We descended through the Pine Forest of Lady Clough and followed the path NW to the top of Doctors Gate, already building up a bit of a sweat and deciding to remove a layer of clothing despite the freezing conditions. After a short stretch on the old packhorse route we turned north on the Pennine Way and started to really notice the strong, bitter easterly wind. Both Mark and Grahame are pilots and I thought it would be interesting for them to see the wreck of the B29 Superfortress 'Overexposed' on Higher Shelf Stones so we left the path and trekked across to the trig point and the nearby wreckage. It was bitterly cold by this point and I'd noticed that Grahame hadn't bothered with coat, hat or gloves. I thought he was just a 'hard as nails' ex-army officer but it transpired that he was just too lazy to get the stuff out of his pack!
|The wind was biting on Higher Shelf Stones.|
|Wreckage of B29 Superfortress|
|Wain Stones, or 'Kissing Stones'|
From the wreck site we took a bearing north to Wain Stones and began to notice that, while most deep snow drifts could be easily walked over, some swallowed your legs over knee deep. Funny but hard going. Stove out for a brew at Wain Stones while a bit of weather passed over us and then navigated to Bleaklow Stones and then followed the Alport Valley via Grains in the Water. The Alport Valley is beautiful and my favourite route in and out of Bleaklow but it was seriously hard going with frequent deep drifts and snow covered slopes that sapped energy and required careful crossing to avoid sliding in to the freezing river below. The constant walking off-camber was also starting to play havoc with ankles and knees. We stopped for a rest and some lunch along here during which I managed to nudge my pack and saw it start to roll down the slope. Rather foolishly I instinctively hared after it and very nearly came a cropper! I resigned myself to retrieving it from the river :-( No real damage done though. The worst bit was climbing back up again.
|Snow covered slopes in the Alport Valley|
One of the best aspects of this route on to/off Bleaklow is the splendour of the Alport Castles landslip and the lovely afternoon weather afforded us fine views of it. Following the old roman road we returned via the Birchin Clough car park and then descended once again through Lady Clough towards Ashop Moor to find a decent place to camp. A sheltered spot near the river was clearly a spot that had been well used previously and we were a good way away from the road here.
Mark had managed to, ahem, purloin some MoD ration packs and I was impressed with how much they included and the quality of them. You can buy the equivalent of these for about £10 online which makes them FAR better value than the usual individual boil-in-the bag stuff costing up to a fiver in the outdoors shops.
|My fave bit of outdoor kit. Primus Eta Packlite Stove|
After breakfast, a brew and packing up we reclimbed the slope back up towards the Snake Pass and then joined the path through the pine forest to the bottom of Fairbrook. Although we encountered no other walkers, the climb up Kinder Scout wasn't as peaceful as usual as a helicopter made continuous trips over our heads carrying heavy loads (of what I'm not sure exactly) up on to the plateau.
At the top we stopped for a brew and an early lunch before traversing across the plateau to Crowden Head and then Kinder Downfall. Once again the drifts often helped us by filling in the deep groughs but occasionally they managed to swallow legs up to waist deep.
|Near top of Fairbrook, Kinder Scout|
|More drifts near top of Kinder Scout|
Worryingly, my knee has worsened since the walk. I'm pretty sure it is tendonitis with tenosynivitis as I can feel grating in the tendon sheaths at the back of my knee. I was hoping to get out on the bike sometime during the Easter Break but rest and anti-inflammatories are the order of the day instead. Oh well.