Castleton’s North Ridges Sunday 19th February 2012

I’ll start this blog with a conversation a question from Chris, a fellow hillwalker, “How will you start the blog?
My reply, was, “Well, from the beginning.”

But where was the beginning.....

Chris responded with “Would that be with the puncture?

To which I quickly replied “Yes”, followed quickly, “Ah, but the snow we had back home was really the beginning.”

The actual beginning was my posting a reply to one of the ‘What are you doing this weekend’ threads on a walking forum, where I posted a brief route description. I received a couple of Private Messages (PM’s), one of which was from Chis.

The real beginning of the day, I got up, as you do, looked out of the window and saw snow on the road outside!

I thought crampons, ice axe and all that goes with it, then I thought, ah, problem, if we’ve had snow, how bad would it be on the journey or even on the route I’d chosen to walk.

So I text Chris to let him know, we’d had snow and I may be a little late.

Fortunately, the snow disappeared almost as soon as I got on the motorway and things just went nice and steady from there. Or so I thought.

I arrived in Castleton, headed towards Winnats Pass, to meet up with Chris in the National Trust Car Park and Picnic Area to the south west of Mam Tor.

Then the fun started, the tyre pressure warning light came on as I was driving up through Winnats Pass. That meant one thing, a puncture....

So I pulled up as soon as I could, in the car park to the Blue John Caverns, changed the wheel and phoned Chris just to let him know I was close by and would be with him very soon.

Anyway, that didn’t deter from the day.

It great to meet up with Chris, our last attempt was thwarted by the torrential rain on Kinder Scout around late May last year.

While I got my boots on and kit together, I shown Chris a map of the route I had been looking at, which I will confess at this stage, I took the idea from someone else a couple of weeks ago on a forum I can’t remember who, but thank you for he inspiration.

Chris suggested doing the route the opposite way round, with a very valid argument, that the trudge up Lose Hill from Castleton, would a be a bit of a slog.

So we set off up Mam Tor, stopping quite a few times, as we did en-route, admiring the views on such a gloriously sunny day and taking photos.

Heading up Mam Tor

Winnats Pass
As we reached the summit of Mam Tor, we took in the views, particularly thoe view across to the Kinder Plateau. Then carried on down towards Hollins Cross, wishing those we passed a good day.

Mam Tor Trig Point
Looking along the route to Lose Hill

Win Hill in the distance
Looking over towards the Kinder Plateau

Looking towards Hollins Cross
As we reached Hollins Cross, we looked back towards Mam Tor, looking at the old Buxton Road, which was closed back in 1979, after numerous attempts to stop the subsidence.

Looking back to Mam Tor

Looking back at the old Buxton Road

Again, once we reached the top of Hollins Cross, another opportunity to take in the views, across to Kinder, Mama Tor and also across Castleton and the Hope Valley.

From Hollins Cross, we continued on to Back Tor. As we started to ascend Back Tor, there were quite a few people heading down towards us. Not that it created a problem.

Looking up Back Tor

The ascent to Back Tor
Once a top Back Tor, another opportunity to take in the views, across to Kinder, over Castleton, the Hope Valley and also, Mam Tor.

It provided a good opportunity to look at the short but steep ascent to Back Tor.

We then continued on to Lose Hill. Now this is one of many hills in the Peaks I’ve never ascended, so it was a first.

The path to Lose Hill
Again, at the summit, we took in the views, and also met up with a rather friendly solitary sheep. The sheep was really only after food and as it was around lunch time, I guess it was being ever hopeful.

Mam Tor, Rushup and the Kinder Plateau from Lose Hill

So, this ever hopeful sheep, thought my Kestrel portable weather thingy was food and start to try and nibble it!

Never mind, it soon realised it wasn’t food.

We continued down Lose Hill, initially aiming for Castleton via Crimea Farm, where at around here, we took a wrong turn.

Part way down, we stopped to take in the view, looking back at where had walked from and along the ridge, taking yet more photos. This was the point where I really should have checked the map, because hat’s where we should have turn off the path.

This was the view at the point where I should have checked the map, because our intended path was right in front of us.

So instead, we carried on, chatting away, enjoying the day, and heading towards Lose Hill End and Townhead Bridge.

As we got to Townhead, just before Townhead Bridge, that’s where we realised we had missed our turn.

Still, a quick relocation on the map soon got us right and we plotted the route back towards Castleton.

As we took this alternative route, we saw some pretty good views of all the ridges we covered on the way out to Lose Hill. The only real problem being, there were too many spindly trees in the way to grab a half decent photograph.

The ridge we had walked along
Undeterred, we arrived in Castleton, stopping at Spiral Bridge for a brief lunch stop.
We continued in to Castleton, chatting away and enjoying the views, while we headed towards Winnats Pass.

From here, another route change was implemented. We carried on along the old Buxton Road instead of going through Winnats Pass, following the old road all the way through to the Blue John Caverns (where I changed my wheel earlier in the morning), all the way back to the car park where we originally met.

The sun catching the land slips at the foot of Mam Tor

Above and below,
The Old Buxton Road!

Mam Tor from the Blue John Caverns Car Park

Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Lose Hill
from the Blue John Caverns Car Park
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with great company and great opportunity to share ideas of future routes to put on tick lists or must do lists.

Chris, the journey home with the space saver spare wheel wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. Having done a journey with a space saver on the front before, which made steering an braking extreme fun, I was glad this time it was the back wheel.....

Thanks again Chris for a smashing day, great conversation and great ideas.

Thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

White Peak Walk from Monsal Head Sunday 18th December 2011

Warning, I’m a keen amateur photographer, so there will be a lot of photos to view!

Well, after loading the car up with my kit for the day, I drove up to Monsal Head, from a very dark and cloudy West Midlands.

Today’s walk, starting from Monsal Head, was Upperdale, Cressbrook Dale, Tansley Dale, Litton, Tideswell Dale, Litton Mill, Cressbroook and back to Monsal Head.

Normally a nice steady journey, avoiding Matlock, once I got the other side of Lichfield, the ground was white!

Yes, it had been snowing in the night and at times, still doing a good job.

I was thinking, I hope it’s nice and white where I’m going, but not expecting too much.

Well, up to that point, the journey was steady and uneventful, but from there, it became quite slow as people were driving carefully. A journey that normally just under 1½ hours to drive, took over 2 hours!

Still, I arrived safely, in the long stay car park at Monsal Head, which was slippier than an ice skating rink!

Once parked up, I got kitted and started the walk, doing some very good two legged Bambi impressions....

By this time, the snow had stopped and the sun was out, but it wasn’t any warmer, with the temperature hovering between 0 – 2.0ºC and the wind, a nice, but cold 5 mph on average.

The steps down from Monsal Head were slippery, but negotiable with care. I then joined the road at the bottom, heading for Upperdale.

Continuing down the road towards Cressbrook, not a sole had been seen, lovely and quiet, but then, perhaps they were the sensible ones, keeping warm. Though I was nice and comfy in my clothing, possibly a little too warm, but I wasn’t going to take any layers off at this stage.


Passing through Cressbrook, past the grand looking Mill building, which are now posh apartments, ascending up the road heading for Cressbrook Dale.

Now I started to see some snow.


Looking to my right, Ravenscliffe Limestone scar, to the front, Cressbrook Dale.

Following the path, there were no other footprints, apart from the odd hoof print, most likely sheep, to be seen. I am out here on my own, its wonderfully peaceful, not a sole about.

From there, the descent in to Cressbrook Dale started, where I crossed a small narrow footbridge, heading in to a wooded area.

It was fun, the branches kept catching my trekking poles, even though I stooped down, hoping not to.

Once clear of the wooded area, I started to get towards the lowest point of Cressbrook Dale, where a tributary of the River Wye had overflowed, flooding quite a large area, almost lapping on to the path.

Continuing on, I reached the stepping stones, which fortunately, were not icy, so I crossed, over in to Tansley Dale. Starting the ascent through Tansley Dale, climbing up, I spied some good photo opportunities.

I stopped to look back at Cressbrook Dale, grabbing photos and thinking, just how lovely and peaceful it is.

I do find the rolling fields in he Dales, very photogenic.

Also, I noticed on my new gadget, a Kestrel wind anemometer with temperature gauge, the wind chill was -1.4ºC!

Once I crossed the style, I then followed for a very short distance, a farm track, before entering a field to head for Litton.

I do find the Dales farms extremely attractive and often photogenic. Even though it’s a working landscape, it is the ideal landscape in my eyes, after open moorland.

Crossing the road and heading west, for the Red Lion at Litton.

A very nice looking pub inside, but I decided to eat my packed lunch, outside on the village green.

The village is very well kept, as with many of the Peak District villages. This was my first sighting of humans!

Yes, they were out and about, not being as sensible as I thought earlier...

A quick lunch stop, BLT and a Snickers bar, washed down with a nice Golden Vegetable cup-a-soup, then a quick route check and continue on my way.

Continuing in a westerly direction, I left the pretty village of Litton behind, heading for Tideswell Dale.

Just as I was leaving Litton, there was a Peak District Park Ranger heading towards Litton.

We stopped to have a chat and exchange observations of the routes we had covered. He was a little surprised that Cressbrook Dale and the stepping stones were very passable.

An enjoyable chat with a very nice a nice gent. I liked his Peak Ranger badges.

Reaching the end of the road, I headed southwards, towards Tideswell Dale. Crossing the road, to walk on the path, it was nice to walk alongside the early stages of the River Wye, more a babbling brook than river.

Then after a short while, I picked up the footpath through to Tideswell Dale.

The ground was quite frozen here, mainly because it had been shielded from the sun, and again, I started to do my two legged Bambi impressions!

Continuing down the path, I eventually reached Litton Mill. Wow, that was fun, another skating rink and more two legged Bambi impressions!

If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the trees are actually growing out of the limestone scar....

But they were lovely cottages and Mill buildings.

After leaving Litton Mill, thinking that my amateur dramatics As A two legged Bambi on ice is all I was to expect, well, you’ll have to wait and see further.....

Continuing along the path in to Millers Dale, as expected, mud and more ice, but it wasn’t as bad as Litton Mill.

More limestone scars and muddy path, then, I noticed that the river had overflowed across the path!

Not too bad, no more than ankle deep, so I just carried on.

Then, a little further, it was like a flood plain, the path was well under water, too deep to contemplate walking through. So I climbed a make shift path, obviously others had been caught over time.

Then, just before Cressbrook, a lovely limestone scar and the river was right up to the edge of it!


I had no option, other than to turn back, and I wasn’t going to do that. I was near journeys end, so I thought what the heck, go for it, look for the best route through and if I had boot fulls, then so be it.

Luckily, I managed to navigate a path that didn’t go over my ankles.

Then in to Cressbrook, that lovely old Mill building, which are now apartments. From there, I followed the road through Upperdale and back to Monsal Head.

The really fun bit was to come, walking across the car park. That was even worse after folk had been driving across the icy surface....

But I arrived back, none the worse for my amateur dramatics as a two legged Bambi on ice.

It was a cracking day, lovely walk and great weather.

HERE to view the full collection,

Thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler