My long awaited winter walk for this winter actually happened. Not only that, I actually managed to walk Axe Edge Moor with fantastic clear views!
Before I go any further, winter walking in the snow can be fun, but it can be fraught with danger! The snow can and will cover hidden dangers, holes, loose rocks, which can result in injury.
My pack was set up for winter conditions, with all I would need except for an ice axe and crampons, which really would have been an unnecessary over kill for this walk.
If you would like to know many of the items I carry, have a read of What's in my pack?
Now you might be like me, because we don’t get much of an opportunity to get and walk, no, I’ll change that to play, in the snow, I am like a big kid, I want to be out all day plus!
The first time I walked on Axe Edge Moor was I February 2011 while staying with friends just outside Buxton. It snowed then, but the visibility was poor. But that didn’t detract from a very enjoyable winter walk.
|The gate to the track leading up to Dane Head|
|Typical view when I was on Axe Edge Moor, February 2011|
|Typical view on Axe Edge Moor, June 2013|
The next time was eighteen months ago, on a wet June day, which you can read about in Axe Edge Moor, the Cat and Fiddle pub and a Stag Do, where we walked from the Cat and Fiddle Inn.
So for me, it was a double whammy not only to walk in some fantastic snow and countryside, but to have superbly clear views as well!
I had planned for a late start, but didn’t want too late a finish in view of the drive there and back, for I wasn’t expecting the best of road conditions, particularly around Buxton. The journey overall wasn’t of too big a surprise, though Buxton and the A53 were fantastically clear. Well done those maintaining the roads there. However, Staffordshire Roads, particularly the A515 from Rugeley almost up to Buxton, left a lot to be desired, with lots of snow and ice.
I accept that much of the A515 is exposed, but so are the A53, and A54, which sit either side of Axe Edge Moor, and were very clear.
I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get to Axe Edge Moor, after monitoring traffic reports shared via Twitter.
So I put in a plan for an alternative, my old favourite Stanton Moor, which I walked several times, in all weathers and knew I could access.
You can read about one of my winter walks on Stanton Moor in Stanton Moor on a snowy Sunday.
I digress, I’d planned for a three hour drive, and I had a three hour drive, though normally it would be a two and a half hour drive, and kept my walk short to facilitate the slow drive home.
Which is a shame, I wanted to try my new toy out, a Led Lenser H7.2 headtorch.
Incidentally, first impressions, it’s a nice usable headtorch.
I parked up in the layby, which I missed due to the fact it was covered in snow, on the east side of Axe Edge Moor, at Cisterns Clough, and got suited and booted. That also included putting on my Microspikes, then set off along the road in a northerly direction for about 290 metres, to pick up the track heading on to Axe Edge Moor.
Now I’m guilty of not using my trekking poles enough, but today I had planned to use them, as both a walking aid and to test the depth of the snow, but hopefully not as a part of my first aid kit, like I did when descending Moel Siabod and more recently, walking Alport Dale.
Because there was snow and I was expecting deep snow in places, it is a winter walk; I fitted the snow baskets to my poles.
For those who don’t know, snow baskets are not like shopping baskets, but extra wide shields that fit just above the carbide tip, to reduce how far the poles will sink in snow.
Those you can read in Moel Siabod and my old Navigation Training Ground and Alport Castles Alport Dale and River Alport.
I’ve also written a piece about my own personal views on trekking poles, which can be read in Trekking Poles, love ‘em or hate ‘em?
There is a footpath following Cisterns Clough, upstream, but I felt that for today, I didn’t fancy getting caught up on deep snow at such an early stage.
Incidentally, it’s worth noting for those not used to winter walking in the snow, trudging through snow is great fun, but, it will tire you out and also, more importantly, your average walking pace will be considerably slower!
Think of it like walking through thick mud, if you've ever walked through mud, and that will probably give you an idea how hard and slow walking in snow can be.
SO ALLOW EXTRA TIME to cover your route.
So I entered the track through the nearby gate and cattle grid (see first photo) making good progress up the track to Dane Head and on to Axe Edge Moor , where the views were jaw dropping awesome.
|...."on to Axe Edge Moor and the views were jaw dropping awesome"....|
|Looking across towards the Cat and Fiddle Pub|
|Zoomed in photo of the Cat and Fiddle Pub|
The views around made what seemed a large expanse in low cloud and poor visibility seem so small and beautiful!
Those of you, who know me, know I love taking lots of photos, many photos from this walk can be seen on my Flickr account on the following link: Axe Edge Moor Dec 2014.
It was a perfect day, the sun was out, the skies were blue and the views were awesome. But it was a tad cold with hardly any wind!
|...."it was a tad cold with hardly any wind"....|
It was just too tempting to extend my walk right out to the Cat and Fiddle Pub, walking past Derbyshire Bridge. But, I had to restrain myself, the A515 was not going to be forgiving, plus, temperatures will drop and ice, particularly black ice, will be prevalent.
But I stuck to my planned route, which was walk up to Dane Head, head south towards Orchard Farm, cut across to Reeve-edge and Danebower Quarries, cross the River Dane, head for the A54, walk back towards Buxton and pick up the track through Dane Head and return to the car.
|...."a public footpath signpost on my right, which marks the path|
from the A54 and Derbyshire Bridge"....
Following the track, the point at which I would leave the track and head for Orchard Farm was a public footpath signpost on my right, which marks the path from the A54 and Derbyshire Bridge.
Here I head south, that would take me up and over Axe Edge Moor and in to some deep snow, or so I was hoping.
I told you I was a big kid, at heart…..
It wasn’t long before I was in my element, walking the path, in virgin snow and woops, my foot sank deep in to the snow!
From here, I was rewarded with some rather deep patches of snow, which unsurprisingly slowed the pace down somewhat.
I wasn’t worried, I expected that and planned for it when I plotted my route, and using Naismith’s Rule, which also mentions Tranter’s Corrections, estimated my walk time.
Incidentally, I use an Excel Spreadsheet to calculate my walks, which also takes in to account sunset time, but you can find online calculators. This is one Naismith’s Calculator, I found online, which takes in to account Tranter’s Corrections.
|The Naismith's Spreadsheet Calculator I use|
I’ve digressed. Continuing along the path I eventually reach a dry stone wall, with a style almost in the left hand corner as I approach it. Crossing the style allows me to continue along the path down to Orchard Farm, hand railing the steam that flows along my left.
|The virgin snow and the dry stone wall with the style to cross.|
|The snow covered style!|
Take care if you follow this path in poor visibility, for there is a steep drop down to the river on your left.
On previous walks here, I’ve followed the path right down in to the valley, but this time, I fancied staying high up and descending the other side of Orchard Farm.
As I Walked the path, there soon appeared a path/track to my right, going uphill, which allowed me to join the path I was after. Almost at the top, Orchard Farm was in view, so checking my map, shows a path through Orchard Farm.
As I was approaching Orchard Farm, there was no obvious sign of a style
or other appropriate method of following the footpath, so I decided to circumnavigate the wall.
|...."approaching Orchard Farm, there was no obvious sign of a style|
or other appropriate method of following the footpath"....
As I walked alongside the wall, I looked down and still couldn’t see any obvious sign of access, though I could clearly see a route through the farmyard.
I was tempted to shortcut across the moor, but I wanted to follow the wall round and observe what was around, more for future reference.
Following the wall, I soon started to descend down to the path where the path through Orchard Farm came out. Through the gate, then a sharp right to take the path that follows the south-western edge of Cheeks Hill along the Dane Valley Way.
|The fence that followed on from the dry stone wall|
|Through the gate at the end of the fence, then sharp right|
to follow the path off to the left
After a short while along the path, there is a dry stone wall, which you continue to hand rail right up to a gap between what were once two upright walls, where you enter Reeve-edge Quarry, then on to Danebower Quarry.
|The dry stone wall alongside Dane Valley Way|
|The gap through which the Dane Valley Way continues through|
While walking along this path, my Microspikes seemed to keep filling up with snow!
Not something I’ve encountered before. This may have been down to the composition of the snow and lots of ruts in the track where farm vehicles would have driven through, therefore (my description, not a technical one) creating a muddy type of ice and snow congealed!
It hadn’t happened before and jumping the story a bit, nor did it happen again while walking through snow. So I doubt it was a fault with the Microspikes, just the type of snow!
This would be one of the reasons why crampons should have anti-balling plates fitted, to prevent snow and ice build-up between the crampon and boot sole, and certainly all new ones I’ve seen do have anti-balling plates fitted.
Now back to the blog.
If the wind is right, you can often shelter in Reeve-edge Quarry for a lunch stop, but on this day, the wind was just blowing enough to make it a little too chilly, coupled with it being in the shade from the sun, it wasn’t quite the ideal stop for lunch.
Axe Edge Moor and its surrounding area has been a hive of historical activity, which you can read about on the following two links Peak District Mines Historical Society; Danebower Colliery, Wildboarcloughand Reeve Edge quarries
Moving on, still ascending slightly, I soon reached the point where I would descend down to the River Dane, which can be very fast flowing. However, today, it wasn’t too bad and I was able to cross on the raised, but submerged stones to climb out the other side.
|...."River Dane, which can be very fast flowing.|
However, today, it wasn’t too bad
and I was able to cross on the raised, but submerged stones"....
|The climb up from the River Dane|
Once across the river, it’s a short climb up to the first level, where a lot of round shaped stone constructions, possibly remnants of the Danebower Quarry.
A sharp left, then aligns you to the footpath leading up to the A54.
|The path from Dane Bower towards the A54|
As you walk along this path, there is another steep path leading up to the A54, but I gave that a miss this time, for it could have been a little interesting in the snow.
So I continued on to the A54, seeing a gap in the roadside crash barrier, where the path meets the road.
|All that remains is this chimney stack, of the old Danebower Quarry|
|...."a gap in the roadside crash barrier, where the path meets the road"....|
|...."sharp right, heading up the road"....|
Turning sharp right, heading up the road, I started the roadside trek to pick up the track at Tinkers Pit for Dane Head.
Here I had a good view towards the Cat and Fiddle Pub and Derbyshire Bridge, before setting off along the track.
|...."the track at Tinkers Pit for Dane Head"....|
|The track to Dane Head|
|...."I had a good view towards the Cat and Fiddle Pub|
and Derbyshire Bridge"....
The track by now had been used by quite a few motorists, compacting the snow making it ice and slippery. Now problem for the Microspikes, as they crunched each spike in to the compacted ice, making my walk back an extremely comfortable and enjoyable, each step, filled with confidence.
It wasn’t long before I reached the point where the path from the A54 crosses the track, which is where I turned off earlier to head for Orchard Farm, identified by the public footpath signpost, then, soon after, the high point of the track at Dane Head,
From here, it is downhill all the way back to the car park at Cisterns Clough.
A thoroughly enjoyable day, a great walk, with great views and I encountered quite a few folk out having a wander, but safely so, keeping close to the road and where their vehicles were parked.
|The map showing my route|
Now the fun drives home. The drive in to Buxton was good, the roads clear, then the A515 out of Buxton, was ok until the Harpur Hill and Longnor junction, where from there, it was some nasty patches of snow, ice and black ice, all the way back towards Rugeley.
For those wondering, I don’t live in Rugeley, it’s just part of the route I use from my home not too far from Birmingham.
Before I finish, a few thoughts I want to share with you if you’re new to winter walking, especially in the snow.
Winter walking in the snow can be fun, but it can be fraught with danger! The snow can and will cover hidden dangers, holes, loose rocks, which can result in injury.
Also, walking in the snow will slow your average pace down considerably, so allow for extra time or better still, shorten your walk so you can finish safely.
If in doubt, leave it out, have an escape route or an alternative plan.
One last thought, if you’re considering winter snow or ice climbing, Microspikes are no substitute for crampons. If you are considering using crampons, then please, take a proper winter skills course, from a qualified Mountain Leader, there is a lot to learn, including how to arrest a fall using an ice axe, different styles of walking up and downhill.
A course like that is a worthwhile investment, for some of the skills you learn, can be used in many other scenarios.
I did one a few years ago, it was hard work, but damned good fun and I learnt a lot.
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Photo Album Peak Rambler Flickr Photo Album
YouTube Peak Rambler on YouTube
Links to some of the items I’ve mentioned and written about here:
What's in my pack?
Stanton Moor on a snowy Sunday
Moel Siabod and my old Navigation Training Ground
Alport Castles Alport Dale and River Alport
Trekking Poles, love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Axe Edge Moor Dec 2014
Peak District Mines Historical Society; Danebower Colliery, Wildboarclough
Reeve Edge quarries