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Grindsbrook & Crowden
from Edale

18th JUNE 2016

The Kinder Plateau is one of my favourite places. Every few months the nomadic loner inside me yearns for a solitary walk on the gritstone and peat with only the Skylarks for company. I have walked Kinder more than any other high ground in Britain. I live in Manchester so it is only half an hour away. I love that when stood on Kinder's western edge I can see North Cheshire where I was born and my beloved Manchester that I have always proudly called home and spent my entire life. On a clear day you can see as far as Merseyside and North Wales. It is my favourite place to sit and contemplate life when required.

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

Today however there was no time for contemplation. I was here to stretch my legs and make sure my muscles were ready for the Three Peaks Challenge in a fortnight. One thing I love about Kinder is its many ascent routes. all with varying terrain and difficulty. Probably the most difficult and enjoyable being the scramble at the top of Grindsbrook Clough. I thought a good arm and leg stretching scramble could be the perfect workout. My favourite way to get to Kinder is jumping on a train from the city centre. I love the contrast of the bustling city centre train station and forty minutes later the idyllic village of Edale. On a Saturday morning the train from Piccadilly to Sheffield which stops in the Peak District is full of happy hikers of all ages.

Hairy Caterpillar

Hairy Caterpillar

Amazon

I left the train and made my way up the lane towards the village, listening to birds singing. I passed The Old Nags Head in the village then turned right and crossed Grinds Brook over the wooden footbridge. I turned left following the lower footpath towards Grindsbrook Clough. The path passes through a small wood then crosses a stream at the bottom of Golden Clough. The view up Grindsbrook Clough is really inviting from this point. The path rises above the brook and makes its way through the valley. The path eventually reaches a tricky narrow section. The path originally went to the right over the top of the tricky section but a landslide and erosion has made it impassable. I followed an older group of walkers over the muddy rocks, one offering to let me pass but I let them stay in front. Being polite of course, not just so that I'd then be aware of any loose or slippery rocks.

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

The path crosses over to the left side of the brook as it gets closer to the top of the valley. The brook has exposed and shaped the gritstone into fascinating formations here. Parts of the brook look almost man made with perfectly shaped slabs sat on top of one another. The exposed banks show the cake like layering of fragile shale that make the Hope Valley hills unstable, as demonstrated by the nearby Mam Tor and Back Tor landslides.

Grinds Brook

Grinds Brook

At the top of the valley Grinds Brook splits in two. Every time I have been up here before I have gone left as most people do ascending the easier scramble to reach the mushroom shaped rock by the path to Grindslow Knoll. Today I wanted to explore the route following the brook to the right. I've looked down into it from the rocks above and it looks a lot more exciting.

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

Grindsbrook Clough

This new way up didn't disappoint. There was loads of scrambling opportunities when you follow the stream and boulder field. The views to the rocks above and out across and beyond Grindsbrook Clough behind me were awesome. At one point the stream falls through several narrow sections, some of them fairly difficult to negotiate. At the bottom of these sections there was a pool with a large rock in the middle. I sat on the rock for a while doing my best Gollum impressions.

Grinds Brook

Grinds Brook

Myself in Grinds Brook

Myself in Grinds Brook

Myself in Grinds Brook

Myself in Grinds Brook

As I came out of the top of the narrow sections the landscape changed. The stream was now falling over the fascinating wide curved gritstone slabs. I have seen this before where streams falling of the plateau have washed away the overlying peat. They look like huge gritstone versions of the boiler plate slabs you see in places like the Isle of Skye. The streams erode tiny ever changing ravines and pool holes on them.

Grinds Brook

Grinds Brook

When I reached the plateau path I turned left and headed towards the mushroom shaped rock on the way to Grindslow Knoll. The mushroom shaped rock sits at the top of the other route out of the top of Grindsbrook Clough. It was fairly busy here. I continued along the path, then instead of heading towards Grindslow Knoll, turned right on the plateau path towards Crowden Tower.

Grindslow Knoll

Grindslow Knoll

Kinder Plateau

Kinder Plateau

When I reached the rocks at Crowden Tower I found a quiet sheltered place to eat my lunch. You can't beat a warm bum shaped gritstone boulder with a view for a lunch spot. I continued along the plateau path towards Wool Packs passing this pig shaped rock on the way which someone had decorated much to my amusement.

Pig Rock

Pig Rock

Crowden Tower

Crowden Tower

Amazon

There are thousands of impressive gritstone rock formations all over the Peak District National Park and the Kinder Plateau. However there is something special about the huge imposing giants at Wool Packs. As you walk through and around them you feel like you have been dropped into a scene from Lord of the Rings.

Wool Packs

Wool Packs

A cracking short walk for anyone wanting to get up a hill for stunning views who hasn't got much time on their hands. I'll definitely do this walk again.

Wool Packs

Wool Packs

A cracking short walk for anyone wanting to get up a hill for stunning views who hasn't got much time on their hands. I'll definitely do this walk again.

Wool Packs

Wool Packs

The original plan was to visit Crowden Tower and Wool Packs then return to Crowden Brook and descend Crowden Clough to Edale. I was feeling fit and had plenty of time so I had a thought. Despite my many walks on the Kinder Plateau I have never tried to find the elusive featureless 636m spot height that is supposed to be the highest point of Kinder Scout. On a recent walk to Kinder Downfall and Kinder Low I saw the incredible results of the five year 2.5 million pound project to restore the Kinder landscape. The landscape has completely changed. Gully blocking, brash spreading, fencing, reseeding and moorland restoration have returned the landscape to what it once was before it was destroyed by decades of natural and man made erosion. The terrain looked more inviting than it had ever done before in my life time and the weather was calm. It was time to go off path and look for that elusive 636m high point and finally bag Kinder Scout.

Swines Back & Edale Rocks

Swines Back & Edale Rocks

I headed along the plateau path towards Noe Stool from Pym Chair. When I was half way to Noe Stool I went off path and headed north along a slight ridge of higher grassier terrain I spotted on the map. The terrain was much drier and firmer than it had been in previous years. Although the gully blocking does create deceptively deep pools that caused a few interesting diverts.

Kinder Scout Summit

Kinder Scout Summit

I could clearly see the rocks and trig point pillar at Kinder Low to the left. I know the Kinder Scout summit is less than a kilometre north east of there and is just a post with stones. I searched the horizon to my right and was pleasantly surprised to spot the post not far from where I was and in the line of where I was heading.

Kinder Scout Summit

Kinder Scout Summit

I reached the small pile of stones with post. I do not want this to be the summit of such a fascinating hill. It is incredibly boring and featureless. I looked east and could see a few walkers stood by another pile of stones in the distance. I made my way across to that pile hoping for something better but it was not to be. I'm not too sure which of these two is supposed to be the 636m summit but neither are worthy of it. More to the point though. The last survey was in 2009. It definitely needs doing again. I challenge anyone to stand at either of these two so called summits, look towards Kinder Low and say that they think they are higher than Kinder Low. I find it hard to believe these two spot heights are higher than Kinder Low anymore. I was massively disappointed by the supposedly true summit. However looking towards the clearly higher Kinder Low with its firmer ground, rock formations and trig point pillar on top, it didn't matter, I'm convinced that one day in the future Kinder Low will rightly be declared the true summit of Kinder Scout when a new survey takes place.

Crowden Clough

Crowden Clough

After the disappointment of the so called summits I took a direct route back to Pym Chair. I traced my route back along the plateau path through Wool Packs to Crowden Tower. When I reached the top of Crowden Clough I descended the narrow and steep path into the top end of the valley. As I stood on a rock outcrop to take a photo I spotted a bird diving in front of me and realise it was a Peregrine Falcon. It swooped once again then landed on a rock on the quieter side of the valley. I sat for a while on the rocks chilling out and waiting for it to fly again which it refused to so I carried on descending the steep rocky path into the valley.

Crowden Clough

Crowden Clough

Crowden Clough is similar to Grindsbrook Clough but definitely has less rock and no scrambling. I saw a pair of Dippers in the stream at the bottom of the valley. I love watching them bobbing around on the rocks in small streams. I could have turned left and taken a short cut round the foot of Broadlee-Bank Tor to join up with the path before it drops to Edale but wanted to explore Upper Booth so carried on instead. I was glad I did as the quiet enchanting woodland section at the bottom of the valley was fantastic and the meadows full of summer wild flowers backed by peaks were absolutely stunning. Foxgloves are one of my favourite flowers. They lined the path in blue and white as I made my way into Upper Booth. I turned left over the bridge and walked through the farm following the Pennine Way long distance footpath which would take me back to Edale.

Upper Booth

Upper Booth

There was an unexpected fifty metre climb to the foot of Broadlee-Bank before the path descended to Edale. The path heads straight through fields filled with cows and sheep, some young. I'm not too keen on protective mother cows. I nipped into the post office shop at Edale for a cold drink out of their fridge, then made my way back down the lane to catch the train home. The train was absolutely rammed as the Stone Roses were playing in Manchester and all Trans Pennine Express services between Sheffield and Manchester had been cancelled. The train was a Northern Rail Pacer, one of those rickety temporary measures that was actually based on the design of a Leyland bus. It was a strange mix of buzzing concert goers ready to go out for the night and knackered sweaty hill walkers like myself. I had a great day out and got some much needed leg stretching done in time for the Three Peaks Challenge coming up the weekend after.

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