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In the Footsteps of the Trespass

A dramatic route to Kinder Downfall follows the famous trespassers of 1932.

Distance 8 miles (12.9km)

Minimum time 5hrs

Ascent/gradient 1,450ft (440m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Well-defined tracks and paths, quite a few stiles

Landscape Heather and peat moorland and farm pastures

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 1 Dark Peak

Start/finish SK 048869

Dog friendliness Walk is on farmland and access agreement land. Dogs should be kept on leads

Parking Bowden Bridge pay car park

Public toilets Hayfield


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1 Turn left out of the car park and walk up the lane, which winds beneath the trees and by the banks of the River Kinder. After 550yds (503m), leave the lane at a signposted footpath that crosses a bridge. Follow the path as it traces the east bank of the river before turning left to rejoin the road at a point just short of the treatment plant buildings.

2 Here you fork left through a gate onto a cobbled bridleway, climbing above the buildings. It continues alongside the reservoir's north shore, turning sharp left on White Brow. Beyond a gate and signpost 'To open country' the path climbs alongside William Clough, where it is joined by the Snake Path from the left.

3 The path crosses and recrosses the stream as it works its way up the grass and heather clough. In the upper stages the narrowing clough loses its vegetation and the stream becomes a trickle in the peat. The clough divides. Go left here and climb to Ashop Head where you meet the Pennine Way at a crossroads of paths.

4 Turn right along the slabbed Pennine Way path across the moor towards Kinder Scout's north west edge, then climb those last gritstone slopes on a pitched path to gain the summit plateau. Now it's easy walking along the edge.

5 After turning left into the rocky combe of the River Kinder, the Mermaid's Pool and the Kinder Downfall (waterfalls) come into view. Descend to cross the Kinder's shallow rocky channel about 100yds (91m) back from the edge before turning right and continuing along the edge.

6 Beyond Red Brook, leave the plateau by taking the right fork, which descends south-westwards, contouring round grassy slopes beneath the rocky edge.

7 After passing the Three Knolls rocks and swinging left beneath the slopes of Kinder Low End, go through a gate in a fence (grid ref 066867) before taking a right fork in the paths along the boundary of the moor and farmland. Go over a stile in a wall to the right by some crumbling sheep pens and turn left through a gateway at the nearby field corner. Descend the trackless pastured spur, passing through several gates and stiles at the field boundaries to pass to the left of Tunstead Clough Farm.

8 Turn right beyond the farmhouse to follow a winding track that descends into the upper Sett Valley. Turn right down a tarmac lane at the bottom, then left along the Kinder Reservoir road to return to Bowden Bridge.

If you want to climb one of the quieter ways to Kinder Scout, Hayfield to the west is one of the best places to start. It's also a route with a bit of history to it. From the beginning of the 20th century there had been conflict between ramblers and the owners of Kinder's moorland plateau. By 1932 ramblers from the industrial conurbations of Sheffield and Manchester, disgusted by lack of government action to open up the moors to walkers, decided to hold a mass trespass on Kinder Scout. Benny Rothman, a Manchester rambler and a staunch communist, would lead the trespass on Sunday 24 April. The police expected to intercept Benny at Hayfield railway station, but he outwitted them by arriving on his bicycle, not in the village itself, but at Bowden Bridge Quarry to the east. Here he was greeted by hundreds of cheering fellow ramblers. With the police in hot pursuit the group made their way towards Kinder Scout.

Although they were threatened and barracked by a large gathering of armed gamekeepers the ramblers still managed to get far enough to join their fellow trespassers from Sheffield, who had come up from the Snake Inn. Predictably, fighting broke out and Benny Rothman was one of five arrested. He was given a 4-month jail sentence for unlawful assembly and breach of the peace. The ramblers' cause inspired folk singer, Ewan McColl (famous for Dirty Old Town and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face) to write The Manchester Rambler - which became something of an anthem for the proliferating walkers' clubs and societies. However it took until 1951, when the recently formed National Park, negotiated access agreements with the landowners, for the situation to improve.

Just like the mass trespass this walk starts at Bowden Bridge, where you will see a commemorative plaque. After climbing through the Kinder valley and above Kinder Reservoir you're confronted by those same moors of purple heather and the enticing craggy sides of the Scout. But now National Park signs greet you, not a gun-toting gamekeeper.

A dark shadow-filled cleft in the rocks captures your attention. It's the Kinder Downfall, where the infant Kinder tumbles off the plateau. Now you climb to the edge for the most spectacular part of the walk - the part that would have been a trespass all those years ago - and continue along a magnificent promenade of dusky gritstone rock. Round the next corner you come to that dark cleft seen earlier. In the dry summer months the fall is a mere trickle, just enough to wet the rocks, but after the winter rains it can turn into a 100ft (30m) torrent, thrashing against the jumble of boulders below. The prevailing west wind often catches the torrent, funnelling it back up to the top rocks like plumes of white smoke. In contrast, the way down is gentle, leaving the edge at Red Brook and descending the pastures of Tunstead Clough Farm. A quiet leafy lane takes you back into the Kinder valley.

Where to eat and drink

There are no places for refreshment on the route, but like the previous walk you could seek out the Twenty Trees Café in Hayfield at the end of the walk which serves a range of tasty food, including filled jacket potatoes, bacon sandwiches, cakes and salads.

While you're there

You could hire a bike and take a 3 mile (4.8km) ride on the Sett Valley Trail. It provides a peaceful route beginning from what was the old Hayfield railway station and following the trackbed of the old Manchester line to New Mills.

What to look for

When you're absorbed in the cerebral pleasures of wilderness walking, some comic bird with a flash of red on his head will probably wreck the moment by cackling loudly before scuttling from under your feet. This red grouse will have been absorbed in the pleasures of the tasty heather shoots you are passing. The gamekeeper makes sure that this ungainly bird has all he needs to breed successfully - a wide territory with a mixture of young heather, and mature plants for cover.


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