Sunday, 24 February 2013

Kinder in the Snow

This is my post on my walk up Kinder in the snow a couple of weeks back. This was one of my favourite walks due to being relatively new to winter walking and setting myself a very tough challenge in terms of time. I only set off on this walk at 3pm and the aim was to climb up the eastern edge of Grindsbrook Clough, around the top to Grindslow Knoll for sunset at 5pm before rushing down for the 5.30pm train back to Sheffield where, misleadingly, there was little snow. I'd never taken this route up before but it soon became obvious that it was going to be a race against time to make it up this steep track through deep snow and all the way around in time for my all important sunset. On the way up I had an extra little bit of excitement getting to watch the path repairs being made - helicopter and all - quite amazing the manoeuvres it could do as it swung around up and down the side of the valley.

Beyond The Nab as you approach Ringing Roger the path steepens even more so (and disappears) with a section of scrambling up the rocks. In this case the hard old snow was actually very useful in how supportive it was with the steps you could kick into it - and on top of that I'm getting very good at negotiating tricky sections without putting my camera away these days... which was fortunate as the moment I reached the rock formations here the sun burst through the cloud for the last time before sunset.

Now on the top it was becoming clear that the weather forecast was going to be right - the wind giving me a good buffeting and a forecast 'feels like' temperature of -16C. With the wind blowing over Kinder from the north it also caused plenty of impressive looking drifts and cornices along this southern edge - the drifts no longer being snow but now a firm shelf of ice in many places. I know very well the dangers of these ice fields as a slip in the wrong place, especially with the wind blowing off the edge, could be quite costly so wherever possible I stayed well away from the drops - roughly following the footsteps of the one other person to have been up there in the last day or two.

I was now roughly half way through my walk and the light was noticeably beginning to fade. You can, frustratingly, see my target of Grindslow Knoll for the entire walk but with half an hr to go it can look a long way away with the many feet of snow between you and it - still, I pushed on as even if I didn't make it on time I didn't fancy being caught out on Kinder in this weather in the dark. Negotiating the numerous streams running off the side of the hill also took many minutes off the time as many require a detour 'inland' to avoid the steep edges and after a recent thaw they were certainly not frozen over enough to walk on. 

20 minutes later... I was now coming round the head of Grindsbrook clough and had hardly any time at all left to make the final few hundred metres... but I was too close to give up so went for it. There's nothing quite as exhilarating and tiring at the same time as bounding over the snow drifts, frozen bogs and rocks with all your camera gear and drinks - never quite being sure how deep any drift is or how much each step will give way. Miraculously, I made it. Unmiraculously, that bank of clouds from earlier hadn't moved an inch. Bugger. Still, I stood there to cool down and catch my breath as the clock ticked agonisingly past sunset before realising that the clear slot of sky was getting brighter and brighter... the sunset was later than the internet had told me! One final desperate rush around to find any half decent compositions followed as the sun slid through that patch of sky - and I think I got some passable shots...

Now, due to the lateness of the sunset I had 21 minutes to get from up here (2000ft) down to Edale station (800ft)... not sure I could do it I set off as quick as I could. I'd achieved my times so far so why not give this final challenge a go too! The southern side of the Knoll, usually quite a steep descent, was one big snow drift on this occasion - so this first section was easy and bloody fun. Sit down on my bum, push off and slide down the hillside - who needs sledges?!? The next moorland section was one of the weirder feelings I've experienced - the snow was frozen but not completely ice. I realised if I moved my feet quick enough I could almost paddle along the top of it before they sank too much - so I bounded across this section in the top few inches of the foot or so deep snow - like running on a bouncy castle... Next came the rocky section of track as the snow started to disappear before finally the sodden and very slippy fields... without a single fall I made it to the top of the village, 1200ft lower, in 16 minutes exactly (evidence on my phone if needed!).

Puffing and panting I made it to the station, only to find the train was running 5 minutes late - I should have known.


  1. Always enjoy your blog posts Mat. An interesting read and amazing photos. Thanks for sharing. 😊

    1. Cheers, nice to see you on here too - even nicer to get a comment!

  2. Excellent post, my friend. I still need to get up Kinder in the snow myself. A friend and I were up the opposite side of the valley on The Great Ridge a couple of weeks back and there was still some snow around. Looking across the valley, I did have a couple of instances where I wished we'd have gone up Kinder instead. There was pleny more snow up there. lol

    1. Thank you - certainly can be interesting but the snow almost makes it easier what with the frozen bogs! My next post is back over to Mam Tor and that was a couple of weeks after this and there was still snow about... It's certainly clinging on in the higher areas!..

      Just had a good read of your blog too - spent the last 40 minutes on it when I should have been working! Wild camping is something I still need to get round to doing but its quite an expense to get hold of the gear.