Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Kinder Dozen (variation on a theme)

A delightful day, looking down toward Kinder reservoir
The LDWA website mentions this route. 23 miles. 10,000ft of ascent. (and, incidentally, 10,000ft of descent, which isn't to be forgotten). It also states "A route only to be contemplated by the mentally deranged".. or some such nonsense.
How about doing it on one of the hottest days of the year? Yes. That sounds like a fabulous idea.

The short version goes like this.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Ohnonotagain Up. Down. Thisisgettinghard Up. Down. Slightly lost/misplaced Up. Down. Buggerwherearewe? How come we're here? Traverse. Up. Down. Cider.

The longer version is, well, longer.
Our support group coming up to the Nags head
The Kinder Dozen is one of those routes that is virtually in my back yard, and so is certainly one that I have been looking at doing since I moved up here. Last year at about this time I was involved in a rather amusing round of the 15 Trigs with some of my fellow club mates. This year, in the spirit of further longer distance challenges I've managed to get around the High Peak Marathon as well, and a couple of weeks ago I mooted the idea of the Kinder Dozen. Julien said he would be up for it, as was Alistair. Matt mentioned he might come along for a short time, but was racing Cader Idris the day before, so wasn't able to commit.
We did have a very vocal support group who were doing their own mini-circuit of the Kinder Plateau, meeting us at a number of our high points.

Smiles at the bottom  of Crowden Clough
The idea was to have a lovely day out across Kinder, not worry too much about the time and hooning off at ridiculous speeds, and give us some good uppy downy hill fun.

As mentioned in my previous blog, Julien didn't complete the race on friday because of a pulled/dodgy hamstring/muscle/thing, and so he also wasn't sure if he was going to do the whole thing. Not to worry, we were pretty much making it up as we went along, though had some idea of vague timings so that the Plateau team could meet up with us a various points.

Alistair, Julien and I set out from the Nags head just before 8, with Lynne, Bex and Alison (part of the plateau group) heading out behind us. Brae was also along for the run, with Julien not really expecting to go too far.
On the first ascent up to Grindslow Knoll, Julien realised that his leg wasn't hurting so much after all, and was quite happily climbing away. Alistair and I kept up quite nicely, and almost before we knew it, we had hit the top of the knoll, turned around, saw the girls heading up as well, and ran on. We chatted for a bit, and were very much into the feeling of it, when I stopped and said... "hang on, aren't we meant to be going DOWN?"

Climbing up Crowden Clough
Ah, minor issue, in our happiness to be out and about, we had just continued on a little way in a kind of zen running mindset, not actually thinking about where we were going. We hung a left, contoured around a bit, and then dove down to the bottom. Brae plunged into the river for his first soaking of the day, and then we continued up the hill to reach Crowden Tower. Juliens leg was certainly not hampering any uphill efforts in any way, shape or form. On any given day he is one of the strongest ascenders in the club. On this day, he was certainly the strongest of us. Even on the second climb he was leading us up. About half way up, figures appeared at the top of the climb, waving and shouting down at us. Ah. Sikobe has joined the plateau team.

Running to Kinder Low
Sikobe had run over to Kinder from Snake Summit, stashing some banana bread and a bottle of water at Kinder West before continuing to join up with the Plateau team. We stomped our way up to the top, said our hellos, and greetings and such. Lynne mentioned we were about 30 mins up on rough timings, which was fantastic, so we peeled off and dropped down to the bridge at the bottom of Jacobs Ladder. So far, so good and easy. Straight back up Jacobs Ladder, where, half way up, we came across one of the stranger sights of the day. A bloke sitting next to a tent- which had been erected by the footpath, which had obviously been brought up this rocky broken path on a 2 wheeled shopping trolley thing. Had we seen this later in the run I would have doubted my eyes... but there you have it. Nowt strange as folk.

The support team at Mermaids pool
Up and passed Edale Cross, and an easy jog down to the Ford before turning back up again to get to Kinder Low. Again, Julien in the lead, then Me, then Alistair. We were keeping together well, not much to separate us. The path stretched out before us, the sun shone down, and all was good as we hit Kinder Low trig. There were a couple of stones on top of the trig, so I took that to mean the Plateau lot had been here and gone and would see us at the next point- Kinder West.

Alistair at Kinder West
The next downhill was quite tricky and technical- in comparison to what we had been running on before, going against the grain of most of the trods across the hill, but we managed to get down quite well, hitting a very pleasant spring just near Red Brook where we took the opportunity to refill water bladders, soak hats etc. while Brae lay down in Red Brook and cooled down a lot. We looked up and could see that the other lot had abandoned the edge path and had descended to Mermaids Pool, and were now hurrying back up to get to the top before us. We set off in pursuit. The hills were still ok, and legs not too heavy, and we caught them on the upper reaches of the slope, and were all together at the trig point. Water and Banana cake were shared out liberally, conversation was had, more sun screen was applied as the sun was getting higher in the sky, and we were still 30 mins ahead.
Toiling up Fairbrook
Excellent, Alistair, julien and I surged off down toward the Northern edge, stopping only to admire just how camouflaged Grouse Chicks are when they stand still, and plunged off the edge to the West of Upper Red brook. Down and Down, through bogs and over the Ashop, to hit the Ashop path which we followed until the bridge- where a group of surprised walkers were stopped for a snack as we dropped down the path, across the river and continued up again onto the lower slopes of Kinder. Now for Fairbrook. Its a long climb, relatively steep, but it is ok. Not to bad at this stage of the run. Up the lower and less steep slopes, and then over the fence to the murderous incline on the other side. I start walking but am soon using my hands to help me up. All in all it is quite fun at this stage, though I'm a bit wobbly on my feet as we get to the top.

The top of Fairbrook
Sikobe has to say good bye to us here, but not before taking a few more photos, and we drop down the Naze and across to the Ashop again. Beautiful running territory, bouncy underfoot, easy to make good time and a delightful place to be. We are more than half way round now, surely nothing can stop us now.

We stop for a short while at the Snake Inn Bridge as Brae takes his dip in the river, and then set off up the path. Not 500 metres up a familiar voice shouts at us from behind. Its Matt! After running Cader yesterday and coming a very creditable 20th, he is out today. (Apparently coming over from Chunal meeting with Lynne, Alison and Bex at Fairbrook, and deciding he was going to chase us on our down and up) All credit to the guy. I'm quite glad he was along, maybe he could engage Julien in conversation and slow him down!

He was able to for a while, but then Juliens legs decided they were going onto "climb" mode, and he outpaced Alistair, me and Matt, and we saw him again at the top. Wow. These hills are beginning to get... fun.
At the top of the climb, Matt mentioned he should be getting back as he was only meant to be out for an hour....  so he headed off back to Chunal. Everyone seemed to be getting in some good runs today! The next down looked heathery and a bit gnarly, but down we went into Blackden.
Matt admiring the view

I took a bit of time over the descent to take some photos of Ali and Julien, and then realised they were getting too far ahead of me and that I'd better hurry up. The dead ferns were all over the place and were causing quite a bit of an issue on the gradient of the slope, especially in 3/4 dead roclites (maybe I need to get some new shoes), and I had to really pick up the pace to get to the bottom at the same time as them.

Another stop at a spring for refill, and then a slog and a half up the hill. This one was hard, all I could think of was that by the time we got around to the south edge of Kinder, we'd be ok, and on the home straight. The hill took an age to get up, and the extra weight of the water in my bag probably didn't help, but I knew it would be needed at some point soon. To the top, and Julien and Alistair were waiting for me, I caught up and we jogged across the plateau to Kinder East trig, then on over to Madwoman stones where we met up with Lynne.
Alison and Becky had peeled off a little earlier on and headed off home. Lynne was continuing her round, but said she was now on her way back and we probably wouldn't see her until the end now. Not a problem, we dropped off and bashed through a load of heather, before realising that we should have stayed on the edge path for a good while longer before dropping down in a better place. Damn.
Contour around some nasty heather and general Moorland which wasn't particularly nice, and all of a sudden- another spring.
Descending into Blackden
Fantastic. A couple of sips, and Brae sits in the water flowing down the hill to cool off. By now its getting toward noon and he is quite a hot dog- despite having been shorn of a lot of hair in the past few weeks. We look down to Ashop farm, assess the ground and head off down. The descents now beginning to tell on the legs- to the bottom, and straight away, turn around and back up.

"This is the longest runnable ascent around here that I know" says Julien conversationally as we set off. Great. We start plodding up, and Alistair mentions a minor tweak that has just happened to his adductors. I suggest a slightly different climbing style, and it appears to be fixed. This is Climb 9 and the whole thing is beginning to get old.
I contemplate getting to the top and just giving up. Following Lynne back over the top and down to Edale. I think about drinking more, but I feel full of liquid even though my mouth is parched. I concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other up the hill. At some point, it has to end. I know Kinder has a top, and its not that far. This CANNOT be that hard.

Alistair and I get to the top, encouraging each other on. Julien is sitting there in the grass, shading Brae from the midday sun. As he sees us he jumps up, we have a quick chat about water as Alistair is running out and decide to descend via the spring. Setting off down Crookstone knoll I try and eat a Nutrigrain bar, but it is like chewing on cardboard. Nasty.
To the Spring and I sit down. It occurs to me that I'm taking every opportunity I can to not be on my feet at this point. The sun is beating down on us, and I'm glad of my hat, and the white arm warmers that I decided to wear. Yes, they may be lined with merino, but in the sun, they seem to be keeping me quite cool actually.
Brae getting a regular dunking

Water restored we plunge down into Jaggers, hitting the bottom, it is airless and the breeze that has been accompanying us most of the way around has died. We set off up a horrendous and un-inviting climb. Remembering the words of Mark Twight "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun" I weave up between the trees, hoping for a breath of the wind that has to be higher up on the hill. Julien has faded into the distance and Alistair and I climb together, eventually reaching the spot height, where the he has been waiting for us for, ooooh, say about 5 mins, shading Brae, and trying to organise a meeting up with Dave who is also out on the hill somewhere. (Despite abortive attempts over the next hour or so, we never did meet up with Dave, which was a shame- though apparently he did see us!)

Food "near" the "YHA"
Once more, we headed down. Down and down, got to the bottom where we assumed the YHA was, and stopped for a bite to eat in the shade. I thought it didn't look right at all, not from how I knew the path to look, and after the short rest, as we struck off up the hill, I was pretty damn sure we were not in the right place. Up and up, through some truly nasty terrain. I was cursing Julien and his route finding every step of the way. The path we should have been on was a path. Nice to walk along, runnable in places, and generally a decent ascent.
This was heather bashing in the extreme. This was contouring through baby bracken, this was not a fun thing to be doing on the 11th ascent of 12. This was really not what was meant to be happening. I couldn't say anything as Jules was already about 200 metres ahead of me up the hill. Next time, I resolved, I'm doing the damn map reading.

It was hot, tiring work. My mouth was dry, but I felt too full to drink. I couldn't work out if I wanted to eat, drink or throw up. My legs wanted to stop, my head wanted me to stop, but something else drove me on. 

After an age of thrashing through undergrowth on a vertical scale we got to the top. No sign of the Druid's stone. Odd. Its really obvious. Unmissable really. But the next descent was Ollerbrook, and that was where we were going. Bang down into "Ollerbrook" which looked uncomfortably familiar as the path we SHOULD have been ascending from the Youth Hostel. I followed Julien and Alistair, twisting my ankle, falling over, plunging my foot down holes and into rivers, and eventually they stopped.

I was in no doubt at this point. "This is definitely the path from the YHA!"- I declared, and yes, it was agreed that it certainly did look that way, but how could that have happened?!
Who moved the YHA?
Thats impossible!

We worked out that we had actually descended too early, hit Clough farm and assumed it was the YHA. It is actually LOWER than the YHA in terms of altitude, so we had climbed more than necessary, and then dropped down into what should have been the 11th ascent.
Great. Now what?

We decided to contour around until we were in Ollerbrook proper, and start the final ascent to Ringing Roger. Ok, so we hadn't done the exact route that was planned, but we did the ascent and descent, so its a kind of variation on the theme.
Cue lots of contouring around Kinder, with feet that are already knackered, twisting and torsioning in all kinds of uncomfortable ways, trying to find trods that are good enough to run on, whilst traversing across a slope that you'd be comfortable skiing down.
The planned route- with approximate timings

Eventually we got to the tree and the bridge at the bottom of Ollerbrook. Brae slumped in the river and we threw water at him. He had already had to be picked up and thrown over some fences and stiles which he would ordinarily have quite happily jumped over. That's a very tired dog we have here.
Still. Last climb. Ollerbrook doesn't have a path to speak of, so we had to thrash and bash and curse our way up it. Steep and unforgiving, it was a pretty monstrous climb, especially with the sun beating down on us at the hottest point of the day. It took an age, and with the faffing around and mistakes we had made, we had lost all the time that had been made up over the past few hours. We topped out on Ringing Roger at almost the exact time originally predicted. At that moment, we all ran out of water, pretty much simultaneously. However, it was only a 10 minute run to the bottom, and the river.
I would love to say the descent was joyous, but it was a long and dusty descent, all I could think about was jumping in the river at the end and plunging my head into the water.
Brae at the end in the pub garden. 

And that's what happened.
7 hours 35 minutes. 37km total distance, 3.2km ascent, 3.2km descent, and a lot of water.
(For those of you like Tom- thats about 23 miles and 10,000ft ascent and descent).
We then adjourned to the pub where we sat and drank some rather fine Cider, Brae flopped down and looked like he would never move again, and proceeded to ignore all comments about "Brae... ywanna go for a run?!"

I have a single blister, and I'm a little tired. Other than that though, not at all bad.
And the report wouldn't be complete without some heroic pictures of our very own Sikobe- in Mermaids pool...
Thanks to all those who came out to say hello to us, and feed us banana cake etc. Thanks also to the staff in the Wheatsheaf in Glossop who cook the best post run steak in the the world.
... and an alternative view of Kinder Low trig

All in all, a good day out.
(A quick note- I previously said it took 7:58- thats not right... 7:58am was the time when I started my watch in the morning, it actually took 7:35).


  1. It's the descending that'll get ya - I couldn't walk for a week afterwards as my quads were trashed!! Great report, looks like you had a lot of fun.

  2. Great write up of what sounds like a cracking day out.

  3. Enjoyed reading this Tim. Well done to all considering the hot conditions.