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Review of The Autumn Walk In The Peak District - September 19th

Reporter: Helen Richardson

Ten Ski Club members and a faithful four-footed friend (Dolly) met at Gradbach Car Park on Saturday, September 19th, for a circular walk of about 13 miles, led by Dave Shepherd. This was a very enjoyable walk in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, with varied terrain and wonderful views along its route.

We started off under a sunny sky in a westerly direction past the Youth Hostel, and followed the path into Gradbach Wood, where we took a few minutes detour to explore the nearest part of Lud's Church (a natural chasm, reputedly a place of secret worship by the Lollards in less religiously tolerant times).

We were soon in open land, heading for the Hanging Stone, where a couple of the more intrepid stepped well out onto the stone for a photo opportunity, and tried (unsuccessfully) to cajole the rest of us to join them. Nearby, we met some teenagers, complete with heavy back-packs, practising their expeditionary skills as part of their programme towards the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. This was one of several pleasant encounters with cheerful and chatty young people on the programme, and they were evidently enjoying the challenge! A permissive path led us steeply down through a bracken filled enclosure (indicating former woodland), towards Hanging Stone Farm, where we crossed fields and continued downhill through the wood, along a tributary, to reach the river at Danebridge.

After crossing the river, we headed in a north-westerly direction past Wincle and, in a more northerly direction, continued to climb steadily to pass Hammerton Farm. Where the track passed across cow fields, those of us towards the tail end of the group were initially surprised to find the leading walkers holding open a fence - until we realised that this was no ordinary fence, but an electric one, and that they were bravely holding a live wire on an insulation handle! And so onwards, we crossed the A 54 at the Wild Boar Inn. Here, we met a yellow-jacketed official, who, in the absence of arrival of any young people on the Award scheme, nearly clocked us in, in their place! He was certainly in a good place to be well victualled whilst waiting around!

From here, the route took us eastwards and north-eastwards towards, and around, Hammerton Knowl, along Clough Brook, and past Wildboarclough, shortly beyond which, we started the ascent of Shutlingsloe. The top of the route was steeper than I remembered, but was well worth the effort, as we were rewarded with wonderful views from the summit, where we stopped for lunch. Following our descent from Shutlingsloe, we soon climbed eastward along Cumberland Brook, at the top of which, the route took us south-east to Three Shire Heads and Panniers Pool, where we enjoyed the tranquil and beautiful surroundings.

Leaving there, we skirted around Turn Edge on a rather rough and stony track, wetted by a brief shower, and quickened our pace as we turned south-westerly across fields, back to the car park.

Everyone joined in expressing appreciation to Dave for a truly memorable day.

It leaves to be said, only that, as always on a SCOM walk, along with the walking, there was plenty of chatting, - sharing news and views. Thank you again, Dave, for organising this most enjoyable walk!