Alport Castles and the Derwent Valley: the last hike

So obviously there’s been big changes in the UK over the last few weeks. Last weekend we couldn’t get out hiking as I was working and so with the enforced rules we all knew were coming, me and Rufino wanted to get out for a big hike this weekend. On Saturday we set our alarms for 6.30am and were walking by 8.15am to ensure we missed the crowds. We hardly saw a soul for the first 3 hours. It was pure bliss just us and the outdoors.

This 10 mile route began at Fairholmes car park close to Derwent Dam and headed away from the reservoir. The first section was an ascent upwards through the forest pines. The sun was just breaking in through the trees and I got this photo of Rufino enjoying some much needed rays. Because of my job, all my work was cancelled since Monday and so other than going out running this was my first big venture out the house for almost a week. We savoured this moment of peace as the sun beamed down into the woods.

When we reached the top we were rewarded with views of hills on all sides. We could see Mam Tor and the cement factory close to Castleton. This was our first time viewing them from this perspective. After 1 hour we’d seen 3 mountain bikers and one lone runner before it was back to being just us and the sheep as we walked across the top towards Alport Castle. I still haven’t bought the fleece lined trousers I saw weeks ago and was reminded of that as soon as we were on the top. The wind was cold and my thin trousers weren’t giving my legs and bum the warm protection they needed! Heres me trying to warm myself up:

After enjoying the views over what was Alport Castle we descended down into the valley passing Alport farm and hiked along the path next to Alport river. By this point it was 10am and we could see a few more hikers on the hill where we’d just been. Onto the next ascend (the toughest by far!) we crossed over the A57 and began the upward climb towards Blackley Hey. This was a slog of a hill and I made no effort in hiding my thoughts about it. I wasn’t expecting another steep hill and from the bottom it wasn’t clear it was so steep! I needed lunch but there wasn’t a good place to stop and the higher we went the windier it got.

For the next 30 mins we debated where to stop and for food. It was only 11am but because of the early start we were ready for the energy top up! We settled on sitting back to back in a field. So glad I’d made a big batch of pasta the previous night 🙂

From here we descended down to Haggwater Bridge before our third and final ascend to Hagg Side. The route completes a circle and rejoins the original path retracing the steps back towards Fairholmes car park. As we neared the car park you could hear the hustle and bustle of midday traffic. When we’d arrived we were one of three cars parked, now there were cars waiting to take our spot as we left. Here was another busy scene which we knew would soon be banned, and on Sunday evening the inevitable announcement arrived.

Nature doesn’t care whats happening in the human world. The moors don’t care, the wind doesn’t care, the tree’s don’t care. We are insignificant to nature. To be reminded of this as we were walking along was freeing and liberating. These are strange and uncertain times and being out in nature can calm the mind and aid reflective and peaceful thoughts. I still hope we and everyone else are able to enjoy nature during our daily exercise or sitting out in the garden.

This hike is one of our favourites we have completed from our 50 Walks in the Peak District book. It was the toughest so for that reason probably one of the most rewarding. Also I had no idea there were 3 ascents and descents (because I don’t read the instructions properly) so that was a surprise! Now my expectations are managed, next time I’m sure we won’t find it as challenging 🙂

We look forward to when we can revisit this lovely hike again.

ANIMO

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