Thursday, 8 October 2015

Kinder Downfall from Hayfield

I have walked the Kinder Downfall from Hayfield walk every year for the past twelve years. Last year was the first year I hadn't, due to my injury. I missed it immensely as I love Kinder and its unique landscape. As I was fit again I decided to head up there and this time take my girlfriend's cousin Anthony with me. I was impressed by how much he enjoyed a stomp up Blencathra a few weeks ago in some of the worst weather I have ever walked up a mountain. As Hayfield is literally only a half hour drive from Manchester I love taking people on this walk to show them what is so close to their doorstep. 

River Kinder through Marepiece Wood, Peak District.
We managed to get a free parking space on Kinder Road just before the quarry car park at Bowden Bridge. It is always a relief  to find there is still free parking available when you haven't been somewhere for a while. Unlike the torrential rain we had a fortnight when we arrived at the foot of Blencathra, the weather today was looking promising, cloudy but bright.


The Kinder Plateau reflecting in Kinder Reservoir, Peak District
After nearly being run over by two speeding mini buses on Kinder Road we made our way over the bridge by the sheep dip then turned left along the River Kinder footpath through Marepiece Wood. It is a lovely walk along the river through the wood, a great start to a walk. Anthony's commenta about the lack of litter along the path and how friendly people seem to be in the outdoors put a smile on my face.

Anthony walking along White Brow beside Kinder Reservoir, Peak District.
We turned left and crossed the River Kinder outflow from the dam then turned right and headed up the steep cobble path to reach the height of the dam wall slope. The Kinder Reservoir looked fantastic, the calm and settled day made the waters look like a glass mirror reflecting the Kinder Plateau and plantations on the opposite side of the reservoir.

Anthony walking towards the William Clough footbridge, Peak District.
We walked along the muddy path below White Brow. The path eventually narrowing as it was headed through the thick Bracken. I started boring Anthony with stories of Britain's native snakes and lizards and told him to look out for them on the dry paths and bracken. The views up to the plateau across the reservoir were getting me giddy about the prospect of walking along the plateau for the first time in far too long. I've missed the Skylarks, the Mountain Hares, the Grouse and the lunar landscape. 

British Airways 747 Jumbo Jet heading into Manchester Airport.
As we reached the bottom of William Clough a huge British Airways 747 Jumbo Jet flew over headin in to Manchester Airport, it was huge. Instead of heading up William Clough, we decided to cross the footbridge and take the direct route up the steep South West ridge that heads out from Sandy Heys.


William Clough, Peak District National Park.
Half way up the ascent the views started to open up behind us. Manchester, Greater Manchester and Cheshire in the foreground. Radio City Tower and the huge Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool beyond the cooling towers of Fiddlers Ferry power station by the shimmering Mersey Estuary. 

Sandy Heys, Kinder Plateau, Peak District.

Anthony stomped on ahead of me as we approached the plateau at the top of Sandy Heys. As I struggled up through the scattered rocks he stood unsympathetically mocking my fat sweaty head. We sat on the rocks at the top and had our drink and our sandwiches, looking out over Kinder Reservoir whilst being attacked by the most ridiculous swarm of black flies.

Kinder Reservoir beyond Sandy Heys, Kinder Plateau, Peak District.
We eventually gave up the battle and the flies won. We packed up our half eaten sandwiches and headed in an anti-clockwise direction east around the edge of the Kinder Plateau towards Kinder Downfall. 


Canyon at Sandy Heys, Kinder Plateau, Peak District.
I showed Anthony the view down from the huge cliffs by Kinder Downfall. At one point I made the mistake of showing off and got myself wedge between two rocks dangling in a precarious position above a deep drop. Which as you can imagine amused him as I tried to correct myself before he managed to get a photo of me struggling.

Anthony on the rocks above Kinder Downfall, Peak District.
As we made our way back to the main path I spotted something moving through the thick grass. It was a Common Lizard. I was so chuffed for us both to see one after telling Anthony about them earlier. We tried to carefully catch it but it was so quick that we couldn't grab it without injuring its tail we we left it alone.


Myself on the rocks above Kinder Downfall, Peak District.
Kinder Downfall was busy at it often is at weekends. I was glad to see that there was nowhere near as much litter strewn among the rocks as there had been in previous years. I made my way down to the pool above the main waterfall, a great spot on an early morning walk when there is no one else around, but not worth sticking around today as it was too busy. 

River Kinder pool at Kinder Downfall, Peak District.

Kinder Reservoir beyond Kinder Downfall, Peak District.
We continued along the edge of the plateau and as we did the views to the right were pretty awesome as the haze was beginning to lift. I was constantly pointing out landmarks like the airport tower and Joddrell Bank's huge Lovell Telescope.

Joddrell Bank's huge Lovell Telescope seen from the Kinder Plateau.
Looking back towards the cliffs we were stood on top of on the other side of the Kinder Downfall we spotted a dozen or so climbers. They looked great hanging off the cliffs with the huge urban sprawl of Manchester beyond.

Manchester City Centre seen from the Kinder Plateau, Peak District.
A trip to the Kinder Downfall is not complete until you have taken a shot of your fellow walker at what one of my friends aptly named "The Penis Rock". I came across this rock several years ago with a classy friend of mine who immediately recognized its phallic shape.


Anthony and the phallic shaped rock on Kinder Plateau, Peak District.
We continued heading south along the plateau edge path towards Kinder Low. We crossed the narrow ford at the top of Red Brook then eventually turn left off the main path to reach the rocks and trig point pillar at Kinder Low. When we reached the summit I jump up on to the trig point pillar for the standard summit shot. Anthony was a big girls blouse and wet out.

Myself on the Kinder Low summit trig point pillar, Peak District.
Although the true higher summit of Kinder Scout is supposed to be three metres higher and four hundreds metres away, I have always thought of this as the summit. I've never understood how anyone can really figure out what is the true summit up here in such a changing landscape whose height must change all the time due to natural erosion. 

Kinder Low, Summit Area, Peak District National Park ( taken in 2015 )
On the subject of erosion, natural or man made. One thing I was amazed at on the walk was how much the landscape had changed due to the ongoing moorland restoration work. You can see the difference in the landscape by looking at the photo above which I took on this walk and the photo below which I took ten years ago. I know land management can be vital around areas of man made erosion such as summit areas and close to popular paths, however I have to controversially admit that I don't think I'm a fan of us interfering with Kinder's unique and naturally fragile landscape. I feel the erosion is mostly part of a natural process and that erosion by people is fairly isolated. I've been up there many times and find that people don't wander around the plateau they tend to stick to the plateau edge path and the few crossing paths. I do feel like the unique landscape I go up there to see has been taken away somewhat. I'm guessing my opinion on this subject will probably anger some but I'd be interested to hear other peoples opinions.

Kinder Low, Summit Area, Peak District National Park ( taken in 2004 )
After boring Anthony with stories of how the summit area we were seeing was once a dark, desolate, almost lunar landscape we descended the large flagstone Kinderlow path towards the bronze age burial mound of Kinder Barrow. The purple heather was still in bloom. 

Kinderlow path to the Kinder Barrow bronze age burial mound.

Stunning purple heathers on Kinderlow Cavern, Peak District.
At the end of Kinder Low we descended the steeps path to reach the edge of the moorland where it reaches the top wall of the farm fields below. I was surprised to find there is still a distinct lack of signage, decent dry paths or wall crossings at this point. It is a shame for such a popular route. Surely if the paths, signage and wall crossings it would mean less walkers getting misplaced and be better for the walkers and the land owners. May be some of the millions being spent on the top should be spent down here too. We stopped at a drive way cake sale on our way past Tunstead House. As we arived back at Bowden Bridge the Mountain Rescue Team were arriving to deal with an incident which we later learned was a broken ankle at Kinder Downfall. 

Anthony heading towards Tunstead Clough Farm.


Route Map...