Day 44 - Buxton to Hayfield
It was raining when I woke up, and the forecast said it would rain all day. The same sort of drizzly rain as yesterday, but with a bit more energy. It didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. So I motivated myself with the fantastic video that some of my choir sent me on Wednesday. Whilst rehearsals aren’t happening, some of the choir are meeting up now and again for a social, and the small group that got together at the pub this week decided to make a tribute to my mileage marker in song. With full choreography, or at least as full as they could with a glass of wine in their hands. I loved it.
At breakfast I was the only guest, which gave me time to chat to my landlady Alison. We talked about working, child protection, retiring, solo travelling, so much in such a short time. She really made me laugh, if we lived nearer I would hope we’d be friends. And then by the end of the day I discovered she’d generously sponsored me.
So it was raining from the outset, which is the first time that has happened since I started. One good thing about that is that at least I had all the wet weather gear on before I started. Can’t think of any other good things about it. As I was walking down the busy A6 leaving Buxton, huge lorries thundered past making it hard to hear. The rain was jumping up from the surface of the road, running in little rivers over my boots as I hugged the kerb. Good weather for ducks.
As I thankfully moved on to a quieter road I then had to deal with the difficulty of navigating using my phone in the rain. I have an acqua pack for it, but it is tricky to manage through the plastic, so it’s easier to take it out when actually using it as opposed to just looking. This therefore meant moving from the shelter of one tree or bridge to another, peering at the screen trying to remember enough of the route to save doing the same thing again at the next junction.
In addition to this frustration and the insidious misery of rain being gently absorbed through every tiny pore, despite my excellent waterproofs, I then had the invigorating experience of being covered over my head in water by a car driving full pelt through a puddle next to me. I was talking to a friend at the time. He was surprised that I didn’t shout abuse at the idiot - I was too busy getting my breath back from a mouth and nose full of puddle water.
I’d hoped for a coffee at Doveholes. As I approached I could see two closed pubs, but also the lights on in what looked like a cafe. I went up to the window to see if they had room, to discover it was an office. They looked surprised at my wet face peering in and bizarrely didn’t invite me inside for a hot drink.
An annoying footpath/cow issue meant that I had to add over a mile to the journey. On a day like this, I resent any extra time. So then when I discovered a road closure sign near Chapel I was frustrated. A resident said that she wasn’t sure if I’d be able to gain access or not, but ‘surely it will be fine?’ I felt that was a bit too uncertain, so ploughed off over the fields instead. Couldn’t have been more pleased to see Chapel en le Frith (nobody seems to use the last 3 words of the name). I used the post office, dripping heavily, to send my old walking shoes and some maps back home. Weight of 870 grammes. That’s a chunk I won’t need to carry this afternoon.
The Kings Arms in Chapel served me a fantastically luscious tuna melt and didn’t noticeably object to my waterproofs pouring water all over the floor. Despite how good the waterproofs are, there comes a point when they just admit defeat, I was soaked on the inside too, and shivering. It was really good to get some hot food and a hot drink before pressing on.
It wasn’t just me that was damp, my phone had got too wet to allow itself to be charged. If it was my sole method of navigation that would have been an issue. But fortunately I spent many hours in April and May replotting every route on the Garmin software as well as on OS Maps, so that I had back up tech. My i66 is primarily my means of satellite texting in an emergency, but it’s also a navigational tool. It is entirely waterproof, and uses buttons instead of a touch screen. That makes it more clunky than my phone if it’s a nice dry day, but in the rain it’s completely brilliant. And for the purists, yes, I also carry a map and a compass. I’ve not needed them yet.
Thankfully the rain started to subside after Chapel, and I began to see a bit of the landscape that had been tantalisingly obscured. The dry stone walls were darkened with the rain, making them more dramatic against the pale grass. And the path started climb quite steeply to take me out onto some proper fells, to the west of Jacob’s Ladder and Kinder Scout. It was so good to have a glimpse of it all, before the clouds rolled in again.
I enjoyed the optimism of the farmer who thought I’d be able to squeeze myself and my large rucksack through a pinch gate about a foot wide. It meant I had to climb over his gate, but frankly he’s got himself to blame for that.
The path I’ve been following eventually rejoined the Pennine Bridle Way, and began a steep descent down to Hayfield. But not before I gasped out loud in surprise when above the top of a wall, next to the sheep’s face I might have expected, I saw an emu. The sheep looked quite perplexed too.
And the last big view before I dropped down a few hundred feet was over to the Manchester conurbation, distant on the horizon with hazy high rise buildings and other signs of the big city. That is my old stomping ground, and I came out to the Peaks with a walking society when I was in my first year of university, keenly trying to make friends. I had totally forgotten that fact until suddenly presented with the sight of the city whilst walking in the area I’d come to.
Hayfield is lovely, the sort of village that belongs in its environment. It is proud to be the birthplace of Arthur Lowe, of Dad’s Army fame, but to more interest for me was that it was also the start of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass in 1932. During this, hundreds of men and women defied the law to walk over the moorland to the plateau of Kinder Scout. This ultimately resulted in the Right to Roam, and the birth of the National Parks in 1948. To me the National Parks feel like my birthright - I’m very grateful to the people who protested so that I can feel like that. Benny Rothman was one of the organisers. At his trial, that provoked nationwide sympathy for his cause, he said:
‘We ramblers, after a hard week’s work in smoky towns and cities, go out rambling for relaxation and fresh air. And we find the finest rambling country is closed to us… our request, or demand, for access to all peaks and uncultivated moorland is nothing unreasonable’
Distance travelled: 14.2 miles
Total ascent: 2100 feet
Calories burned: 2200
Local tipple - Half pint of Peroni
Dinner at Colosseo Italian restaurant, Hayfield. Lovely food, but eating on my own felt difficult tonight.
Branzino - sea bass fillets on a spicy prawn risotto
New song of the day
Aly and AJ - Pretty Places
West coast pop-rock, from previous Disney child stars. Appealing, but in the end maybe not enough depth for me.
Video of the day, with another weird straight line when rain stopped the app working properly!