Standing on Ridges - Jay Birmingham

Standing on Ridges

This weekend, we visited the Peak District once more. We hadn’t actually been up for a while, and now summer solstice is over, and the nights are drawing in, we thought we’d see what the National Park had in store for us.

Friday night saw a trip to the Roaches. We actually started out at Ramshaw Rocks, which we had scoped out a few months ago, but the light was very flat, and it looked a bit better over in the other direction, so we ran back to the car and drove over to the Roaches to scramble up the rocks in time for sundown.

As it happened, we spent quite a while watching some climbers do a tricky route on the gritstone. They provided us with light entertainment, and good silhouettes in front of the darkening skies. They were especially of interest to us, as they were speaking German to each other, which we are not familiar enough with to translate, so we were trying to work out whether they were scared or confident, as the route they were climbing looked insane to us!

The next morning, we rose just after 3am to climb Mam Tor, on the southern edge of Dark Peak. We’d hoped for a cloud inversion (as we do every single time we go for sunrise – you may have picked this up if you have read any of my other blog posts!) but it wasn’t happening. It was absolutely freezing, and the wind chill from the gusty weather added to this. This was not the heatwave that had been forecast! We tried to take photos from a different angle than we normally do on Mam Tor, but the weather made the tripods shaky. However, some cloud blew over as the sun’s rays were caressing the distant horizon, which looked really atmospheric. Sunrise really is the time to see the best conditions – it’s just a shame it is so early!

The light wasn’t great for the rest of Saturday, so we mooched around the grounds of Longshaw Estate, and walked across Winnat’s Pass (more to scope for future trips than to take photos). We decided to go back up Mam Tor for sunset, to watch the evening melt into night over one of the best looking roads in the UK (arguably). Again, it was windy and very cold. My wife was definitely regretting packing three types of suncream but no coat (luckily I had a spare to lend her!). The hill had quite a few photographers on it, as it always does, as the views are so impressive.

We had decided to camp at a local campsite on Saturday night, which we soon realised was a big mistake. It was jam packed with people, and there was lots of shouting and very loud music until well after 2am. As we had to get up and pack away our tent just after 3am, we were pretty grumpy about this! However, being British, we just tutted quietly to each other, rather than ask about 70 people to be quiet! Next time, we will wild camp, as we might actually get some sleep!

We went to Higgar Tor for sunrise, which wasn’t that impressive. However, Higgar Tor itself is quite an interesting location. It’s a gritstone tor, and has good views over to Stanage Edge, which is very popular with climbers. On the Saturday night, just before sunset on Mam Tor, we’d gone over for a quick walk on Higgar Tor, and discovered a nude photoshoot taking place, which was a little unexpected! I hope their photos weren’t overexposed.

All in all, it wasn’t the greatest trip, but there were one or two photos I liked. Even though we didn’t get what we were looking for, weather wise, this just means that when we do it will taste even sweeter! Surely there will be a cloud inversion next time…

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