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South-West Bleaklow & Kinder 2 days / 16 miles (25km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 22 Nov 2021
Start: Glossop station / Finish: Edale station.
Maps: Explorer 001 - The Dark Peak.

Day 1Doctor's Gate, Mill Hill & Kinder Downfall8.8miles / 1929 feet (14.2km / 587m)
Day 2Kinder Low & the southern edges6.7miles / 772 feet (10.9km / 235m)
Pitch near Kinder Downfall

A 2-day linear trek in the south-western regions of Bleaklow and the Kinder Scout plateau. The ascent to Bleaklow is via Doctor's Gate and crossing Glead Hill to the Kinder massif via the Pennine Way to Mill Hill. The south-western edges are followed past Kinder Downfall and Kinder Low to descend via Golden Clough and Ringing Roger.

After a long and generally dismal autumn, we were quickly back to the short days of winter. A two-day promising weather window called for a simple nearby route easily accessible via public transport where we could utilize all the available daylight. The first day of this linear station-to-station trek was clear and sunny once we reached the high ground of Bleaklow, quite warm too, but the second featured thick windblown mist until midday.

Day 1 - Doctor's Gate, Mill Hill & Kinder Downfall

From Glossop station we walked through the woodland of Manor Park, still showing a pleasing array of autumnal hues, to emerge on Church Street for a short walk to Shepley Street and the start of the Doctor's Gate track into the hills. We were hopeful as we looked ahead towards Higher Shelf Stones, still holding onto a dense mist mantle as it is particularly inclined to do, and we followed the line beside Shelf Brook to the footbridge over to its southern side.

Despite the efforts of Peak District path repair crews in the intervening years, the braided glutinous bog just beyond the bridge where Birchen Orchard Clough reaches the lower slopes is untouched and just as bad as we remember it. Several discernible lines can be traced by walkers ascending ever farther up the slope to avoid the worst of the gloop. The difficulty is brief and the line ascends enjoyably thereafter to reach the Pennine Way on a good track to the A57 road.

Doctor's Gate along Shelf Brook
Doctor's Gate along Shelf Brook (22 Nov 2021__09:42:32)
View to Higher Shelf Stones from Doctor's Gate
View to Higher Shelf Stones from Doctor's Gate (22 Nov 2021__10:44:16)

The long deserted trek over the shallow rise of Glead Hill across to Mill Hill on the continuous paved slabs was surprisingly warm, the nearly melted ice platelets required some care. The sunlit colours of the moorland peat and grasses with occasional pools added scenic interest to the wide featureless expanse.

The summit of Mill Hill was a perfect spot for a bite to eat with clear views ahead to the rise onto Kinder plateau. Descending to the col, we diverted to collect water and were delighted to find it was gin-clear, a lucky find in a region known for water resembling tea.

Moorland pools on Glead Hill
Moorland pools on Glead Hill (22 Nov 2021__11:51:24)
Mill Hill summit looking towards Kinder Scout
Mill Hill summit looking towards Kinder Scout (22 Nov 2021__12:50:40)
Ascent to Kinder edge
Ascent to Kinder edge (22 Nov 2021__13:45:29)

Ascending the steep pitched path to the edge, we started the excellent southern edge path, an ever changing moorland gritstone scene with good views. Mindful of the short days and possible difficulty with the terrain, we were constantly watching the landscape with a view to a pitch. Approaching Kinder Downfall we spotted a promising area and called it a day, hopeful of a dawn photo of the downfall the next morning and watched carefully by our old friends the grouse. Once pitched we had a pleasing sunset view from the tent and, during the night, a good moonrise view with small wisps of cloud low in the sky.

View back along the southern edge
View back along the southern edge (22 Nov 2021__14:32:15)
Southern edge near Sandy Heys
Southern edge near Sandy Heys (22 Nov 2021__14:36:22)
Southern edge rocks and slabs
Southern edge rocks and slabs (22 Nov 2021__14:42:24)
View to southern side of Kinder Downfall
View to southern side of Kinder Downfall (22 Nov 2021__15:09:41)
Sunset from pitch near Kinder Downfall
Sunset from pitch near Kinder Downfall (22 Nov 2021__16:03:54)

Day 2 - Kinder Low & the southern edges

The next morning was a big disappointment: dense windblown clag had descended and enveloped everything. We packed away our kit and the sopping wet flysheet and set off across the meagre flow of the nascent River Kinder to resume the very gloomy edge path past the Downfall. We took a couple of pictures as a record of the day.

Spirits were not dampened though: even in thick clag, there is much enjoyment in walking through this landscape of moorland and eroded gritstone as the variety of rock shapes and formations loom out of the mist. The scene at Kinder Low trig point seemed particularly eerie, and just after that point we found the less defined path that leaves the Pennine Way and cuts across directly to Noe Stool. As we remembered from years ago, the Wool Packs is a fascinating rock and peat landscape where we never followed the same line twice, always finding a different threaded line to avoid the peaty mire.

Crossing the river Kinder
Crossing the river Kinder (23 Nov 2021__08:22:57)
Kinder Downfall
Kinder Downfall (23 Nov 2021__08:26:51)

Eventually the sun did break through just before midday, giving some good views along the edge and valleys. There are various descent points along the edge, we chose the line at Golden Clough that drops down a short way to a large pile of stones where several paths fan out: we chose the middle path that curves around below the nose of Ringing Roger to another pile of stones and a well paved path down to Heardman's Plantation and the lane to Edale and the station.

A curiosity awaited us in Edale: having time to spare before the train, we called at the Penny Pot Cafe on Station Approach and noticed electronic live train departure times and status messages on the wall behind the counter, exactly like the displays in stations, very impressive. The strange thing was that Edale station itself didn't have them on the platforms.

View along southern edge above Grindsbrook Clough
View along southern edge above Grindsbrook Clough (23 Nov 2021__11:39:56)
View along southern edge above Grindsbrook Clough
View along southern edge above Grindsbrook Clough (23 Nov 2021__11:57:01)