Kinder Scout from Hayfield – 9.5 miles. 3 –5 hours
It gives walkers relatively easy access to the wild expanses of the Kinder plateau and includes the wild declivity of Kinder Downfall. Add to that at least one agreeable pub for post-walk refreshment and a decent – if busy – campsite, and it’s easy to understand why this route attracts so many boots year in, year out.
However, I’d never walked it. I normally gain the highest inches of the Dark Peak from Edale using Jacobs Ladder or trudging off piste. Hayfield is normally a place to drive through en route elsewhere.
Not this weekend, though. I had a morning to kill and the sun was shining. After the wild remoteness of Knoydart, I was going to rub shoulders with folk on the weekend ‘mass trespass’.
Rather than contributing to heavy weekend traffic piling to the campsite or car park along the Kinder Road, I parked the other side of the Chapel Road near the start of the Sett Valley Trail.
The walk through the village, church bells tolling, was a pleasant entrée to the day. The flanks of hills to come were soon visible, though, and I pressed on past the campsite and along the quiet lane to the reservoir.
For a Sunday morning, things were quiet… eerily so… but I soon found groups of hikers on the reservoir’s banks. Like me, they were heading to the plateau.
The reservoir waters were low, which made the banks appear more sinuous, following contours into the valleys of William Clough, my route of ascent today, and the Kinder River and Red Brook.
Leaving the reservoir, I began to climb. It was a muggy day, and I soon felt the effects of the heat, losing my fleece.
The path traced a somewhat haphazard line along the valley, but I followed the stream bed as much as possible, enjoying the sensation of wet feet as the cooling waters seeped through my trail shoes.
Concentrating on the climb, I soon reached the junction with the Pennine Way and turned right onto very familiar ground. Gaining the eastern edges of the plateau, progress became far easier as I followed the largely level path along the edge.
Views dropped away to my right, and Kinder reservoir soon came into view again.
I have walked this section many times over the last 15 years or so but I still enjoy it. Kinder Downfall is always an interesting interruption to progress and I spent some time scrambling over boulders to find a more private perch for some coffee out of the flask. I’ve had the pleasure, or otherwise, of being up here in winter when winds were blowing the water back up the hill and the gritstone sported a sugar frosting.
After the Downfall, I headed south past Kinder Low and, rather than continuing to Edale Cross for my route back to Hayfield, I headed west to Kinder Low End on a good path and dropped down the snout to a path across sheep-filled fields to Tunstead Clough Farm.
A quick walk along the lane brought me back to the Kinder Road and a very welcome pint of Thwaites at the Sportsman Inn. Highly recommended.