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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Higger Tor and Carl Wark

Walking with; Nobody

The skies were blue and the air crisp and I decided that such a day was not to be wasted in Manchester so, amidst the flurries of snow, headed off to do this walk which had been on my list for the past couple of weeks. As I headed towards Sheffield the skies grew darker and the snow a little more insistent, but there were plenty of hardy souls out and about and whilst this is not, in any sense, a wilderness walk there was still enough weather and heather to make it feel pretty wild at times.
  I parked near "The Grouse Inn", above Froggatt village, when I arrived it wasn't open and by the time I'd returned it had shut......have to learn to time my walks better........From there I headed up to White Edge and out onto the exposed moorland where the wind whipped plenty of snow into my face and forced me into digging out the hat and gloves. I carried on entering the grounds of the National Trust owned Longshaw Estate. The Estate was once owned by the Duke of Rutland who used it for shooting parties, however it was purchased from the Duke by public subscription in 1927 and presented to the Trust the following year. Eschewing the undoubted delights of the NT tearoom I carried on following the high path above the quarries onto Burbage Moor. The views from the edge took in my eventual objectives of Higger Tor and Carl Wark as well as the forestry plantation planted in the shape of Great Britain and which Sheffield Council are now talking of removing. The edge is normally a very popular spot for climbers but there was nobody brave, or foolhardy, enough to risk it today and I made it to Upper Burbage Bridge (for lunch) without meeting another soul.
  Higger Tor itself, is a classic Dark Peak gritstone hill and whilst only attaining a height of 434m affirds some excellent views to Stannage Edge and Mam Tor and the Hope Valley. I descended and headed over to Carl Wark, a site I'd been meaning to visit for a long time on account of the (what are thought to be) Iron Age fortress remains situated atop it. Much mystery still remains as to the actual useage of the area and no remains of settlement have been found but the remaining wall is none-the-less a very impressive piece of work and has weathered over 3000 years of inclement Peak District weather admirably. The path back to the estate was boggy underfoot and I was glad to get off it and head down to Padley Gorge, a beautiful wooded valley just waiting for Spring to have sprung! The path follows the stream as it cuts it's way towards Grindleford, but what goes down must come up meaning that after bypassing the village, it was a short, sharp shock that led me puffing and panting back towards "The Grouse", just too late to console myself with a well earned pint!

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Natural wonders of Yorkshire

Walking with; Nobody

I have been fortunate during my walking to visit some of the most spectacular parts of the world. The Northern Territory in Australia, the National Parks of Utah, the Southern Alps in New Zealand, some of the finest scenery in the world, but every now and then I come across a place on my own doorstep that makes me stop in my tracks and go "Wow". I was fortunate enough to have one of those experiences this week!
I parked in Malham at the YHA where I was staying and followed the lane that leads to Malham Tarn for some fine views of stone walls and ancient field systems. After the short climb, I took a path running across the fields to end up at the entrance to Gordale where I detoured to the waterfall known as Janet's Foss. The name is thought to come from Jennet, a fairy queen who lives in a cave behind the waterfall according to folklore. It's a pretty spot that apparently used to be used for sheepdipping in times gone by. Leaving the foss behind I entered Gordale and had one of those jaw dropping moments as I made my way to the falls which were in full flow and stunning. The Scar is the remains of a collapsed cavern formed during the ice ages and has had sonnets written about it by Wordsworth and pictures painted of it by James Ward and Turner, it is truly spectacular. I had planned to scramble up the waterfall, but it was pretty slippery and wet, so I retraced my steps before heading up the very steep slope to the top of the gorge and making my way above the falls before dropping down to Gordale Beck just above them. I followed the beck for about half a mile before making my way back up the slope to the path towards Malham Tarn which was fringed by some of the limestone "pavements". It was easy walking until I reached the track leading down to the very isolated Middle House Farm. The landscape is very bleak around here and aside from the farm there are very few traces of humanity to be seen. I climbed up the slopes of Great Close Hill and had lunch in the shelter on the summit which provided a little respite from the fierce wind.
Lunch done, I headed down to Malham Tarn, the highest lake in England at 377m above sea level. I'd visited it once before and followed the shore path past the Field Studies centre and over the boardwalks to the road. A short spell of road walking and I was striking off in the direction of Ing Scar Crags and following them down to the second jaw dropper of the day, Malham Cove. Once a waterfall, this fantastic cliff is a worthy inclusion on any list of natural wonders. I watched some climbers on the rock face for a while before continuing on a field path which led me back to the YHA where I swapped the muddy boots for some slightly cleaner trainers and then headed down to "The Lister Arms" for a pint in front of a very welcoming log fire.

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