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...


  1. Did you know that there is a disused quarry above the river in your first pic. I've seen Common lizards, Stoats and the past year there was a Peregrine nesting there.

    Nice this time of year at kinder.
    You not hear any Cuckoos? that day maybe it abit early for them yet

  2. Sunshine and the Peak District. Nice blend that.

  3. Sounds like a great day out - the dead sheep is a good reminder of the need to boil water! Yeeeuuch!!