Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Kinder Scout - up Crowden Clough

Kinder Scout...everyone knows it, everyone has a favourite route or experience. After much deliberating, looking at the map, calling camp sites and planning for a wild camp we headed up to the Edale Valley on the Friday morning. Our first view of Kinder Scout had been of a dark foreboding stretch of hill, shrouded in mist so it was unexpected to arrive into the valley on a crisp, sunny morning able to see all its detail, from the deep cloughs that scar its sides to the edge against the pale blue winter sky.

After turning up at the wrong camp site which was closed due to the cold weather, we found the National Trust camp site at Upper Booth Farm (which as it happens was also closed until mid Feb!). However, they'd mistakenly allowed us to book so we pitched our tents among the chickens and got round to a brew and breakfast (or rather 2nd breakfast!) and inspecting each other's gear.

In the afternoon (to keep warm...) we went for a stroll along the Pennine Way footpath over to Edale and visited the Nag's Head. A couple of pints later we were much warmer and merrier. And I'd definitely recommend the Nag's Special; the biggest yorkshire pudding you've ever seen filled with slow cooked lamb, chips, veg and gravy.

Walking back to camp, the sky was clear and I've never seen so many stars in my life. Of course, that meant it was truly freezing cold. Loz resorted (quite happily I'm sure) to his bottle of whisky to keep him warm. I had high hopes from my new 4 season inflatable sleeping mat, and to be fair to it, it didn't let me down. I was très comfortable and couldn't feel the cold seeping up from underneath like before. But I did still need to keep all my clothes on and resort to wearing my gloves on my feet to defrost them and get to sleep.

Waking up, we all felt it had seemed a long night and we were concerned that up on the plateau it would have been at least a few degrees colder. So we agreed it made sense to change our plans and return to camp that night rather than wild camping. The bad news was that meant less time to explore but we did get to leave our tents and sleeping bags behind.

The footpath following Crowden Brook up Kinder Scout begins in a dingly dell setting next to Upper Booth Farm. A nice gentle walk crossing over the brook and entering into moorland ensues before the going gets rougher and you begin to ascend the Crowden Clough. The path became much less well defined and we had a few crossings of the brook balancing on the wet, icy stones and hoping not to slip into the arctic water. In places the water had frozen mid flow creating icicles hanging from the bank.

The top of the clough was a sheet of ice, so instead of following the brook to the top we scrambled up the steep grassy slope toward Crowden Tower. Pausing for a rest part way up is my memory for the day; looking back down the clough, capturing the wilderness and a feeling of being much higher up than we actually were.

The peaty bog on the plateau had frozen solid as we made our way through the Woolpacks and Pym Chair towards Kinder Low. Not knowing how steep and difficult the descent of Jacob's Ladder might be we didn't want to be attempting it in the dark. So with heavy heart we changed our plans again, a visit to the Kinder Downfall pushed back to another trip. Of course, we found that Jacob's Ladder is a really easy way up and down Kinder, and I can't help but sit here wondering if we could have pushed on round the edge. But always a good excuse to return for another trip.

Crowden Clough was a good choice of route up, providing that extra interest and challenge that would have been disappointingly lacking taking the easier path up the ladder. Overall though, I've got to admit, I'm not quite sure I've understood Kinder Scout yet. Perhaps I just need to get to know it better?

Find out more about the Kinder Scout restoration project

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