Sunday, 9 August 2015

Edale to Hayfield

I took a day off work a couple of weeks ago with the aim to tick another item off The List. Tim was off work, and my brother, John, was able to take the day off too.
John is quite keen to get into hiking/walking again, and has also agreed to accompany me when I attempt the Yorkshire Three Peaks again. (We won't talk about the fact that John has actually completed this challenge already).
So, a quick google, and a study of the map and we were off. I set my gps watch going to record where we went. Not too fused about the speed/pace, but it would be interesting to see the steepness (technically, elevation) of the climb up Grindsbrook Clough leaving Edale. This was a route that Tim and I have done on many occasions, but of course, we've never actually crossed the Kinder plateau to Hayfield.

The Pennine Way starts at Edale, so by default, the whole area is popular with walkers, but this time we were not going anyway near the Pennine Way at Edale anyway. The area also has a lot of walking history, being the site of the Kinder Trespass, which according to Wikipedia contributed to the eventual Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. It is under this Act that walkers have the "right to roam" on access land - more about this particular access land later.

The first 2 and a half miles covered the steep Grindsbrook Clough. And took us around an hour and a half. If you were to look at the map, the path appears to climb up the clough nicely, crossing the stream in a couple of places. But things were not that simple. Stream? Yes, there was a stream definitely. Path? Well, let's just say, however you can get up, that's the path. It was difficult to judge which side would be best, and we found ourselves following a young spritely lad up the rocks. This was a mistake. We are not really young, or spritely when it comes to scrambling over rocks and through streams/waterfalls.
Any way up
Eventually, after a breather, we did make it to the top. To spectacular view of the route up and across Edale.
 Edale from the top
Doesn't look that steep...

We decided to carry on towards Crowden Tower, near which the path would fork off and we'd go across Kinder Scout.
A quick check of the compass confirmed, once again, that it wasn't necessarily the most obvious path we should take. At this point on the map there are around 5 routes to take, and aligning the map to North confirmed the direction we should take. I always have to do this at the top of Grindsbrook Clough. I should really know the route, but I might lose all sense of direction and end up walking the wrong way.
A quick point to make here. Since doing the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme while at School and sixth form, I have loved maps and compasses. I am proud of the fact that I can read on Ordnance Survey map (and hate maps that are illustrative rather than accurate), and with a bit of thought, can still walk on a bearing. If this was our first time in the area, and without a compass I don't doubt even at this point we would have gone wrong. There are a number of tracks leading off in all directions, marked on the map, but not as public rights of way. Also, this is now access land, so over time, there may well appear to be even more tracks leading off in all directions. I would never go on a big walk (big, meaning involving walking boots!) without a compass, and most certainly not without an Ordnance Survey map. Up here on this terrain, you could end up in real trouble if you do end up mis-placed.

Crowden Tower

Anyway, it was a public footpath that we were to follow, for the next few miles anyway, and off we went. With kind-of knowing the area, when we got to Crowden Tower we stopped for lunch in a sheltered area. The view was amazing, in fact, I felt like we were sitting in a spot that was a little too hairy, with a steep drop.
Lunch stop
At this point, if you didn't have a map, you wouldn't notice anything different in the route, but the path leading towards The Woolpacks is not listed as a public right of way. It is simply a "track". But this is the route most people take when out for the day from Edale.

We double backed to the waterfall area where were knew the footpath forked off. This is where it started to go wrong. We followed what we thought was the path by the side of the stream/waterfall in the valley, but gradually the path dies away, as did any sign of the stream. The map showed the area was full of streams/brooks all leading towards the ridge where the Woolpacks and Crowden Tower are so it was rather difficult to pinpoint any given trickle of water we came across. After negotiating the thigh-high grass, and ups and downs, we knew we were mis-placed. At this point we could still see the rocks, so if things did get worse, we'd just turnaround. I started re-assessing the map. Had we actually left the main route at the correct point? Yes of course, we hadn't passed any other waterfalls or valleys. Was that in fact Crowden Tower, or had we eaten lunch as some other random rock formation? Nope. That was Crowden Tower. We then resorted to the geocaching app! Kind of a glorified compass really but which also points you to the nearest geocache.
The plan then was to head in the same direction (towards a geocache on the correct path) for a little while longer. The terrain at this point was wet and wild. Bogs, grass, and heather. There were quite a few small dams built to manage the bogs, but actually going in the right direction was not easy at all. The dams and resulting bogs were very much a hindrance.

I checked the compass and to my complete shock, North was where I expected South to be and I normally have quite a good sense of direction. This, once again, proved to me that a compass is an invaluable piece of kit.
A quick survey of what we could see and a check on various mobile apps, and we made the decision to head west. We couldn't really tell how far we'd come from Crowden Tower given all the twists and turns we'd made. This way we'd either hit the path we were supposed to be on, or hit the Pennine way.

Eventually as luck would have it, we found a path. Or was it a stream? But we followed it. A very short time later, we found a cairn in the middle of the path/stream. Therefore, all the evidence suggested, this was a path.
Cairn in the path/stream
We followed this for a little while, then as if by magic we spotted another walker joining the path from the right. So that's where we were supposed to be!
We followed this to the magnificent Kinder Gates (didn't get the geocache), which were like nothing I'd ever seen before. Kind of like something from a Star Trek set in the sunshine - or maybe that's just me.

Kinder Gates

The path was then obvious all the way to Kinder Downfall where we met the Pennine Way.

It was at this point where we took a check on the time. We'd have to step up the pace to be back in time for the nursery pick up, so we motored along. The lunch we'd saved for later, still rattling round in the rucksack.

Pennine Way
There were a lot of walkers on this stretch of the Pennine Way, and the views a long here were spectacular, although we didn't want to take too much time taking photos. The grey clouds of the morning has disappeared revealing a lovely summer sky.

After around a mile of walking on the ridge, we started the decent down. At the time, this did not feel at steep as the way up, but the gps watch and Strava beg to differ. After a while John started suffering with jelly knees on the way down and had to slow the pace.
We headed down William Clough and came out at Kinder Reservoir, after once again making decisions about when and how to cross the stream when the map said to only cross it a couple of times.

Kinder Reservoir, and the ridge above we'd just walked

At the bottom there was still a steady down hill section. John was happier, but did make a comment about was this how being old feels.
I turned off the gps within the last mile as the battery was threatening to cut out (clearly I can't do any runs which last more than 5 hours - but actually, why would I???)
During the last mile I was quite happy to feel that I still had plenty of energy. If I could change into my trainers, I could have run that last mile. But with comparatively heavy walking boots, and a large blister which technically ceased to be a blister at about mile 3, it was safe to say I was done in and needed a good sit down.

We arrived back at John's car after nearly 10 miles, which a great sense of achievement, and curiosity about that path at Crowden Tower, and where it actually was.

After studying the route on Strava after it was uploaded, I was shocked about what happened on Kinder Scout once more. It seems that we actually crossed over our path, but with no idea at the time. Yet another reminder that the countryside should not be taken lightly and preparation as well as the right equipment are essential for a "big" walk of this kind. I won't say that without a compass we'd still be up there, but we may have had to turn back to Edale.

I think I would do the walk again, maybe as a training walk for the biggy (Yorkshire Three Peaks).

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