Kinder Downfall from Hayfield
Difficulty level: 4 (1 to 5 scale - 1 is easy)
Distance: 13.00 km Ascent: 450m
Estimated time: 4:30 hours
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map sheet(s): 110
The Outdoor Leisure Map 1 - Dark Peak 1:25000 scale
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The walk up Kinder from the west side is one of the classic excursions of the Peak District. It takes in some magnificent gritstone scenery, including Kinder Downfall, and, if the weather is fine, there are excellent views down towards the Manchester conurbation. The best weather for this walk is a windy autumn day - then the weather will be clear, the hillside colours at their best, and the Downfall at its most impressive - being blown back by the wind.
The walk starts at the Bowden Bridge car park along the narrow road leading from Hayfield up to Kinder Reservoir - in the quarry where the mass trespass began in 1932. A plaque on the quarry side commemorates this event. Follow the road for 1km or so up to the entrance to the waterworks - at the first gate you can continue on foot (or take the footpath on the other side of the stream), but at the second set of gates you should branch left up a steep path by the side of a wall.
This climbs up to the level of the top of the dam of Kinder Reservoir, and the path now contours around the north-west side of the reservoir to reach the inflow at its northernmost point. From here follow the path directly upstream. This is William Clough - one of the earliest rights of way in this region and now a very well-trodden ramblers' path between Hayfield and the Ashop valley.
At the top of the clough you arrive at the saddle between Kinder and Mill Hill. Turn right (south-east) and make the steep ascent onto the Kinder plateau. Once on the plateau edge fork right to take the path along the south-facing edge, which leads you after 2 kilometres to Kinder Downfall, the major landmark of this side of the mountain.
After you have admired the Downfall and the view (if you are lucky!), the path continues southwards along the plateau's edge as far as Red Brook, a distance of about 1km. Here the path divides, the right branch going around the edge a little further before beginning to gradually descend, and the left branch heading southwards onto the plateau to reach Kinder Low.
Either route is possible, but the right branch is shorter and easier. Take this and make a gradual descent south-westwards for about 2 kilometres until you reach the corner of a wall below the steep side of Kinderlow End. Here the path forks again - take the right branch and then branch right again to cross the wall by a stile. This puts you on a path which heads straight downhill over the fields in a westerly direction to reach Tunstead House and gain the narrow lane which leads out opposite your starting point at Bowden Bridge car park.
If you take the route over Kinder Low then the path winds over peat bogs to reach the triangulation point about 1 kilometre south of Red Brook. It's rather indistinct and it's easy to get lost here in mist. From the summit head south to reach Edale Rocks and pick up a paved path which leads down to meet Edale - Hayfield track at the top of Jacob's Ladder. Turn right to arrive at Edale Cross on the next rise and follow this track or one of its right branches to arrive back at Hayfield.
0 - Hayfield - mass trespass plaque
1 - Kinder Scout from Hayfield reservoir
2 - Kinder Downfall
3 - Kinder Scout - Kinder Low
4 - Kinder Scout - Kinder Low in winter