Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Kinder Downfall from Hayfield

We finally got a decent number of work colleagues out for one of our first proper walks as a walking club! Might have been something to do with the rather promising weather forecast for the weekend of sun, sun and more sun. No one was feeling rich and we had a few people making the effort to come across from Liverpool so we decided on something close by. My favourite Peak District walk has to be the classic Kinder Downfall from Hayfield. Only a thirty minute drive from Manchester to the start of a fantastic walk in varied and fascinating terrain. I set off in the morning and headed to Stretford where I met up with Julia at hers and Robyn who had driven across from Liverpool. We took a quick detour to Manchester Piccadilly train station where we picked up Simon who had come across on the train from Liverpool. It was an easy drive out to the Peak and the weather was living up to the forecast.

Julia, Robyn and Simon by the River Kinder

We reached Bowden Bridge at around eleven and parked on the road side, no way on earth I'm paying their extortionate parking fees in the quarry car park! We headed off up the road, after passing the lovely cottages on the right we came to a halt at the birch woodland on the left as we heard the unmistakable loud repetitive tapping noise of a Woodpecker. Unfortunately no matter how hard we tried we could not get sight of it and it continued to mock us tapping away every so often. We continued along the road until we came to the friendly goat I always say hello to in the garden on the left before the old sheep dip. Leaving the road we took the river side path along the River Kinder until we crossed it then took the steep ascent up the side of the dam wall.

Kinder Reservoir

Once at the reservoir level the familiar panoramic views of the Kinder Plateau's western edge opened up above us. From here you can pretty much see the entire outline of the planned walk. Despite us all now putting on sun cream and shedding clothes in the heat there was still several small snow fields visible in the gullies on the plateau edge. The reservoir looked at a good full level and Canada Geese and other ducks and birds were making the most of the weather. We spotted several frogs swimming along on the surface of the reservoir that looked as if they were doing back stroke! Once at the far end of the reservoir we decided against the busy and rocky ascent of William Clough and instead took the steeper yet also shorter and much quieter direct route up to the ridge near Sandy Heys. As we started up the steep ascent we were all mighty relieved that we didn't choose to fill our water bottles further down the stream as to our left a dead sheep was lying dead and half eaten by the stream, it gave off that pungent sweet rancid smell only a dead animal can give off. Half way up the ridge we spotted a big Buzzard circling on the warm thermals above with two crows that seemed to be harassing it.

Robyn, Julia, Simon and Myself lunching by River Kinder

Once on the plateau the hard upwards slog was over for the day and we could now all talk to each other without being short of breath! We turned around to look out towards Manchester. On a clear day you can see to Liverpool from here and most of the north west, today it was too sunny and too hazy to even make out Manchester. We headed along the plateau path with its many fascinating weathered grit stone rock formations, towards Kinder Downfall. Stopping just before the downfall we walked out on to the edge of the rocks that look towards the downfall itself for some photo opportunities but were soon called back to the path by Julia who was getting hungry and told us she gets short tempered when she is angry, so scared we all set off towards a busy Kinder Downfall. The popularity of the downfall means it doesn't exactly make for a quiet lunch stop, instead we walked up the course of the River Kinder towards Kinder Gates and found a lovely quiet spot. While we were in the plateau itself I decided to show the folks what most of the plateau is actually made of and we headed into the abyss down a small peat grough with hags either side twice as high as us. It is quite a frightening experience to wander into this dark soggy boggy environment so the exploration didn't last long. I did get very excited at one point as there was a small patch of snow by our lunch stop. Lunch was great in the sun with no noise other than ourselves and the trickling River Kinder.

Julia, Robyn, Simon and Myself at Kinder Low trig pillar

I sadly failed to keep my promise of Mountain Hares or Black Grouse, which it is rare not too see up here, though there was a lot of people around. I tried to trick the guys by pointing at a West Highland Terrier and shouting Mountain Hare. We headed south along the plateau edge path and quickly came across the 'Penis Rock', a piece of rock shaped like one basically, Simon posed for photos and we moved on in search of the Kinder Low summit. We eventually reached the lunar landscape of Kinder Low summit at 633m above sea level. Group photos were taken and I once again bored the guys with the story of why OS trig points exist and what they were used for. A hungry sheep watched on disappointed as we left Kinder Low without feeding it. We headed towards Kinderlow Cairn on the new paved path. After passing the old burial mound we met a few foreign walkers who had come down the wrong way, we soon pointed them in the right direction back to Edale, if they hadn't asked they would have required an unwelcome taxi bill to get them back to Edale from Hayfield. We made it down off the plateau via the steep path off Kinderlow End, Simon trying to send a text message from his iPhone only just made it down in one piece!

Mating frogs on road at Bowden Bridge

An easy stroll over the fields above Tunstead Clough Farm got us back down to the road and heading back towards Bowden Bridge. The road back to Bowden Bridge was absolutely covered in frogs or toads, nearly all in pairs as they were mating. Sadly there was actually more dead ones than alive, though there were plenty still at it. I've never seen so many adult frogs or toads in my life! We all got back to the car and agreed it was a great day out. We finished off the day with a drink at the Hare and Hounds pub which sits on top of Werneth Low hill above Hyde and gives a fantastic viewpoint over Greater Manchester from above, especially on a sunny day like that!

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Crinkle Crags via Red Tarn

The weekends plan was to head over to Liverpool in my car, pick up a few people from Liverpool and head up to the Lakes. This went down the pan however when I got a puncture at 4:30pm on the Saturday. As you can imagine mechanics who have been working all day and are finishing at 5pm aren't exactly wanting to stay behind and fix a puncture, can't blame them, I'd probably have the same attitude myself. After finally getting it confirmed that it wasn't a puncture repair but a tyre replacement I was relieved as this would mean a quicker swap so they may do it, however all three tyre places did not have my size tyre in anything other than the £140 Bridgestones, which would be wasted on my car and I don't have £140 to 'skid' as it were. So my car was out of the question and the whole trip gone, until I got a phone call late evening from Jo from work to say she still wanted to go and could drive, so I got the Metrolink early in the morning up to Bury and we set off from there.

Jo looking out from Great Knott summit cairn

Heading up the M6 we decided that as we had set off maybe a little later than we normally would that we would do something that wouldn't take up too many hours. We still wanted to do something good and get up high so I suggested a walk from Three Shire Stone.  Three Shire Stone sits at the top of the infamous Wrynose Pass road at 393m above sea level with several decent parking spots, some think starting at 393m  above sea level is cheating , I just think its clever! I have done Cold Pike and Pike of Blisco heading north from Three Shire Stone and also the Coniston Fells on its south side.  One thing I have never done is Crinkle Crags so we decided on that as the plan. The drive up was pleasant enough with no major road works. The weather was fantastic all the way up through Greater Manchester and Lancashire, as we approached the Lake District it started to cloud over but did stay dry. From Ambleside we headed towards Skelwith Bridge and then took the quiet route through Little Langdale via and the Three Shire Inn where we stopped off to use their loo.  Once up on the Wrynose Pass we found no one at all was parked at Three Shire Stone so got a space. As I opened my door to get my rucksack out of the back of the car I pushed the door to find it slam back at me rather violently. It was very windy as predicted and freezing cold too so first thing we did was get our hats and gloves on and extra clothing. We set off along the easy path to Red Tarn.

Pike of Blisco

Once we reached Red Tarn we decided as it was gone midday, it was time for lunch. Sitting on a boulder just above Browney Gill was the perfect lunch spot though it was windy as it is virtually a wide col. Jo found out just how windy it was when she decided to put a packet of Hula Hoops on the rock only to find they were pickd up by the wind and the packet ended up on the other side of Browney Gill. The ensuing clean up operation was ratrher impressive and saw Jo sprint and jump the stream to grab the crisp packet before it littered the countryside. I think my conversation in the car of my hatred for litter bugs may have had some influence, though I wouldn't have held that against anyone as the wind just took it, impressive recovery though! We ate all the energy we had and set off up the obvious path towards Crinkle Crags. At Great Knott we took a detour to its summit, unsure as to its status as a Wainwright or not but later found out it isn't, which is a shame for anyone who ignores it for that reason as it is a great view point down into the Langdale Valley. As we stood taking pictures of the clear valley in front, the clouds were forming over the cold mountain ridge behind us. A sudden shout from Jo and pointing arm into the valley indicated a lovely rainbow had appeared to complete the already fantastic view. Back on the main path we headed towards the first of Crinkle Crags five summits. Looking along from our vantage point above Great Cove all you could see was big dark brooding gullies and cliffs dropping into the valley below, it was a daunting but also thrilling sight. On a day like this you couldn't see the individual summits and having never done the mountain before I could only go off the OS map to decide our exact position.

Rainbow in the Langdale Valley

The weather started taking a turn for the worse as we got on to Crinkle Crags proper and what started as fine rain was now turning into a horrible face splitting combination of very fine snow and hail. Buffs on our faces we battled on, encouraged by the number of very young folk on the path who seemed not to care one bit and were just happy to be out in the hills. We spoke about how funny it is that some kids just laugh when put in these situations and othr cry and fall to the ground!  My Rab Power Stretch gloves have developed holes over the last few months and after leaving my mitts in Scotland these were all I had to keep my wussy hands from the cold and they didn't do a great job unfortunately. We skipped across a few remnants of this winters heavy snow falls, some of these remaining snow fields have been there since before Christmas over three months ago! As we got to what we eventually realised was the first summit but not the highest known as Long Top on the map, we realised that finding the actual highest summit Long Top was going to be very tricky. The top of the first one though was good fun and had a few scrambling sections.

Myself and Jo on Crinkle Crags summit cairn

We dropped down into a slight col and there was a fantastic view towards Langdale with a gorge below. Looking at the map we could make out precisely where we were because of a strange shaped walled field below. We were stood on the col at the top of Mickle Door above Crinkle Gill. This showed on the map that the true highest summit was only about seventy metres in front. However when we looked in its direction all we could see was a huge wall of rock. Several people seemed to be heading up a chimney in the steep rock which is well known as 'The Bad Step'. We saw a few people taking the somewhat easier route round the west side of the rock face and up a simple scree path. From here it was now just about obvious which one was the highest, though we also knew we were at the highest point as we could hardly stand in the wind. As we approached the summit cairn for a photo opportunity the wind even took Jo off her feet! Photo session didn't take long as the wind was blowing a gale and still throwing hail and snow at us so we made for a quick retreat back the way we came for yet more great view on the descent to Red Tarn. We finished off the day with a Hot Chocolate and Tea Cakes in Ambleside. Great day out and exhilarating in the weather at times. I certainly want to go back up Crinkle Crags on a good day so I can actually see each of the  summits!

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...