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  • Writer's pictureGemma Bailey

Inspiring Walks: Dovestones & The Trinnicle

I know my favourite walks are in Yorkshire and that will never change, but recently I've been feeling an odd pull towards the Peak District. An area that has always been close by, it's northern limits grazing by my birthplace in Greater Manchester and my chosen home of West Yorkshire. And yet I'd never explored this area, so it was time to find out more.
It turns out that my first adventures into the Peak District would be transformative, as I discovered that I like to scramble! This discovery has added a whole new level of excitement to my walks and taken me through new landscapes which I can't wait to paint. It's also shown me that I am braver than I think and I can handle more than I give myself credit for sometimes. My first scramble was an easy start up the grade 1 Charnel Clough, but I was still nervous. In my mind, a scramble was far too close to a climb and after one too many times causing disappointment because I was too scared to climb, it had become a bit of a mental block for me. But up I went, and it turns out scrambling isn't that hard when you have the right people around you to give some encouragement. And the occasional leg-up.

Next up was Wilderness Gully West, a slightly more difficult scramble and a chance to get in some water. This grade 1 gully is on the southern slope of the valley through which Chew brook flows from Chew Reservoir. There were plenty of obstacles to get to grips with, becoming more difficult as we got higher. When I reached the top and looked back down, the route looked terrifyingly steep but I'd been so immersed in my movement, thinking about where to place my hands and feet and the need to keep moving, that I hadn't noticed any of this. Maybe I could tackle the final scramble after all.

Wilderness Gully East. The final challenge of the day was a grade 2 scramble, and I approached it with great trepidation. After tackling Wilderness Gully West, I was feeling exhilarated and confident, but as I walked down the trail back to the base of the gully, the familiar doubt started to creep back in. I almost bailed. But then I didn't. I had something to prove, mainly to myself and so I cleared my mind, took a deep breath and reminded myself I am much more capable than I realise. The scramble was challenging without a doubt, with plenty of big boulders, tricky climbs and slippery rocks in places. But it was also really fun and exciting and by the end, I was even leading the route. I'm not sure that I will ever face a scramble without some doubt in my mind, but I know that I can overcome that.
A few weeks later, with supportive friend in tow, I went back to Dovestones with a new challenge ahead of me. The day started with a pleasant walk around the reservoir before heading up Birchen Clough for an easy scramble and an envious look at the many enticing dipping pools we passed along the way.
At the top we headed right, following the path round to admire the views across Saddleworth Moor and finally reaching the Trinnacle. This gritstone pillar looms over the reservoir and valley below, with sheer drops on most sides. The climb up to the top isn't actually very difficult, but you need strong legs and a stronger stomach to stand up tall, especially when you feel a breeze blowing. if you're brave enough to look, the views from here are amazing but not quite the spot I'm looking for to set up my paints this time...


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