I'd worked the last ten days in a row after working all last weekend. I was overdue a very much well-deserved and required day off to recharge the batteries. Although I get my outdoor fix most days when I cycle to work, I needed a little more this week so booked off Thursday to get outdoors. I originally planned an easy walk through Padley Gorge as I had planned on my partner joining me. Unfortunately she wasn't well, so I ended up by myself. I will save Padley Gorge for another day when she is able to join me as its supposed to be a stunning walk, and she loves natural woodlands.
Ladybower bell-mouth spillway
The weather showed a cold easterly blast delivering snow flurries to the other side of the country. It also showed that some showers would make their way over the Pennines. I drove over Snake Pass to reach the Peak District and at the summit where the Pennine Way crosses there was snow on the ground and the car was showing sub-zero on the temperature gauge.
Ladybower Outlet Tower
There were some awesome views up to the peaks whose gritstone edges were slightly dusted with snow. The road snaked its way through Lady Clough. The trees looked magical as their branches had a slight dusting of frosty glittering snow. I reached Ladybower Reservoir and looked up at Win Hill to see it topped with snow. It was a no-brainer.
I only had a few hours and it is an easy two hour ascent and descent to one of the best views in the Peak District. I also had only ever done it from Hope Village on the other side, so the ascent from Yorkshire Bridge by Ladybower Reservoir was a new route for me.
As it was mid-afternoon on a Thursday I managed to park in one of the free laybys between the dam and the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. Instead of taking the sign posted path which takes you over Yorkshire Bridge I was intrigued by the dam and reservoir so walked across the dam instead.
Win Hill Plantation
One thing I had always wanted to see was the famous plug holes of Ladybower Reservoir. On days when the reservoir is full these giant plug holes create a scary looking whirlpool. Today though the reservoirs water level was fairly low, and they jutted out of the water.
Once on the other side of the reservoir I took an unsigned footpath that seemed to take an easy ascent up to the left heading towards the general direction of Parkin Clough. The path was good at first but soon turned into deep mud.
Snowy Stone Wall
I eventually reached Parkin Clough and joined the main ascent path. I was pleasantly surprised by Parkin Clough. It is one of those magical places that seems to have its own ecosystem. Rocks and fallen trees covered in mosses and lichens. Wildlife everywhere. I was constantly stalked by greedy Robins and other woodland birds. The path is a bit of a slog and tricky over tree roots and large steps in places but well worth it.
Snowy Woodland Floor
After ascending the steep Parkin Clough path I eventually reached the top of the forest where there is a stone wall with a gate. I passed through the gate and ascended another small forested area before reaching the open moorland and short stone paved climb to the summit. I was delighted to find that the forest floor and stone paths were covered in a slight dusting of snow.
I reached the summit and took a few photos. The wind had picked up on the exposed summit and was bitterly cold. I put on my buff, hat and gloves I had removed during the steep body warming ascent. Despite it being overcast the cloud was high so there were still some awesome views down Ladybower Reservoir and the Hope Valley.
Whilst I was on the summit a young lady appeared with a full suspension mountain bike. Crazy woman was wearing shorts! I spend more time cycling than hill walking these days. I cycle to work every day. We therefore had a good chat about bikes.
Myself on Win Hill
She told me she was bringing that particular bike out for its first ride. I therefore presumed she was your average outdoors gal with a new bike. As I left the summit she did too, though on her somewhat more adventurous downhill ascent to Hope.
Win Hill Summit
As I drove home I was wondering how she got on. I have to admit, given the icy conditions I was worried about how she got on. When I got home and posted a few photos to Instagram I happened to come across her version of the photo I took of her bike on the summit.
I had a look at her Instagram profile and photos. I needn't have worried. She was more than capable of the earlier downhill, it turns out she does this regularly and had even won gold in national and international events.
Bike on Win Hill
The ascent was a quick one as I had to get home. I was actually pleasantly surprised by this walk. I have done Win Hill from other directions but never bothered before with this straight forward route.
I always presumed it would be a boring slog through boring pine forestry plantation. It is a slog as it is very steep and direct but Parkin Clough is a fantastic place. There is a stream with waterfalls, lichen and moss covered beech and birch trees with roots crossing the tricky path, and constant bird song. It is one of those strangely quiet and humid cloughs with its own environment.
A cracking short walk for anyone wanting to get up a hill for stunning views who has not got much time on their hands. I'll definitely do this walk again.