Hello again humans. It’s Joe the Cocker here. Me and my human dad have recently been hiking again. Here is my report on our outing. My dad is typing it again for me because I am still waiting for a genius to invent a paw-friendly keyboard so that I can write my own blog. My dad is ok and he doesn’t really mind doing this for me but I think that I need a bit more independence. Also, he knows exactly what I am saying. This isn’t always a good thing because we have different views on some important stuff and I don’t want him to put his bias on what is important to me. He disagrees with my stance on squirrel and bird chasing. He also can’t understand why sometimes I like to run off for a few minutes. He complains at me sometimes when I find a huge muddy puddle and I lie down in it. If I do more than one poop on a hike he asks me where did all that come from. He doesn’t always allow me to run off-lead when I want to. I could go on but the more I think about it the more I realise what a control freak he is. Then again, we do get on really well and he does take me on a lot of hikes. So, I can’t say that he is a meanie. He just seems to be a bit of a grump at times.
Sorry folks, back to the day’s hike. Due to the fact that my dad has been unwell for a while he decided to take us on another flat route. I suppose that it is good for our fitness levels. We need to keep getting some mileage under our belts because we are going to hike the Rob Roy Way in the new year. We both prefer to hike in the hills and mountains but we would rather do some flattish walks until the old feller gets a bit healthier. He holds me back so much but please don’t tell him! The day’s hike was to be along the Longendale Trail in Derbyshire. The weather wasn’t fantastic but it was forecast for showers rather than a full on stormy day like we seem to pick for our adventures. It is only just over an hour’s drive to Hadfield to the start of the trail. Hadfield is the setting for Royston Vasey in the TV series A League of Gentlemen. My dad says that he loves that programme and keeps calling me ‘Dave’ in a weird voice. I suppose that it means something to fans of the series. The route follows the disused Woodhead railway line that ran between Sheffield and Manchester. It is a multi-use path that hikers share with cyclists and horse riders. The gradient is gradual rising only 100 metres from end to end. It runs for 6.5 miles from the car park in Hadfield to the Woodhead Tunnel. Our plan was to do an out and back walk so it would be thirteen miles in total (my dad worked this out on a calculator).
We arrived at the small car park in Hadfield mid-morning and managed to grab the last parking space available. I was ready to leave early but as usual my dad was faffing around. Anyway, we arrived and parked up before setting off a short uphill ramp to the trail. The surface of the track was a bit muddy with some puddles thanks to the persistent rain that we have been having. That is absolutely fine with me and I ran through them while my dad did his utmost to avoid getting his boots muddy. It is futile if you ask me. He should jump in the first puddle and splash around just like I do. Once you are mucky it doesn’t matter if you step in mud as the best part, or worst depending whether you are a human or a canine, has already happened. The trail along most of the route was constructed of compacted sand with gravel embedded. Along a lot of the length of the trail there was a drainage ditch running along side. That was great for me to have a sly dip into every now and again, much to my dad’s disapproval. The start of the walk was the muddiest and is well trodden by local dog walkers who don’t venture too far from Hadfield. Dogs from around here must have to be showered a lot when they get home. That is something else that I love.
Not long into the walk Bottoms Reservoir comes into view on the left. This is the first of five reservoirs that the trail passes on route to Woodhead. The route shares some of it’s length with the Trans Pennine Trail and we were passed by a few hardy mountain bikers who were cycling the entire length in sections. The cycle group consisted of elves, Santa’s and Mrs Santa. Humans seem to have an obsession with dressing in the silliest costumes. I hope that my dad doesn’t get any ideas from this motley crew. As we left the first stage of the walk where most of the local dog walkers had turned around to go back to Hadfield I was allowed to run off-lead. The trail is almost completely fenced off on both sides so escape for me would be difficult. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t try to if I spotted an opening.
The song of the day kicked off more or less as we started the trail. This time it wasn’t one song but snippets of every Christmas carol that my dad could recall. He sang as if he expected me to join in. Well, that’s not going to happen. Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger, Good King Wenceslas and any other one liners he could remember spoiled the peace and tranquillity. So annoying.
The trail continued past the Valehouse and Rhodeswood reservoirs along the valley surrounded by high moorland. The only road crossing of the trail was along the side of the Torside reservoir at Torside Crossing. It’s here that the Pennine Way crosses the route. We continued on until we came to a short rise in the path at the start of the Woodhead reservoir. We walked down the cobbles by the wrought iron railings that overlooked the lake at Crowden Station. Soon after we reached our terminus. This was the northern end of the trail at the Woodhead tunnels. It was time for a short rest.
We stopped at the old Woodhead railway station platform to eat our lunch. It was cold and blowy with rain threatening but we were both hungry. So, we sat on the platform and ate our food and I drank water while my dad had a hot cup of coffee. The stop didn’t last long as the weather was taking a turn for the worse. Soon, adequately fuelled, we set off in the return direction towards Hadfield. I was allowed to run off-lead again on the return journey. It was all downhill on the way back. So gradual though you wouldn’t notice especially as the wind was now in our faces. We retraced our steps as the weather deteriorated. The wind and rain was in our faces. It seemed to take less time on the way back probably because our pace picked up due to the temperature drop. It was a pretty uneventful return journey as we covered the same ground. The black clouds gathering above the high moors became our driving force until we reached the car. We received a good soaking from the driving rain about 5 minutes before we managed to sprint back to the car park. All that was to be done was for me to have a quick rub down with my towel and for me to sleep on my comfy bed. My dad had the job of driving home through the late afternoon traffic while I snored on the back seat. I was tired again because I had been zooming around for the last five hours. I can’t wait until the next time that we get out for good hike. Hopefully, we will get up in the hills. Maybe the Lake District or Snowdonia. We’ll see!