The Wool packs are a clump of interesting gritstone formations high up on Kinder Scout, just west of Crowden Head.
These gritstone formations have been formed over thousdands of years by being weathered by the rain and the water that flows through the groughs.
The formations aren’t unique just to Kinder Scout but can be seen all over the Peak District, however there’s no doubting on the 600m high plateau it’s one of the best places to see some of these weird and wonderful shapes, being strewn all over the mountain.
The formations actually make Kinder Scout an SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and as such the area is protected.
Anyway, back to what I was starting to write about, last Saturday I had decided that I wanted to capture some of Kinder’s formations at Wool packs. At the moment the area could be done at either sunrise or sunset but in other seasons a sunset would be preferred. I had decided sunset anyway.
I had a lot of cards to deliver that day, dotting all over the Peak District trying to get them delivered as quick as possible, however this did make me arrive a little later than I would have liked and pulled up at Barber Booth at 14:10…the sunset was at 16:07!!
I quickly donned my gear, which included my new Sony Nex 7 that I had decided to bring out on its own to see if it was up to the job of being a main camera when needed (maybe a review to come later?). I then set off up Crowden Brook building quite a pace.
The walk up Crowden is pleasant for the most part, though sometimes the paths aren’t great and time permitting near the top it’s nice to head up the waterfalls and climb them rather than the main path that branches off to the left. The claims up the waterfalls, while sometimes being quite exposed and commiting are very easy and as long as care is taken can be climbed by anyone. However, as time wasn’t permitting I made the hard slog up the left branch which was the toughest bit of the walk.
On the way up, the was some lovely light being cast on the higher right hand flanks (the map says this is Grindslow Knoll, but anyone who knows the area knows how far away the knoll actually is and slowly slopes off, I like to think of this flank just as Crowden Brook still) while Crowden Head to the left was in shade and I could faintly see some ice giving a stark contrast to the warm light. If I’d have been up a little earlier I’m sure I’d have been able to get a really nice photo looking back down the brook into Edale, alas one to save for next time which I’m sure will be very soon.
Arriving at the top of Crowden, a little out of breath but very thankful to be there I checked my watch and saw it was about 15:10, it had took me about a hour to get to the top which wasn’t too bad going.
I looked around and although I have been up Kinder so many times, I hadn’t been up since June 2011 and I stood amazed at the views and amazed I had forgot how good they were. I had really missed this place.
On top, at 600m+ it was very windy, the flat plateau of Kinder Scout serves no shelter and the wind whips right across with no protection from any nearby hills. While down in the valley and most of the way up it was quite mild, up here it was frozen, with lots of ice around and interesting formations on the grass and heather.
I made the last stretch across to Wool Packs, sort of thanking the gods at this point there was no light because it’s always frustrating walking to location knowing that the light is playing out and you may miss it. While it may have been very cold, at this point I was thankful for the ice. Between Crowden Head and Wool Packs has to be one of the boggiest area’s on Kinder that’s a path. You usually have to navigate around everything, jumping from grass hump to grass hump or face sinking but not today, the frozen peat let me walk right over it speeding things up greatly.
On arrival to wool packs I spent a good amount of time surveying the area, I had been past these formations many times but never stopped to take photos.
It was a little weird at first using the Nex 7 as a main camera, mainly because it looked so ridiculous on a tripod but make no mistake its a serious bit of kit. Its essentially my main camera in a compact body and the idea for me is to use it when out wild camping or on these longer slogs where saving weight is always welcomed. I was also testing if I could use 84.5mm filters with the set up, while I find the Cokin P system restricting on my main camera with bigger lenses it serves quite well on the Nex 7.
The first shot I got, was of this interesting formation. Look how the rock on the left is top heavy, it sort of looks like an anvil to me. The dark brooding clouds made a good backdrop and you can see Grindslow Knoll in the distance.
My next composition was to be my last. It was still freezing and I was trying to keep myself warm, the sun kept hiding behind passing cloud but never casting a glow. However, I was very taken by this large rock which was surrounded by a frozen pool. What really caught my attention was the frozen windswept grass that for me provided a great lead in line for the image. In the distance you can see Swines Back which really is the point that separates the east and west of Kinder and a defining point if you ascend from Edale of Hayfield. Anyway here is the shot:
I was quite pleased with the latter picture and while there is a lack of my normally preferred lighting I feel that because of the actual scene was cold it serves it quite well. It seems to have gone down pretty well on the social networks anyway.
I plan a return up here, hopefully with a bit of snow and a bit of light. I can only dream.