Hail to the first snows; a pan-seasonal tour of the southern edge of Kinder.
Saturday saw my better half Sarah and I head back to Edale. It’s been a while since she had the opportunity to head out so we thought we’d keep it simple and head for the Downfall via Grindsbrook, whilst perhaps taking a detour from the main path, making our way into the boggy depths of the plateau to traverse the largely unmarked ‘summit’, (I’m not entirely sure if you can call it such). Considering that we spend so much time around Kinder, it’s quite surprising that we’ve never actually bothered with the full 636m before, though considering that it’s mostly just peat-boggy scrubland in there, it’s no real wonder! However, peat bogs can be remarkably fun if you’re in the right company, plus we came across what must be the only tree on the whole plateau, (or at least I don’t remember ever seeing one up there before)!
The weather started off positively, with the sun beaming, clear skies and autumn colours in full effect. We cut a somewhat leisurely pace up Grindsbrook, both of us having brought our cameras and also due to us getting caught up in amongst two groups of reasonably young walker-folk.
After a quick refreshment stop atop Grindsbrook we continued west along the edge until reaching the top of Crowden Brook, where the path towards the Downfall heads in a northerly direction. Around 400m later, (approximately, we don’t use a GPS), the now pseudo-path splits, going west to the ‘summit’ and eventually Kinder Low, or north to the Downfall, (though perhaps more NNW in actuality). It was around here that we found the solitary fir tree, is it a recent planting, or has it been there a while? I’ve no idea, but there is evidence of much work out there on the plateau, both planting and damming.
The peat hags that cover the entire plateau obfuscate recognition of the actual summit. I expect that a small cairn with a couple of pieces of wood stuck in it is the only visible marking, without a GPS it’s difficult to tell. Nevertheless we ate lunch quite quickly, by this time the sun had been covered and it was getting pretty chilly. We then set off in the direction of Kinder Low whose trig point is easily visible, (at least it is in good visibility).
As we reached the secondary summit, it was evident that things were about to get interesting, with low cloud swiftly blowing in from the north-west. Initially this blew out to the north of the plateau, but as we reached Kinder Downfall the first wisps of hill fog were creeping in around us.
The views out west and south towards Whaley Bridge, Chinley and Chapel-en-le-Frith were somewhat dramatic, with the last rays of sun penetrating the gathering clouds in the east, and the thunderous wall of gloom out in the west.
It started off with a few welcome flakes of crisp snow, things were looking hopeful, but this quickly degenerated into sleet and then rain. As the fog and cloud really took their hold, we were then pelted with soft hailstones for a time. The hail was followed by more snow, and that by more hail, and both alternated quite heavily for around half an hour until we reached the top of Jacob’s Ladder. My Buffalo Special 6, (scroll down to ‘Winter Kit’ at the link), was like a fortress, keeping me dry, warm and comfortable the whole time.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I go all starry-eyed at the prospect of snow, so despite the fact that my left foot was by now killing me, (a problem down to my left foot being half a size bigger than my other and there not being much lateral play in my left boot), I still smiled from ear-to-ear. I’m definitely buying new boots next weekend!
Anyhow, from Jacob’s Ladder we dropped down to Upper Booth and took the road, (on account of my foot), into Edale village and The Rambler Inn. At ca. 11 miles/18 km, this was a relatively short, but most definitely eventful walk, again helped along by the weather!