This is an epic walk on one of the most celebrated areas of the Peak District, Kinder Scout. Starting off from Hayfield and following in the footsteps of the Mass Trespass of 1932, we'll look at the historic events of the past and local legends, as well as the stunning scenery from the highest peak in the Peak District.
Starting Point: Bowden Bridge Car Park, Kinder Road, Hayfield, SK22 2LH
Route: Hayfield - Kinder Reservoir - William Clough - Mill Hill - Ashops Head - Kinder Downfall - Kinder Low - Edale Cross - Harry Moor - Hayfield
The George Hotel in Hayfield is perfectly located in the centre of the village. Book here.
Distance: 9.5 miles
Time required: 6 hours as a family walk, 5 hours at a brisk pace
Difficulty: 4/5 Some steep climbing but on good paths. Be wary of poor visibility though, as paths from Kinder Low can be indistinct and there are cliff edges around. OS Map (OL1) and compass essential. Strong footwear and waterproof clothing recommended. Route reaches a height of 633 metres.
This is a walk which I completed on my own, although the short cut version was with my son who was aged 7. I've yet to encourage Big Col to try this one, but watch this space.
So, although this isn't a walk for the faint hearted, it can be a family route in good conditions. Just be aware that the weather can change quickly and cloud cover can reduce visibility within minutes.
Hayfield is a fine place to start or finish a walk. Nowadays, it has found fame as the location for the BBC drama "The Village" which has attracted a new generation of visitors to its narrow streets and densely packed, stone built houses lining the river which flows from the plateau.
Hayfield is a village with a long history, even featuring in the Domesday Book as "Hedfelt". The George Hotel, in the centre of the village dates back as far as 1575. But until the industrial revolution, Hayfield was a small, isolated village.
Expansion came with the arrival of woollen manufacturing. Many of the cottages that can be seen today in the village have 3 floors, as the better light on the top floor was where the looms would have been placed. With the industrial revolution and the arrival of the railway along the Sett Valley came a new reputation for spinning, weaving and calico printing.
A noted resident of Hayfield was Arthur Lowe, famed for his portrayal of Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. The village cricket ground was once saved by a fundraising effort involving the cast of the comedy series being invited to play cricket with the locals.
The other main industries in the village included mill stone manufacture and quarrying, with two quarries providing stone to build the dam at Kinder Reservoir. It is at the site of one of these quarries that our walk began, around 1 mile along Kinder Road, at Bowden Bridge.
Nowadays, there is a public car park and a small camp site across the river, but this quiet site gained infamy as one of the meeting points for walkers taking part in the Mass Trespass of 1932.
This event is credited as being a major catalyst in changing opinion to allow public access to private moorlands, which would eventually become established in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
Prior to the trespass, the high moorlands of the Kinder Plateau were the private domain of game keepers and grouse shooters. In other words, the privileged few. In 1932, a mass trespass of walkers was arranged to take Kinder by storm. At the time, there were no footpaths at all on Kinder, which includes a plateau of around 15 square miles.
1932 had been a tough year in Britain. Unemployment was high, particularly in the industrial areas of Manchester and Sheffield. Living conditions in the cities were poor and the only way to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine was to escape to the countryside.
Not many people could afford cars at the time and so railway companies catered for rambling groups, who came to the countryside in their thousands. The footpaths of the Peak District became crowded. Ramblers would look towards the empty, high moorland which was forbidden territory, guarded by gamekeepers, armed with sticks to fend off solitary walkers.
Confrontations between the game keepers and small numbers of ramblers became commonplace. Eventually, a committee of ramblers from Manchester, Eccles, Salford and Stockport decided on a mass trespass. Kinder Scout was the ideal location as its miles of uncrossed moorland could be seen from many places around.
Our first few miles are following the route taken on that day.
Setting off up the road, we soon passed Booth Sheepwash on the right, which is no longer in use but has been restored to it's former glory.
We crossed the bridge over the River Kinder and followed the signed footpath which eventually leads to another bridge at the gates of the Kinder Reservoir Filter Plant.
Once through the gates, there is a signposted bridleway on the left which climbs steeply along its cobbles to the reservoir.
The path follows closely by the shore of the reservoir and is a good place to stop to catch your breath after the steep climb. This can be cunningly disguised as taking advantage of a picture opportunity, as the Kinder plateau stretches across the background to the opposite bank.
The reservoir was complete in 1912 and employed 700 navvies to build it, who were transported from the reservoir to the village by a specially built railway. Sadly, the tracks no longer remain but the reservoir still serves many local areas, as far as Stockport and Whaley Bridge.
The path leads to the bottom of William Clough, where the mass trespassers came up against groups of gamekeepers who attempted to stop them progressing from the permitted paths. Nobody was seriously injured in the skirmishes which took place on the day and the walkers continued on their way due to their sheer numbers.
The path follows and frequently crosses the steam as we climb the clough, twisting and turning through the steep landscape. Where there is an obvious fork in the path, follow the path on the right.
William Clough is particularly spectacular in August and September, when the heather blooms in glorious purple shades.
Eventually, the path leads to some steps which signify the top of the clough and where you will find a crossroads with the Pennine Way.
It's worth taking a diversion to the left towards Mill Hill, in order to have a look at one of Kinder's various plane wrecks. Thankfully, this is one in which nobody was killed, with both airmen surviving.
Scattered near the summit of Mill Hill, are the remains of USAAF B24J Liberator 42-52003 which crashed on 11 October 1944.
The plane was a brand new B24 on its delivery flight. It had taken three attempts to take off and had sustained some damage in the process. Flying through cloud, it was too late when they noticed that they were too close to the ground and the aircraft flew into the hillside.
It is reported that both airmen walked away from the crash, one having sustained a broken jaw.
From here, it's back towards the top of William Clough, towards the steep climb of Ashops Head. This is where we gain access to the Kinder Plateau and it is as far as the Mass Trespassers reached, having met another group of walkers who had crossed the plateau from the Edale side.
There are fabulous views from this point over the reservoir, towards Mount Famine and South Head.
From here, the path leads around the edge of the plateau, past peat bogs interspersed with huge boulders, towards Kinder Downfall.
Before, the Downfall, we cross Sandy Heys, marked out by its naturally hewn stone carvings on the gritstone edge.
The Kinder area is an important region for wildlife. Native animals include red grouse, golden plover, twite, curlew, ring ouzel, short eared owl and mountain hare.
Kinder Downfall is a celebrated waterfall which leads off the plateau.
Its the tallest waterfall in the Peak District, at some 30 metres.
In summer it can reduce to a trickle but it is impressive when in spate. It is famed for flowing up, instead of down. In certain weather conditions, with a westerly wind, the water rises into a plume of mist.
The rocks around the downfall make for an excellent area for picnics, with the occasional visit of a friendly sheep to see what sandwiches are on offer. On a clear day, views extend across the Cheshire Plain as far as the mountains of North Wales. If you're lucky, you may spot a kestrel hovering on the wind over the slopes below.
From here, there is a smaller body of water in view, just to the right of the reservoir. This is the Mermaid's Pool and is peculiar for two reasons.
Firstly, the water is salinated and it is said that it is never frequented by animals, which is strange for an inland lake. Legend has it that there is a subterraneous link with the Atlantic Ocean and that no fish can survive in its salty waters.
Secondly, for those looking for eternal life, the best time to visit is at Midnight on Easter Sunday, when the mermaid is said to appear. If she looks upon you fondly, then she will grant you the considerable gift of immortality. If you're unlucky enough to catch her in a bad mood though, she will entice you into the freezing water to your death.
From here, the path continues along the edge of the plateau, across the Red Brook. After the stream, there is a fork leading down to the right which can be a shortcut towards Hayfield, but that would miss out Kinder Low and is a route which can become frequently boggy.
Instead, stick to the hilltop and the path will eventually lead through the gritstone to the trig point at Kinder Low End which is the southernmost edge of the plateau.
The edge is littered with several large, circular, millstones, giving another reminder of the area's industrial past.
From the trig point, the path becomes a little indistinct as it crosses bare peat, but you need to head for Edale Rocks, where you join another section of well made path. Eventually, you come to a path junction, next to a cairn. Views of Jacobs Ladder leading down towards Edale extend to the left, but we need to follow alongside the wall to the right, keeping the slopes of Swine's Back to your right.
After continuing downhill, the path eventually comes to a wider path, besides a wall, and we need to turn right towards Edale Cross.
This is the old pack horse trail which used to be the main route between Hayfield and Edale. You will see the remains of the medieval cross on the right. This cross marks the boundary between Edale and Hayfield parishes.
Follow the track for another 400 yards or so until you reach Stony Ford, where there is a stile on the right, signposted to Hayfield.
The path continues over a few more stiles to Tunstead Clough Farm, before descending back to the road and back to the starting point at Bowden Bridge.
It would be a shame to leave beautiful Hayfield without popping in to one of the local hostelries. It's a short walk down the hill to the Sportsman or back in the village, there are a number of fine pubs to enjoy, as well as an excellent village chippy.
That is, unless you got on the wrong side of the Mermaid, in which case we'll have a drink to your fond memory.