Distance walked:today 18 miles, cumulative 647.8 miles.
The first day of the Pennine Way is said to be the hardest. It was certainly the hardest walk I have done for a long time, but time will tell if this is true. The drama started before I left home. Neither the B&B nor the campsite in Crowden have reopened. Angela kindly stepped into the breach and picked me up this evening and will drop me off tomorrow. This meant I only had to carry a daysack. My main rucksack now has camping kit and food in it and I am seriously concerned I will be unable to complete the walk.
The day started well enough, I took the train to Edale and walked up through the village to the Nags Head, the official start of the Pennine Way
The walk started easily enough. Through the gate and along field paths along the Edale valley. The day was sunny and hot but the views were spoiled by the haze which persisted all day.i was reminded of the Misty Mountain song from Tolkien’s. “The Hobbit
I hope I don’t get kidnapped by goblins or meet Smaug at the end of the walk
The walk started in earnest after a few miles when I had to climb Jacobs ladder. I always thought this alluded to the biblical Jacob and his dream of a climb to heaven as, with a bit of fantasy, you could imagine the path ascending far above the earth. In his book, Robyn Richards relates a story that a pony handler called Jacob used to send his pack horses up the zig zags while he ascended straight up the hill so he could smoke his pipe on top. I haven’t been able to find another source to verify this (admittedly only by a quick google search) but it is an old packhorse route so may well be true
This path eventually arrives on the Kinder plateau. In fact, this used to the the bad weather alternative start to the Pennine Way. The main route went up Grindsbrook cloudy and the crossed the centre of Kinder. You had to haul yourself over peat hags, separated by deep channels, often wet, called groughs . I remember the Pennine Way guide of the time had a picture of a man walking along a grough with the caption “Peat Grough on Kinder”; always made me snigger.
In fact an excellent days walk is to climb Grindsbrook, there is an entertaining but easy scramble near the top, you can the walk west along the Edge Path where there are spectacular views and some amazing weathered rock formations. You can then return back to Edale via Jacobs Ladder
I then headed North along the western edge of Kinder . There are views of Kinder Reservoir and Mermaids pool.
Kinder reservoir and quarry is important to any lover of upland England (I think different laws have always applied in Scotland.) In 1932 a young activist called Benny Rothman led a mass trespass from here on to Kinder. This was the first step in a long campaign to secure the right to walk in upland England, which was previously illegal. Ramblers were frequently beaten by gamekeepers and sustained serious injury. There is a plaque in the car park commemorating this. Benny sounds quite a character, a life long campaigner for worker’s rights and other important causes. He has obituaries in both the Guardian and Independent, well worth a read. I don’t think the Pennine Way would exist without him.
The Mass trespass also inspired Ewan MacColl to write the Manchester Rambler and I hummed the chorus while continuing along the Edge to reach the downfall
Oh:I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler from a Manchester Way/I get all me pleasure the hard moorland way/ I may be a wage slave on Monday/ but I am a free man on Sunday
Not very spectacular today but an atmospheric place none the less. The best time to see the waterfall is early spring during a snow melt. If the wind is up it becomes an up fall and water is blown back up on to the plateau. It also freezes but I have never seen the icefall.
Mermaids pool is said to be inhabited by a mermaid who appears at sunrise on Easter Sunday.. the pool is said to be connected by an underground passage to the Atlantic.
I continued over Sandy Heyes (Pete Grough’s best mate?) and left Kinder for the short climb up Mill Hill. I met a couple from Edale out for a day walk who are planning do do the Pennine Way later in the year. They will walk North to South so, in effect, they are walking home. Fine plan!
I then met my first other end to ender. He started in Scotland last year and is now completing the walk ( so he is a JogLer). We exchanged some route ideas. I have (typically for me!) forgotten all their names.
The Way then ascends Bleaklow before dropping into the Woodhead Pass where I was picked up
A final comment about bogs. Much of the Pennine Way has had flagstones laid to help preserve the peat, which is a fragile but important habitat for a variety of birds, plants and insects.
Some purists say that this makes the walk too easy. However, I remember being up here in the 80s and 90s and some of the paths were a morass of bare peat, 100 yards across. As you can see, the flags have allowed the vegetation to recover. And, at my age, I need all the help I can get