LEJOG29: Youlgreave to Edale

Between my walk with Claire and Dan on the Saturday and this solo walk 
on the Monday I had a lovely rest day. I was treated to the local 
delicacy of cheese and bacon oatcakes in the morning, and in the 
afternoon we popped into the town of Ashbourne for a coffee and to get 
some supplies. I splashed out (ha ha) on a pair of seal skin 
waterproof socks and some waterproofing spray. The beginning of the 
penine way has a reputation for being hard and wet, and I didn’t want 
my footware failure to hinder my enjoyment.

I stayed at a campsite just outside of Youlgreave whose warden was 
really helpful and friendly, just what I needed to counteract my LEJOG 
Sunday blues. These are a weird Sunday blues which revolve around 
having to say goodbye to people as they go back to real life and you 
return to your more solitary existence. To snap out of it you just 
have to remind yourself of how unique and amazing the thing you’re 
doing is, and that the alternative is work. That last one usually does 
the trick!

I set off bright and early on Monday. I was slightly apprehensive 
because I was going off piste, deviating from my guide book in order 
to be able to complete the entire Penine way, something that since the 
start of the trip I had realized was very important to me. Today I was 
just following the ‘Limestone Way’, a named trail that took me almost 
all the way to Edale, the starting point of the Penine Way. It was a 
long day (21-22 miles) and I was concerned about the chance that the 
route might be extra strenous and take much longer that expected.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried. The limestone way was quite 
moderate, spending much of it’s time on lanes. The scenary as nice but 
not, I’m sure, the best that Derbyshire had to offer. Green fields, 
undulating dales, dry stone walls etc. etc. The views improved in the 
afternoon by opening out, enabling me to see more of the landscape and 
start to get a sense of the way that the interlinked dales sink softly 
into the ground, as if someone had gently pulled the surface of the 
fields down from underneath along the rivers’ randomly intersecting 
routes.

The weather really tested my new purchases. Technically it was 
‘showery’. However, this one word doesn’t really capture the variety 
of weather I experienced. Drizzle, sunshine, hail, gale force winds-
they were all thrown at me. The only guaranteed thing seemed to be 
that the weather would change with the half hour, and that I might as 
well keep my waterproof trousers whatever the sun as doing at a given 
moment in time.

One highlight of the day came early on. I popped into a little cafe to 
get a mid-morning snack and a take away lunch. I forget the name but 
it was really nice, with live bands advertised and walls full of folky 
looking instraments. The bacon in my bap was gloriously thick, salty 
and greasy. There was a book on display about the best places in the 
country to get fried breakfasts and I found the cafe featured in it. 
Coincidentally the book was written by somebody I had met through 
work, which meant that he too had been sat in this same place. Small 
world.

The other highlight came much later. With only a few miles to go I 
rounded a hill and noticed something different about the horizon. The 
far away shapes weren’t green but a mixture of brown and yellow, they 
weren’t undulating dales either but big spikey hills. They stood I’m 
complete contrast to the green fields stretching out on either side 
of, behind and immediately
in front of me. These were obviously the Dark Peaks, the rougher less 
idyllic part of the peak district made out of harder and more 
impervious gritstone rather thannthe softer and more fertile limestone 
of the preceddimg White Peaks.
As I got nearer I found out that he deviding line between these two 
areas was a massive ridge which stretched out like a giant snake 
caught I’m mid-writhe, revealing both graceful curves and muscular 
edges.

This was exciting. This was what I was waiting for. Not more bloody 
‘pleasant’ fields but great big brooding hills that looked down at you 
with majesterial indifference. We are nothing compared to these 
sleeping giants and it made the hair go up on the back of my neck.

I cut across this great big ridge (named imaginatively as ‘the great 
ridge’) to enter Hope Valley where Edale was situated. The next set of 
hills I saw on the other side were just as impressive, a range of 
knuckle-like formations that swooped out of the green valley floor and 
reached up for the sky. Even more exciting was the fact I would be 
walking through these   the next day. It was all worth it just for 
that feeling.

When I got to the youth hostel I found out that I wasent the only one 
who thought this an amazing location. There were two parties of 
primary school children there, and their combined noise was enough to 
turn a weaker minded soul insane. I was given a dorm to myself, but 
the walls were paper thin and I could hear every word the six 8-year-
old girls in the next room were saying. One group of teachers were 
friendly and apologetic, while another were suspicious and gossipy, 
standing in silence when I passed them on the stairs only to start 
talking about me and my movements when I turned the corner.

None of this mattered though because I was starting the Penine way the 
next day. One of my lifetime ambitions, starting tomorrow. Wow.

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