Well, what a day it turned out to be.
We took the Crowden Clough route from Upper Booth as intended, and this was good going initially. It got tougher further on with careful placement of feet required on narrow muddy banks above the stream, and frequent crossings of Crowden Brook necessary. Towards the top, a well trodden path veered off to the left. We decided to go with this rather than continue with the brook all the way, but it was hard work! Very steep and muddy, and a fair bit of scrambling required. We were shattered by the time we had climbed out of it.
Quite a bit of snow was now falling, and the bogs were frozen. The route from the top of Crowden Brook was not obvious, so we decided to check on the compass, then try to follow the various uphill which would lead us to the summit! The heavy snow had continued, and it was completely white across Kinder with up to three feet down in places. Navigation was tricky, and not helped with the doubt put into my mind by noticing a bubble in my Silva compass!
We found the true summit of Kinder Scout, marked by a large cairn with wooden stakes in it, but I was not to rest here. I figured it would be unwise to “switch-off” mentally until the challenging navigation work for the day was done, so took another bearing and set off blindly into the snow to find Kinder Low trig point. We arrived there at about 11.15am, and got chatting to a large group of Duke of Edinburgh Gold candidates. We were sitting down, resting and pouring the soup when I thought I had better let someone know how we were doing. I remembered that I had left my original alert time of 0930 on SOTAwatch - the time for if I was doing a straight-up-the-Pennine-Way ascent - which I wasn’t!
A call on S20 brought Richard, who was brought up-to-date, and advised that we would be QRV on 145.550MHz in 20 minutes after having the soup. Today’s soup was Spicy Lentil & Bean, which was warm, filling, and very spicy. Jimmy and I then worked a string of several callers on 2m FM, held up slightly when one of them decided it was a ‘net’ on frequency, leisurely passing it around the group. He did eventually let Jimmy carry on working the QSOs, with a comment like “Anyway, I’ll pass it back to you Jimmy, because it’s snowing up there and you probably want to make some more QSOs and get cracking”. Perceptive.
We did get cracking, and the mental switch-off brought the errors I earlier feared. We followed a flagged path out to, well nowhere really, but it looked all wrong, so back we went. This time, we did manage to pick out the Pennine Way route in the all-white conditions, and got down to the gate.
Any sensible people might have turned left here, to take the Pennine Way down Jacob’s Ladder to Upper Booth and the car park. But we were out for a bigger and better adventure than that, though didn’t anticipate the one we did get! We continued straight on up to Brown Knoll trig point, along a route sometimes used by Steve G1INK. Beyond Brown Knoll, the route on the ground was very indistinct, and confused further by the snow and the lack of resemblence between the walls on the map and the walls on the ground.
Yet more difficult compass work was required, and I had us in basically the right direction. But then the ground started dropping away too steeply in fromt of us, and I realised we had veered well to the left of where I intended. We compensated right, contouring around a steep grassy bank, and looking out for safe passage downwards. A series of zigzagging sheeptracks seemed to offer a decent enough exit route, as we edged towards the Chinley to Sheffield railway tunnel, that we should have been on the other side of by now.
A sheep, with a very young baby lamb, in front of us didn’t move. Uncharacteristically brave I thought. Eventually the two did move on, as we got closer. It was then I heard the cries of another lamb. Glancing downwards, I saw it trapped under a grassy bank and sandwiched between another bank in a ditch. The ditch contained a lot of water, and the trapped lamb was immersed up to its underbelly. Coax it out I couldn’t, and I realised I had to rescue it. I’m not, and have never been an animal lover, but there was no way I could pretend to ignore this. Reluctantly, I plunged my hands in and pulled the bedraggled creature out. At first I thought it had broken its leg, but it was soon skipping about in the grass. The thing was, it thought I was its mum! It was dancing around me trying to find a feeding point, looking at me and crying. It was obviously hungry.
We walked over towards the mother, and the lamb followed us, staying very close to us at all times. Unfortunately, the mother, who was watching intently, kept moving away with its other lamb as we got closer. I decided to head off obliquely downhill and leave them to it - but the lamb continued to follow us! I said to Jimmy that if it followed us all the way, then at least we could hand it in at the farm (Dalehead Farm). As it was, it halted when we crossed a very low dry stone wall. Mother was still watching, so I was happy to leave them to it.
Our big circular walk was completed through Dalehead Farm and across a permissive path to the Barber Booth parking area. It had taken much longer than intended, due to weather, navigation, animal rescue etc, but had been a great expedition.
Anyway, it’s payback time, and Jimmy and myself will most likely be dining on LAMB on the Birkenhead-Belfast crossing tonight!
See you in GI.
Tom M1EYP & Jimmy M3EYP