Winnats Pass & Win Hill
24th September 2016
I always find that it’s only towards the tail end of summer that you start to really make the most of it. Knowing that the days are getting shorter, darker and colder really motivates me to get outside and appreciate it whilst I still can. It was with these feelings that I hastily packed my bags after work on a Friday and jumped on a bus to the Hope Valley. I arrived after dark, on a still and clear night, and got my small burner out to get food on the go whilst I set up camp for an early night’s sleep.
The sun was still below the horizon when my alarm rang, rousing me from a deep sleep. The crispness of the late September morning ensured that I wasn’t going back to sleep again, and I worked swiftly to get my gear packed, so I could warm up on the morning’s walk. As I climbed, so did the sun, and by the time I reached the top of Mam Tor, day had fully broken. I’m always been amazed at the popularity of Mam Tor among photographers, and this Saturday morning was no exception; having not seen a soul on my way up the peak, I passed three photographers in the short distance it took my to find my friend Mike (@atter.cliffe) at the summit.
Although it’s one of the more popular destinations in the Peaks and somewhere I’ve been a lot in the past, the walk around the outside edge of Winnats Pass is one that I always enjoy. With several craggy cliff tops around the steep walled valley, it makes for one of the more enjoyable places to explore in the Peak District. The road that snakes steeply upwards is framed perfectly by the steep sides; it draws your inwards, and through the landscape, helping to make Winnats Pass one of the most photogenic vistas in the area. We walked around the outer rim, to the point that the land begins dropping down towards Castleton, before turning back towards the car, grabbing those last few shots on the way and brainstorming of where to head to next.
Whilst discussing decent places to shoot in the area, Mike mentioned that he’d never been up Win Hill, somewhere I’d been on a previous meet-up with the Peaks Collective. We completed a short, circular route from Ladybower Damn, up the woodland to the top of Win Hill, before cutting across a patch of heather covered moorland and descending back through the pine forests. I often find myself in remote and barren landscapes – on top of mountains, ridges and cliffs, but one of my favourite places to explore is a deep woodland, especially if it’s pine. The rich smell coming from the vibrant burnt orange needles that carpet the floor epitomises the sense of adventure, surrounding you in nature and the wild. Tall pine forests like these make you feel completely alone, shutting out the sky and silencing all noise of the outside world.
It was only midday by the time we returned to the car, but due to the early start we’d covered a fair amount of distance, and opted to go our separate way; heading home for an afternoon of editing photos. Having the Peak District as my backyard playground is something I appreciate dearly, and I love being able to get out for a morning’s adventure on a regular basis