Tuesday 21 July 2015. I was joined today by Karen & Josephine to do one of HF’s harder routes in the White Peak. This was a linear walk of 11 miles with 1,745ft of ascent and 2,265ft of descent. We parked Karen’s car at the finishing point which was the visitor centre at Tittesworth Reservoir and then took my car to the start of the walk at the bottom of The Roaches. The heavens opened on the drive from our caravan site to the walk but thankfully it cleared by the time we got there.
We tried to stick implicitly to the route instructions provided to HF leaders but this meant that we missed out a chunk of The Roaches as I guess that the small rock climb/scramble was outside of their health and safety rules. Instead, we walk along the base of the rock face and then made a more gentle and safer ascent to the path along the top. We took shelter from a strong wind whilst having a coffee break. We reached the high point (1,650ft) at the trig point and soon after a short sharp shower blew through which meant that we had to don our waterproof jackets and rucksack rain covers. The wind was so strong during this squall that, unknown to me, it blew my rain cover away. I only discovered the loss some time later when removing my waterproof jacket. Rain covers don’t cost that much and I certainly wasn’t going to search for it, as by then, it could have blown miles away.
At the end of The Roaches, we turned north and headed for Gradbach Wood. It was along this section that we passed a couple of guys rebuilding a drystone wall. It looked like very hard work but they had already restored many yards in previous days/weeks. The walk through the woods was slow going because of the underfoot conditions but we eventually reach Lud’s Church; a natural cleft in the rock which is reputed to have been the site of religious gatherings. We carefully made our way down slippery steps into the Church and out the other end. It was 1:30pm by now and we had been walking for nearly 3 hours. A lunch stop was needed but this had to wait for a while until we found a suitable spot on the banks of Black Brook.
We still had at least 6 miles more to walk so we took a short cut to avoid more ups & downs and save on time. This brought us out near Hangingstone Farm. Our route should have taken us uphill to visit the Hanging Stone and then back down again but I decided that I’d had enough climbing and opted for a lower level parallel route. The last few miles were along farm and public roads which seemed never ending and were sore on the feet. It was with much relief that we got back to the Visitor Centre after more than 6 hours at an average speed of just 2mph. All that remained was to go and pick up my car from the start of the walk and then drive the 25 miles back to base.