Having lived all my life in and on the edge of the Peak District, it may seem rather strange or remiss that I hadn’t ever visited Kinder Scout.
This always hung over me as a glaring omission within my walking or running adventures within the Dark and White Peak.
All this changed during January 2024, when my fiancée and I took advantage of the most gloriously pristine-skied Monday, by making our way to the mountain in order to follow the famous Trespass Walk.
The circuitous route would be approximately 9-10 miles. We are both swift-walkers so we only expected our jaunt to take a few hours. How wrong we were! We began at 1000 and finished just before 1600 such was the immersive and compelling nature of the mountain.
Our route took us past Kinder Reservoir and up to Kinder Plateau via a narrow, winding gully. I must admit that upon reaching the top of this, I looked back upon the landscape, and it appeared extremely familiar. I admit that this felt a little underwhelming because I saw striking similarities between this and the gorgeous hills in and around the Goyt Valley. Had I wrongly anticipated Kinder Scout as being something uniquely different? Well, it was from this point onwards that my slightly subdued feelings soared to become a match for the height of the mountain …
Taking the slight scramble to the top of the plateau, we were greeted by the most amazing view of majestic, u-shaped valleys and gritty, inspiring edges, which cast deep turquoise shadows below them. Along with this, and the raging wind, which must have chilled the temperature to at least -15 to -20, literally took my breath away (I was trying to recall how -35 felt when I visited the Svalbard Archipelago).
Wondering across the plateau I was captivated. Whether it be an intense swathe of bright orange low-growing moss-like flora, or the startling contour of a weathered rock that miraculously took the form of a sunbathing seal, we walked on.
Then came the first of many more abstractly-sculptured rock formations, displaying the marvellous topographic signature of the Dark Peak – layer upon layer of fused mud and silt, which had been whipped into alien-like shapes over millennia. This initial sentinel of rock had a single icicle dangling from its ‘nose’, which matched my own quite perfectly!
I could have been literally in the middle of nowhere, until I gazed towards the Northwest and saw central Manchester. I must admit that seeing evidence of civilisation a metaphorical stones throw away, sadly robbed the mountain of a little of its magic …
Onward, we gazed down through a horseshoe of hills across to Kinder Reservoir from where we came, whilst admiring the multitude of tumbled boulders the size of Transit vans.
Photo gallery by Andrew Greenwood - scroll through
The rocks became evermore abstract and stratified, some cutting deep gashes into the mountain top, where you could get lost in inky black shadows. Many stood majestically tall, proudly weathered by the elements. I could have spent a long time gazing at them from different angles whilst they created startling and oddly realistic faces or animals … 'Is that a sleeping dog or a gorilla?' I would ask myself.
Many of the rock formations looked remarkably similar to those I had seen in Cappadocia, Turkey, where I chased my first total eclipse of the Sun in 1999. It was significantly warmer there though, I can assure you!
Then came Kinder Downfall. I was rather taken aback by how sheer and deep the course of the waterfall was. Far from being a gushing cascade it was solidly silent. In some places, 10–12 foot icicles dangled along the precipice, and as I crossed the waterfall itself it was possible to walk upon its frozen surface and peer gingerly over its various edges.
All this time I had been mesmerised by the landscape, and had spent a significant amount of time capturing images. As a creative, it was so easy to become immersed and find more and more ways of photographing the staggeringly eye-catching elements of the mountain. So much so that my fiancée had become exceedingly cold and started to feel a little unwell. I hadn’t really noticed the biting cold during this time, because of being ‘otherwise engaged’ by my photography. Oh, and just for the record, we wore base layers underneath our amply protective walking clothing along with two layers of gloves, and (thankfully hooded) down jackets. Yet at times, the wind simply tore through all this, so we took the decision to gently run across the plateau for a little while to bring some warmth back into ourselves.
The landscape now became strangely flattened, yet still rocky, as we made our way towards Kinder Low, signified by a trig point curiously perched upon a rounded boulder.
From this point, the landscape to the South opened up into a gracefully smooth and wide valley towards Edale, but not before the utterly majestic, towering Edale Rocks tempted us to perch precariously upon their edges for another photographic opportunity to demonstrate the unbelievable scale of the landscape.
From here it was all downhill – not metaphorically, but actually. Leaving the rocks behind, we turned right, then over a stile. Instantly, the landscape softened, and the end-of-the-day sunlight made everything look almost Spring-like.
Thirty-or-so minutes later, we were back at our car feeling hugely satisfied and inspired by what we had experienced.
The moral of this story is don’t wait half a century until you visit the majesty of Kinder Scout. Go at your earliest opportunity, but never forget to respect the mountain and the elements. It might not be the highest in the world, but my goodness it knows how to exemplify the word ‘wild’.
Written by Andrew Greenwood
Photography by Andrew Greenwood
Founder and Creative Director of Visual Sense
A little about Andrew’s photography
As a designer, Andrew approaches photography in a different way to perhaps most people do. When he captures an image he usually has a vision that is different to what he sees through the viewfinder.
He tends to take a more ‘conceptual’ approach to imagery, which leads to a composition that is more abstract than literal. He tries to see subtleties that are often overlooked, in an attempt to interpret his images in a more artist-like way, sometimes gently shifting the colour palette in an unexpected direction. Andrew often shoots with his FujiFilm X-T5 in monochromatic simulation mode, so he can easily discern the differences between light and shade. When he finally processes his images, he only ever manipulates RAW files because they provide him with the greatest range of ‘latitude’ in order to make the colour, tone and compositional adjustments he envisaged.
A little about Andrew’s professional life
Andrew entered the design industry in 1993 and after working for the likes of PlayStation Studios (a division of Sony Interactive Entertainment), The British Council, Royal Exchange Theatre and Pfizer, to name but a few – he founded Visual Sense in 2010.
He didn't have an urge to create a large, multi-staffed design consultancy. Instead he wanted to nurture a small studio truly dedicated to focusing upon delivering an exceptional creative experience.
"The creative journey should be thoroughly enriching and uplifting", and as such he believes that every design project is a fascinating challenge. Importantly, Andrew likes to understand how his clients ‘tick’ – not just within their professional environment but outside of this too. "This takes working relationships to a different, altogether more positive level. Without doubt, a collaborative approach to the design process undoubtedly influences the outcome of a creative solution" he says. He hopes that his love of the natural world helps to positively influence his design work when he explores composition, colour and texture too.
One of the more unusually creative invitations he has received was to give a TEDx talk based on the theme of ‘The Art of Connection’. His repetitious but hugely rewarding daily walking commute to and from the studio became the basis of this. The recording can be found deep within YouTube somewhere …