The walk that very nearly didn't happen, if Storm Babet had had her way! The Herd, as always, were determined as ever. Keeping a close eye on the weather and traffic reports, a last minute change of meeting point, and we were set to go. Its October, and The Herd Calendar is never complete without a walk on White Edge during Rutting Season.
This is The Herd Walking Group and the general consensus was 'we'll just sat nav our way in, and see how far we get', thats the spirit guys. The news reports were not great the night before our meet, storm Babet had made her mark across the country and especially on the roads surrounding our original meeting point. Baslow village was hit hard so we respectfully diverted our meet point to the fox house, we would have to 'wing it' on a few sections of our planned walk, to avoid some steep bankings that would no doubt create a landslide effect if we were all to march our way up. We were confident, and more importantly, the sunshine was out and set to stay with us for the day! Onward!
The usual meet and greetings, the friendly catch up and we were on our way. Heading through the Longshaw Estate and taking in the views of Higgor Tor to our right, looking majestic in the bronze and gold tones of Autumn. The sheep on Longshaw were also looking grand. Pristine white and fluffy having been on a 'super wash' in the elements for the past couple of days, today they seemed very content in the warming sunshine, as were we. The calm after the storm.
Leaving Longshaw, and before we crossed the road we heard the unmistakable, bellowing call of what we were all hoping to see, the Red Deer Stags. It's rutting season and its the best time to catch site of these beautiful creatures as they try to win the harem of hinds, who seem not too interested, no one likes a show off, play it cool ladies, play it cool. Peter and Sonia called from behind and pointed into a clearing, a number of hinds and two handsome stags, the males were squaring up to each other, a lot of noise, a dramatic chase and they disappeared into the woodland. Our first sighting of the day.
Tiptoeing past a huge bull next to White Edge Lodge we make our way up onto White edge, scanning the horizon, and turning our ears to the wind. Some days you daren't breathe because they are so close, and other days, like this one, they are just distant shapes in the distance on the wide moor. Either way, White Edge in Autumn is a joy to walk. One single track taking you across to White Edge Trig Point, the walk is the perfect spot (usually) to catch the deer, a long grassed moorland to your left, and a Serengiti-like plateau below, with vast open grazing and birch trees for protection. From the edge you have rocky ridges to set up your cameras and take it all in with a flask of tea. Beyond the plateau is Froggatt Edge Woodland, another favourite for the Deer to play hide and seek.
Once the photo's and a singsong for Trudges birthday were done at the Trig Point, it was time to make our way to Birchen Edge. The first signs of the storm damage to roads was evident. Some boggy and flooded paths as we made our way to Birchen and another Trig Point photo opportunity. We were ready for lunch at Nelsons Monument. Another brilliant viewpoint, popular with climbers and a great place to pull faces at another walking group passing by.. go on, sling yer hook!
The obligatory group photo was taken, and we re-traced our steps down to Gardoms Edge, and a quest to find the cup and ring stone, an archaeological stone found in the 1940's, a replica now only stands, with a few local museums claiming to hold the original (we think a quest is needed to find the original) It didn't take as long as expected to find the resin stone, a few theories and a discussion on what we thought the weird circle rock art might be all about then we moved on, none the wiser. The seasonal sundial was hardly a photogenic marvel, despite its neolithic and early bronze age claims, but the sunshine on Gardoms was very welcome, I think the tree fungus got more appreciation to be fair.
This was another 'lets wing it' moment, our original plan was to drop down into Birchen woodland, and climb up the other side onto Baslow Edge at the Wellington Monument, but after the heavy rain previously this didn't seem like a good idea, so we retraced again to the junction at Clodhall Lane and past the highland cows on Baslow Edge to Wellington Monument. Furry Cows are always a good idea, we love these laid back beasties.
Passing Eagle Stone (that looks nothing like an Eagle) we made our way to Curbar and then Froggatt Edge, and still no sign of the elusive Red Deer. Spoil sports. Maybe our fast pace and constant happy chatter kept them at bay today, or maybe, they were enjoying the warm, mild temperatures as much as we were. And who could blame them.
Crossing over and making our way back to Longshaw, the pace was slowing down finally and we all had pub vision. It had been a great walk, with the usual laughs along the way. Fox House was calling and we were dragging our feet to the finish line.
Ending the day with a cold drink in the warm sunshine with happy friends is always the highlight. After nearly 15 miles, we were tired, the good tired. And planning the next one! Obviously.
Thank you to everyone who joined us and made the journey, not knowing what you might face on the roads after the storm, its appreciated. We are so pleased we decided not to cancel this meet as it turned out to be a beautiful and memorable day in the Peaks.
Special thanks to Karen, Tanny and Peter for allowing us to use their photos in this blog post. xx
Until the next one guys!! Onward!