Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Stanage Edge 29.12.13

A circular walk, 5.3 miles, 3 - 4 hours.

A classic Peak District walk taking in some of the most recognisable and dramatic landscapes in the region. Ideal for a Sunday stroll to blow away those cobwebs.

The Christmas holidays were almost over, and that meant it was time to get out into the hills to get some air prior to returning to the stresses and normality of the working week.
 I had promised my boss a guided walk of Stanage Edge earlier in the year, and this holiday made for an ideal time to do it. So unusually for a walk from me, this time I would not be using public transport to get to the location, I was being treated to a car journey.

Stanage Edge or simply Stanage (from Stone Edge) is a Gritstone escarpment that is the edge of a large section of steep moorland that climbs out of the west of Sheffield. Its distinctive geology has been used in various documentaries and films including Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. And the government's website for the Peak District national park uses the image of Stanage Edge for its title page.

Stanage Edge is usually climbed by folk that drive to the location. I last climbed this distinctive high point a couple of years ago, navigating from near-by Hathersage railway station. The beauty of being able to drive to Stanage Edge is that there are plenty of free parking spots, plus you avoid 2 miles of walking and 500 feet of ascent before you start walking on Stanage Edge itself, so this walk was going to be a little easier than normal.

I had selected the car park at Hook's Car to be the starting point of the walk. This is a popular starting point, and for the benefit of the 7 people I was giving the guided tour, you get a good view of Stanage Edge in its entirety.
This shot was taken as we arrived and were about to set off...
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We took the right hand gap in the wall, that allows you out of the car park and onto the side of Stanage Edge. It's a well trodden path that is easy to see and follow up onto the top...
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The plateau of Stanage Edge, or the cliff top - is a boulder strewn, wind swept area that is well walked and is usually pretty busy. This is a very popular destination for hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, and families enjoying the wild scenery.
When we made it to the plateau we turned right...
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It's a short distance from the car park at Hook's Car to the first summit of the day of Stanage Edge at 457 metres...
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After arriving at the first summit it was time for some refreshment before continuing on. We then doubled back towards where we ascended Stanage Edge, but this time we continued on north west across the plateau...
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Stanage Edge has some of the finest scenery in the Peak District. The whole area could be something from a Henry Moore exhibition - typical Peak District rock formations of Mill Stone Grit...
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The path remains easy to follow and can become boggy in places. On windy days, like this one, the edge can subject you to some hefty gusts.
 Here the highest and most easily recognisable point of Stanage Edge up ahead now - High Neb...
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Stanage Edge is a magnet for climbers from all over. Some well known climbers and mountaineers have cut their teeth here on the tricky traverses. The Mill Stone Grit is also a good place to learn climbing on a rock that is naturally easy to grip, so climbers of all ages, skill and knowledge can be found here...
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Keeping to the highest path allows you up onto the flanks of High Neb...
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High Neb summit is marked by a Trig Point at 458 metres...
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A sort of highlights of the Peak District is on show from High Neb. In the above picture the moor directly opposite is Bamford Moor, the shadowed highpoint on the horizon directly above the Trig Point is Mam Tor, the small pointy hill behind Bamford Moor and just to the right of the Trig Point is Win Hill, the large mass to the right of Win Hill and slightly cloud covered is Kinder Scout, and shadowed to the right of that is Bleaklow.
 Here looking across Bamford Moor towards the Sun shafting through a rain storm behind Shatton Edge...
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And looking south east back along Stanage Edge, note the 20th centuary built Grouse drinking bowl cut into the rock...
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From the summit Trig Point it's a matter of continuing north west for another 400 yards or so where a distinctive path allows you to descend left from the cliff top. The path then continues south east along the base of High Neb...
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This part of Stanage Edge at one point in time was worked for its Mill Stone Grit, where Mill Stones were literally cut from the rock on-site. Here unwanted Mill Stones scatter the base of the edge...
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The path along the base of High Neb is easy to follow. We ignored the path that cuts right and brings you out onto a road. We opted instead for the more interesting footpath that continues along the base of Stanage Edge...
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The path eventually reascends the side of Stanage Edge again, which means a steep climb back to the top of the cliff side at the half way point of Stanage Edge. The route then continues on the top of Stanage Edge again for a good 3/4 of a mile towards a point on the map called Robin Hood's Cave - before another path cuts right from the main path allowing you to climb down from the cliff top and follow another easy to follow path along the base of Stanage Edge. Here descending from Stanage Edge, with the car park at Hook's Car visible up ahead...
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With the Sun well on its way down we headed back towards the car park completing the walk...
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This has proved again to be one of the best walks in the Peak District, the early winter colours making it look good in the sunshine too. If you're are looking for a small walk in the area at any time of year, then this I'd recommend.
Thank you for reading.
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