A reasonably early start saw me leaving the train at Chinley station just after 9am with a long walk ahead to Edale. The day was a sunny one with unseasonably mild temperatures, and my route was to take me along Cracken Edge, down into the village of Hayfield and then along the Snake Path up William Clough onto Kinder Scout. I then intended to follow Kinder’s western and southern edges to Grindslow Knoll before dropping down to Edale and the train home. My route up William Clough was to follow that taken by the famous mass trespass of 1932, which opened up public access onto Kinder Scout. Incredibly, before this time, Kinder was prohibited to the public, being given over to grouse shooting interests. Scuffles between trespassers and gamekeepers led to six of the protestors receiving prison sentences on their return to Hayfield.
My walk started off with the short, steep climb to Cracken Edge, on the flank of Chinley Churn, which I then followed to its end with fantastic views across to Kinder Scout.
Further paths took me to Hayfield involving a significant loss of height, which I would have to regain. I hadn’t been to Hayfield before, apart from driving through it on its bypass, and found it to be an attractive village. I resisted the temptation to go in a cafe and headed up the Snake Path, just east of the village.
A short distance along the path, I came across a photogenic group of 19 trees. Apparently there used to be 20 trees, but one was cut down many years ago. They are still known though as ‘Twenty Trees’. Further on, I crossed the boundary into open country and contoured round above Kinder reservoir, opened in 1912 by Stockport Corporation, to enter William Clough.
Climbing started in earnest now as I followed the stream up the clough to emerge at Ashop Head, a crossroads of paths, with the Snake Path continuing down Ashop Clough to the Snake Inn, and the Pennine Way path going towards Mill Hill and Bleaklow one way and Kinder Scout the other. My route was to follow the Pennine Way path up the steep prow of Kinder Scout to its western edges and then follow those edges past the rocks at Sandy Heys to Kinder Downfall. Kinder Downfall is where the river Kinder flows over gritstone cliffs in a 30m waterfall. In spate, it can look impressive, but on this occasion it wasn’t much more than a trickle.
Kinder Downfall is a popular spot and the route was starting to get busy, specially with it being half term holiday. I had toyed with the idea of crossing the plateau from here to Crowden Clough on the southern edges, but I wasn’t wearing gaiters and didn’t fancy sinking up to my knees in peat. I therefore carried on along the edges, past Red Brook and then the trig point at Kinder Low (633m high), before heading east towards the area known as the Woolpacks. This is a fascinating area where there is a large number of gritstone boulders seemingly at random, and all with distinctive shapes sculpted by the weather.
From here, I passed Crowden Tower and took the path out to Grindslow Knoll (601m), an excellent viewpoint over the Vale of Edale. I could see the village of Edale below and took the steep path down to enter the village opposite the Old Nags Head pub, the official start of the Pennine Way. From here it was a ten minute walk to the station and I was just in time to catch a train, although it was very tempting to go in the adjacent Rambler Inn for a pint of ale and catch the following train!
The whole walk was about 22km long, with quite a lot of hill climbing, so it was little wonder my legs were feeling it afterwards!