Encountering ravishing surroundings while wounded insideMonday, January 20th, 2014
It can be amazing how resilient the human spirit can be. After all that came my way in 2013, I am amazed at how I manage to find to some inner peace as much of the time as I do. That wasn’t how it felt in April after my mother passed away the month before. Then, looking ahead didn’t seem a possibility. Getting somewhat accustomed to the changed state of affairs was more than enough to slow down life itself.
In the midst of that, I took to walking every evening because that’s how time can be set aside for working through things and venting any stress through footsteps so as not to hurt others. During one of these walks, I decided that a longer walk was in order and quieter hill country would be most suitable. When glorious weather came for the first Saturday in April 2013, I had my chance and it was taken without hesituation. Staying indoors dwelling just wasn’t an option with the rawness that was within me. It was the hill country to the east of Hayfield and Glossop that drew me. It may attract its share of visitors but that never means that there aren’t quieter spots and quiet interludes on well frequented patches. Such was what I needed and there were plenty on the day, especially in its later hours. Those restorative moments were relished when they came.
My initial plan was to make for the track up to Edale Cross and use that for getting up to Kinder Scout after a diversion to see Kinder Reservoir from where I knew there were photos to be had, especially in bright sunshine. Once off Kinder Scout, it was to be a matter of dropping down to Glossop on the Doctor’s Gate Path. However, I changed my mind during the walk as can happen. On finding the descent to see Kinder Scout to involve the loss of more height than expected, I instead chose to go around by the dam of the reservoir and regain height on the way up to and through William Clough. Other than that, the walk was routed as intended and I have left the possibility of going along the western edge of Kinder Scout for later. On looking at its northern slopes and streaked they were with snow, it looked to have been a sensible choice.
All of this chopping and changing route lay in the future as I left Hayfield by way of the Pennine Bridleway, a multi-modal track that starts in the Derbyshire Dales and then goes north at least as far as Settle. One section is called after the off-road horse riding access campaigner Mary Townley and the whole trail also is open to moderately adventurous off-road cyclists too. Apart from Derbyshire, I also have met with it around Burnley when I used it on Pennine Way jaunts between Haworth and there.
Though the Pennine Bridleway would have carried me near Coldwell Clough and the bridleway for Edale Cross, I left it for a path for Bowden Bridge instead. That kept me alongside the River Sett for longer and past the illustrious quarry where the gathering prior to the Kinder Trespass of 1932. Looking up for some photos, my gaze revealed the location of the said plaque and I made of photo of it for a sort of keepsake.
After largely staying on the level for the start of the walk, it was time to gain some height and there was plenty of that on the track from Bowden Bridge towards Coldwell Clough. Folk were trailing in my wake so I wasn’t doing this by myself but the turn away from the track leading to Ashes Farm meant that I lost them; they probably were bound for elsewhere or turned back after gaining their fill. Whatever they did, I hope what they got from their outings was memorable.
Beyond Coldwell Clough, the track for Edale was obscured by a deep white covering of snow. As I was getting to that point, a silent gentleman in Landrover had driven up (to my mind, he appeared to be an estate worker and there was little or no acknowledgement of any pleasantries were sent his way) and was stopped there for a while. Off-road cyclists were about too and I am unsure as to why the man in the Landrover was waiting. As I scaled the snow-buried track, he left for somewhere else so I was wondering if was being watched for some reason, hopefully benevolent.
Beyond the snow patch, I largely had the Edale track to myself and took to looking around me. The were hills to the south of me and these were blocking any view of the New Mills to Sheffield railway line though that enters a tunnel too to get from Chinley to Edale. Looking at the map now, hills like South Head and others near are tempting and caught my eye on visits made to Sheffield by train earlier in the year. They, like other parts, are awaiting their turn for a visit.
Kinderlow End lay right in front of me now and I was seeking the path that would get to views of Kinder Reservoir that I had not seen for the most of ten years. Those were under overcast skies and I quite fancied seeing them in prettier weather. Before then though, there was time for a spot of lunch and I needed to contend with gate that was forced shut by a bank of snow. On finding how much I was losing to get to the sights that lay in my memory, I started to change my mind about the course that I had planned. Though it often is a wrench to do so, there are times when you can take on too much so your cloth has to be cut to your measure. This was one of those and I dropped down towards the Kinder Dam, crossed below it and started to gain height on the other side.
Kinder Reservoir is one of those operated by a water company and once had its own purification facility. This is now shut with the required processing going on elsewhere and broken skylights on what otherwise looks an impressive building are signs of its redundancy; hopefully, its fate doesn’t mean utter dereliction. Leaving the former purification plant after, I continued along White Brow and Nab Brow to retrace a route followed under overcast January skies in an era before this blog started. Recollection of the actual year is vague now but 2003 feels about right. Retracing of steps got sights from that earlier occasion on a more flattering and so were worth any toil. Below me lay permissive paths that encircle the reservoir and it was to pain me a little to have to lose height to go near their level in order to cross a stream before heading up William Clough.
William Clough never was seen by me in better conditions and I revelled in the sights that lay ahead of though the path was uncertain at times. In fact, I was unsure as to whether I was following an intended right of way or taking advantage of a permissive path. Either way, I negotiated my way uphill steadily and negotiation was the appropriate term when I encountered a bank of snow covering the path near the top of the clough. Once past that, I didn’t have far to go before gradients eased again. Some folk were asking me about the way down and a National Park ranger passed the way and they went with him so I assume all was well for them from that point forward.
Once above William Clough, I found that clouds had filled the sky and it looked as if hope for sunlit scenes was extinguished for the day. Hence, any photos of the northern elevation of Kinder Scout were made with a sense of making the best of what was given to me. Looking at the photo above, it is tempting to think that I wasn’t being dealt cruelty either. Seeing the patches of snow made me not envy anyone following the Pennine Way north off Kinder Scout though the possibility of following a path via Black Ashop on another day entered my head.
Unlike previous occasions, the flagged path of the Pennine Way felt long as I headed towards the A57. The route taken hardly is a direct one anyone with its liking for going east. There was one good development overhead me though in that clouds were dissolving overhead me. That was set to grant me a pleasing evening filled with the challenge of following the Doctor’s Gate Path back to Glossop after crossing the aforementioned trunk road between Glossop and Sheffield.
There was a hint of what was to come in the form of a snow bank that completely engulf what have looked a tame gate appropriate to more domesticated terrain. With a steep incline ahead of me, I needed to gather my wits to overcome this obstacle and there were deviations from the intended right of way to deal with more ill-located snow banks and subsidence that had affected even stretches of path that weren’t snow-covered. It certainly isn’t easy terrain for off-road cycling or horse riding so the bridleway designation mystifies me.
Nevertheless, the Doctor’s Gate Path does grow more tame as you nearer to Glossop. In fact, I see the footbridge crossing Shelf Brook as the dividing line between wilder and tamer countryside. There is a path beyond there that takes you higher up the hillside so that muddy brookside hopping can be avoided. With some time to hand, it was around here for another I took another refuelling stop and sampled the peace of my surroundings. It was balm for my torn insides so I relished the moments that I had.
From then on, the walking was easier and path turned to track around Mossy Lea Farm and I started to encounter folk out for a quick late evening stroll before the light finally died. My guess is that they were sticking to the good track and were far from intent on seeking adventure. A minuscule slice of that had come my way though it was the quieter moments that I really relished when my spirit needed them. That excuses for other walks appeared in the form of that intended route along the western edge of Kinder Scout or a possible paved path that leads by Whitethorn Clough that could become a more direct route option for hiking to Glossop from Kinder Scout. It was if some things from a previous life remained for what felt like a very new one.
Bus service 58 to Buxton and bus service 61 from there to Hayfield. From Glossop, I went home by train with a change in Manchester Piccadilly.