Nottingham Outdoor YHA Group

Event report

A Trip to see the Perseids

An overnight walk from Hathersage to Sheffield via Stanage Edge, Burbage Rocks and Houndkirk Moor

This is yet another writeup where a lot time has elapsed between the walk and the writeup. I seem to remember volunteering for this a few months ago and I have yet to deliver. So this is it.

The walk was to commence on Saturday night 14th August 2010 and end next day on Sunday morning. This writeup is now being attempted in January 2011. The event was organised and led by Mel with the walk starting at Hathersage train station and finishing at Sheffield train station.

One of the objectives of the walk was to catch sight of the Perseid Meteor Shower which apparently was at its most brightest during this period in August.

The evening started brightly enough with a visit to Karen W's house in Chilwell to celebrate her birthday. This was a special birthday for Karen and I have to say that she has still kept her good looks even after 40 years on this planet! (Ed: I hope this was an error on the authors part as Karen is only 30).

There were a lot of Karen's friends at the party and there was a good turnout of YHA group members both current and old. There was a fine spread of food and drink but I was determined not to drink any alcohol because I know just how de-motivating alcohol can be when anything physically challenging like a long walk has to be encountered. I had visions of the walk being ditched for a night on the town in Nottingham. This was a critical time in the evening as the weather forecast was good but any sign of rain would have resulted in the walk being cancelled as Mel confided to me even at this late stage.

So the time had arrived for those of us involved in the walk to prise ourselves away from the other party goers and make our way to Beeston train station for the first part of our adventure. At Beeston train station I begrudgingly parted with nearly £17 pounds for the privilege of traveling by train to Hathersage.

The plan was to catch a train from Beeston at 9.00pm and get connections at Nottingham and Sheffield arriving at Hathersage around 10.45pm. I seem to remember there wasn't much time between these connections so there was still time yet for it to all go pear shaped. Much to my surprise we got both connections at Nottingham and Sheffield so the walk was definitely on and as I looked around me on the train to Hathersage if my memory serves me correctly the group comprised of Mel, Myself, Keith, Tim, Sue, Tom.

When we got to Hathersage we went straight into the Little John Pub for last orders where we pondered over maps and the journey ahead while trying to arrange rucksacks in such a way that would make the contents accessible in pitch darkness. The weather forecast was for clear skys initially followed by cloud cover in the early hours of the morning. So if we were to see any meteors it would have to happen before the cloud cover.

We left the pub around 11.30pm which still seemed quite lively so god knows what time last orders actually was in reality. Within minutes we were off the main road and up a side street and moving out into open fields and then darkness.

But it was here amongst the stars not long after leaving Hathersage that we saw our only meteors of the evening. Everyone else was shouting and pointing at the sky. I could only think that it was all in their imagination until I saw my one and only meteor which took a fraction of a second to zip right across the sky above me like a bullet. Before I could shout or point it had gone, so everyone just had to take my word for it that I had seen one.

We now had to concentrate on getting to Stanage Edge. We were heading for a public car park at the foot of the track leading up to Stanage Edge but before the car park we would have to negotiate fields and woods and farmhouses trying to read maps and find footpaths in complete darkness armed only with torches. We eventually got to the car park and by the time we reached Stanage Edge it was about 1 o'clock in the morning.

By now the cloud had started to move in so any further meteor spotting was at an end but on the plus side it was still dry and it was forecast to stay that way. We started to make our way along Stanage Edge sensibly never straying too far away from the edge on our right.

It was about 2 miles along Stanage Edge but the mist had now started to close in and there was a noticeable drop in the temperature. I then thought I heard someone say "It's a little late for a walk". I immediately agreed out loud but then realised that I didn't recognise the voice behind the comment. When I shone my torch in the direction from where the voice came it revealed a tent with people sat around in the dark. They were rock climbers who were camping out to see the meteor shower before tackling the rock faces offered by Stanage Edge the following morning. They must have seen and heard us coming for ages with our torches and all our talking. So after a passing natter we moved on.

We soon stumbled upon the trig. point along Stanage edge which gave us a reference point and then eventually we reached the road and car park at the start of Burbage rocks. We followed the track which ran along the foot of Burbage rocks for about 2 miles until we reached the main road to Sheffield. We then had a walk of around half a mile along the main road (where were people driving to at that time in the morning?) which took us past the Fox House Inn public house. We then left the road by a track heading towards Houndkirk moor.

It was now 4 o'clock in the morning and just as I was starting to get tired it finally started to get light. But out here on the moors sadly there was no dawn chorus on this bleak landscape. The birds were in the trees far away and we would have to wait until later before we heard them. The few singing birds remaining in the undergrowth were drowned out by the noise of the breeze, treeless moors offer no protection from the wind. But it was out here on the moors in the early hours of the morning where we experienced the strange sight of a lone figure approaching us dressed in a 3 piece suit with a yellow flower in his lapel. I wanted to ask him where he had been but tiredness and not being quite sure in what you would have to admit was a pretty surreal situation got the better of my curiosity and he just walked on quietly by.

With the arrival of daylight the map reading and orienteering became progressively easier and so did the walking because from Houndkirk moor it was now all downhill to Sheffield. We came off the moors and arrived at the road junction of Ringinglow on the outskirts of Sheffield.

As we headed downhill towards Porter valley the trees returned and the birds finally made an appearance. We walked through a green artery of beautiful parks that took us through some of the quieter backwaters of Sheffield to within 2 miles of the City Centre without ever seeing a built up area of any significance. One thing that dawned on me at this late stage (if you pardon the pun) was that we had not been plagued by any midges at any time during the entire walk. This was in complete contrast to the misery we had to endure when we were up in these parts on a night walk a year previous. Also, and I hope that I am not tempting fate for any future night walks, but it is uncanny that we were yet again spared the rain on yet another night walk!

When we reached the main road (I think it was the A625) we waited for a bus which took us into the city centre. From here we had a leisurely stroll to the train station. This has got to be the best time to see a city centre the morning after the mayhem of a previous Saturday night. I was surprised at how long the walk actually took to finish, it was well after 8 o'clock in the morning by the time we got to the train station. A city centre train station even on Sunday morning can still be quite a busy place with all the station shops open, frequent tannoy announcements, lots of people milling around and the traffic starting to get busy outside.

As we sat around the train station drinking coffee we had a relaxing train journey home to Nottingham to look forward to. There was an announcement that our train was going to be late but somehow it just didn't seem to matter!

Every night walk I've ever been on with our group has always been one of the highlights of the year for me and this was no exception.

Many thanks to Mel.

Dave H

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