Celebrating stories from Over 40 years of the Sheffield Night Hike
The Sheffield Night Hike has over 40 years of history, raising money for the vital work of Christian Aid. During that time thousands of people have walked the walk, making new friends, and raising many thousands of pounds.
Below are just some of the stories from walkers who have taken on the Night Hike Challenge over the years.
If you have special memories of past Night Hikes or want to reflect on what previous walks have meant to you, we’d love to hear from you. Please send any stories through our Contact Us page.
2022: Saturday 10th September
We were really pleased to re-start the Night Hike in 2022, with a new circular walk route from Hathersage. Though this was in September, much later in the year than our traditional end of June early July walk date. Covid restrictions ended in March, and organising for a June/July walk with a new route was too short notice.
About 20 walkers joined us for a new 15km (about 9 miles) circular route from Hathersage along the River Derwent, up Padley Gorge, through the Longshaw Estate, passed The Grouse Inn, down through Hay Wood and following the River Derwent back to Hathersage.
With a September date and earlier sunset the walk started at 7pm, and with a shorter walk all walkers were back in Hathersage before midnight. An early night for the organisers, with the Hathersage Methodist Church Hall cleaned and tidied soon after. This was much earlier than the 5am finishes at St. Luke’s Church Lodge Moor after the traditional 17 mile route.
Though walker numbers were low, it was considered good and useful to restart the Night Hike, enabling the organisers to trial a new route and re-familiarise themselves after no Night Hikes during covid restrictions.
2021: No Night Hike due to covid restrictions
2020: No Night Hike due to covid restrictions
2019: Saturday ??? June
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2018: Saturday 30th June
53 walkers left St. Luke’s this year; with 30 walkers opting for the 9 miles to Hathersage, and 23 for the for the full 17 miles round walk.
The walk was very dry and warm, being in the middle of the 2018 heat wave – the longest, hottest and driest summer since 1976 (showing my age!).
One participant commented:
“The Christian Aid Night Hike is a brilliant and well organised event. Cheery marshals encourage your walking, there’s drinks along the way, a bacon butty at the half way mark and options to return to base too. You’ll have a fantastic sense of achievement when you finish and you’re likely to leave with a few great stories and some new friends. You might not see them again ’til next year but that’s just one of the reasons to do it again! I’d encourage everyone to give it a go and raise money for a great cause. I hope to see you there (don’t forget your torch).”
2017: Saturday 24th June
For all previous years the Night Hike has been offered as one long challenge walk. Over the years its route and distance has changed, though since 2000 it has been about 17 miles from St. Luke’s, Lodge Moor to Hathersage and back. There has always been an option for walkers to ‘retire gracefully’ at Hathersage, and get transport back to St. Luke’s.
This was the first year when walkers were offered the choice of the usual 17 miles, or 9 miles to Hathersage with transport back to St. Luke’s.
57 walkers left St. Luke’s this year; with 28 walkers opting for the 9 miles to Hathersage, and 29 for the for the full 17 miles round walk.
The walk started and ended dry, but there was quite a bit of rain just before midnight as walkers were approaching Hathersage.
The new 9 and 17 mile walk options was considered a success, and will be continued.
2016: Saturday 25th June
There were 68 walkers, of which 52 walked the full 17 miles, and 16 walked the 9 miles to Hathersage and got the minibus back.
Well done, and thank-you for walking and raising sponsor money in support of Christian Aid.
And some more stories from the online walker registration ‘Your Story’ question…
– This annual event has become a ritual for me and I am only too glad to be fit enough to be able to take part. I am also privileged to have the support of my church and that allows me to send a “tidy” sum of money every year for this most worthy cause.
– Ex Royal Navy. Been wanting to do this challenge for a few years but always been away.
And, one church youth group who have made this a regular event involving their whole church – after the hike they sleep in their church and the morning congregation cooks breakfast for them – Wow ;
– We walk as a group with young people from our church. We have been doing this on and off for a number of years. We return to the church after the hike and sleep there for whats left of the night. We wake up and enjoy a cooked breakfast prepared for us by some willing victims from the congregation. This is a safe way to do something for someone else.
– This is my first time and I am not sure I really want to do it BUT I know this is to help people who have less than me. My mum does this hike with the youth group most years and now I am old enough I can do it too. After the hike we go back to our church and have a sleep over. In the morning people from church come and cook us breakfast. I will probably sleep through the morning service. All our church congregation know about the hike and why we are doing it. We hope to raise lots of money. This is a good thing to do because we have so much and some people have so little. Jesus would have done it!
– We do this most years. My mum organises it in our church. Other youth leaders come as well as our youth group. We have a sleep over afterwards in the church and a cooked breakfast in the morning. Then we sleep!
2015: Saturday 27th June
In 2015 Christian Aid focused on their work in Huila province in south west Angola. The area has suffered a prolonged drought over the last two years, meaning that many people struggle to find food. Throughout the drought Augusto, who cultivates a vegetable garden, has been able to eat. Christian Aid helped Augusto and his community to remain on their land, then to develop sustainable sources of food and income. The money you are raising tonight will help families like Augsto’s and others eat, raise income for education and medication and bring hope to thousands of others. As you walk this evening you are helping the lives of some of the poorest people on earth. On behalf of Augusto and thousands like him Thank you for all the effort you are making.
63 walkers walked through a warm, clear and dry night, returning to St. Luke’s Church, Lodge Moor before Sunday morning’s rain.
The walk trialled a new walker check-out and check-in system this year, with walker wristbands and walker number barcodes, to make sure everyone was safely accounted for.
The National Park rangers have been busy in these last 2 years, the very rough track from the Dennis Knoll car park up to Stanage Edge known as “the road of pain” (see 2013) has been transformed into a smooth and straightforward walk where you don’t even have to watch your feet. Even the big puddle water traps along the long causeway up to to Stanedge Pole had been filled in.
For the last few years the online walker registration has included a ‘Your Story’ question to allow walkers to give any special reasons why they are walking, it is nice to record a few from this year.
We have several regular walkers who have walked for many years, and it is nice to see others starting to walk regularly…
– I have been doing so about 30 times in the last 40 years. I am so lucky to be able to keep going!
– This will be my third year doing the Sheffield Night hike.
And, people walk for many different reasons…
– I am always proud and excited to be taking part in the night-hike.
– I am walking because I remember walking the night hike as a young teenager with my mother in 1970’s. It was wonderful, in particular walking through grey trees as the light gathered and the sun rose. I have intended repeating it in recent years. My mother died earlier this year and maybe that is the incentive to do it this June with my teenage son.
– It’s the eve of my fifteenth birthday and my mum has always gone on about it so I thought I’d give it a go.
2014: Saturday 28th June
The 2014 Night Hike was brought forward a week to the ‘last Saturday in June’ from its previous ‘first Saturday in July’ so as not to clash with a small cycle race coming to Sheffield the following weekend. This grandest of Grand Départs for the Tour de France, will be forever known as the Tour de Yorkshire, with its Côtes de Blubberhouses and Côtes de Midhopestones.
However we could not avoid clashing with another disappointing World Cup in Brazil, which always reduces walker numbers.
57 walkers set off on the 17 mile Night Hike challenge, on a clear, warm and dry evening; either not interested in the football or correctly predicting that England would not get out of their group.
Well done, and thank-you for walking and raising sponsor money in support of Christian Aid.
2013: Saturday 6th July
A welcome return of a warm, dry and clear night was enjoyed by the 96 walkers who started this year; 80 walkers finished the whole walk whilst the other 16 completed half the walk to Hathersage and had a lift back to St Luke’s from there.
The Night Hike has a good mix of walkers seeking a new challenge, a new experience and of regular returning walkers. Everyone who walks always remembers it, hopefully they remember it fondly, and with some satisfaction of their achievement; 17 miles at night is not easy.
I was reminded of this by a couple of comments during discussions with walkers along the way;
– by a group of 4 young men walking as a 20 year reunion of walking the same walk during their school days; Well done guys.
– being overtaken by a group of regulars along the very rough track from the Dennis Knoll car park up to Stanage Edge, who have named this section of the route; “the road of pain“.
That is such an eloquent description of this last uphill section, walked with tired legs at about 2:00am after ~13 miles, that every walker will recognise it and remember it. The pain quickly goes away whilst the good memories remain forever.
2012: Saturday 7th July
This years walk was another tough one, like 2008, so very well done to all those who did the walk. It was VERY MUDDY and MISTY, although thankfully it was also DRY.
There had been a lot of rain in May, June and early July, probably the highest rainfall since records began, and many parts of the UK have been flooded. The day before the hike it rained all day, other weekend events in Sheffield were cancelled, and some emails were received asking if the walk was still on; only just.
A Friday evening inspection of the path alongside the river Derwent on the way into Hathersage found the river over its banks and flooding across the path. But Saturday morning inspections found the river level had gone down, and was now at least a foot below the path.
So the walk stayed on, Saturday was dry and sunny, and there was no rain during the night.
But, all the paths were very muddy. Two sections of the walk were diverted to avoid particularly wet and muddy ground; (1) near the start we kept to the roads after David Lane before re-joining the Porter valley, and (2) near the end we walked on the road to the north of Redmires reservoirs.
Then after Dennis Knoll car park, climbing up to Stanedge Pole, we climbed into the mist (low cloud) and could only see a few feet ahead. Just enough to see and avoid the big puddles on the track.
There were 73 walkers this year, less than previous years, but considering all the rain that had fallen, these were 73 hardy and determined walkers. Well done to you all.
2011: Saturday 2nd July
A lovely clear and dry night for the 95 walkers who started this year. 90 walkers finished the whole walk, 5 walkers were transported back to St. Luke’s from Hathersage, and the last walker returned to St. Luke’s by 3:30am.
I walked the first few miles with a group of teenagers who had organised themselves on Facebook in the week before the walk. Two of them had done the walk before (2008) and had been in the group that had tried to walk around using ‘glowsticks’ as torches. They were better prepared this time!
After leaving them just before the Norfolk Arms I ‘ran’ (actually a slow jog) for a while until I caught up with the official ‘first walker’ during the section walking alongside the river Derwent. Walkers have to remain behind the official ‘first walker’ so I walked and talked with them (there were 2 first walkers!) to the check-in at Hathersage Methodist Church and a welcome cup of tea and bacon sandwich. THANK-YOU to the caterers.
After Hathersage I joined up with a young lad who was walking the Night Hike for the first time, and walking it as training for an upcoming Duke of Edinburgh ‘Gold’ expedition. After walking and talking about all sorts of things we were back at St. Luke’s for 2:00am.
As usual for a clear night, the walk up to Stanage Pole was illuminated by the faint orange glow on the horizon from Sheffield’s street lights. (See the 2010 photos.) I know this is light pollution and should not be encouraged, but I do really love seeing this orange glow when walking, running or cycling in the Peak District at night. It is a welcoming sign of returning home to Sheffield, and for some reason I think of it as a halo watching over Sheffield.
2010: Saturday 3rd July
A lovely clear and dry night for the 76 walkers who started this year. 66 walkers finished the whole walk, 10 walkers were transported back to St. Luke’s from Hathersage, and the last walker returned to St. Luke’s by 3:40am.
I think the number of walkers is always lower in World Cup years. During the last World Cup in Germany in 2006 there were only 48 walkers, our lowest number of walkers ever. That year, earlier in the day, England had lost 3-1 on penalties to Portugal in the Quarter Final. This year in South Africa, England had been knocked out the weekend before, having been beaten 4-1 by Germany.
And that leads nicely into our first international walkers…
We had 3 walkers from Germany this year. They organise regular night walks in and around Aachen in North Eastern Germany (near Köln), found this website and decided to arrange an ‘international night walk’. I walked with them, and a friend of theirs from the UK, from St. Luke’s to Hathersage. See their website and their 2010 Sheffield Night Hike photos, a couple of which are included below.
Germans show united front on hike (from the Sheffield Telegraph, Thursday 1st July)
Germans show united front on hike
|THERE will be plenty to talk about as they walk over the moors.
For the first time the Sheffield Night Hike will be joined by a group of German night walking enthusiasts on Sunday, a week after the World Cup match in South Africa.
|of trekking from dusk to dawn to raise money for either Christian Aid or the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.
A monthly night hiking group in Aachen spotted the Sheffield Night Hike website and registered to join the usual contingent on the 17-mile route. The tradition has been around for more than 30 years and,
|combined with the Sheffield May Day Trek, generates about £15,000 a year for the charities.
Walkers leave St Luke’s Church, Lodge Moor, on Sunday at 8.30pm. They pass along the Mayfield Valley and on to Fox House, Longshaw, Grindleford, Hathersage, up to Stanage Edge and past Redmires Reservoir before returning to St Luke’s.
The above article was published in the Sheffield Telegraph, Thursday 1st July 2010. (I have given up emailing them, because I never get any reply when I ask if their permission is required to include this text on this website. So if there are legitimate reasons why I am not allowed to reproduce their articles then please let me know and I will remove them. Thanks. ‘Website Editor’.)
2009: Saturday 4th July
I am very sorry to say that I missed this years walk, but I hope you will accept my excuse. My wife “won” tickets for Wimbledon Ladies Final Day, which was on the same day. On No.1 Court, we saw Noppawan Lertcheewakarn win the Junior Girls singles (a hard name to remember for the future). And on Centre Court we saw Nestor and Zimonjic win the Mens Doubles, and Serena and Venus Williams win the Womens Doubles.
And about the walk…
Obviously I have no stories of my own this year, but I am grateful for contributions from a first time teenage walker from St. Luke’s who wrote an article for their church news and another Sheffield Telegraph article by David Bocking.
This year there were 86 walkers, a 60% increase over 2008, and over £3000 was raised for Christian Aid and CAFOD. In addition to many returning walkers, there were three youth groups with their leaders who were trying the route for the first time.
The Sheffield Night Hike: Mud, Sweat and Fears (Reprinted from St Luke’s News with permission)
The Sheffield Night Hike: Mud, Sweat and Fears
|I had never walked 17 miles before and wasn’t entirely sure whether I could. So I decided that hiking to Hathersage and back in the middle of the night would be a good way to find out.
The annual Sheffield Night Hike has now been running for over forty years and, in that time, hundreds of walkers have found out whether they can walk 17 miles or not, in the woods, moors and fields between St Luke’s Church Centre at Lodge Moor and Hathersage Methodist Church. As the start and finishing point, St Luke’s has a key role to play in the event and also provides many of the marshals. These volunteers play a vital role, lining the route to direct the walkers and counting them to make sure that no one has got lost, injured or trampled to death by angry cows!
The purpose of the walk was to raise money for Christian Aid and CAFOD and as we set out, the organisers encouraged us to think about people across the world who walk many miles every day to collect water. Thus humbled and spurred on by the prospect of bacon butties at Hathersage, we set out at 8:30pm.
Having arrived alone, I joined up with a family from Dore who had done the hike the previous year. Initially the walkers were fairly close together and we exchanged stories as we trekked up the Mayfield valley, amid glorious evening sunshine. It had been raining earlier, so, although the weather for the walk was mercifully dry, we met with rather a lot of mud and it was at this point that I discovered that canvas shoes were not a good idea!
Crossing Houndkirk Moor, I left my newfound friends and set off alone across a landscape lit by the last dying rays of summer sun. The average round trip taken by people who live in areas without taps to collect water is 8 miles. As I reached Fox House it was incredibly humbling to realise that these people would have only just reached the water hole and would now face a gruelling 4 mile trek back carrying a load of several kilos.
The route then took a welcome turn downhill through the Longshaw Estate towards Grindleford. On the way I met a woman who had done the Night Hike many years before, when it was 25 miles, and was now revisiting the event with her daughter. I was glad of their company as we headed into Padley Gorge. In the gathering darkness it was almost impossible to see the path and, with the trees close overhead and no other parties in sight we felt very alone (and a little bit frightened!). Progress was slow, as every step had to be carefully picked out by torch light across rocky terrain.
After the gorge, I headed out alone again across the rain dampened fields. The twilight that lit our way into the gorge had now gone and, as mist began to pool in the valleys, I was extremely grateful for the lanterns that had been placed at intervals to light our way. Approaching Hathersage now, but still slightly wary of being alone in open countryside, I was acutely conscious of how lucky I was to be living in a country where it was comparatively safe to walk at night, without crocodiles or bandits to contend with.
After a short refreshment break, I left Hathersage early and teamed up with a woman walking with her two teenage sons. They had previously done the May Day Trek and had joined the Night Hike after seeing an advert about it in The Star. As it was still very dark and the route across the fields was a little unclear, we made slow progress and other parties soon caught us up. As the groups merged, a jovial procession of about 20 little torches formed, wending its way up towards Stanage Edge.
Soon I found myself walking with a youth group from Mosborough and Killamarsh, led by 16 year old Mary. As we entered familiar territory for those who live in Lodge Moor, I became the “native guide” for those behind me. On the home straight now, we descended the track down from Stanage Pole and wended our way around the reservoirs, getting extremely wet in the process (small streams can look a lot like paths in the dark!)
Finally, at 2:20, we reached St Luke’s, to be greeted by friendly faces with a certificate and a teacake. Of 86 walkers who set out, about 70 made it all the way (with those who dropped out being driven back to Lodge Moor). The first walker finished at 1.0 am and the last at about 5.0 am (the majority finishing between 2.0 and 4.0am)
On behalf of all who walked, I would like to say a special thank you to everyone who marshalled this year. There is no more welcome sight at 1.0 am, halfway across a muddy field, in the pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, when you’re not even sure you’re going the right way than a friendly (and often familiar) face holding a lamp and ready to direct you onwards.
Ramblers still taking to Sheffield’s moonlit moors (from the Sheffield Telegraph, Thursday 9th July)
The tradition of the Sheffield Night Hike was maintained as 86 walkers
set off for the Peak District. David Bocking joined them (and the midges)
Ramblers still taking to Sheffield’s moonlit moors
|Ramblers lined the moonlit moors of western Sheffield as the Sheffield Night Hike saw one of the largest turnouts in recent times.
“I think numbers have been going up over recent years”, said official ‘Last Walker’ David Kirtley, who’s been taking part at the rear of the field since the early 1990s.
Saturday’s walk total was 86 walkers, with 70 completing the full 17-mile circuit from St Luke’s church at Lodge Moor to Hathersage Methodist church and back again, via Ringinglow, Houndkirk, Padley, Stanage and Redmires.
David remembers the early days of the annual walk, which has been taking place on midsummer Sheffield nights for more than 40 years.
Initially the route followed a 25-mile circular route round Sheffield’s outskirts but concerns over night-time traffic led to a rerouting around the city’s western moors and woods. In the 1970s, said David, there were sometimes 600 people taking part.
The country walk includes special attractions, however. Apart from the 17 miles of walking over rocks, fields and forest paths, the trek includes 1,000 feet of ascent and a significant variety of weather.
Previous years have seen drizzle and downpours but this year’s walk started on a clear summer’s evening, with just a bit of fog (and a fair number of midges).
“You have to keep moving”, said David Kirtley, as the insects swarmed at Ringinglow. “Sometimes you do wish the last walkers would go a little bit faster.”
As always the walk included a few stalwarts of the event, along with scores of newcomers.
“It sounded like fun”, said Louise Ashmore, who’d set out with several colleagues from the Healthy Cross walking group, along with their families.
|“It’ll be exciting walking in the dark”, added Michelle Smedley, as the group headed off into the dusk over Houndkirk. “I’ve never done anything like this before but we’re all enjoying it.”
“I hope we’ll still be enjoying it in 15 miles”, added Louise.
Ian Koszalinski was taking part in the walk for the second time, along with daughters Emma and Rachael and their friend Emma Thomas.
“It’s nice and cool to be walking at night”, said Emma Thomas.
“It’s the best time to be doing it”, said Ian, a keen Nordic style walker along with his two walking poles. “We’re doing this one tonight, then tomorrow I’ll be doing a 25-mile walk around the Peak Forest and Mam Tor”, he added as he surged away over the moors.
Thousands of people have walked the Night Hikes since its inception in the late 1960s and some of the original teenage walkers (like David Kirtley) are now helping the new generation of hikers.
A staff of around 30 people marshall, organise, feed and help the walkers every year, including several members of the Raynet radio team, who always assist at the walk.
|The Night Hike and the complementary daytime walk from St Luke’s held in the spring raise money for Christian Aid and CAFOD, with donations and sponsorship money aimed squarely at projects to help the poorest people in the world.
Over the years, organisers estimate that the two walks have raised well over £250,000 for the charities. (This year’s walk had raised more than £3,000 before all the money was counted including as organiser Dan Shaw put it: “loose change donated by inebriated people in Hathersage”).
Teenagers from the Sheffield South Circuit Church Youth Fellowship had the poor of the world in mind as they trekked through the night.
“We want to help people, we want to make people better because they can’t afford stuff”, said Mark Firth, who’d completed a sponsored five-hour tennis marathon the afternoon before setting off on the hike.
“We’re doing this to help people in Ethiopia get water”, said Matilda Beech. “We’re walking tonight so people in Africa don’t have to walk miles to get their water supply.”
By the time last walker David Kirtley and Michael Birtles from Raynet made their way on to Houndkirk, the first walkers were well on their way to their bacon sandwiches in Hathersage.
“I think the challenge appeals to young people and you get new ones every year”, said David.
“My favourite part is the dawn, usually just below Stanage, when the birds are all starting to sine”, said Michael, “and when you return and know that everyone’s got back safely.”
“And it’s a good cause for everyone to help people in the Third World, in countries where a little bit of money goes a long way. So you know you can do a lot of people a lot of good”, said David, before striding off, away from the midges and into the night.
The above article was published in the Sheffield Telegraph, Thursday 9th July 2009. (I did email them and ask if their permission was required to include the image and text on this website. I had no reply. If anyone reads this who can put me in touch with the appropriate person to ask for permission to use this image and text, it would be greatly appreciated. If there are any legitimate reasons that this image and text cannot be used here then please let me know and I will remove them. Thanks. ‘Website Editor’.)
2008: Saturday 5th July
This years walk was a tough one, much harder than 2006 and 2007, so very well done to all those who did the walk. It was WET and DARK. During the day there had been very heavy downpours and bright sunshine, but at night we got a dry start that became a persistant drizzle by Fox House which stayed for the whole night.
When I say it was DARK, which is not surprising at night time, but this year it was really dark because of the low cloud. We were actually walking through the cloud when going past Stanage Pole. The walks in 2006 and 2007 were clear nights and you could see all the stars, and the moon light was sufficient for navigation. But for this night, torches were required all of the time just to see where you were putting your feet. (As was discovered by a group of teenagers who found that ‘glowsticks’ just did’nt give out enough light, or last long enough. Other walkers lent them some spare torches to help them out.)
Whilst walking up towards Stanage Pole we were surprised to see very bright lights coming towards us. The lights got brighter and bigger, we stood to oneside, and eventually 3 or 4 Land Rovers rolled passed us. I am not sure who was more surprised to see someone else out on the Stanage moors in the mist in the early hours of the morning.
This year there were 50 walkers, and about £3500 was pledged to Christian Aid / CAFOD.
Again I would like to use this opportunity to give a big THANK-YOU to the whole of the organising committee, backroom team and Raynet.
2007: Saturday 23rd June
This years walk was very nearly cancelled. It took place during the few hours of ‘dry’ weather sandwiched between several days of heavy rain. It was less than 2 days later that the tragic floods hit Sheffield and the South Yorkshire region. Our prayers go out to those affected by these floods.
Though there was very little rainfall during the walk, it was very muddy underfoot.
£3000 were pledged, from 48 people who started the walk. There were 46 who finished the walk, the last walker finishing at about 4:30am. The 2 who did not finish were the youngest walker, a boy of 10, and his Dad. And they had completed 15 of the 17 miles, reaching the Redmires reservoirs. (My son will have no excuse not to do it next year!) The oldest walker was 60+. So with a walking age range from 10 to 60+, there is no excuse for any reasonably fit person not to do it!
Supporting the walkers were a backroom team including; 22 route marshalls, 8 clerical, catering and organisational, 10 members of Raynet providing radio cover, and a specialist First Aider.
I would like to use this opportunity to give a big THANK-YOU to the whole of the organising committee and backroom team. As a ‘quick’ walker I was back at Lodge Moor by 2:30am, and home in bed for some sleep by 3:00am. It was not until researching this information for this website that I realised how walking is the ‘easy’ option. The backroom staff had done most of the clearing up by the time the last walker returned at 4:30am, so they were in bed by 5:00am, and this was a bit earlier than in previous years.
2006: Saturday 1st July
I don’t have many details of this years walk, but I do have some personal memories.
I can remember it being a very warm and clear night. I walked the whole route with a couple of friends in shorts and a T-shirt. It was Quarter Final day of the 2006 World Cup, and England had lost 3-1 on penalties to Portugal. During the early miles of the walk I remember listening to the evening game Brazil-France (France won 1-0). Later that night I remember switching the radio back on and listening to Hallam FM in the early hours of the morning as we were walking past Stanage Pole. It was a surreal experience.
Night Of Passage (from the Sheffield Telegraph, Saturday 8th July)
Young people walked 17 miles through the night to maintain a Sheffield tradition. David Bocking joined them
|They say it’s a rite of passage for Sheffield teenagers. A bit of an adventure. Something you’ll always remember.
And whether you are actually a teenager or a 44-year-old accompanying parent in a dodgy 1980s lumberjack shirt (to keep off the chill, you understand), the Sheffield Night Hike is certainly not something you’II easily forget.
Seventeen miles of woods, moorland and farmer’s fields, 1,000 feet of boulder-strewn ascent at night accompanied by a gaggle of 14-year-old girls singing ‘These boots are made for walking’. This is the midsummer night’s adventure organized by local supporters of Christian Aid and CAFOD for the last 39 years.
“lt used to be 25 miles and we’d take bets on how far people would get when they turned up,” said Wendy Holmes, who’s been counting them out and counting them back in again since1981.
“Then one year, when we were still starting from Graves Park, we saw a girl setting off in skinny jeans, stiletto boots and a jumper and I said: ‘She’ll get to the park gates’. Then 25 miles later she came back and she was fine. That taught me a lesson.”
At that time the night hike followed a circuit more or less around Sheffield’s long-forgotten outer circle bus route but concerns about the safety of late-night urban traffic led to the hike being switched to the countryside between St Luke’s Church at Lodge Moor and Hathersage Methodist Church.
Thousands of people have taken part over the years and some of the original teenage walkers are now helping a new generation. (Around 30 people helped as marshals or catering staff last Saturday night, along with several members of the Raynet radio team, who always assist at the Night Hike.)
|And since the Night Hike’s inception, along with the other daytime walk held in the spring, the Lodge Moor walks have raised an estimated £250,000 for Christian Aid and CAFOD, largely for work among the poor and starving of the world.
Organiser Richard Buckley says the walks have probably saved many lives since they started and this year’s Night Hike is expected to add more than £4,000 to the total.
This was very much on the 64 walkers’ minds as they set off into the summer’s evening of the Mayfield Valley.
We’re doing this to raise money for people in Africa, who might have to walk this far just to get water,” said 13-year-old Phoebe Amato-Pace as she and her variously singing and chortling friends passed through the fields watched by a family of disconcerted sheep.
Yellow marshals cropped up every now and then to advise on directions and proffer “Oh, a mile or two” to shocked participants who wondered how far they’d come so far.
The streetlights began to appear over distant Sheffield as the hikers started out over the Houndkirk Road to Fox House and after sad reflections on the tearful David Beckham and discussions of the nature and intent of the afternoon’s meeting of Rooney’s heel and Carvalho’s groin, there were cheers in the moorland sunset when a young Francophile discovered the Brazil result.
Night fell at just the right moment as a series of frogs appeared and the girls turned to a discussion of the Blair Witch Project as the path wound into the darkness of Padley woods.
At Hathersage, the (just over) half way point, the walkers were offered drinks and early breakfasts by the catering team, some of whom said they were only too happy to be catering rather than walking on this occasion.
|“My feet feel as If they’re being pressed on by lots of rocks,” said 14-year-old Grace Freeman. “But I’m most worried about running out of food.”
The early morning stretch through the Hathersage fields brought on a metaphysical mood, as the girls (and an 11-year-old brother) pondered the distance the light had taken lo reach us from the stars overhead.
Do you know, if the population of China walks past in a line, you will never see the end, came an assertion from the darkness.
Marshalling by a signpost below Moorseats Farm was teacher Chris Cook and his dog Jem, neither of whom felt there was anything remotely bizarre about marking physics papers at two in the morning by the light of a torch in the middle of a field.
As we approached the path up to Stanage Edge, a fellow walker helpfully stopped us under the trees. “This next bit is the toughest bit of the walk.” he said. “But after that it’s downhill all the way,” he added (metaphorically it later transpired).
“I feel like a zombie on autopilot, said Phoebe Amato-Pace, after climbing over a mile and a half of rocks and boulders to Stanage Pole.
“My parents didn’t think I could finish it, said one walker. “So I’ve done this out of spite as much as anything.
“In their faces,” she added, a touch of delirium perhaps setting in as the sun rose over Lodge Moor.
It was good but hard, sighed 14-year-old Heather Ibbotson.
“I think we’ve done two things by doing this.” reflected Grace Freeman. You’ve accomplished something and by raising money you’ve accomplished something for someone else.”
We are all legends, she added sleepily.
The above article was published in the Sheffield Telegraph, Friday 14th July 2006. (I did email them and ask if their permission was required to include the image and text on this website. I had no reply. If anyone reads this who can put me in touch with the appropriate person to ask for permission to use this image and text, it would be greatly appreciated. If there are any legitimate reasons that this image and text cannot be used here then please let me know and I will remove them. Thanks. ‘Website Editor’.)
I have some very old memories of walking the Night Hike for several years in the 1990’s.
I remember the walk was longer, about 25 miles, and used to start and finish at Stannington. I cannot remember the exact route, but it was generally the reverse of the 17 mile walk done now (2011). It went from Stannington, to Redmires, passed Stanage Pole, through Hathersage, alongside the River Derwent with rest and refreshments at the Grindleford Cricket Club. From there I cannot remember the route but it would have to find its way back up to Longshaw, Fox House, the Houndkirk Road and somehow back to Stannington.
Recently I met someone at our church who had also walked the Night Hike in the 1990’s and he also remembered it starting from Stannington and being about 25 miles.
We both remembered their being several hundred walkers on the walk during those years. Will the numbers ever return to those levels?
These memories are kindly provided by someone who walked the Night Hike in the 1970’s as a teenager with her mother, and was delighted to walk again in 2015 with her teenage son.
We had moved to Sheffield in 1970 and I can remember still not really knowing the areas we were passing through, even after a few years here. I think, looking back, my mother must have been quite enterprising, although the quieter parent, as my father walked no further than the newsagents (except on holidays). I do remember a wonderful sense of camaraderie among the walkers and shadowy groups talking and passing through the night; and arriving at check points to be given drinks and sustenance. And feeling really tired when we finished. Also I have a very clear memory arriving home to bed and falling into the best sleep I had ever had; no night’s sleep has ever beaten it since! We didn’t finish and I suppose that that must have been disappointing, but the main thing was having been part of it at all. It felt we were really part of something much bigger, which we were, with loads of goodwill and kindliness, as well as efficiency.