Thursday, 3 January 2013

Plans for Midlands to Peaks walk

Over the idle Christmas period I mused on the idea of walking from Where I live, in Kettering Northants, to Hathersage, above which is Stanage Edge - among my favourite Peak District locations.

I had in mind as near a straight line route as I could contrive, although having looked at this option it takes me too near too many towns.  Nonetheless, I soon found that a good part of the journey is covered by the Midshires way, which goes some 200+ miles from South Buckinghamshire to Stockport.  A favourite dog-walk of mine, the Brampton Valley Way is part of the route.  The BVW is about 14 miles long going from North Northampton (say it slowly...) to Market Harborough.  Its about 18 miles by car to the start of the BVW from my house but I got my wife to drop me off there just before Christmas and I walked back over some very muddy fields and found the cross country route to be about 16 miles - it was a nice bright day and in dry summer weather will be a lovely walk.  In the boggy state the route is currently in it was heavy going at times - thankfully it didn't rain.

So, my first leg of the big journey will be the 16 miles to the start of the BVW from my house, plus a few miles of the BVW to a nice dry spot under one of the bridges it crosses (it was once a railway track), where I can bivvy for my first stop.  That will make the full first leg about 24 miles, which should be OK bearing in mind there are no appreciable hills here.  After that its a case of following the Midshires way up as far as Matlock, or a bit further and cutting NNE towards Hathersage which will take me over towards Stoney Middleton and Millers Dale in between.  In all the trip will be about 110 miles which I hope to do in a week.  I reckon if I have no mishaps I can do it in 5 days, but I will give myself both weekends at each end of a week and not have to press on too hard if I don't want to.  I'm not sure yet whether to take one or even both of my dogs - they would love the trip, but looking after them, especially in the bivvying sense might be a bit tough.  I have ordered a Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar tarp for camping with the dogs, (as the thought of having them all wet and muddy in my little one man tent is a bit off-putting), but the tarp takes quite a bit of room to pitch, and would be a bit conspicuous to wild camp in the semi-rural midlands.  I reckon I can bivvy much easier in underpasses, under bushes and so on without attracting too much attention.

The only remaining decison to make is when to do this - I have the Wainrights to complete before my fiftieth birthday in late July, and that means another 106 tops, albeit I have done nearly all the big ones except Scafell.  Actually, its the scattered little ones that amount to being a nuisance.  I call them the "Oughts" as I always think I ought to have knocked some of them off en route to bigger fish.  An example being Kirk Fell next to Great Gable.  I have done everything around it - Gable, Green Gable, all the Buttermere stuff, Seathwaite, Glaramara, Allen Crags, Scafell Pike, Esk Pike, Great End, Lingmell, the Pillar group, Yewbarrow etc etc.  Kirk Fell sits in irritating isolation unclimbed and mocking me as I will have to make a special trip just to do that!!  Actually, I still have Base brown to do, so I might do that and Kirk fell and camp out somewhere West of Pillar, as I have the five that sit west of Steeple to finish (Haycock, CawFell, etc) which will drop me down into Wasdale eventually.  perhaps I could start in Seathwaite Lane, heading for Base Brown first, do the bunch I just mentioned and climb back over StyHead Pass to get back.  That would be a rattling good weekend walk.

As I think about this, it places the long Midlands walk somewhere in August time I reckon - better think about booking some hols!!

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