On Saturday 30th January 2010, I wanted to go for a walk. Marianne, Liam and even Jimmy wanted to go to the pictures to see that 3D thing. So when Richard G3CWI suggested a walk, I took that option and suggested a favourite long circular route on Kinder Scout.
Things did not start well. Bang on cue, just after the leek, potato and thyme soup was warmed and into the flask, Richard 'phoned to report he was unwell and could not go out. I decided I was still going out for a walk, on my own, or if you like, “on me Jack Jones”.
Things quickly got worse. I had only made two turnings, and was still on the estate when my car felt all bumpy and no longer wanted to go forwards. The unmistakable symptoms of a flat tyre. Now it was the car that was to be on its jack!
…eventually. But when I came to release the cage containing the spare wheel, the mechanism was found to be seized up. Furthermore, the plastic adapter given to me by the garage when they fitted the spare wheel lock was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. As I tried to use it to unlock the spare wheel lock, the plastic just moulded itself into a different shape, instead of getting any kind of purchase on the locking bolt!
Time to make use of that few extra quid I pay with my motor insurance premium every month, and call breakdown. He was not long in coming, and got me sorted, but now it was a trip to the tyre place for a new tyre. Or two new tyres as they advised I should have. The spare had to go in the boot, and the cage held up by tape. It was now 11.15am, I was still in Macclesfield, I’d had petrol station cold bacon & egg butties instead of the intended full Derbyshire breakfast at Stocks Cafe in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and there was a big gaping hole in my wallet. Any sane person would have gone home at this point.
Thankfully, that doesn’t include me. I was going for a walk today, end of. Despite the very late arrival in Grindsbrook and the probability I would need to either walk there from the bottom of the road, or else park in and walk from Upper Booth, I was lucky enough to snag a parking spot right outside the Old Nag’s Head pub.
Boots on, rucksack on, poles and map ready, I was at last sauntering along Grindsbrook Clough. It was a beautiful clear crisp cold but sunny day, exactly as forecast, and there was rather an ant-trail of hikers working their way around the curving clough. Most of them were effortlessly overtaking me, as I realised that my walking fitness was still not what I would like it to be.
A young couple breezed past me, enquired as to how I was, and then remarked something like “Well just so long as you’re enjoying yourself, that’s the main thing”. Grrr.
Everyone was stopping to take photos when passing a cliff face on the other side of the clough, that housed a most spectacular array of icicles. It was stunning, and I hope the photographs I took do justice to the stunning spectacle.
I had forgotten how scrambly this route could be, and the final steep pull up to the Kinder plateau had extra difficulty due to the thick but extremely polished ice on all the surfaces, especially the boulders. The previously mentioned young couple were stopped and sat down as I passed them and enquired as to how they were. It turned out that the lad had gone over on his ankle, and they were having to turn back. I consoled myself that slow and steady was the best policy, even if it was all I could manage anyway.
On the Kinder plateau, there was a lot more lying snow, including deep drifts, than anywhere on the ascent. It must have been over ten feet deep in places, but unlike my previous attempt, the snow was strongly consolidated. Hence even on the deepest sections, I could just walk over the top of the snow and make no more impression into it than a normal footprint. As such, progress across to the summit was good, and very enjoyable walking.
I navigated to the true summit and passed by both of the cairns at the highest part of Kinder Scout. Realising that the late hour would necessitate use of headlamp later in the day, I chose to press on and activate at Kinder Low, from where navigation in poorer light would be easier.
I bedded down behind a big rock in order to shelter from the wind and finished my leek, potato & thyme soup. I then erected the 30m dipole antenna and made 8 contacts into HB, HA, OE, 9A, G and S5. I was about to pack away when I heard a few random dots and dashes. But not random enough for me not to recognise the nervous fist of Sean M0GIA.
I called M0GIA? a couple of times, but no response, apart from a couple of jokers sending HI HI. But then I heard “QRS” at about 10wpm, so I dropped my keyer down from 22wpm to 15wpm, which I know Sean can read, and called CQ. Sure enough, it was Sean M0GIA coming back, and thereafter he managed a faultless CW QSO with reports exchanged and all the niceties. Congratulations Sean!
There was nobody else waiting for me on 30m, so I packed up and called on 2m FM. Just one station - M6TKS - was worked, so at the rather late time of 1615 UTC, I commenced my descent from Kinder Scout.
Care was needed on most sections to prevent slips and falls, but I was enjoying the final leg of my solo winter walk. Descending Jacob’s Ladder was relatively easy with no dangerously iced up bits, following which it was generally level walking, albeit with a good 4/5km to cover, back to Edale.
The headlamp was needed from Upper Booth farm, and that final leg over the hill was quite tiring. Then came the fun and games, Mr Bean style! On the very final section, a riverside path into Grindsbrook village, the whole width of the footpath was solid ice. For the very first time of the day, I slipped and was on my backside. However, every time I tried to get back to my feet, my feet just slipped further forward in front of me and I slipped a bit further down the path. I slipped over no less than five times in the next 60 seconds, until I was eventually able to stand up!
As I reached the car at about 6pm on a Saturday evening, I was disappointed to find the Old Nags Head pub shut. So straight home it was for a shower and a curry, then back out to see my brother’s band playing live in downtown Macc.
Many thanks to everyone who called me on this activations, and especially Sean for braving it in the CW pile-up!