Scouting for OCD - from Snake Pass Inn via Fair Brook

Hewitts: Kinder Scout

Date walked: 14/01/2018

Time taken: 3.9 hours

Distance: 10.3km

Ascent: 370m

20180114 Kinder Scout from Fair Brook.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

While I've been up on the Kinder Scout plateau (no, let's say "massif" - it sounds an awful lot more impressive) before, I was reasonably sure I hadn't been to the "summit", or anywhere near what passes for it, so obviously it had to be done. This route worked quite well and was an easy and quite pleasant ascent, so I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't feel that starting at about 300m altitude is fudging it...

There's a reasonable amount of parking either at the Snake Pass Inn itself, or, if like myself you took their unfriendly notices at face value, at the roadside just down from the inn. Depending where you're parked, there are a couple of points at which you can get over a stile and through the wooded area down to he River Ashop, which a footbridge crosses, and then follow the river down to where it's joined by the reasonably if not very imaginatively named Fair Brook. Ignore the ford through the brook, and follow the fairly obvious path essentially all the way up the right-hand (i.e. north) side of the Fair Brook.
Crossing the River Ashop

This path is pretty easy and pleasant going: for most of its length, it is well-made, gains height gradually, and the views up the valley towards Kinder Scout itself are really most acceptable.
Lower Fair Brook valley

Towards the 'massif'

The upper valley

After about 2.5km and at about 470m altitude, the valley comes up against the northern escarpment of the Kinder Scout plateau, but while the path (always staying on the right of the brook) gets steeper, it's still easy to follow, and the rock around here is surprisingly decent for grip. And, surprisingly for a clear Sunday after, I only met three other people on the way up!
The path steepens

Crossing the fence with dire warnings

Crossing a fence, complete with exhortations to report any livestock seen and some overdramatic advice about the safest way to negotiate the bogs, takes you onto the plateau itself. By now most of the climbing is already done.
Onto the open moor

Now of course the thing about Kinder Scout is that it's not that clear where the top is, and if you're essentially a trainspotter, it's necessary to get to the highest point... So I decided to make sure I took in all of the likely candidates I could find from the OS map and from my OSM app... basically, they seem to be in a line along what I guess is the parish boundary running roughly SW-NE on the map, which seems as logical a place as any to draw your border, I suppose.

While there's not really much of a path as such, I found it easier than I'd expected to head about 600m SW as far as the youthful River Kinder.
The Kinder River. Or path.

The advantage of doing that is that this river is also a reasonable, and certainly solid albeit damp in parts, path: this runs by turns on the left, the right and in the river's course - its bed is made up of flat rock, so it makes for fast and easy progress southwards for about 850m.
Easier going than you might expect...

After that, a less defined path continues southwards to the, ahem, "summit ridge", i.e. said parish boundary. From there, a brief and more or less pathless but reasonable passable just over 200m took me to what I think corresponds to the spot-height marked on OS maps at 636m, which I suspect is the actual highest point? (It's also what my mapping app (OSMAnd) marks simply as "Kinder Scout" but without committing itself to a spot-height! And it's pleasing to see that it's marked by an edifice of truly and appropriately monumental proportions in keeping with its overwhelming status as a prominent peak......
The magnificent summit monument

From there, a brief retracing of steps was followed by continuing, a bit of 1km over rough and wet but negotiable ground roughly NE along other areas at a broadly similar height, as far as Crowden Head, which is, shall we say, slightly less distinguished than "636m point", but looks to be at a similar height, so warranted a visit just in case...
Broadly improvising around here...

Crowden Head. Probably.

From Crowden Head I struck broadly northish, and shortly afterwards reached another helpful rocky-streambed-cum-path which took me most of the way back to the fence and the top of the Fair Brook - from which I resumed my outward route with just enough daylight to get back to my starting point, and call the job a goodun!
Improvising somewhat here too really...

Back to terra cognita!

So, a couple of caveats here... You'll see I haven't made many comments about the views on/of/from Kinder Scout once I'd got to the top of Fair Brook; that's because there weren't any. While clear in the valley and to the top of the gill, the moor was misty and as bleak as you could hope for... albeit that the ice made fine patterns on the tussocks. It really is rather featureless in these conditions, and I would definitely say that if I hadn't been using GPS (yes, with map and compass backup!), it would have been far, far harder - pretty challenging actually.

I've also talked about it not being particularly hard going on the top. While I do think that this northern part of Kinder Scout is less rough than the southern approaches above Edale, with peat hags and gullies that are less pronounced, and it was of course still wet underfoot, my task was undoubtedly helped by the cold weather meaning that the bogs were partially frozen - so this route mightn't be as easy in warmer weather.

By the way, the GPS track is approximate as I had my old phone with me, which doesn't record my tracks - it won't be far off though, but don't take it as absolute gospel!

Anyway, I feel I've satisfied my Inner Trainspotter with this one, and it was a satisfying afternoon's potter for me - and with the above caveats I'd recommend this route to others needing to scratch Kinder Scout!

PS Don't anyone even dream of breathing the suggestion that Kinder Low might in fact be slightly higher......

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Comments: 2

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