Sunday, 27 May 2012

Island Hopping In The Peat Bogs

As some of you may well know, yesterday we planned to walk up Kinder Scout via Grindsbrook - over to Kinder downfall and back to Edale via Jacob's ladder. Turns out it is harder than previously thought... to find out why you'll need to keep reading.

We took the 09.14 train from Sheffield to Edale to provide plenty of time for the walk followed by some sitting around in a cafe - and for the first half hour of the walk it seemed as though escaping to the Peak District was what the entire population of Sheffield had decided to do. Admittedly, at the lower end of Grindsbrook clough the path is very easy going and this clearly attracts the crowds. 

Walking through the woodland at the top end of Edale

A pretty little bridge - we waited here for the crowds to disperse
The view up Grindsbrook and the waterfall in the bottom - looks like a lovely walk

We knew before setting out that there was a bit of a scramble for the last section of the climb - but what we didn't know was that as of about half way up the hill - the path seamlessly turns into stream and you spend the rest of the journey averaging ~1mph climbing up mini waterfalls, hopping from one side to the other whilst trying to look cool to the many other walkers. I think we succeeded. So, upon getting to the top section this is what you are faced with...

The final scramble. It doesn't look much here - but it is certainly steep enough  and something different.
The other direction that we could go - looks very impressive but is the opposite way to which we were heading
The view back down, from just below the last section
So, after the last climb we made it to the top of the Kinder plateau - somewhere up here is the highest point in the Peak District... who knows if we ended up in the correct spot for that though. As is often the case up here, there are some spectacular rock formations hanging above the valley below... some of which haven't even had stuff scribbled into them... some of which have though...

In the distance, here, you can see Win Hill (centre, at the back) and Lose Hill (just in front to the right)
No idea who they are - but pretty crazy if you ask me.
Even though this was a blisteringly hot, calm, day, when you got up here it was blowing a gale - as usual - which took the edge off of the heat. Clearly, the man in the photo above was trying to use this wind to his advantage and fly... not sure if he ever succeeded in that.

Next, we continued on along the southern edge of the plateau past Grindslow Knoll and on to where normally, there looks to be a very impressive waterfall. However, fortunately for us, this had completely dried up - making it possible to not only cross, but also have a rest out of the wind sat in the middle of the smoothed out riverbed.

View from the southern edge, back over the Hope Valley towards the Great Ridge on the other side
More rock formations along the edge
Time for our sit in the river - a lovely spot with more lovely views over the valley below us.
It was at this point that we were supposed to turn right and head north over the plateau towards Kinder downfall - the largest waterfall on the hill - so off we went, up the dried up river bed and into the endless miles of peat bog. Now, I know full well it is easy to get lost up here - it looks the same in every direction and is one giant bog - but on a bright, dry, day I had hoped to find some form of a path toward the other side. I was wrong. 
This, in every direction, for as far as you can see...
I don't know how familiar you are with this kind of environment - I remember having a brief exploration up near Tan Hill (I think!) in the Yorkshire Dales - so had some idea what it was like... but this was much worse than I thought. We set off jumping from grassy island to grassy island - taking our chances on whichever bits of peat looked least likely to absorb us whole... but this tactic eventually gets very tiresome as you go almost round in a circle just to find the only place to go is back to where you started and you have to guess again at another route and hope for the best - very, very easy to lose your bearings like this. Another aspect of these bogs is wherever there is enough of a gradient for a stream to form - the stream cuts through about 3 or 4m of peat to the gravelly earth below. We decided to slide down into one of these (currently empty) streams and hope it would take us somewhere faster than walking along the tops. Once down there, the bottom is only ever a couple of feet wide with steep peat slopes towering over you on either side - so absolutely no chance of seeing out and all the while it meanders from side to side. Still - at least we felt like we were moving somewhere. So after much wandering through these random streams we finally, finally came across some other walkers. We had had enough - so followed them back along a vague path/another of these dried up streams in the knowledge that somewhere in that direction, to our left, was the Pennine Way and hope of finding out where on earth we were. Goodbye any chance of making it up to Kinder downfall on this visit. There are no more photos of the peat bogs as I needed my wits about me the whole time to not end up either on my backside, or sunk in mud up to my backside - I didn't fancy either.

Once we had found our way back to the main footpath - it was dinner time - so we found a quiet spot on a west facing slope (away from the wind) and settled down with quite a view to eat over. 
Our view for dinner - just out of the right of this picture, you can even see Manchester - very odd!

At this point, we decided just to head back down into the valley, via the famous Jacob's ladder... this section was once again very busy - with everyone seemingly keen to enjoy the numerous, easily accessible, waterfalls towards the bottom. I must get back here sometime when the weather is less favourable - when I can be alone with my camera and the falls.

Jacob's ladder and back towards Edale
Towards Edale again...
People relaxing above these lovely falls
Now in the valley bottom, we were on the final stretch of the walk - back towards Edale and the promise of lovely food from one of our now favourite cafes - after our visit in March. This less strenuous part of the walk meant we could just enjoy the stunning scenery in all directions whilst just plodding along to the finish line.

A nice, bright phone box in Upper Booth 
The Penny Pot Cafe, Edale.
The Penny Pot cafe does some of the tastiest, best value food we have found in Sheffield/the Peak District. It was too hot for a latte this time for me, so instead we both had chocolate milk, I had a 'Sage Derby scone' (yes, that is a thing - a very nice, but very rich thing) and Keri had some kind of strawberry crumble - which I obviously tried - and it was amazing. A review of the cafe alone can be found HERE, on Keri's very own new blog.

So, that was our walk. We arrived back in one piece, not absorbed by bog - but quite terribly sunburnt even after all the sun cream. Still - sunburn is just a sign that a walk was long enough.

See you all next week(ish)

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