Friday, 16 January 2009

Following White Rabbits through Doctor's Gate

I know it sounds like I'm on drugs, but if you add in an ancient hill fort and most of a B52 bomber then it's a pretty accurate picture of the walk. One of the web chaps who also happens to be a mountain leader / ranger / bear fighter had posted that he was walking up Bleaklow and that he was going to be visiting the site of a crashed B52. Its only 45 minutes from home and last time I was up here I could see about 10 yards, oh and we get to see crashed aeroplanes...well that was me in.

For 8.30am on a Sunday with only a few days notice I thought a turnout of 8 people was pretty impressive. On the basis of my recent being lates I was actually first to the car park and it was already pretty foggy...the forecast was for a bit of drizzle but nothing too severe. It doesn't matter anymore as I've got even more kit now although this stuff being called 'soft shell' is drifting a bit close to 'shellsuit' for comfort. I'm so looking forward to the Chav walkers in the summer in their shell gear doing the Ian Brown across here.

I'd already made a bit of an arse of myself prior to the meet up by asking for exact directions to Doctors Gate, I think the words I used were  'less mappy directions please'. He'd used a grid reference FGS. Anyway no harm done as we headed up a recognisable path until red leader said 'ok cross country from here'. I normally do this stuff by accident or through necessity of getting home before dark, so its foggy moorland with no paths and no features and now we're going cross country...bloody rangers. It turned out nice though as within about 200 yards we'd seen one of the white arctic hares who appear to have taken a wrong direction somewhere and ended up around here. Quite how they hide on all this brown moor side is beyond me.

We seemed to be following hares in a very Alice fashion as we plunged deeper and deeper into the wasteland, if Mr Ranger had ran off now we were probably hare food. Oh me of little faith, out came the compass a bearing of 221 degrees  was taken with slight adjustment for moving magnetics (no idea - me neither) and hey presto 200yards later we were in the middle of a full scale plane crash.

Its a permanent memorial now to the poor folk who came down in the fog, but it's honestly one of the most amazing places / sights I've ever seen. 

I think perhaps the other worldliness of the location or the atmospherics of the mist may have added something, it really was jaw dropping. Well that's scuppered things a bit as it turns out it's 

B29 44-61999 of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st Reconnaissance Group, 311th Air Division. 

and not a B52 after all, still any excuse for some good music - Planet Claire

From here we headed out back across the open moorland to a bunch of rocks on a hill about 2 miles away which head ranger man reckoned was a good spot for lunch. It was a bit like being taken to the wind and rain blasted seaside when you were a kid and being made to eat shellfish in whilst huddled in the back of a freezing car.  I don't think I ever saw Whitby other than through a rain speckled windscreen perhaps it's not so weird in real life.

Excuse for a shellfish song too

So we sat in the rain and although the shared hot chocolate made in the 45 second funky hot water pressure boiler was good, it wasn't a patch on the sludgy spicy parsnip soup we normally have handed around. And so off to the ancient hill fort, this fort may have been over billed I think, think old fatboy Ronaldo a couple of world cups ago overbilled. Turns out it's a hill in the middle of nowhere...oh except that its surrounded by loads of other hills in the middle of nowhere. Still a forts a fort so I charged the ramparts and slipped over in the boggy mess doh! From here on in it was up to Bleaklow head, again a very misty head at that.

Now I've been known to make the odd slip up with directions, but this was classic, one minute big group discussion on the best way to go. Next minute I get to take this picture.

After about 10 minutes it was then on more familiar almost paths back down to the cars and some weird conversation in the pub.

Firstly mountain man and Jonno had been up on these moors a few weeks earlier via Ladybower reservoir area. It turns out that on the way back down they went through a carpark that's known locally as Dogging City and were actually invited to take part. Luckily mountain man declined in a very stern and manly voice I was told...especially as the whole car park was under secret surveillance and has since been in the local papers. Must have been a bit like my dad when approached by the prostitute in Romania, looking down and saying 'I don't think so pet' was brilliant.

Anyway from there the conversation moved to the array of dispensing machines in the gents, no point writing any detail down as you honestly wouldn't believe me.

A decent set of Pics this time - also a full white rabbit skeleton for your Craig.

1 comment:

Sean said...

There are more sites like this in the peak, though none quite as spectacular, see our blog at: