Slide rules

Gravity: a physical body’s ability to attract with a force proportional to its mass. But classroom definitions pale when these forces are making themselves felt in actuality.

I ruminated on this as I slowly slid over ice en route to the Kinder Plateau on Saturday. My hefty winter boots had no answer on this surface and the faintest gradient ensured gravity was in gear and working with my mass, or on my ass.

Up to this point, I’d avoided the ice on the Snake Path. Plenty of firm snow fringed the frozen footway, which provided much needed purchase. My four-season Raichles felt over specified for the journey in hand. In retrospect, footwear choice proved to be sensible later.

Crossing the intersection of paths to head above Kinder Reservoir and into William Clough required a tentative crossing of the rock-hard pavement. Despite utmost care, I still found myself slowly – unwittingly – sliding down the slightest downhill, an action followed by the slow cartwheeling of arms in a vain bid to key balance. I fell over in slow-mo and laughed.

In reality, this was no laughing matter though. If conditions were icy this far down the hill, how would they be on more challenging ground above? I resolved to go and have a look but would bail if conditions were poor.

With snow hanging on in the upper reaches of the Dark Peak, I had planned a local jaunt across the moors. Plans changed rapidly though when the sun came out on Saturday morning. Perhaps the conditions would hang around for a magical few hours in the hills?

Never organised, I crashed around the garage turning over bike parts to find my rucksack and other kit. I was soon heading away from Glossop in the car and over to Hayfield.

My route for the day was an old favourite covered in a previous post, although this time I’d take the Snake Path. I didn’t want to be focussed on the map today, instead favouring a familiar route in unfamiliar conditions.

Upon reaching the jaws of the clough, earlier fears were quickly realised. The path was treacherous in places and my progress was slow as I headed for firm, snowy slopes above the trail to kick steps. Here, the heavy hill boots which hardly get an outing these days were ideal. It was absorbing, exhausting work.

On reflection, spikes would have made more sense.

Reaching the saddle above the clough, snow cover was more widespread and I clumped up and onto the plateau. In dry conditions, this tends to be point where the pace quickens as the route is relatively flat and the path good. Today, the snow was an obstacle. Although well consolidated in the main, on occasion feet would break through the crust and the icy flakes giving my trousers a frosting above gaiters.

I pressed on, enjoying the sun on my face and gazing at wide reaching views along hazy valleys.

Ice climbers were at work at Kinder Downfall. Crossing the frozen stream above, the barren, frigid landscape was robbed of sunlight and was stark contrast to the comforting picnic spot when sporting its summer, Sunday best.

Heading along Kinder Low End, I reached the rocky path of and faced more ice. This proved to be most tricky obstacle of the day as alternative routes were limited save for the rocky staircase. Engaging backside for some inelegant moves, I soon reached the base of the boulders and made easy passage back to Hayfield for the now customary pint.


8 thoughts on “Slide rules

  1. It looks like you had a good walk despite the ice. Myself, I’m a complete wimp when it comes to ice (and mud). I get vertigo and have a fear of falling. I blame growing up on a very steep hill. Or just being a wimp 🙂

    1. Hi Yasmine, I know how you feel. Being so tall I tend to be a bit ‘top heavy’ (read: clumsy) and am always conscious of falling. There were a couple of sharp intakes of breath on this trip, but generally things were OK. I wouldn’t have been so sure on more challenging ground in boots alone.

  2. Great day for it – I’ve been out walking in the snow quite a lot over the last few days – seems to add that extra element of serenity to the walk and I really like breathing in the crisp icy air for some strange reason!

    1. Hi W&W, It was a fab day. Nice to get some sunshine too. The snow kind of condenses the experience. Ambient noise is ‘absorbed’ by the blanket and all you hear is laboured breathing (well, I do!) and the crunch of the snow underfoot. Magic!

  3. A bit of shameless advertising here for my own blog, but have a look at #64 at –

    Me missus and meself had a good outing in the Peak, herself wearing my recently acquired Kahtoola Mini-spikes. They are absolutely brilliant, weigh nothing, fit in a pocket, and do the job. We met another couple also wearing the same, and they have used them ovet two seasons, so it appears that they are also hard wearing.

    There’s a pic on the blog.

    There’s also a pic of the Grivel Spiders that I’ll be putting on ebay this week – they are good, but nowhere near as good as the Kahtoolas.

    1. Hi Paul, Thanks for the link. I’m interested in either the Kahtoolas or the Poguspikes after this trip. As you say: lightweight, and easy to pop on as required. I imagine they also enable you to use lighter footwear as I am no fan of heavy mountain boots for the walking and backpacking I do most of the time nowadays. A wise investment and something that can be left in the pack.

      Some folk were wearing them at the weekend and were happy with their performance. Some were in full crampons!

  4. Sounds like an interesting day out – “Falling on Ice” there’s TV show in there I think – I’d do quite well. I’m short and clumsy.
    Been reading alot about microspikes – seem to be all the rage for walking in conditions where crampons would be overkill

    1. Hi Andy. Like the sound of the show. I would have been a comical feature given my clumsy slide. Been thinking about spikes for a while to. Would have been v sensible in these conditions.

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