Sun 26th Jan, 2014
Peak District Walking meet
Members: Laura Collier, Roger Dyke (as far as Eldon Hill), Jim & Sandy Gregson, Iain McCallum, Dave Shotton
The weather outlook wasn’t too promising as a hardy group of six walkers met up in the layby near Mam Nick National Trust car park. We headed off into sleet and high winds at about 9.50am, walking south on footpaths past the aptly-named Windy Knoll, across fields and up onto the summit of Eldon Hill. The sleet had by now turned into rain, which was an improvement of sorts! However Roger was suffering from a bug that seemed to be doing the rounds and was not expecting to do the full walk, so turned back for home at this point; fortunately he reported he was fully recovered after a few days, so thanks for turning out in such unpleasant conditions and supporting my walk, Roger!
The remaining walkers then headed down the southern slope of Eldon Hill and stopped to examine Eldon Hole, the deepest pothole in the Peak. This was also much admired by the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes who listed it as one of seven local wonders in his Latin poem 'De Mirabilibus Pecci' (‘Concerning the Wonders of the Peak’) inspired by his tour of the Peak District in the 17th century. I hope he had better weather on his visit though!
From Eldon Hole, we contoured round past the enormous pit of Eldon Hill Quarries, then headed down over fields (and over a barbed wire fence which proved tricky for the shorter members of the party) to pick up the lane leading down to the hamlet of Perryfoot. Before following this, we stopped off in an adjacent field to examine another impressive pothole, Bull Pit, which showed signs of a caving dig at the bottom. We then headed down to Perryfoot and picked up the quiet lane (part of the Pennine Bridleway in fact) leading up to Rushop Hall and the very inviting No Car Café; on the way we passed an alpaca farm, although only one representative of the species had ventured out that day! We reached the café at noon, providing a welcome half-hour break for tea, coffee, scones and even beans on toast. A glance out of the door during the stop revealed pelting rain (which helped explain why we had the place mainly to ourselves), but this eased off a little by end of lunch. Nevertheless, the decision was made to omit Roych Clough and Brown Knoll from the original route plan due to the rain and clag.
We therefore crossed the Sheffield Road and followed Rushup Edge back to Mam Nick, planning an early
finish; however by the time we reached Mam Nick, the wind and rain had both eased off, and we were able to stop for a late lunch (a little before 2pm) in more or less dry conditions (with some tentative sunshine!) in a sheltered spot below Mam Nick on the Edale side.
In view of the improved weather and the earlier omission of Brown Knoll, we decided to extend the end section slightly so followed the lower path skirting the NW slopes of Mam Tor and then picked up the ridge to Hollins Cross. From here we dropped down above Mam Farm to pick up the abandoned old Mam Tor road (now of course quite ruined and showing impressive erosion effects), giving a good view of the prominent shale layers on the SE face of Mam Tor. After passing the Blue John Cavern, we returned to the cars at about 3.10pm.
Total mileage for the walk was slightly under 9 miles by my reckoning, covered in about 5 hours 20 minutes including stops.
Start time: Meet at 09:30 for a 09:45 start.
This is a circular walk over part of the ‘border country’ where the White and Dark Peak areas meet, represented by Eldon Hill (limestone), and Brown Knoll (peat bog) and Rushup Edge/Mam Tor (sandstone & shale) respectively.
Start point: Meet at Mam Nick National Trust car park (grid ref SK 123832) as used for ascent of Mam Tor. Free parking is available in several nearby laybys (towards Castleton but on the opposite side of the road from the car park entrance); the actual car park is pay & display, £3 for the day (card payments only!) according to NT website.
Map: OS Explorer sheet OL1 (Peak District – Dark Peak Area). This should cover all of the walk, despite a section of it being over ‘White Peak’ limestone country!
Distance: About 12 miles.
Route: Head south on footpaths across fields and up onto Eldon Hill with its remnants of old lead mining activity and the impressive Eldon Hole, deepest pothole in the Peak. Then follow paths down to Perry Dale and Perryfoot hamlet. From there NW on paths and tracks past Rushop Hall (holiday cottages and No Car Café), across the Sheffield Road and also the Manchester-Sheffield train line (hidden deep beneath our feet in the Cowburn Tunnel) and up via Roych Clough onto the summit of Brown Knoll. Then head back down over the moors to pick up Rushup Edge following it back towards Mam Nick and an ascent of Mam Tor (can be omitted) before going home.
Although the area (in particular Mam Tor and Eldon Hill) is of geological interest, philosophy fans may be interested to note that Eldon Hole was included as one of seven ‘Wonders of the Peak’ in a Latin poem by Thomas Hobbes (of ‘Leviathan’ fame) commemorating his tour of the Peak District in the early 17th century!