The last time I went up Cut Gate it was dusted with snow, frozen solid under a crisp clear sky. I think it was about -2°C, not somewhere to hang around. Today it was rather different, it hit 27°C at the top of the hill and looked like this on the way up.The Dark Peak has been baking under a full-blown heatwave for what seems like weeks now, and the paths are dusty and fast. Stream beds contain diminished trickles where normally you can be guaranteed wet feet, and permanent puddles are bone dry. Only the Bog Of Doom where the trail crosses Great Grough still held wet mud, but even this had dried out to the point where it was possible to ride right through it. I don’t think I’ve seen the moors this dry since I was riding over them on a lugged steel Raleigh. On the way up the hill I encountered clutches of baby grouse cheeping as they scattered across the heather. A mountain hare stopped to look at me before loping off the path, and pewits and curlews put in the odd appearance. I think I saw perhaps four humans between the A616 and the top, it was very quiet. Upon reaching the cairn marking the pass over to the Derwent valley I took advantage of the conditions and lack of traffic to explore a little off the main track and pay a visit to the trig point on the summit of Margery Hill, something I’ve meant to do many times, but never got around to. The path is vague and crosses plenty of what would be impassably boggy sections in normal conditions, but I was able to make good progress over the baked peat and found the white pillar in a shallow bowl of sun-cracked mud, with a few interesting gritstone boulders scattered around nearby. I had a bit of a sunbathe on a rock, listening to the birdsong and insect chatter, with only the occasional rumble of aircraft to remind me of distant people and problems. I could have stayed up there for hours.I didn’t. I had the school run to get back for, and I was running low on water, so I set off back down Cut Gate via Langsett Barn (and a brief lie down in the only significant patch of mud on the whole hill). The drag home was tiring, I suspect because I’ve only used a bike properly three times in the past month and a half, and I only had a bag of Jelly Babies for the whole ride. I still had a brilliant day off, though, I really should do this more often.