Thursday, 25 October 2012

Kinder Scout circuit

Catching up again.

I've walked on Kinder Scout many, many times but had never done the whole edge walk so took advantage of a fantastic summers day back in August to tick this one off.

Most people travel to this part of the Dark Peak by car and park in Edale but it is far better to get there by train and there is a (fairly) regular service running between Sheffield and Manchester. From the station and through the village of Edale I took the (popular) Grindsbrook route up on to the plateau and traversed the edge in a anticlockwise direction.

The route up Grindsbrook is a gentle ascent but gets a little tougher near the top as you climb up one of the steep, rocky paths to the plateau. This can be 'interesting' in the winter when the cloughs are frozen but on a summers day it's an easy scramble up and you are rewarded with an excellent view back down.

From here I followed the obvious 'edge' path to the east and basically followed my nose. Looking south towards Mam Tor I could see lots of paragliders taking advantage of the conditions.

For the most part it is easy walking and difficult to go wrong although the path does fork near Jaggers Clough and you can end up heading towards Mad Woman's Stones if you take this route. I made this 'mistake' and ending up cutting the corner, missing Crookstone Knoll.  No problem though as another worn path soon took me back to the edge.

After the first stretch of the northern edge where you can hear a bit of traffic on the Snake Pass the path heads north for a short while before heading west again at Seal Stones and following Seal Edge towards the promontory of Fairbrook Naze. The top of Fairbrook is probably my favourite part of Kinder Scout with lovely views across to Bleaklow so I stopped here for my sarnies.

A couple stumbled across me here without seeing me (I must have blended in to the grass, peat and heather somehow!) and they jumped a mile.

The rest of the N and NW edges of Kinder make for wonderful walking and it is rare to see a soul along here. There are lots of interesting rock formations and outcrops along here too.

It does get considerably busier as you get to Mill Hill rocks and the junction of the Pennine Way. There was a lot of teenagers around this point today. Some were loving it while others looked they'd been dragged up there kicking and screaming judging by their sour faces.

At this point I was getting low on water as I'd underestimated how hot it was going to be today and so filled my bottle with water from the Kinder river at the top of Kinder Downfall. It was a bit discoloured and, in hindsight, I probably should have filtered it as plenty of sheep walk through (and probably more) the river at this point. Tasted fine though and no nasty after effects.

From this point it is fairly easy going past the trig point at Kinder Low and Noe Stool, turning east along some paved sections towards Crowden Tower. Lots more eroded rock formations along this section that look superb. Some even resemble animals and human faces if you look at them from the correct angle! By now my feet were beginning to ache but I knew it wasn't that far back to the top of Grindsbrook where I could then descend back to Edale

As usual it was harder going on the way down the steep rocky section but the path soon levels out a little and I just had time for one quick pint before catching my train and looking forward to more well deserved beer in the Sheffield Tap while waiting for my connection back home. My GPS indicated that I'd walked 19.3 miles and it took me just under 8 hours.  More details of this walk here. Back in Sheffield the Thornbridge Jaipur had rarely tasted so good :-)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A trip to Anglesey and some vile weather on Snowdon

For the 2nd consecutive year we went camping in Anglesey during late summer. A lovely part of the UK and great for cycling. You could cycle round the edge of the whole island easily in a day if you were so inclined but the inner parts comprise a network of hidden little lanes (with very little traffic) that are definitely worth exploring on 2 wheels. Its not particularly hilly but it isn't totally flat either with enough ups and downs to get the heart rate up.

The area around Newborough in the S.W corner of the island was particularly pleasant to pedal around. Tracks and trails weaving through pine forests, wide beaches to cycle along and, on clear days, stunning views across to Snowdonia.

Cycling along the beaches here was excellent although I was the only one careful enough to:
  1.  Not ride through the surf
  2. Clean the bike afterwards
The drivetrains of the others' ended up rusted to buggery! It was good fun to video though.

Don't let the weather in the video above fool you! This was far from the norm with low scudding clouds and frequent heavy showers blighting most days and the day that David and myself chose to walk up Snowdon was particularly vile with heavy rain and strong wind the whole day. I've been up there quite a few times but this was easily the worst weather I've experienced on the mountain with the wind threatening to blow you over at times.

Despite the weather the ascent and descent took no more than 3.5 hours (Miners track up and Pyg track down) but probably because there was no need to stop and admire the view from the summit. This was our view :-) :

And this snap gives some idea of the conditions at the top. We really were just about hanging on to the trig point!

My Rab eVent jacket and waterproof trousers did their best but the only part of me NOT absolutely soaked through afterwards were my feet. Thank you Meindl. I also lost the waterproof cover for my rucksack and so everything in there was knackered too. Hey ho. I'd still rather be out walking and cycling in weather like this than working!

The one thing that continues to puzzle me is why people bother to pay through the nose to get the railway to the top on days like this. I just don't get it.