Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A tale of two tents and a walk up Kinder Scout

My shiny new Hilleberg Akto had arrived from Ray Mears online shop (lovingly packed by Ray, I assume) and I was looking for an excuse to try it out. My offspring were with me for some of the school hols, so I packed daughter back to her Mum's for the night and son and I headed for Upper Booth. The forecast was for sunshine but as we left the house, the weather looked umpromising. By Upper Booth it still looked unpromising but at least we could see the hills, so after quickly pitching tents, we set off.

A digression about tents:

Joe's tent is a Robens Stardust 1. It cost about £50 in a sale. They don't make it any more, which is a real pity as even at full price it's a superb one person tent. I used it on the TGO Challenge in May and my only real gripe with it was that the porch was a bit small to cook in. It's the same basic topography as the Akto: side opening, 'double wedge' with a single central hoop pole and 4 short poles at the corners. The pegging and guy arrangements are similar. It weighs 2kg, which is 0.5kg more than the Akto.

Before the TGOC, I knew nothing of Hilleberg tents. The Akto is almost the tent of choice amongst challengers and now I've got one I can see why. It's a Tardis tent -it's bigger on the inside than out! I think the living area could sleep two at a pinch and the porch is easily big enough to cook under with the door closed - even though, of course, one should never do such a thing! I 'm already luvvin my new Akto but I'd still give 4 stars to the Robens (and 5 stars for the Hilleberg).

Back to the plot:

Armed with sufficient food for an extended trip (2 chicken pies, 2 white slime pasties, cheese and Marmite sandwiches, apples, and copious amounts of chocolate), we headed south out of the campsite, in the opposite direction from Kinder Scout, which may seem perverse but I wanted to take in Brown Knoll (569m) en route. The track towards Rushup Edge is a bit confusing to begin with, passing through a few fields and skirting round a couple of farms. Once we got to the National Trust info centre (which was shut), the path becomes more obvious and we started to break out into open land proper and climb steeply, crossing the Sheffield to Manchester line, which goes through a tunnel around here. From the top of the climb, two right turns finally had us going in the right direction.

The weather was still gloomy and even threatened rain. Some (well, a lot of) splodging across the moor, crossing the same tunnel again) got us to the Brown Knoll trig point, which suffers from being sited in the middle of a peat bog, making it problematic to escape if one is foolish enough to sit on it.

Up to this point, we had seen only one other group of people but as we neared the top of Jacob's Ladder the hoards appeared, mostly day-trippers like ourselves rather than Pennine Wayers. A quick bite to eat and we set off for Kinder Low and the second trig point of the day, which is more conveniently placed on top of a lump of gritstone.

The rest of the plan was to head for the Downfall and then follow the beck upstream until it ran out, cross over the top to the head of Crowden Brook and then down the clough back to the campsite. Kinder Downfall was disappointingly low on water, so the dramatic scene of a waterfall going uphill, which I'd promised the lad, was not to be.

Low water levels did mean we could walk up stream in comfort. At the first branch we encountered a group of folk staring at a map. I'd previously done some staring and knew we needed to take the left fork, which we did in a confident and manly way, ignoring their fatuous enquiry as to weather we were on the Pennine Way. This is a splendid little stream, full of character, well quite a few characters really, starting out with sandy beaches and eventually becomimg a narrow canyon with peat walls which finally saw us traversing, one foot on either wall, in caving fashion.

Eventually we were forced to claw our way out to the surface and a scene of various people (including the aforementioned map starers) wandering in what appeared at first to be in the opposite direction to the way we wanted - until I checked the compass and found we had turned through 180 degrees during our peat canyoning.

So, setting the compass for a bit east of south, we then proceeded to walk along almost every other point on the dial in an attempt to avoid sinking into the morass. Taking navigation by 'aiming off' to extremes and after 20 minutes of floundering, back-tracking and generally faffing, we hit dry land (well rock actually) and shortly after that we happened upon the top end of Crowden Brook. I like to think this was skillfull map and compass work - and to some extent it was, mixed in with a teensy weensy bit of good fortune and the ability to see a useful horizon.

A short walk brought us to the head of the clough, which was more vertiginous than I remembered, calling for some scrambling followed by another lunch stop - to avoid the embarrassment of arriving back at camp with surplus pies! This is one of those stretchy tracks, which gets a bit longer the further along it you go. The maths are something like, for any point along it, there is half as far again to go as you think there should be. By now the sun was shining, only 6 hours after it was due and when we finnaly reached the campsite a short siesta was called for, followed by Sainsbury's insto meals with Tilda rice in a bag, another post-prandial siesta and drive to Edale for a glass of shandy.

A splendid day.

8.5 miles and 1700ft ascent.

1 comment:

Hendrik M said...

A nice walk and nice photos!