With the country set to descend into chaos within hours a spur of the moment decision was made to pre-empt the madness and head on up to Peakland. Our destination was the Edale YHA and our mission an early morning assault on the great ridge to take in the sunrise.
All was going well until we arrived in Edale and realised that getting the car up to the youth hostel would be impossible without snow chains. Not a problem though; we are a hardy pair and happily carried our bits and bobs up and checked in before heading off to the pub for some much needed nosebag. With a couple of pints of Old Rosie, good grub and the snow piling up on the windowsills it was quite simply a wonderful way to spend a cold winter evening.
There were others too enjoying their stay in Peakland and we got talking to a couple of them on the walk back. Our conversation with Jason and Izabela continued in the YHA bar and later in the communal kitchen where we sang and played guitars while drinking wine, beer and vodka late into the night. Splendid stuff indeed.
It’ll come as no surprise that when my alarm went off at 6am my spirits had dipped somewhat and with a sore head and arid gob I staggered downstairs to meet the bouncing Czech who was also feeling fragile as a result of her nocturnal libations! Still, if there is a better cure for a hangover than winter peaks I have yet to hear about it.
So out into the cold morning went we and soon the white hills started to glow in the pre dawn. If we were to make it up there for sunrise we would have to be quick. The plan had been to traverse the high ridge that separates Edale and the Hope Valley in its entirety but that would mean we would almost certainly miss sun up. I took the executive decision to alter our route and we set about a direct course up to the col betwixt Back Tor and Hollins Cross. In our delicate state breaking trail through the fresh snow was sheer purgatory but as a pink glow filled the sky I upped the pace until at last we hit the ridge with but seconds to spare.
There we stood, gasping for breath as the sun rose in a spectacular show of golden light. The snow on the ridge was virgin, the valley silent below, a stunning scene of pristine beauty and we shared it with no one but each other.
Such moments are bitter sweet for they are so fleeting, not unlike life for those that love the hills; so many places to go, so little time. Today though, time was something that we had in abundance and rejoicing in every step we slowly made our way over the ups and downs of the ridge before finally coming to rest on Mam Tor, the shivering mountain.
We peered down the gully that splits its precipitous face. Stone fall raked the gully which showed signs of a recent ascent, no doubt a pre dawn climb while the icy cold of night bonded together the crumbling bastion above.
Before long a chill wind was upon us followed by a curtain of low cloud, blinding us to all but the ground beneath our feet. The show was over, it was time to go and we retraced our steps, smug in the knowledge that while those in valleys slept we had witnessed the miracle birth of a new born day, a gift that so many take for granted.