Monday, June 22, 2015

Kinder Scout from Hayfield

It's been a long time since I did any fell running in the UK and a quick business trip allowed for a very early morning trot up Kinder Scout. When packing my gear back in the 90 degree heat of Boulder I remembered to include my waterproof jacket...and I ended up needing it.
Climbing up to the reservoir

I left Hayfield around 5.45am and jogged in the cool rain along Kinder Road. I crossed the bridge beneath the reservoir and ran along a dank, wet trail before switching back over a footbridge and ascending steeply to where a view of the reservoir - and my route - was possible. The cloud hung low over the hillside and that meant one thing - heavy rain. I was warming up though and there was going to be no turning back.
My route took me left (out of sight) and along the cloud covered hillside

Skipping along the muddy, puddled trail by the reservoir quickly led to the bottom of William Clough and the start of the steeper climbing. There were a few Herdwick sheep for company and after slipping and sliding around on the muddy sections, I was thankful for some rock and grass as I climbed higher. Two thirds of the way up I disappeared into cloud cover and that's when the really heavy rain started.
Bottom of William Clough

Just when I needed encouragement two sheep came into view
After running in Colorado I found the ascent of Kinder to be relatively short and I quickly arrived at the junction with the Pennine Way. I turned right and was faced with one stiff little climb to the very summit of the Kinder ridge. The wind was howling and the rain drenching. At least my jacket kept some of the wind at bay.
View back down William Clough to the reservoir

Final ascent in the cloud to the top of the Kinder ridge
I have run along the Kinder skyline a number of times over the years, so knew what to expect - a lot of rock hopping and puddle jumping. It was hard going, but a lot of fun. Threads of cloud and rain streamed across the ridge in front of me and very occasionally the cloud opened for a brief view of the valley - not long enough to take a picture but long enough to confirm I was in the right place. I had uploaded an image of the Ordinance Survey map before I began and used this at path junctions. There was little around by way of markers and the cloud concealed everything. I had to rely on general distance and headings and dead reckoning navigation to keep to the right path.
Kinder Downfall in beautiful weather

I have never visited Kinder Downfall in good weather and I wasn't going to break that streak today. The updraft of wind hurled water directly over me and I took my morning shower a little earlier than expected. The wind was ferocious and I quickly picked my way across the stream and then scampered along to trail towards the descent.
Wonderful paved section before the final, steep desent

I arrived at the departure point for the Pennine Way and climbed down the steep staircase towards lower ground. I felt like I needed to lose altitude as I had been in the wind and rain for about 45 minutes. But I couldn't shake off the cloud and this made navigating very difficult. I felt I knew where I was but wasn't 100% sure. I needed some visual reference point for confirmation. I wasn't going to get it!!
Relief at finding the Broad Clough sign - 100% accurate navigation in foul weather

I arrived at a trail intersection and faced a choice. I looked at the map and then stared into the cloud. On distance alone I figured that I must be close to Broad Clough, and that is exactly where I wanted to be. My compass suggested a Northwesterly direction, so that seemed right. I strode off confidently and ran for 3/4 mile before a final descent took me out of the clouds. 100yds ahead there was a National Trust sign - "Broad Clough" - how wonderful am I?
Final descent to the reservoir

The final section back to the foot of the reservoir was gently descending grass track and I ran as quickly as I could. I really miss these long grassy descents when in the Rockies and enjoyed every minute. The jog back along Kinder Road was only interrupted by one car - the only person I had seen all morning. I was dripping wet.

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