Walking In a Winter Wonderland

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Don’t tell my boss but we’re at the time of year where I spend most of my working week keeping an eye on the excellent Mountain Weather Information Service  and checking the weather charts provided by Netweather . When I’m not doing either of those things you will most likely find me looking longingly at webcams of our various mountain regions, yes the winter months are a very productive time for me at work.

The reason for this fascination with the weather is that I’m hoping for a proper winter to appear, one with ice, snow and all the fun that brings. This week, I wasn’t to be disappointed. Friday night into Saturday looked like providing some good snowy conditions in the Western side of the Peak District so Saturday afternoon I headed off to Castleton for some winter fun, the view that opened up to me as I drove past Longshaw showed I wasn’t to be disappointed. The Peak was wearing it’s winter coat.

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Leaving Castleton I hiked up through the mud to the South East ridge of Mam Tor where the snowline began. Mam Tor, as always, was very busy and the climb up the South East ridge was a slushy muddy mess which offered no winter fun but a good chance of a slip in the mud on the steep climb up. There was no fun to be had here so I opted to traverse around the base of Mam Tor, walking through fresh, untouched snow towards Rushup Edge instead. Rushup Edge is fantastic, offering great views of Kinder Scout and the Edale valley, but is often overlooked as the crowds head instead to the summit of Mam  Tor and the Great Ridge instead.

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The snow showed others had come this way already but there was still plenty of snow on the ground to enjoy for my first real winter fun of the season. Heading upwards I had beautiful views behind me of the Great Ridge and the views over Kinder soon opened themselves up. It was fantastic to see the Peak looking so spectacular.

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The wind was vicious, whipping snow and hail into my face and , as i was walking into the wind, it made it very difficult to look up, every time I did my face would sting from the blows. Despite being well covered the weather was proving to be challenging.

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I continued on up to Lords Seat, enjoying the views before me. The green of the Edale valley and the white of Kinder Scout, also spotting the threatening clouds heading my way from Kinder, there was another storm on the way,

Being late in the afternoon it was now time to return, I decided to do this over the fresh snow rather than the paths I’d taken earlier. This gave me a surprise as I sunk up to my hips in a hole beneath the snow, thankfully it wasn’t bog. The wind was picking up and getting increasingly difficult to walk in, then the cloud descended and the snow and hail picked up making for an interesting descent. I had been taking my right glove off all day to take pictures on my phone but it had got to the point where my hand was so cold the phone couldn’t detect I was touching it, any more pictures were out of the question in this wind. It was now impossible to look into the wind as it stung the face too much, but then, as quickly as it had started, the storm stopped and the skies cleared again to reveal a glow to the sky behind me, and yes, my fingers worked once more.

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The final part of the descent was polished ice, the lady in front of me chose to slide down it sitting down rather than risk walking it. I couldn’t be bothered with putting crampons on for a short section of path so instead chose a completely different descent that had fresh, untrodden snow. It was a longer way around but there was no chance of causing myself an injury.

The return journey to the car was done through Winnats Pass in the dark, with heavy snow falling.

What a beautiful taste of winter, more of this please .

 

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