Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout

Whatever time of year and from whichever direction you approach it, a hike onto the Kinder plateau – known as Kinder Scout – will be an exhilarating experience. There are many approaches to this wild, high moorland – none of which are short or easy, so always come prepared for a serious walk, armed with adequate provisions plus map and compass; also as the weather can change rapidly, (these moors generate their own micro-climate) it is best to carry attire for all weathers – it is not unusual to be basking in warm sunshine one minute then be battered by hail stones the next.

Many hikers will be clambering after the same thrill, so commencing from Hayfield or Edale on a sunny weekend be prepared to smile your greetings to myriads of fellow ramblers on the well-walked trails up the steep hillsides.  However, if you want a less busy approach, try one of the paths leading up from the north or north-eastern sides of the hill – they are not only quieter, but every bit as beautiful.  You will discover rocky paths beside tumbling, peat-filtered streams, fringed by rough grasses and overhung by solitary rowan trees, growing seemingly out of the rock faces; late August when the rowans are hung with red and orange berries and the purple heather clothes the moor is a spectacular time to visit, yet so is late spring when the bird world is at its busiest; The evocative cry of the curlew is all around, but if you are lucky, you may hear a strange noise like the crackling of railway tracks signifying an approaching train – only in this case you will discover nothing bigger than the elusive ring ouzel, which comes down from the rocky nesting grounds to the lower slopes for food, once the young have fledged. 

Higher up, on the plateau itself, you are almost certain to hear the piping sound of golden plovers, warning you away from their ground-nests, be startled by cackling red grouse flying out of the undergrowth at your feet and hear the “prrruck” of ravens overhead.  You may catch a glimpse of a mountain hare as it darts in and out of groughs, or see the flash of a merlin sweep by a little above your head.  In mid-to-late summer, bilberries, – locally known as wimberries – are ripe for picking; if you have time, pause to pick a container full, (they make lovely pies and crumbles) but if you don’t, then one of the butchers in nearby Glossop sells them.

Even without the wildlife, a walk on Kinder would be an amazing experience; the views are spectacular from any angle, there are strange rock formations with odd names, such as “Madwoman Stones” and “Seal Stones” and of course there is the famous Kinder Downfall where the river Kinder tumbles over the plateau and falls 30 ft. down the rocks, before eventually flowing into the Kinder reservoir far below.  In summer there is less water, but it can be a fantastic sight in winter time, frequently freezing over, or being blown upwards by the wind and shrouded in a mist of spray which can be seen quite some distance away.

In a nutshell, there you have it – the joys and wonders of Kinder Scout. The routes over and around the plateau are many and, as it is open access land, you may go almost anywhere – however, do be aware that in the spring time there are ground nesting birds so, for their sake, it is advisable to stay on the paths.  The peat bogs are severely eroded in places too, so again, please be considerate to the environment.  If you do stray from the paths, note that there are deep and sometimes hidden peat hags and groughs which get very boggy at almost any time of year – so be prepared to have your ankles covered in thick dark brown slush once you step “off-piste”.  That said, the world of the high moors is awaiting your discovery – value it, respect and preserve it, then  pass on this unique landscape to future generations.