I have been meaning to do a trip up onto Kinder Scout for a while now but each time it gets planned the clouds are forecast to be draped over its soggy top. Finally a free day to hit the hills and a mountain forecast that promised ‘excellent visability’. Kinder was the first ‘real’ hill that I ever climbed and was one that I returned to time and time again, probably due to the fact that I did not drive and there is a train station in Edale. I probably got over familiar and my love affair with its sticky black peat diminished. Time to get back and see what the attraction was in the first place.
I noticed that there is a car park marked on the map just past Barber Booth at the western end of the Edale valley. I arrived at about 10.30am and just managed to squeeze into the last spot, you may have to get here really early to secure a spot on a nice warm summers weekend.
12.3 miles with 705 metres ascent
I have to admit that I started the day without much of a plan, I just wanted to get high. A nice muddy high that leaves you slightly out of breath and with a good view. Crowden brook was always my favourite Kinder Clough and gives a good bit of scrambling in its higher reaches, so I started there. Almost immediately you leave the green of the valley behind and enter a moorland world. I noticed that the highest part of the valley looked pretty snowy and icy so changed my plan (its easy to change your plan if you have no plan). I turned right and ascended the steep hillside next to an unamed tributary valley, the views soon opened up.
Higher up I was met by one very large snow drift that may well be around for some time yet. Now without crampons and an ice axe this was a rather difficult obstacle (ok I could have walked round it). The downside of lightweight footwear is that you cannot kick steps into rock hard old snow. I went for the momentum approach and ran up hoping that gravity would be fooled, something not to be done if failing means sliding more than a few feet.
I was soon at the cairn of Grindslow Knoll which I had timed to avoid a very large group. It was proper bitter up there, a real bone biting wind and not a hint of brightness to give any illusion of warmth. My buff got its first ever use as a balaclava.
To avoid getting tangled in more large groups I kept off of the main path which meant that I found a convenient boulder to pose on. I probably looked silly running about with a tripod but that is what happens when you are billy no mates on a Saturday afternoon.
I was soon at the head of Crowden Brook and it looked like I made the right decision by not scrambling up, the stream was frozen with just a small trickle of water. I decided to head across the plateau to Kinder downfall, a good test of navigation skills. Well it has to be said that I failed immediately. Thinking I knew the way I headed off without getting the compass out, well it felt right. When I did get out the compass I found out that I was heading in completely the wrong direction, Kinder does that to you. Always use a compass on Kinder if crossing the plateau and trust it. That soggy peaty mess just drains away any sense of direction! It has to be said that it was one of the easiest crossings that I have done. The black peat was as hard as iron and the deep gullies that consume unwary ramblers were full of snow. I was soon at Kinder Gates, a spot that for some reason really appeals to me. Here the snow drifts were of epic proportions, dwarfing one of the rocks and even with a small cornice at the top. A good 15 to 20 feet high, the weather that created it must have been pretty impressive.
Passing another huge group at Kinder Gates I revised my plan and set the compass to the head of Fair Brook and the northern edge. Here at last I found a landscape empty of people so sat and had lunch looking across the desolate moors of Bleaklow.
The well trampled paths of the southern edges was replaced by just a narrow line of footsteps through the snow. The airy perch of Fairbrook Naze is a great viewpoint with the snow clad higher slopes contrasting with the dark moorland lower down.
The unhindered northerly wind along the edge froze my face into a grimace and there was a lot more fresh snow underfoot. All the rocks here were covered in a thin layer of hoar-frost. It was not a place to hang around and as I looked across to Bleaklow I could see lowering clouds heading my way.
At Upper Red Brook I left the security of the edge and headed across country again towards the trig point at the exact moment the mist came down. The compass came out immediately this time and I was relieved to see the white trig on its rocky plinth loom out of the mist.
A short distance due south and I was back on a well trodden path to one of the wonders of the Peaks, Kinder Downfall. Unfortunately it is difficult to get a good view of the falls from above but the area never fails to impress.
Alas my camera battery ran out in mid shoot and could not be coaxed back to life. I left and promptly got tangled up in another large group of people. I really cannot work out what it is with the Peak District and people who insist on walking with 15 to 30 others. Maybe I am just an unsociable, miserable sod but I found myself getting annoyed listening to inane conversations about mobile phone tariffs whilst trying to pass them one at a time.
Near Edale cross I decided against Jacobs ladder and thought I would treat my tired legs to Brown Knoll as my boots were not yet muddy. Alas the morass was frozen here too so I crossed this sticky peaty morass with ease.
It then got dark.
Torch reluctantly came out, a party was in full swing at Dalehead farm and the Bongo was the last vehicle in the car park.