Bleaklow Stones – Jan 2019

Wet, Wild & Windy – The first wild camp of 2019 and hoping for snow. Unfortunately all I got was plenty of rain and a good battering by the wind.

My brother and I headed up to the Peak District late morning on a Saturday in January 2019. The plan was to park at The Snake Inn and walk up to Bleaklow Stones where Dean would meet us. Dean was walking in from Ladybower following the river Derwent to its source at Swaines Greave (Bleaklow).

Pete and I ran into a few issues which delayed our start. First of all arriving at The Snake Inn it turns out it’s still closed for refurbishment!! So we had to drive further up the road and find a suitable space. Car parked we put our boots on and put on our packs when we realised I’d forgotten to bring a sleeping mat I’d promised to lend Pete! Boots off again we drove back to Hathersage to the Alkpit shop to purchase one. Finally back at the car park and boots back on again we set off (about 2 hours later than planned).

The route dropped down into the trees and follows Lady Clough to Doctors Gate.

A short section of road walking before joining the Pennine Way over Devils Dike. Then it was a case of following the motorway of the Pennine Way up to Bleaklow Hill. We only passed half a dozen other walkers on our way up as it was “off peak conditions”. The cloud level was low and wind was blowing a hooley, although not much rain.

As we arrived at Bleaklow Hill the light was being to go, coupled with the low cloud and strong winds it made for tricky navigational conditions. Aiming for Bleaklow Stones we followed a bearing East. There isn’t a well defined path from Bleaklow Hill to Bleaklow Stones, more like a series of sheep tracks heading that general direction. We arrived at Bleaklow Stones without too much issue, one unnecessary loop in our route thanks to some magnetic interference (that’s what I’m saying and I’m sticking to it).

Finding a rock to hide behind out of the wind I called Dean to check his progress. He was also slightly behind schedule and just arriving at Bleaklow Stones, only further east than our position. Coordinates exchanged, we headed east to meet Dean. We stumbled across his tent squeezed into some rocks sheltering from the now gale force winds. Pete and I set about looking for a suitable location to pitch. The ground on Bleaklow Stones is generally good to pitch on, however as it was now absolutely pitch-black it was difficulty to find a good spot. The wind was blowing in from the north across the plateau of Bleaklow Stones. The Trailstar didn’t want to play so we dropped down a hundred metres on the leeward side and found a ditch in the heather Trailstar sized. Mainly down to the poor pitch choice we found that the Easton pegs (9″) slowly worked themselves out, which meant regular trips outside in the rain to secure them. I also discovered that the line locks where slipping. RANT INCOMING!! – Line locks, this is now the second time I’ve had an issue with line locks, the last time it was on my Duomid. They work great if you use the right gauge line through them, anything slightly too narrow and they slip. Oddly this hasn’t happened on the Trailstar before (after much use e.g. TGO 2017). A very wet and windy night with late night dashes outside to check pegs followed. Although it was still an enjoyable night. Given the weather conditions we were confined to tents so we didn’t see Dean until the next morning.

The wind and rain eased off by the early hours and we slowly started to pack away. Timing things so we could walk up to meet Dean and set off back to my car.

The ditch. In daylight we discovered why the pegs didn’t hold that well. A small stream was running directly underneath the Trailstar.

Meeting up with Dean once again we started our walk back towards Bleaklow Hill, this time our route was much easier as we could actually see a path. The wind and rain picked up again in perfect timing whilst we made our way back to the Pennine Way. It was the start of the Montane Spine Race that day (or maybe the day previous) and dozens of runners passed us as we worked our way down the Pennine Way to Doctors Gate.

Arriving back at the car we drove to Bamford and dropped Dean off where he’d parked his car.

18km and 527m ascent – not a particularly taxing route but the conditions made things interesting. The section between Bleaklow Hill and Bleaklow Stones is especially tricky, in the dark at least.

Here you can see Dean’s video of the trip:

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