Last year, I took part in the Dark Peak Marathon (DPM), an event Ramsoc runs every year where participants walk 24 or 37 miles around the peak district, seeing some of the best sights, from Mam Tor and Kinder, to Ladybower reservoir. This is a short account of my experience of the DPM.
The early start was immediately worth it when we arrived at Ladybower Reservoir- the surrounding hills were picturesque in the early morning sun, and everyone was raring to go. The weather was forecast to remain like this for the whole day, adding to everyone’s excitement, however far they were walking (I was doing the 24 mile route). We were split into groups – so that every group had someone capable of reading a map and any necessary group kit. After a group photo over the Ladybower dam, everyone set out for a day of walking.
The first hill was hardest of the day. Halfway up, I was questioning my sanity- why had I decided to do this, was I out of mind? I carried on thinking so before suddenly realising we’d reached the top of Win hill, and could see both Ladybower reservoir behind, and the great ridge where we’d be heading later in the day. The first hill of the day deserved a snack break while we took in the beautiful views, before setting off for the great ridge.
Before getting to the Great Ridge, we had to descend Win Hill before ascending Lose Hill. I was prepared for the hill this time though, and was pleasantly surprised when we reached the top. From there, we walked along the great ridge, with views of Castleton and Edale valley on either side. Upon reaching the peak of Mam Tor, we reached the first check point (one down- several more to go!). We were ahead of time, so after a short break; we left the checkpoint and headed to the edge of Kinder. On the way, we passed Jacob’s ladder and Kinder downfall. Kinder Downfall was particularly epic; the wind at the top of the fall caused some of the water to be blown back at us as we walked by. We next came to the checkpoint at Snake’s pass, where we stopped for an overdue lunch.
The wind picked up during lunch, so I was happy to head downhill toward Snake Inn. However, the sun was shining, and walking through the woods near Snake Inn was very relaxing after the past couple of weeks of exams. As we were ahead of time, we took the last few miles of the DPM at a more leisurely pace and enjoyed the glorious weather and lovely surroundings. Even the last hill at Alport Castles couldn’t dishearten me, and the knowledge that the end was near spurred me on. At approximately 6 o’clock, we descended into Fairholmes, to complete the 24 mile DPM. Even though my legs ached after the days walking (my phone recorded that I’d taken 60000 steps that day), I was extremely satisfied. It only sunk in then how far we’d come, and what an achievement completing the DPM was. After all the groups competing in the 24 mile version arrived at the finish point, we did what Ramsoc does best- we headed for the pub.
After a day’s walking, being able to sit down and relax at the pub was the greatest feeling. Although I would have eaten anything at that point, the food at the pub was excellent (I had BBQ ribs) and everyone enjoyed a couple of well-earned pints. It was a great way to finish such a rewarding day. It was dark when we left the peak district, and the journey back was somewhat quieter than the morning journey- the only person who managed to stay awake the whole journey was the bus driver (I think). I was very ready for the bed when I arrived back at my room in halls, but even in my exhausted state, I knew I’d had a brilliant time doing the DPM, and couldn’t wait the take part again in the future.