With just over three weeks to go until my short break in Cornwall, my thoughts are returning to last year when I visited the Peak District for the first time. The featured image here is of sunrise over Mam Tor. I was lucky to be staying in a wonderful B&B not far away in the village of Hope. Having explained to the owners about my early starts and late returns, they wisely installed me in a separate annexe with a private sitting room and kitchen. I’m not a noisy person at the best of times, but I was acutely aware of every move I made when my alarm went off at 4.00 that morning. Peering out of the window to get an idea of the weather, I could see mostly clear sky with a few wispy clouds. Having made the decision to do the climb that day, I pulled on some clothes and grabbed an orange juice and a couple of biscuits. This turned out to be par for the course during my stay, as I was far too busy to eat properly.
Leaving the B&B around 4.30, I drove through the deserted villages and up Winnat’s Pass to the small National Trust car park. I had checked this out the evening before and as I pulled in, I noted that the clouds had not only rolled in, but were beginning to look very threatening indeed. Gathering my rucksack and tripod, I paid at the meter before encountering my next problem. This was a small car park set into woods. It was still way before dawn and in the pitch black under the trees, I couldn’t find the exit. I had brought along my trusty torch, but that was better suited to checking on the chickens in their nesting box on a cold winter’s night and the little beam made almost no impression out here. I stumbled around and more by luck than good judgement, I found the exit fairly quickly. Walking wasn’t easy as a strong wind was beginning to blow, but at least the path to the summit was clear. I’m not the fittest person in the world, but it didn’t take long to reach the iron age hill fort at the top. What I hadn’t bargained for was the distance still to cover along the ridge to get the view I wanted. I plodded on, looking up at the clouds, which now seemed to be almost within reach. I had read some scary stories about how quickly the weather can change on neighbouring Kinder Scout and before my eyes, it disappeared in a veil of mist.
Looking firmly at the horizon ahead, I watched the narrow pink band beyond Lose Hill as it grew brighter and I hoped that the tiny sliver of clear sky would remain just a little bit longer. Reaching the well-known gate, I set up my tripod as quickly as possible and waited. It was only another ten minutes or so before the sun put in a brief appearance, but I was ready! Minutes later it had disappeared into the cloud and then the heavens opened. By the time I had my gear packed away, I couldn’t even see the rest of the ridge, let alone the valley below. I struggled back to the car, cold and wet, but knowing that I had been so very lucky. I got back to the B&B in time for a delayed breakfast of two more biscuits and a nice, warm shower.
The photograph below was taken the evening before along the top of Winnat’s Pass.