Dan and Rob again joined me for a mini adventure; this time at Reynards Cave in the Peak District. We left Telford at 7pm and after the mandatory stop at Burger King we headed to Ilam, Derbyshire. I have been to Ilam a few times, it is a beautiful village located right next to Dovedale. The residents are lovely and encourage people to enjoy the hills. We parked up on the road opposite the picturesque houses and proceeded to walk down the road towards the Isaak Walton Hotel and into Dovedale. As we ventured into the valley with Bunster Hill to our left and Thorpe Cloud towering over us to our right we found ourselves walking in water, which proceeded to get deeper as we walked. It soon became obvious the river Dove had burst its banks, this made crossing the famous stepping stones an interesting affair. All across safely we headed up the path towards Reynards Cave, our chosen lodging for the evening.
Reynards cave was damp and puddles had formed on the floor where the water had seeped through the rock and was dripping down. We found some dry spots and bedded down for the night. Looking up there was not a cloud in sight giving a fantastic nights sky, we enjoyed the view and then bedded down for the night. The down side of no cloud cover was the temperature dropped significantly below what was expected in the weather reports. I was glad for my Cumulus Ultralight 350 sleeping bag. Past experience tells me its -3 comfort rating is accurate and it did me proud again on this cold night. We awoke early and it was at this point we noticed a few things; the first was that there had been a drip from the roof of the cave directly onto my trousers all night, the second was that Dan was dressed like a tangerine and third, most disturbingly, Rob seems to have a fetish for olive green. As we ate breakfast Rob and Dan took great amusement in me drying my trousers over my camping stove, not its purpose but needs must.
Trousers dry and stomachs full we left Reynards cave and headed along the valley. At Ilam rock we looked to cross the river via a fallen tree we used last year, however as I ventured out, quite concerned over the height of the river, Rob thought it was quite amusing to start throwing large rocks into the water. I retreated quickly back to shore as I realised that even if I didn’t end up in the river, Rob was going to make sure I got very wet. Log abandoned we headed up river to the bridge.
Across the bridge we started the steep ascent up the side of the valley. At the ridge line we turned south and headed to Bunster Hill. Bunster hill has a ridge that runs down into Ilam. The ridge itself has a fantastic view of Ilam, Thorpe Cloud and the surrounding area. This is one of the few views most people visiting Dovedale miss. We convinced Rob to run down the ridge. I was impressed at his speed considering the steepness and uneven ground. We reached the bottom and headed back into Ilam and the car.
We headed for Buxton and found a little chip shop called the coach house. Over steak and potato pie, chips, gravy (not ordered) and curry, I discussed with Dan and Rob how we would best spend the Afternoon. We wanted to head to the dark peak somewhere and preferably climb a hill. Undecided we headed to Jo Royle outdoor for a map. I grabbed a laminated OS dark peak map, paid my £15 and we headed back to the car. It was back at the car I realised the map although laminated was actually a normal OS map laminated by a company called outstanding MD. Its OK but not made to the high standards of the OS maps, doesn’t fold as well and has a lot more excess laminate than an OS map. We had a quick review of the map and decided to head up to near High Shelf Stones and locate the B29 Superfortress crash site.
We drove via Glossop and parked in the lay by on the A57 Snake Pass where the Pennine Way crosses. The wind had picked up and the temperature had definitely dropped. Rob grabbed his Buff only for us to point out his fetish for olive green kit. The Pennine Way started off very civil with a well maintained path, but within a mile became a just a well marked track. The snow was still deep at the sides of the path, although frozen solid. We walked a couple of miles until we were level with the grid reference we had grabbed from the internet and then headed off trail to search for the crash site. we searched the grid reference and around it to no avail. An executive decision was made to head up to the top of High Shelf Stones. The summit was clearly visible and as we were already off trail we took a straight line crossing various streams and divits in the landscape.
As we made our ascent the summit we came across the crash site we had been searching for. The wreckage has been left in situ as a memorial to those who died there. The debris is spread over a large area and is often visit by those paying respects to fallen hero’s. We took a significant number of photos and a grid reference to confirm the correct location, then proceeded to the summit. The summit is marked by a trig point and a series of large stones. The stones have names engraved in them by various people stretching back 200 years, many of which have been done by people with great skill and time. Another quick photo or 2 and we were off back down. We took a direct path to the Pennine Way following a cut in the hill made by a stream and then headed for home.