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

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