On Saturday April 17, 2021, I braved my first solo hike up a mountain.
Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District. A moorland plateau, it is considered a ”mountain” at 636 metres above sea level. It is the highest point in Derbyshire and the East Midlands.
To prepare for my upcoming Mountain Leader training, Kinder Scout was the perfect location at under 3 hours drive from home. I set off from the paid parking near Edale train station at 9.07am, armed with a new 50L rucksack, my Explorer OLO1 map, and my compass to test my navigation skills and mental nerve.
Three and half hours later, I found myself on top of Kinder Scout, sat on a rocky outcrop, east of Crowden Head. The solitude of sitting there alone, and the blissful stillness around me felt calming.
I love wild, open spaces, where the lands seems to meet the sky, and stretch on to somewhere unknown. It fills me with a sense of wonder, and deep inner peace. It is why I love to hike across moors, and up hills and mountains.
My journey back across this open moorland, where the footpath was not visible tested my nerve to trust in the skills I had. I negotiated my way around and through peat bogs, and joined the Pennine Way trail near Kinder Downfall.
The final part of my trek took me past the unique rock formations that characterise this part of the Pennine Way, and down Jacob’s Ladder. I much prefer to go up than down as my knees don’t agree with it. But with a pair of hiking poles, they help take the pressure and impact off your legs. Taking it slowly is essential. Injuries are more likely when your body is tired.
Eight hours later I was sat back in my car. I felt both exhausted and exhilarated. The last hour was tough. I was tired and my hip flexors were in pain. Luckily I had pain medication with me and took one. Next time, I need to remember to take one at the start of the day. It can help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in your body as the hike progresses.
I love the challenge of hiking. It tests your physical capabilities, and your mental strength and determination to keep hiking onwards when your body and mind say ”no”. And I love feeling pure joy and satisfaction, when rewarded by incredible views after a long or hard hike.