I should warn you, before I start, that this was my favourite Peak day out so far - I had every variation of perfect light that I could ever wish for... so I hope it will go down well. Also, bear in mind that any pictures seen here can be purchased as a download, print, framed print, poster, postcard, card or anything else imaginable - just get in touch.
A few weeks ago I took an afternoon off to make the most of the freezing weather in the Peak. My trip started at Grindleford station and took in Padley Gorge, Surprise View, Carl Wark and Higger Tor - before ending in the darkness at Hathersage.
On arrival I was instantly greeted with white trees - one of the most perfect hoar frosts I've seen - so I couldn't wait to get into the woods up Padley Gorge. Not only were they all white, but there was also a light mist which softened the sunlight beaming through the trees. Woodland just doesn't get any better than this. The first of these photos is one of my all time favourites (basically unedited).
After Padley Gorge I made my way towards Surprise View - the most aptly named place (possibly) in the world - along a track I've never walked before. Upon reaching this spot it became clear that the slight mist in the Padley woods was actually the kind of inversion I had waited months for before... the entire valley filled with mist.
Next I headed towards Over Owler Tor, where the frost became increasingly thick - almost looking like snow - as I got higher, in any area the sun couldn't reach. Then on towards Carl Wark where I had a very nice spot for dinner. I'd not seen another person in hours, which is rare in these parts, and I sat in the surprisingly warm sun, overlooking the Hope Valley and Higger Tor enjoying the most isolated, quiet, peaceful, lovely dinner I'll probably ever have. After food I had a good walk around Carl Wark making the most of the permanently low December sun...
Next stop - Higger Tor - which is where the real magic happened. At first the light changed in quite a normal manner... turning more red as the sun got lower... but then suddenly the mist rolled over from the north. I could stand there watching the cloud fly past my face whilst the sun set into the cloud hanging over the valley like a false horizon. It's not often you get to be in the sunset itself - so this was a moment that will live very long in the memory - with all the air around me glowing pink. I didn't realise at the time, but just before I set off down I noticed that my backpack was completely white - covered in frost - along with my camera. This in itself is not something I've ever experience before... it didn't feel that cold, but I was wearing 7 layers and running around like a mad man taking photos.
Finally, I made my way down in the dark. I had half an hour to make the train so spent half of the journey running (certainly not the best idea) through the darkness, with my head torch, just hoping I wouldn't land on a patch of black ice. Fortunately, I'm quite proud to say that I made it... without a single slip. Quite an achievement.
Here are some night time shots on the way down, before a map of the exact route...
It is days like this that make the early mornings, long waits for trains and freezing temperatures worthwhile... but it may be a long time before I experience conditions as amazing as these again.