Tag Archives: Kinder Scout

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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Now is the winter of our discount tent…

There was a time, once, where a spring weekend did not mean sitting in pyjamas with baby spit down the front, with the curtains drawn, waiting for H to get up so I could half-arsedly push a hoover around before various relatives turned up to coo at the Nipper. No, the dawn of the weekend would mean skiving out of work half an hour early, donning my walking boots and attractive rainproof trousers, heading to Piccadilly station and catching a train to Edale or Windermere, where I would meet the advance party (H and the Dog) and head off for a weekend of proper northern fun. Yes, any weekend between March and November that was not spent knee-deep in mud and empty wine bottles after at least 8 hours walking at a steep incline was not a weekend well spent, irrespective of the gale force winds/torrential rain/subzero temperatures, etc. etc. etc. This weekend just gone would have been perfect: cold, damp and poor visibility. Still, family commitments being what they are these days (and, for the avoidance of doubt, I wouldn’t change a thing), the tent will languish in the boiler room, and I will post a little homage to my favourite Lake District, Peak District and Welsh campsites:

1. Wasdale National Trust Campsite.  It was probably ambitious of us to select this for our first ever camping trip, since not only did we have to brave Wrynose pass in distinctly unfavourable weather conditions, but trying to assemble our luxury three-man tent for the first time in gale force winds would have sent a saner couple home, Anyway, we braved it out and it was well worth it. At the head of Wastwater with amazing views of Great Gable, Scafell, the Screes, Illgill Head etc., and with a proper lakeland pub, the Wasdale Head, within staggering distance, this is a reet proper lakeland experience. Handy for exploring the more remote Western lakes and some spectacular walking, although owing to infirmity of Dog we are yet to attempt the obvious ascent up Scafell (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

2. Thirlspot Farm Campsite. On the road between Ambleside and Keswick, this is a lovely if basic spot opposite Thirlmere reservoir,  the experience of which was not spoilt either by the traffic from the main road or by the fact our luxury three-man tent blew down on the second night, never to be used again (and has now been replaced by a far less ostentatious model). Ideally located for Keswick, Blencathra and one of the easier ascents up Helvellyn. King’s Head next door also ideally located for a post-Helvellyn spritzer or three in the sunshine, or indeed for a bed if your tent blows down.

3. Baysbrown Farm. Massive but impressive campsite in the postcard-perfectly picturesque Langdale valley. Good facilities and good access to walking up Dungeon Ghyll,  the Pikes, etc. Wainwrights’ Inn a pleasant 15 minutes walk away, the Britannia Inn at Elterwater another 15 minutes on, both dog friendly if I remember correctly. Bacon butty van at the campsite in the morning very welcome after a night of torrential rain.

4. Upper Booth Campsite, Edale. Basic but beautiful campsite at foot of Kinder plateau, about 1.5 miles from Edale. Brilliant walking straight out of the campsite. This was the campsite that made us fall in love with Kinder Scout, and the Peak District generally. The Nag’s Head in Edale is the location of the Best Pint of Shandy I Have Ever Had (after 9 mile circuit of the Kinder plateau in unseasonable sunshine, the last 3 miles being completed in a filthy mood with a sprained ankle).

5.  Cwmrhwyddfor, Tal Y Llyn. This is a slightly strange but very attractive campsite at the foot of Cadair Idris, near Dollgellau. Separate areas for caravans by the river and tents in the field above. The farmer owners are friendly, even down to the old guy who sits in his car waiting to collect dosh. Barmouth and Twywn close by. Three pubs close by, two of which are slightly intimidating in their own way (think: Girl’s World head on bar in one (actually, no, who thinks of that?); H getting bollocked by landlord for not using a coaster in the other). Birthday dinner in the third pub was abandoned when chef went missing (?) so ended up eating crisps and drinking fizzy wine in the tent, listening to one of the caravans blaring out Rod Stewart’s Greatest Hits. Good times. I’d definitely go back, if only to make it further up Cadair Idris than we did.

So, off you go, no excuses, the weather couldn’t be better for a proper northern camping experience (snow in May, I ask you….)

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