There was a time when my son would happily walk into the wilds with me through bogs to bothys, over fell tops and across dales and into darkness on the promise of a packet of fruit pastels and some pop at the pub if and when we passed one. Lovely innocent days before his age had teen tagged onto it.
I pretty much used up my last handful of parental influence in persuading him to join me on this walk from Holmfirth to Edale via the bogs of Bleaklow and Kinder. He reluctantly agreed to keep me company with the proviso that he didn’t have to walk through Holmfirth with me incase someone he knew saw him. “It’s crap having Ray Mears as a Dad” is how he put it. So we were spirited off up to Hade Edge by Mum and I was tempted to suggest he travel in the boot as an extra security measure but thought better of it.
The car rolled to a momentary halt high on Bare Bones Road and we slipped out and off into the heather beyond the eyes of other teenagers for the next 25 miles or so. We headed for Dunford Bridge and Windleden Reservoir before climbing up to cross the Woodhead road at a sprint. Beyond the empty bogland of Bleaklow waited in black peaty silence.
R had taken a vow of silence on leaving home which he broke with a single yes when asked if he would like some sweets. His dedication to ignoring me was pretty impressive and lasted the full 8 miles to Bleaklow Stones where he couldn’t help but break into conversation whilst watching the swirling “Moors for the Future” chopper pepper the peat with lime and fertiliser.
We were right in the grid it was treating yet the pilot managed to miss us completely as he swept low and loud around us as we were putting up the tent. It was a stunning evening and a summery silence settled in as the chopper left for the day. We camped at the edge of the Stones with a view across to Kinder. A tide of low light came in from the West warming up moorland ridges and sweeping away a line of bruised blue black clouds.
R was glad to stop I think and became his usual charming self for the evening. He’s skilled at camping, a handy lad to have around ,good company and a laugh too. I love having him with me on walks and my master plan has been that as I decline he reaches a physical peak and can look after me in the hills! Just got to get through these rocky teenage years then. He retired after tea with the dog for company and I took a wee miniature of 18 year old Glenfiddich to sit atop one of the gritty Stones for sunset.
Dawn came quietly with a soft breeze to keep the midges off and a hint of mist in the Derwent Valley. Our walk across the peaty plateau was a talkative one but by Bleaklow Head when R realised how far it was to Edale he renewed his vows and we left the bleak summit once again in silence. I looked upon it it as a character building side of walking I just hadn’t thought of.
The lad is a fine strong walker when he wants to be. I have Jack Russell legs and huff and puff along whereas he has the grace and build of a greyhound and can glide across the miles with ease. We stopped in hot sun at Kinder Downfall to paddle in the peaty water and rest a while. R looked at the map to work out a distance to Edale and decided we’d go across the plateau as this was the shortest route. From here on in he perked up and the walk across Kinder was a real pleasure. We went slightly wrong coming out at Crowden Tower instead of Grindsbrook but it’s not the kind of thing to bother about on such a lovely afternoon.
Crowden Clough drops like a stone from Kinder and is not kind on knees. The brook cool and clear invites a paddle at the bottom and we took no persuading. Feet refreshed it was one last push on to the Nag’s Head for pints and J20′s.