Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dark Peak, Ashbourne and Masa's

What a jam-packed, fantastic weekend!  I'll play it back in reverse order for you.  After another week of generally miserable weather (60s, wet, etc.) we caught a break and had some pretty good weather (60s, dry and some sun).

What better way to take advantage of the rare nice weather than to go for a walk.  We had a few firsts on this one.  The location (Dark Peak) was new; it was our longest walk to date (7 miles) and we were joined by our good friends the Seppanens (Jay, Karl and Kalle).

The Dark Peak is part of the Peak District National Park.  Specifically from wiki:

The Dark Peak is the higher, wilder northern part of the Peak District in England.  It gets its name because (in contrast to the White Peak), the underlying limestone is covered by a cap of Millstone Grit which means that in winter the soil is almost always saturated with water. The land is thus largely uninhabited moorland plateaux where almost any depression is filled with sphagnum bogs and black peat.

The walk started about an hour away near Hathersage.  Jay planted the seed of hiking Stanage Edge and I combed my walking books and decided for a "stretch goal" of combining two "Short Walks" into this longer 7 miler.  However, I did tailor it to not have too much climbing.

Once again, I had fun with my new hand-held GPS.  The green line is a route I found on the internet, but the yellow is what we ended up doing.  We started at the Longshaw Estate and walked to the Carl Wark hill fort, Higger Tor and along Stanage Edge to Robin Hood's Cave.  [This is Collins Short Walk #5 and Jarrods Short Walk #3 for those interested.]

GPS stats:  6.9 miles (to the pub, 7+ overall), 3:57 with only 0.57 not moving.  1000' total ascent but only 500' in one stretch.  Great job!  Thanks to patient Karl for keeping Alex entertained -- we may have to rent Karl on all our long hikes!

Setting off -- sheep, countryside and blue skies.  Perfect!

The excited crew having clamored up the first rock.

A dark stream with one of our goals in the distance.

From Carl Wark to Higger Tor.  Large group ahead of us as this is a fairly popular route on a nice day.  Note that this qualifies as "crowded" here and many of the Brits seemed to be grumbling about sharing "their" walk with anyone else. (They like their solitude)

 cool rocks on Carl Wark (a prehistoric fort site)

Higger Tor back to Cark Wark

 the final ascent to Higger Tor

Taking a break on the rocks.  I think Karl is answering Alex's 3423rd Pokemon question.

Nicole's first up top

a nice view of the rocks and the valley below

Hathersage in the distance -- notice all the cars parked along the road as well

 another nice view

further along is Stanage Edge -- it was fun to walk along the stones

 cool rock photo

a view looking down Stanage Edge and the cliff faces -- lots of rock climbers were out practicing

 no slugs today!  this caterpillar will have to do

Our end point was meant to be Robin Hood's Cave.  We walked down a bit to check out an option but found out it was further down.  Note, it was very windy here at this time.

we huddled here and called it good enough

the vastness of the moors in the Dark Peak -- I also liked the leaning tower of pancakes on the left

heading back now; crossing a stream

the kids called it a root beer stream -- very dark; I assume it's like this all the time from the dark soil but it has been raining quite a bit so I'm sure that added to the flow

coming back around the other side -- that's looking at Carl Wark and Higger Tor from a distance

 attempted artistic shot of the day

sharing the path with sheep

 there they go

interesting find -- evidently one sheep met its demise some time ago (there was a "pelt" or whatever it's called) nearby too

some climbers head down the rock face -- great blue skies today

One last look back.  

Great hike all around:  great company, great weather, and great exercise.  We ended the walk at The Fox House pub for a semi-traditional Sunday roast.  [The food was good but would it kill anyone serve a meal under 2 hours?] 

So glad the Seppanens could join us!

Saturday:  Ashbourne

On Saturday we decided to fit in a quick activity in nearby Ashbourne.  Ashbourne is a small market town just outside the Peak District.  I had sent away for a Treasure Trail which is a company that makes up scavenger hunts all over the country.  We had to find 23 clues that would help us solve our "mystery".  The first clue was on this sign near the parking lot.

Note:  Ashbourne is known for its annual two-day Royal Shrovetide Football Match, in which one half of the town plays the other at football, using the town as the pitch and with the goals three miles apart.   Check out these photos.

Saw a few ducks on the way.  Check out the do on whitey there.

a very close goose

another clue led us to this statue of Catherine Booth (who founded the Salvation Army with her husband)  [the clue was to find her maiden name and strike off the suspect who had the same -- to give you an idea of how this worked]

WWI (and II) memorial

 a church on the outskirts of town

I thought we might have some difficulty getting the clues here since they apparently like the wild look.

I was right.  He had to text-a-hint for this one.  The clue was at the bottom, covered up.

We were jotting down the clue associated with the Hygienic Cottages when a man walked by and said "You know, that's where the first flush toilet in Ashbourne was."  Huh, who knew!

I like this one

We ended up near the market.  Ashbourne got it's market charter in 1257 (!) but it's not much to get excited about.  Pretty much a cross between a small flea market and a dollar store.  We passed though we did have lunch outside in the square.

 an old marker

our good friend Bonnie Prince Charlie was here as well

We enjoyed our 2-hr stroll around town finding all the clues to our "mystery" -- we might have to try another one in a different location.

Friday -- Dinner at Masa

The kids have reached an age where we feel comfortable leaving them behind every now and then so we can enjoy a nice dinner (ALONE).  On Friday, we tried Masa's which is a restaurant set in a converted church.  [I grabbed this off the internet -- it was not this nice on Friday.]

from the inside -- another borrowed photo

my lovely wife

our vantage point -- the "lounge" is on the ground floor where they start you off with an aperitif and you enjoy your meal on the floor above 

 Kuk's scallop starter

 my pork main

 Kuk's sea bass

and finally our almond & peach tart

The food was really nice as was the atmosphere and it was good to enjoy a quiet, relaxed meal together.  We will likely go back (and the extra vouchers they gave us don't hurt!).

No blog update next week as we will be on our way to Normandy.  Have a good 2 weeks everyone.


  1. It looks like we lucked out on the hike pics, not many duplicates. I do like the artistic flower shot. 7+ miles in under 4 hours, not to bad I guess. What was Higger Tor and Stanage Edge elevations?

    I really liked Ashbourne, Lori missed that trip so we will have to take her there. You should have tried the George and Dragon pub on the square, that has been one of the best pub food places we've had over here. I also need to check into the scavenger hunt literature you gave me.

  2. Too bad we passed on the George and Dragon. Kuk wasn't feelin' it, but our cafe wasn't so great.

    Walk stats:
    Parking Lot -- 1100'
    Road -- 1000'
    Higger Tor -- 1425'
    Stanage Edge -- 1500'

    Nice mixture on the walk but having minimal climbing certainly helped with the time (and the lack of complaining).