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In August 2020 we were looking for somewhere suitable to head for in the camper van – regular readers will know that Chris and I (plus the ever-present Border Collie ‘Mist’) try to avoid campsites, not because we are too tight to pay but because we want to escape from crowds, not join them. Sadly, the actions of some going ‘wild camping’ during the Covid-19 lockdown, had brought criticism from local communities, and no wonder! So, we thought we might be pushing our luck a bit to go off-grid and opted instead for one of the campsites at Edale in the Peak District.
Newfold Farm, previously known as Coopers Camping, was the choice. Now, it has to be said that before he retired, Mr Cooper was one in a million, but for all the wrong reasons! For someone making a living in the hospitality sector, Mr Cooper had a manner that was, at best, eccentric and at worst positively rude! The thing is, the campsite is in a great location, with the hills of Edale Edge starting as soon as you walk out of the village.
So we took a chance, and found the new campsite owners to be friendly and welcoming. The two village pubs were both adopting to Covid rules and there was a cracking walking route out of the village, heading up Grindsbrook Clough – in short, we had all the ingredients for a good couple of days. What’s not to like!
The Pennine Way, opened in April 1965, was the first National Trail in the UK – 268 miles in length, it takes most hikers 2½ to 3 weeks to complete. The Trail starts in Edale, at the Old Nags Head pub, and finishes in the Scottish border town of Kirk Yetholm. The route originally headed out of the village by Grindsbrook Clough but had to be changed due to excessive erosion – now, with less hiking traffic, the worst of the erosion is healed, so we stepped back in time to walk the old start of the Pennine Way.
It soon became obvious that there had been some recent rain hereabouts! The view from the path down to Grinds Brook showed the stream to be full and muddy brown in colour, but initially the valley is wide with the water far below the path. However, as the valley starts to narrow, the path and stream get closer to each other, finally becoming good buddies.
Looking at the map, it was obvious that a stream crossing would be called for eventually, and so it came to pass. The crossing point was reasonably narrow, but Chris didn’t fancy boulder hopping, with the chance of a tumble – the easiest option was to do as walkers in Scotland often have to do, and to wade. The water was warm(ish) and only knee-deep, and once socks had been wrung out we were ready to carry on up Grindsbrook Clough.
Beyond the crossing, the clough narrows even more – just before the top, where the route joins the plateau of Edale Moor and Kinder Scout, the valley splits at a Y-fork. We took the left fork, which I found out later is probably less interesting as an ascent, but this way you suddenly appear at the plateau by a strangely shaped wind-eroded stone. It was also a good place to stop for lunch and a brew.
There were several options on where to go next, but on this occasion we opted for a wander by more eroded stones, before heading over towards Grindslow Knoll. From there, we set our course to the Edale valley, with a final descent down to the current Pennine Way route – as a treat for my birthday we were off for a Covid compliant fish and chips at the Nags Head, but ‘Mist’ was just as happy with the usual meat and kibble.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock