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Saturday 24th January 1959 - Edale to Hayfield

A walk was planned for this weekend during the mid-week but, as the weather again became artic on Thursday and Friday, a note was sent round all classes telling children to listen to the weather forecasts and not to gather if snow, ice or low cloud were forecast.

On the Saturday morning the weather was truly artic, but bright and clear - so it was decided to go ahead as planned. The following sixteen children gathered at Marple Station and just caught the 8.58 train for Edale. Mr Leather kindly held the train for a few minutes so that the group could board it on arrival of Mr Mason, who was unavoidably delayed.

Ann Mason   Michael Butcher  Bobbie Harwood 
Tony Mason Denis Bower David Shepherd 
Liz Schofield   Alwyn Kay   John Dunlop
Wendy Sharples   Barrie Philips   David Wright 
Eileen Thelwell   Robin Lambert   Keith Mercer 

Maureen Pridham
Michael Taylor (with dog) joined the party at New Mills 

Many of the old regulars were absent. Mr Mason was the only adult present, Mrs Mason being unable to attend owing to night nursing duties.

As the train approached Edale the countryside looked wonderful in its mantle of snow under bright winter sunshine. Looking at the high snow-covered hills one could not help wondering what adventures were ahead of us that day. The route planned was from Edale to the head of Grindsbrook, across the peat bog to Kinder Downfall, then down to William Clough and the reservoir and so back to Hayfield - a route we have covered before, but not in deep snow with the temperature some 8 degrees below freezing.

WW1959-001 ? near Mad Woman Rock
WW1959-001 ? near Mad Woman Rock (from another walk)

A start was made at about 10.15 in high spirits, and the log bridge over the brook was crossed. It was here that Robin Lambert, and one or two of the others, were seen to be having difficulty on the snowy surface. On investigating, these children were found to be wearing shoes with smooth leather or rubber soles, having absolutely no grip at all on snow or ice. Having some idea of what lay ahead Mr M's hair fairly stood on end at the prospect of shepherding these foolish children over the tricky parts of the route. However, it was too late to send them back - the party was by then committed to the planned route.

An inspection of footwear would've been made at Marple but, owing to the rush to board the train, had not been carried out; so many times have the children been told of the vital necessity of suitable footwear that inspection should, by now, be unnecessary.

These ill-shod children demanded more than a fair share of the leader's attention during the miles that followed. On the slippery path up Grindsbrook, Robin and Maureen were constantly slipping - neither of them seemed to have much idea of picking their way to secure the best foothold.

WW1959-002 Caption required
WW1959-002 Caption required

Someway on it was discovered that the first-aid kit had not been packed - there was nothing that could be done about this except to utter a fervent prayer that no accident befall the group.

In the narrow defile of the upper reaches of Grindsbrook the way seemed impassably blocked by frozen waterfalls and rocks covered with thick glazed ice. The properly clad children carefully scaled the sides of the gorge to the easier going above, but for four of them this was impossible and a most exciting time was had finding a way amongst the rocks and across ice that was, generally, not quite thick enough to stand Mr M's weight. Finally, battling upward for some distance, a position was reached from which the sides could be scaled without much difficulty, on hands and knees.

Those safely on the higher ground passed the time by maintaining a continuous bombardment of snowballs, with their ‘revered' leader, Mr Mason, as the main target. Obviously, despite the fact that this section was fraught with difficulty, and maybe a little danger, it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

True to his reputation, Robin Lombard managed to get into difficulty by attempting to find his own way out of the defile by a route far too steep for the shoes we was wearing. The rest of the party had a good view of him clinging to a rock in what looked, from their viewpoint, to be a most precarious position. However, it was nowhere near as bad as it looked - and Alwyn Kay and Tony Mason, despatched to rescue him, soon hauled the foolish lad to safety.

WW1959-004 Between Roman Road and Mad Woman
WW1959-004 Between Roman Road and Mad Woman

Leaving Grindsbrook near the head, compass course was followed across the snowy waste of the Kinder Plateau towards Kinder Downfall. This was very exhausting going, as all will know who are acquainted with the wide peat swamp with its numerous deep gullies. During this section a young man and woman quietly tagged on to the group: it was very evident that they were lost in the wilderness and, without admitting this, made use of the school group as a navigational aid.

Wendy Sharples, who was wearing a skirt, hardy lass though she is, suffered from cold legs. Ann Mason came to her rescue by quietly, in the shelter of a gully, exchanging her jeans for Wendy's skirt for a spell. Maureen Pridham dropped behind a lot and, on waiting for her to catch up, it was found that she had twisted her ankles - not very badly, but she was most unhappy about it. Mr Mason gave her support for most of the way along the Kinder stream to the Downfall, where the major part of the group had settled down for lunch. Alwyn Kay looked after the front end very competently while the leader was coping with the snags at the tail of the group.

During the trek across the plateau, Wright was found to be suffering severely from cold hands - he had come without gloves - Mr M gave Wright his gloves, himself knowing how to keep hands warm without gloves in coldness of that degree.

WW1959-005 Caption required

Little time was spent over lunch at the Downfall as, with inaction, the cold very soon made itself felt. Alwyn was given directions and set off for the reservoir with most of the group, while Mr M brought up the rear with the stragglers, and Tony M, as company.

During the lunch stop Eileen Thelwell and Maureen became so cold that they cried with pain - so a brisk pace was set and they soon warmed up, but Maureen's shoe grip was not up to this and she took two more tumbles and had to be carefully shepherded over all but the most even bits. The reservoir was reached without any serious mishap, and from there the usual straight route to Hayfield was followed.

There was some time to wait for the train to depart - this was spent by many in a nearby café, or in picking the large icicles off their clothing. The warmth of the train, when it came, was very welcome.

Despite the severe discomfort suffered by many, this was voted a highly successful walk. Resolved that action must be taken to ensure that all the youngsters are properly shod and clothed for these winter expeditions. It is staggering that parents will let their offspring out on a tough expedition without ensuring that they are suitably equipped. Many children still need instruction on how to pick the best path and where to put their feet.

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