A Peak Winter Meet, a Bunkhouse and Kinder

I’ve camped, using a variety of tents over time, stayed in caravans, b and b’s, hotels and many other types of residential establishments, but never a bunkhouse!

Well, my chance was about to arrive.

I want to make it quite clear before I continue; this is purely my observations and thoughts of the bunkhouse, which overall was tidy and basic, which is what I would expect.

Quite some time ago, Dave Mycroft of My Outdoors, suggested the possibility of a winter meet, probably around February time, to bridge the gap between the two summer meets that we’ve had.

A couple of places were shared among a few from the previous backpackers meets, with the option of camping, for those hardy enough to go for it, or a bunkhouse, a very basic building with sufficient facilities to make a short stay comfortable.

Very often, bunkhouses are barns or other farm buildings that have become redundant, and been converted in to basic living accommodation.

So for me, and also the others who I shared a fabulous weekend with, this was an opportunity not to be missed.

My planned arrival was to be around tea time, a journey up the M1, the A617 through Chesterfield and then to head for Hope.

But it seemed work and others had different ideas. Three days before the weekend, I had to change shifts, working the afternoon shift, which meant a late finish from work and that I would get caught in all that Friday traffic going home, then heading up north.

Now this would mean my tea time arrival would actually be a bed time arrival. So out of courtesy, I checked with the Bunkhouse owner to make sure my late arrival wouldn’t be a problem.

Happily, he had no problem with my late arrival, so the next thing was to check that the people who I would be sharing the bunkhouse with were ok with my late arrival. They too said there would be no problem.

Had there been a problem, then I would have made a very early start and met up with everyone around breakfast time.

On the Friday, while driving home, the traffic news came on the radio, saying that the M1 north had been closed at Junction 25!

Yikes! I had planned on going through there.

So I arrived home, put the radio on so I could monitor the situation on the M1, hoping for it to clear, but no, each traffic bulletin just kept repeating the same.

So I loaded up the car, said my goodbyes to the family, still monitoring the traffic news, but still no change.

Oh well, plan B, which would be the A38 through Derby, but then, that would very likely be busier than normal due to the problems on the M1.

So plan C, cross country. Sorry folks, that route will be my little secret, though it is slower, it is quieter.

So I set off for Hope, in Hope….. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

The cross country drive was nice and steady all the way and the traffic bulletins kept repeating the M1 situation, so by now, I was more than pleased to have opted for plan C. Only when I was about half an hour from Hope, did the M1 open up and the reports said the traffic was slow moving.

I arrived at the Bunkhouse earlier than I had expected only to find that there was no one in!

They had all gone down to the pub, the Cheshire Cheese in Hope, and who could blame them.

I didn’t have to wait too long, before they returned.

On walking in to the bunkhouse for the first time, my initial impression was, basic, as I had expected, clean and a very different bed arrangement.

After the initial greetings, especially as a couple of the people who I was sharing with I had only communicated with via Twitter, I sorted out my sleeping bag and various other overnight items.

It was like one giant bunk bed, to accommodate about six people on each level on large thick plastic covered mattresses. Not quite what I had expected, but certainly not impractical.

Surprisingly, it was reasonably comfortable and I managed to get satisfactory night’s sleep, well two nights sleep.

The kitchen facilities were basic, but practical, consisting of the kitchen sink, an electric cooker, fridge and one item I didn’t expect to see, a dishwasher!

There were electric radiators to provide heating, but we never seemed to suss out how they worked. But us hardy outdoor folk, managed to keep warm wearing our fleeces, base layers and other garments as required to keep warm.

The view from the Bunkhouse on Saturday morning


I should mention at this point, the cooker was on a prepay meter system, not that we seemed to use much electricity for cooking, all evening meals were enjoyed at the Cheshire Cheese in Hope.

This was normal procedure when we meet up for these weekends, to eat out. Apart from the fact it saves on the cooking and washing up, there is the social aspect.

I should have taken a photo or two of the bunkhouse, but with all the chatter, I never got round to it.

I’ve waffled on.

While I was travelling up, the rest of the group had made plans as to where we would be walking on the Saturday. The chosen walk, though a little ad hoc, was to ascend Kinder from Edale, circumnavigate the plateau then return via Jacobs Ladder and Upper Booth back to Edale.

All in the snow with temperatures not expected to get much higher than 1.0ºC! Well, so the forecast said……

That was a great choice, I was looking forward to this, Kinder in the snow, something I had never done before.

Yes, I’m a big kid at heart and I’m happy to be that way.

Saturday morning came, we sorted ourselves out, getting breakfast and kit sorted, and then drove to Edale, parking in the station car park.

We started off walking through Edale, past the church and the Old Nags Head pub, heading for Grindsbrook Clough.

Edale Church


The Old Nags Head, Edale

Leaving Edale, we had to cross Grinds Brook

Grindsbrook Clough, the ascent on to Kinder starts


The path up Grindsbrook Clough was generally very clear to follow and not very difficult to walk on. Though, at one point, while walking up through Grindsbrook Clough, the path became very narrow at one point, making for a bit of articulate foot work.

Once we had negotiated that narrow bit, we continued our ascent of Grindsbrook Clough, meeting up properly with the snow line, which was about 350 metres.

Those of us who had microspikes or variations of, decided it was prudent to put them on.

I had my Snowtrax, which I used for the tried out on Stanton Moor only a couple of weeks earlier (see Stanton Moor on a snowy Sunday).

".....the path became very narrow at one point, making for a bit of articulate foot work."

Those of us who had microspikes or variations of, decided it was prudent to put them on.


Once we had finished the ascent to the plateau, we stopped at the top of Grindsbrook Clough for a bite and drink, taking in the views back down towards Edale, now almost under the cloud, and across the plateau, particularly to the west, the direction that we would be walking.

I mentioned earlier, that the temperature was not expected to get warmer than 1.0ºC. Well, the forecast was wrong it never dropped below 6.5ºC!

I was warm, to say the least. I had prepared for the colder temperatures that had been forecast, but hey-ho, it was well and truly on the warm side for me.

Looking down Grindsbrook Clough

Lunch stop at the top of Grindsbrook Clough


We then continued our walk heading in a westerly direction, walking in the snow, circumnavigating the plateau towards Crowden Tower, which I had visited with my son back in September 2010, on our way to Kinder Scout summit cairn.

The next few photos are looking south from Kinder's plateau



Typical Dark Peak weathered Gritstone

Time for a quick chat and take in the views....


The Wool Packs


I like someone with a sense of humour




Negotiating Crowden Tower was a wee bit interesting. There was an awkward descent, covered in snow and ice, which made things a little tricky.

With some guidance from the guys who had negotiated the Crowden Tower before me, I was pointed in the direction of a gap on my right, through the rocks.

It was a bit tight, I had to stoop down very low and ease my way through. But a far more sensible option, rather, than taking a chance down what appears the seemingly only obvious descent, which might have resulted in an injury if I had slipped.


Noe Stool, where Andy did his impression of Tom Daly


From there, we continued around to the Wool Packs and Edale Head where we started our descent down towards Jacobs Ladder, descending in to Upper Booth, which was the start point for when my son and I ascended Kinder Scout that day in September 2010.

It was an interesting descent, the path down Jacobs Ladder, being a little icy at times, was probably the understatement. Even more interesting, on our descent, we came across a couple of lads with mono cycles.


Descending Jacobs Ladder


The guys with the mono cycles





Though they were not riding them at the time and when we wished them a safe journey, they continued to walk up with their mono cycles.

I wonder if they ever did manage to ride those bikes?

At this point, we had superb views back up towards Kinder and the route we had walked, as far back as Crowden Tower.


Looking back up to Kinder from Jacobs Ladder.



Continuing our descent, down in to Upper Booth, then the long road  back in to Edale.

Back at the cars in the station car park, we drove back to the bunkhouse, where we freshened up and had a chat up before taking a walk to the Cheshire Cat in Hope for our dinner, plus a few beers and a social.


The route we took around Kinder

We met up with Andy, a fellow walker, who had been out on the Roaches earlier that day. Andy joined us for a drink and a meal.

It was great to meet some old faces and also new ones.

After a pleasant night in the Cheshire Cat, we walked back to the bunkhouse, had a chat and night cap before settling down for the night,

During the early hours of Sunday, it started snowing, which gave most of us some cause for concern, considering that many of us had reasonable distances to cover to get back home.

So by mid morning, we had tidied the bunkhouse up as best we could, then set off on our journeys back home.

Though one person in our group decided to enjoy a walk up Win Hill in the snow!

I was envious, but decided against it in view of the weather and the drive home.

Plus, I had other ideas, like a couple of outdoor retailers, one in Hathersage, with a sister branch in Calver and another outdoor retailer in Bakewell.

Perhaps next time I'll ascend Win Hill in the snow and poor visibility conditions.

I fancied some egg on toast from the Three Roofs Café in to Castleton, opposite the Peak District Information Centre.

I’ve been in there before and I can assure you, the place is very clean, the service is superb and the prices are reasonable.

On entering the café, I met up with Andy, the guy who joined us in the Cheshire Cheese, after his walk up the Roaches, who stayed overnight in Castleton and was grabbing a breakfast before venturing out on to Castleton’s Great Ridge.

Castleton’s Great Ridge would also have been a good walk in the snow, but as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t fancy chancing the drive home. Plus, I had other ideas……


Castleton


After talking to one of our group, who was wearing the Kahtoola Microspikes while we were out on Kinder, I decided to treat myself to some Microspikes. All I need now is some snow to try them in. I wonder if I’ll be lucky enough this winter, or not?

Oh, I nearly forgot, I had to get some Bakewell Pudding also.

The journey home was better than expected. The snow turned to rain and the roads were very clear generally.

It was a superb weekend, with great people, the weather was just right for the time of year and the accommodation was ideal.

I would happily do it again and use the same venue.

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,


Peak Rambler