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Climbing

Back from a Large Outdoors weekend with a difference!

Guest Blogger Ange Hilton reviews our Old Hall Hotel Walking Weekend.

There is also a full gallery available from this weekend here…

Well… just back from a Large Outdoors weekend with a difference! The difference being the luxury of staying in a hotel.

 

The majority of Large Outdoors weekends are held in a hostel, and while the vast majority are modern, clean and comfortable they do suffer from a bad reputation which is often not deserved.

With this in mind Large Outdoors has a sprinkling of events that will be based at the Old Hall Hotel Buxton, this will give some people the opportunity to sample a Large Outdoors weekend without worrying about staying in a hostel while others will see it as a chance to take in a bit of relative luxury!

 

And oh what luxury! Everyone arrived at around 6pm for the drinks reception/social in the Old Halls lovely private bar where we chatted casually for a couple of hours about the weekend ahead. Then the Friday night ‘bring an item buffet’ was replaced by ‘Fish n Fizz’, basically a large piece of perfectly cooked cod in gorgeous batter on a bed of fresh fat chips with a home made tartar sauce on the side, accompanied by a glass of fizz. How VERY civilised! The meal was delicious.

The Old Hall is a quintessentially English hotel, if Miss Marple turned up you would not be surprised! It also makes the most out of its fame for Mary Queen of Scots having stayed there, you can even request the room she slept in…if you dare…

Saturday morning started with the ‘award winning’ Old Hall breakfast. I always take those statements with a pinch of salt, however I definitely think this place deserves an award for its breakfasts. Locally sourced where possible and all cooked to order, we all set off pretty stuffed but very happy!

The Saturday walk started from Chatsworth House, so we needed to car buddy and drive the short distance. The walk itself is a 10 mile circular via Bakewell from Chatsworth. The walk starts by walking through the grounds of the grand stately home, we passed a herd of deer on our way. We then continued through some of the hamlets of the Chatsworth estate before starting to climb up to Rowsleymoor Wood, this climb is steep but not technically challenging and its over before you know it. When you reach the woods the route flattens off for a while before starting to slowly descend towards Bakewell. By Bakewell our award winning breakfast was starting to be just a memory so this is a perfect lunch stop. Bakewell has loads of little cafes to have lunch in and they range from the ‘cute little English’ to the ‘new modern European’. As we were a group we stopped in one of the larger ones.

After lunch there is another climb (worth remembering not to eat too much at lunch!) through Manners Wood. This climb was a bit on the tricky side as the claggy clay mud was very muddy indeed! Still, we made it to the top and then descended our way back through the Chatsworth estate to the house.

Click here to see the Saturday route.

Back at the hotel we were greeted by plates of gorgeous home made cup cakes and flapjacks with pots of fresh tea and coffee, no one complained 😉 Post tea and cakes was time to relax before showering and heading to the Old Hall A La Carte restaurant for our evening meal. The meal was absolutely delicious.

Most of us, exhausted with walking and food made for an early night while some, who shall remain nameless went on the hunt for cocktails!

The next morning we had yet another ‘award winning’ breakfast at the hotel before checking out and heading to the lovely village of Castleton in the Hope Valley to meet up with the walkers who were joining us for the day.

Traditionally the Sunday walks that are a part of a Large Outdoors weekend tend to be more relaxed and a bit more social (AKA camera faffing time!). I look forward to these as much as the main event as you get to stretch out your muscles and….well… get to faff with the camera 😀

Cave Dale

Today’s walk started from the main car park in Castleton and takes a minor detour through the village (worth a wonder in its own right) to the aptly named ‘Devils Arse’! A unique geological feature where gasses build up before exiting the caves while making the noise of passing wind. Sadly this did not happen while we were there!

Mam Tor summit

Returning back to the village we right to climbed around 435m up the public foot path through Cave Dave. Cave Dale is an absolutely stunning natural feature of cut through rock faces. It’s hard not to imagine the sheer force of the water that must have made this feature as up splash through what is left of it that trickles as a slight stream.

After the Cave Dale climb the route levels out for a while offering you great views of the Hope Valley as we skirted around Hurd Low, before crossing over Winnats Road.

Once we crossed the road we had one more short but very sharp climb to the summit of Mam Tor. From the summit we had great views down into both valleys, Hope and Edale and of course straight out over to the big fella Kinder Scout.

By the time we reached the summit it was feeling a little cool, so we quickly started on our descent down the Great Ridge, directly down into Castleton. I have to say, this is a route I have never taken to Mam tor, I have only ever been up and down from Edale, but this route offers a far more varied and interesting approach to this ever popular peak.

The weekend finished as always with a pub lunch and hugs good bye. Yet more friends made this weekend, a pang of sadness as I left the beautiful Peak District, just a half hour by train away from me!

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