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Walks & Talks – The Buxton Loop

Walks & Talks – The Buxton Loop


Weather : Fair & Hazy

An Early afternoon, and I arrive in the quietish town of Buxton on a Sunday morning to be reacquainted with old friend James for a stretch of the legs through the fine hills surrounding Buxton. The weather is fair & hazy, but no rain and relatively warm for this time of year. Buxton lies on the western plank of the White peak area, not far from the bigger settlements of Glossop, Macclesfield & Manchester. Saying that, Buxton is quite a thriving place, it hosts a university, an opera house & quite a pleasant park.

I take this walk as a great opportunity to test out my new bag, the Osprey Atmos 65 & also to wear my Scarpa Ranger GTX boots in a bit more.

The plan was… to leave Buxton southwards and head towards Chrome hill, also known as the Dragons Back and walk back to Buxton, doing a kind of loop. We did kind of stick to the plan, but it was made quite apparent our map & compass skills were in need of some serious fine tuning. We are both the kind of people who walk in a ‘as the crow flies’ fashion. Which basically means A to B is literally that. Regardless of what we have to cut across…. The steep gradient up a hill seems shorter, so in our heads, ‘oh ye, it must be quicker’ haha. Ye right…. What fools we are. Chuckle brothers spring to mind.

Looking West
Looking West From the edge of the 1st quarry… Lush

Anyhow, we head south of the town centre, out through beautiful English pasture land. Mmmm, green fields of short grass. A giant pillow for my body. No matter where I go in this world, all the marvels, wonders & devastation I have come across & witnessed, there is something about the rolling hills of England which touches the heart deeply, and security is felt in the simple knowing that, they are there. Blessed are those who trust in the land, but more simply…. blessed are those trust. Out of the hustle and bustle of this spa town, the silence is appreciated. We are on a footpath which takes us around the used and dis-used quarries of Buxton. It’s an odd walk, there is a heavy industrial feel to the surroundings of Buxton & quite a stench, which does make me wonder, how clean is Buxton water? It spur’s on great conversation discussing ecology. We make all this concrete, extract all this stone out of the land to build houses. Some would say, supply and demand. Expectations of how we are living, and what we need to live are firmly stamped into our society, and further questions arise, what do we really need? Clean Food & water, shelter? Is anything on top of that a bonus? Just some food for thought. However, as we gain some height, we start to see chrome hill and come across a farm called Stoop Farm. Quite funny, because we weren’t expecting to run into this farm and it happens to be my wedding venue when I got married in August 2014. Brings back memories for both of us, a love filled day for myself, and for James it was a Boo’s filled day…

Wedding Venue
Wedding Venue

We come to the decision that we don’t have the time to climb the Dragons Back today, but instead climb another nearby hill called Hollins Hill. As we scale this hill, all these thoughts & discussions, seem meaningless for now. The beauty and peace on top of this hill will not be disturbed. Once again silence is appreciated. From this peak, we can see what they call, Solomon’s temple in the distance. It sounds like something you’d come across in an Indiana Jones movie. It is a small tower, which is next to the Buxton country park.

The dragons back seen from Hollins Hill
The dragons back seen from Hollins Hill
Looking Northish from Hollins Hill
Looking Northish from Hollins Hill

Once again, we make pace, walking through some unusual surroundings and through some research lab bunkers? I think at this stage, James has a concern. He is concerned about my poor map & compass skills… especially as I will be walking 650 miles using a map and compass to guide me! Sly comments like, so will you be having a GPS device for emergencies, and will you be letting Louise (my wonderful wife) know where you are by the day. He has valid points actually, but the ego in me mummers ‘I know what I’m bloody doing’  haha. I wander if I’ll be saying that when I’m by the English Scottish borders with severely blistered feet, standing in the rain with a broken tent, drenched through eating a block of mouldy cheese dipped in hot pepper sauce for my evening meal.

deep in the Buxton hills there are cameras... ofcourse
deep in the Buxton hills there are cameras… ofcourse
....
….

A few miles later we arrive at Solomon’s temple, the view point is impressive. We take the time to relax here, and take in the view over Buxton. Hunger starts to strike, and James turns to me and says ‘what we doing for tea’? I’m quite confused by this question as it’s nearly dinner time & he’s a southerner. Anyway I correct him, having to once again explain the drill. Breakfast is when you wake up. Lunch is your afternoon meal. Tea is what you have around 4pm with a biscuit, and dinner is your main afternoon meal. End of. Living in the East Midland I am forever having this pleasing debate.

James contemplating at Solomons temple
James contemplating at Solomons temple
Solomons temple
Solomons temple
View over Buxton from Solomons
View over Buxton from Solomons

The stroll back is the nicest part of the walk for me, we leave the temple, through the country park back to Buxton. As we get to the bottom of the valley into town, we walk through the ‘town park’ alongside the river Wye. I can honestly say this is one of the nicest town parks I have stepped foot in (the nicest being St Marys garden in regents park), it reminds me of a Japanese Zen garden walking alongside the river. Heading back into town we are hungry, and most of the places we are walking past are out of our budget. We find a nice local pub & I settle for some fish & chips. A perfect end to a great day.

Days like this are special, wandering aimlessly, vaguely following some guidelines but knowing you have the choice on where to go at any time. It was a reminder to remain flexible in life at all times, nothing is certain, there are many paths one can take, or one can choose to explore beyond the paths that have been layed and create new path’s.

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Japanese Zen in Buxton – a perfect end to a hilly walk along the River Wye

 

A clear night on the moors…

A clear night on the moors…

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Merlin

Last Friday must have been the hottest day of the year, and today must be the dreariest & windiest! I took the opportunity to head into the Peak district to a spot I often go to on Stanton Moor, near to the 9 Ladies Stone Circle (Derbyshire). I thought aswell as spending time in nature it would be a great opportunity to test out the new bits of gear I have recently acquired (I have reviewed these below). I was joined by my friend Yannis and my little doggie, Merlin. This was Merlin’s 1st night sleeping out, he loved exploring the moor, loved it so much he quickly made it his home and barked at any poor bugger walking within 50 metres of our camp site.

Returning to nature , or returning home as I like to say, is a good habit. As I was saying in my previous posts on the podcasts which I featured on, nature heals. Lessons are to be learnt, observing the natural environment take its play. All lessons which can be applied to our lives & daily routines. So, I drop my bag and lay down. Nothing is more relieving than laying on the bare earth, letting go of the weekly baggage I may have picked up, breathing in & breathing out deeply. So peaceful & so blissful…. until Merlin comes jumping all over me, excited at the sheer fact he has so much space and freedom to run around, marking his scent and just being a general adolescent. Good to see the doggy having fun. Waggy tail & bags of joy, hooray. We arrive around 10pm, stars are out & we quickly get a fire going, not for warmth, but mainly for light, comfort & atmosphere. The amount of time I’ve spent gazing into a fire would amount to days or weeks even… Their is something quite primal about it. Our ancestors have been sitting round fires for years and years, and future generations will be doing the same. I sit for a while allowing the silence to soak in, the rustle of the leaves in the trees and subtly be heard on this relatively still night. I soon get tired and decide to turn in. Quite eager to test out my new sleeping mat, pillow and put the tent to further testing.

mdeMy sleep was relatively comfortable. Merlin was out for the count, I think he overdid himself today, all the excitement…. he’s just a small dog in a big world. Just like all of us, running round like headless chickens excited by the sounds & sights around us. How wonderfully beautiful this world is. and how wonderfully beautiful how each one of us perceives it differently, relating what we see to our own experiences. This is where we differ, as individuals. As I sit in my tent, Merlin to sleep & Yanis asleep in his tent, the silence which is shared is marvelous & something quite special. I will talk about the kit I use below quite reluctantly as laying on the earth, is quite enough to make me feel safe, secure, comfortable & protected.

Thank you for reading this blog post. I will be walking 650 miles from Hebden Bridge to John O Groats starting in the middle of May. I will be raising money for a charity called Survivors UK. Survivors UK support adult men who have been affected by Sexual violence & rape. My aim to raise awareness about these sensitive topics and to outline how walking & nature has a positive impact on well being as a whole. If you would like to read more about my campaign please visit my just giving page linked below. My target is to raise £1000 and I am currently at £573. Any heartfelt donations are ofcourse greatly appreciated

Azim x

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Rab Neutrino 200 sleeping bag

Rab Neutrino 200 sleeping bag

I have received this sleeping bag in the post today. I pretty much got an amazing deal. This bag retails for about £200, I got it for £130 through a friend of a friend who works in the industry. I’m extremely grateful for ‘the link’.I currently own a Rab Genesis 2, which I’m more than happy with, but its too heavy, big & perhaps a little to warm for the time of year i’ll be using it. I’m told, the Rab Neutrino 200 bag is the bollox. This bright orange bag isn’t subtle to say the least, but its bloody comfortable say’s Merlin. If it’s good enough for the wizard its good enough for me. I will be testing it as with all my other kit next week. It is the first down sleeping bag I have owned. Down is re nound for being super comfy but at the same time absolutely useless if it gets wet. The beauty of this bag for me is that it weights 610 grams. So, ultra lightweight.

 

All in all, I’m very happy that the financial damage so far is only £432.67 on kit. And the only other major item I really need to get is a decent backpack.

Preperation is key

Preperation is key

‘Preparation is key’

 

Good input = good output, simple input = simple output. We humans do over complicate things. To put it simply, things needn’t be complicated. However, that doesn’t mean walking butt naked 650 miles with nothing but an umbrella over my head. As I put together a kit list, research various sleeping bags, tents, backpacks and ‘the rest of it’ I can see the overhead costs are slowly adding up. I knew this wasn’t going to be cheap, however there are some aspects of my kit where I am willing to put quality at the forefront of my mind. As I will carrying all my kit with me, I have to consider, my feet need to comfortable when I walk, my back needs to be comfortable with all the weight. My tent, which will be my home needs to be waterproof, windproof & relaxing after a days walking. All my gear must be as lightweight as can be.

Today I went to the Alpkit warehouse, where I met a gentlemen called Ben who kindly showed me the in’s and out’s of the Jaran 2 tent. He set it up for me in store where I could view it, I was impressed, so I bought it (as seen in picture). A tent with 2 doors on either side? what the hell, I’m totally bought by the idea. It was the last one and I got it for £120, which is £20 less than the retail price just because it was taken out the bag before! The weight is good also at only 1.9kg. I’m going to be testing it out in the coming weeks. It’s pretty windy & rainy at the moment, so a great opportunity.

A couple weeks back I purchased a pair of boots. £150 for a pair of boots. I remember in my younger days splurging 90 odd quid on a pair of Airmax 90’s, for fashions. So I suppose, £150 for a pair of quality boots that will last 650+ miles is reasonable. Especially when thoughts of taking my boots off after a week and throwing them into a river because they are crap and walking the rest barefoot are not foreign to me at this stage. Anyway the boot is a leather goretex boots by Scarpa. The Scarpa ranger GTX. I’ve tried them on, but not had a chance to sample them or wear them in yet. Watch this space for how I’m getting on with them. All that’s left to get in the ‘priority’ department is the sleeping bag (which is on its way as we speak) and a decent backpack. Than it’s just little bits and bobs.

 

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