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Published: October 7th 2008
At Kinder downfall
A weekend walking in the Peak District comes highly recommended, so it was time for me to give it a go. We headed to Castleton, a small town in the Vale of Hope (aww lovely).
We chose the Kinder Scout climb, first making our way up a dry(ish) river bed to the peaks plateau (the highest in the Peak District). There were lots of people following the same route (although apparently nothing like the ‘highway’ it is in summer). However, once the ascent is made, people disperse around the plateau, which is basically a bog.
The peat bog on the Kinder Scout plateau is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. I picture a bog as one big flat area, but this is covered with deep trenches (and when I say deep, I mean deeper than a person). Walking across the bog, you therefore have to make your way up and down the peat hillocks. A compass is crucial, as it’s easy to lose our bearings with all the ups and downs (especially given the lack of landmarks on the plateau - no trees or high points!). Walking down the trench sides is kind of like walking down a
‘thick’ sand dune, whilst walking along the top of the hillocks is a springy, a bit like a trampoline. Luckily, the bog was not too boggy for our trip - I have heard of people sinking to their thighs, whereas the deepest ‘sinkage’ we experienced was to our ankles.
The struggle across the bog was worth it though, as the views from the cliffs on the far side of Kinder Scout are lovely. The purple heather made it particularly picturesque.
After making our way back to the more ‘traditional’ side of the peak, we followed the Pennine Way to Kinder Downfall, a waterfall off the summit with amazing views over the valley. Apparently, quite often the waterfall is blown back up the waterfall and, given the strong winds we experienced, I can definitely believe it.
Kinder Scout has some historical significance as well, being the site of the ‘mass trespass of Kinder Scout’ Basically, a bunch of ramblers were cross that the public was being denied access to open country and rights of way which in previous ages had formed public rights of way. So, in 1932 they forced their way onto Kinder Scout (an effort involving
scuffles with gamekeepers). A few were arrested, but the event had a far reaching impact, with the rights of way eventually being reinstated.
The Castleton area is known for its caves, and famous for the ‘Blue John’ stone a blue (well, more realistically, purple) and yellow stone only mined in the area (from the French bleu jeune) so the next day we decided to check one out. There are a number of blue jeune caves in the area, but we decided to visit a disused lead mine instead - mainly because you get a boat trip! The mine is now partially flooded and you tour it on a boat. Well - ‘tour’ might be the wrong word - you go into a kind of cavern, hang about for a little while - and then go back out the same way. The most interesting part was that we shared the tour with the stereotypical horrible English family. Whilst waiting for the tour to start, mum stuffed kiddies mouths with chocolate and lollies (even in the face of their refusal) throwing the rubbish one the ground. The kiddies ran around, shoving into people waiting, with no comment from mum and dad.
When later it was suggested that the 5 year old kid give up his seat for mum, he refused and was promptly shoved off - at which point he called mum a bitch. Auntie and Uncle suggested she was really a ‘c’ - lovely. Anyway - turns out the kids were too scared to go in the dark tunnel, so only dad and the other adults went. Once off the boat in the underground cavern, they proceeded to secretly light up a fag. What the!?!?! Ahh, some kids never have a chance.
Castleton, as its name promises, has a castle, Peveril Castle. It’s built on a cliff edge with an extremely steep approach, overlooking the town. There’s not much left of it, which is a bit disappointing, but as you know, I love a castle, so we made sure to have a look around it too.
Finally, we climbed Mam Tor (known as the ‘Shivering Mountain’ because as water and ice work their way into the horizontal layers of shale and gritstone from which it is made, they start to crumble, and the hill side is said to shiver. We didn’t see it - although we did see
a collapsed road). It’s not that though a walk, although instead of taking the relatively easy way up, zig zagging up the hill, we took a steeper, more direct route straight up. There are some pretty nice views from the top.
After all that, it was time to head back to London.
Peak District? Three gold stars!
PS Sorry about the pictures, my camera was being repaired, so I had to use an old one!
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