Day 1 - September 2nd 2004

Edale to Crowden - 16 miles


I did not sleep well last night with many worries about the upcoming journey. Would I be able to find my way? Would the current good weather hold? How would I read my compass and map if the wind was howling, the mist was thick and the rain coming down in sheets? I was to find out how but it would be several days in the future. Fortunately, if I could pick a day to start walking the Way, this was it. The morning dawned clear and sunny with no wind. I hot footed it down to town, got papers and two cups of poor coffee and back to the B&B. I had sorted and organized all my gear last night and was as ready to go as I ever would be. After a typical English breakfast, the owner wished me well, giving me the packed lunch I had requested. He also gave me some information I had not requested. He told me he had done some walking where I was going for the next two to three days. He did not care for it. He did not like the constant climbing, walking a bit, dropping down and then having to climb again. It was just one more thing to think about and I was soon to learn that his description of the geography was pretty accurate, at least for the first few days. Connie drove me to Edale, the start of the Way, and after the obligatory photo op in front of the Old Nag’s Head, the official starting point, I headed out, promising to meet her at Crowden in about six hours.

The first part of the walk contours around the south slope of Kinder Scout and is a pleasant, gentle up and down. The sun was shining and there was no wind. I found Jacob’s Ladder to be mainly a series of steps and a rapid way to ascend to the top of the plateau. While I was breathing heavily and certainly perspiring, I found the climb not difficult. I blessed my frequent workouts on the Stairmaster plus the many training hikes I had taken on the hills and in the valleys of Humboldt County. At the top of Jacob’s Ladder I had my first experience with degraded peat and no way markers. To make matters worse, the geography made it impossible to see any distance so out came the compass. This activity was not infrequent in the days ahead because of the many paths and sheep trails intersecting as well as a singular lack of way markers. In any case, I soon righted myself and determined the Way contoured around the west edge of Kinder Scout.

Once I got on the path, I found several day walkers about, despite the fact it was a Thursday. This was certainly not to be the case in the days ahead as I would frequently go all day and see no one or just one or two people in the distance. At Kinder Downfall, several people were having lunch and enjoying the sun and the view. I postponed my break until I got to the trail junction at Mill Hill. After lunch, with the weather so sunny, I removed the zip off legs to my pants, making shorts which I walked in for several days. I also extended my trekking poles, a piece of equipment that was to be of great benefit in many of the days to come. I then headed out over the stone slabs laid on Featherbed Moss. These slabs may be hard on the feet but, in my opinion, are much preferable to slogging though the bogs, an activity I unfortunately became quite familiar with during several days on my journey up the Way.

As I headed out toward Snake Pass I could see a large number of vehicles extending east/west on the road. My first thought was that an accident had taken place and I was seeing the tail back effect. Well, as I got closer I could tell I was wrong. A formal bicycle race was taking place and aside from the many vehicles, a large number of spectators were standing on both sides of the pavement. As I got to the road, I scanned both directions and jogged across. Those spectators were the last humans I was to see on the walk this day, except a somewhat grouchy walker who passed me going southbound in Hern Clough.

From Snake Pass the walking was pretty straightforward until I reached the very aptly named Bleaklow summit. The huge rock cairn topped by a pole with what appeared to be a bed sheet attached to it was hard to miss. However, once there, a problem which would come up often in the future manifested itself. On top of a domed hilltop in degraded peat with numerous paths running off toward the north the question was which one to take. Even with the compass I went wrong for a bit but soon righted myself. It was then down the steep slope of Wildboar Grain to the bottom where the path intersects with Torside Clough. Once again I neglected to pay attention to the map and knowing I was to descend in a northerly direction I started to walk down the clough. Fortunately I soon realized I was going wrong, climbed back up to the junction and headed out around the contour of the hill as the clough fell away below me to the right. I found this part of the Way not to be for the faint of heart. The path is quite narrow, rocky and the drop off is just to the right of path and is very steep. Fortunately I do not suffer from fear of open spaces or fear of heights as this place would be a no go for someone who suffered from either of those afflictions. I made my way down the path, paying ever so close attention to where I put my tired feet until I got to the bottom where Connie was waiting for me; a wonderful sight.

She drove us into Glossop where we had no trouble finding our B&B. It was small and the facilities were down the hall but it suited us. The shower was a blessing but a tub would have been better. After a clean up and a review of The Good Beer Guide we adjourned to The Glove Works where I enjoyed an excellent pint on the terrace above the river. Connie had her obligatory gin and tonic. It was quite pleasant to sit and relax and go over the day’s walk, not to mention being able to rest my feet. After leaving The Glove Works we found an East Indian restaurant where we enjoyed a very good meal with a little red wine to accompany it. It was then back to the B&B for a hoped for good night’s sleep.

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