed by another walker who seemed to be enjoying the pleasant weather as much as I was, although he seemed better prepared for it - shorts and all!

The Great Ridge, on route to the Roman road.
It didn't take too long before I'd linked up with the Roman road and began heading down towards Hope. On this path, you go past Fullwood Stile Farm, past Edale Road, over the bridge and just around the corner turning right. This will bring you onto the footpath which climbs Lose Hill. Similarly to Win Hill, Lose Hill is a ridiculous task with a 65ltr rucksack as I rather painstakingly found out. My new boots had started to rub me a little on my right ankle, and the weight of my pack made it an uncomfortable climb. If I had a smaller rucksack, it would definitely be alot nicer an ascent - but the struggle is one of the many joys over taking overnight trips. Every hill climb becomes alot more challenging. I was beginning to see more are more people around - people coming down the hill above me, people climbing the hill below me, people across the Great Ridge continuing their walk. I think its probably the busiest that I've seen the area while I've been there, which speaks volumes for the weather with it [although you wouldn't know] being December. After I'd gotten to the top, I stopped and had a lengthy chat with an old, retired couple who were out for the day. The husband was a lot more experienced than his wife, and after talking about the weather he told me about the conditions upon one Christmas day that he'd made the journey to the summit. It's always good to see the older generation continuing, what can sometimes be, strenuous activities well into their old age. 

Sat on the summit of Lose Hill.

The views from the summit were grand, and it wasn't surprising that plenty of people were stopping here to enjoy them. Looking across the valley to all the areas that I'd walked across on previous trips was a good reminder of how good a time I'd had. It's always fun to recall the names of particular moors and hills, seeing them from a new angle. It reassured my developing confidence with the area, knowing that I could pick out things on the map by sight and memory. I know that plenty of people will be able to do the same and that it might not seem like such an achievement to many, but it leaves me content. Another thing that I decided to do for the day, was to make an effort to take pictures of my progress along the ridge, looking back eastward and showing the increasing distance between myself and Win Hill where I'd begun the morning. 

Eastward view from Lose Hill, looking towards Win Hill.
If you study the OS map 'OL1' for the dark peak, it indicates that Lose Hill could also be described as "Ward's Piece." The reason for this is that the land at the summit was once owned by a man called George Herbert Bridges Ward. Born in 1876, he went on to found the 'Sheffield Clarion Ramblers Association', apparently the first club of its kind in Britain. George Ward was a very active walker, and was heavily involved in the push for public access to the land, 'trespassing' on Kinder Scout many times. In short, he was a very important figure in the establishment of the rights of access we enjoy today and the foundation of the national park. [I intend to write a short feature entry on him soon with more information.]

After something to eat and drink, I decided to press on. I didn't need much encouragement, the weather had turned warm and clear. It was almost like a Summer day, even with just a t-shirt. I made my way along the Great Ridge, taking pictures looking back to the east to mark my progress. It seemed like just the kind of day for a walk such as this, what with the stunning views and not many ups and downs to the path. The following pictures are those that I took to show how far away I was moving from my starting point that morning.

Eastward view from Back Tor. Win Hill in the distance.
Back Tor was the next hill. A strange western edge with a sheer drop, and on the south side of the hill, is Brockett Booth Plantation.

Eastward view from near Hollins Cross, showing Back Tor's sheer western and northern edge and Brockett Booth Plantation.
Eastward view between Hollins Cross and Mam Tor. Win Hill in the distance.
Eastward view from just below the summit of Mam Tor. Win Hill in the distance.
 Once I got to Mam Tor, I decided to spend a good hour or so on the summit just to relax and take in the view. After I'd got to the top of Lose Hill, the walk wasn't hugely strenuous but it's always good to end the day surveying all that the area has to offer. There was a little treat in store for me in addition to the panoramic view, a group of para gliders were preparing to jump from the summit now that the wind had picked up. 

Para-glider on Mam Tor.
 For as good as the weather, and subsequent views had been throughout the day; a slight change in conditions led to an amazing view over the back of Mam Tor and over towards Rushup Edge. The fine mist and cloud was illuminated by the setting sun in a way I've really seen before. It was something of a stark contrast of the conditions of the Kinder Plateau as I looked over. The familiar low hanging fog and cloud was starting to sink around it. In the strangest way, the cloud seemed to sink and wrap around the cloughs and edges. From across the valley, it looked very impressive. Having been on the moors of the plateau as the fog comes down, I know how intimidating it can be. But this demonstrated that it can be wondrous too. I took a path that snakes around the foot of Mam Tor, bringing me back into Edale via Hardenclough Farm to end the day.

Late afternoon view from Mam Tor.

Looking across the Valley from Mam Tor.

Late afternoon view from near Hardenclough Farm.

My favourite picture of the two days.