Kinder South 5 mile walk
...a breath of very fresh air at any time of year!
This is a short exploration of the southern edges of Kinder Scout from the Vale of Edale...
Kinder South and the Woolpacks
This is a short exploration of the southern edges of Kinder Scout from the Vale of Edale. It ascends to the plateau by one of the less-frequented routes and takes in some of the most striking and unusual rock formations, descending by one of the ancient packhorse routes which cross the mountain.
Upper Booth, Edale
The Vale of Edale is punctuated by a series of small hamlets which all bear the suffix “booth.” Booth is an Old Danish word meaning a temporary shelter usually used by stockmen, and Edale has five, from the head of the valley: Upper Booth, Barber Booth, Grindsbrook Booth (now usually known as Edale village), Ollerbrook Booth and Nether Booth.
Once threatened by the construction of a steel works, Edale is now the centre for Dark Peak walkers, standing as it does in the shadow of the Peak’s highest hill, Kinder Scout. Miraculously, it is still served by a railway – the Hope Valley line – which was built in 1894 to link Sheffield and Manchester. This is still known as “the Ramblers’ Route” and many walkers still use the service to come out into the heart of the High Peak from the neighbouring cities.
Park at the large lay-by just under the railway bridge past Whitmore Lea Farm, Barber Booth, on the minor dalehead road (GR 108847). Continue up the road which soon descends into the National Trust hamlet of Upper Booth. Take the footpath which leads right just after crossing the bridge over the River Noe, and ascend on a narrow path through the trees alongside Crowden Brook. The path keeps just below the wall and heads almost due north towards the impending hills.
Cross a delightful footbridge in a rowan-shaded hollow and ascend the opposite bank of the clough which now assumes the character of a Highland glen. The path works along the side of the clough before descending to the brook as it narrows.
Soon the great buttress of Crowden Tower, looking like a medieval castle, appears on the skyline to the left, and as the valley narrows still further, you must choose the best route you can, scrambling over boulders and criss-crossing the stream. (The easiest route is slightly up the hillside to the left).
Eventually, you emerge onto the plateau of Kinder Scout, a memorable moment.
Kinder Scout is a 39 sq km/15-square-mile morass of peat bogs, haggs (banks) and groughs (channels) which constitutes the highest ground in the Peak District. Nowhere does it fall much lower than the 610m/2,000ft mark, and is the highest ground in England south of the Yorkshire Dales.
It is still misleadingly marked on some maps as “The Peak” but anything less like a “sharply pointed hill” in the dictionary definition would be difficult to find. It is probably the most walked-on mountain in Britain, but is often seriously underestimated by those who do not know its navigational intricacies and sudden weather changes.
Turn left and scramble up the rocks to admire the view from the top of Crowden Tower, which extends down the steep-sided Crowden Clough to the long, gulley-split line of Rushup Edge across the valley of the Noe to the south.
Take the broad, largely paved perimeter path which leads between banks of peat towards the next objective, the curious collection of rocks known as the Wool Packs.
The Wool Packs
The Woolpacks have several highly-descriptive alternative names, from the Mushroom Garden to Whipsnade, but the original name refers to their resemblance to the bulbous packs of wool carried by the packhorse trains. Formed by countless aeons of erosion by wind, rain and frost, some of these rounded tors of slightly harder gritstone have earned their own names, like the Moat Stone, surrounded by water; the Anvil; the Pagoda; and Pym Chair, perhaps named after the Puritan leader. Sculptor Henry Moore is said to have taken his inspiration for his monumental works from natural forms such as these.
After a thorough exploration, leaves these fantastic rocks and pass the huge throne-like Pym’s Chair on your right and head west again on the perimeter track across the headwaters of the River Noe towards the prominent “anvil” of Noe Stool.
The path now becomes a raised paved causeway across some very boggy ground as you approach the hill known as Swine’s Back, below Edale Rocks. This swings down below the escarpment to join the Pennine Way by a crossroads of paths, near Edale Cross, which is away to the right.
This ancient boundary marker, now incongrously enclosed by a three-sided wall, may have originally been erected to define the lands of Basingwerk Abbey in Wales as early as the 12th century, though it bears the date of 1610. It was re-erected by local farmers in 1810 (the initials “JG” refer to one of them, John Gee), before the National Trust encased it in the wall more recently. It must have guided the way for countless generations of travellers crossing the western shoulder of Kinder Scout.
From the crossroads, follow the Pennine Way eastwards to the head of Jacob’s Ladder, which again has gained some unfortunately urban-looking walling and paving in recent years.
This famous staircase climbing out of the head of the Edale valley is said to have been constructed by one Jacob Marshall. Marshall was an 17th century packhorse trader of Edale Head House (now ruined) who cut this short-cut route up the hillside for himself, while his laden pony took the longer, zig-zag route, which can still be seen over to the right. The route was reconstructed by the National Trust in the late 1980s after it had suffered serious erosion, and now forms part of the re-aligned Pennine Way. The pretty little packhorse bridge which crosses the Noe at the foot of the incline is known as Yongate Bridge.
It is now an easy stroll along the track which leads down past Lee Farm back to Upper Booth, with the heights of Brown Knoll, cut by the ravine of Grain Clough, across the Noe to the right.
Start/Finish: Upper Booth, Edale
Distance: About 8km/5 miles
Approximate time: Allow 3-4 hours
Highest point: Crowden Tower, 619m/2,030ft
Maps: OS Explorer Sheet 1, The Dark Peak
Refreshments: Café and pubs in Edale village
Terrain: A short moorland walk, but waterproofs and compass essential
These walks have been adapted from Roly Smith’s Rambler’s Guide to the Peak District, published by HarperCollins in 2000.
Copyright Let's Stay Peak District 2015
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015