A few months ago I mentioned to my father that I wished to go walking in the peak district to climb up Shutlingsloe in good weather, as we had climbed that hill before in rain, snow, wind aka every cold, miserable weather imaginable and I was curious as to how it would be on a better day. Yesterday to my surprise my dad announced he would be taking me and my sister today. Of course he had a plan as he so often does and he had decided we would still head into the peak district but instead take a trail to Cats Tor and eventually Shining Tor, which is a hill opposite to Shutlingsloe that is also about 50m higher. We had to get up very early this morning, leaving the house at around nine. I’ve not gotten up so early in a while and I was surprised at how exhausted I didn’t feel. I was actually a little excited. We arrived at the car park mid morning and after some confusion over where we were going we started our walk at about 10:45am. There were quite a few people about but for the most part we were alone on the trail. It was quite atmospheric walking along these lonely paths with only the sound of the birds and wind and occasionally the rush of water from nearby streams.
We entered lush forest and passed the ruins of Errwood hall, which was smaller than expected. Still, it was completely remote and I could not help but imagine what it would have been like a hundred years ago, and conjure an image of one of those isolated, eerie mansions that form the setting of a Gothic novel. Onwards and we then passed a small Spanish shrine, still maintained inside with candles lit up and offerings set out, then exited the woodland to walk through barren fields, alongside a quiet road, stopped for a moment to sit and eat lunch, then through more empty fields up and up towards Shining Tor.
It seemed as if we would never reach the summit- the hill doesn’t have that much of a defined peak compared to its neighbour, and eventually the climb evens out to a really subtle incline so you can’t quite tell when you’re going to reach your destination. The wind was severe right up on the hill. For lunch we sat in front of a wall which thankfully blocked the wind but up on the hill the walls had started to crumble and the wind went straight through me. It at least had the affect that I never got too hot, and only my hands ever felt truly cold. It had actually turned out to be a nice day and good weather for walking- neither too cold nor hot. I was also nervous about it starting to rain and was relieved that although the sky was overcast enough to look interesting in photos, it never actually rained! When we finally reached the peak I was happy enough to stride out confidently to the edge only to end up crouching down in fear, recoilling from the edge, having not realised just how strong the wind was, and suddenly becoming a little afraid of tumbling over the edge. I am irrationally and ridiculously afraid of a lot of things, I do realise this. The view was quite nice though, although my hands were unsteady from nerves and the wind so I got no decent pictures :(
Of course once we were up the only way was down, even though by this point I (and I think both my father and sister, too) was fairly tired from trekking all the way up there (It had taken us about 3 hours to reach the peak). On the way back we clambered over a trail going across peat land, so the ground was soft and squishy beneath out feet which was entirely bizarre. My dad jumped beside me and I could feel the land ‘spring’ beneath my feet! We exited that path and walked alongside a road for a while before going back into the woodland, where the path was wet for 70% of the time and I ended up splattered in mud (admittedly mostly through my own idiocity…), but there was thankfully no candid camera moment of falling. We stayed in the woodland right back to the car park, walking across streams, passing by the hall again, spotting lizards on the rock walls… it was really interesting and so very pretty. I nearly tripped over my feet a couple of times because I was too busy admiring the scenery.
After a total of four or five hours of walking we made it back to the car park. I was tired and my legs were aching but it was quite rewarding once we made it back. We indulged in some rich ice cream before heading back home.
Being the sort of person who idles her time sitting in front of the computer meant that at times the walk was really quite tiring, but somehow it was also quite relaxing. It was fun being with my family too. My legs are so stiff and sore right now but think it was worth it – it turned out to be a fun day.