Extreme caching in the Peak District (Part 1 – The Highs)


We’ve just got back after a glorious week in the Peak District. For non-UK readers, this is an area in central/northern England which has a lot of rounded hills and gritstone escarpments. There are also quite a lot of caches! πŸ™‚ We went to the High peak area where the steeper hills are, including Kinder Scout, which is the highest point at 2087ft. When I booked the trip I didn’t really have caching in mind. I noted that there were a few around the area to keep us busy, however on closer inspection due to the high terrain there were a lot of caches that fitted the holes in our difficulty/terrain matrix. Therefore this is what our caching was centered around for the week. We needed to fill 20 of the holes in our d/t matrix, and after grabbing Grimmerscotting’s “The devil’s porridge” a few days earlier which filled the 3.5D/3.5T that gave us 14 that we could potentially find on our trip away.

Before and After

Well that picture probably spoilt “The ending” as I’ve just told you that we did manage to get everything we went for, however in true cassandy style things didn’t go particularly smoothly and we managed to do quite a lot of caches the hard way…

On the way up…

Quarry 1… DISASTER!

Before we got to our lodge in Glossop, I had planned a route so that we could scoop up a few of the terrain/difficulty ratings that we needed. Our first stop was Wombling Free…. This was a 5D/4.5T cache down a disused quarry near Kettering. It sounded like a good way to start the trip, so this was the first place that we headed. Next to this cache was another, ‘The Mad Hatters go Wombling!’ which was only rated 3D/4T so we thought we’d go for this first as it was rated as being easier. In hindsight, we really shouldn’t have bothered as we completely cocked this cache up! We followed the GPSr to the right hand side of the road and down a steep slope. At the bottom we found a small previously bricked up hole just big enough for us to squeeze through. It was about a 4ft drop out the other side of the hole. The GPSr was telling us that we were 12ft off, so this must have been the spot… right?

The cache must be in here!

Down I went. It was very dark and cold down there and I could feel a breeze blowing through. The beams were very low, only slightly higher than me and in some cases lower than me (I found that out when I hit my head on one, luckily I had a hard hat on though!) It was pretty scary as it was quite a tight tunnel. Carefully I ventured through (Notice the use of “I” and not “We” πŸ˜‰ ), checking the beams and rocks until I was about 100ft away from the entrance and I reached a point where the quarry split into a few different areas and looked far too scary for my liking.

The quarry wall

I went back and we had a bit of a discussion that the cache was rated quite low it wouldn’t be very far in. So I searched around the entrance for a bit until we both were down there together hunting around. Nothing. Out we climbed. The GPSr was bouncing all around and changed to 50ft. Due to the mention of the wombles song in the cache hint I then had a brain wave “Overground underground, wombling free… making good use of the things that we find” There was a lot of rubbish down in the entrance of the quarry. Maybe the cache owner had made a crafty container and hidden it in the rubbish. This time I was the one that stayed on the outside. Whilst the hunt was on I managed to get a tiny bit of signal on my iPhone which 10 minutes later allowed me to view more of the recent logs. Reading through I noticed people mentioning going down the wrong entrance and then going to the other side of the road… Oops! “WE’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE! COME OUT!!!!” I shouted down the hole. We climbed up the bank and directly opposite the road was a nicer entrance along the side of a field. We were confronted by a HUGE entrance to a tunnel. We casually strolled along it and found the cache without a problem.

That's more like it!

VICTORY!!!!!!

Now I should mention that I’d read the cache description before leaving home and it specifically said if you come to a previously bricked up area, don’t go through it as the cache isn’t there. However, this message hadn’t quite registered with me as I had expected this to be a warning not to go through such area once you are inside the quarry. This cache has now been archived as the CO believes there to be extremely dangerous gases down in this quarry that could kill in an instant (eep!) and he doesn’t want to feel responsible if others make the same mistakes and go down this entrance. I guess this is a good example of when not to blindly follow the GPSr!

Quarry 2… Simples!

And then it was on to the “harder” of the two quarry expeditions, Wombling free…. After what we’d just experienced this quarry was a real walk in the park though! There were wide tunnels, a huge entrance, and high beams.

"Come on through, this is the right entrance, I PROMISE!!!"

This quarry however, was a bit more maze-like and we had to ensure that we followed the right tunnels. It was clear that the quarry had been visited by non-geocachers in the past as there were arrows painted onto the walls marking the direction of the exit, along with a piece of string that ran along through the tunnels. This made it easy to follow without getting lost.

Very well marked exit

Nice big tunnels

Eventually we stumbled upon the cache, we hadn’t particularly expected to bump into it as despite the CO giving precise directions of the angle to turn and how many meters to walk down each tunnel we’re pretty useless at following directions (What? You hadn’t guess that yet?!?! ;)) and lost count! It was nice and simple to find our way out and we were left feeling very pleased with ourselves. I think if we hadn’t made the mistake and gone down the other quarry before we may have been a bit more scared.

In the low peaks

Next we drove straight up to the Peaks and stopped just on the outskirts for Heather Hill, a 4.5D/4.5T. For this we parked down the bottom of a very steep hill and made our way up to the top. Next we had to climb a steep, overgrown bank that was covered in brambles.

The bank up to Heather Hill

After a bit of prdding around with our walking poles (The first time we’ve used them… They’re just brilliant!) we discovered the cache. Quite an easy one for our 4.5/4.5 gap, however we weren’t complaining and after a tricky climb back down the bank we took a chance to admire the views across. These were only a taster of what we had to look forward to.

Our first view of the peaks

We then passed by Monsal Head, quite a famous spot in the Peaks and a place we visited for several caches on a day trip up here last year. The previous caches we found were down near the viaduct. This cache, Monsal View, however was over looking the viaduct. The views were just stunning!

The magnificent viaduct

Things were going well, and the next stop was Hole in the Wall, 4.5D/5T. The d/t may have been slightly exaggerated for this cache, however I think it was easier for us as the weather was perfect and it wasn’t wet or windy when we retrieved it. It required us climbing a steep bank to one of the rocks on the hill side.

The amazing rocks that make up "the wall"

Finally we just had one more d/t box to fill for our journey up, and that was Baby Bu Box #2, a 5D/4T. We were able to park right next to the cache location and spent quite a while pottering around the site before doing what was obviously necessary to get the cache.

The only way is up!

Day 1 – Head in the Cloughs

We thought we’d start our trip away on a high (literally!) and climb up one of the peaks to pick up caches from the Crookstone Knoll and Jaggers Clough series. These two series joined together to make a convenient loop around for 22 caches which included a cache with a rating of 2D/5T, which we needed. We’d decided that this would probably be the hardest day so it would be best to get it out the way first.

Crookstone Knoll

The climb up Crookstone Knoll wasn’t too bad at all and we found all of the caches quite rapidly. There were also some lovely views across the peaks from here.

Views from the trail

Cache #3 took us to a lovely little stream which we sat and watched before moving on. Little did we know that we’d have a closer look at this stream a little later…

The view up the stream

We continued up the hill and I made friends with a very cute little lamb who thought I had something to feed him with. Unfortunately he ran away when I crouched down to try and get a better photo of him!

Can I take him home?

As we got further up the hill we felt the wind getting stronger. The views from the top were absolutely stunning though and so very worth the effort.

WOW!

A good path up to the top

At the very top of the hill was a cache that wasn’t part of the series we were doing, Crookstone Knoll (High Peak) at 1700ft. It was quite near the edge, but not in a dangerous position, but the wind made it so hard to search for. Eventually I got lucky and found it. We then had a well deserved rest, sheltered from the wind by some of the rocks.

Fly away hair

I thought it would be a lovely place to shoot a panorama and capture the views, however as I tried to steady the camera I felt myself nearly blowing over, so a shot of me right at the top had to do! We’d never climbed this high before and were feeling quite proud of ourselves!!!

Holding on for dear life!

We’d climbed Crookstone Knoll on the way up, so this meant Jaggers Clough on the way down. This didn’t really mean much to me, however it wasn’t long before we realised what we were actually climbing down!

We have to go down that???

A very tricky climb

We both had grip gloves on and our walking poles. Using these and a lot of sliding down on our bums we eventually managed to descend it. There would be no way on earth that we would have chosen this route down had there not been a geocache trail down it showing us that it was a possible route. It was a while before we finally got to Jaggers Clough (8), which was the 2D/5T cache that we needed. I’d read the logs of others spending about 10 minutes searching, so imagine our surprise when we stood right next to it and it turned out to be the first place we looked. We were ecstatic! As we descended we saw three other groups of people walk past us whilst we were searching for caches, and then nearer the bottom saw two other people going up. We thought we were absolutely crazy to be climbing this thing, but others seemed to view it as quite normal! We were quite relieved to be at the bottom though. It was a great experience, but we were glad we didn’t have to do it again… or did we??? πŸ˜‰

A waterfall at the bottom of Jaggers Clough

Day 2 – Lather, Rinse, Repeat…

We started the day by grabbing a cache very near to where we were staying which had a rating of 4D/4.5T. It was CHW01: Quarry Capers. As the name suggests, we ended up at a quarry.

The rock face

The hint told us to step up to the cache so I went clambering up to a location we suspected… Oh no! No cache! I hunted around cautiously, it was quite overgrown with brambles up there and I didn’t want too many scratches. I was contemplating going a little higher, when a certain someone spotted something, reached up a little way and grabbed the cache!!! And there’s little me on top of the rocks!!!! I was just pleased I hadn’t tried to go any higher.

Then it was over to a little area called Grindsbrook. This was a brook that ran up Kinder Scout and would take us to 2000ft at the top. The brook ran along a thick green footpath line on the OS map though, so it wasn’t going to be too hard… right?

We started at the very bottom of the stream where it was very shallow and didn’t look very daunting.

On the bridge overlooking the brook

We then headed up for a very hard core steep climb to grab Anniversary View Cache. This was quite an intense climb over a very short distance and left us quite out of breath at the top. We had a rest before taking some shots.

A glimpse of things to come!

Anniversary view

We headed along the stream to collect another cache for our d/t matrix, Grindsbrook Golden Secret. This one was a 2.5D/4.5T cache and it took us just off of the path to the most stunning waterfall. It took us a little poking around to find the cache, but we got lucky eventually. This one was thankfully one of the slightly easier ones to fill in the d/t grid.

Crossing over the stream

The golden secret

We then headed for Grindsbrook Silver Secret. Again we were taken to another stunning waterfall just off of the path. It was quite a steep climb up to this one and we thought it infact a little trickier than the golden secret.

The silver secret

And the secret cache!

As we followed the path along the stream it gradually disappeared and we had to hop over the rocks. We weren’t very good at this and kept getting over taken by other walkers. A couple with a child were just infront of us and we spoke to them as we kept passing each other (They would stop for a bit whilst the little boy looked at rocks!). They made it look very easy and the dad was telling us some of the best places to cross, bless him!

At this stage we were still on the path

And another pretty waterfall

It wasn’t long before the rock hopping ended and the rock climbing began. So many other walkers and families whizzed past us! We took a quick break, packed the walking poles away and put on our grip gloves. We scrambled up the rocks at quite a rapid speed and made quite short work of it all even overtaking a few others!!!

The route up

It was quite a distance to the top though and really felt like it went on forever, but eventually we made it to 2000ft! πŸ™‚

Views from the top

Finally at the top it was our chance to bag a cache, Crow Hole. This was in a little cove located at the top of a dry waterfall… apparently. I say apparently because we couldn’t actually find it! We spent a whole hour clambering over the rocks seeking this cache as it was rated 3.5D/4.5T. In the end we had to walk away empty handed 😦

Crow Hole... Has the crow flown away?

We were however very lucky in that the cache next door had the same d/t rating, this one was Rock Hopping. It was hidden in the rocks at the top and was as simple as following the GPSr to the correct spot. We were thrilled, and pleased we got a second chance at this rating.

At the top was also The Woolpacks earth cache. This was placed here for the strange shaped gritstone tors at the top. They certainly were remarkable and there were all different shapes and sizes scattered around.

Just like a Henry Moore sculpture!

The twins

We attempted to look for another cache at the top here, however it was so unbelievably windy at the top. I could feel my eyeballs rattling in my head! Instead we decided to leave it and make our way down. We descended via Crowden Brook which didn’t start off looking too scary, but about a quarter of the way down became a bit crazy! There was a large section of slanted rock to slide down with a vertical drop at the bottom. At the top of the slanted rock it looked like sudden death! It was quite a scary moment. The smaller rocks were easy to navigate along as you could jump from one to the other, however a big slanted rock that ended at a vertical drop was very frightening indeed. I very cautiously slid down and managed to stop at the vertical. To my relief I saw steps in the rock leading down and despite looking dangerous, it wasn’t too bad to step down.

The vertical face

Phew! That was the scary bit over. We carefully continued down the brook deciding that Crowden brook was the scariest boulder path we’d encountered.

Crowden Brook stretching up to the top

And a waterfall at the bottom

There was thankfully a cache near the bottom to reward our efforts, it was Crowden Brook Waterfall. It took us quite a while to find this one and after we had such a crazy climb down I wasn’t giving up without this cache! It wasn’t a cache we needed, nor was it a cache we had taken this route to get, it was simply just there and we definitely needed a reward after the climb down! I searched every single place it could possibly be and in the last place I looked out popped the cache! πŸ™‚

Crowden Brook Waterfall

Day 3 – Fairbrook Naze (Another big climb!)

After two intense days of climbing Kinder Scout, guess what we did on the third day!!! πŸ˜‰

Deciding where to go - An OS map printed out with all of the local caches on it (courtesy of CACH'EYE and a lot of selotape!!!)

We had originally planned to spread the climbs out along our week away, however the weather lady sounded a bit undecided and said it may rain later in the week so now knowing what the word ‘Clough’ or ‘Brook’ translates to when you see it in a cache name up here we decided to do our rock climbing whilst the weather was good!!! So up to another 2000ft it was…

At the beginning of the trail

We carried along Fairbrook picking up the caches and taking a steady climb along the path along the stream. It wasn’t actually too intense along here and was simply a nice stroll. There were two cache along this stretch that we needed and the first was Fairbrook Naze (6) which was a 3.5D/4T rated cache. Luckily this was an easy pick up for us.

Near the bottom of Fairbrook

The brook near the beginning

Very soon we came to a part where our nice path ran out and we were confronted with boulders again. We needed to get Fairbrook Naze (9) for its 3D/4.5T rating and decided that we’d go and get that one and head on without getting the rest of the series as we didn’t want too much more climbing.

Here we go again!!!

Well, it just so happened that cache #9 was at the very top of the brook and after that there wasn’t actually any more climbing! It was a thankfully easy find and we took a break whilst signing the logbook. We then headed to the top of the peak by walking along the top and were treated with some more lovely rock formations and stunning views.

Windswept!

A close up of the formation

Don't look down!

On the top here we were also able to grab a bonus cache here, On top of t’Kinder – The Big Cup. Right, now it’s time for a bit of a rant. Don’t you just HATE it when you get to GZ, look at the hint, and it says “See spoiler picture” or “Cache is to the right of spoiler picture” What about when you don’t have the bloody picture? And what about when you have an iPhone so could in theory find the picture, but because you’re stuck on a peak in the middle of nowhere you have zero phone signal to bring it up. OK, that’s the end of my rant, and as you may have guessed this cache required looking at a spoiler. We were very cautious on searching for this one. It was quite close to the edge and there was quite an obvious access route to where GZ might have been, however we tried looking in safer places first. In the end I just went for it and despite being quite near to the edge I found the cache quite easily (It’s quite tricky to sign the logbook though when you’re holding on for dear life!!!)

The rock formation at the cache location. Personally I think it looks a bit like my grandad!!!

A bit of a squeeze to GZ

After grabbing the final Fairbrook Naze cache we made our way back down. This was a linear trail so we went back the way we came.

The route back down

We both agreed that Fairbrook Naze was the easiest boulder path that we’d had to navigate. There was quite a long path up the hill, and the parts of it that we did have to climb weren’t too steep and had well positioned rocks that meant we had plenty of route options to choose from.

Day 4 – The “easy” climb

We started off day 4 with a very easy trail of 6 caches around a little village near to our lodge. This was the Arnfield series. I hadn’t planned to do this series, but it was a nice little one that we had noticed whilst examining the map. To make it better it was entirely flat! The series took us past the reservoir, brook, up a lane, and even to an OS benchmark which was pretty cool.

View of Arnfield Reservoir

"And what do you think you're looking at???"

Finally, a brook that we don't have to climb up!!!

An unexpected benchmark

Finding those 6 easy caches was a good start to the day, so we decided to head for another “easy” one, Crowden Panorama. This was one that we needed, however was only a 1D/4T rated cache. We knew it required a bit of a climb, but shouldn’t have been too hard. At the foot of the hill we found a memorial for a dead walker. Do you think perhaps it was a sign? πŸ˜‰

A nice memorial

Pink pinecones!

The cliff face

We carried on walking along the main path until we got to a point where the GPSr said the cache was 400ft to the left of us. We looked to the left and there was another boulder path. This time around the rocks were quite small. If this had been the first cache we had attempted up here and we saw this route then never in a million years would we have tried to climb it. However, after going up all of the cloughs and brooks previously it didn’t seem like anything particularly unusual and it didn’t look very scary so we thought that that was the right way to ascend… WRONG! Despite it being dead easy at first, we got about 3/4 of the way up there and our bounder path turned into a waterfall, complete with the odd trickling water running down it and big wet mossy patches. It was marked on the map as “Black Tor”. To make it better we reached a vertical climb up. We’d done some pretty brave things so far on our holiday, but to be compltely honest this was by far the scariest, trickiest thing we had to do. To get up the next step on the waterfall required straddling the next step and pulling ourselves up from off of our knees. To make it harder, we had to grip onto the wet moss of the waterfall. It was too tricky to go down and too tricky to go up. A horrible place to be, but we couldn’t just stay there forever and a choice had to be made. We chose up. It got slightly easier at that stage, but it still wasn’t a pleasant climb, and the feeling of relief when we got to the top was immense. It was a bit disappointing however, because at the top there were no rocks to rest on to reflect and say a quick “THANK YOU GOD!”, the entire surface was covered in thick bushes and heather. The cache was 200ft away, so instead we marched onto it. It was a bit disappointing when we got to 90ft of GZ as we realised where the cache was. It required a steep descend through the heather to the very edge of the hill to a massive rock. Before I could volunteer to go however, Mr. Brave was sliding down on his bum to the rock!!! I sat on the pricky heather and watched. It was a scary moment, as I’m usually the one who volunteers to do the dangerous caches. I was completely helpless, and then suddenly realised that I was sat at the top with the GPSr, and was only guessing that the cache would be at the massive rock!!!!

See the big rock? It honestly is a straight down drop from there. Hold on tight!!!

I guess I'll just stay up here and admire the views then...

Thankfully everything was ok and the cache was found and followed by a steep ascend back up to me. I must say we worked bloody hard for this 1D/4T cache, a lot harder than all of the others. I was just glad it was over. It wasn’t quite over though as we still had to navigate off of the hill side. We were obviously not going to attempt that waterfall again, so decided to wander around and try and get to one of the footpaths marked on the map. Heading to the path to the East didn’t help as we were met with endless bushes. The tricky thing with wading through these is they are quite dense and you can’t really see where you’re putting your foot. So after wandering about half a mile East we headed back, descended the hill slightly and noticed a stile in the distance. Phew! We were able to head to the footpath to the West and find a way down. On our way down we found the cache Highstone Rocks. I did know about this cache and was aware of the path that it was on, but I avoided heading for this cache before Crowden Panorama simply because of its name… HIGHSTONE ROCKS! Now, after all of the previous climbing this didn’t sound like a cache that was tempting to go for as it sounded like it meant another steep climb up a brook. In hindsight, this is the cache we should have gone for first before continuing across to Crowden Panorama. At the bottom of this path was the memorial for the dead walker! That was definitely a sign!!!

That was the end of our days in the high peaks. We had a stunning time with all of the climbing up the cloughs and brooks, but we were very glad that we didn’t have any more to climb up as we were feeling a bit drained from the 4 days solid of climbing! We took a well deserved rest from then onwards and stuck to caches that were on much flatter land, but still managed a few adventures… (Part 2 coming soon…)

10 Responses to “Extreme caching in the Peak District (Part 1 – The Highs)”

  1. Sarah (one half of the Chaos Crew) Says:

    looks like an amazing trip – you’re much braver and fitter than me, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

  2. TSS Says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip – so jealous. I really need to get back up there – or the lakes!

    Are you signed up for the somerset well rounded cacher??

    • geocass Says:

      Yes we are signed up for the well rounded cacher challenge! I think well need to get a few more than 5 to finish it though as I signed up a little late! We need to go and do the Sussex Amble and grab the bonus that you got as that’s one we need!!

      • TSS Says:

        Good luck with the SA – make sure you take plenty of food and drink – although after this latest blog entry I dont think you will have any problems!

        I’m on 28/81 for the SWRC – need to plan a trip to the lakes / peaks for some high T/D caches. Set up a sexy little spreadsheet to manage my attempts.

  3. UrsusBear Says:

    We had a trip up there just the week before you with the GeoMobbers, and did many of the same caches! We also placed a terracache on Kinder Scout which starts right by the Woolpacks.

  4. jane Says:

    Fantastic trip!! We camped in Edale once and climbed Kinder Scout, sadly before long before geocaching was around. I think we will have to go back
    and try a few easy ones!

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