Category Archives: Hiking

Gritstone Edge Walk With Pete (Peak District, UK)

24 June 2022

Hike / 26.1 miles / 3,206 ft ascent / 10 hours 29 minutes

Near Gardom’s Edge, looking west to Baslow

Whenever my family and my brother’s family get together, Pete and I like to squeeze in an adventure together. Last time, in 2019, we did a great walk in the Glyders of Snowdonia. This year, as we were holidaying in the Peak District, we explored the gritstone edges and moors of the Peak District National Park, an area I have not spent much time in before.

It being close to the summer equinox, it was light ridiculously early so we set off before breakfast (we joked it was our alpine start). We left the house at 5.30 am, and began walking just before 6 am from the Robin Hood pub (picture in the background and an excellent country pub to boot!):

Smiling despite the early start 🙂

Our route was an out-and-back along the western gritstone edges in the Peaks, including: Gardom’s Edge, Baslow Edge, Curbar Edge, Froggatt Edge, Burbage Edge, and Stanage Edge (similar to this All Trails route).

Yours truly looking out towards Baslow

Shortly after crossing Clodhall Lane, on our way up to Curbar Edge, we saw a basking adder on the trail. Despite Pete and I living in parts of the world where snakes are more numerous, this was my first sighting of 2022!

A basking adder, one of the few species of venomous snakes in the UK

The route traversed a series of escarpments — edges — that we followed along the tops. They ran generally south-to-north, punctuated by roads running east-to-west.

Consequently, the expansive views we enjoyed were generally to the West, into the central Peaks. But we could also often see the next edge on our route to the north (or south on the return leg).

Yours truly on Curbar Edge

Roughly halfway through the outward leg (so, one quarter distance for the day) we walked through Longshaw Estate, passing close by the sprawling Longshaw Lodge:

We traversed Burbage Edge in thick mist, which lent an end-of-the-world feel to the place. Views towards the valley disappeared over the edge.

Burbage Edge

The best thing about these days is not the scenery of course, nor the adventure at hand. No, it’s spending a full day with my brother and chatting and goofing around together again. I miss doing this more frequently.

Our final edge was the grandaddy of them all, Stanage Edge. I’ve walked and climbed here before, so I was vaguely familiar with the area, although our southerly approach and the thick mist meant I didn’t recognize anything specifically.

The trig point at the southern end of Stanage Edge

We walked most of Stanage Edge, past Robin Hood’s cave, but we stopped short of the road crossing that borders the north edge. My Strava read 13 miles at the turnaround, so we knew we still had a long way to go to get home.

Pete above Robin Hood’s cave

Our route home was mostly over the same ground, although we took the low route beneath the edges when we could.

View down Burbage South Valley

We started feeling weary at this stage, eighteen miles into the walk, as we passed Burbage Edge for the second time.

Burbage Edge on the return

We took a different route through the Longshaw Estate on the return leg, opting to walk around Granby Wood since we’d bypassed it earlier in the day. It was easy terrain through the estate.

Rhododendron bushes on the Longshaw Estate

Our weary feet and creaking knees carried us over Curbar Edge again, and this time the clouds made for a wonderful backdrop to the English countryside.

Curbar Edge
The man, the myth, the mountain: Pete on Curbar Edge.

Not going to lie, the last couple of miles were tiring!

We walked a tad over 26 miles all up, so a marathon distance. Not bad for a couple of old buggers. I think this is the longest walk I’ve ever done in a day (notwithstanding the handful of ultra runs I’ve done, which were further).

My knees are the limiting factor for me now, and they were quite tender by the end of this walk. I didn’t have my poles with me, which would have helped. I do think I can go slightly further though, so the next goal of course is 30 miles in a day.

To summarize, a truly fantastic day out with Pete! One I’ll remember fondly for the rest of my life, along with the myriad other adventures we’ve done together. Cheers bro!

North along the A.T. to Gathland State Park and return

25th May 2022

Hike / 23.8 miles / 2,902 ft ascent / 8 hours 52 minutes

View from Weverton Cliffs back towards Harpers Ferry

Originally I had hoped to get away for a few days hiking or biking, to celebrate finishing a big work project. But I was so exhausted from work and parenting that I couldn’t muster the motivation to plan a multi-day trip. I settled on a long day walk instead.

I left home around 9.45am with plenty of food and water. I wanted to see if I could reach Gathland State Park and return, which I knew would be a long walk.

After walking through Harper Ferry, I had a peaceful hour along the canal. It’s a pretty stretch along the banks of the Potomac River.

I was on the Appalachian Trail for the whole day, so I followed it away from the canal and up Weverton Cliffs. After a snack break at the lookout, I continued onwards, heading north.

Once you’re on top of the ridge, the trail is relatively flat and easy going, so the miles passed easily.

Typical conditions along the Appalachian Trail

I reached the Ed Garvey shelter around lunchtime and stopped there for lunch. I chatted with a few other hikers who were part way through their long hikes.

Time for lunch at the shelter!

The shelter is fantastic, with an upstairs closed-in section, and plenty of camping spots. I will return to stay here overnight someday.

The Ed Garvey shelter, easily the best lean to shelter I’ve seen.

At the shelter I had a choice. Do I turn around and head home, a 17-mile round trip that I did last summer? Or, do I push on to reach Gathland State Park, another 4 further on?

Of course, I chose to continue. I felt good and I was enjoying being out in the woods. I had plenty of food and water with me.

It was more of the same through the woods on the AT north. It’s a nice, quiet section.

I reached Gathland State Park mid-afternoon, and stopped to explore some of the history of this area.

The War Correspondents arch at Gathland State Park, the halfway mark and my turnaround point.

I’ve been to Gathland State Park once before, with Lexi, when we headed north from Gathland to climb Lamb’s Knoll. So the route today closed that gap in my AT coverage.

After another snack, I turned around and headed back south along the AT to Weverton Cliffs.

6 miles back to Weverton Cliffs, heading south now

I didn’t stop at the Ed Garvey shelter on the way home, but I couldn’t resist another stop at the lookout. It’s such a fabulous view!

A lone turkey vulture flying over the summit of Weverton Cliffs on my return

24 miles along the AT is quite tiring and I was stiff and tired the next day. But being outdoors all day is so good for the soul.

All in all, a great day out. I can’t wait to get back out there!

Loudoun Heights Loop Route, with Lexi

18 April 2022

Hike / 9.3 miles / 1,443 ft ascent / 3 hours 18 minutes

Some photos from the Loudoun Heights loop hike that Lexi and I did in April. Amazingly we had snow flurries on the second half of the walk.

Crossing the Shenandoah river, looking at Maryland Heights on the left and Loudoun Heights on the right
This view never gets old
At Loudoun Heights lookout together, with Harpers Ferry in the background

Instead of returning to Harpers Ferry back the same way, we decided to take the old path off the back of Loudoun Heights and then cross the 340 to the canal towpath. This was the first time I’d done this route. It’ll make for a nice shortcut on the Three Peaks hike.

Crossing 340, the old route of the Appalachian Trail
Looking back to Loudoun Heights, from the 340 over the Potomac River
Crossing the footbridge over the Potomac back into Hapers Ferry, contending with unexpected snow

Harpers Ferry to Bear Chase Brewery

Hike / 23 miles / 4,160 ft. ascent / 11 hours 21 minutes

Twelve of us met in Harpers Ferry at 8 am Sunday morning for a long hike south on the Appalachian Trail to Bear Chase brewery.

The crew!

Lexi backtracked into town to retrieve one of the group who missed the start, so we formed a sub-group at the back.

We were all keen as mustard setting off and set a good pace up Loudoun Heights (1 hour to the junction, including all the backtracking). From there we continued south along the A.T. past the Harpers Ferry park boundary, past the power line break, and onto Keys Gap.

Me and Jacob at the park boundary
Our group passing the power line break. From left to right, Joe, Lexi, and Mike.
Me and Lexi on the boardwalk section right before Keys Gap

We stopped for lunch at the David Lesser shelter, probably an hour behind the lead group by now. We had hoped to catch up over the day, but we’d lost another half hour before Keys Gap searching for Mike’s phone (in his bag! 🤣).

Lunch break at the David Lesser shelter. From left to right: me, Jacob, and Joe.
Leaving David Lesser shelter to continue heading south
Yours truly at one of the scenic overlooks just past the shelter
Me and Lexi approaching the lookout near to Blackburn Trail Center (photo by Jacob)
Lexi and me at the very windy lookout, by Blackburn Trail Center
Our group at the Blackburn Trail Center connector trail. We elected to skip a visit and keep going. From left to right: Lexi, Mike (back), me, Jacob, and John.

The big milestone in the second half of the walk was Raven Rocks, around the 18 mile mark. The trail starts to undulate again in the couple of miles before and I think everyone was starting to feel the effects of the previous 15 miles. I lent my poles to Lexi to help her manage a niggle in her knee.

Still smiling despite the achey joints
Raven Rocks lookout! So good every time
Me and Lexi at Raven Rocks
Views to the south
Me and Lexi leaving Raven Rocks lookout (photo by Jacob)
Crossing back into Virginia on the descent of Raven Rocks

Lexi opted to finish at Raven Rocks trailhead at mile 20, where she met our support crew and headed over to Bear Chase brewery in the car. I’ve stopped here twice before too, once on my own and once with Pete.

Me and Lexi at the Raven Rocks trailhead, mile 20.

Jacob and I wanted to walk the last few miles to a final lookout at Bear’s Den, before walking to the finish line at the brewery.

The evening light was beautiful for the final climb up to Bear’s Den. There was no one on the trail, but quite a lot of people at the lookout, since you can drive in from the other side.

Me on the ascent to Bear’s Den (Photo by Jacob)
Jacob and me at Bear’s Den lookout

It was cold and windy at the lookout so we didn’t hang around. We were both pretty tired and eager to get to Bear Chase brewery for some food.

Stunning sunset from Bear’s Den lookout, although we didn’t stay to the end.
Made it! Bear Chase brewery in the background.

What a day! This is a wonderful hike and it was fun to experience it with Lexi and friends.

Winter Hiking Season 2021/22

Recap post of significant hikes this winter season. It was a great winter hiking season!

We had less snow this year overall than last year, but we had a period of very cold weather through January and February, so that I wore the traction spikes on most of my walks (compared to only once last year).

December was unseasonably mild, and there was no hint of winter. I did a ton of great hiking with Pete, mum, Dave, and Lexi, but all under normal conditions. So those hikes are not listed here. See Harpers Ferry Three Peaks and Harpers Ferry to Raven Rocks.

Here are the seven snowy mountain hikes from this season:

4 January 2022: First ascent of Loudoun Heights of 2022

8.08 miles / 1,798 ft. / 3 hrs 2 minutes

At last, some snow! Barely a dusting, but it was still great to see winter arrive at last.

More photos on Instagram.

8 January 2022: Snowy Loudoun Heights

8.19 miles / 1,766 ft. / 3 hrs 28 minutes

A lovely walk up snowy Loudoun Heights. Couple of inches of snow. Bluebird conditions!

Looking towards Maryland Heights from the shoulder of Loudoun Heights
Harpers Ferry in the snow

More photos on Instagram.

16 January 2022: Loudoun Heights Extended

9.81 miles / 1,984 ft. / 3 hrs 57 minutes

I extended my usual walk by tagging the park boundary sign. It snowed during the walk, which is always a fun experience. As I walked home through town, I saw a car that had slid off the road into the fence and narrowly avoided dropping further down into the stream bed. Yikes!

Maryland Heights just visible still
The Yaktrax spikes were helpful today
A snowy Appalachian Trail
Washington Street looking pretty under fresh snow

More photos on Instagram. And video 1, video 2, and video 3 from the day.

25 January 2022: Icy Stone Fort Loop

8.57 miles / 1,633 ft. / 3 hrs 30 minutes

The prolonged period of cold meant that none of the snow melted and where it was stamped down on the trails, it turned into inches of ice. Definitely a day for the traction spikes!

On the way up Maryland Heights!

More photos on Instagram.

1 February 2022: Cold Loudoun Heights

8.18 miles / 1,771 ft. / 3 hrs 42 minutes

Cold! I’ve used my huge down mittens on most of the winter hikes this year. Indispensable!

Big mittens and a flask of tea 🙂
Majestic Maryland Heights
Heavy icing on the banks of the Shenandoah River

More photos on Instagram.

13 February 2022: Keys Gap return and Loudoun Heights

16.94 miles / 2,800 ft. / 6 hrs 57 minutes

A fantastic, long winter hike, the longest winter hike of this season. I’m counting this as 1 of my 12 challenge walks for 2022 (goal is to do 1 per month, 12 for the year. More on my goals for 2022).

Walking through a tunnel of white
View from the power line break

More photos on Instagram.

13 March 2022: Snowy Loudoun Heights

8.36 miles / 1,777 ft. / 3 hrs 43 minutes

The most scenic walk of this season. A surprise late season snowstorm dumped a few inches of heavy snow on Saturday. A cold night ensured it was still all there the next day. It coated everything. Stunning!

A winter wonderland!
Maryland Heights with a fresh coat of snow
Looking up the Potomac River to the confluence at Harpers Ferry

More photos on Instagram.