For some time I have aspired to walk the Pennine Way but the practicalities of doing it whilst working has stopped me thinking too seriously about embarking on a 268-mile trek over the best part of three weeks. The other consideration is that although I walk long distances regularly I have never attempted a long distance trail involving consecutive days. So before I set aside time to fulfil this ambition I have decided to do a shorter trail to acclimatise to the challenges of long distance walking. In September I will walk the South Downs Way, however, as we are staying relatively close to the start of the Pennine Way we decide to pop up to Edale and have a look at where this epic journey commences, or ends.
It is a pleasant drive from Tax farm CL to Edale with some outstanding scenery, but nothing prepares me for the view as we drive around Mam Tor and head into Edale. Stunning hills surrounds the village. We park at the main pay and display car park just off Edale Road close to the railway station. And soon have our boots laced up to explore some of this cracking scenery.
We leave the car park by the pedestrian exit besides the toilets and turn left to walk to a T-junction, here we turn right and then very soon take a left turn along a bridleway signed to ‘Castleton’.
We pass Hardenclough Farm and then at a junction of paths in the woods bear left uphill remaining on the main track. On reaching a gate on the left we pass through and turn right on a path signed ‘Mam Tor’ and go through a gate on to access land. We are getting warm as we climb so stop to shed a layer of clothing and take the opportunity to admire the fantastic scenery.
On reaching another gate we go through and follow the stony track up to a gate by a road, instead of going through this gate we take a narrow path that follows the fence line to reach a stone laid path which heads uphill towards the summit of Mam Tor. This is a steep climb but our efforts are rewarded by reaching a cracking trig point on the summit. This is the seventy-first trig I have “bagged”.
We are fortunate it is a clear day and from 1,696 feet up on Mam Tor the views are wonderful.
Resuming our walk we retrace our steps downhill back to the gate by the road, this time we go through and turn left to walk uphill besides the road for a brief section until we reach a footpath sign on the right, here we cross the stile and turn to the left to follow a path leading down from Mam to Rushup Edge.
Once on the ridge we turn right to follow the clear path as it heads west along Rushup Edge. This is an easy route to follow along the top of the ridge, we soon pass Lord’s Seat, a round barrow and at 1,804 feet the highest point on this ridge.
The stony track is easy to follow and we are happily pacing along when all of a sudden I go flying, tripping on some uneven ground I descend head first to the track, instinctively I twist my body and land an my shoulder and rucksack. When I was younger I would bounce up from a fall like this, but being almost sixty I decide to take a few seconds to make sure everything is working before getting up. I am a bit shaken and bruised, though luckily there are no obvious signs of serious damage but it is a timely reminder of how easy it is to have a mishap whilst walking.
Gingerly we continue our walk, I check the map to work out our quickest route back to Edale in the event of not being able to walk too far. We have been walking along the ridge for the best part of a mile and a half when we turn right at a path junction to follow a route signed to Edale via Barber Booth. As the main path swings to the right we take a paved path through the moor on the left. We can see airshafts of the Cowburn Tunnel off to our left.
The Cowburn Tunnel runs for 3,702 feet below this moor, work started on it in October 1888 and was completed in March 1893, I am no engineer so find it amazing that tunnelling was done from either side and they met in the middle. Apparently when they broke through they were an inch out of line!
Lynnie strides across the moor, walking on paths like this suits her perfectly, whilst still suffering from my fall I limp along behind. However, as we continue along I am walking more freely.
Our route takes us to the Ordnance Survey trig point at Brown Knoll, number seventy-two for me.
At Brown Knoll we are 1,867 feet above sea level and once again enjoy outstanding views. I don’t want to hang about for too long in case I stiffen up, so we are soon on our way.
We follow the path in a northwesterly direction before sweeping to the north, on reaching a junction of paths we turn right and then almost immediately left. We have now joined the Pennine Way and follow this as it heads uphill to a rocky crag.
On reaching a large cairn we fork left to head uphill and are soon walking through Edale Rocks.
Staying on the Pennine Way we quickly reach Kinder Low trig point.
We are now at the southern end of Kinder Scout and briefly contemplate following the Pennine Way for a few more miles to reach the point where the Mass Trespass of 1932 took place. On 24 April 1932 in a bid to highlight the fact that walkers were denied access to open countryside a mass trespass was organised. It set off from Bowden Bridge Quarry and walked up William Clough to the plateau of Kinder Scout where there were violent scuffles with gamekeepers. They managed to proceed to meet with another group at Ashop Head.
This act of civil disobedience had significant implications for ramblers and through various pieces of legislation and the creation of National Parks has made sure that there is a right of access to places like this for all. However, it is not something we should take for granted and it is only through the work of the Ramblers Association and other groups that the political lobby is maintained to ensure these rights remain for future generations.
Doffing my cap to the brave folk that fought, literally, to gain access to this land we admire the cracking views.
We retrace our steps passing Edale Rocks and then follow a faint path to the left leading to Noe Stool
The route now follows the ridge at Wool Packs, an area of amazing scattered stones, the route is unclear and we pick our way through the rocks.
It is slow progress through this section, finding a route through is not always easy and we keep stopping to photograph the amazing rock formations.
On reaching the head of Crowden Clough we meet a couple of walkers coming off the moor to our left. They are disorientated and seek directions back to Edale. We consult the map, the nearest footpath looks to be down Grindsbrook Clough, but one of the walkers said she had previously come up that way and wouldn’t contemplate going down it as it was too steep! This is useful information as I had half thought of going down that way. Pointing the walkers to the west and advising them to follow the path to the Pennine Way we continue.
At such moments I wonder why people venture out in a location like this without a map. I use the OS Maps App on my phone, but always have a paper map in my rucksack. As we walk along the ridge towards Grindsbrook Clough there are some more cracking rock formations.
We ignore a path to the right, which would take us to Grindslow Knoll and continue to Grindsbrook Clough. Here we follow the path besides the Clough until we reach a suitable point to cross and then follow a route heading east through the heather to reach a stile in a fence close to the edge of the escarpment. We continue easterly through more areas of interesting stones.
On reaching Golden Clough we turn to the left and take an indistinct route through the moor to reach Edale Moor trig point, this is the seventy-fourth I have bagged.
There is a plaque on this trig commemorating the Viking Venture Scout Unit; I am always pleased to see plaques on trigs as it makes them a bit more distinctive. This is another trig with extensive views and it is set in a large paved area.
Making our way back to Golden Clough we are grateful that we are on this boggy bit of moorland after a dry spell, I wouldn’t want to be up here after a prolonged wet spell. Some of the bogs look like they could eat a man!
On reaching Golden Clough we follow a stony path that descends steadily. We stop to look back at the escarpment and see the route down through Grindsbrook Clough and agree that it is not a path that we would want to walk with the dogs.
The stony descent is slow going and we ignore options to leave this route. It then turns to the west and takes a zigzag route down the side of a hill to reach pasture.
We cross the field following way-markers and then join a paved path and turn left to follow it. Soon we head over to reach a track and then follow this into Edale. Stopping at the Nags Head which apparently is the start of the Pennine Way, or if you have walked from Kirk Yetholm the end.
From here we pass the village church and return to the car park.
Our walk has covered twelve and a half miles and has been truly memorable, the scenery has been cracking, we have seen some stunning rock formations, bagged four trig points and I have survived a heavy stumble. I think tomorrows walk will need to be less challenging!
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 1 – The Peak District – Dark Peak Area
16th June 2018
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)