THE WORST THING about having thrown away a lot of calendars is realising that you're over the hill in the figurative sense as well as the literal. The last time on Kinder brought that home to me because it took two hours to cover a mere three miles. I could use the heat as an excuse but I'd only be kidding myself. Face up to it, Mick; you're getting ready for the coach tours.
Most of April had been warm enough but nothing exceptional, so I was surprised at the low level of water in Crowden Brook. I usually boulder-hop my way up but could have walked in the stream-bed for most of the way; a right disappointment. For some reason, I decided against the two-move scramble at the head of the Clough and opted for the path on the west bank. Bad move; this is a deep groove just tolerable as a way down, a grind on the way up. I won't do that again.
Heading across the plateau seemed odd compared with previous years. There's plenty of twisty walking in groughs, but there are hectares of open bare peat now where there used to be sphagnum moss and bent grass. It can't be acid rain that's killing vegetation; the old smoke-stack industries are long gone. Global warming? Yet mean temperatures don't seem any higher than they were. It's not human feet either; defoliation is too widespread for that. If this continues - and I can't see any reason for it not to - the whole plateau will soon be bare. Then wind and rain erosion will strip it down to the gritstone bedrock, rain will run straight off, and we'll have a stony desert instead of the glutinous black mess we used to revel in.
At Kinder Downfall, there wasn't much more than a trickle of water coming over the lip. It used to be a feature that the prevailing southwesterly would blow the water back on to the moor. Now there wasn't much more flow than you'd see coming out of a two-inch pipe. And this is the Kinder River - the only English watercourse I know of that uses the words in that order. It was more a kinda river (groan). On the way back I walked in the riverbed and rarely got my laces wet. Yet in previous years I've been there in midsummer and had to stick to the banks. So something is happening to the high moors in the Peak District; something that's probably irreversible and will change the nature of walking there.
The best part of the day, though, was seeing a couple with two Border collies on the other side of the Kinder gorge. The dogs were cowering under an overhang, apparently being threatened by an angry ewe. Had TAC's killer sheep come south? I laughed so much that I didn't think about the camera until it was too late. The humans glared at me then flounced off towards the Hayfield path. I was still giggling when I reached the pub.
TAC 69 Index