Category Archives: Peak District

Three Shires Head

Hiking boots back on this Easter weekend for a lovely short walk with Lady Hughes, my Dad, my sister Bev and my nephews James and Matthew and my niece Libby, not forgetting our Ziggy as well.

Bev chose the walk, a short circular route from Clough car park, near Wildboarclough, to Three Shires Head and back round again. Three Shires Head gets its name as its the point where Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire meet. I’ve walked here a few times in the past but not but this route so it was familiar, but new – if that makes sense?

After a few minor mishaps, including losing Bev’s car on the way and someone forgetting their boots, we were soon off in the brilliant sunshine.

The walk was great, if a little boggy in places, with beautiful views of Shutlingsloe in the distance – the Matterhorn of the Peak, apparently.

One interesting spotting on the way was George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Tatton, who we passed roughly half way round. He didn’t make eye contact and I fought the urge to stop and berate him for his part in the Brexit debacle – the things you see when out walking in the English countryside eh.






Kinder with Ziggy

Here comes the sun!

I have been known to criticise the tyranny of a sunny weekend, meaning that you can’t relax when the weekend weather is good – you have to make the most of it, whether you want to or not. Now this may sound a bit miserable, so I’m trying to be positive. This weekend the weather was beautiful so I “decided” to do something with it. Lady Hughes was working this weekend so it was just me and Ziggy for a quick sprint up Kinder Scout.

The forecast was excellent, so I threw my rucksack in the back, with Ziggy’s bed – he likes to ride in style – and headed off to the Peak District. I wanted to travel light this time so I didn’t take my camera – all pictures done on my phone I’m afraid. But hey, it’s what’s behind the camera that matters!

Once there we could see some cloud on the tops but the forecast said it would burn off as the day went on, just a little haze, and this proved to correct – you see, sometimes they get it right.

Now I’ve climbed Kinder Scout many times, from many different directions but this is still my favourite, the ‘up’ bit is a short sharp shock and then it’s over, there’s a little scramble and the the views are great. We walked up through Edale, past the Nag’s Head Pub (official start of the Pennine Way), up Grindslow but quickly zig-zagging right up the Nab for a scramble up the rocks towards Ringing Roger. If all this sounds a bit confusing, get an OS map and check it out.

On the top, you get wonderful views and a perfect place for a break and a bite to eat.

We then followed the path round the edge of the plateau, heading west before going over Grindslow Knoll and then making our way back down into Edale for a medicinal pint at the Rambler’s Inn – it’s compulsory apparently, reinvesting in local economy and all that.

Ziggy was on the lead for most of the walk as there were sheep out but on the tops, well away from any livestock, I let him for a few stretches. Hi recall has improved but still isn’t perfect. Either that or he just fancied going with some other hikers for a bit.

My fitness is improving (I think?), but I underestimated the sun a bit and burnt my arms – but hey-ho, at least I had my hat. No sunstroke for me, thank you very much!

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Not sure what Ziggy made of the Peak District as this was his first visit and he’s actually from Bulgaria – but he seemed to like it.



Beating the Fog on Win Hill

Still some snow left up on the hills so Clare and myself decided to go for an old favourite, Win Hill.

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Win Hill sits in the heart of the Dark Peak just across the valley from Losehill. Legend has it that two medieval armies camped on each hill prior to battle the next day – I’ll let you work out which one won.

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Driving in from Manchester, I almost considered calling the whole thing off as there was thick fog limiting visibility to approximately 100 yards. I’ve done a lot of hikes in mist and fog and they don’t present any great challenges for me, but standing on top of a mountain staring at grey clag instead of sweeping vistas can be a bit frustrating to say the least. Sometimes I’ve thought that I might as well have walked round an NCP car park considering what I could see. All this went through my mind as I peered into the nothing and drove on, however, we were committed and you never know it might clear.

Driving past Mam Tor, that’s exactly what happened – it cleared.

Like pulling back a curtain we went from whiteout to blue skies and miles of snow-covered hills, in a second, it was a stunning.

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After carefully descending Winnat’s Pass – lovely smell of burning brake pads – we made our way to Hope and the start of the walk.

Not a particularly long or hard walk, this, but with my current fitness level and the added challenge of steep compacted snow to conquer, it was enough for me on this day.

Once on the tops we were rewarded with panoramic views of Kinder Scout, Stanage, Ladybower Reservoir and Derwent Edge. The actual summit of Win Hill is a little outcrop of rock giving the impression of mountain top on a much smaller scale – great one for kids this one, similar to Shutlingsloe.

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We sheltered from the wind and ate our sandwiches, basking in the surprisingly warm sunshine – once you’re out of the wind!

All of sudden it became quite busy with lots of people appearing from nowhere and swarming all over the rocks, so we packed up, took a few more photos and started off back to towards the car.

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Walking down we could see the fog starting to pour over the top of Rushup Edge in the distance. Like an overflowing bath the fog had reached the hills and been held back, building up until it finally spilled over into Edale Valley – good time to get down we thought.

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Quick stop at little café and then back into the car. Driving back we climbed Winnat’s Pass and straight back into the gloom and 75 yards visibility. This stayed with us all the way home, so dense it was amazing to think there were blue skies not so far away.


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Looking Back, Moving Forward

I started this blog twelve months ago to try to record my various adventures and motivate myself to do more. Now at the start of 2015 it seems a good time to evaluate how it went and set some goals for the coming year.

2014 was an interesting year for me. There were plenty of small events and mini-adventures throughout the year but the big things that stand out for me were, the passing of my Grandmother, my trip to Berlin, production of my films and a selection of smaller highlights including the Ice Bucket Challenge, TEDx Salford, DIY camera gear, trips to London and of course a pub crawl or two.

Christmas has come and gone and I’ve deliberately stayed offline as much as possible, so there hasn’t been any blogs for a while. Needless to say Christmas was good. We had a bit of an open day on Christmas Eve, for my family, which proved to be a bit boozy but fun, Clare and myself managed to get up Shutlingsloe (a pointy hill in Cheshire) on Boxing Day, and for New Year’s Eve we had some friend’s round. So all in all a good Christmas.

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With snow dusting the hills Clare and myself managed to get up Rushup Edge to Lord’s Seat. Overall though, we relaxed and recharged our batteries, which was my primary aim.

We went to the cinema three times over the break, first to see ‘The Hobbt’ (very good but cartoony), ‘Birdman’ (excellent and thought-provoking) and ‘Exodus’ (beautiful but flawed). For ‘Exodus’ I splashed out on D-Box seats which move with the action. Fun but a bit distracting, not sure I’d bother again – at times it just felt like someone sat behind you was kicking your chair.

Looking forward to 2015 I have several goals:

  1. Learn French – I set this one every year, but now I mean it.
  2. Produce 4 poetry films
  3. Produce 4 narrative short films
  4. Produce 3 comedy sketches
  5. Complete ‘Saviour’ script
  6. Complete ‘William Marshal’ script
  7. Develop rowing to 1km three times a week and maintain it for the year
  8. Dive with seals – the aquatic mammals, not the American soldiers!
  9. Print portfolio of favourite photos
  10. Print portfolio of portraits (30 pictures)- I’ll be pestering people to model for me soon.

So there it is, goodbye 2014 and hello 2015, let’s hope it’s a good one. Thank you for reading this blog, I hope you have a great new year – let me know how you get on.


Racing the Rain on the Roaches

The Roaches are an area of inland cliffs just near Macclesfield, a mecca for climbers from around the world and a beautiful area for walkers with views as far as Snowdonia – on a clear day.

Lady Hughes and myself have walked the Roaches many times over the years and it still remains one of our favourites.

Starting at the road we scrambled up the rocks onto the tops and followed the ridge along to the trig point.

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The weather alternated between bright, warm sunshine, strong winds and waves of showers racing towards us from the Irish Sea.  From up on the hill we watched the rain travel over the fields like a sandstorm, hit us for five or ten minutes and then move on towards Yorkshire, leaving us basking in blue skies until the next wave appeared on the horizon.

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Because of this I kept having to pack my camera away for each shower which meant I didn’t bother with any filters, which would have slowed me down, but it wasn’t too much of a problem – see what you think?

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At the trig point we braved the full force of the wind for a few photos before ducking behind a boulder for a quick bite and then turning back. On the walk back we passed a mother and son, he was wearing a polythene poncho which looked like it could carry him off with the next gust.

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Dropping down onto the lower terrace, we could look up at the cliffs, normally packed with climbers, today quiet except for a few brave souls further on.

Back at the car we sat out one last shower before changing out of our boots and heading home.


Walking the Cliffs at Stanage

Last day of my time off work so Clare and myself set off for the longest inland cliffs in the UK – Stanage in the Peak District.

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Weather was hot so Stanage was a good choice for a hike, as you can get excellent views of Man Tor, Win Hill and Kinder Scout without much of a climb.  My fitness needs some work so I was grateful for as little ‘up’ as possible, especially in the summer heat.

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Stanage is a gritstone cliff, couple of miles long, and as such is a Mecca for climbers from all over the world. This day was no exception with bodies clinging to the rock almost everywhere we went. We used to take our boys climbing here years ago and no matter how busy it was you could always find a climb – as long as you didn’t mind a bit of a walk to get to it.

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We would take a picnic and spend the day taking turns to climb the easier grades – good times, I’m tempted to dig out the gear and start again.

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The walking was easy and the breeze took the edge off the sun so we had a great time strolling along the cliff edges and taking in the views.

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We passed climbers and walkers and a couple of fell runners too. We even spotted one guy running backwards and forwards along a lower path. Watching him from above we wondered what he was doing. He’d run fifty yards and then turn back and run not quite to were he started, gradually progressing but covering the same ground several times over. Eventually we spotted a girl plodding along behind him. It must have been his girlfriend and she wasn’t quite as fit as him so he would run off and then turn back every so often so she wouldn’t feel abandoned – he knows how to show a girl a good time eh?

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Great weather, great walk and just the kick I needed to start working on my hill fitness.


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Easter Hike in Buxton

Easter weekend and the weather looks good, grab it while you can.

We decided to try a short hike we’ve never done before, in Buxton on the edge of the Peak District. Starting at Grin Low Park we climbed up to Solomon’s Tower and then down to Poole’s Cavern before working our way across the countryside and back round to Grin Low.

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This area was used for lime pits in the 18th Century and there are still traces of the old industry that once thrived here.  Apparently people used to live in the cave-like holes left in the hillside like real-life hobbits.

The Duke of Devonshire eventually landscaped the area so it wouldn’t spoil the view from Buxton, which he developing into a high-class spa town.

Solomon’s Tower was built to give work to the unemployed as one of the world’s earliest job creation schemes. Personally I’m all in favour of this idea.  Think of how many castles and towers we could have if we’d kept this idea going.  We’d be tripping over them. It’d be like living in Disneyland!

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From the top of the tower you get great views of Mam Tor, Kinder Scout and the surrounding countryside. We found a photographer with a camera, on a tripod, trained on the tower, freezing as she waited for everyone to clear the tower for the perfect shot. I told her I’d just photoshop them out later but she was made of sterner stuff and was determined to wait. With the queue of people shuffling up the stairs, I suspect she waited a long time.

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We left her with hyperthermia setting in , and headed for Poole’s cavern.

Poole’s cavern was very busy, with a mountain rescue display team strapping volunteers to stretchers and carrying them around the car park and a long line of families waiting impatiently for the tour of the caves, so we decided to leave that for another day and carried on walking.  In the woods we heard screaming and soon came across ‘Go Ape’, a high rope’s course where you climb rope ladders, cross traverses, slide down zip wires, etc.  We’ve done a few of these in the past but it was still fun watching people fly through the treetops below us.

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Back at the car we had a picnic and soaked up some sun. The weather was sunny but there was still a bit of wind chill which kept it fresh. Overall, the walk was just enough to help us feel like we’d done something a bit adventurous and out of the ordinary, without killing us (we really need to get our fitness up), and I managed to get some nice photographs – I hope you like them?

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Searching for Solitude on Kinder Scout

This week’s adventure has been a climb up Kinder Scout in the Peak District with my lovely wife Clare.

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Kinder Scout is the biggest hill in the Peak District, and at 636 metres it’s not really that big on a global scale but it’s got lots of character, can still be challenging, and is the first proper hill I ever climbed so I like it.

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Now as much as I love climbing Kinder with Clare, I had another agenda on this excursion.  I’ve written a short film set, in part, on Kinder Scout, so I wanted to scout (forgive the pun) a few locations and take a bit of test footage with my DSLR camera to see how it came out.

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So, everything looked great right, weather was good, sunny and unseasonably warm, Care took our dogs, Bobby and Jet and I organised the camera, etc.

All we needed was a bit of quiet.

That became the problem.  We just couldn’t escape everyone else.

We parked the car in Edale to discover there was a 45 mile fell run finishing there.  There was also a helicopter loudly transporting materials up and down the valley all the time we were there and that was before we started.

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Once on the hill we joined a queue of hikers making their way up to the tops.  If we walked they chased us, if we stopped, they stopped right next to us.  At one point we I thought we were being stalked as every time we waited for one particular group to go passed they sat down and waited for us to move on so they could stay with us.

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The Peak District is apparently the second most visited national park after Mount Fuji in Japan, and yesterday I could believe it.

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After a while I gave up trying to shoot video and switched to photography.  This helped to alleviate my stress as it was a beautiful day, but I may need to re-think my strategy for the film as I’m aiming for haunting and desolate, which could be a challenge if there’s a constant procession of loud, brightly dressed ramblers stomping through every scene.

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Anyway, here’s what video I did manage to get from the trip.