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Autumn Walking

Dianne Boardman

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Peak District Summer Walks Dark Peak Explorer Series

William Westhead

The Peak District hills look amazing at this time of year – all glorious purples and pinks as the heathers come into bloom and entice you out for long Indian Summer walks while there is still chance.  Unfortunately sheep ticks also love this weather and they love heather and the ferns and long grasses. This is now a nationwide problem especially in late summer and autumn so you should take a few precautions such as long trousers and carrying a pair of tweezers or special tick removers – pull the tick out carefully in a corkscrew action.

Autumn Walks

Tick-borne diseases can leave you paralysed or even kill you as the tick gets inside your blood stream.  It is also worth checking your clothes when you get home and if you are walking with a dog, check them too.

Autumn is also a time of year when the weather changes fast as it can be very windy and clouds can push through quickly.  William recommends that all walkers check the weather forecast before they leave.  

Autumn Walks

This is exactly what happened when we signed up for William’s One Day Course.  Within half an hour of leaving the car and hitting the open moorland we had big fat raindrops dribbling down our necks and it was a scramble for the waterproofs before the full onslaught.  As the mist came rolling in over Kinder Scout it was time to put the navigation, map reading and compass skills we’d learnt in the three-hour classroom session beforehand to use.  

Apparently 78% of walkers don’t know how to plot a route or even read a map properly – by that William means being able to read the symbols - and I confess I was probably one of them judging by the results.

Autumn Walks

The course is informal and friendly and I learnt a lot of new terminology like ‘handrailing’, ‘transit points’, ‘linear features’ and got to dig deep in my brain for all that school geography about contours and gradients.  The map we used was the OS OL1 Dark Peak Explorer Series and William lent us a good quality compass.  We also used our watches to estimate the distance we’d travelled by timing and pacing.  Now there was no chance of us not knowing at least roughly where we were at any one time even if the landmarks were obliterated.   We had visualised what the route would look like in advance, picturing the landmarks and features on the map but when the heavy rain came pelting down we were reliant on the compass to steer us on our way.  

Lunch was a picnic under the shelter of a dry-stone wall as the rain eased off and the sun broke free to steam the ground around us.  The clarity of all those blues and greys and greens and pinky-purples in their newly washed dust-free glory had us all reaching for our cameras and made the adventure of a summer storm completely worth it.    

William runs variously paced courses and also leads hill walks for groups.  To find out more contact him on 07734 822934 or e mail: or see his website: