Freshwalks racked up 25 million steps in 2022. Here are some highlights of a fabulous year which included trips to Switzerland and Northern Ireland and the launch of exciting new formats such as Gastrowalks.
Kinder Sunrise (January)
There’s nothing quite like a perfect winter sunrise walk. From the early morning car park excitement, walkers shrouded in darkness punctuated by the piercing glow of headtorches, there’s always a buzz in the Freshwalks air. Our January edition on Kinder Scout was another spectacular morning and an inspiring way to set the group up for a productive day.
Derwent & Alport Castles (March)
A route that never ceases to amaze, given the sheer beauty of this remote part of the Peak District. Alport Castles isn’t actually a castle (yes, someone always asks) but a landslip feature, thought to be the longest in the UK. The valley within which it sits, feels like something out of Lord of the Rings. The rest of our 18km route is a straightforward but stunning reservoir loop set against a gorgeous forest backdrop. After a quick ice-cream back at the visitor centre, we ventured to our regular pub in these parts, the excellent Yorkshire Bridge Inn, close to Ladybower.
Kinder Edges (April)
Our annual homage to the legendary Benny Rothman and Mass Trespass of April 1932. Rather than retrace their route up William Clough from Hayfield, we again opted to walk the entire perimeter of Kinder Scout. Those remote northern edges are as spectacular as they are disconnected from civilisation. An epic 28km trek once again for the hardiest Freshwalker.
Montreux to Lavaux (May)
The entire Switzerland trip to Lausanne and the Alps was incredible but a personal highlight was the day after the mountains and the Friday morning we spent at the eastern end of Lake Geneva. Our 30 strong group had sailed across the lake on the Belle Epoque, Italie, to Chateau de Chillon. Some of the group experienced the chateau tour while others immediately headed further along the lake towards the cultural hotspot of Montreux. Once there, Freshwalkers enjoyed lunch overlooking the lake before we carried on to our afternoon wine-tasting session at the Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO world heritage site. Sometimes all Freshwalks needs is a relaxed lakeside strolling vibe with good food and fine wine.
Caer Caradoc from Church Stretton (May)
The Shropshire Hills are seriously underrated. Relatively small in stature but the surrounding flat plains of Central England accentuate these gorgeous peaks overlooking Church Stretton, often referred to as Little Switzerland. A seventeen strong gang of Freshwalkers headed down for the day by rail and attacked this quintessential green English landscape with gusto. A circular 17km loop of Caer Caradoc and The Lawley followed up with a ploughman’s platter and locally brewed ale at a glorious beer garden back in Church Stretton. A highly rewarding day in a brand new Freshwalks county.
Bleaklow Sunset Picnic (June)
We’ve enjoyed a number of balmy summer evenings on our Sunset Picnic events but Bleaklow in June was simply outstanding. The lighter evenings afford us the opportunity to truly get away from it all, as we hiked deep into the moors. But it was the collective picnic effort of Freshwalkers that will live long in the memory. If you were there, you’ll have experienced a feast fit for hiking gods.
Summer Social: Hathersage to Hope (August)
For our annual summer social, we repeated the 2020 route though the forecast was much better than that very wet August day two years ago. This time our 30 strong group basked in sunshine for most of the day and enjoyed a White Peak odyssey which took us from village to hamlet, exploring quirky and historic country inns. It was a long but very sociable day for the Freshwalkers who joined us.
Gastrowalks at The Blind Bull (September)
The brand new Gastrowalks format has been an instant hit and though we’ve enjoyed stunning cuisine elsewhere at the likes of Freemasons at Wiswell and the Pack Horse Hayfield, our sold out September event stood out in 2022.
Helped considerably by a full turnout of Freshwalks stalwarts and some kind late summer weather, our gang had hiked approx. 11km over Abney Moor from Hope to arrive in Little Hucklow early afternoon.
Our hosts at The Blind Bull, Raab and team, set us up banquet style in the garden and served us a feast few will forget for some time with a stunning hilly backdrop. A quite brilliant day.
Dunseverick Castle to Giant’s Causeway (October)
After a challenging Thursday in the Mourne Mountains, the following morning we set off early on a coach for the northern Antrim coastline. Whereas tourists head straight for the iconic visitor destination of Giant’s Causeway, our destination was Dunseverick Castle to start a 5 mile walk along this rugged stretch of coastline. In equal measure, the sunshine and our local tour guide brought our surroundings to life with stories of legend and folklore emanating from these turquoise blue seas. After a flash storm temporarily battered us at the Causeway, some of the group enjoyed an afternoon tour of Old Bushmills, the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. A day to fill the senses.
Cold Moon Rising (December)
Having organised sunrise and sunset walks for the past three years, why not a moonlight walk? So to coincide with a full moon (the Cold Moon no less), we set off on a 10km hike up Rushup Edge in the Hope Valley in significantly sub-zero conditions. Detailed planning involved working out where the moon would be in the sky to ensure we’d be walking in the right direction. An incredible, clear night ensued with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all visible to the naked eye. There’ll be more moon walks in 2023 for sure.
Vale of Edale: Win, Lose & Tor (December)
Our traditional grand finale walk landed in the middle of the December cold snap which brought sub-zero conditions, snow and ice to the Peak District. This route really is as good as it gets and Freshwalkers enjoyed the rapidly changing scenery as we trekked through pasture, moorland, forests, reservoirs and peaks. Most of the group escaped the steep descent of Win Hill by sliding down the snowy slopes on backsides. After 24km, our weary group descended upon The Rambler Inn, Edale in the dark after another incredible year of Freshwalking. See you in ’23.
Some of the photographs shown here kindly supplied by James Torry of doodledoMOTION.
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