Turns out I actually did something else pretty cool sooner than I expected.
I mentioned before how there are a million amazing sports societies that are available to join- and how I planned on participating in the Rambling and Hillwalking Society (aka, RamSoc)- so yesterday, I went on my first hike. Actually, I think people here don’t say hike as often as I would, but instead actually say ramble or walk for what we would call a hike. I guess my blog title isn’t completely based on incorrect stereotypes! Still waiting to hear someone say “jolly good” though…
All the hikes the RamSoc goes on are in the Peak District, an incredible National Park only an hour away from Nottingham. If you know any British geography, the Peak District is right in between Nottingham and Manchester. One of the girls from Manchester said she could actually see part of the city she recognized from the top of a hill during the hike! During the coach ride, (yes, coach not bus, it was actually pretty darn fancy,) they passed out sheets with descriptions of level 1-5 hikes we could choose from. I chose level 3, which was supposed to be 14.4 km (9 miles) and actually turned out to be a little over 11 miles. We apparently saw the Ramshaw Rocks, Lud’s Church and the Roaches traverse, but I didn’t know what any of those actually were. The description I thought was pretty interesting sounded actually so here it is: “Starting at the third drop off point, we immediately find ourselves surrounded by the Ramshaw Rocks formation, with an intention of walking the Roaches towards the end of our route. We get there via Gradbach, the exotic chasm of Lud’s Church and Forest Wood. Once upon the Roaches, we hit the trig point and continue to descend south-easterly around the back of Hen Cloud, past Dains Mill, and into Upper Hulme where the pub awaits.” I loved the description because everything sounds SO British! Like, “Forest Wood” could be in a fairytale or something. Also I think it’s funny we always end in a pub. We ended up having no pub time though because our hike went a little longer than expected (our leader was very sad).
I took lots of pictures on this hike so just brace yourself.
This is the first view we got, moments after getting off the bus:
So amazing already, right?! I feel like the countrysides here are pretty distinctively British (and beautiful).
The first part of the hike was all grass, through lots of gates for cows and sheep, and down a few narrow country roads. It was different than any hike I’d ever done! It started out relatively flat, but with lots of amazing scenery.
I was surprised by some parts actually being considered paths- most of the time, it seemed like we were walking straight through someone’s field! We could’ve stopped to pet cows and sheep multiple times. We were literally walking through their pens. But apparently they were paths because we always ended up on clear paths eventually!
Some of the path started getting muddy as we rambled on, and at one point, my entire food was sucked straight down to my ankle! It completely coated my foot in mud and I was actually afraid of losing my shoe when I tried to pull it out… It ended up being totally okay though, especially because less than a minute later, a girl’s entire leg was sucked into the mud all the way up to her thigh! If she wasn’t wearing boots, she would’ve lost a shoe for sure. People had to literally hoist her out. She was fine as well and we all had a good laugh about it, but I’ve never been so worried about mud before!
Then, we stopped for lunch about 5 miles in. I was pretty ready to eat. The view was really amazing, because it was the top of one of the first hills we climbed.
If you look closely at the picture of me, my right shoe is much darker than my left. Thanks, mud.
After walking along the ridge of the hill, we fought through brambles on what apparently was another path, and went into the forest. This part of the hike really reminded me of Oregon hikes! The trees were a little more sparse than I was used to, but it was really nice still. I’m assuming this part of the hike was the “Forest Wood.” It was probably the steepest ascent, so right after lunch, it was quite difficult. For some reason, I was leading the group at this point because we were slightly behind schedule and apparently I “set a good pace.” I don’t think it was my pace as much as it was my fear of appearing inadequately fit so I just didn’t stop unless someone else told me to.
It was pretty incredible how many different terrains and landscapes we hiked through, all so close to each other! You’ll see what I mean even farther to the end of the hike.
After the worst of the uphill, we broke out of the trees, and came to a road. The Roaches, the main attraction and viewpoint, were accessible by car from there for people who weren’t keen on hiking 8 miles to get there. We still had quite a lot of uphill to get to the top from here, but it was slightly flatter, and the view was incredible the whole way.
The whole summit was covered in rocks like this- it was so cool! From breaking out into the trees, seeing this red stone everywhere was really neat.
Honestly, pictures don’t even capture how incredible this view was. I don’t know if I loved the landscape or the sun streaming through the clouds more. We got so lucky with the weather- our hands were pretty freezing at the summit- but it was mostly sunny the whole way! I was seriously so in awe. God is such an amazing artist.
After taking in the view a little bit, we powered on to finish the hike. Another steep downhill really tested my knee- it did great, but is a little swollen today for sure. I’m pretty proud I didn’t have to go too slow or complain to anyone about it at all though.
We weren’t quite done at the bottom, but didn’t have any more difficult hiking. Instead, we walked next to those fields and down a nice little road.
We were pretty exhausted by now, but didn’t have time to order anything when we arrived at the pub. Got to go in to use the bathroom though which was honestly the best thing ever.
Overall, it was an exhausting but amazing day! My legs aren’t as sore as I thought they would be today, but even if they were, it was totally worth it. I’m so thankful I got to see so much of England I wouldn’t have been able to see any other way!
Other than how amazing the scenery was, the most incredible thing about the day was in self reflection. I realized how much I’ve already grown from this experience already! A year, or maybe even a month ago, I would’ve never gone to a random bus stop at 9am to go on an all day hike without knowing anybody. I was supposed to go with a friend, actually, (hi Jenson!) but he was sick; I was really proud of myself for choosing to go anyway. Seriously, I would’ve never done this before. This is coming from the girl who cried before youth group if I hadn’t called one of my friend’s homes first to double check they were going to be there as well. I’ve definitely learned to be more confident and social, and how to deliberately step out of my comfort zone. I’m so thankful for my time here, and so excited to continue getting to learn and grow!
Look at how great a love the Father has given us!
1 John 3:1