I decided as it was bonfire night on Monday I'd go for an early morning walk on Tuesday. The morning after bonfire night tends to be very misty. One place I know can be fantastic on a misty morning is The Great Ridge in the Peak District. I've been up there before on misty early mornings and experienced incredibly atmospheric views. Last time I even got to experience a few Brocken Spectres, the rare optical phenomenon where your own shadow is cast on to the clouds in the valley, causing a unique circular rainbow effect.
I decided I would take Wellington our West Highland Terrior. This will be his first ever hill walk. He goes on plenty of shorter local walks but has never walked long distances on rough hilly terrain. I know this walk like the back of my hand and know it is fairly easy going and great for a first time walk for newcomers, canine or human. It was still dark when I woke Wellington early on Tuesday morning. He wasn't happy so he gave me grumpy and disapproving looks. He soon cheered up though when he realised I had his lead in my hand which meant walkies.
Barking at Trig Pillar
We got there a little early as the roads were completely empty at that time in the morning. It was surprisingly mild for November. We paid for the parking at Mam Nick car park by torch light then sat in the car for a while waiting until it became light enough to walk without the head torch. The woods above the car park were still full of autumnal colours. I still find this path out of the back of Mam Nick car park tricky, the stones are small and slope downwards instead of large and flat. It totally bemuses me why its never been amended, it being such a well used path.
Mam Tor Trig Pillar
Wellington was already having the time of his life dragging me along. At Mam Nick we passed through the gate and ascended the well laid path to the summit of Mam Tor. Wellington expending too much of his energy bounding up the massive slabs, something he would later regret. When we reached the exposed windy summit he suddenly starting barking like mad. As it was dark and cloudy he thought the silhouette of the trig pillar was a person. He wouldn't go near it and had to be forced to sit on it for a photo.
Descending Mam Tor
Gate to Hollins Cross
We didn't spend any time on Mam Tor summit as it was very blustery, dark and lacking any views. We descended Mam Tor to Hollins Cross. There was less cloud at this slightly lower height and you could see the twinkling lights of the farms below. It was also on Hollins Cross where Wellington first spotted the sheep that would torment him for the rest of the walk. We headed towards Back Tor, which is by far my favourite part of this walk.
Brockett Booth Plantation
I was really impressed with how well Wellington handled the ascent of Back Tor. It is only a short ascent but his paws are not used to such rough and rocky terrain. He had no problems at all finding routes up the steep rocky ascent. When we topped out on the summit we had a rest and took a few photos.
Back Tor Ascent
Back Tor is one of my favourite places to sit and admire the views. It is normally too busy to do so but at this time in the morning on a week day you can often find yourself alone. We still hadn't seen anyone other than the sheep, which were now tormenting Wellington below. I gave Wellington food and drink and took advantage of him sitting still for once to take a few photos of him. The Brockett Plantation behind Back Tor was looking fantastic with a mix of evergreen pines and autumnal birch.
Wellington & Myself
Above Backtor Wood
Wellington on Back Tor
There were several stacked stone sculptures at Back Tor summit so I took a photo of them with the famous lonely pine in the background. From Back Tor we descended slightly before ascending Lose Hill. We watched a Kestrel stalking prey in the fields. It flapped its wings as they do then occasionally dived to the ground. The cloud had still not budged so by the time we got to the summit of Lose Hill it was unfortunately completely covered in cloud with no views.
Back Tor's Lone Pine
Wellington was a lot happier posing for a photo on the wider topographic cairn on Lose Hill than he was on the narrow stone pillar of Mam Tor. We didn't hang around on Lose Hill as again it was overcast, blustery and lacking in views. We started the return leg of this out and back ridge walk by descending Lose Hill towards Back Tor. The Kestrel was still there so we watched again as it hunted over the fields.
Back Tor from Lose Hill
Wellington on Back Tor
When we reached Back Tor I could tell that poor Wellington was tiring so we stopped for another break. We watched the quiet Edale Valley temporarily disturbed by one of the Manchester to Sheffield passenger trains rattling through the valley taking tired and weary commuters to work. Wellington found his energy again after a well deserved rest, meaty treats and the distant bleating of a flock of sheep on Backtor Nook.
After descending the rough descent of Back Tor we headed over to the Brockett Plantation to see the autumnal colours of the beech and birch trees contrasting with the dark green pines. The lone birch trees with silver trunks and bright yellow leaves looked incredible in the dark forest.
Brockett Bank Plantation
Brockett Bank Plantation
We made our way along the ridge to Hollins Cross. As we left Hollins Cross and made our way towards the ascent of Mam Tor I could see Wellington was struggling to find the energy to step up some of the larger slabs. I picked him up and carried him for ten minutes to give his sore paws and tired legs a break. He found his energy again as the wind picked up closer to the summit. I put him back down so he could have another go at the summit trig pillar.
Mam Tor Summit
Mam Nick Car Park
It was now a lot brighter but still just as blustery and cloudy with no views. We descended the long steps of Mam Tor's descent path to Mam Nick where the road passes through a narrow nick in the hillside. We followed the path back to the Mam Nick car park where Wellington finally got to rest his muddy paws. A fellow walker turned up just as we were about to leave. That was the only other person we had seen all day.
The Great Ridge and Mam Tor are an easy option but they rarely disappoint, even when blustery and completely shrouded in cloud like today. Wellington was a brilliant hill walking companion and I will definitely take him again when I go on easy and short walks. On the way home he wouldn't lie down until we were on the motorway. He was so tired that he kept falling over from falling asleep stood up.