DESPITE poor weather conditions, a small party of East Cheshire Ramblers walkers gathered at Chinley Station in the drizzle to catch the 9.25am train to Hope for a linear walk. After passing through the Cowburn Tunnel, built in 1891, the wonderful panorama of the Hope Valley came into view.
From Hope Station, in dry but misty conditions, field paths were followed to the hamlet of Aston. From here the group climbed gradually via Hope Brink to Hope Cross, where the mist had lifted.
This isolated stone column is situated on a former Roman road sometimes known as Doctor’s Gate.
It stands seven feet high with a square capstone bearing the names of Edale, Glossop, Hope and Sheffield on its faces. It lies at the crossroads of important ancient packhorse routes through the Peak District and it is possible that there could have been a cross here prior to this one.
From here we went via an undulating path to Edale Youth Hostel. This is the former home of the Batchelor family and is currently used for various outdoor activities by schools and youth groups.
Nearby is the start of the Pennine Way. This was Britain’s first longdistance path and opened on April 25, 1965.
The path was the inspiration of Tom Stephenson, secretary of the Ramblers and a committee member of the Open Spaces Society. It goes from Edale to Kirk Yethom in Scotland and is 268 miles (431 kilometres) long.
Field paths were next followed to Chapel Gate. This was the old packhorse trail to Edale from Rushup Edge.
In recent years it has been the source of some controversy, as off-road vehicles have left deep ruts in the surface and destroyed the tranquillity of the area.
In response to many complaints, the Peak District National Park Authority implemented a ban on motor vehicles using it, which has made life much easier for ramblers.
Staying on high ground, the Pennine Bridleway was followed to South Head whose summit is 1,621 feet (494 metres).
It was then a long downhill path to our start point in Chinley. The bonus was that we were in time for tea and cake at the café by the green.
For more details of East Cheshire Ramblers’ programme of weekend and midweek walks, ranging from 4 to 15 miles in length, go to ramblerseastcheshire. org.uk.
East Cheshire Rambler Ian studies the inscriptions on Hope Cross