“I stood frozen on that stage, looking for the courage to to strike back”

beginning the walk
Lud's Church
pathway with Shutlingsloe in the distance
top of the roaches
Doxley pool
Flurries of snow
Hen Cloud
Rain in the distance

On Saturday I was at home, so my Father and I decided to go walking together. We left the house early and drove into the Peak District. The weather was a bit chilly but clear and still, although the gray clouds hanging over the peaks ahead promised much more dismal weather conditions coming up. We arrived, bundled up and set off walking towards The Roaches. We started walking through some forest towards Lud’s Church. This is not an actual church but rather a sort of cave – steep rock walls tower up above you on either side, covered in moss and with trees drooping over the edges. Its very impressive. I think the name comes from the fact that people did use it as a place for religious meetings. We walked the whole way through it then climbed out of it into more forest. By this point I’d stripped down the number of layers I was wearing and was questioning why I’d even brought a coat. The walk was also fairly easy, the ascent to the ridge gentle. But as we came out the forest the path became steeper and the wind picked up. We climbed on and then it began to rain lightly. By the time we got to the start of the Roaches the wind was strong and it was pouring with rain. We started up to the Roaches, stopping briefly to put on our raincoats, bundling up again against the severe wind and the pouring rain. I trudged onwards, my father behind me. The path was fairly steep, although nice and paved, and the weather miserable, although the sun was still shining and the view was very pretty. We got to the top of the Roaches and the rain stopped and the sun shone brighter, but the wind was still strong. We walked along the top of the edge, admiring the bizarre rock formations and the pretty view of the fields below. Eventually we found a sheltered place to sit and eat lunch. Soon, it began to snow. No, I am not making that one up. Actual snow flakes began to fall, even as it was sort of raining still, so they melted as soon as they hit the ground. It was also freezing cold.

We carried on, in the snow/rain and the wind, and ended up going right to the end of the roaches, past Doxey Pool. The views continued to be spectacular, and the drop from the edge was sheer rock -my dad kept walking to the edge and peering over whilst I lingered behind and nervously pleaded with him to step back and not get blown off. Now we had to get down somehow. This involved clambering, half scrambling down the rocks. It began to snow properly, flurries of the stuff falling down and bouncing off the rock faces to settle in the cracks between the rocks, where we needed to step. Halfway down my father twisted his ankle which was a oh shit no moment if there ever was one. I swore out loud and asked “are you ok?” already beginning to panic. I can easily get worked up when things feel like they are out of my control in a bad way – its all part of the anxious mental state. Thankfully after a moments rest my father was OK. Although my father is very stoic and secretive even he wouldn’t have been able to hide if he was in serious pain and he seemed fine so I did my best to curtail my panic. We carried on down. The snow subsided, but the rain continued, as did the wind. It was really cold. “Are you OK?” I kept asking my dad, nervously looking back at him. Still slightly anxious. Thankfully every time he replied positive, and every time he was not struggling. We made it to the bottom. Hen Cloud was ahead of us, looking terribly steep and exposed. My father was keen to climb it but I was hesitant “In this wind?” it looked like we’d be blown right off it – I did, in one of my walks with the university rambling society, experience a walk that involved scrabbling up a hillside with the wind pushing at you, so you’d end up stumbling, and eventually crawling along the top at points, before sliding down on your butt as you descended. It was tough. My father was adamant though and a part of me did see the logic in the we’ve come all this way. We carried on towards Hen Cloud and up. Amazingly, the rain stopped, the wind died and the sun came back as we climbed up. At the top we met a nice man who was part of the network of volunteers who climb up Hen Cloud every single day for two months to watch over the edge where the Peregrine falcons are hatching to make sure no one disturbs them. Amazing isn’t it? Imagine climbing up there, and then standing there for hours, in this weather. My father and him had a nice chat as I stood slightly behind my father, listening, smiling and nodding where appropriate, but saying nothing. We said goodbye to the nice man and carried onwards to the peak of Hen Cloud, which provided some nice views. Then it was back down Hen Cloud to start the journey back to the car park.

Neither my father nor I were particular keen on ascending to the roaches again, so we skirted around it on a rough track which lead to a dirt road, that we followed onto a twisting country lane which we followed all the way back to the car park – a little monotonous, and the rain kept coming and going as it pleased, but pleasant enough. We saw a full rainbow too – the entire semi circle I mean. I think that was my first time. That was cool.

We got to the car and shed our wet outer layers then started the drive back. My dad stopped at McDonald’s and bought me fries, which was a nice end to the day – I was ravenous after walking 9 miles. It was a very nice day overall and I was thankful my father chose a relatively easy walk – although the weather could have been better!