Meet the Dark Peak Walk Guides

Walk Guide, Dark Peak

Chris Hopley - Walk Guide

There are currently five volunteer Walk Guides in the Dark Peak. They regularly take people on walks around the Edale Valley and Mam Tor and are looking to develop their walks programme to explore further afield.

Dark Peak Walk Guides choosing a route for their next walk

Chris Hopley, Dark Peak Walk Guide, tells us about being one of the team.

How did you become Volunteer Walk Guides?

“I decided that I wanted to give something back to the National Trust when I retired from work so I applied to Hardwick Hall for a role as a volunteer, where I still volunteer as a walk guide. I later became a volunteer at Eyam Hall too and when the National Trust ceased to run it, I jumped at the opportunity to become a walk guide in the Dark Peak area which I love!”

Bill became a National Trust volunteer after a chance conversation with the Volunteer Manager at Eyam Hall, when he was visiting for the first time. Having recently retired, and being a NT life member for many years, he felt the invitation to ‘give it a try’ was worth following up – and so it was! Initially gardening, then Eyam Hall room guide and finally, a walks guide, he has found his niche!”

Lorna joined the National Trust at Longshaw as the sports volunteer in August 2014. One of her first jobs was to compile running routes around Longshaw. To help her with this, she joined the Longshaw guided walks and recorded the routes. She was then asked if she wanted to become a member of the walks team and of course, she said ‘yes please’. It was then another easy ‘yes please’ when she was invited to join the new Dark Peak walk guides!

Mike has been a National Trust volunteer for three years, initially starting as a walk guide at Eyam before extending his love of the outdoors by becoming a monitor for the Heritage Archaeology Ranger Team (HART). Mike particularly enjoy the interaction with fellow volunteers and walkers.

Peter started volunteering as a walk guide with the National Trust at Longshaw in 2013 when the previous walking project he was involved in came to an end when lottery funding ended. He too moved to join the Dark Peak walks team last year.

Collectively, the team of Dark Peak Walk Guides has 25 years of experience of volunteering for the National Trust!”

Dark Peak Walk Guides checking a route
Dark Peak Guided Walks Leaders
Dark Peak Walk Guides checking a route

What does your role involve?

“We plan the walk routes then walk the routes and risk-assess them, checking the mileage and the length of time the walks take before advertising them. Sometimes we lead the walks and sometimes we support them. Some of us prefer to support than lead, bringing up the rear and making sure everyone is safe and happy, it’s a very important part of the job.

Our walks take between 2 and 2⅟2 hours. We have to take account of the weather on the day of our guided walks and may need to change the route that we had planned at the last minute. We are looking to expand the range of our guided walks during 2019 and are really excited to be part of the People’s Landscape project for which we will be running a series of walks based on the Dark Peak stories of the Kinder Mass Trespass. As part of this we are leading a walk on the 27th April from Mam Tor car park into Winnats Pass, to join the Spirit of Kinder rally. We hope that lots of people will come and join us as we celebrate the wonderful access we have to the countryside, fought for by protestors only a few centuries ago.”

Dark Peak Walk Guides planning their walks programme
Dark Peak Walk Guides planning their walks programme
Dark Peak Walk Guides planning their walks programme

What does your role contribute to the work of the National Trust?

“The National Trust looks after 250,000 hectares of countryside and the aim is to keep this available for people to explore now and in the future. Offering guided walks is one of the ways in which the National Trust makes the countryside available and enables visitors to learn about the history of the area. We try and run our walks near public transport provision wherever we can, and we make the length and difficulty suitable for people who may not be fully fledged mountain or moorland walkers.”

We all love the great outdoors. The Peak District National Park and, in particular the Dark Peak, is a fantastic area to walk. We enjoy meeting new people and sharing experiences with them and telling them about the local history and the work that the National Trust is undertaking locally.”

What sorts of wildlife have you seen?

“One day we saw a mole hill moving and were waiting for the mole to pop out of the top of the pile of soil, but never did!  We see birds of prey such as buzzards, sparrow hawks and kestrels.”

Do you prefer using a map and compass, or GPS?

“I prefer to use a map and compass, as GPS may not always be available.  Mike likes the discipline of planning and recording walks but is still trying to get to grips with GPS and all aspects of electronic mapping.  Lorna can't use a map or compass but hopes to develop these skills.”

What do you look forward to when you’ve been out in the rain and mist for a walk?

“We enjoy a good warm lunch with a hot drink in a local café, and we always like to find an excuse to enjoy a piece of cake!”

Look out for the team's walks on the Dark Peak event pages here.