James Hall is the first man to complete our Peak District Boundary Walk. Congratulations James!!
James completed the whole 190 miles in just 7 days, within weeks of the route being launched. He sums up his experience thus:
For many years I’d toyed with the concept of walking round the Peak District National Park so in May 2017 I was excited to learn that the Friends of the Peak were due to launch their guidebook describing such a route.
Overall, this was a great route and the guidebook excellent. I thought after over 30 years of living in Sheffield that I knew the Peak District very well; I was certainly wrong as this journey took me to many places I’d never even heard of. The parts through places I thought I knew were often on paths new to me.
The mix of sceneries was stimulating and diverse, with roughly equal portions in the White and Dark Peak. The terrain covered varied enormously from tiny rough paths to tarmac roads. It is clearly impossible to have a tarmac-free route, yet stay even vaguely close to the Park Boundary; the route planners have done very well to keep it to a minimum. Anyone with a strong eversion to black-top could always try further to avoid it, but they won’t be walking a boundary route.
At times there were elements of “warts and all”, with the noisy quarries and derelict factories but these are part of the Peak National Park Boundary and I felt their inclusion important to help remind me why we need National Parks and bodies such as the Friends of the Peak to help preserve what is left of our countryside. My style of execution of the route, I know won’t appeal to many; some will do it quicker, but many will choose to enjoy over a much longer time.
James has written a fantastic description of his experience.
Click here to read the whole story
Or see excerpt below…
First outing: By 04:30 on Tuesday 20th June 2017 – after packing my 25 L rucksack with a few spare cloths, an Alpkit bivvy bag, a silk liner and some food – I was striding up Ringinglow Road to cover the couple of miles from home to the Norfolk Arms pub and join the Boundary Walk. Gentle breeze and high cloud, in contrast to the previous day’s furnace, made for lovely walking conditions.
I was loving exploring endless paths I’d never been on before, seeing views I’d not seen before all aided by a very well written guidebook with excellent 1:25,000 map inserts. I had taken standard maps with me but they stayed in my rucksack the whole time.
On Thursday 22nd June I passed through Lyme Park and eventually into Whaley Bridge and to nice cafe. Two buses and two hours later I was back home, washed and enjoying a deep siesta in the comfort of my own bed.
Second outing: Thursday 6th July 2017 I wandered through Ecclesall Woods to Dore Station for the 07:20 train to Chinley. A quick café stop in Whaley Bridge and off towards the Goyt Valley. I’d cycled round the Goyt a couple of times but enjoyed exploring it in more detail on foot. Up and over the hot sunny moors then down into Buxton, the official start and finish of the Boundary Walk.
My chum, who lives near Chapel, picked me up around 18:00 from the bottom of the Rushup Edge Road (where the Boundary Walk crosses) on his way home from work in Sheffield. It felt like cheating to accept a luxurious bed for the night and not be climbing into a bivvy bag somewhere along the path. Looking on the map it was a strange day as the flying crow’s distance from start to finish was only about 4 miles, but with the large navigation of the Peak Boundary it had been about 25 plodding man’s miles.
Friday 7th July 2017 By 06:10 I’d been dropped off where the walk the day before had ended. I only planned to get to Glossop, about 15 miles, as I was keen to be back home in Sheffield by early afternoon. Pleasant field paths then joined the rather eroded Pennine Bridleway. A cool morning meant nice progress and I passed through Hayfield as folk were getting up and heading to work or school. Nice cycle path down the Sett Valley then steep climbs to the airy viewpoint of Lantern Pike, where I ate a second breakfast of jam butties. This was followed by a gentle descent into Rowarth. The Little Mill Pub in Rowarth needs a special mention as it wasn’t yet open but the landlord made me a cup of tea “on the house”. The rooms in the railway carriage behind looked like they would make for a lovely stop-over.
Nice paths gradually took me up onto the lovely ridge of Cown Edge and then after a steep descent over Whiteley Nab and into the outskirts of Glossop around 11:30am
Wednesday 12th July 2017 A short taxi ride from home dropped me at on the A57, Snake Pass Road at the edge of Crosspool, Sheffield where I hit lucky with a hitch to Glossop. The Boundary Walk route heading North revealed a much more attractive Glossop than one sees from the car. Pleasant fields, reservoirs and villages soon became the themes of the day.
Thursday 13th July 2017 I don’t know the exact time I woke teeth clatteringly cold, but as the gibbous moon had risen it must have been around 01:00. The wind had picked up to a stiff breeze and with a mainly clear sky the temperature had plummeted. With no further clothes to put on I realised I really wasn’t suitably equipped (note to self: take a sleeping bag next time). The only option was to get up and walk.
Up and over the eternally lorry laden Woodhead pass and through the confusing (in the dark) woods to Langsett. Through the quaint gritstone villages of Bolsterstone and a just waking up Ewden, then up and down to Bradfield for 08:00. Thankfully the lovely shop cum post-office cum café in Low Bradfield had just opened so I was able to indulge in two pints of tea, a variety of cakes and sausage rolls.
Very refreshed and inspired that I was now starting the final guidebook section of this great walk I climbed out of Bradfield, initially on roads but then through a lovely the woodland valley of Royds Clough. The weather had at last remembered which month it was and being bit too cold was replaced by being a bit too hot. Over Manchester Road and through more lovely woodland along Wyming Brook, then a couple of mainly road miles to Ringinglow by noon, where outing number one had started from a few weeks back. Half an hour later I’d wandered home and was enjoying a nice cold beer with my sore feet in a bucket of cold water.
James Hall, July 2017