For whatever reason I couldn’t embed this YouTube video, hence the hyperlink. Well worth a listen:
After last year’s total Summer Solstice Failure the 2018 Solstice caused me a little apprehension: Would the weather be better? Would the Metrolink tram system thwart my travel plans? Would Brexit continue to cause me a load of grief and worry?
As it happened I needed to keep my daily mileage figures up – July 2018 should see me taking part in ‘Afoot in Two Dales’, a 50 miles in 24 hours walking challenge in the Yorkshire Dales, and the Nijmegen Marches, 160km of ‘marching’ over 4 days in, er, Nijmegen.
An appropriate Plan was planned: I would walk from JJ towers to Alderley Edge, home to footballers, the odd coven, King Arthur and his knights, plus loads of other stuff – including the very fine Derbyshire Caving Club.
A nice little 10 mile route to Alderley Edge was plotted and so off I went, leaving home at 7pm and arriving on the Edge at a little before 10pm.
Alderley Edge is a magical, mystical spot – this YouTube video gives a flavour of the place.
I took lightweight kit: LaserComp tent, a short Thermarest, Caldera Cone meths stove and stuff like that. I thought I’d persevere with my SatMap GPS and take it along – just to give it another chance to redeem itself. It didn’t, obviously.
I’d arranged to meet my mate Anup on the Edge, he was intending to bivvy so he could stare at the stars all night….all night - less than 3 hours of actual darkness.
So, some photos:
Styal Country Park, en-route to Alderley Edge
Folk were wandering around the Edge, some were there to catch the sunset whilst others were just up there for a late evening wander around. Anup had arrived before me, he hunted round and found a nice little flat spot to lay his head.
Sunset from Alderley Edge
Around 10.45pm a group of curiously clad folk rolled up out of the gathering gloom. Some carried djembes, others carried staffs. It was all rather atmospheric.
I didn’t have time to grab my ‘proper’ camera so had to make-do with the phone camera – it didn’t take a very decent photograph. The druid-folk eventually wandered off to sit up the rest of the night around a fire in the man-made stone circle in the woods.
Home for the night
Brew time: my Caldera Cone
I spent a comfortable although not completely restful night in my tent. I was aware of some nocturnal wanderings about and the distant sound of occasional drumming.
Sunrise was forecast to be 4.38am. My alarm announced 4am although it wasn’t needed, the light on my tent and the sound of drumming was more than enough to wake me.
What witchery is this then?
8 minutes to sunrise
By 4.30am the Edge became rather busier, more spectators arrived to witness the sunrise. There were probably 20+ wandering around.
The sunrise itself was quite something – although with the low cloud it could quite easily have been a non-event
As it became lighter the congregation began to disperse. Anup packed his bivvy and headed for home – he was off to do another overnighter somewhere else. Dog walkers and a couple of early morning runners wandered by as the sun rose higher in the sky. The Edge was returning to some level of normality.
At around 6.40am I was packed up and ready to retrace my steps to get back home. I rather foolishly gave my SatMap10 GPS yet ANOTHER chance to redeem itself – to no avail:
The maps were either missing or just wouldn’t load.
Route-finding wasn’t too much of a problem, I either followed the many signs off the top or just followed my nose.
My route home was straightforward, just a matter of retracing my steps: bits of the North Cheshire Way and the Bollin Valley Way plus some inventiveness to avoid as much tarmac as possible. I probably ended up keeping to footpaths for 75% of the time.
Manchester in the distance
St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow
Henry Boddington: famous for beer and playing fields
I stopped for breafast at a picnic table in Styal Woods, lots of dog walkers around plus some runners training up for the Wilmslow Half Marathon.
I arrived back home at 10am, feeling quite pleased with myself – I’d managed a nice little backpack but was only away from home for around 15 hours.
I returned to the Edge in the evening, just for the hell of it. The light was completely different…obv.
You should read ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ by Alan Garner if you’re remotely interested in Alderley Edge. It’s suitable for children of all ages – and it may even be based on fact. Maybe.