It was nearly the end of my first full day in the Peak District and I had fallen head over heels in love with the place. Of course, I had overdone things as normal, getting up at 4.00 that morning to climb Mam Tor to photograph the sunrise and then making the descent in the pouring rain. I returned to the B&B to have a hot shower and regroup before setting out once again. I had planned to do Headstone tunnel, but that involved a very long and tricky walk down into the valley before covering the full length of the tunnel. It had been great fun photographing passing pedestrians and cyclists with a long exposure, until I remembered that I had to make the climb all the way back up again.
Now it was late afternoon and I had spent the past few hours on the Roaches. It looked to be an amazing place, but my legs were giving out and the clamber up the rocky area next to Hen Cloud proved too much. My knee started protesting badly and even though I was only a few metres from the top, I had to give up and rest for a couple of hours. The view was still good from my grassy perch and I got some shots across the valley as the sun sank lower in the sky. Nothing of any significance, but I was able to try out a filter I had never used before. It kept my mind off the aches and pains and the ever-present worry as to how I was going to get back to the car! I did make it back down in the end, but it wasn’t easy and took a lot longer than I had hoped. I felt like the odd one out, as other walkers and locals clumped past me in their dusty walking boots, their long legs covering the rough terrain as though it was level ground. I, on the other hand, had to repeatedly put my hands down to support myself, sometimes turning round and reversing down a particularly tricky drop when necessary.
So it was with a big sigh of relief that I reached the level grass near the bottom of Hen Cloud and I knew there was only a short gravel path to negotiate before I was finally safe and sound in the car. I was out of breath and my knee was beginning to throb again, so I moved over on to a little bank to let more walkers overtake. It was then that I spotted this lone tree catching the low evening sun and with the mist in the valley behind. I was nearly too tired to bother – after all, I still had to press on to the old barn at the other end of the rocks, but thankfully I decided to make the effort. The image is featured above and it is one of my favourites. I still can’t look at it without thinking of my poor knees though.