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|