Sunshine, Castles, Paragliders and the Great Ridge!
By Helen McGhee
So it’s a new academic year and with that come new and exciting faces to Ramsoc. “So what was the first walk of the year like” I hear you cry! Well … sunny! Yeah I know right!
So Sunday saw us set off for Castleton on a foggy and slightly chilly morning. Naturally, I looked out my window and thought ‘Layers. Lot of Layers’. So I donned the leggings under my tracksuit bottoms slipped into my fleece. The hot squash flasks were filled to the brim as they would during summer and I set off to Lincoln hall car park. Since the marathon had messed with our normal drop off route there was a lot of people already there. A surprise since I deliberately got there 15 mins early. I thought people would appreciate a committee member to greet all the new faces. It was slightly creepy seeing everyone gather from out of the mists like a scene out of a ghost story.
So when we finally got everyone on board, everyone was so excited that our Ramble Sec Alex was kept on his toes; questions flying left right and center about the routes. When we finally arrived we were greeted by a glorious sunny day and by the time I had set off I was ditching the fleece! Sadly, it was too late to get rid of the double leg layers.
I was put on route 4: a route for the more experienced walkers in Ramsoc. For those of you under the impression that being on the committee immediately means we are as fit as a butcher’s dog, I certainly don’t fit into that category! This was my first walk since the weekend away last June and I had pretty much sat on my bum doing nothing all summer (it’s my last summer as a student! I’m allowed) so let’s just say a route four was a bit of a challenge for me. Route 4 started with an ascent to the northern tip of The Great Ridge. Most of my group were like little mountain goats trotting up the hill as if it was nothing while I dragged myself huffing and puffing up the hill trying not to die. Ok I’m exaggerating A LOT but I was very unfit and was the one who slowed the pace … I totally did it to make the newbies feel good about themselves. Ok I didn’t but I’ll tell myself that to make myself feel better instead. Andy, the other leader even pushed me up the hill at one point LOL.
Once at the top, (and once I had caught my breath and stocked up on sugar from sweets and a snickers), we got a wonderful view of the surrounding valleys. Having lunch on top of the Great ridge was a particularly special treat since the steep cliffs that form the ridge making you really appreciate how high you are. This was made all the better by the wonderful company we had. Since it was a good mix of young freshers, old freshers and New Ramsocers from other academic years the conversation and laughter was flowing nicely. I even joined in when I caught my breath.
The walk along the ridge was nothing short of beautiful and thankfully gave me a break from the upward gradients for a bit. The air was filled with para gliders which were gliding off Mam Tor which made it busy but gave it a bit of a festival feel with all the activity and colours going on. The walk continued round to return back to Castleton via the Limestone Way which led us all to a dramatic gorge with beautiful views of the castle which the village takes its name. By this time, three of the four walks had joined which made us look like a mass exodus from the hills which a bemused elderly pair watched pass for a long time.
The walk ended in the customary pub. Where we chilled in the beer garden waiting for route 3 to return. Sunshine, beer, coke and friends. The only thing that was missing was a BBQ and we could have pretended it was summer. We did discover that Leeds uni Hiking club were also gathering in the pub which did make it a bit awkward when a group from Leeds thought we were their club. We didn’t judge too much although Ram did whisper to one of the committee that he thought that their mascot was not nearly so handsome and keen to be in the Peak District as him. I can safely say that first walk of the year was one of the better ones I’ve been on with Ramsoc and went off without a hitch. Although my misjudgment of the weather has resulted in a bit of a red and sore back for me. Lesson learnt: Even when dying trying to keep up with your group always apply sun cream in sunny weather. LOL! Anyway, For those that have missed out this time. I’m looking forward to seeing you at Hathersage. Hopefully this time I will be less of an unfit wreck climbing those hills.