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Pennine Way
Crowden to Edale
Wednesday 3rd September.
Day:14 - Distance:16 miles

It had rained over night. It had not been heavy rain but the Longendale Valley was foggy in the dawn. We had to be in Grindsbrook above Edale by 15.00 to meet our welcome party. Knowing this and also knowing that we only had 16 miles left to finish the Pennine Way put a spring in our step as we started out on this September morning.
The route was familiar as we were now in the Dark Peak our home territory and we set of through the woods and down to the dam to cross over to the south side of Longdendale. However its a true saying that familiarity breeds contempt as we were to prove later in the day.


Its a short sharp climb out of Longdendale but the view up the valley was beautiful as the sun broke through the mist. The climb eases off on the edge of the plateaux and continues gradually for a mile or more along the side of Torside clough. Towards the head of the clough is the John Track well, a spring that produces good drinking water at most times of the year. At this point the way drops down into the stream bed and up the other side following a side clough in an easterly direction. This turn can be missed if you are not navigating properly. The route becomes indistinct from here but the general direction is east for about half a mile and then turning south again towards Bleaklow Head. The weather was now good with a light wind and bright sunshine. As we reached the stones at Bleaklow Head we were greeted with the site of a single figure standing on one of the peat mounds practising some kind of far eastern martial art. I laughed out loud. Each to his own.



After a 2 minute break for a drink we were off again moving south. In bad weather a compass bearing may be necessary to find where the path leaves the broad expanse of Bleaklow Head. There are marker stones that will guide you along the path through twisting gruffs but with snow on the ground these would be hard to follow. The further you walk the easier it becomes to follow the path. With the good weather and an appointment to keep we set a good pace along Devils Dyke to the point where the Pennine Way cross the A57 trunk road.
Across the road and out on to the peat again, or actually not. The whole 2.5 miles of the Pennine Way from the A57 to Mill Hill is now a flagstone path. Some people loath it, some people love. On this particular day with a schedule to keep we were in favour. We passed a group of walkers out for a day walk going in the opposite direction. The view away to the South East is excellent with the whole of the north edge of the Kinder plateaux in view.
We dropped down from Mill Hill and stopped for lunch in the saddle where the Hayfield to Snake Inn path crosses the Pennine Way. A 30 minute break is easily enough time to fire up the stove, produce and eat a good solid meal of pasta and sauce, spread out any damp items to dry in the sun, and get some fresh air to your feet. Whilst we were stopped a group of 3 walkers who I think were probably German passed us going North on the Pennine Way. Like many others we had seen they were carrying hugh packs and were struggling badly. Just the first half day of the walk completed and you could clearly see they were going to be lucky to complete the first day let alone the whole of the Pennine Way. The key to completing the Pennine Way? Think lightweight.
We were on schedule but did not have to much time to waste so by 13.00 we were walking again with 5 miles to cover in 2 hours. Another short sharp climb and we were onto the south eastern edge of the Kinder Plateaux heading for Kinder Downfall. In the summer the Kinder river that falls over the Downfall dries up completely, but in the winter it is a magnificent cascade falling a hundred feet into the valley below.





We were going to complete the Pennine Way via the classic route across the centre of Kinder Scout so when we arrived at the Downfall we took out the map and compass and headed up the dry river bed into Kinder Scout. If the weather is good and the sun is shining navigating across Kinder Scout is not difficult. It's just a 30 minute walk. If the wether is bad then it becomes a very different task. The terrain like much of the Dark Peak is soft peat with groughs or channels meandering through it. The big difference on Kinder Scout is that these groughs or channels are 15 to 20 feet deep and walking in a straight line is impossible. If the sun is visible you can use your compass to get an initial bearing and then use the sun as a guide as the crossing takes less than 30 minutes and the sun will not have moved sufficiently in that time to make a error in your navigation. If you can't navigate by the sun because of cloud then you will have to walk to the compass. If you have never crossed Kinder Scout before and the weather is not good then I would strongly recommend you use the alternative route that follows the southern edge of the plateaux.

We set our compass and followed the twisting winding groughs in the general direction we wanted travel continually checking the compass as we walked. Several times we had to climb out of one grough and into another and its not easy climbing 15 foot tall peat banks that crumble and collapse as you climb. Being the end of summer the peat was relatively dry. If you make this crossing in the winter when the peat can be very wet it is hard work. After 35 minutes we came into one of the gullies that would lead us off the South West side of the plateaux. I thought the area looked familiar and headed in the direction of what I thought was the top of Grindsbrook our route down to Edale. As I noted earlier familiarity breeds contempt and instead of taking another compass reading and checking the map one last time we walk onwards down the gully talking to a couple of day walkers who we had just met and who were interested to hear that we were just about to complete the Pennine Way. Continuing on for about 10 minutes it became apparent that we were not walking down Grindsbrook but another gully about half a mile from Grindsbrook! We back tracked and found Grindsbrook but now we were running behind schedule to meet our welcome party at 15.00. The top of Grindsbrook is not a defined path. Its a boulder filled river and making up our lost 20 minutes over this terrain was not going to be possible. Eventually we met the first of our welcoming party at 15.20 about a mile from the end of the walk, and from there we walked on down to Edale meeting others who were there to welcome and congratulate us. The walk ended with photographs and champagne outside the Old Nags Head, and finally a cup of tea in the Edale railway station cafe.



Final thoughts. Think, plan, think, organise, think, prepare, and then just do it.