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Peter Walker: Track 3043 in area near Kinder Scout, Lancashire, Cheshire & the Southern Pennines (Britain)
Kinder Scout-ing for boys...
Length: 13.9km, Creator time taken: 3h36m, Ascent: 455m, Descent: 431m
Places:Start at SK10789 84718, end at Start Logged as completed by 1
Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District National Park
.. and also within the county of Derbyshire. It's gloriously English and eccentric, as if a folly were rendered in mountain form. It rears up steeply on all sides to 600m, then just seems to have been left totally unfinished as its climatic plateau sprawls over something like 10 square kilometres without ever getting higher than 636m. The plateau is a fissured brain of bog and grass and (especially) peat, the kind of place where taking a bearing and then successfully walking it are two very very different things. The edges of the plateau are fantastic though, studded as they are with all many of freakish outcrops of sculpted gritstone. There's nothing like it in Ireland, and not a lot like it in England either, if truth be told. Notwithstanding its geographical quirks, Kinder is possibly the most important hill in Britain when it comes to access, seeing as it is the scene of a famous mass trespass in 1932 that was instrumental in opening up the uplands of Northern England to the millions of folks living in reasonably close proximity to them.
Walking the plateau
I had walked over the plateau several times in my youth without ever visiting the highest point, but a glorious sunny day on a Derbyshire holiday was too good an opportunity to miss. If I couldn't locate the top in these conditions I would never manage it. I started from the Barber Booth car park near Edale, and went up the course of Crowden Brook, a lovely moorland stream followed by an easy path that took a lot of pleasure in jumping from side to side of the water as height was gained. Once out on the plateau I headed west through the Woolpacks, a huge collection of huge gritstone boulders, before making for the isolated pinnacle of Pym Chair. This is roughly 500m SE of the highest point, and my research had suggested that the cairn adjacent to the summit would be visible from here. Of course it wasn't, so I decided upon a guaranteed outcome and banged a 10 digit grid reference for the top into the GPS. Five minutes later I was standing over the tiny table of grass recently identified as the summit.
Objective achieved, it was time to reacquaint myself with some of Kinder's more obviously interesting corners. I dropped NE (well, dropped may be too strong a word) to the headwaters of the Kinder River, following it to Kinder Downfall. This is the source of the name of Kinder Scout, meaning as it does "Water that goes over the edge", for here the stream slips over a stepped 30m cliff (unless it is being blown back upwards by the wind funnelling up through the amphitheatre below, a frequent occurence). The walk alongside the embryonic river, along sandy beaches and through gritstone gateways is odd and enchanting...you'll never feel less like you are on a mountain top when you actually are anywhere. The surrounding plateau is very different from the one I remember 20+ years ago, the National Park having embarked on a very successful programme of soil erosion prevention and reseeding; the former oozy black desert is gradually being greened and softened.
On arrival at the Downfall a while was spent on the usual struggle to find a viewpoint that can properly take in the hectic scene below you, before I walked on south along the edge on a good path, the lonely Mermaids Pool below on a shelf above the village of Hayfield. (Manchester is over in that direction too, but luckily you cannot see it too well from Kinder). I slanted up to the trig column on Kinder Low, perched on a large slopey gritstone boulder and only a couple of metres lower than the true summit (which is hilariously difficult to pick out even from this reasonably close viewpoint). The path continued south and down, past the huge roof of Edale Rocks on the right before a col at the medieval Edale Cross. A short rise led to an obvious path coming in from the left, which I took towards the valley. There was a steep and restored section called Jacob's Ladder (the whole walk since the Downfall has been on the Pennine Way) before a lane returned me to the start.
Uploaded on: Tue, 21 Jul 2015 (17:17:25) Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/track/3043/ To download GPS tracks you must be enrolled and logged in. See "Login or enrol", top right - quick and easy.
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