Peak Rambler’s Ramblings, from one historic year to another

OK, so the title doesn’t quite depict walking, but then I haven’t been able to do much walking this last year.

So why; “from one historic year to another”?

Well, the preceding four years each following the events of the Great War, otherwise known as World War I, a hundred years earlier, 2018 saw commemorations to remember the centenary of the ending of the Great War, while this year, 3rd September, remembers eighty years ago the start of World War II was declared, where the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, declared war on Germany.

Neville Chamberlain

From this YouTube link, you can hear Neville Chamberlain’s speech declaring war on Germany.

How ironic, in the eightieth year marking the outbreak of WWII, and as a nation we’re trying to negotiate a withdrawal agreement from the EU, which was initially set up shortly after WWII to help three small countries hard hit by the devastation of WWII, to trade freely.

I’m not going to get into any political debates, so as far as Britain leaving the EU is concerned, there will be nothing more said, apart from a very small bit of potted history.

The potted history starts with three countries; Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, forming the BE-NE-LUX Countries, the birth of the European Union we know today. You can read more clicking HERE to read about the BENELUX Countries.

Obviously, they weren’t the only three countries impacted with the horrific devastation of WWII, as we know, being a World War, virtually no country or island escaped unscathed.

I think that’s enough history for now, the next five years plus will see many moments where various 80th anniversary commemorations of events during WWII will take place.

From my perspective, what of 2019?

It’s been an uninteresting year personally, no milestone events.

Apart from being a bit of a washout of a year, weatherwise, the year started off normally, well, nothing specific, I just plodded on, where and whenever possible, getting out and taking yet more photos of landscapes and wildlife.

Perhaps one of the most notable early photographic moments for me, was a trip to North Wales during February. There was a covering of snow in Snowdonia, so it was a must to take a drive to Llyn Mymbyr and photograph the Snowdon Massif in her winter coat.

I wasn’t alone, quite a few photographers had the same idea.

The Snowdon Massif from across Llyn Mymbyr
Not too far from there, was the Glyderau, so it just had to be done, to photograph them from low down. Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach, Tryfan, Y Garn and Pen yr ole Wen (but I didn’t, nor would I have attempted to see the Devils Kitchen) all looking good in their winter coats, photographed from Ogwen Cottage area.

Using long exposure, I was able to get the silky water effect on Afon Idwal flowing below me.

For those wondering, long exposure is achieved by placing the camera, a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera,(DSLR) on a tripod to avoid camera shake, along with a remote shutter release, a device to active the camera either wirelessly or a long wire to avoid moving the camera while activating the shutter, and leaving the camera for a few seconds to achieve the silky effect.

This part was quite emotional for me, having ascended Pen yr ole Wen using ice axe and crampons, but not being able to do it again, nor make an attempt at the others mentioned.

Those photos were worth taking and can be viewed in my February 2019 Album.

Looking up Afon Idwal towards Y Garn,
using Long Exposure to get a silky flow effect
March was pretty much the same, more photo shoots of landscape and wildlife, and being the start of spring, many birds were starting to build or repair nests, which provided some great photo opportunities.

Not just the birds nest building, but the flowers were starting to appear, even though snowdrops and crocuses had already flowered as they always do during February.

One place I always like to grab a springtime photo is St Michael’s Church, Baddesely Clinton, where the daffodil display is second to none in my opinion.

The daffodils by St Michael's Church, Baddesley Clinton

Around this time, I was getting extremely frustrated at walking with crutches, so I tried to walk without. It was very painful, and a total failure in my book.

A planned process of walking with a stick rather than straight to nothing was pursued, and again, I felt failure was on the cards. Afterall, as I publish this, it is almost five years (February 2015) since the accident.

I was, I still am (and always will be), missing the hills and moors big time and while I have fabulous memories and I’ve walked, and camped, with lots of fabulous people, it wasn’t enough.


We all need goals to aspire to, that’s what keeps us going and moving forward.

I set myself a goal, to complete a very short walk in the Peak District; ASAP.

It had to be a short walk, so if things went wrong, help or safety wasn’t far away, but more importantly, I was able to complete the walk under my own steam, not with assistance.

I had a choice of places, Dovedale would probably be one of the best ones, plenty of people around if I need support, easy paths and access, and a dale I’ve not visited for decades.

My heart was set on an old favourite; Stanton Moor, a place where I’ve wandered since a child, know inside out, back to front and upside down. It has perfect access, close to a road and safety, good phone coverage, but for one thing, the ground is too uneven for me at this stage, I’ve only ever walked level paths with plenty of stopping places.

So a bit of head scratching ensured.

Where could I go to get the views, enjoy safely a short walk with an incline and uneven ground?

I could think of many places, but none meeting what really was a safe criteria, and I wasn’t going to become a rescue statistic when I know better.

So, for the ongoing and inbetween bits, I’ve continued to visit various nature reserves and pursue my photography, which I enjoyed while out on the hills and moors, not just for the exercise, but to maintain a purpose in my leisure time, and those photos are online for all to view.

While these reserves haven’t given me the solitude that the hills and moors gave, they do get me away from the urban sprawl.

I doubt I’ll ever get back to the hills and moors, ever sensibly and safely, like I used to enjoy. My foot will not fit into my walking boots, and if I went a size up, my leg will not fit comfortably into them, sensible trousers are another issue, again they’re not an option, my leg will not fit into comfortably suitable trousers all because it still swells due to the secondary lymphedema.

The distances to attain are not guaranteed, and as we all know, once you’ve walked out there, you’ve got to get back, safely!

And I certainly have NO intentions to become a Mountain Rescue statistic!

However, I did manage a short wander to Arbor Low Henge during April, my first wander in the Peak District since the accident back in February 2015.

Arbor Low Henge

I’ll not get into the climate change debate, but as someone who has spent as much time outdoors as possible, as man and boy, working on farms during my teenaged years, listening and learning from these people, who had no written qualifications, what they knew was passed from father to son, and to my mind, very valuable life experiences, I learned a lot of folklore around weather, what signs to look for and much more, which have been invaluable in my days outdoors.

Early this year, I said to quite a few work colleagues, this year would be wetter than normal, because that often happens after a dry hot year, and for those who can remember, 1977 was wet after the hot summer of 1976.

And what has ensued?

I’ve digressed back to the personal events 2019.

I had been looking at the possibility of upgrading my Canon 750D DSLR, particularly as there had been rumours of an upgrade to the Canon 7D MkII DSLR. However, subsequent rumours suggested the upgrade may not be all as initially thought, so I started to look more deeply at other options.

After reviewing my lenses, decision was made to push the boat out, afterall, I wasn’t buying any new outdoor kit, I’ve more than enough to keep me going, and a lot that will never be used (some new, some very much as new), so I purchased the Canon 5D MkIV, a professional camera which will work with the two lenses I use a lot, out of three lenses, a third which really is collecting dust.

Also, with the factory summer shutdown due, I decided these two weeks would be ideal to push myself, break the pain barrier as much as I can, and progress from crutches to an NHS walking stick.

Oh, and play with my new camera, which of course I did.

It was hard, but the transition was made and the long week in North Wales was the ideal time to pursue that progress.

While staying in North Wales for a long week of chilling out and seeing family, as always when I’m around there, I made a visit or two to the RSPB Reserve at Conwy, and usually, I’ll make a trip down the Conwy Valley to visit or view the Snowdon Massif and around the Glyders and Ogwen Valley.

However, because the Eisteddfod 2019 was to be held in Llanrwst, and with the roads being narrow through the village, it was deemed best to give it a miss this time.
Llanwrst, host of the 2019 Eisteddfod

I went a little OTT with taking photographs, but I needed to try out my new camera, and very satisfying it was.

The return to work saw me using the walking stick and not crutches, though they were at hand in the car should I need them

By now, we were well into August, the weather was questionable, as it often is, and my desire to get onto Stanton Moor was getting too strong, but the weather need to be right.

Pre-accident, (sensibly so)I’d have been out, but these days, rain, hail or snow, I have to consider my current situation, so the plans were aborted until such a time everything was right.

I erred on the side of caution, but after seeing some photos of folk out that weekend, my gut feeling I was right, which was frustrating, but nice to see the photos.

I did manage to get on to Stanton Moor during the August Bank Holiday, but it wasn’t without its repercussions.

The end of October 2019, saw twelve months without any relapses with embolisms, which have hampered my progress, not just physically, but mentally as well.

Embolisms are basically blood clots in the pulmonary arteries to the lungs, mine were caused as a result of the surgery I had, and were termed ‘provoked embolisms’, caused through surgery rather than health issues.

You can read more on embolisms from either Pulmonary Embolism (NHS) or Pulmonary Embolism (Wikipedia).

The problem being, I attempt to make progress, then sometime after, I end up in hospital with yet another embolism hampering my activities.

It had a big negative impact on my progress, I feared going anywhere and then ending up in hospital or otherwise….

Fingers crossed, that is behind me now. However, one thing that isn’t behind me, is the fact that I can’t plan too far in advance, very often I don’t know until the day, whether my leg is up to covering any distance or not. It’s worse than planning around the weather!

Also, the end of October, my wife and I went to visit family in North Wales, again, and apart from enjoying a relaxing time with family, visiting the RSPB Reserve at Conwy, and also another reserve I’d been informed of, The Spinnies at Aberogwen.

Well, beginners luck or not, it is a lovely little nature reserve, and after years of trying to get a photo of a kingfisher, I not only managed to achieve that, but also a kingfisher in flight (click HERE to view a photo)!

The kingfisher at The Spinnies

Once the rain had subsided the following morning, I fancied another trip to The Spinnies at Aberogwen, on the off-chance of seeing a kingfisher again, but as luck had it, no kingfisher was to be seen.

But, my trip was heavily rewarded, for a heron flew in just as I got into one of the hides, and was transfixed on something in the water. Its long beak quickly dived into the water, and out it came, complete with an eel!

Yes, I was surprised, and also caught on the hop, my camera wasn’t set up for that, though I did manage to get some half decent photos of the heron complete with eel!

A grey heron taking away its trophy, an eel for lunch

The full set of photos can be viewed in my November 2019 Album.

Wet Weather and Wet Weather Gear!
A recent observation, is wet weather, wet clothes, can often cause the grafted skin area of my leg to ulcerate, sometimes a lot, sometimes not much.

What actually causes it to ulcerate is a mystery, but most likely down to friction on the extensive skin grafts I had when the hospital reconstructed my leg.

To most normal people, when it rains, or there’s a threat of wet weather, you make sure you have waterproof trousers. That isn’t an option for me, because the leg width isn’t wide enough to accommodate my leg, especially when it swells up!

I have, and I still am, trying different brands as I come across them, but sadly, they don’t accommodate my leg

I those of you who read this blog do drive sensibly, but a far greater number don’t, cocooned in their little protective shell, air-conditioned, boundless safety features that protect them and their passengers. However, that is not the case for pedestrians, cyclists, or horse riders!

Too many drivers have no ability to think about other road users, just themselves and how well their little world moves effortlessly.

I’ve worked in the automotive business virtually all my working life, and I’ve seen lots of changes, many of the better, some, I’m not so sure about.

When I started working as a trainee mechanic, there were a lot of innovative safety ideas to make vehicles safer, not just for the driver and occupants, but other road users. Things like a bar at the front of a car that raises if a pedestrian is hit and stops the pedestrian falling back on the road, theoretically reducing the risk of further injury.

There were sloped bonnets to reduce the damage caused, removal of raised radiator badges, like the Jaguar Leaper (Mercedes could retain their three point star, only if it sufficiently retracted and didn’t cause any injury).

I’ve deliberately digressed, to provide a bit of potted history.

However, my mentor, a superb guy, a gentle giant, what he didn’t know about cars back then, wasn’t worth thinking about, made this statement:
The best safety feature they could put in any vehicle, is a rusty six inch nail in the centre of the steering wheel!

It might sound gruesome, but think about it, if you had such a thing pointing at your throat, it would make you think more about how you drive….

During this year, there has been a lot of talk about mental well being, something that has been swept under the carpet for too long in this country.

I’ve had my moments, and as this is published, I still do have my moments, though I try to progress forward, and hope not to burden anyone with these, though I do feel for my wife, who all too often is around when out of frustration I have tantrums, along with the alternative thoughts that regularly pass through my mind.

The summary for 2019:

My first post accident Peak District walk, a very emotional walk, on an absolutely brilliant sunny day with as always, stunning views.
Sadly the overall intentions didn't prevail, but I still enjoyed it.

Arbor Low Henge, with Upper Oldhams Farm in the background

Another emotional, but enjoyable wander, on an old favourite area of mine; Stanton Moor, a place that holds many happy memories from my childhood days right through to today, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
The heather was in full bloom, a nice purple colour

Unlike Arbor Low and Gib Hill where I had to resort to crutches, I did manage to use a walking stick, but the following week or so I was back to crutches just to get around again.

Stanton Moor, a moor I know better than the back of my hand, I’ve been there in all weathers, not just to wander, or just to get away from it all and chill out, but also as a testing ground for gear.

The weather was just perfect, the views as ever, spectacular, and I can still find my way around without a map.

The photos are online to view in the: Stanton Moor 25 August 2019 Album.

Another short, emotional, and ‘challenging’ walk to a place I’ve not been to for a long time, the last time was in 2011 when I started to explore the northern Carneddau, walking up to Bera Mawr. That particular day back in 2011 didn’t quite go to plan, I was awestruck with the views across the Carneddau, over the Irish Sea and across to the Menai Straits, Puffin Island and all around.

This particular walk was to visit Aber Falls and attempt a gradual ascent of around 100 mtrs and good foot paths, to take photos of Aber Falls using long exposure to obtain that silky effect on moving water.

While I had some fabulous views, looking up Bera Mawr did pull at the heart strings quite a bit, and it was also a very difficult blog to write, for after the walk, I was in a lot of pain for the next few days and felt a failure.

Though I managed to avoid using crutches, it was a close call, some days I really felt the temptation to grab the crutches just to get around.

The Aber Falls photos can be viewed towards the end of the October 2019 Album.

Approaching Aber Falls this time

For the inbetween bits, I’ve continued to visit various nature reserves and pursue my photography, which I enjoyed while out on the hills and moors, not just for the exercise, but to maintain a purpose in my leisure time, and those photos are online for all to view.

While these reserves haven’t given me the solitude that the hills and moors gave, they do get me away from the urban sprawl.

I doubt I’ll ever get back to the hills and moors, ever sensibly and safely, like I used to enjoy. My leg will not fit into comfortably suitable trousers, and the distances to attain are not guaranteed, and as we all know, once you’ve walked out there, you’ve got to get back, safely!

And I certainly have NO intentions to become a Mountain Rescue statistic!

Before I close, this year hasn’t been the success I’d have hoped. I had good intentions of maintaining this blog no matter what my abilities turned out to be.

However, I’m still struggling to accept my circumstances, both physically and mentally. I feel things are too negative, and as a result, I’m considering where the blog should be heading.

I still yearn for the hills and moors I used to enjoy.

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

Aber Falls, you don’t conquer by giving in!

This blog has taken a bit of time to write, because I’ve been trying to come to terms with the issues I faced both during and for days afterward my short wander there.

It’s not been easy to suddenly find after enjoying the ability to complete mile after mile over rough and smooth terrain, that a couple of kilometres on decent paths can have such a negative physical impact.

I’ve still not fully come to terms with my shortcomings, even though I know they’re a reality and plan accordingly.

".... I miss the hills and moors, the solitude ...."

I miss the hills and moors, the solitude, the ability to get away from the modern world, that to me, has become very much in face, the incessant adverts that intrude, particularly when reading a news item, and especially when almost as many adverts appear as there is information!

Our dysfunctional politics of everyday life, compared to the less intrusive days gone by, or am I just becoming old!

To try and maintain my contact with my ideal world, I've taken to my other passion; wildlife and landscape photography, though it doesn't give me the solitude I yearn for.

These days, close to home it has become a lot harder to get to those nearby places, many of which today have gone, under bricks and mortar, or tarmac, with a lot more to follow, and fast...

As part of my quest to become more mobile and outside, on a stay in North Wales, I visited Aber Falls, at the foot of the Northern Carneddau. The visit was initially from a photographic perspective, to capture the splendour of the waterfall both using normal photographic processes and long exposure.

Looking towards Aber Falls on my wander on to the Northern Carneddau back in 2011

Long Exposure’ is a process where the cameras shutter is kept open for a prolonged time, typically 1 – 5 seconds during daylight hours, to obtain a different perspective of a scene or moment.

This process is usually only available on Single Lens Reflex (35mm film cameras), or Digital Single Lens Reflex (a digital version the 35mm film camera) cameras not achievable on most compacts, though some will allow shutter override, and some mobile devices will also have some feature to allow this.

For landscape photography this often means flowing water, like rivers and streams, though lakes and sea can also be enhanced in the right conditions, giving them that silky appearance.

It also involved a short walk, a round trip of around 4km, from car park to the falls with a steady continual ascent of around 100 mtrs and back with a steady continual descent, using a decent hardcore path, and some superb views of the surrounding Carneddau area.

The last time I was around there was back in 2011, when I started to explore the Northern Carneddau. That particular day I remember with great fondness, I was awestruck with the views on and around the Carneddau, across the Irish Sea, Anglesey, and many other places.

".... I was awestruck with the views ...."

But, before you think of going up on to the Carneddau, be very aware it is high, exposed and featureless terrain, so your navigation, your outdoor skills and kit need to be sensibly top notch.

What should have been around a 30-minute walk, took well over an hour, with frequent stops to relax my leg and allow the pain to subside before carrying on, but I made it, using a walking stick, and endured a swollen and very uncomfortable leg for the following few days.

Approaching Aber Falls this time

It was very embarrassing to be so slow, and make so many stops, even parents with little children were overtaking me!

I managed to obtain some decent photos, not just of the falls, but as the sun came out, some of the surrounding hills, and an ankle twisting scree that is very precarious should you find yourself on that particular path.

Aber Falls, using a tripod and 2sec Long Exposure

Closer to the foot of Aber Falls, again using a tripod and long exposure

The views of the surrounding Carneddau looking down on me once the sun started to break through the cloud on my return back to the car were stunning, and pulled at the heart strings considerably, bringing back many happy memories.

Looking south-west between the steep slopes of Bera Mawr and Moel Wnion

".... The views of the surrounding Carneddau looking down on me were stunning ...."

Looking over the Menai towards Anglesey

I have been battling with myself since that day, about whether to post a brief write-up or not, but decided that I will.

I guess I just need to accept the situation is what it is, whatever it actually is, but then, you don’t conquer mountains by giving in. But there has to be a point at where I need to sensibly accept and situation and settle to it.

Perhaps one day I'll find that point and settle with it.

Finally, thank you for reading and happy rambling,
Peak Rambler
Twitter             @PeakRambler
YouTube          Peak Rambler on YouTube

Links to places and topics featured in this blog

Stanton Moor, my old favourite, I've missed you

My return to Stanton Moor has been long overdue!

The last time I was there, was November 2013!

That was a night hike with a small group of people from a walking forum, you can read about that in: Stanton Moor Night Hike, and a drink in the Druid Inn.

"....Approaching Cat Stone...."

"....Kerry, Dom and Steve at the Trig Point on Stanton Moor...."

"....A post walk drink, and chips, in the Druid Inn, Birchover...."

The previous times there were:

"On the walk to these quarries, we pass close to the Trig Point...."

Yes, that's me.

For extra reading, see: Wikipedia Stanton Moor.

I did manage a short wander up to another old favourite, my first post accident outing, to Arbor Low Stone Henge, which was to test the ground, walking poles and me. Apart from the pain, I persevered, to enjoy a fabulous day, it was sunny, and the views as ever, were spectacular.

Even returning back there, I still see many things not seen on previous visits, but more so on that occasion. I can only guess, because there was no time constraints, I wasn’t out to complete a planned route, it was only a wander along with requiring recuperation periods, it meant I had the time to sit and ponder.

Looking over Monyash from Arbor Low Henge

Arbor Low Henge, with Upper Oldhams Farm in the background

To avoid duplicating the history of my accident, the blog also highlights some background detail of my injuries and recovery and also some details around Pacerpoles.

I’m not giving up on my Pacerpoles, the important thing to remember, my situation is due to surgery and not a fault of those poles. Hopefully one day I will be able to use them, but for now, the crutches have taken a back seat, and I’m using a walking stick to help me move around.

I now have one hand free!

I’ve said before, it will be slow, something I’m very bad at, is doing slow, but my situation is governing my progress, the tantrums still continue with the knockbacks.

After a week in North Wales, which was a torment looking down the Conwy Valley at the Carneddau, especially as pre-accident I was starting to spend more time up there, however, being realistic, it’s unlikely I’ll ever get back up there. I try to look at those magnificent views from the perspective: “I’ve been there”, but it hasn’t yet softened the pain.

The view down the Conwy Valley from RSPB Conwy.
The two peaks are [L] Moel Eilio   [R] Pen Llithrig y Wrach

To get outdoors and away from urban life, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting nature reserves, and my second hobby, photography has been a great help getting out and building up walking on level ground. Many of those photos can be viewed on Peak Rambler Photostream.

The plan was to try and capture Stanton Moor whilst the heather was a nice purple colour, the weekend planned to make that wander was thwarted by dubious weather forecasts, of showers that never materialised, because waterproof trousers will not fit my reconstructed leg!

The heather was in full bloom, a nice purple colour

So, the bank holiday weekend seemed to be looking favourable, something very unusual for an August Bank Holiday, but I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity.

Plans were being made on the week leading up to the day, the camera batteries charged, and car fuelled up.

I know the moor better than the back of my hand, it’s been a first choice to chill out, also a first choice for testing kit in extremes (it’s high and exposed enough to get some very inclement weather conditions), with a caveat, there has been a lot of quarrying going on over the centuries, so plenty of steep drops to catch the unwary out.

This was going to be a wander on ground less level than Arbor Low, which had some undulations but not as much as Stanton Moor, the paths will be uneven in many places, and I know many of the places to try, and many to avoid, (I’ve been visiting the moor since I was knee high to a grasshopper), access is good should anything go wrong, good mobile phone coverage.

Stanton Moor, like many places, has a long history going back to prehistoric man. Some of the sights to see there are:
One of the many tumuli on the moor

So there is plenty to see, along with a good old fashioned trig point.

Incidentally, the Nine Ladies Stone Circle for a very long period of time, only ever shown nine stones, hence the name.

However, during the drought of 1976, due to the ground becoming dry and effectively shrinking, a further stone was revealed in a horizontal position, so now there are ten stones visible.

Look just inward of the far left upright stone, you will see the tenth stone lying on the ground.

I’ve waffled….

So, the wander, how did it go?

Well, very good actually, the only nasty bits were post walk.

Sunday 25 August 2019, the weather was hot, dry and sunny, unusual for an August Bank Holiday weekend, but like many people, I was going to make the best of it.

I made an early start, with an interesting drive up, I spotted what might have been a buzzard on a fence post! An unusual scenario, but it was too big for a kestrel or merlin.

Unfortunately there were no stopping places on the narrow twisty road to stop and grab a piccie.

As planned, I arrived nice and early, just as the sun was heating up to the scorching hot temperatures that day, probably well in excess of the low 30’s, I recorded 30.7ºC on my Kestrel K2000 weather meter, around lunchtime.

Once parked up, kit sorted, well, small pack, lunch, a couple of flasks of cold water and a sealed thermal mug with coffee. I’m not able to support a full proper pack on my back, which would have been nice.

My current small pack doesn’t have a pouch for a hydration pack, so I may invest in a new small pack to remedy that one, if there are any available, but I’m not in any rush, especially as the current pack was extremely comfortable and did meet my needs easily on the day.

While a pouch isn’t necessary, it does help to keep a hydration pack in situ and also  some protection from other items puncturing the hydration pack.

Off I went, no crutches this time, but a walking stick, no pacer poles yet, I’m not ready for them.

The route was from parking on Birchover Road, on the west side of the moor, heading easterly walking up through the virtually overgrown path, through a kissing gate and onto the moor.

Soon after you access the moor, you encounter a rather tall sandstone structure, the Cork Stone. You can climb this monolith, but it’s not easy and the worn foot holes make it one heck of a challenge.

Cork Stone

Once you get  up, remember, you’ve got to get down, and that isn’t much easier, because its called the Cork Stone for a reason, it looks almost like a cork with a narrow base!

Many times in the past I've climbed the Cork Stone.

Stopping to take a couple of piccies, I then continued along my way, heading in a northerly direction (NNE to be more precise), the next call was the trig point, which gives some commanding views across the moor and surrounding countryside.

the next call was the trig point

From the Cork Stone, heading in a northeasterly direction, the path soon reaches a forked junction, and knowing the moor like I do, I take the right fork which takes me straight to the trig point, where I stop for a needed leg rest and a planned ‘take in the view’, with the purple heather, which looked so beautiful in the sun.

Normally an easy going ascent, it was becoming quite painful and could feel my leg seemed to be swelling slowly. I was debating whether to carry on or cut my losses, enjoy the view and head back.

I’m not a defeatist, you don’t conquer mountains by giving in, with good planning you identify risks and work out how to be sensible and safely manage them.

It's called a risk assessment, you identify the risks, you look at the impact and then work out how to manage the risk, preferably eliminating the risk, but that’s not always possible. It’s something we do every day, more often than not, automatically, like crossing roads….

Just a quick mention, with risk assessment/management, you’ll never always remove some risks. Some risks will involve the risk of fatality. In that instance, you manage the risk, which could include a route change, reviewing your kit options, your walking solo or in a group, or, something not to be overlooked, training or refresher courses to improve skills and knowledge.

The risks already identified, route, I tend to follow the same route each time, so that’s set in stone, all plans in place and the estimated time, based on using Naismiths (which I use in conjunction with Tranters Correction) and the average speed taken from many of the walks I’ve already done post accident, I placed an extra 15% on,(pre-accident was 10% added) to allow for more stops than anticipated.

To make it easier, I actually have an Excel Spreadsheet set up, all the formulas are there and the calculation is automatic, all I need to input is:
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Distance
  • Height Gained
  • Ave Speed
  • Additional Time (percentage)

Incidentally, I mentioned assessing the risks and managing them, Stanton Moor has a lot of disused quarries, all have steep drops and many you can look down onto.

So beware if you have a young family, or are not sure of where you’re walking, or there’s a risk of reduced visibility, also, the moor is located quite high up, and on the east and south sides, again there are some very steep drops.

So with all that planned in, it was carry on, my next destination, the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Continuing northeasterly on the not so clear path, which is downhill, and with very undulated ground, as planned and expected, it was the sort of terrain I needed to try and conquer, where eventually I joined up with one of the main paths between Lees Road to the south and north of the moor.

Nine Ladies Stone Circle

Lees Road circumnavigates the moor on three sides, while on the west side is Birchover Road, and they both join up at each end of Birchover Road.

Following that path in a northerly direction, the Nine Ladies Stone Circle comes in to view.

I’d timed it right. It can become quite a popular area for folk to gather, and I wanted to get some photos just of the stones, and looking up towards the King Stone, without people trying to enjoy the area.

I know, it’s a bit mean.

The King Stone is located to the south west of the centre of the stone circle, and would most likely line up with sunset midwinter's day. Very often prehistoric man would incorporate a stone either to align with the sun at a significant part of the day, usually sunrise or sunset and either midsummer’s or midwinter’s day.

Looking up towards the King Stone from the Nine Ladies Stone Circle

The King Stone

Stonehenge has the Heel Stone, located northeast which is why many would congregate to watch the sun rise on midsummer’s day.

I haven’t found any data to confirm the existence or purpose of the King Stone, but I have tried to get there for a midwinter’s sunset, it is close, close enough to consider that to be the case, but I haven’t been there at that precise moment, yet.

One day, perhaps….

This may all seem totally irrelevant, but prehistoric man worshipped the moon, stars, sun and many other natural phenomena, which is what pagan religions were based around and why many of these places become so popular at key points in the solar calendar.

Even today, gardening or farming by the moon is still a recognised practice. You can purchase books where they can advise how to tend the land or your garden using the phases of the moon!

The book at my last check was called: “Gardening and Planting the Moon” followed by the year, because the dates of the moon phases vary from year to year. So if you do try to tend your garden by the phases of the moon, make sure you buy the book for the current year, don’t rely on an old book.

Back to the day’s amble.

My next stop is Earl Grey Tower, also known as the Reform Tower, because it was built during 1832, the year of political reform, built in honour of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, by William Pole Thornhill.

Earl Grey Tower, also known as the Reform Tower
Another short walk, this time in a southeasterly direction, through the Stanton Moor  Plantation, and very soon you come across a tall stone tower structure.

A word of warning, there is a steep drop on the east slope down, so be careful.

You can cross the style here to get closer to the tower, or stay on the side you have arrived at, and follow the path round, which will bring you back to the start point.

However, for me, it was climb the style, after chatting away to a group of three families enjoying a wander.

Now this was going to be interesting, you may recall my difficulty crossing the style when I visited Arbor Low Stone Circle?

Today wasn’t going to be any easier, except, I had only one stick, not two.

It was difficult, not being able to bend the right knee sufficiently, but in a fashion, and not very elegantly, I managed to get over the style, remembering I’ve to cross back later on further round…..

After a stop for a rest and take some photos, recomposing myself, I followed the outer circular path from Earl Grey Tower starting off in a southerly direction, and eventually heading southeast to head for the Cat Stone.

Here I’ll issue another warning, very close to the Cat Stone there is a very steep drop. As with all these stones, especially when there are foot holds in the stone, the temptation can be to climb.

The Cat Stone
It was a good spot to stop for a while, sheltered from the heat of the sun and another opportunity to give the leg a rest, because there was a longish haul by my current standards to the next stop, Stanton Moor Edge and Gorse Stone.

After a nice shaded rest, it was back along the path and pick up the path following the south east edge of the moor, heading for Stanton Moor Edge and Gorse Stone.

I did think about having lunch here, it was shaded, but it was a little early to eat.

Remember, there are some very steep drops on the south side along this path.

Walking along, well, more like hobbling, among the bracken either side of the path, it was nice to meet up with people enjoying the day out, but many were unaware of the steep drops, particularly those with young families who were grateful for the info.

It wasn’t too long before I reached Stanton Moor Edge and Gorse Stone. Stanton Moor Edge is owned by the National Trust, while Stanton Moor is private ownership.

Now the fun part, a short ascent up to Gorse Stone, a narrow path with large stones in places, path erosion and all the usual things that paths have, which are not difficult for able bodied people, but challenging for me.

Gorse Stone

By now it was lunchtime, and in hindsight, it probably would have been wiser to have lunch in the shade back at the Cat Stone , but I wanted the view, which I knew I was going to get, not just Stanton Moor, but over to the Eastern Moors as well, which compromises of Froggat Edge, Curbar Edge, White Edge Moor and Big Moor, on a very clear day, Kinder and the Great Ridge can  be seen, along with many other places from around all points of the compass.

I had to be done.

Looking over the eastern side of Stanton Moor

So, it was pack off, get the food and drink out, and pre-accident I would have sat down on the sandstone rock surfaces, but this time, getting up and down would not be easy, so I enjoyed my lunch standing up, taking in the view.

Perhaps next time, I may take one of those lightweight fold up seats, I do have one, and it would attach to my small pack.
[Note for next outing; take seat attached to pack]

There was no rush to finish lunch, I was actually ahead of time, not by a lot, but enough to enjoy a lengthened stop.

By now, the moor had become quite busy, with lots of people out enjoying the sun and the moor.

"....the moor had become quite busy...."

Time was slowly moving on, I had to get back, but not without a little planned detour, back on to the moor and over to one of the quarries to get another view of the trig point and then capture a different view of the Cork Stone to make for a nice circuit of photos.

This was probably the hardest part for me, the leg was well and truly hurting, as I make the walk down the narrow path, and almost instantly, a style to cross, then a gradual ascent back on to the moor.

At this point, the stops had become more frequent and longer, which was planned in and being monitored should I need to break the day and return.

But I did it, I arrived by one of the quarries to take more photos, a last look across the moor, and my favourite tree, a rather bent lonesome oak tree, before heading back to the Cork Stone and the car.

"....a rather bent lonesome oak tree...."

One of the many quarries on Stanton Moor

The path from here, though still undulated, was a more steady path and downhill with not too far to go, and able bodied, easily done within 10 minutes, but for me, estimated 20-30 minutes, so I was still within sensible times scale and if help was required, then clear easy access was possible, but I wasn’t going to give in and rely on assistance, that is only as a very last resort, by which time, the next place I’d be visiting, would be hospital, and I wasn’t ready for that.

As I was hobbling back toward the Cork Stone,I was taking in the views, knowing it could be a while before I see them again, and I had to ask the question, “Do I really have to go home?

Journey's end, heading for the Cork Stone, then back to the car

Once back at the car, I noticed how swollen (caused by the secondary lymphedema) and tightly packed my leg was in the trousers, a pair of Craghoppers Kiwi trousers, which as many will know, they are generous with legroom.

Then it was time to go home, and after the drive home, my leg had swelled so much, it was extremely difficult getting the trousers off, well, off that leg.

It was still swollen the following morning, I had a big struggle getting my work trousers on!

Had I done too much?
Probably. But, there is a lot of finding new limits to be done, and often that can only be achieved by trial and error, after taking all things into consideration with sensible planning.

Was it worth the pain?
I know my answer.

I hadn’t forgotten a turn, direction or anything, the only thing that was probably a little awkward to find, was a non-descript path through the heather, which I found, or was extremely close to, because I managed to take a route, the trig point was more or less where I expected it to be, and came out at the point I wanted to.

It was a fabulous day, painful and for a few days afterwards, but they’re memories I’ll treasure, added to the existing memories of Stanton Moor, which go right back to my childhood days, through the days when my son first experienced moorland, with very early stage map reading lessons, and then pinched the map from me wanting to pretend to be an explorer.

Incidentally, my son still remembers those days with great fondness, because I made the learning fun.

Maps are two dimensional drawings of an area you’re interested in. Taking some of those easy to find and easy to relate symbols using easy to see landmarks, makes the beginnings of map reading.

After all, isn’t that what map reading is?

The map reading was incorporated in his desire to pretend to be an explorer, using the easy to identify features on the map to enhance the game. It worked, he had fun and it given him fond memories, and me. 

What more can you ask for.

Did I have fun?
As a parent (if I was a teacher, I would as well), definitely, and yes, I would do it all again without hesitation or change.

Peak Rambler
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Links to some of the items I’ve mentioned and written about here:
Nine Ladies Stone Circle; also known as the Nine Maidens Stone Circle
Earl Grey Tower; also known as the Reform Tower