Walking is one of my biggest passions in life, the freedom and oneness with the landscape really appeal to me. I crave solitude at times when it comes to walking, sadly in the Peak District there are very few places that you can go to get away from the crowds. Over these last few years i’ve made it my mission to try and explore every corner of the Peak and seek out some new areas that I haven’t set foot before. As i’m from the Chesterfield area I mainly dedicated my walking time to the eastern or central areas of the Dark Peak, its just so easily accesible to me so I can safely say I have that area covered. The western area of the Peak is slightly less trodden by me so i’ve set a goal of ticking off as much as possible this year.
Since revisiting the Roaches earlier this year after an absence of about a decade I have renewed my love of this area, although it isn’t quiete as steep or as wild as other places not too far away it holds a real charm of its own. Traveling a little further north from the Roaches you come across an area populated by Axe Edge Moor, The Goyt Valley and Shining Tor. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that these areas seem to be relatively empty when compared to the likes of Edale and Hathersage. So… seeing as the weather was going to be pretty good, I decided to pack my tent in my bag, plot a quick route and set off for an afternoon wander and a wild camp.
The village of Flash in Staffordshire was to be the starting point… At 463 metres above sea level, Flash is the highest village in Great Britain and is a nice quaint little place that is worthy of a little exploring. I chose to park here as it was an ideal starting point and also very handy to reach from where I had planned to camp that night.
Setting off from Flash I took the footpath up Oliver Hill and then down to Knotbury via Wolf Edge. We have had some substantial rainfall in recent weeks but the weather had vastly improved over the weekend. The path was fairly boggy and damp while descending towards the road but that didn’t matter to me as I was bounding down the hill taking in the glorious surroundings. I joined the road and begun navigating my way to a place that I haven’t visited in quite some time, Three Shire Heads.
Three Shire Heads which is also known as Three Shire’s Head is the point on Axe Edge Moor where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet. It is a great little spot which is pretty popular and a great place to relax in summer while having a dip in the river. You can find it on your OS Map at grid ref SK009685, or 53.213°N 1.987°W if you prefer.
After a quick stop for a few pictures I departed by heading north along the River Dane towards a point on the map called Dane Bower. You climb out of the valley up towards the road past an interesting looking Chimney that stands half way up the hill. The 8 metre tall Chimney is the remains of the old Dane Bower Colliery which was last worked back in 1925… I did a quick google search while I was stood there and came across a page on http://www.english-heritage.org.uk which gives a few more details.
After crossing the road I joined the well maintained path to the Cat & Fiddle via Danebower Hollow over Whetstone Ridge. The views from this point start to become very interesting as you rise up and can then see out towards the west. The majestic heights of Shutlingsloe can bee seen off towards the south west, another place that I first discovered around 10 years ago while out Geocaching but haven’t revisited since. As you gaze around you can see the telescopes at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, this is another place that I haven’t been back to for some time but have always been in awe of. it is the home of the mighty Lovell Telescope, which is the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world.. If you look towards the north west you can see the urban sprawl of Manchester.
I eventually arrived at the Cat & Fiddle after a pleasant walk admiring the vistas, I arrived there at the same time as a convoy of Harley Davidsons which was a great sight and sounds to behold. I decided not to linger long here and kept moving towards my goal of Shining Tor.
Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire and it stands at 559 metres tall, on a good day you can see all the way to Snowdonia from here. today however there was a lot of haze in the air so I couldn’t quite make it out. The Trig point on Shining Tor numbered S2773 at SJ 99463 73739 is a great place to sit and relax but today all I did was take a few pictures. The climb up from the Cat & Fiddle is pretty easy so there wasn’t any need to stop for a break.
I continued along the ridge towards Cats Tor and passed a group of kids looking pretty glum, they were laden with huge rucksacks and I can only assume they were doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I had been too busy enjoying myself that it had only just dawned on me I hadn’t eaten yet that day, so at around 16:00 I decided to drop my bag and pause for a little lunch.
I had a few bits of new kit with me… I was testing out my PowerMonkeys Extreme again today and I had it strapped to my bag soaking up the sunlight. It was feeding power to my iPhone to keep it topped up while I was tweeting and broadcasting my position to ShareYourAdventure.com. I have had the Extreme for around a month and have been very impressed with it so far, You can expect a review very soon.
I also had with me some new bits of gear from Karrimor which I have been testing out. I was wearing their new eVent Jacket, carrying everything in their Alpiniste 35 Plus 10 Backpack and the journey was being cushioned by their ksb Skye X-Lite eVent Boots. The reason why I have all this shiny new Karrimor Gear is because of my involvement with some new videos that are being made for them by Terrybnd… more on that and some reviews of all the gear will be coming your way very soon. I will say this though…. I have been very impressed with the kit that was sent our way by Karrimor, I genuinely do feel that they have upped their game. The new range seems to be a return to former glory and its great to see a British brand have a resurgence.
Enough about gear, lets get back to the walking and the route which then took me from Cats Tor down in to the Goyt Valley. I dropped down along the road and then took the path towards Errwood Hall. On my way down the hill I spotted a small circular building. A Google search returned some info about this great looking little place. It is a Spanish Shrine which was erected by the Grimshawes of Errwood in 1889 in memory of a much loved Spanish Governess in their employ.
I reached the road in no time at all after the very pleasant walk down the hill through the forest. I took a few pictures down the Errwood Reservoir and then continued in a southerly direction past the car park and up the hill. This little section along the road is very nice indeed, i’m not a big fan of walking on tarmac but its thoroughly enjoyable as you rise up the valley following the River Goyt. I eventually left the road and crossed over the river to ascend up Berry Clough, I hadn’t set foot here before and it was great to tick off another first today.
When I arose out of the top of Berry Clough it was a short walk across the moor towards the A54. I crossed over the road and made my way along the path before turning due east straight for the Trig Point on Axe Edge Moor… It was to be there that I would spend the night.
I arrived at the Trig Point after a short soggy walk across the moor from the main path, The views from here are stunning in all directions and especially towards the east. You can pick out many landmarks including Chrome Hill which rises ruggedly out of the Upper Dove Valley.
I had brought along my new Wild Country Zephyros 1 again today. this was to be the fourth time that I have used it and have been very impressed with it so far. once again you can expect a full review of this great little backpacking tent very soon.
After pitching up I made myself some food, had a drink and then got ready for what looked like it was going to be an amazing sunset. I was snapping away like mad in all directions as the sun began to drop towards the horizon. The light that was being cast across the surrounding hills was stunning and I was mesmerised by the experience. I can safely say I haven’t seen a sunset as good as that one for a long while 🙂
After the sun had gone down I remained by the Trig Pillar for around an hour. As the light faded I begun to see what looked like Fireworks down towards Manchester. Then it dawned on me.. it was the night of the Queens Diamond Jubilee and these were celebratory fireworks to mark the occasion. I then noticed a dozen or so Beacons begin to appear and then more Fireworks in all directions. It really was a great place to be stood to witness it all.
I retired to the tent at around 23:00 and set my alarm for sunrise at 04:30.
When my alarm went off I quickly stuck my head out of the tent only to be greeted by a brilliant fiery red as the sun was about to break above the horizon. I quickly jumped out and got ready with my camera as it slowly began to rise. Sadly there was a layer of cloud right on the horizon which obscured the view a little but it also added to the effect in some ways.
I then went back inside the tent and admired the stunning views out the door down into the Upper Dove Valley. a nice layer of mist was creating an inversion and I watched it move slowly around Chrome Hill.
I decided to pack away at around 08:00 after many hours of relaxing while enjoying the views. One of the reasons why I had chosen to park in Flash was that it was only going to be a short walk from where I had camped. Sadly I had to work the night shift that night so I wanted to be back home at a reasonable hour.
I got on my way and headed south along Axe Edge Moor towards the hamlet at Axe Edge End. I walked along the road for a short while until taking a footpath over Oliver Hill towards Flash, I was back at the car at around 09:00.
What a great night it had been, my head was filled with the colours of the sunset all the way home. That for me is what Wild Camping is all about.. being up in the hills after everyone else has gone home and enjoying all that nature has to offer.. I suppose Axe Edge Moor can’t really be classed as wild, The main Buxton to Leek road is only a stones through away. After last night though it has been firmly cemented in the list of favourite wild camping spots.