With the previous day's snow having melted things were guaranteed to be muddy and wet underfoot, for this proposed 4.5 miles walk from May 2009 Country Walking magazine. It was also biting cold, although it did warm up slightly as the day went on. So parking at the Robin Hood Inn, we climbed up on a stepped path, only for me to notice that I hadn't written the OS grid numbers on my cut out map/instructions. At the time I hoped that it wouldn't matter, in the event however it did as without them I couldn't get much sense out of my GPS when we eventually needed it.
Anyway we continued on and soon found ourselves up on Birchen Edge facing Nelson's monument and three ships (pictured). After the usual round of posing for the camera and passing the trig point, we then continued on a very boggy descent which proved that my (back up) conservation boots (that have done many a good walk) are no longer waterproof. Luther and Molly didn't seem to be having any problems with their footwear, although like me Helen was having water seep into her boots as well. Finally we reached a road junction, where we made a brief climb alongside the traffic before picking up some open moorland. There we had the shortest of tea stops, following which we headed towards Wellingtons Monument, which I recognised from a previous walk we had done, all the while keeping out of the way of the nearby highland cattle and their long horns.
After this unfortunately we started to go wrong with the ambigous instructions. We were instructed to turn left to pick up a path between a wall and trees, by an old sign. Well there was a sign of sorts and certainly trees and a wall, but some OS reference points on my map may have been useful here. Thus if we were still on the right path, we were far to distracted by some curious pigs to stay on it. So a long descent later we eventually sussed we had gone wrong. Helen eventually got our bearings using her OS map, and after a short walk up the A621, we were able to pick up the route again by some cottages.
Here however things went more astray with the instructions, with fences on the other side than stated, far more than two gaps in the wall which we were supposed to head through, and no gate to aim for. However skirting past the end of Gardoms Edge we tried to make a descent (which we assumed was the correct one) to get us onto the A619. However once at the bottom we couldn't find any unlocked gate or stile to get us (and more importantly the dogs) back onto the road. This meant a very steep and boggy ascent all the way back up to the top of Gardoms edge, to find the correct path back to the car.
So overall a nice walk, if we knew where we were going. However the instructions were at times ambigous and at other times plain incorrect, which spoiled it somewhat for me. Grid references on the cut out (my mistake) should have kept us out of difficulties with my GPS, but lacking these we ended up walking 6.3 miles instead of the stated 4.5.