Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kinder Downfall to Devil's Dyke

Our second day of walking started relatively easily, but soon we came to the unbelievably steep descent down from the Kinder Plateau before going back up Mill Hill.  This descent was a bit scary and quite challenging.  At times, I couldn't see the path more than a few feet in front of me it just seemed to drop over the edge.  I was expecting that I might have to just sit and slide down the hill because it was so steep!

We passed a couple of people climbing up as we went down. I was grateful that I wasn't having to climb up something so daunting, and I completely sympathized (or perhaps I "sympathised" instead) with the woman struggling to catch up with her partner.  As we paused for a break at the bottom, we saw people running both up and down this same hill.  I think I would break my neck if I tried to run down, and my lungs would definitely collapse if I were running up.
The descent from Kinder
Eventually we headed off again over Mill Hill  (where, unbeknownst to me, we passed a Stone Age flint factory, according to one of our guide books) and off for Featherhead Moss.  I found this section of the walk incredibly draining.  It was almost all on stone slabs, but the view was monotonous and the path on this section seemed neverending.  It was slippery at times and underwater at others, and there was just not much in the way of scenery.  (Although we did see some red grouse...)  The path seemed indirect and unnecessarily meandering, but there is no easy way through this type of ground.  And, we were accompanied by lots of wind!

We could see that attempting to stray from the path was a promise of sinking in mud and wet. As a sign of things to come, I stepped deep into the mud for the first time, and I felt the muck trying to hold onto my boot.
Chuck walking the slab highway!
We finally made it to Snake Pass Road, and at this point, we were pretty battered by the wind and cold.  We were tired and hungry, and everywhere around us was more moor-y, wet ground.  No good place to stop.  We did consider begging some of the (strangely) large number of people who had parked along the road (many of whom were still off bike riding or walking or something) to take us with them somewhere, anywhere in their cars. But, since neither of us is particularly outgoing, we didn't really think we had much of a chance in persuading a stranger to take two muddy individuals somewhere in his nice clean car.

In the end, as we stood huddled by a fence, hoping for some shelter, a hiker came past us with a small pack on his back and (shockingly) no gloves as he strode off into the fog. We decided there was not much option other than to trudge on through the fog and the mist, which had descended upon us.  We headed up Doctor's Gate to Devil's Dyke, and as we reached Hern Clough (I've learned that a "clough" is a word for "ravine" - derived from an Old English word), we finally got some shelter from from the wind.  There were hills on both sides of us.  I spent time thinking of Sherlock Holmes and "The Hound of the Baskervilles." 

"We left her standing upon the thin peninsula of firm, peaty soil which tapered out into the widespread bog.  From the end of it a small wand planted here and there showed where the path zig-zagged from tuft to tuft of rushes among those green-scummed pits and foul quagmires which barred the way to the stranger.  Rank reeds and lush, slimy water-plants sent an odour of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faces, while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark, quivering mire, which shook for yards in soft undulations around our feet.  Its tenacious grip plucked at our heels as we walked, and when we sank into it it was as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths, so grim and purposeful was the clutch in which it held us." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"
With the fog surrounding us and the cold descending, I could almost imagine that Holmes and Watson were about to come around the corner and onto our path.  We found a relatively dry and flat place to sleep, and so we stopped for the day. Again, we only made about 5 miles, and we had originally "expected" to be at Torside/Crowden by this time.  I definitely felt like I was trying as hard as I possibly could, but clearly, I am a slow walker.

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