An Introduction to Ramble Guides
Words and photography by Athena Mellor
I’m Athena, a Yorkshire girl currently living in Manchester, though most often found rambling on the hills somewhere in the Peak District or beyond. In April of this year, I created Ramble Guides; a website dedicated to outdoor travel guides to the UK’s National Parks and wild spaces, designed for the modern explorer. The ethos behind Ramble is a simple, sleek design with a focus on the quality of the content and locations given – rather than overloading the reader with information, we offer a reduced list of sites and walks to each National Park, providing the reader with the key information needed to get outside but leaving the rest open to be discovered for yourself.
The idea for Ramble came about after I returned from travelling. Not content with getting a 9-5 office job and living a life that didn’t make me feel fulfilled, instead I decided to work part-time, build my personal projects and take every opportunity to go outside or travel abroad. In doing so, I identified a gap in the market for an outdoor travel guide designed for younger people – for the city-dweller who wants a wild weekend in the hills, for groups of friends catching the train to the countryside for the day, for those who love road trips and camping trips and being outside, but not necessarily climbing a mountain. The guides are designed with walks and viewpoints, pubs and cafe – taking the stresses away from planning a trip into the countryside, but leaving the anticipation there – guiding you to the places that will leave you speechless.
Over the past four months, I have written and photographed five National Parks: Peak District, Lake District, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Yorkshire Dales. Currently each guide contains between five and ten locations, but I hope to expand the guides to include between fifteen and twenty locations as I continue to explore the Parks. In around a year I’d love to create the first published Ramble Guidebook in print form. The internet is an amazing tool, but there’s nothing like holding a book in your hand; I’d love for people to buy their Ramble Guidebook to take on a weekend in the countryside, for it to come back with torn edges, coffee and mud stains.
Here, I’ve included one location from each Ramble Guide currently on the website.
The Peak District // Lady Clough Forest
Though the majority of the Peak District consists of moors and farmland, Lady Clough makes for a beautifully rich woodland walk that is neither strenuous nor time-consuming – unless you are an avid photographer, in which case you may find yourself wandering the woods all day! Consisting of predominantly coniferous trees, with the River Ashop running through the middle of the forest and the stunning open moorland of Ashop Moor if you venture a little further beyond the trail, Lady Clough is arguably the most varied and accessible woodland walk in the Dark Peak.
Getting there: Park at the Hope Woodland carpark along Snake Road.
Hike: Follow the blue signposts for an easy 2-mile walk, or continue onto Ashop Moor for a longer, more adventurous hike.
Gear: We would recommend walking boots due to the rough, woodland terrain and muddy patches after rainfall.
Food & Drink: Check out the Snake Pass Inn for a no frills pub lunch and pint after the walk.
The Lake District // Homeground Coffee + Kitchen
Located in the town of Windermere, Homeground Coffee + Kitchen is the perfect cosy cafe serving specialty coffee, an extensive all-day brunch and light lunch menu, and one of the best cake selections we’ve come across. Everything is made in-house – from the jams to the sauces – and ingredients are sourced from local farms and traders. Stop for breakfast before a hike or sit outside on a sunny day and enjoy a coffee and generous portion of Homeground cake.
Getting there: Windermere is situated just off the A591 at the southern end of the Lake District. There is roadside pay & display parking, or park at Broad Street carpark, just round the corner from the cafe; £3 for 2 hours. There is a train station in Windermere with direct train service from Lancaster.
Opening times: Open 9-5 everyday. Kitchen open 9-3 weekdays and 9-4 weekends. Visit the website for more information.
Brecon Beacons // Grwyne Fawr Bothy
The Gwyrne Fawr bothy might just be the definition of the word remote. To get there, you must drive down a dead-end road for 7 miles to reach a carpark. From here, it is a 2.5 miles hike through a forest and beside the reservoir before this little mountain hut comes into sight. A tiny stone building nestled into the hillside alongside a stream that feeds into the reservoir; the bothy contains not much more than a stove, table, a few chairs and a sleeping shelf up a ladder – but what more do you need? Your only neighbours will be the wild ponies that roam around the reservoir or maybe the infamous bothy mouse you may hear scuttling about. Phone service disappears somewhere way back on the road, so bring a book, playing cards and a flask of whiskey and settle in for the night.
Getting there: It is around a 10 mile drive from Abergavenny through small farm lanes. Park at the Black Mountain (Mynydd Du) Car Park then start the walk by following the path at the northern end of the carpark. It is a straight path all the way to the southern end of the reservoir, continue to the northern end where you will see the bothy.
*Respect the bothy code when visiting and ensure you tell at least one person where you will be spending the night.
Yorkshire Dales // Ribblehead Viaduct
Located in the middle of the Three Peaks, Ribblehead Viaduct is a Victorian railway bridge surrounded by dramatic scenery. At 400m long and with 24 arches spanning across the Batty Moss, the viaduct makes for an excellent photo opportunity and is certainly worth detouring for.
Getting there: There is plenty of parking in lay-bys near to Ribblehead Station. You can also catch the train to Ribblehead, on the Settle-Carlisle line.
Snowdonia // Cwm Idwal
A glittering tarn nestled amidst the craggy peaks of an area known as Devil’s Kitchen, beneath the hills of Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. At the northern edge there is a small beach area – the perfect place to stop, sit down, take off your boots and watch sparkling water lapping against the shoreline. Probably one of the most serene and beautiful places in Snowdonia National Park.
Getting there: Park in the pay & display carpark at Ogwen Cottage, just off the A5. There is also plenty of free parking in lay-bys along the road beside Llyn Ogwen.
Hike: From Ogwen Cottage, follow an easy path for less than a kilometre to reach the tarn. Alternatively, link with longer walks to Y Garn, Glyder Fach or Glyder Fawr. Find more information from the National Trust here.
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