Sunday 12th March 2017 report

Five of us were about to set off from Birchin Clough car park when a familiar vehicle roared in… delayed by the Guardian crossword, apparently. So 7 set off down by the stream below the A57, up to the Snake Inn and then down into the woods again. Here the meet leader ascertained that one black peaty mess was indeed a boot and 2/3rds of a gaiter deep, the rest of the party choosing a more sensible route.
By the time we got to Fairbrook clough we needed to remove jackets in the heat, and the lower reaches of Fairbrook were as pretty as ever in the sunlight. At the base of the steeper upper section most of the party elected to scramble the gully, the verdant green coating meaning that caving rules applied (use of any part of the body permissible in order to gain upward movement).
A cool breeze awaited us at the top, though a coffee stop was welcome. The path to the Naze was good, but along the Edge several members had intimate encounters with the black stuff, which was deep in places. Lunch was taken in the last of the sun at a prominent outcrop with stunning views, then a short walk brought us to the steps of the Pennine Way down to the Snake Path. The latter is paved at the start, but soon reverts to original character so again slipsliding and boghopping skills were required. A brief light shower provided all the precipitation for the day, and had gone in time for the walk back beside the stream to the cars.
Just under 9 miles, probably, a nice mixed walk of 5 and a half hours.

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