An early start to get to St Pancras International for my train to the Peak District. 3 hours later I’d made it to Hope Station in Hope Valley, in the Peak District and I was keen to get exploring. I walked the 3.5km to the next village where I based myself for my hikes on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. As I got to the town, I decided to change up the hikes, switching the days I did them and I’m so glad I did.
Being the Easter long weekend, the hiking trail was busy. Solo hikers, pairs, hiking groups and families were all out and about to hike and explore. Starting in Castleton, I climbed up rocks and a stream to Cave Dale, with views upwards to the Pevril Castle ruins, sitting atop a hill. Hiking with a group who’d completed the trail in the past, we chatted about the hike and as we walked along a field and country back road towards the base of Mam Tor and the start of the great ridge hike, we got hit by snow fall. Only briefly though. Weather conditions only continued to get worse and made it one very difficult hike.
Mam Tor was steep and slippery to climb, made tougher by the battering winds trying to push everyone over the edge. More snow at the top and clouds so low that views of the Peak District were almost non-existent. At the same time the mist really added that something to my photos, so I couldn’t complain too much. I did complain a lot about how cold and sore my fingers and cheeks were becoming though. I could feel how red my cheeks were getting from the chill and biting wind. At this point, still so early in, I considered finding a short cut back to Castleton. But I pushed through and felt great in the end that I did.
The hike went up and down as we made our way, dodging mud as best as we could, along the Great Ridge. Every now an then we were rewarded with views of the Peak District. Right towards the end of the hike, as I started to descend Lose Hill, I slipped and ended up arse in mud (& my poor camera too). Damnit! I needed my hiking pants again for Sunday’s hike. Met up with and older Irish couple who were avid hikers and loved Australia. Finally made it to YHA Castleton hostel, where I warmed up with a hot shower and rewarded myself with a hot chocolate and gluten free Carrot Cake before getting in an early night to rest and recover for more easter hiking. Unfortunately my sleep was restless but I still got up and went for it.
I decided to combine two hikes into one with a lunch break in between. Started off Easter Sunday by heading out of Castleton, hiking along the road, up through Winnat’s Pass to then climb through paddocks to the cliff tops overlooking Winnat’s Pass and back towards Castleton and the Hope Valley. I may have a fear of heights, but I always love finding those view points high above everything. It wasn’t a big hike distance wise but it was tough due to lots of climbing. Made it back to Castleton for lunch before starting the 3rd and biggest hike of the weekend. I’ll admit this hike I did not enjoy! This was mostly due to being so much mud around which meant constantly making lots of little tweaks and re-routing to be able to continue in the direction I wanted. By the end, my boots ended up absolutely caked in mud and it was all the way up my legs too.
I’ve hiked in snow, on ice, up rocky mountain trails, along sand and against battering winds and I think mud is the most difficult to get through. Climbing up Win Hill was dry (luckily) but steep, but so worth it for the stunning 360 degree views of the Peak District.
Made it back to Castleton absolutely exhausted and in time to eat some dinner. Feet and legs buggered and muddy. To my horror I realised I had 3.5km to go still to get back to Hope station for my train back to London. Every step was a struggle but I made it. 3hrs to nap on the track back.
35kms of hiking, across 3 hiking trails and 2 days. Lots of mud but many stunning views. Hopefully I’ll get back to Castleton and the Peak District in the summer to experience better hiking conditions so I can attempt these trails, and others, again. There’s also Pevril Castle and the caves in the area to explore too. The area is definitely worth the visit and so easy to get to by train from London.