Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Chinley to Edale – approx 9.75 miles

Saturday 16th October 2010


OS Explorer OL1 The Peak District - Dark Peak Area


Chinley Station – Cracken Edge – Whiterakes – Peep O’ Day – Coldwell Clough – Oaken Clough – Edale Cross – Noe Stool – Crowden Tower – Grindsbrook Clough – Edale Station


A mixture of sunny and overcast conditions, mostly bright but with some rain in the afternoon.

Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year, and the Dark Peak one of the best places to enjoy its dazzling spectacle to the full. A spell of decent, clear weather is almost guaranteed to get the best out of the beautiful colours so we are usually ready and waiting to take advantage if the forecast is promising. So, with the prospect of a fair weekend ahead, we set our alarm clock early, threw all our gear into the car and made the long journey north.

Thus it was that we found ourselves leaving Chinley at just after 9.00am on a cool, sunny morning, climbing steadily towards Cracken Edge and the track that contours round its east side. Although still quite early, we were not the only ones to make a prompt start as the flurry of hikers, joggers and dog-walkers testified. Away to our right the hillside dropped steeply down to Otter Brook and the Hayfield Road, beyond which the bulk of Kinder Scout was fringed by low cloud.

We dropped down to cross the A624 at Peep O’ Day where a large delivery wagon was trying to squeeze its way down the narrowest of lanes. After a quick snack stop, we picked up the Pennine Bridleway, skirted the flanks of the curiously named Mount Famine and zig-zagged into Coldwell Clough where the metalled lane gave way to a rocky track, the ancient packhorse route between Hayfield and the Vale of Edale, and we began the long pull up Oaken Clough. As we crossed the Access Land boundary we took a moment to look back at the craggy ridge of Mount Famine and our earlier route.

Continuing upwards, we soon reached Edale Cross and the saddle between Kinder Scout and Brown Knoll. While catching a breather, we stopped in the warm sunshine to chat to a lady we met there, basking in the beauty of the day.

The next leg of our walk took us along the southern edge of the Kinder Plateau. After a very short stretch along the Pennine Way, we veered off to the right, heading for Noe Stool and the perimeter path. Weaving through a series of peaty channels and weirdly eroded rocks, we made our way eastwards along the edge.

We stopped for lunch. Perched high on the sunny side of a weather-worn Gritstone outcrop, we had a great view across the valley to the Great Ridge and Rushup Edge. But the skies had been darkening, and, as we packed our things away, a first few spits of drizzle began. Waterproofs were donned - this wasn’t forecast!

By the time we reached the top of Grindsbrook Clough a steady rain had set in. The drop into the Clough is quite steep and rocky, and, although Gritstone is very grippy underfoot, the rain had made the mud a bit greasy and our glasses kept fugging up. A slip here could easily have led to a twisted ankle, so, as neither of us fancied carrying the other one down, we took our time, picking our way carefully step by step beside the stream. Even so, Missy G managed to miss her footing - fortunately, there was no real damage done, just some additional souvenir mud to take home with us.

Soon the path levelled out and the going became easier. The rain stopped, and the sun broke through the cloud again as we trundled towards Edale village, Grindsbrook Clough looking splendid in full autumn conditions.

As you might expect on a nice day at this time of year, the village was heaving. Besides all the walkers and day-trippers, a group of Geography students from North Staffordshire University were there on a field trip led, as it turned out, by one of my former lecturers. So it was with little regret we forsook a cup of tea and caught the train back to Chinley and our car – all of 8 minutes ride – reflecting on another great day.

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