White Peak Challenge

Living in Cambridge is very pleasant, but the landscape is incredibly flat. And if you removed the few meandering rivers then you would have a good case for saying that the landscape is also incredibly dull. Carmel and I try and make it to some hills a few times a year, and this weekend we drove to the nearest ones, 2.5 hours away in Derbyshire, for the weekend.

When we first moved to Cambridge we bought a book by John Merrill called the White Peak Challenge. John Merrill, as a walker, had mapped out long walks that would take all day at various spots around the country. When we got the book and saw how long the White Peak Challenge walk was (25+ miles) we baulked a bit and decided against doing it all in one go. Instead we found a B&B about half way through the circular walk which proved a perfect stopping off point to do the walk over two days, not one.

On this trip we booked ourselves into the same Rowson House Farm B&B in Monyash in Derbyshire (just outside Bakewell). For this walk we were a little fitter than we have been recently so we thought we might give the full walk an attempt. So parking our car in Bakewell at 8:40am we set off. The weather was just amazing. It is rarely this warm in May in the UK and even more rarely is it nice at the weekend when we’re not at work. The temperature was 27C or there about (apparently for once it was hotter than Rome, Barcelona and San Francisco – annoyingly not hotter than San Diego where we have some friends).

The walk was going well and by midday we had arrived at our first planned pub stop. But we were 10 mins early at 11:50am and the pub was closed so we made do with a soft drink from a nearby shop and gave up on the pub.

We arrived back in Monyash at 2:30pm and had a drink in the pub just a few metres from our B&B. We had walked 16 miles at this point and agreed that we felt ok. This was in contrast to the first time we attempted this walk. At this point on our first attempt we were hobbling into Monyash in the pitch black around 6pm in the winter with no torches or proper equipment and with legs that had seized up some miles ago and had been dragged along the rocky paths like sacks of spuds.

So with optimism we set off for the remaining 10 miles of the walk. The weather was fabulous throughout, but with each passing mile we were hurting more and more. Our muscles felt ok, but the pounding the soles of our feet were taking against the rocks were causing us grief. It was a hot day and my t-shirt was fairly disgusting and soaking wet. This was rubbing against my back and making me miserable.

We arrived back in Bakewell at the car around 7pm in the evening, just over 10 hours after leaving in the morning. Tired yes, tender yes, but actually in much better shape than we had been that first time we had managed just half the walk. This pleased us so we celebrated with beer and pub grub back in Monyash.

Duration 10:28 hours
Distance 27.2 miles
Path (Google Earth)