As someone who does most of her walking alone, I have taken this GetOutside Champion thing as an opportunity to be a little more sociable. Having come back from the launch event feeling inspired, I put out a call to my fellow Champions that simply said: “I’m going to head out for a walk from Edale at the end of February, anyone fancy joining me”. And, would you believe it, some people actually did! I plotted a route in the OS Maps app, sent it around to everyone, and we met up for a bit of a bimble up onto Kinder.
View from Kinder Plateau
Those of you who have been reading Splodz Blogz for a little while will know that Kinder Scout and the plateau there is the place where I rekindled my love of hillwalking two or three years ago. Not that I’d ever fallen out of love with hillwalking, but it was just where I was when I remembered how alive I feel when I am stood looking at the view from the top of a hill having reached there under my own steam. Exhilarating.
Leaving Edale towards Grindsbrook
It just seemed the perfect place to go for a hike with some new friends; a handful of Champions that travelled from various places all over the country to come for a day hike (and a pub lunch, that will have helped I’m sure). We met in the main carpark at Edale (£5 for the day with decent public toilets), and almost as soon as we set off up into the village and towards Grinds Brook it started to rain.
Bridges are for wusses…
I generally describe Grindsbrook as an “almost scramble”. To be honest I don’t really know the proper descriptions for grading scrambles, but in my eyes this particular ascent, that follows a river that can be fast flowing but can also be pretty dry depending on the time of year and conditions at the time, is completely doable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. The path from the village starts as any low level trail might, a bit muddy in places but nothing too strenuous, and gets rockier and rockier as you make your way up alongside the brook. As the gradient increases so does the size of the boulders, and for my little legs there is definitely a need to use my hands and sometimes also my knees to make my way up to the top. But generally it’s just some big steps and a couple of water crossings, nothing too taxing or worrying.
Looking back down Grindsbrook
I have to admit that if I had been hiking alone on this particular occasion I might have stayed at home. The weather was absolutely terrible, and Grindsbrook itself was full and flowing down into the valley at a pretty fast rate. But I wasn’t alone, I was with a group of experienced hikers who all knew exactly what they were doing, so between us we trundled alone, chatting as we went, helping each other where needed, and joking about the conditions. Let’s fact it the main topic of conversation was, of course, the weather; we had rain, strong winds, a touch of hail and even some sleet during our four hours on the trail.
Looking back towards Edale
Once at the top, and now with the full force of the wind pushing us around, we bounced along the National Trust created flagstone path that follows the south ridge of the Kinder Plateau. Put there to help protect the important moorland, it doesn’t yet go the distance and there are still some sections along the route that require some careful footing. As we got to Pym Chair, a rocky outcrop on the ridge, things got very interesting thanks to the peat bog. I think it’s fair to say we all had our individual run ins with the bog; I’m very used to being the one to get covered in the stuff thanks to my elephant feet and lack of grace (a graceful hop is always less likely to involve sinkage), and today was no exception.
On Kinder Plateau
It was windy up there!
I’ve been wearing in my KEEN Aphlex boots for a few months now. A gift from KEEN towards the end of last year, I think they had their first outing when I went fossil hunting over at Runswick Bay with Jenni back in November, but this was the first time I’d done some serious miles in them. The Aphlex are proving to be a firm favourite, which is quite something as for the last few years and few hundred miles I have stuck with my trusty Merrell boots without straying. The new addition to the KEEN range are good and wide and so remain comfortable even after a few miles on my feet, fit well around my ankle, are sturdy enough to provide the support I need and expect, and are nice and light to wear. I can definitely confirm they are waterproof; I may have got myself a little stuck in the bog and ended up with the stinky brown horrible stuff inside my boots, which remained there until we finished and I poured the mud and water in the car park. Nice! I’ve now washed the boots twice with some boot cleaner and while they could still do with another wash, I am definitely happy to report they have stood up to the test that is Kinder Plateau. Naturally, I have no problem with the outside looking dirty and worn, but I’d quite like the inside to be less, um, peat coloured and scented. Ah well.
Wet but happy in my KEEN boots! Thanks Andy for the pic.
Back to the walking, now with added weight and squelch. Even with the weather being as it was, we were lucky that our view into and over the valley was still beautiful and we snapped away as we bounced along.
Peat bog on Kinder Plateau
We detoured slightly from our circular walk to head across to the Kinder Low trig point; well we are Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions, it is the law! Trig points aren’t actually used for working out officially where you are anymore, OS have moved onto using fancy little things buried in the ground or placed on the top of buildings, but they are still iconic here in the UK and there are whole tribes of people who make it their mission to touch as many as possible. I perhaps should have started making a list when I was a kid because I’d have several pages worth by now, but never mind. After the obligatory photos, and in an attempt to get out of the wind and cloud, we joined the Pennine Way and headed around Noe Stool and down off the moorland back into the valley.
Kinder Low trig point
Trig point selfie! Thanks Andy for the pic.
My chosen route down was via Jacob’s Ladder, which is a steep but very easy to navigate section of the Pennine Way. The stream running down the hard uneven stone steps was flowing well thanks to recent weather, but as on the way up, we just got stuck in and made our way down at our own individual pace. From the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder, where there was a handy stream to remove some of the mud collected at the top of the hill, it was a mile or two of rolling farmland through Upper Booth and back to Edale.
The Pennine Way off Kinder
As is traditional when you walk with friends, we headed straight for the pub – The Old Nags Head – for dinner (pick-and-mix sausage and mash!) and a drink. It’s always nice to warm and dry off with hot food, an open fire, and plenty of time for storytelling. The mud and dog friendly pub was full to bursting with walkers who’d also been out in the wind and the rain, making for a fun afternoon getting to know each other.
The final stretch of Jacob’s Ladder
My wet and cold walk from Edale with some of my GetOutside Champion friends reminded me of a few things. The first and most important was that I love walking with other people, even when the weather is shocking. I tend to spend time outside alone more often than not, and the opportunity to get to know like-minded people in our natural setting was a real blessing. The second is that pick-and-mix bangers and mash should be on every walker’s pub menu – four types of sausage, four types of mash, four types of gravy, all served in a massive Yorkshire pudding wit mushy peas. Seriously good idea. Thirdly, that moorland and hills of the Peak District are beautiful when the sky is blue and when the sky is having a bad day. And finally, that I really need to invest in a pair of gaiters; Nigel’s feet were dry and mine were most definitely not. Ah well!
Heading back to Edale
There is a well-known saying regarding bad weather and proper gear that I refrained from using in this post because there is such a thing as bad weather, and it can lead to real difficulty. If I had been doing this hike alone, or with a group of less experienced hikers, I would not have gone up onto the ridge; I would have turned back (or not started), and that would have been a very reasonable decision to make. The group I was with this particular day was very experienced and well prepared (both in terms of kit and understanding the forecast, the weather was not a surprise), and so the conditions simply added a character building element to our day. And we’ve not stopped talking about it since. The weather should always be taken very seriously, especially when there is rain, sleet and strong wind combined with boggy terrain and varying visibility. Please take care on the hills and moorland when you are next exploring.