Arriving at the Snake Inn early in the afternoon, I wasn’t moved to spend the whole afternoon sitting in the car park looking out at the murk; even with the cold that I’d developed on Thursday, I was up for a bit of a stroll in that murk.
It was just a stroll, though. We didn’t take a map, a compass or, well, anything really. We were just going to wander along the river for a while and then wander back.
Except, that when we got to Fair Brook, I commented that we’d never been up the path which parallels it, so that’s where we headed.
I’m not sure that Mick was entirely enthusiastic about the outing:
He was just joshing for the photo (I hope, anyway…)
I can’t say that we saw very much, so after a bit of a wander around we headed back down to dedicate some time to reading our books and drinking tea, before hitting the bar for a bit of socialising and some food. Three and a half miles were walked with somewhere in the region of 700 feet of up.
One of the topics of conversation on Friday night had been how poor the forecast was for the Saturday. It was something to which I had previously been oblivious, having managed to get through the previous week without seeing, hearing or reading a single weather forecast. With the reports I was hearing, I did slightly rue not taking my waterproof set of Paramo…
In spite of the weather forecast, the Saturday walk had proved to be a popular draw and somewhere in the region of 32 people queued up for the stile opposite the Snake Inn:
There weren’t actually many obstacles on this route, but the first three came in quick succession, with two stiles and the crossing of Fair Brook. Various methods were used for the crossing, from the ‘splosh straight through’ method used by Mick to the ‘I don’t want to risk cold water in my boots today, thank you very much’ approach taken by me.
After waiting for the group to clear the river crossing, off everyone set again, except for me, as I’d belatedly decided that one of the sheep folds near by deserved a closer inspection. That left me striding up the hill, bringing up the rear of the main group.
I needn’t have rushed to catch up, as even if there hadn’t been a couple of pauses to regroup, there would have been plenty of time to make up ground whilst the third stile was negotiated. This one was (in common with so many stiles) not only designed for people with eight-foot long legs, but also had a wobbly ‘balance post’ too.
The problem with walking in such a big group is that it’s unavoidable that there will be big waits for obstacles to be cleared and for regroupings to take place. On a warm, sunny day such pauses can be a joy, but by the time we reached the edge (Kinder’s north edge, that is) as we were well and truly in the cloud, with snow falling, not to mention that chilled easterly wind. All of those factors were combining to mean that I was struggling to stay warm. Having not felt my toes in the hour and a half or more that we had been walking, when we stopped for a quick sip of tea whilst we regrouped, Mick and I declared an intention to help to reduce the size of the group by continuing on at our own pace.
Martin and Sue (providers of fine cake) and Graham heard our plan and opted to come with us, so off we strode, slowed only by some of the patches of snow which proved to be surprisingly deep and (in unpredictable places) soft:
Our numbers swelled when we stopped for lunch, as Dave and Chris joined us. Our notion that they were the front runners of the big group were declared to be false. Apparently, Dave and Chris were bringing up the rear and somehow the other 25 people had passed us by without any of us seeing them – quite where that happened will remain forever a mystery.
We were soon charging on at a merry pace, finally dropping off the west end of the edge and taking to the flagged path of the Pennine Way. I particularly like this photo of our progress along there:
My plan at the beginning of the day was that we would cut off down Ashop Clough rather than taking the longer route going via the Pennine Way all the way to the Snake Road, but by the time we got to the path junction I had convinced myself that the extra miles on the Pennine Way and down Lady Clough would be preferable to the wet and boggy conditions in Ashop Clough, so on we went.
I hadn’t been down Lady Clough before and it was incredibly pretty with glimpses, between the trees, of the snow falling and the river running. However, I was becoming desperate for a cup of tea (alas, my flask had long been empty), forcing me to utter those banned words “Are we nearly there yet”. It turned out that we weren’t far away, and at 1630 we wandered back into the car park.
After tea and cake with Martin and Sue in Colin (a statement which will make no sense to anyone not familiar with Colin), we adjourned to the Inn to jostle each other for prime position in front of the fire.
It continued to snow as we sat down for dinner and it continued to snow into the night. As I mentioned at the outset, I hadn’t heard or seen a weather forecast, so the fact that it was snowing at the level of the Inn was as much of a surprise to me as the reports that Saturday was going to be a wet day. I was even more surprised on Sunday when (not insubstantial amounts of) snow persisted so far into our journey home.
Back to Saturday though, and the stats for the day were (according to Martin’s Garmin Gadget, because mine didn’t manage to record our activities, sitting (as it was) in the cupboard in Colin) 12 miles walked with 1500ish feet of ascent.
Just to finish off, here are a couple of photos of the ‘camping area’ on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning. I took both of these photos, but big thanks go to Martin for allowing me to use the ones above, as I only managed to take 3 photos during the whole of Saturday (I had a camera, but with multiple pairs of mitts on my hands it was too much trouble to try to fish it out of my pocket).