|The Pennine Way|
From the Old Nag's Head Inn, Edale...
Like thousands before me, I started the Pennine Way from the doorstep of the Old Nag's Head Inn in the village of Grindsbrook Booth on a fine (if clouding over) June day (21 June 1991). Those staying in the Edale Youth Hostel will have a slightly earlier start for a longer day.
|Cotefield Farm||B&B||01433 670273|
|Edale||YH||0870 770 5808|
|Fieldhead Camp Site||Camping||01433 670386|
The previous day I had arrived in Edale via train (first from London to Manchester and then a local train to here) and had spent the afternoon walking a little along the route to Jacob's Ladder. Today, I followed a path across the road with a babbling stream alongside to my first Pennine Way stile. The path leads across the fields (more stiles) to Upper Booth farm (owned by the National Trust). Along the way there are chances to look south to the hills of Rushup Edge and Mam Tor which mark the southern limit of the Dark Peak and the start of the limestone White Peak further south. It then heads right along a gravel road to an information barn for the National Park's High Peak Estate and further to a little packhorse bridge at the foot of Jacob's Ladder path. This is a steep stony path forming a short-cut to the green track to the left. It is called Jacob's Ladder after one of the "jaggers" or packhorse herder who was said to to let his train of horses head up the zigzag track while he took the direct route and had a smoke at the top. The top is a good spot for a breather and a view into the Vale of Edale. By this time the weather had got worse - low cloud and drizzle.
Edale from Jacob's Ladder
The photo to the left looks down the River Noe back into Edale with Mam Tor on the horizon and an impression of the sharp brims of Rushup Edge to its right.
The path climbs up and around the headwaters of the River Noe. At a sharp turn in the heather, there is a gate and cairn - head straight on to visit the Edale Cross which was a boundary marker for the Royal Forest of the Peak. Further on you break from the path that follows the contour around to the Noe Stool rocks (these are worth a visit), head north uphill to Edale Rocks and then continue uphill to the boulders on Kinder Low. Don't do what I did and wander off to the Ordnance Survey pillar and then head NNE along a faint path. Keep west of the OS pillar and head NNE after Kinder Low on a more obvious path. The path I was on took me into the wilds of the Kinder Scout bog. Eventually I swapped to a NE heading, got to the 'summit' of the plateau and followed a grough flowing northwards to join the River Kinder. A nice sandy walk along the river rejoined the Pennine Way at the Kinder Downfall. I had to miss out the section over Bleaklow (dropping down to Glossop - see the Virtual Glossop page) due to the effort and time expended in this unplanned detour. However I came back in August and redid this section.
On that trip I also had a look at the old main route from Edale. This gives an interesting short walk to fill in the day that you arrive in Edale. Head north up the valley from the Nag's Head Inn to a private road and a path to the right over a footbridge onto the hillside. A good path enters the wild and stony valley of Grindsbrook Clough. The stream is followed for a kilometre as it bends to the west and becomes narrower. A lone tree on the other side of the stream signals a crossing to that side and a rougher path up to a northerly bend and a scramble up a steep bouldery gully to the west. There is a surprising emergence onto the flat plateau of Kinder and an abrupt change from stones to bare black peat. This is a good spot to appreciate what you are not going into! Return to the village by a thin path south over Grindslow Knoll and down grassy slopes to join the start of the Pennine Way.
The proper route skirts the edge of the bog on rocky ground with the plateau edge to the left, passing over Red Brook and coming around to Kinder Downfall. Along the way, there are nice views down to Kinder Reservoir in clear weather. The waterfall there is not much (except after massive rainfall) but it falls into an impressive gorge carved out by glacial meltwater in the last Ice Age. When the wind is strong and in the right direction, the waterfall is actually blown back over the gorge rim! I stopped for a break - the sheep here can be quite aggressive in their begging for food.
After the Downfall I followed the path around the edge of the plateau (easy and dry walking). On a good day Manchester can be seen in the distance over the woods of Kinder Reservoir. The path drops sharply down to a wet saddle crossing the Hayfield-Snake Road path - a good escape route in bad weather. Close to this point is a Stone Age 'flint factory' where flints were knapped for use as arrow or spear heads or for scrapers to prepare hides. The Pennine Way then climbs slightly to the bump of Mill Hill and turns to the north-east. Here the path forms a muddy trough along the crest of a broad ridge. Moss Castle provides a good view on the right to Fairbrook Naze on the northern edge of the Kinder plateau. The last bit of relatively dry ground is on Glead Hill. 'Glead' or 'gled' refers to a bird of prey and in medieval times hen-harriers or Montagu's harriers used to nest in the local moors.
At Featherbed Moss (referring not to ease of passage but to the white fluffy sheets of cotton-grass), I followed the new route up-slope of the worst of the groughs, but still managed to get mud up to my knees. Most people tend to walk parallel to the actual path which is full of sloppy mud. On an overcast, wet day, this was pretty miserable. The thunderstorm rumbling up behind me just added a final spooky touch. You may be able to see the Snake Pass road ahead but it is important to keep to the path to avoid hidden bogs and also because the land is a private grouse moor.
Coming down to Torside Reservoir
I reached and crossed the Snake Pass road (on my second trip) to take a broad, gravel path up to and across the Doctors Gate path. This is a road of Roman origins but the few visible sandstone paving stones and kerbs date from medieval times. The 'Doctor' was a 16th century doctor living in Glossip who is said to have adopted the byway. Beyond the Doctors Gate the path narrows and gets more muddy as it joins the Devils' Dike (a deep and wide grough possibly marking a Saxon boundary). Route-finding is usually easy - following the dike bottom until a line of posts takes you into Hern Clough, following the clough upstream until it vanishes but continuing its north-west course to climb to the Hern Stones and then I had a surprisingly dry northward journey to the Wain Stones. The Wain Stones are still straining to kiss and not quite making contact. The usually unmarked course from the Wain Stones to the cairn on Bleaklow Head is north-north-east (60º) - in the grouse-shooting season, a series of yellow poles marks the way.
The drop down to Torside Clough (a steep, almost gorge-like stream - see the photo to the right) is along a clear path once the waters of Wildboar Grain are gained (not to be confused with Wildboar Clough which flows northward-westwards a few hundred metres further). Finally I dropped steeply to Reaps farm and then followed the road over the dam to the far side of Torside Reservoir. The official Pennine Way crosses straight over the A628 road to climb slightly up to Highstones barn and descend again to a lane that leads to the Crowden-in-Longdendale Youth Hostel and telephone at Crowden. However I walked along the road intending to pick up the lane where it meets the A628. The traffic though was so light that I accompanied another walker along the road to the youth hostel. From there I was picked up and spent the night at a great B&B in Hadfield near Glossop.