Earlier in the year we took advantage of a YHA offer and booked two getaways this Spring, the second one to Edale in the Peak District. For our February trip we decided to travel slow, taking the train and hiking. This time we gave the kids the choice of transport, as the week before the kids had camped and climbed Whernside. They chose to travel by car, as there were places they wanted to visit that weren’t in walking distance. We have all agreed we’d like to back to Edale by train though, as it is in a perfect spot for backpacking.
We took a very scenic route through the top of the Peaks on Sunday morning, passing lots of speedy cyclists, through Hathersage and parked up at Stanage Edge. Stanage Edge is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Peak District over the years, and it was one place I’d never been. We parked up below the Edge with what looked like every man, woman, child and dog!! It was heaving with climbers all along the face, a popular spot with it being so close to Sheffield. The kids were amazed how quickly they got to the top, I think they were expecting one of my “it’s not that far” hills!
It’s fairly unassuming from below, but the views from the top are well worth the walk up.
We could see Lose Hill, Mam Tor and Castleton, our destination for the rest of our few days away. We explored and played among the rocks, making our way along to the trig point near Cowper Stones, having our lunch with our legs dangling over the edge of the rocks.
Then walked below to the Stanage Millstones, the girls enjoyed playing, dangling on them, and pretending they were a carriage. I had chance to do a bit of sketching.
For some reason the little two were a bit crabby after, maybe because we headed back up onto the Edge and pointed out the ‘Stanage Pole’, which to be fair did look a fair way off. Middle kid in particular did not want to walk to a ‘stupid pole’!!!!!! But we got there, with the bribe of a few sweets and distraction. It was actually, really interesting, and the kids were fairly impressed. A pole has stood on the same spot for hundreds of years, marking an ancient boundary line, on one side Mercia/Derbyshire/Hathersage, Northumbria/Yorkshire/Sheffield on the other. It provoked lots of discussion about Vikings and Romans, thank goodness it wasn’t just a ‘stupid pole’.
The kids were excited to get to the Youth Hostel, so from the Pole we walked the opposite way, past all the climbers and back along the bottom to the car. Edale Youth Hostel is in a fab position, hidden in a little nook with views to Mam Tor. We had a lovely meal in the restaurant, chilled and made plans for the next day.
We decided to offset an afternoon climb up Mam Tor with a visit to Treak Cliff Caverns in the morning, We arrived at the Caverns at the same time as a school party, which we thought we might regret. But the guide let us go in front, and the school kids were really well behaved, and we ended up getting a longer, more detailed tour that we would have done otherwise. The caves are absolutely stunning, from the huge seam of beautiful blue john stone, to the wonderful caves full of million year old stalactites and stalagmites, the guide was very knowledgable and very witty.
After lunch in the sunshine, we took the road towards Mam Tor, past the ‘Crushing Circle’ (another millstone), then walked through Mam Farm House and up to Hollin’s Cross.
The sun was shining, the kids were happy, my youngest kept finding beetles on the path up, she found a beautiful Dor beetle. We were up the top in no time, it got a bit blustery along the ridge up to the trig point, but we found a sheltered spot to have a sit down and a snack. My youngest made some rubbings of the brass plates that are around the trig point, and I managed to squeeze in a sketch of The Great Ridge.
It was a quick walk down off the ‘Mother Hill’, and instead of walking over the fields above Treak Cliff Cavern, we decided to take the old, collapsed road back (due to a landslip on Mam Tor). It was bizarre seeing all the tarmac twisted and broken, nature taking over.
A good day.
The kids had found a leaflet in the Youth Hostel on The Chestnut Centre, a wildlife park full of otters, and owls!! It was a chilly morning with a good low lying hill fog that was going to take some time to burn off so we decided it would be a worth a visit. The kids loved it, we watch pine martens, otters and polecats being fed. It’s set in a secluded little valley in lovely grounds, with a stream running through.
After lunch, we took back to the road, and stopped off at Ladybower reservoir. We’ve walked and cycled around here before, but when the kids were young, and they couldn’t remember it. We were in no rush to leave the hills, so we had a lovely walk up and around Derwent Dam. My youngest decided she wanted to sketch the Dam, so we found a bench and spent a lovely time sketching. Middle kid sat reading Harry Potter, whilst the eldest chatted away, watching the chaffinches flit around waiting for some crumbs.
We had a great break away, yet again a couple of days felt much longer. Seeing new places, and doing new things really does make time stand still, for a little while. I never want to leave the hills, but they’re always there waiting for us. Spring has only just arrived and it feels like we have had a full year already, in previous years we would have only just been thinking about sticking our boots on for a walk. Life feels much richer for taking advantage of all the months of the year.
Some of the sketches I made while we were away.