Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fox House, Stanage Edge, and Hathersage.

Walking with Chris and Simon again.

I arrived at Doncaster Railway Station this morning just after a train had departed for Sheffield and so had to wait twenty five minutes for the next one, just about the longest gap there is between trains. During this time three trains left for London. Doncaster has a very good service to the capital, less good to other places much nearer though: trains are less frequent, and it takes longer to reach cities such as Nottingham, Derby, and Lincoln.

My train did arrive on time though, and my bus from Sheffield to Fox House as well. Chris was waiting for me when I got off the bus. After spending a few minutes in the car park whilst Chris and Simon put on their boots we set off across the moor to reach the footpath that goes along the top of Burbage Rocks. The weather was excellent, and there were some lovely views.

We discussed which route to take, continue going along the top of the rocks, or drop down into the valley and then climb Carl Wark and Higger Tor at the other side. We wanted to get to Stanage Edge as soon as possible so that we could walk most of its length, and so we pressed on, going straight ahead.

We soon reached the Upper Burbage Bridge and then briefly walked along the road until we found the path leading to Cowper Stone and the beginning of the edge. We posed for photographs at the trig point and then headed northwards, passing hundreds of climbers wearing the very colourful safety equipment that is part of the modern sport. When we spotted a young man confidently bouncing down a vertical rock face..Simon and myself started reminiscing about our times abseiling many years ago, myself at the other side of the Peak District, near Bollington in Cheshire, and Simon in the Lake District; we agreed that we were both confident at the time too.

Just before reaching Crow Chin, which I consider to be the northern limit of Stanage Edge, we stopped to eat our sandwiches in a sheltered location which was warmed by the sun.

We then continued for a few more minutes until we located a way of getting down to the path which goes along the bottom of the rocks. I pointed out that since neither the heather nor the bracken had grown much higher than a few inches, and the ground didn't seem too waterlogged, today would be a good day to break out across open moorland and head towards Bamford Edge. Simon and Chris agreed, Chris being quite eager as he lead the way. He soon discovered that the easiest terrain to walk across was where the heather had been burnt back last autumn, the unburned areas were a little harder, and the small low-lying areas of [not very deep at all] bog were the most difficult. Chris got his feet wet and Simon had to stop a couple of times to remove something from the inside of his boots.

We safely reached Bamford Edge, but too far south to enjoy views of Ladybower Reservoir. We briefly considered a bit of a detour, but when we noticed a large group of hikers posing for photos on Great Tor, we didn't bother, and continued walking in a southerly direction until we reached the road.

Our original plan was to walk back to the car at Fox House, but Simon wanted to have a bit of a look round Hathersage: he's never been there before. The crossing of Bamford Moor had been quite tiring for us all, and when Simon mentioned that Chris could travel on his '+1' concessionary travel pass, the decision was made: we'd catch the bus up the hill from Hathersage to Fox House, where Chris and Simon would go back to Leeds in the car and I'd stay on the bus to Sheffield. Our route to Hathersage took us along country lanes, through woodland and across fields, at times even briefly heading back towards Stanage Edge.

Near to one farm there were a couple of stiles which were constructed over stretches of electric fence. The farmer had done an excellent job with clear signage and more than adequate insulation so that there was no danger of accidental electrocution for even the clumsiest or most infirm person. Being a city boy from Leeds, Simon hadn't encountered an electric fence before and wanted to check that there was actually any current in the wire. He discovered that there was and the shock it gives you is quite unpleasant.

Our time in the centre of Hathersage was a bit shorter than we'd intended. There was a game of cricket being played, and we stopped to watch a few overs, standing in the lane, positioning ourselves in line with one of the batting creases. The batsmen were scoring well, not having any difficulties, until a bit of confusion when taking a run. It was quite a tight decision for the 'run out'. There appeared to be only one umpire, and he was standing at the bowler's end and so didn't have a good view. The three of us all yelled "Out" and put up one finger each, indicating that the batsman was out. I don't know if the umpire took any notice...but he did give the batsman out.

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