Today the hills were totally alive with the sound of music, if only directly into my head via the magic of Spotify and my iPhone.
You might be wondering why I was in the Peak District singing to a load of sheep at 6.30am this morning. Nope it wasn’t a night out gone terribly wrong or just a normal night out for a Yorkshire lad.
I was walking on my own today, having been blown out by my planned walking partner, so I decided to set off extra early to make sure I was back in time to do the school run in the afternoon. I’d gotten everything ready the night before and was out the door before 5am (yup, mad eh?) and in Edale just after 6am.
I’d been wanting to do this for ages. Go for a massive walk and just stick my music library on Spotify on shuffle and see what I got.
The rules were simply:
Click ‘Shuffle Play’ on my saved music collection and give myself just 5 lives where I can ‘skip’ to the next song on the list.
It was going to be a lot of music as I’d planned a figure of 8 route, heading up from Edale to Kinder Low and back again via Grindslow Knoll. Then straight up to Mam Tor, along the Great Ridge to Lose Hill, down to Hope and then circling back via Castleton to Hollin’s Cross – and back down the hill to Edale. It was going to be about 7hours and 18miles worth, based on a similar walk I’d done a year ago.
I wasn’t too unhappy that I was on my own today. I’d not been the best of company this week having spent a lot of it helping arrange, with my aunt, the funeral of my cousin. He died much too young and the funeral was both horrible and lovely all at the same time. So getting away from everyone and getting some fresh air felt like a good thing to do. And blasting ‘choooons’ into my brain as loud as possible felt like an even better idea.
Pre-walk faff, in a deserted Edale car park, completed. I pressed play and we were off.
Spotify was thinking. Or searching for a signal. Or just trying to wind me up. It was Friday the 13th after all, so something had to go wrong. Finally, just after getting to The Pennine Way. BOOOOM…. we were off with:
Actually, I’d better throw in a warning here. This isn’t going to be pretty you know! My musical taste is quite eclectic (which is latin for sh!t… apparently). It’s cheesier than fridge full of gorgonzola and is mostly from the last century too. It’s like Roquefort wrapped in a Camembert hidden in a Stilton.
It’s probably my most personal blog too, so apols for any morbidity that has crept in along the way. You have been warned.
Back to pressing the ‘play’ button.
# Glitterball, Sigma ft. Ella Henderson
Not a bad start. Although the sleep sheep soon started to scatter when I started singing ‘I’m so in loooove with yooooou’. Doh!
# Don’t Stop Movin’, S Club 7
Fantastic. I scarily know all the words to this one… my pal Anna’s fault entirely. And I wasn’t about to stop moving, I was 2 songs in and enjoying my early morning trek massively.
I’ve not mentioned the weather so far. It was. Mixed. Inconsistent. Conflicted. Basically dark, cloudy and horrible to the left over Lord’s Seat and Rushup Edge. Then the other way, up towards Grindslow and Kinder was a beautiful pink dawn mixing with the promise of a blue sky. It was like there was a battle going on between the forces of light and dark and little old me caught smack bang in the middle of it.
It was great to watch though.
The forces of light sent down beautiful thicks rays of light to pierce the early morning gloom, whilst the forces of darkness sent giant streams of mist down Rushup Edge like giant, but timid, ethereal fingers.
And then we get.
# Life Support, Sam Smith
F*ck right off. I couldn’t get to the next song quick enough. Not Sam’s fault, he’s great, but all his music is a little bit tainted now given that ‘Stay’ was pretty much the theme tune playing in my head whilst my mother was terminally ill in hospital.
# Wake Me Up Before You Go, Wham!
Awesome! A skip back in my step. Whatever happened to Pepsi & Shirley btw?
‘You take the gray skies out of my way,
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day’
Well, I could hope. Couldn’t I?
At this point I thought the forces of light were winning. I was wrong, sort of. They lost the battle, but ultimately won the war… as you will see.
So, on past Upper Booth Farm with:
# Toy Soldiers, Martika
# Cross The Line, Spandau Ballet. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Spands.
There was a brand new, different, Kinder Kat waiting for me at Lea House. Although Chris claims it’s the same cat. A shape-changing cat!
# I’m The Man, Aloe Blacc
I’m a big fan of this one. I played it to myself everyday, for a long time, as I tried (not particularly successfully) to cope with the aftermath of my mother’s passing last year.
The following took me up to the foot of Jacob’s Ladder, the sky now much darker and cloudier.
# Like A Prayer, Madonna
# Take Me To Church, The Hooziers
I’d was half way up Jacob’s Ladder, feeling the strain (the first bit of hill of the day is always tricky I find) when this came on…
# What Have I Done To Deserve This?, The Pet Shop Boys
Pretty apt, I reckon. I was puffing and a wheezing a bit at this point, trying to get into a rhythm.
Then turning the corner of Jacob’s Creek, I found that the forces of darkness and despair had won as a cold icy wind came from nowhere and mercilessly beat on me.
# Never Give It Up, John Newman
A little bit of inspiration as I got to the top of Jacob’s Creek from my fave musician of the moment. I wasn’t about to give it up, but I wasn’t taking any chances. On with jacket, buff and gloves.
# Footloose, Kenny Loggins
Dancing to Footloose, whilst trying to climb Kinder, in freezing cold wind and mist. Both recommended and not recommended all at the same time. I recreated the bit from the video where Kevin Bacon jumps off the wooden beam, on the long wall as you get past the steep bit before turning towards Swine’s Back.
# Nowhere I’d Rather Be, Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne
‘We’re a thousand miles from comfort,
We have travelled land and sea’
It definitely bloody felt that way.
# Size Of A Cow, The Wonder Stuff
I was heading up toward Edale Rocks at this point. There could have been a herd of cows five feet away and I wouldn’t have seen them. Complete pea-souper!
# Use Somebody, Kings of Leon
Use somebody? Like Mountain Rescue maybe? It’s a good job I knew the route like the back of my hand!
I struck top and the Kinder Low trig point to this song.
# Whistle Down The Wind, Nick Hayward
It was going to take a lot more than whistling to knock back the wind. I bagged the trig and then quickly scuttled back to Edale Rock to try and find somewhere to hide from the wind and have some breakfast. It proved impossible, so I had a very windy coffee and cold (but still awesome) bacon roll, listening to:
# Don’t Talk To Me About Love, Altered Images
Their other hit, not so well known, but just as awesome! Claire Grogan. Cuteness personified. Time to watch Gregory’s Girl again, I reck.
Back on the trail again.
# Counting Stars, Counting Crows
# Once In A Lifetime, Texas
# Put Yourself In My Place, Kylie Minogue
All of these passed in a bit of a blur as I battled my way through the freezing cold mist and wind towards Noe Stool.
# Rush Hour, Jane Weidlin
Definitely not the Rush Hour, I’d not seen a single person all morning.
# Virgin, Spandau Ballet
Striding past Pym Chair at this point. I think! I could’ve been anywhere to be fair.
# Wishing I Was Lucky, Wet Wet Wet
Wishing I was warm more like. I was meandering aimlessly through the very eerie, fog-encased, Wool Packs at this point. I normally see mad-shaped things in this lunar landscape in broad daylight, so my mind was in overdrive today as a 3-slice toaster, a bunny, a resting giant and a turtle glided by.
# Lights Down, John Newman
The mist was seriously swirling around me by now and a deep sense of paranoia was creeping in as I kept checking behind me. I just couldn’t get ‘The American Werewolf in London’ out of my head. God knows what the script for ‘A Barnsley WereTyke on Kinder’ would be like? Maybe it’s an idea for Jack Strange’s new novel?
If ‘Bad Moon Rising’ came on next, at this point, I definitely would have messed my trousers, especially as Creedence Clearwater Revival hasn’t got anywhere near my saved tunes on Spotify. I was also half expecting ‘The Hills Are Alive… to the sound of Werewolves’.
# Want To Want Me, Jason Derulo
Thankfully it was Jason Derulo – words I thought I would never hear myself think! I pressed the wrong button at this point so got a double helping of Jason Derulo. Again, words I thought I never hear. A slip and a slide down the banking past Crowden Towers to the trickle that is Crowden Brook at this point.
# If You Ever Come Back, The Script
And thanks again for that one. Lost on Kinder. Never coming back. Just what I wanted to imagine.
# Mad World, Gary Jules
Too depressing, skipped this one. Two lives down, three to go and only a quarter of the way through my walk.
# Wake Me Up, Avicii
Fog all around me still as I clambered up to the top of Grindslow Knoll, the second highest lump in The Peak District. It actually looks the highest and I’ve often wanted a recount. Gandalf had clearly just been here and left his staff behind.
# Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke
‘I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it’.
I want some bloody sunshine is what I want Robin. Get it sorted.
# Secret Love Song, Little Mix
You thought S Club 7 was bad! And if only this was the most embarrassing song on this list.
Sam Smith back again. I binned him off without taking a note of what song it was. Some Boy George/Culture Club wannabe/soundlike no doubt.
So not even close to being half way through my walk and I’d used up 3 of my 5 lives.
# How You Remind Me, Nickelback
For some reason the fact that it’s the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend popped into my head as I started the decent into Edale. And finally, human contact. An elderly couple on their way up into the gloom of Grindslow. ‘Elderly WerePensioners in Derbyshire’? Now there’s the best B-Movie never made.
# I Will Never Let You Down, Rita Ora
I know you won’t Rita. Don’t worry. And the future looked a little brighter for me too as the sun gave me a little wave for the first time in 2 hours.
# Give Me Your Love, John Newman
Yup, the sun was properly trying it’s best to burn its way through the gloom.
# Pure Shores, All Saints.
Not heard this one for donkeys years. Brilliant.
# Crack the Shutters, Snow Patrol
Three hours before a Spotify shuffle hits Snow Patrol. Unheard of! And not one of my faves either.
# Missing You, P Diddy
I was back in Edale now having completed the first leg of my journey. I scoffed another bacon sarnie, finished my coffee and did a little bit of repair work on my feet. I made an epic couple of decisions at this point
- Swapping my walking boots for approach shoes as my feet were killing me. A surprise really as I’d only walked about 9 miles at this point.
- Popping on some knee supports, as my knees were complaining a bit too.
So, so glad I did both of these as I’m not sure how well I’d have gotten on with the rest of the trip if I hadn’t.
I filled my bag up with the lunch and water supplies that I’d left in the car for the second half of my trip and I was off again.
No music again, as the Edale Spotify blackspot had kicked in.
And there was to be no music at all for most of my ascent of Mam Tor, via Hardbrook Clough.
No word of a lie about this next bit. I swear it.
I was half way up Mam Tor, looking back towards a Kinder Scout completly bathed in blue sky and sunshine, laughing at the irony of it all. Or swearing and cursing the gods of walking. It was one of the two… when..
# Ironic, Alannis Morrisette
I sh!t you not! The Gods of Walking have a sense of humour and were up there p!ssing themselves laughing.
# Somewhere In My Heart, Aztec Camera
# Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol
My all time FAVOURITE song. There was no-one about so I sang it out – loud and proud. Well as much I could do as I wheezed up to the top of Mam Tor.
# Don’t You Forget About Me, Simple Minds
Lovin’ this one as I set off along The Great Ridge. It wasn’t that long since I’d watched The Breakfast Club again, the first time in ages.
‘Each one of us is a brain…and an athlete….and a basket case…a princess….and a criminal’
‘La, La La La La, La La La La, La La, La La, La, La La, La, La La’
Come on. Song along. You KNOW you want to.
# Drop Dead Gorgeous, Republica
# That Thing You Do, The Wonders
Did we ever find out what ‘thing’ she actually did so well?
# I Believe In A Thing Called Love, The Darkness
I was right at Hollin’s Cross when Justin Hawkins screeched ‘Guitaaaar’ and I was playing my air-guitar whoever was around, I cared NOT A JOT.
Thankfully it was just an elderly male hiker, who in that very British way we have just nodded and said ‘Morning!’
Riff finished. I had a quick drink, bid my audience ‘Good Day’ and sauntered off in the direction of Back Tor.
# Temptation, Wet Wet Wet
I played this one twice, if only to sing ‘Don’t waste my f*cking spirit’ at the top of my voice for the second time. One of the benefits of an early start. Even if it was half past ten at this point there were blessed few people around.
# Dancing In The Moonlight, Toploader
# Like I Can, Sam Smith
A reprieve for Mr Smith. I didn’t want to waste a life with three hours walking still to do.
# Ordinary World, Duran Duran
It was full on blue sky and sunshine now, blazing down on me. So, so different from the carnage of a few hours ago. Early morning Kinder takes no prisoners even in the height of Spring.
And then the Miley song was on… the Miley song was on.
# Party In The USA, Miley Cyrus
Haha. This is probably as embarrassing as it gets tbh. Miley Cyrus was the soundtrack as I beat my way to the top of Lose Hill. Apparently I was deliriously singing/tweeting/texting Miley’s ‘The Climb’ as I stumbled up Snowdon on the last leg of my National Three Peaks Challenge a few years ago. Lies, I’m sure!
# The Past, John Newman
# Coming Home, Sigma
Not quite heading home, but more than half way and the worst over.
# Blame It On Me, John Newman
# Only You, Alison Moyet
Clicking my fingers to this one of course. Strange how I can remember ever single word of random eighties songs, but often forget my children’s names. Answers on a postcard please.
# Children, Robert Miles
# White Flag, Dido
Not quite ready to raise the white flag yet, but I needed something more upbeat.
# All Of Me, John Legend
Aaaaaargh! Do one John Legend. Life used. One left. Eeeek!
# Ain’t No Love, Sub Sub
That’s more like it. Memories of many a Thames BA Holidays’ Booze Cruise back in the Nineties.
# Dreams, Gabrielle
# Like A Virgin, Madonna
Into Hope now. Time for a restocking up of water at the local Spar. Superb planning eh?
# Your Song, Elton John
Awesome, especially the bit from that Italian fella. ‘You can tell everybody’. Go on, I’m not bothered.
# Called It Off, John Newman
Getting a lot of airplay today is Settle’s finest. Not complaining mind.
# Porcelain, Moby
Whatever happened to Moby?
# How Do I Live? LeeAnn Rimes
If LeeAnn had appeared a hour earlier then a life would have gone. But only one left now, so she croons on.
# Enola Gay, O.M.D
Another classic from the days of Harrington jackets and purple flared Farrah trousers.
# Happy, Pharrell Williams
Very happy, thank you. But getting hungry. Nearly at Castleton for a quick lunch break.
# Born This Way, Lady Gaga
A quick spot of lunch taken on the outskirts of Castleton up at the western edge of the Hope Valley. A beautiful typically English small country village. Home to Peveril Castle and a whole host of underground caverns. Make sure you visit both if you ever find yourself here… albeit bring a tonne of cash (not cheap). A quick application of freezing cold spray on some weary calves and I’m off again.
I Don’t Care, Cheryl Tweedy-Cole-Fernandez-Versini-Geordie-Whatever
From Lady Gaga to Lady Garbage. Why I’ve downloaded this I do not know. I don’t care either, but not worth giving up my final life for, especially with a hour or so still to go.
Save Tonight, Eagle-Eye Cherry.
I was in sight of my final bit of ‘up’ now, the climb back up to Hollin’s Cross, via Liggate – a corpse road! The poor people of Edale, prior to having their own church, had to literally cart their dead up and over Hollin’s Cross via Liggate to the church in Castleton, so it became known as the ‘corpse road’.
# The Living Years, Mike and Mechanics
Again, seemless stuff. From reading about the dead into a song about The Living Years.
# Stronger, Kelly Clarkson
Not feeling stronger at all Kelly, unfortunately. Feeling weaker by the second on the steep climb back up to Hollin’s Cross. Back into the classic hillwalking mantra… next step, next step, next step.
# Made In The USA, Demi Levato
Cough. Looks the other way. I think my Spotify account has been hacked. How did this get on here?
# Billy Jean, MJ
I thought for a fraction of a second about doing a moonwalk, but I can barely walk forwards at the moment, let alone backwards!
# Tiring Game, John Newman
Yup, this walking malarkey is definitely tiring.
Back at Hollin’s Cross now. Phew! That was a tough climb after all I’d done previously. Just gotta roll down the hill back to Edale now.
# Life Is A Rollercoaster, Ronan Keating
Hillwalking is definitely a Rollercoaster. Which last few songs are going to see me back to base?
Money On My Mind, Sam Smith
FFS! Not this one. You guessed it. My final life used.
And then… NOTHING! Back within eyeshot of Edale and back to a world without Spotify/signal/whatever. Bah!
A bit of a sad/bad end to an awesome and inspiring day out, one that helped me through the gloom of the previous week. A shadow definitely lifted.
If you’ve not done a walk like this before then go do one, it’s brilliant. And let me know how you got on. What songs did you get? Any comedy moments when the songs matched the occasion or your mood at the time?
Altogether I did 18 miles in 7 hours and listened to 70 songs.
Nancy said ‘These boots are made for walking’, but no more today. I’m done in!