18 July 2018

Stones

Bleaklow Stones
Six miles up The Derwent Valley, passing Ladvbower, Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. Finally you arrive at the oak tree that King George VI planted in 1945 to mark the completion of the Upper Derwent reservoirs project. 

That is where I left Clint before tying my bootlaces. It was 8.45 yesterday morning. With my knapsack on my back I set off, striding northwards, following the course of the infant River Derwent. It is a river that leads you to the high, treeless moors where the river begins in peaty hags and groughs. No one could possibly say for sure where to find the river's source because it has many sources.

Before you can ascend to those wild uplands there are four miles of river valley to negotiate. Fortunately, there's an old grouse shooters track you can walk along - at least for part of the way.

The weather in northern England has been exceptionally dry this summer with virtually no rain falling for two months. Two results of this - the water level in The River Derwent was very low and later I found that the peaty landscape of the moorland tops was very dry - not like the black boot-sucking porridge you will encounter in wet winters.
I jumped over the infant river and started to ascend the great hump of bracken and heather that leads up to the Barrow Stones. At times I was on all fours as startled moorland sheep looked up from their grazing to wonder what manner of beast was now in their midst. 

One of the best things about solo walking is that you travel at your own pace and make your own choices. There is no discussion or negotiation. No need to alter your pace. Finally, I reached the top.

Barrow Stones occupy a couple of acres of that exposed moorland summit. So many interesting stone shapes - carved by wind, rain and frost over thousands of years. It's like a sculpture park created by Mother Nature. 
Another five hundred yards brought me to Grinah Stones with its great rocky buttress. And then I looked up to even higher land - a mile away. There on the horizon I made out my ultimate target - Bleaklow Stones. Using my camera's zoom facility to its fullest extent I was able to confirm that this was indeed my destination.
What about my dodgy right knee? What about the stabbing pain in my right calf muscle? This might be my last ever chance to make it to Bleaklow Stones. I had to carry on.

When I got there it was two o'clock in the afternoon. I took some pictures - especially of the most famous outcrop - The Anvil Stone. Then I lay down on a cushion of moorland vegetation close to the sky, amidst those timeless stones, ate my apple and drank half of my water before beginning the arduous trek back to Clint.
Leaving Bleaklow Stones at 2.20pm I reached Clint at 6pm. Fortunately, I had remembered to put an extra bottle of water in Clint's boot (American: trunk)  and this was finally consumed with much relief. Exhausted but elated, I travelled homeward with images of the amazing stones still flickering on my mind-screen
The Anvil Stone

23 comments:

  1. A hard but worthwhile walk. The Anvil Stone is aptly named. Once again, excellent photographs.
    Alphie

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    1. I am happy to have taken you there Alphie.

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  2. That is quite a hike all in one day, but what a wonderful place! Thank you for the pictures. That last one is stunning - so much gray, broken only by a bit of green. Beautiful.

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    1. Though it didn't rain I felt the leaden skies were a better backdrop for the stones than bright blue skies.

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  3. Wow! Those ARE amazing stones! I'd love to get out there and see those, especially on a sunny day like that.

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    1. It's not quite Angkor but no human intervention was involved in the shaping of those stones.

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  4. My God! I'm glad you tied your boot laces before you took off!!! It helps when jumping rivers! Cut that out!

    That anvil stone is magnificent.

    Those stones are terrific...as are your photos of them.

    The pain you endured was worth it...for us lazy beggars sitting in front of our computers not expending any exercise or energy, that is! :)

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    1. I am like Sonic the Hedgehog - providing screen viewers with doses of adventure as they rest their bottoms.

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  5. It's too bad you didn't have more time to spend looking at the stones. You are on the right track when you think in historical terms. Who has seen the stones? what did they think of them?

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    1. People must have encountered the stones - even back in prehistoric times. I feel they would have been enraptured.

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  6. Stunning photographs, Neil. Gorgeous landscapes, too. Thank you for sharing these glimpses of your home with us.

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  7. Breathtaking! And I don't mean the ascent; that was maybe breathtaking at times, too. And you had nothing but an apple from breakfast to (a rather late) tea, by the sound of it.

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    1. It was water I craved. Though there was peaty water in the river I was reluctant to drink it. I had been out nine hours and fifteen minutes with just one pint of tap water.

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  8. Amazing stones indeed. I admire your energy levels as well as your photography skills.
    A little poignant though"this may be my last ever chance to make it..."
    How often do we all do things, nor realising that it could be the last time?

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    1. Thank you Christina. I am pleased you noted that remark. I am very aware of my mortality for my father died at 65, my oldest brother at 62. I will be 65 in October but at least I have seen The Bleaklow Stones.

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  9. Amazing scenery, a bit bleak but stunning.

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    1. Manchester is eighteen miles west of there and Sheffield twelve miles east. Bleak but not far from so-called civilisation.

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  10. What a gorgeous photo essay. Did you resist the urge to hug those stones, to connect with their eons-old energy? What a magnificent place your Yorkshire is, with such remoteness and mystery on such a crowded little island. You are like Cortez, trekking through the wilds, bringing all us readers with you into places of wild surmise.

    But you left out my favorite part of all your sojourns...the part were you pull into your favorite pub and down a few well-earned pints. I wish I could stand you a round for your quality contribution to the interwebs.

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    1. Dear Vivian,
      I associate pubs with night-time. Even after a long walk it is rare for me to pop into a pub. Thank you for reading this post and checking out the pictures too.
      Regards.
      Neil
      P.S. I didn't hug the stones but I touched one or two of them tenderly.

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  11. Love the picture of the anvil stone....tho, I might call it a rock, myself. You know I love the River Derwent...sorry it is having a dry year. How about the River Trent? Is that dry too? Hot and dry here in Colorado, too. Many forest fires here and in other parts of the west.

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    1. The Trent is partly tidal - at least up to Gainsborough. The Derwent feeds into the Trent so I guess that the upper reaches of the Trent are also depleted. I hope there are no forest fires close to you. Be careful when lighting or emptying your pipe.

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