Sunday, 28 October 2012

Edale to Kinder Scout and back again...

Looking down towards Edale.

So I thought I'd quickly throw up an entry about my first real walk around the Edale "skyline." It was a great way to test just how enthusiastic I am about continuing what I've started to enjoy so much, and the day definitely didn't disappoint me. The views were excellent, I reached a new height and so did my enjoyment level, at the top of Kinder Scout...
We started off the day early, having to drive up to Edale from Derby, setting off at around 6.30am. We knew the day would be a long one, and wanted to give ourselves as much time as possible to take pictures and enjoy ourselves. Arriving in Edale at around 8.30/9.00am, we decided to get straight on with walking as the route we'd take was already decided.

A very rough aerial view of our route.
We had decided earlier in the week that we would do the western half of the skyline, starting at The Nab, and coming back down Mam Tor. Though we decided at the end, not to press on to Mam Tor, but to come down the public footpath from Rushup Edge into Barber Booth.

The climb to the top of The Nab to begin with, was definitely tougher than was expected. Having been disappointed that no cafe's were open until 10am, we had skipped breakfast. An amateur mistake! About half way up to the top, a hunting kestrel provided a much needed excuse to stop and take on some fluids and a sneaky chocolate bar. While we did stop though, it reminded me just how much wildlife id seen in my short time exploring the area so far. I was so engrossed in the views from the top of various hills, that I'd paid less attention to just what was around me. After about 10 minutes, we carried on up The Nab and on to the top of Ringing Roger. With the wind ripping all around, I decided to drop down onto a little shelf that was out of the wind so that I could look at my map for a minute. Just inside a crag in the rocks, I happened to find a Geo-cache box! Completely by coincidence. Being new to walking, I had no idea what it was to begin with. It was only when I'd gotten home and looked on the website that I realised what it was. After reading about them some more, and talking with some online friends, I may start to hunt for some more in the future.

After Ringing Roger, we carried on our way. One thing I decided that I wanted to see on this trip was Druid's Stone. Ever since I'd first looked at the OS map, it caught my eye, and I wanted to see just what it was. There aren't any pictures that I can find on the internet, so I went with the assumption that it was probably the largest flat-ish rock in the area.

Druid's Stone?
We decided that an off track - ish walk around in the heather would be a fun idea, and we easily found our way back onto the path when we decided to get going. It was probably a silly thing to do if we would have walked around for much longer, but keeping the path in sight, it wasnt too silly. It was silly enough though, to find a spruce tree. The thinking was that it must have been put there intentionally by people. It seems a strange notion that there would be a single spruce tree growing in the middle of heather moorland. If anyone else has happened across this tree - leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

That wasn't the final unexpected discovery of the day either. As we carried on along to Nether Tor, the rocks were taking more odd and interesting shapes. It is a wonder just how much the rain, wind, ice and snow can change such a hardy landscape. It provokes me to think about how much they have changed over the years, and how people would look upon them hundreds of years ago, whether they would know or imagine that they'd still be here now. As I clambered all over the rocks, as I tend to do, I noticed something catch the light. It was a plaque. A metal plaque that had been mounted and attached to the rock, and it read "Neil". That is all it said. Again, no idea what it was doing there. Perhaps it was a memorial of some sort? Has anyone else come across this before? Anyone have more info? Let me know...
Nether Tor Neil.
The views from Nether Tor were breathtaking, some of the best in the area so far. As the day went on, I was really appreciating how different everything can look from one hill to the next. I had looked over in this direction from the top of Grindslow Knoll the last time we had walked up from Edale, and it was great seeing the view in reverse. Next point of interest on the route was Upper Tor. Again, the views were still stunning, and the misty weather from earlier in the morning had cleared up and it was comfortably warmer than it had been. For the first time that day, we saw some other walkers. It seemed as though they might be experienced in the area, as they walked straight through without much time spent taking in their surroundings. I did think that maybe they were pushing on towards Kinder as the day moved on. With that thought, we thought it about time to stop and have some lunch before we pushed on in the same direction.

In the second half of the day, we wanted to get to Kinder Scout, possibly Kinder Downfall and then onwards round the top of the valley past Rushup Edge and to Mam Tor. Following the path westward towards Kinder from the top of Grindsbrook brought us to the Woolpacks. If the rocks of the Tors and provoked thought with me of how the landscape had looked in the past and the process of change it had gone through - the Woolpacks certainly got my mind whirring. As I looked around, I started to feel like I was on a completely different planet. The rocks made the landscape look similar to something out of an old Star Trek episode, not that I was expecting a group of aliens to come bouncing round the corner wearing 3 in 1 jackets of course.

Passing Crowden Tower and Pym Chair, there was a little bit of debate as to the reliability of my compass. Its become a little traditional joke already to argue that it isnt working anymore. We were trying to decide exactly where to summit of Kinder Scout was, and walked around for a while before deciding to head to the trig point of Kinder Low in the distance. The view from here just made my day. It was unreal. The expanse infront of us to the west, leading out to Manchester, and on the horizon; Snowdonia. Having lived in Manchester during my teenage years, and being so far away from there now, it felt strange being able to see it from where I was stood after only a few hours walking. It seemed so small looking down on it. So quiet. The complete opposite to what you think standing in the middle of Manchester city centre. Being able to see over to Snowdonia too just reinforced how high we were, and also how much I want to go to wales for some walking too!

The view westward from Kinder Low.
Time was really knocking on by this point, so we decided to not bother with Kinder Downfall, which did disappoint me if I'm honest. I was quite looking forward to seeing it after looking at pictures and videos. The wind was quite strong, and so it was a distinct possibility that it might be blowing backwards as is characteristic of the waterfall on such a day. It had become so windy infact that we decided to rely on my memory and the path to take us towards Rushup Edge. We did well, with the path being fairly solid, until we went over the stile that takes you towards Brown Knoll. The amount of peat around was ridiculous at times. Step after step, you'd become knee deep in muddy peat. I started to find it quite funny, but for my friends (none of whom had waterproof footwear!), it was quite the opposite. Having not conulted the map for a couple of hours, I totally forgot that Brown Knoll had a trig point until we waded our way towards it. The path had completely disappeared, and we were just heading in a general direction for the most part. It was an educated generalisation, but we succeeded in reaching where we wanted to go. We decided to cut the walk shorter still, cutting out the ascent and descent of Mam Tor in favour of going to the pub for a well deserved pint and some food. Heading down the public footpath into Barber Booth was easier going than we'd had for the last hour through peat and mounds and pits in the grass, and it allowed for a good chat about the great day we'd all had.

The morning view across the valley from the foot of Mam Tor.

The view towards Lose Hill from The Nab.

The top of Ringing Roger.

Nether Tor.

Upper Tor.

The path to Kinder.

The Wool Packs.

Kinder Low trig point.

Kinder Reservoir.

Brown Knoll trig point.

Vale of Edale, notice the railway track that leads through a tunnel under our feet here.

Cairn at Rushup Edge.

Footpath back down to Barber Booth and Edale.