Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A bimble around Baslow, Bakewell, Bradford and Birchover

As part of the CWT preps, which have now warmed up to something quite frenetic, we decided to test the gear and the process with a little backpacking weekend in Derbyshire.  We had originally thought of the lakes but the cost of diesel don't you know and the hours of sitting in motorway queues were not enticing.

I plotted a route which just happened to go though a lot of places beginning with B plus one beginning with A and one with C.  It also went through a lot of places with tea shops.  This wasn't to be on the scale of a daunder in the style of messers Sloman and Lor d'Elpus but it was perhaps going to be a little more relaxed than usual, for we both have dodgy knees and don't want to dodge them any more than necessary before the big event. 

We drove to North Lees campsite below Stanage on friday night, in an attempt to get the early start we wouldn't have got if we'd started out from our respective homes on Saturday morning.  It was midgey and the site was full but the warden lady, who was called Bobby, said she had a cancellation.  It cost twelve quid and there were no lights in the toilets, which was a problem as someone had forgotten to bring a torch.  We should have just camped in Burbage woods.  Anyway a stroll down to the Scotsman's in Hathersage was followed by some consumption of alcohol and a misdirected stroll back up to the campsite in the dark and which involved traversing a beck on a wire fence and thrashing through a patch of nettles.  I really don't remember any of those on the way down.  Oh yes, we had pitched the new tent the wrong way round and had a choice of sleeping with head below feet (no thanks) or nose touching the inner tent (never again).

Saturday dawned midge free and after a really quite poor night of little sleep, Coleman's Deli beckoned for coffee and a bacon sarnie.  However, Colemans Deli was not open at 9, nor was Outside, not was Outside at Carver, so we drove straight to Baslow and abandoned the car outside the village hall.  A tea shack by the car park did a passable brew and sausage roll and with that we headed east to Hassop, where we passed the first two DoE groups for the weekend and then south to Bakewell, where we called in the Austrian tea shop and had the most outrageously expensive caffetiere of coffee and a tea cake. 

At  the cafe in Bakewell where no mis-behaving was experienced.

Then after a steep climb out of Bakewell, we headed south over Haddon Fields to Alport and Bradford Dale where we looked at a scary bit of limestone and decided that climbing on this sort of rock was best left to other people.  The sound of a brass band drifted across the valley from Youlgreave where the annual well dressing was in progress.

Cow paddling in Bradford Dale

We picked up the Limestone Way to Robin Hood's Stride and The Hermit's Cave under Cratcliffe Tor.  Here we watched some climbers struggle on a gritstone HVS and decided that this sort of rock was also best climbed by somebody else. 

Robin Hood's Stride

Inside the Hermit's Cave

Descending to the road we showed a group of DoEers where they were on the map (about 8km from where they should have been) and gained a sneaky look at their 1:25000 to confirm where our path went off.  Two short climbs got us to Birchover and the campsite, which was awash with DoE groups who obviously hadn't got lost.

Tent, tea and pub followed in leisurely succession along with a better and correctly oriented night's sleep.

The too small tent at Birchover

Over breakfast the next morning, we pondered the question of the tent for CWT.  It's a Vango Banshee 200 I bought for my daughter last month for her DoE.  In the event, she used something else because her friend said it made her claustrophobic.  It has to be said it is very small - it weighs in at an impressive 2kgs.  For one night it's ok but we couldn't help thinking about the misery of trying to deal with rain or midges in something so small over a week - and I started to pine for the Akto.  So two tents it will be.

Setting off from Birchover, we crossed Stanton Moor which had a large encampment at the Nine Ladies stone circle, poised for the Summer Solstice and then bimbled to Rowsley for tea and cake at Caudwells Mill.  This set us up for the long, long (long) climb though Manners Wood and across to the Chatsworth Estate. 

Chatsworth House

We lunched at the top on soup and left over cake (for they had been very large pieces) and observed a DoE girls group head off in the wrong direction to Edensor.  The one that said they had to aim between two groups of trees was correct, she just had the wrong two groups of trees.  We on the other hand, took the obvious worn track between the correct groups of trees and witnessed a stampede of Fallow deer before crossing the river and plodding down a very hot and dusty path back to Baslow for a celebratory ice cream.

A damned fine bimble of 20 miles and 3000 ft of upness.

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