With time to spare this weekend and with a view to walking fairly close to home I decided on the following route with an overnight wild camp. The weather was sunny and quite warm with a severe overnight frost and a beautiful sunrise. The bogs so typical of this area seemed wetter than normal, months of rain probably accounting for this.
The previous weekend I had walked part of the route to look for a good wild camp site.
Haggs Fam Carpark – around Upper Derwent and Howden Reservoirs-Outer Edge- Howden Edge-1894 Stone – Swains Head- Barrow Stones-Grinah Stones-Deep Grain-Alport Moor-Alport Castles-Rowlee Pasture-Lockerbrook- Fairholme-Haggs Farm.
Saturday 20/10/12 – 15 miles (24 kms). Sunday 21/10/12 6 miles (9.7 km) – Total 21miles (33.7 kms)
In the summer months, you can take a bus from Fairholm to Kings Tree which would save 5 miles of road walking around the reservoirs, but this being October, I spent a couple of hours walking to get where the bus drops you off. A pleasant enough walk but it meant that I was to have a long first day.
After clearing the reservoirs, I took the path which bears right over the footbridge leading to Cut Gate End, turning left onto the path leading Howden Edge. This was the start of crisscrossing to avoid the worst of the boggy ground, which was a feature of much of the walk.
The path continues arching around the hills towards Featherbed Moss. Whilst I walked 15 miles the first day, with all the deviations back and forth and up and down the groughs I am sure I did more.
As I approached the 1894 stone near Swains Head, I met up with two participants and their instructor on a navigation course. I can’t think of a better place to learn how to use a map and compass as the bleak moors around this area. After a moment’s conversation, they darted off towards the nearby Dean Head Stones. I carried on to Swains Head, where I left the path heading directly South to the impressive Barrow Stones via the steep sided valley containing the River Derwent.
This is the first time I had visited the Barrow Stones, the eroded gritstone covers a large area and I spent some time exploring the many weird and wonderful shapes.
Leaving the Stones, I headed towards the Grinah Stones about 800 metres South West and then on to my camp for the night, arriving there just before dark.
It had been a long day and once the tent was up, it was into the sleeping bag, water on for tea and a hot meal. I spent the rest of my evening before sleep listening to the radio and catching up on some pod casts.
I was awake around six and as the night had been very still and cold there was ice on the inside and outside of the tent. I fired up the stove for tea and had breakfast before venturing outside for the call of nature. Packing away my frosty tent, I was away by ten past eight.
Leaving my camp spot I made my way towards Alport Castles. It was beautifully warm in the sun shine, thawing out my frozen boots and gaiters, as I made my way over swampy land, until the dry of the slab footpath. Continuing down Rowlee Pastures, I made my way through woodland back to the car.