Another week comes around and this time I decided once again to head to an area that I have yet to fully explore, This was to be my first time on Black Hill. As I live on the south eastern border of the Peak District near Chesterfield, the area that Black Hill covers in the Dark Peak is just about as far away as you can get from me in the National Park. I have driven along the road from Stocksbridge to Hadfield just a hand full of times. Now I mention Stocksbridge, that reminds me. In my early teens we lived for just over a year in a little village called Wharncliffe Side, I used to go to School in Stocksbridge. So this northern part of the Dark Peak reminds me of my younger years ridding my bike around the reservoirs and up in to the hills near Stocksbridge, Ewden & Bradfield. Just a stones throw from Howden Reservoir and a slightly further throw to Black Hill.
We set off this morning from home and headed straight for Hadfield. As Ray and I are fans of the comedy series “The League of Gentlemen” we decided we would head for breakfast at the Royson Cafe before heading to Crowden. It’s amazing how many places in Hadfield were used in the filming of the League of Gentlemen. stepping on to the main street is like stepping into the show.
Breakfast over and we jumped back in the car and we headed to Crowden. We got kited up and I switched on all my GPS tracking devices. I use my old iPhone 3GS to constantly track my location in ViewRanger, then I use my iPhone 4S to post the odd Beacon to ShareYourAdventure.com and to tweet. We set off from the Car Park at Crowden at around 10:15 and wander across the bridge towards the Pennine Way. We swung north along the way and made our way up Crowden Great Brook. Once again I was recording a podcast so I stopped every now and then to record little snippets of audio that I would eventually stitch together that evening. I had to work hard to keep the wind away from my iPhone so as not to totally ruin the recordings. It’s one of the main issues I have with recording my podcast while walking, Wind Noise. I have been looking into a microphone solution but as yet I’m unable to find a cost effective solution that will make life easier.
The climb up from the valley is gentle at first and then it rises steeply up on to Laddow Rocks, Thankfully the steep section is mercifully short and is over before you know it. I can only express my sympathy for those that walk the Pennine Way and carry full camping gear. The view back towards Bleaklow from the top of Laddow Rocks is absolutely breathtaking, its worth every metre of the accent and is the best angle to look at Crowden Great Brook in my eyes. the river snakes its way gently down to Torside Reservoir.
As you continue on from Laddow Rocks the Pennine Way drops down to follow the course of Crowden Great Brook, You meander along and crisscross the river as you head further up towards Grains Moss. I spotted some great looking wild camping spots that I have logged in my mind for future reference.
You then climb out of the rivers upper course and head up on to Grains Moss. The paved path then weaves its way up towards the summit of Black Hill, the grassy moor turns to boggy peat as you approach the very top. Black Hill was named due to its once Black appearance because of the bare peat, now days its a different story thanks to the restoration and regeneration work that has taken place in the Dark Peak. Black Hill is now a marshy, wet and lush grassy area of peat bog. Today it was particularly wet up there due to recent rains.
We stopped a short while next to the “Soldiers Lump” on Black Hill before heading of towards the south east. The way over to Tooleyshaw moor isn’t very clear from the Summit of Black Hill. You have to pick out a cairn towards the south east and just go for it, we picked our way through the boggy marshes and eventually reached it. A path is visible on the ground in places but in reality you are better off finding your own drier route.
The Holme Moss Transmitter is a constant reminder that civilisation isn’t too far away, it is the highest radio transmitter in the whole of England and once transmitted TV frequencies that could be received as far away as Ireland. Now however, it just transmits Radio and DAB signals. For more info on this transmitter have a click over to http://www.thebigtower.com.
After the very boggy section at Tooleyshaw Moss we headed down to another equally boggy section at Westend Moss. We once again ignored the path on the ground and made our own route through the damp peat. The sun was starting to break through the clouds at this point and was scattering some great light over the landscape. it was just a shame that it was rather hazy today as I would have liked to have captured some crisper images.
We dropped down from Hey Moss and decided that the best or drier plan of attack would be to head down from the main path, the best bet would be to pick up the track that works its way up Crowden Little Brook and follow it to the Quarry. This is what we did and you can see that we veered off track when you look at the ShareYourAdventure.com map that is embedded at the top of this post.
In what seemed like no time at all we were making the final decent towards Crowden and the walk was drawing to a close. It had been great to explore a new part of the Peak District and to share the experience while recording episode 2 of the Peak Routes Podcast. I had been looking forward to getting the next instalment recorded and I only screwed up my commentary a couple of times.. this means I will only have to do minimal amounts of cleaning up when I edit and stitch it all together.
Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope that I will be able to bring you another new route again next week. I will post a link to the podcast feed here once it is online.