Thursday 22 August 2013

The True Summit of Kinder Scout

Tuesday 20th August 2013 

An afternoon / evening walk up Kinder by way of Crowden Clough to visit Kinder's true summit 

Distance: 10.5km; Ascent: 430m; Dry with light winds; Solo

I've been walking on Kinder Scout many times in the past but despite it having been my nearest 2000ft peak for over 10 years I can't recall ever having visited its summit!  Instead on almost all my previous walks I've stuck to the plateau edges and when I have crossed the plateau it's generally been to the north or east of the summit location.  Therefore as I had a free afternoon today and the weather was forecast to be dry with no low cloud, I decided to go and seek out the true summit of Kinder Scout!

Looking towards Crowden Clough
I set off walking just after 3pm from the small car park a few hundred metres west of Barber Booth and followed the road through the small hamlet of Upper Booth, before picking up a footpath through the woods along the west bank of Crowden Brook.

Rowan berries
Soon the path left the woodland, with its berry laden rowan trees, and I entered open country. There were excellent views up the heather sided clough towards the plateau above.  I passed a few small groups of other walkers, all descending, but it still felt quite quiet for a sunny day in August in the Peak District!

Crowden Clough
Higher up the clough the path ascends leftwards away from the brook but I had heard that a pleasant scramble could be had if I continued to follow the brook all the way up to the plateau edge path.  Therefore I followed the stream, sometimes next to it and sometimes scrambling over the boulders in the stream bed to reach a steeper section near a waterfall.  I concluded that this section definitely required a hands on approach and so I stowed my poles and scrambled on upwards to reach the plateau edge path above.  This route of ascent had been enjoyable, but I would definitely describe it as a scramble rather than just a rocky walk!

Some of the scrambly sections of Crowden Clough
Once on the plateau edge I turned left and followed the path past Crowden Tower and the interesting gritstone formations known as the Wool Packs to reach Pym Chair, said to be named after a 17th century non-conformist minister called John Pym.

The Wool Packs
Pym Chair
From here my route to the summit lay across the vast peaty plateau and I was glad I had chosen a day with good visibility!  The National Trust has been doing a lot of work up here in recent years to try to stop further peat loss due to erosion, and I passed a number of stone dams on the plateau.  It was also noticeable that grass appeared to be sprouting where there once was just bare peat - it will be interesting to return in a few years to see if this takes hold.

Peat erosion work
Peat erosion work
Soon I reached a cairn adorned with sticks and rope, which marks the position that the Nuttall's guidebook states is the summit.  However since that was published a survey was performed in 2009 to determine the exact location of Kinder Scout's summit (see here for links to the surveys).  Therefore I sat down on some nearby rocks to read the survey report before visiting the nearby grassy platform that marks the true summit of Kinder Scout (Marilyn, Nuttall).

Cairn near summit of Kinder Scout
The tiny grassy summit of Kinder Scout
After having visited the summit, I headed westwards across the plateau to visit a nearby section of high ground, which according to the survey would become the summit if the current summit was subject to bad erosion.  There were good views across the peaty plateau in all directions.

Kinder Scout summit plateau
Continuing across the plateau I headed SW to reach the trigpoint on Kinder Low, where there was a sign warning of ongoing helicopter operations.  I stopped here for a short break before continuing southwards along the Pennine Way.

Sign on top of trig point
Kinder Low trigpoint
As I descended on the good path there were good views down into Edale and south towards Brown Knoll, where I had been walking one evening earlier this month.

Looking down Edale
Brown Knoll
I descended back into the valley by way of the Jacob's Ladder footpath, with good views towards The Cloughs and the bridge over the River Noe.

Descending Jacob's Ladder
Bridge over the River Noe
After a short break by the river I continued down the valley along the broad path, past the NT information barn and Upper Booth to reach the car shortly before 7:30pm after a most pleasant late afternoon hill walk :-)

See also my Social Hiking live map from the walk.


  1. Mid-week walks can be wonderfully quiet and a normally crowded are like Kinder becomes a different place altogether.
    Nice one!


    1. Thanks JJ. Mid-week walks are good when I can arrange them and evening walks mid-week are even quieter still! When I was on Kinder on Tuesday evening last week I only saw two other walkers - although to be fair I did end up completing that walk by head torch.

      Beer? I'll email you...

  2. Blimey, you'll not fit many folk on the 'true summit' at the same time. It is very cute though!

    1. Thanks for your comment Tony :-)

      I had seen a photo my wife took of the summit grassy platform a couple of years ago and couldn't believe it could be that small - but it is! And it's no more than 1 by 1.5 metres in size.

      I reckon you could probably manage to fit two, or possibly three, people on it at the same time, but I suspect that it would collapse under the weight! I choose only to touch the grassy platform rather than stand on it for that very reason.

  3. See that blocked gully I did that with some of the guys at work. We spent a few hours up there in the rain throwing rocks out of bags into gullies. It was great fun and it looks to be having a very positive impact.

    1. Yes it definitely looks to have improved things up there :-) Well done!

  4. Hi Alistair

    Like you I've been walking on Kinder Scout many times. There are so many route variations you can make it never gets boring. I'd always assumed the trig point at Kinder Low was the summit, so it looks like I have another walk to plan soon!

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment :-) I agree about the route variations as whilst I've walked on Kinder a lot there's still bits of it I haven't yet explored! It's quite nice having somewhere like that to walk on so close to home :-)

      I too thought that the Kinder Low trigpoint was the summit for quite a while, and it even appears higher when you stand at the actual summit but the survey showed that this is an optical illusion. Have fun when you do go back to walk it.

  5. Interestingly I was up there this week and had exactly the same experience. I found the cairn but it didn't match where I estimated the summit to be and the little grass knoll seemed more accurate. Glad to be vindicated!

    1. Glad to be of assistance :-) I'm not certain whether I'd have decided that grassy knoll was the summit if I didn't have the survey report with me as quite a few bits of ground all seemed to be of the same height to me, but I often find that to be the case on moorland summits. Hope you had a good walk.

  6. A very interesting blogpost. I have floundered around on the kinder Plateau several times and have never been quite sure where the summit is. I thought it was at Crowden Head. When you are up there it looks rather like a moonscape and it is hard to make out height, direction
    or anything. I would love to go up there after a period of hard frost.

    1. Thanks :-) I do quite like the landscape up on the Kinder plateau, especially around the edges with all the interesting rock formations such as the Woolpacks.

  7. OK, so I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I paid a rare visit to the Peak District in September 2016 and feel I have something to add to the topic of Kinder Scout’s ‘true summit’. Firstly, may I state that my enthusiasm for tackling Kinder on my brief visit was largely fuelled by the above discussion, and I have the original article to thank for successfully locating the summit on a scorching autumn afternoon! After dragging my wife and two sons up to the plateau we made for the distinctive form of Pym Chair before heading off across the moorland expanse in a roughly northerly direction, compass in hand, in what I considered to be a more-than-likely vain attempt at finding the legendary (and very small) grassy knoll. Having reached the ball-park area in question, I told my family to stop moaning and to sit down whilst I tried to pin down the precise grid reference in question with my fancy mobile phone app. After much zigging and zagging I eventually found not one, but two, likely (and almost identical) knolls. The first seemed to fit the bill, looks-wise, even though the grid reference was very slightly out and the elevation was measured (on my son’s phone app, held at waist level) at 636.96m. I was happy enough with this and we proceeded to take a few snaps of us all crowded onto the tuft of grass. However, when I then paced out the distance to the SW to the nearby cairn, it came out at a little more than the 35m distance (and the bearing wasn’t quite right, too). With me set to shrug my shoulders and give up, my eyes then fell upon another similar mound nearby. This, it turned out, was at exactly the correct compass bearing (as indicated in the survey) from the cairn and was precisely 35m from the same. And it looked more like the tuft of grass in the above article. However, the elevation was only 636.32 (again, device held at waist level). This leads me to believe that the true ‘true summit’ is the first knoll I found a little to the (sort of) north of the knoll mentioned in the article … and that the survey is wrong. In the face of ever increasing complaints from my family I just got on with taking another set of pics, then began the trek towards Kinder Low and back down the mountain – and I failed to take proper measurements of my own ‘true summit’. It was about 20-30m away from the survey’s summit in a northerly direction – but the two knolls are very similar in form and general appearance, though the higher one (the ‘new’ one) is surrounded by a slightly better formed mound. This is all very iffy, though, as I dare say that with enough investigation another very slightly higher spot could be found somewhere on the plateau! Would be interested to hear of any other theories or, indeed, any opinions about my own findings (which, admittedly, weren’t very scientific!)