Tag Archives: hayfield

Breaking dawn on Lantern Pike

Confession: I never had much patience for depression suffers. Despite my father being a functioning manic depressive OCD alcoholic (no offence Dad), or maybe because of this, I always had a “pull your socks up” attitude towards it. I mean, I’d had blue days, who hadn’t? And some pretty dark grey to black days as a teenager as well that I’d prefer to forget about, and quite a few wobbles in my twenties and even in my thirties, but I’d always thought of such episodes as evidence of a character flaw, an intolerable admission of weakness to be swept away under the rug of British phlegm and pragmatism.

It follows that, having spent the first year of my forties dealing with an absolute shitstack bout of depression, I am considerably more tolerant (I hope).  However, that’s not what I particularly want to write about today; rather, I want to talk about the wonderful moment when the fog recedes, the night ends, the black dog recedes into his box of bonios and you suddenly think, for the first time in months and months: I feel normal; no, actually, I feel good.

I think I have been building up to this over the last few weeks, thanks to a change of anti-depressants and an excellent counsellor (maybe also return of Game of Thrones on a Monday evening?) but I really do suddenly feel OK. It’s a really good feeling and I don’t give two fucks if it’s chemically induced or not, it’s just good to find pleasure in being alive again.

I wanted to say something articulate about equating the feeling to the first feeling of spring  in the air after a long winter, and quote a poem that’s on the tip of my tongue about March winds being the morning yawn but I’ll be frank, I had a really strong campari & soda earlier and eloquence eludes me. So I’ll like to return instead to the subject of this blog post which is, you’ll be relieved to hear, nothing to do with parts one or two of the vampire-related cinematic monstrosity of the same name, but about a very pleasant walk  I had up to the local trig point on Lantern Pike early this morning.

I presume Lantern Pike must have once served as a beacon in pre-Whatsapp times, which provides a pleasing symmetry on a personal note, since as a child I was often dragged kicking and screaming up the local hill, Beacon Fell, for fitness and fun on a Sunday afternoon. My seven year old self would therefore have been horrified at the prospect of my forty year old self waking up at 5am on a Saturday morning and deciding to voluntarily tackle gravity (actually to be frank my forty year old self would normally feel a fairly strong aversion to both the hour and the exertion) but that’s what happened and it was great.

I’m really unfit, so it took me about ninety minutes, but it’s a pretty easy walk. I went up Swallow House lane and took the track at Higginbottom farm and then the short steepish path up to the trig point, back down the other side and then retraced my steps. You can combine this with the Sett Valley trail by cutting through back down to the reservoir, or with a longer gentler return via Little Hayfield and either the higher path through the woods, or the lower path through the fields.

I’m not saying it was the most exquisite morning ever, nor did my wheezing red-faced sweatiness make for the most romantic moment in the world when I reached the trig point, but I defy you to feel gloom and despair when walking with a friendly cocker spaniel and not a soul in sight, just sheep and birdsong and the morning sun on Manchester in the distance, and the mists rolling off Kinder Scout into the valley below.

Also, and while Lantern Pike is only a modest 1200 ft or something, carrying a piano up Ben Nevis or a washing machine up Snowdon or whatever has nothing on lugging a reluctant ten stone labrador to the summit when he would normally be lying flat on his back on the sofa at this hour, thus doubling my sense of achievement. That, and the smug satisfaction of knowing I achieved my Apple fitness goals by 7am, has enabled me to partake in the usual excessive weekend consumption of pasta, cheese and cheap red wine without the usual degree of maudlin self-loathing.

Here are some pics:

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Hayfield and Kinder from Lantern Pike

Manchester from Lantern Pike summit

Manchester from Lantern Pike summit

Cocky cocker

Cocky cocker

Fat Larry

Fat Larry

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Sett Valley

 

 

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An evening walk

This evening, the Nipper (ensconced in pram), the Dog and I took a stroll down the Sett Valley trail. This is a disused railway line converted into a pleasant flat path between Hayfield and New Mills, very pram friendly (though watch out for cyclists if your dog, like ours, insists on walking at an angle of 45 degrees and crossing the path of every other living being on the same route). We walked from Hayfield to Birch Vale and back, which is about 2 miles/40 minutes, and very pleasant it was too, with lovely views of Lantern Pike, Middle Moor, Twenty Trees and Birch Vale reservoir in the evening sun. The Nipper didn’t even shout until we got home. Bliss, apart from rabid jealousy of people sitting outside the Royal in Hayfield having an evening pint.

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Hayfield, Kinder Scout and a mysterious mermaid

The recent clement weather (I was about to write “unseasonable” until I remembered that it is supposed to be summer, after all) has had me hankering  to get out and about walking. This currently means a mile or so along the Tissington or Sett Valley trail before the Nipper starts to shout; however, in a previous life, good weather would mean a great day to get up on Kinder, which in my limited experience is one of the best places to be on a fine day, and therefore I thought I would share with you the walk which we might otherwise have done. For me, as a very amateur walker and hill climber, it ticks all the boxes: long enough to make you feel like you’ve done a decent walk without rendering you immobile the following day; a good balance of inclines and walks on the flat; spectacular views of the Peak District, Manchester and beyond, even to Wales; and, of course, a choice of hostelries at which to end.

Kinder Scout is not so much a summit as a sprawling high moor topping over 2,000 feet, thus making it the highest point in the Peak District. For those of you who care to don a pair of walking boots from time to time, you will be fascinated to learn, if you did not already know, that Kinder is the scene of the 1932 mass trespass, a sort of protest ramble which revolutionised access rights to the countryside, and this walks picks up part of the route taken by the trespassers. If you travel to Hayfield by car, you can park in Bowden Bridge car park and ascend the Kinder slopes by the trespassers’ original route, but I prefer to start this walk from Market Street.

Pass the Packhorse pub, and veer up Kinder Road to the right of the Royal, passing the library, until you see a public footpath heading off to the left. This, if memory serves me rightly, is the Snake Path. Follow this uphill, through a number of kissing gates (which can usefully counter the marital rage that often overshadows the first half hour of any major walk as a result of heated exchanges over e.g. dog leads, sandwich choices, washing facilities at campsites, etc.), and past a copse known locally as Twenty Trees, although I believe there are only nineteen. Turn around here for great views of the village and Lantern Pike.

The path levels out after a short climb, and brings you into sight of Kinder and the shooting lodge. I really love it up here on the moorland grasses, with the ridges looming in the distance, and there are a variety of other walks you could take from this point over Middle Moor and/or down into Little Hayfield. For now, follow the path with the shooting lodge to your left, the reservoir down below to your right, heading off to the left end of the Kinder ridges.

Twenty Trees

Twenty Trees

Shooting lodge and Kinder from the snake path

Shooting lodge and Kinder from the snake path

Kinder reservoir

Kinder reservoir

The path leads along the slopes above the reservoir and takes you onto William Clough, a very pleasant path up a gentle ravine, which ascends steadily until you merge with the Pennine Way at Ashop Head. Turn right and follow the path up for a short, steep-ish climb onto the edge of the Kinder plateau at Sandy Heys.

William Clough

William Clough

View back down William Clough to the reservoir

View back down William Clough to the reservoir

Walk round the edge for about a mile and a half. This is very easy walking along a good path threading between gritstone formations, with views of the reservoir below and beyond.  You will soon reach Kinder Downfall, the highest waterfall in the Peak District, where the river Kinder spills over the plateau down a tumble of gritstone rocks to the reservoir. Whilst not perhaps the most spectacular torrent on the planet, it looks impressive on a blustery day, when the water seems to blow back up on itself. The banks of the river make a good place to stop for lunch.

Kinder Downfall

Kinder Downfall

From here, you can also see the mysterious Mermaid’s Pool, shrouded in nebulous tales of a nymph who appears on Easter’s Eve to either grant immortality or lure men to their doom. It’s not an obvious spot for a mermaid, being a good fifty miles from the coast, and the legends are unclear as to whether she lures her victims to a nearby cavern or tavern, making a clear case for typographical accuracy if ever there was one. Here is a cheery poem by Henry Kirke telling the tale of a hapless shepherd’s boy who met his end at her hands.

Reservoir and the Mermaid's pool from Kinder Downfall

Reservoir and the Mermaid’s pool from Kinder Downfall

After lunch, cross the river and carry on along the path for another couple of miles or so until you reach the trig point at Kinder Low, set amidst a peaty, somewhat alien landscape with its quasi-lunar rocky outcrops.  Here you have good views of the southern ridges and yet more gritstone formations. From this point, my navigation becomes even more sketchy, but basically you carry on in roughly the same direction, keeping to the left of the rocks, until you reach a paved path which takes you past what I think is Noe Stool to a crossroads with the paths leading up from Jacob’s ladder/Upper Booth/Edale. Turn right through a gate, and follow the pony track for a while, passing the medieval Edale cross.

Kinder Low

Kinder Low

Edale cross

Edale cross

Kinderlow end

Kinderlow end

From here, there are various routes back into the village. The last time we did it, we took the path signed off to the right to Hayfield via Tunstead Cross. This takes you along the hillside and, if you bear right where it forks, under Kinderlow end, eventually bearing off downhill through several fields to Tunstead farm. From here you follow the path, which becomes a road, back to Kinder Road and the Bowden Bridge car park, from where you can bear left to continue back into Hayfield.

There are various places where you can take refreshment, in particular the Sportsman on Kinder road if you can’t make it back to the village without a restorative shandy or two, or outside the Royal on a hot day.

All in all, depending on where you start and finish, the walk is about 8-10 miles and I would allow a good 6 hours for it.

(Disclaimer: this route description is written by a woman who relies heavily on her mobile navigation app, and is not intended as a substitute for a good map and a compass, and the knowledge of how to use them – none of which I had, which is all well and good on a fine day, but potentially disastrous in more typical High Peak weather).

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