Mill Hill, Kinder and Kinder Downfall

Welcome to the first blog for Peak Rambler’s Ramblings third year. I’ve not long posted a look back over the second year’s blogging in my post Peak Rambler’s Ramblings; 2 years old, Twitter CB and a Stag Do!

Initially I wasn’t going to write up this walk, but after achieving one dream, to see Kinder Downfall in its element, where the water travels UP a waterfall, not down, I had a change of heart.

I’ll explain a little more later about how the water goes UP the waterfall and not down….

But first, I must give a clear warning when attempting this walk.

When attempting this walk in these conditions, ensure you are properly kitted out and have the right knowhow to complete this walk in complete safety.

This walk involves some off-path walking. If your navigation skills are not too good, or you have doubts on your navigation, then it would be wise to reconsider your walk.

GPS can be a very good tool, but if it fails, could you comfortably navigate using map and compass?

The weather conditions could result in you or any member of your group incurring injury or worse due to the strong winds that we experienced on the day.

If you want an idea of what I carry, see the blog I wrote “ What’s in my pack? ”.
If you have any doubt, then give it a miss and try another day, when the conditions are more favourable and suitable to the skills, experience and ability of you and your group.

Also, be prepared to turn back if the going gets tough, for Kinder and Kinder Downfall has been there a very long time and will still be there long after we’re gone.

Kinder can be a very inhospitable place when the weather turns nasty, and you don’t want to become one of its casualties/

Right, now that’s over, I’ll add one thing, I want you to be safe so you can read more of my blogs, and of course, any others that you may be following…

Sunday 24th February 2014, nothing particularly significant in the date, other than I achieved a dream, that may seem insignificant to many, but a burning desire to me, to see Kinder Downfall where the water actually goes up the waterfall and not down.

Shaun dropped me a message earlier in the week leading up to the weekend, to say he was free, I’d set aside Sunday for a wander, so it was agreed, and that was the day.

I was to go out the previous week, but Mother Nature had other ideas and took my fence down, along with a good many others.

I will add at this point, my fence was nothing compared to what many folk had suffered across the UK in the storms that had battered Britain for most of the winter so far. My heart goes out to them all, for many will not be able to move back in to their homes for a long time.

I recall Boscastle back in August 2004, where many couldn’t return home for close on a year!

Boscastle before the devastaion of August 2004

Thinking about that still sends a cold shiver down my back, for exactly a week before Boscastle became victim to the weather, we as a family, my son only six at the time, were visiting Boscastle and the very car park that was washed out, was where our car was parked!

Much of this route I had covered in two earlier walks; Mill Hill and the Liberator Sunday 29th July 2012  and Kinder, Kinder Downfall and the Sabre….. January 2013.

The recent weather, plenty of rain along with very strong winds had provided superb opportunities to get and see Kinder Downfall, so the date was set, though both Shaun and I were carefully watching the weather.

In the interim, I had contacted Neil, who happened to be free, to see if he was available to join us, so the time and meeting point was confirmed, the lay-by on the Snake Pass where the Pennine Way crosses.

The route was follow the Pennine Way south west to Mill Hill, then head west from Mill Hill summit for a short distance, then back track to Mill Hill summit and pick up the path that takes us on to the Kinder Plateau.

We visit some more aircraft wreckage, the Sabre F86 wreckage, then head east for Kinder Downfall.

On arrival, the forecast was for strong winds, gusting to 40+ mph and showers. Boy, the wind was strong, but nothing unusual for such an open and exposed part of the country.

We got suited and booted, putting waterproof trousers on and suitable weatherproof gear,  and then set off southwards along the Pennine Way, a solid stone clad path, often nicknamed the “Yellow Brick Road” towards Mill Hill. This part can be a long and laborious stretch, but, there is lots of scenery to bleak and open enjoy. It’s also a good stage to monitor the conditions on Kinder Plateau straight in front of you.

"....southwards along the Pennine Way, a solid stone clad path,
often nicknamed the “
Yellow Brick Road...."

A word of caution, for those who’ve walked the yellow brick road will know what I mean. The stones underfoot can be very slippery when wet, which is more often than not, so walk carefully.

Here you can make an early decision to continue or abort. An early abort decision gives you the opportunity to try another more weather friendly walk in safer conditions.

Do NOT wander off path while walking to Mill Hill, for Featherbed Moss gets very boggy and bogs can be very dangerous places to get caught in.

Boggy ground either side of the path on Featherbed Moss

I myself got caught on the North York Moors and had to get above the water table to complete the walk. You can read about my wander on the North York Moors in A Heartbeat Walk from Aidensfield on to Howl Moor, where I had a wander around Heartbeat Country.

Eventually we reached Mill Hill summit, walking in to a head on wind. There is another stone clad path off Mill Hill, which I advise to use, for the Liberator wreckage is spit over two sites, close together.

Looking over to Kinder's west side from Mill Hill summit

However, we took the slightly muddy path to the left of the stone clad path, walking off-path for about 500 mtrs to the first site of the wreckage. Once you reach the wreckage you see what looks like a wing, lying in a fairly shallow grough.

The wreckage here is one of the very few where the crew walked away!

The crew of the Liberator B24;
2nd Lieutenant Creighton R. Houpt Pilot
Staff Sergeant Jerome M. Najvar Flight Engineer

The story is the aircraft, a Liberator B24, with a two man crew; on 11th October 1944 at 10:32, was being flown from Burtonwood, near Warrington, to Hardwick at an altitude of 2800 feet.

While in cloud and turbulence, 2nd Lt Houpt spotted a small gap in the cloud and noticed the ground was actually only 150 feet below them!

Full power was applied to try and pull the aircraft clear of the ground, to no avail, resulting in impact with Mill Hill.

The two men, both injured, managed to get free from the wreckage, walk down Mill Hill and from a nearby pub, managed to contact Burtonwood and alert the base to the incident.

There is no memorial plaque at either of the two wreckage sites, nor are there any poppies or Remembrance Wreaths.

We then set a course to the second wreckage site, which entailed walking back uphill marginally for about 300 mtrs, to reach the site.

Here you will see some of the fuselage and engines.

Liberator wreckage

Liberator radial engine

After a brief wander around the area, we then set a course back uphill for Mill Hill summit.

Once back at Mill Hill summit, we then took the path downhill to the south west, crossing the point where the path from Kinder Reservoir and Bowden Bridge meets and continues towards Black Ashop Clough. Our course was to ascend to the Kinder Plateau straight in front of us.

This is a short but steep ascent and can be slippery in wet or icy conditions.

Looking at the west side of Kinder and the short steep ascent

The first cairn you reach, on the Kinder Plateau

Once you reach the plateau, there is a large cairn, marking the start of the plateau, though there is still some ascent to complete.

Not long after passing the cairn, you will see some fencing on your left and some weather eroded peat channels, where some of the Sabre wreckage can be found.

This again requires some off-path walking.

It was on 22nd July 1954 two Sabre F86 aircraft after undertaking exercise ‘Dividend’ collided with and crashed into Kinder Scout in the Peak District.

Six aircraft were lost were lost in this exercise.

The wreckage covers the Kinder plateau and Black Ashop Moor, to the north side of Kinder, below. The wreckage covers an area over a half mile in distance.

The two pilots named below, were from 66 Squadron, flying out of RAF Linton-on- Ouse were killed.

They were;
F/O James Desmond Horne (XD707)
F/Lt Alan Green (XD730)

Its only when you see wreckage like this, do you start to see Kinder in a different light…..

Some of the wreckage from one of the two Sabre F86 jets that crashed

Some more of the wreckage from one of the two Sabre F86 jets that crashed

We wandered around looking at the wreckage in the immediate area, though there are large chunks which can be seen down in Black Ashop Clough, somewhere I’ve yet to visit.

We then return back to the path and turn left heading in a south easterly direction. From here, it is all reasonably good pathway with some steep drops on your right!

The wind was very strong at times, almost blowing us over. Fortunately, the wind was blowing from the side where the steep drop was, or it could have been interesting at times.

Lunchtime was not too far away, so we found a small sheltered spot, among the rocks and had an early lunch before continuing onwards.

We followed the path round, eventually taking a sharp left turn to continue walking towards Kinder Downfall. Soon after taking the left turn, you pass another cairn.

Remember there are still some steep drop offs to your right!

A steep drop off to the right as you walk along the path to Kinder Downfall.
This photo was taken in low cloud January 2013

If the wind is almost blowing you over, towards the edge, it might be worth reconsidering your route or even aborting and turning back!

As you walk along the path, you pass through a kissing gate, and then continue to follow the path, where very soon you will see Kinder Downfall appearing in the distance.

Kinder Downfall was clearly visible this time, the uplifted spray was clearly visible, unlike the last time I was there, where it was a trickle and I almost walked past it!

" pass through a kissing gate...."

A fantastic view as we approached Kinder Downfall

As we got closer, it was time to consider putting hoods up!

The spray was doing its best to get anyone and everyone soaked!

I had stopped to take some photos, while Shaun and Neil carried on. By the time I’d joined them, Neil had collected water from the River Kinder and filtered it through his Sawyer Squeeze filter, then Shaun had the Jetboil on the go and we enjoyed a nice brew, before returning back to the start.

Filling the Jetboil with water filtered through the Sawyer Squeeze.
Lovely clear water and an enjoyable brew...

Kinder Downfall

Kinder Downfall
We had a good vantage point to take some photos and video, all of which are now online. The phoos on my Flickr account can be viewed here Peak Rambler Photosets; Kinder Downfall and the video here Kinder Downfall video on YouTube.

The Sawyer Squeeze water filter is incredibly easy to use, just collect the water in to the supplied container and squeeze the water into the Jetboil ( YouTube video Sawyer Water Filter and Jetboil). Those who know how brown the peat filled water of the Dark Peak is will appreciate how clear the filtered water was!

Now why was the water at the waterfall going up and not down?

Well, if you haven’t worked it out yet, it was all due to the strong wind on the day! The direction, South Westerly and speed, a forecast 40 plus miles per hour, all contributed to carrying the water back up the falls, along with the added rainfall giving the falls, often a trickle, a decent amount of water to disperse upwards.

For my regular readers, will know I have a Kestrel Anemometer, but for some unapparent reason, decided to unread on this day. The max recorded gust was 28.8 mph, but I wasn’t convinced.

My first suspicions came about earlier, when I took a reading and expected it to be 12-15 mph, but it only recorded 8mph!

After a subsequent test the following day confirmed it was under reading, I couldn’t find any reset procedure. Just as a warning for those who have Kestrel devices, there is NO RESET button on the back of the Kestrel device!

So I tried the most simple reset procedure, take the battery out for a few hours and try again. All seems to be ok, so if ever I’m in doubt again, the a battery reset it will be

I’ve digressed..

After a short break, brew and photo session we looked at our route back. There really isn’t much choice; it was to back track the outbound route. Cutting across the plateau wouldn’t save anything (see the map at the end) along with the fact it would be boggy.

Hoods up, and off went departed, backtracking the route around the edge of Kinder back to Mill Hill. This was going to be fun, for outbound after Mill Hill, we had the wind mainly at the side or behind us, now, it was in front or still to the side. But, the better side, blowing in from the lower ground and over the plateau, still at times almost knocking us off our feet!

We soon reached the kissing gate, and not much later the cairn, was approaching. For us, the cairn was notification of the right turn we would need, was approaching. Though the path was clear enough, it could serve as a prompt in poor visibility conditions.

We followed the path right, continuing past the Sabre wreckage we had visited earlier and then soon after the next large cairn appeared, just before the steep descent down from Kinder to the point where the path between Kinder Reservoir and Bowden Bridge, crosses to Black Ashop Clough.

A reminder again, the rocky path can be slippery in wet or icy conditions.

Descending from Kinder towards Mill Hill

Our route was to head for Mill Hill summit and pick up the yellow brick road across Featherbed Moss and back to the cars. For this last stretch across Featherbed Moss, the wind was behind us virtually all the way.

It was a good day, although we had some brief heavy showers, the weather was very much on our side.

But ! It could have be worse, I’ve been on Kinder (and Bleaklow) when the rain is horizontal and visibility is extremely poor. These are conditions where I’ve turned back in the interests of common sense and safety.

Map showing the route from the Snake Pass, to Mill Hill inc the Liberator wreckage
on to Kinder to see the Sabre wreckage then to Kinder Downfall

I carry snow goggles with me, which I mention in my What’s in my pack? blog, even when there is no snow. If I’m confronted with appalling weather conditions, they will help give some visibility without the rain beating in to my eyes.

Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,
Peak Rambler

Twitter              @PeakRambler
YouTube          Peak Rambler on YouTube

Links to some of the areas I’ve mentioned and written about here but not covered in the blogs mentioned;


  1. When the Downfall's blowing back like that, you can actually see the spray from the hillsides on our side of Hayfield. It's certainly spectacular!

  2. It was certainly spectacular as we approached Kinder Downfall. I could imagine if the winds was a lot stronger how the view would be.

  3. This is all so beautiful and so tugs at me to go, but alas at age 68 with "issues" it doesn't seem possible. have visited Snake Pass many times on trips across the pond and find it one of the most beautiful roads I know, and I long to see more...maybe next life!!

    1. It is such a wild and beautiful landscape, which can be fraught with challenges to enjoy walking across.

      I hope you enjoyed reading my blog, please continue to read previous and future writings.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.