I didn’t want to drive at the weekend and I regretted my decision as soon as I left the house and jogged to the station to catch my first train.
As the crow flies, and the car drives, Edale is not that far from my home. On the train, it a little more demanding requiring a dogleg via Manchester. This is no great hardship on face value, but combined with the extravagance of an overnight stay, it a formidable challenge for Northern Rail’s ticketing permutations.
The helpful lady and my train station scratched her head, tapped a few more buttons and eventually came up with a fare… just north of £18. This seemed steep, but I reminded myself of not having to worry about having the second, post-walk pint in the Nags Head if I so desired.
The next 20 mins were spent on the platform waiting for a delayed train to the city. I grew impatient, but reminded myself it was the weekend and whatever would be, would be.
I just had time to grab a coffee and clamber aboard the ‘rambler’ train. It rumbled through Mancy ‘burbs and then through New Mills. More walkers, suitably bedecked in gaiters and sturdy boots, climbed aboard and gave my trail shoes a curious look.
Many were red-cheeked members of a ramblers’ group and they alighted at Chinley.
The blackness of the Gowburn Tunnel soon passed and the train entered the vale of Edale. Out of habit I looked up to Kinder to see the cloud way above the plateau… a day of views.
I left the train and got on the move, heading up to Hollins Cross, and along the Great Ridge to Back Tor. Castleton cement works looked atmospheric illuminated in a shaft of sunlight while my shadow was cast long into the Vale on my left.
I met a jolly couple of guys on Lose Hill… they were clearly delighted to be out, and thankful of the inclement weather and me snapping a picture of them with the ridge trailing into the distance.
We exchanged pleasantries and offered our respective bests for the day.
I headed into Hope and then up the other side of the valley to the plantations of Woodlands Valley and the course of the old Roman Road. I dropped into the trees and took lungfulls of air heavily scented with pine. Now I had rhythm… I felt strong, the big pack felt comfortable and my trekking poles perfectly alternated with my footsteps.
Enjoying my lengthy and steep detour through the trees, I joined the scrambler bikes on the bridle way heading towards Crookstone Hill.
I headed north west and then west eyeing the easterly extremities of the Kinder Plateau. A steep path led to its rocky fringes and I found the path, occasionally having cause to clamber over granular gritstone. I looked back and could just see the still waters of Ladybower from this height.
Back over to the Great Ridge, and a low sun blazed in a blue sky. I felt it warm my face.
The path along Kinder was a joy… I’ve walked it many, many times in all weathers, but never tire of it.
I passed the YHA, reminding me of an aborted hostel backpacking trip some 18 years ago (something to with me losing my wallet in the Nags Head), and the spine of Ringing Roger came into view in the distance, my point of descent.
I dropped down to Edale, had a pint of Nag’s Black (excellent), checked I had my wallet this time and pitched at the campsite, the first part of my Edale figure 8 complete.
An excitable family chatted noisily in a fantastic and pricey tipi. They had a wood burning stove and I occasionaly got the comforting whiff of woodsmoke.
Later, the tent was bathed in light. I unzipped the fly and watched the sun appear over the Ridge. Coffee on and I started packing up. I was away quickly, pleased with the simple economy of my kit.
Scrambling over Ringing Roger again, I turned left and continued my path around the plateau. Sunday is always busy up here, and groups noisily chatted as they trudged over grit and sank into the peat.
The going was good until the Woolpacks when the usual Dark Peak diversions were required to avoid sinking up to my ears in the back stuff. Passing Edale Cross and on to Brown Knoll, the situation deteriorated, as did the weather. A vicious wind brought rain, a bit of hail and a rainbow to the south. I took a line 50 meters north east of the path and found easier ground.
Scrambling bikes noisily deepened the unsightly scar of the Chapel Gate. I remembered my Green Cross Code and carried on south to find the well-used path of Rushup Edge. Easier walking was accompanied by more folk.
I started to feel tired and the steps of Mam Tor seemed unreasonably tough. More chocolate needed.
Back to Hollins Cross, I dropped back down to the village and the Ramblers Inn for a so- so pre train pint… or was that two?