Today is New Years Day. Start of a new day, a new year and a new you according to Sam. So with this in mind, we finds ourselves exercising and extreme dog walking around Hathersage Moor to kick-start the rude awakening out of the post Christmas & New Year slumber to avoid slipping any further into the self-induced Chrimbo diabetic cheese and chocolate coma. It’s also an effort to escape the claustrophobia of Christmas and the stress of crowds, there are tons of people here, they very same we were trying to avoid. We should have known really, we’ve been here before parking up at Surprise View in the Peak District. Last time laughing at the “all the gear – no idea” types up here. So we’ve decided to join them.
Today being the 1st of January, it is technically the coldest day of the year, being only 3 degrees. On the other hand it also happens to be the warmest day of the year if you want to look at it like that. So we’ve decided to test out some of our new clothing gear during our extreme dog walking day and I’m wearing summer walking trousers and a wind-proof fleece, all in preparation for our forthcoming trip to the Arctic Circle in March. Now I’m wrapped in more fleece than the sheep on these moors, which keep eyeing me suspiciously. I’m the one feeling sheepish and hoping I don’t get anywhere near a lit flame, which is highly unlikely in this hurricane force wind and rain currently sweeping across a grassy Hathersage Moor. That’s OK though, I’m using a natural layer of blubber i.e. fat, that I’ve built up to protect me from the elements. The result is that while I’m freezing my ‘nads off, my torso is cooked all the way through but still moist. I’m cooking in my own juices under all this fleece. Mrs Cook has ditched the traditional flip-flops and opted for boots. It is a new start after all…..
We’re striding out on the gritty outcrop of Over Owler Tor and Millstone edge towards Mothercap, a fairly prominent feature that has kids climbing all over it. Turning our attention towards Higger Tor in what we think is the near distance. Unfortunately it’s not going so well, we’re crossing some well-worn paths, each footstep sucking us into wet boggy grass, the new boots are holding out well, but the wind-proof fleece doesn’t seem to be proving so wind-proof. We’re also a little concerned, Higger Tor seems a little steeper than anticipated, 434 metres above sea level, and we haven’t seen anyone else for ages. It’s as though they’ve missed the cut off time point for climbing the summit of Everest at 8848 metres….
We end up trampling rapidly across a very boggy Hathersage Moor to avoid becoming the next bog bodies to be discovered. This place is riddled with old relics, stones, hill forts, cairns, standing stones and burial chambers. I need to be careful not to step on a skeleton at this rate, it could be another Monster Megalithic Monument Tour. After taking a breather and cursing our knees, we admire the view from Higger Tor of Over Owler Tor, Stanage Edge, Padley Gorge and Longshaw Estate before finally heading towards the moorland ramparts of the hill fort of Carl Wark.
Carl Wark hill fort is another rocky outcrop but with a natural defensive position with three sides defended by sheer rock faces and a fortified wall of large gritsone boulders but without evidence of settlement. Its age is uncertain, with estimates from iron age to Romano-British period up to 500 AD. A scheduled monument and described as unlike any other in Britain. I can’t say dog is too happy to be here either, he’s shaking like a leaf. There’s plenty of them blowing around here. The moody moorlands of Hathersage Moor can be a bleak place on a windy day unless you’re wrapped up to make a penguin feel cold.