I’ve tied up some loose ends at work and everything else can wait until I get back to my desk on the 5th.
I’ve bought all the gifts I am going to buy and even went to the modern-day horror that is the Trafford Centre and witnessed a fist fight between a Liverpudlian mother and daughter (‘Goodwill to all men’?).
So, now all this crap is out of the way for another year, I got the chance to get out onto the hills today. Given that I’m now on leave, the weather was dreary (hence the title of this post), but I was determined today… I wouldn’t waste another day of precious holiday.
Just the other side of the winter solstice, daylight is a bit a luxury in these parts at this time of year – a sacrifice worth paying for long summer evenings. The short window of opportunity got me looking closer to home and a well know route I’d never tackled before – Kinder from Hayfield via the Snake Path.
The mountain weather forecast was optimistic with the promise of clear tops, light winds and good visibility in High Peak. The weather blew a raspberry, though… a cold clammy, cloud-ridden one that accompanied me over the tops all day.
The pretty cottages of Hayfield looked inviting as I trudged up the Kinder road to find the start of this famous ‘trespass path’. A fell runner skipped by me and disappeared into the mist as I climbed and I tried to visualise the view.
Crossing the National Trust boundary, the path turned to a sandy track over moorland and suddenly the weather completed the scene. Up high, alone, I waited for the Hound of the Baskervilles to tear my head off, or for Richard Hannay (always Robert Powell, for me) to skip across the heather en route to London to foil some dastardly plot. As geographically awry as both these examples may be, you get my drift.
I opted for the ‘official’ route of William Clough and the gushing stream provided a visual focus for the trip upwards. The climb is rough in parts, and depending on which path you take, there are chances to get your hands dirty and you clamber over clumps of gritstone.
The work was over too soon and I found the marker post for Pennine Way-farers and those seeking the protection of the Snake Inn. I turned right and headed southeast along the Pennine Way to Kinder. A steep path climbed the western snout of the plateau and I began a familiar trip along the edge towards Kinder Downfall.
But with visibility at 10 yards or so, this section felt very different today.
The lack of view forced me to appreciate my immediate surroundings and the tongue in cheek title of this post is inaccurate as I counted shades of green, sandy yellow, brown and pink in the peaty moonscape.
Other senses were more acute today, too. I climbed above two large anvil shaped stones and I heard the rush of the wind as it forced passage between the concave faces. Aeolian process at work, perhaps.
I passed the Downfall, lacking its usual drama in the gloom, and pressed onto the trig point at Kinder Low. I found it easily with the aid of the ever-accurate Satmap.
At Edale Cross, I picked up the Oaken Clough path and veered right onto the footpath to Hayfield. I reached the village again in three and half hours.
I hope to be out again soon to work off the excesses of Christmas. Until then, may I wish you and yours a restful Christmas and all the best for the New Year.