Kinder Scout: Serious Walking
The Peak District
April 12, 2008
Kinder Scout Summit: 2088 feet / 636 meters
Total trip: approx. 10 miles in 6 hours
Follow along on the map starting with green marker “Hayfield, UK”.
The Husband and I set out to hike the tallest mountain in the Peak District, Kinder Scout. As usual we were beset with delays — we left half an hour later than planned, traffic on the M6 was awful, and the Bakewell visitors center we located on-line was not the right one for getting a map. Also, it kept raining on and off which lead us to wonder if it was all in vain. We finally got to the correct visitors center in Hayfield where a kindly grey-haired lady explained which maps we would need and which trails were best. She was full of warnings about how we shouldn’t go up Kinder Scout because although it is sunny in Bakewell it had been raining and hailing on the mountain all morning, and that we should be aware that particular path is serious walking. I mentioned that we were hoping to see the Kinder Downfall and she went off on how everybody thinks it’s a waterfall all year round but it’s really only a waterfall after a heavy snow and we probably wouldn’t see anything interesting there today. She was also very concerned that it would be too foggy for a good view and that the mist would prevent us from seeing any mountain hares. Now, I was all ready to get her to elaborate on that topic, but The H cut me off with serious eye rolling.
We decided to take the walk part-way to the reservoir and if the weather looked bad we could turn back.
Stables along the path:
We could see that Kinder Scout was covered with snow and were still unsure if we would get up there or not.
We passed many old stone houses that people were still living in – one from 1783. Happily we met some sheep along the way. The H was very upset at one particular sheep because it Mooed at us. He said that sheep do not Moo, they Baa. I said, “Two months in England and you’re the sheep expert now?” He said, “I had a See & Say like every other kid. Millions of people have grown up thinking sheep go Baa.”
Sheep Who Moos:
We passed the location of the great 1932 uprising “The Mass Trespass” when hundreds of English people decided to exercise their right to exercise by staging a protest walk on the private lands of the local Lords. Several ramblers ended up in jail but the people gained the right to enjoy the countryside.
There was one section of horrible mud over a bridge but other than that it was absolutely beautiful.
Kinder Reservoir from the west:
We were refreshed and energized so decided to hike a little higher. Most of the rocky path was flooded with water so we picked our way along the sides. We could see people up on the mountain and decided we were so close we had to go all the way despite the warnings. We got to the top fairly quickly. It was 20 degrees colder but still clear with a stunning view in all directions.
The H on Kinder Scout:
As usual, getting back down proved to be more difficult than going up. The H picked his way along the rocks, but I found the quickest way to get down the muddy parts was to slide while screaming “eeeeeeeeee.” I’m making that seem more voluntary than it was. We had to jump the river more times than I can count. In the movies there’s always a dog pacing back and forth at the edge of a river while the forest burns behind him and the hero / family urges him to jump to safety. Well, I’m that dog.
The trail down:
We made it to the relatively flat area near the reservoir and decided to finish the loop around rather than backtrack. The path took us far to the east in order to avoid walking through private land. We curved around a small hill and looked up to see Kinder Downfall in the distance. It was rushing with water bigger than any of the pictures I had seen. It had two distinctive streams and we could see the strong wind blowing the water backwards up the rocks in a cloud of mist.
We continued following the path down south around the private forest (I’d like a private forest please). There was a road but it was all mud. We tried to walk on higher ground but just got wetter trying to jump the many boggy streams.
The H was fascinated with the water which ran black with peat.
I think we must have gone 7 or 8 miles at this point because I was exhausted and my knee started to hurt. And my feet. And my lower back. We took a moment to appreciate the irony of having chosen to go the long way specifically to avoid the 25 foot muddy bridge only to end up walking through a half-mile of horse, sheep and cow dung. Just when I thought I couldn’t make it any further The H shouted “Look!” and leaping in front of us was a giant brown Mountain Hare. Really, who could ask for anything more.
We made it back to Hayfield exhausted just as the sun went down and rain started sprinkling. Our boots and my pants were coated in mud and we were completely exhausted. We popped in to the Bull’s Head – “Ramblers, Bikers and Dogs Welcome” – for fish & chips and mulled wine. All in all it was a lovely day out.