Sunshine, cloudless, and loads of time to kill. With no plans we decided it would be a great idea to go for a hike. Luckily I live in the Peak District. The Peak District National Park is the oldest national park in the UK and with an estimated 22 million visitors per year it is the second most visited national park in the world! So perfect for a day hiking yes?
Our target for the day was Castleton, a small village in the southern Pennines. Very hilly, very green, and very beautiful. I had an Ordinance Survey map of the area left over from my Duke of Edinburgh Award days; the idea was to use that and go have an adventure. It was great. Everything was perfect we had lots of food rations, should we get hungry; plenty of tea in a huge flask, and perfect weather. Perhaps I should explain ‘we’ is my girlfriend Alice and I. Anyway the day began; we parked up the car on a hillside, whacked on our walking boots and jumped out onto the grassy verge. Almost knocked over by a sudden gust of wind, the weather had taken an unfortunate turn for the worse. It was howling around us and it was freezing. We stood, hesitant, wondering whether it was a good idea or not. Being callous we had come out in just fleeces and jumpers. It was meant to be good weather after all. How wrong the weatherman was. We were both still eager to have an adventure, despite the bad weather, and are not the type of people who like to give up easily. Remaining resolute we began the climb up to the summit of Mam Tor, through the snow. Yes snow.
Once we made it above the tree line the wind really hit us. Was this really a good idea? We had to at least make it to the top, we were still keen. Mam Tor stands at 1,696 ft. not a huge hill by any means, but for the Peak District it certainly is. It has been one of my favourite hills to walk on since moving to the area as the view from the top is amazing! However we couldn’t enjoy the view for long. Battling the wind and the cold we had to move down to more sheltered slopes. We followed the footpath round. Alice was frozen by this point and we had only been walking for about 30 minutes. We were also slightly unnerved because the few people we had seen walking were all going in the opposite direction to us. We hoped they didn’t know something that we didn’t and ploughed on in our direction. We certainly had been a tad foolish in our selection of attire. This was made apparent by the looks we got from fellow hikers in their gore-tex body suits and shoes. Who needs all that anyway? We were fine. Well we hoped we would be. We were just hoping the wind would die down. Our idea of a fun walk in the Peak District was not materialising. It was hard.
Finally we made it off the ridge. We turned down the hillside at Hollins Cross; at last the wind was behind us. Although our morale was significantly lower than it had been at the start. We trudged down, through the snow drifts and mud. We were feeling pretty hardcore, yet battered by the wind. The lower we went the better it got, the happier we became. Eventually we hit the trees again, the sun came out and so did our smiles. This was how our adventure was meant to be. We were in the middle of nowhere in the Peak District, hadn’t seen anyone in the past hour, the sun was shining and the wind had ceased. Living the life. We decided it was a good time to have some food. We stopped near a stream and had some sausages, sandwiches and tea –how civilised.
The afternoon just got better and better from there. The walking was tiring but we were rewarded with some stunning views and great weather. The sun had finally come out to play again, it was warming up and we were out of the wind. Success. We picked and chose what footpaths to follow and eventually came up over a knoll and back to the car. We had done it.
It wasn’t the longest of walks by any stretch of the imagination. However it was fun and it was an adventure. Without doubt the best 5 hour walk I’ve ever been on. Alice and I make a good team; we both like to walk fast. I can see myself going on a lot more walks from now on. You don’t need to do any planning, you don’t need and fancy equipment; just some warm layers, decent shoes and a rucksack –I used my Gourdon. It has opened up, for me, the possibility of more Micro-Adventures, in an unlimited amount of locations because you can go many more places walking than you can by bike. Just go out and explore your area; have an adventure.