Sunday, 12 August 2012

Grindslow Knoll via Ringing Roger

I had plans this weekend to climb up England's highest mountain Scafell Pike with friends but unfortunately those plans were scuppered when they realised they had unfortunately double booked. It was probably a good thing really as I played three hours of football during the week and pulled my groin in the final game. I hoped by Sunday it would be okay but I could still feel it. It hurt most when I was sat down more than when I was active so I decided I would still go for a hill walk. I looked at my website again to find a walk I could do that still needed writing up. To keep things simple and to avoid the increasing cost of having to fill the car I decided I would get the train into the Peak District. Of all the walks on my site that still needed writing up Grindslow Knoll via Ringing Roger is probably my favourite. This is a circular walk that can be started and finished at Edale train station in the heart of the Hope Valley. Ringing Roger is one of only a handful of proper scrambles in the Peak District, nothing technical and totally avoidable with paths on either side but nonetheless great fun if you want it. The rest of the walk involves crossing Grindslow Knoll after a walk along the edge of the Kinder Plateau which makes you feel like you are walking along the roof of the Hope Valley and gives awesome views.

Ringing Roger from Edale railway station

I'd love to say I threw my rucksack over my pack and flew through the door. In reality however as I use my rucksack for cycling I had to go through the usual rigmarole of removing all the cycling gear like tools, inner tubes, pump, gloves, helmet etc. I really must get myself a separate rucksack for cycling as it does annoy me having to swap kit around every weekend. Maybe I am just being lazy but I'd rather not have to waste the time and it would mean I could leave all my walking gear in the rucksack and just grab it and go ( since writing this report I have discovered that I hadn't realised I left my 2kg bike lock in the bladder section of the rucksack so I unknowingly carried it round this walk! ). I made a packed lunch then checked the weather forecast which was scattered thundery showers, in fact the Met Office rainfall radar looked like the close up of a disease ridden petri dish. I packed my proper waterproofs which I hadn't done so far this summer. I am aware of how drastically the weather can change on summer days like this. Just watch the temperature gauge in your car as you drive through a storm and you will see that it can drop by around ten degrees, imagine that on top of Kinder Plateau. It would be foolish given the forecast not to carry proper waterproofs despite not wanting to carry the extra weight and bulk.

Ringing Roger above Edale

Gear packed I was ready to go so I said my goodbyes to Nicky. My poor wife is still studying hard so stayed at home slaving away over her study books. I set off on foot to catch the tram to Manchester. The tram was surprisingly busy for a Sunday morning and as I reached the top of the escalator in Piccadilly station so was the station foyer, it was at that point I remembered it is the busy school holiday period. I had visions of myself alighting at Edale with hoards of screaming kids. Don't get me wrong I like kids and I love seeing them out in the hills, but today I had a desire for peace and tranquillity. I had half an hour to waste before my train departed so I headed towards Starbucks for a Mocha when I spotted one of my friends I hadn't seen for a long time. Andy works for Northern Rail driving the trains and loves his job which became a surprise career for him several years ago. Unlike myself Andy wasn't a saddo stood on the platform at Crewe when he was young. Andy showed me his itinerary for the day and it included my evening Sheffield train back from Edale, but sadly he had swapped that one shift with someone else as he had family arrangements. It would have been cool to have my mate drive my train home. Our conversations ranged from laughing about old times to filling each or in on our new lives.  Andy told me a frightening story of how had to get out of a train whilst at a red signal in the dark and damp Totley Tunnel on the Sheffield line, the longest non-electrified  railway tunnel in Britain. Rather him than me! He told me how at the half way point there is a huge cavern where the two sides came together when creating the tunnel, the cavern is said to have been a place of worship at one point and got the nickname of The Cathedral. I'm not too sure how many of the stories surrounding the cavern are true or if it is something train drivers use to scare each other. I love the story anyway and loved seeing Andy.

Boulders on Ringing Roger

I boarded the Sheffield train at Piccadilly after going through the confusing task of having to change platforms and figuring out which of the three trains on the same platform was the correct one. I do wonder how on earth anyone using a train station or airport for the first time has a clue what to do. The train was packed but not many of the passengers had rucksacks or looked the hill walking type, most looked like they were hungover and returning to Sheffield after a night out in Manchester. You can spot those hungover as they are nipping to the toilet every ten minutes and cursing Northern Rail for the totally unnecessary heating installed and on full blast next to their seat which is bad enough at the best of times, but on a midsummers day and hungover it is your worst nightmare. The railway embankments I was watching fly by out of the window were completely blue in places covered in Balsam and Rosebay Willowherb. These may be invasive and unwanted to those obsessed with the whole native debate but they must be doing wonders for Britain's worryingly declining bee population. As the train made its way from the industrial wastelands of east Manchester to the rolling foothills of the Peak District the weather started to deteriorate and I feared the worst. I should have known better though as many times before I have experienced the phenomenal change of weather that can occur after you have passed through the Cowburn Tunnel and entered the Hope Valley. It happened again on this occasion and as the inside of the train suddenly lit up as it raced out of the tunnel I looked up to my left to see the stunning profile of Rushup Edge basking in sunshine, backed by a blue sky and littered with paragliders. With a big smile on my face I headed to the door and stepped of the train and inhaled a lung full of fresh Peak District air. There was only a handful of walkers that disembarked from the train at Edale which was surprising given the busy school holiday period. I made my way along the hedgerow lined road into Edale. I was surprised to find the car parks and the camp sites were both fairly empty. I passed The Old Nag's Head then turned right after passing a few houses to cross the wooden footbridge over Grinds Brook. There was a family close behind me as I made my way up the zig zag path to The Nab. I am a big fan of seeing families out hill walking but when one of the kids decided to run half a kilometre ahead of his family and shout full blast back to them for the entire ascent I was tempted to go tell him to explore the heather in the hope he would come across an angry Adder. Did I really just say that? I wondered off into the heather and myself a few times to pick a handful of tasty Bilberrys which are in season and ripe for picking. On the beginning of the climb to The Nab there was a stunning blue hillside covered in Harebells.

Lunch spot above Grinds Brook

After enjoying the view from The Nab I made my way along the path to Ringing Roger. As you approach Ringing Roger it dominates the skyline and looks like a proper ridge. I reached the foot of Ringing Roger and stopped to adjust my rucksack so I could have a proper scramble up its many weather sculptured boulders. The across the valley was up Grinds Brook, a treacherous rock strewn valley that can be an unpleasant surprise to anyone ill informed of its difficulty. I clambered my way up the rocks, taking the most difficult line possible to make it as much fun as possible. I forgot just how much fun this short ridge can be. At the top I sat on a rock and took in the views across to the Great Ridge. From Ringing Roger I made my way across to the edge of the Kinder Plateau. As it was such a nice day there were folk chilling out in hollows, I smiled at each of them and thought, yep I totally get why you are lying there. I had also forgotten how incredible the rocks are on Upper Tor so I stopped to take photos. By now the weather was changing and there was a huge thunder cloud to the left above Buxton and one to the right above Manchester. Realising the weather was about to change I paced along the plateau edge leaping from rock to rock. As I reached the top of Grinds Clough the thunder cloud to the right over Manchester made an almighty rumble. It was over cast by now and much colder but stayed dry. I sat on a perfect seat shaped rock above the top end of Grinds Clough and took my time eating lunch, something I rarely do on walks and should do more often. As I reached the top of Grinds Clough walkers were all packing up and moving on quickly as the distant rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening got closer. I passed the famous mushroom shaped boulder above Foxes Holes and made my way up Grindslow Knoll, which I have to admit isn't the prettiest of Peak District summits. The summit is wider than it looks from a far and doesn't provide much in the way of views.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar

I descended from Grindslow Knoll on what is a vastly improved footpath. Signs by the path pointed out the great work that has been done repairing the path. It was a great improvement on how I remembered it being the last time I came down here. Half way down I passed one couple who made me laugh as they we actually using an iPad with Google Maps for navigational purposes. As I was admiring the stunning Great Ridge across the Hope Valley I nearly stepped on a huge Emperor Moth Caterpillar. I've seen lots of hairy caterpillars before especially when walking in Scotland but this was by far the most impressive I have ever seen. I passed through the gate at the bottom of the rough descent path and headed down the steep field to the Pennine Way and back to Edale. There was a friendly Robin and two Thrushes foraging in the path side stream. When I reached Edale I checked out the Old Nags Head but decided it was too busy. I instead headed over to the post office for an ice cream. When I came out of the shop a big black moggy, probably twice the size of our own moggy, jumped onto the wall next to me demanding attention. I couldn't resist as he was such a character, incredibly fluffy and missing the tips of both ears. I could have happily taken him home with me though I don't think our wee Bonnie would have been too happy. I felt satisfied with the day as I walked back down the road to the train station with my ice cream. I missed my train by five minutes which was probably due to me playing with the post office moggy. There was only one thing for it, I had no choice but to waste an hour outside the Penny Pot Cafe eating flapjack and ginger beer in the sun.

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...


  1. I'm surprised I didn't spot you today - I left the car park at 10am along with a group from Outdoors Magic. We had a grand day out too, I'm about to plot the route and update my blog.

    What a coincidence eh?!


  2. I love this route. The views from Ringing Roger and the ridge above Grindsbrook are, to my mind, some of the best in the whole of the Peaks!