Peak District | BAM+ January

To start my year of BAM+ off I’d planned a trip to the Peak District for January. I’d wanted to do a winter trip to a National Park for a long time but always put it off for a variety of reasons, which can mostly be summarised as “I thought it had to be a bigger deal than it was”.

At the end of December/beginning of January I booked a couple of campsites and some train tickets for a weekend in mid January, but that weekend came and went without me going to the Peak District – as my daughter became ill, shortly followed by myself and Nikki.

So while the trip hadn’t been one I’d been looking forward to for months & months it was still a pretty disappointing start to the year. But, I rebooked tickets and on the last weekend of January I was on my way to the Peak District!

The forecast for my originally planned weekend was cold – with day time temps in the valleys barely getting above 0ºC and wind chill on the summits approaching double figures below zero. I finally bought a new winter bag I’d been wanting for a while, but as it turned out by the time I made it up there, the cold weather window had gone and I was left with a sort of chilly but fairly mild affair, which wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I got lucky that it stayed dry.


On my way up on the Friday night my journey had two main highlights: getting complimented on my posture by a guy on the Thameslink (for someone to voluntarily speak to you, and in a positive way, on a train in London is rare), and one of my many trains got delayed so much that I missed the next connection and had to scrabble to find another with the patchy signal I had. As the train arrived I had about 2 minutes to find the right platform for the next train, and only as a result of that train being delayed, had it been on time I would have had -3 minutes. As a rule I don’t run for trains, but if I missed this one, it would leave me getting the penultimate train for the last leg of my day and leave no more room for delays. So, I ran, following two other people also looking for the same train – to the wrong platform.

The train doors closed and off it went – amazingly with me on it. I’d managed to find the right platform and get on.

I’m always impressed by the roof at Kings Cross

The rest of the journey up was relatively uneventful, though I was surprised at how empty Sheffield station was at night given how large of a city it is, and I was reminded of various trains we encountered while travelling (not in a good way) when I stepped on the train from Sheffield to Hathersage.

Finally, at about 11pm I arrived at Hathersage. The moon was out and the route was fairly simple, so I donned another layer at a bus stop in town and then with a brief check of the map I walked in the moonlight for an hour to the campsite, only turning on a torch to make myself visible to cars when I reached the road the campsite was on.

By about 1am I was set up and getting into my sleeping bag, having found a sheltered spot behind a wall and sorted out overnight oats for the morning.


I slept well and was excited for my planned walk from Hathersage to Edale via Stanage Edge & Mam Tor. I was grateful for my new winter bag and Páramo Torres jacket as the night & morning was chillier than expected – I think I’d got complacent because the forecast was warmer than for the original weekend, but still chilly.

Not used to packing away into a rucksack (normally into various bikepacking bags) I faffed a fair amount as I packed while I warmed up some water for a coffee.

Everything put away and coffee drunk I headed off, striding through the campsite field, over a stile and onto the first footpath – only to stop about two minutes later to awkwardly take off my Páramo grid long johns I’d left on underneath my trousers.

Finally finished faffing (hopefully), I carried on up the footpath, gaining elevation quickly and warming up equally rapidly.

The first peek of Stanage Edge from out of the trees was a welcome sight – having arrived in the dark I only had a vague sense of my surroundings from the moonlit shapes around me and the contour lines on the map.

First peek of Stanage Edge, though this turned out not to be the footpath

The 5+ hour journey the night before suddenly seemed worth it and a distant memory. It was cool to see people out bouldering & climbing and many others walking. Having recently done quite a few day & overnight activities locally tt was good to be out in the ‘real’ hills.

My route took me quite a direct route up and onto the edge, where I found the wind – thankfully not blowing in the direction of the edge. My route was mostly fairly simple – follow Stanage Edge for a while then take a left and head south west to Mam Tor. I was grateful to have a paper OS map, one of the laminated ones, on which I’d marked my route. It made a change to navigate this way, as I normally follow my Garmin when I’m riding.

The sun poked out a couple of times during my hours of walking and lit up the landscape so beautifully and briefly. Even under the overcast light the landscape was amazing.

It doesn’t look it but this road turned byway is so steep I had to take breaks every 50m or so – going down! Not sure if there was meant to be more of a bridge here or if this was it! Taking a hard earned rest

Roughly halfway along my route I made a small detour into Hope to get some extra food before heading north, toward the ridge on which Mam Tor sits. My aim was to go up and over Mam Tor and then down into Edale before it got too late. Once up on the ridge though I realised I was actually pretty tired, having walked about 15km over 7 hours or so by this point, so I decided to be sensible (and account for the fact I’d been ill recently) and turn down into Edale short of Mam Tor, leaving that summit for another time.

Unexpected for January. Lovely.

I descended down into the valley, with a slight but lovely glow from the setting sun. A desire to use the facilities at the campsite quickened my pace for the final stretch into Edale despite tired legs and feet more used to pedalling.

I pitched up at the campsite and once suitably relieved I began sorting out some dinner.


Having been forced to retreat to a shed/summerhouse at a campsite during my bikepacking trip in Wales last summer I’d decided to beef up my standard peg & guy line kit with an additional ‘storm kit’, which could be added in when necessary.

So I felt a bit of an idiot when, at about midnight, the wind woke me and the sound of a corner guy line slipping through the line loc caused me to wish I’d actually used all the additional pegs and guy line I’d brought and not just a couple of extra bits as I had done. So faced with getting out my tent anyway I decided to just loosely pack up all my stuff and move into the lee of the campsite building instead of adding extra pegs and hoping it would be okay for the next few hours.

Not as good of a view as where I first pitched, but a lot less windy!

I’d planned to walk around Kinder Scout on Sunday, but thanks to my long walk the day before and my midnight move I was pretty tired in the morning and decided not to bother rushing and traipse around the route I’d planned just because that’s what I had planned. Instead I sorted coffee and packed away at a very leisurely pace and it wasn’t until gone 10am that I finally left the campsite.

My new plan was to walk up Mam Tor, having missed it yesterday, then back along the ridge, meeting the point where I’d descended into Edale and continuing on back down into Hope, then get the train or bus back to Hathersage in plenty of time to get the train home.

In short, that’s exactly how it went. A nice walk up Mam Tor, to be met by crowds of people, of which I soon became one (“you aren’t in traffic, you are traffic”). I did come close to not even bothering turning right up to the summit given that was like a high street at Christmas, but decided I might as well. So I speed walked up to the summit, tapped the cairn and turned around and speed walked back along the ridge. Passing all sorts of people enjoying their time in the hills.


I got down into Hope even earlier than expected and keen to keep the momentum going I decided not to stop there for food and instead continued along to the train station, aiming for a train/rail replacement bus due to leave in 20 minutes. After some confusion and the brief contemplation of ‘sod it, I’ll just walk to Hathersage’ I was on the rail replacement bus.

I ambled around the Alpkit shop at Hathersage, tiredness seeping into my muscles and feet. Lunch was a plate sized Yorkshire pudding filled with chips & gravy at the cafe above the shop – one of the most full stocked outdoor shops I’ve ever been in.

Still a couple of hours early for my booked train(s) I took a chance on trying to get home early and managed to make every connection and ‘sneak’ onto earlier trains.

My journey home was uneventful, the only thing of note was that my boots got muddier walking home from my local station than they did in the two days and many hours I spent walking in the Peak District.

The following days were, as ever, spent unpacking, airing out and cleaning kit and having the realisation that doing trip admin, packing/unpacking and cleaning kit probably took longer than the trip itself!

Nevertheless it was good to have got out and covered a pretty got (for me) distance on foot. And it was only January!