There are countless hikes in the Peak District. From gentle ambles around sparkling reservoirs to more strenuous boulder scrambles, there is something to suit just about everyone.
Edale is an excellent starting point for a number of hikes in the Peak District. The village best known to outdoor enthusiasts as the start (or finish) of the Pennine Way, a 265 mile walk along the ‘backbone of England’. A short stroll from the train station into the centre of the village will bring you to the Nags Head pub. The official starting point for this walk and a section of which you will walk for this hike.
From the get-go, the scenery is something to behold and the terrain is varied and exciting. You’ll amble alongside a stream bed enclosed by trees and over crooked wooden stiles, across lush green fields scattered with nonchalant cows and sheep, through farm yards and past quaint stone cottages.
The path underfoot ranges from flagstone, to dirt, to road, to grass, giving the mind and body an excellent workout. Views across the dale to Mam Tor and Lose Hill will encourage you to slow your pace and absorb every last drop of this beautiful place.
In late spring, the foxgloves will be out in full force. They bring cheery pops of pink to a land heavily saturated in shades of green.
At the base of Jacobs Ladder, you will cross the river Noe over a beautiful grade 2 listed packhorse bridge. Jacobs Ladder got its name from Jacob Marshall, a man who helped see the construction of the steep, stepped path in the 18th century.
The ruins of his old farm still cling to the hillside, where he once provided a respite for the jaggers (packhorse drivers) passing through.
The climb is incredibly uneven and steep. The views over Edale are the perfect excuse to stop and catch a breath every couple of minutes.
Once at the top, it’s lovely to perch on Edale Rocks for a lunch spot with a view. The sheep in this area are notoriously unfazed by visitors. It might not be long before one catches wind of your meal and joins you for a snack.
If you’re feeling energetic, you could always carry on across the peat moorland of Kinder Low, as far as Kinder Downfall. The ground is much flatter up there, but involves a great deal of concentration when hopping between boulders and slabs.
Dropping 30 metres, Kinder Downfall is the highest waterfall in the Peak District. In the height of summer, it trickles lazily over the edge. In the colder seasons, it is famous for blowing back on itself in high winds and showering passers-by with freezing spray. It also completely freezes over, providing a playground for ice climbers.
Situated on the very edge of the Peak District, just a few miles from Oldham, Dovestone Reservoir is a picturesque spot, perfect for dog walkers, climbers and people wanting to escape the city for the day and gulp in as much fresh air as their lungs can take.
Having done little research prior to this walk, the size of Dovestone Reservoir (perhaps due to my brisk, jolly pace) came as a bit of a surprise to me. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction from the main car park, I found myself half way around the gleaming waters a lot quicker than expected.
With the sun blissfully beaming down, there was simply no way I was ready to head for home. I decided to continue on along a narrow path lined with bright purple bursts of heather, towards Yeoman Hey, which was built in 1880 to collect water from the surrounding moors.
But that didn’t take long either, so onwards and upwards I went, to the smallest and quietest reservoir (bar an excitable pack of dogs of all shapes and sizes playing in the shallows, whilst their proud owners looked on contently) in the Dovestone region, Greenfield Reservoir, which was constructed between 1897-1902 and sits above Yeoman Hey.
After a quick chat with one of the least distracted dog owners, I came to the conclusion that I ‘simply must get to higher ground’ for a spectacular view over the valley, so I began following the babbling waters of Greenfield Brook up a large, stoney track.
At the end of the track, the stream rose above me in a series of waterfalls. It spilled noisily over the scattered rocks and boulders. I pondered whether or not I was up to the slippery scramble for a minute or two, came to the conclusion that I probably wasn’t, then began hoisting myself up the stream nonetheless.
The further I climbed, the more impressive the waterfalls became. At this point, I was also becoming increasingly distressed by the vast swarms of hawthorn flies. They would rise in dark clouds from the grass I appeared to be disturbing with every step, sending me into a blurred frenzy of swatting limbs and faint, disgruntled squeals. Little did I know that the buggers were harmless.
When the stream began to level out, I took the opportunity to cross over. I trudged up the uneven hillside towards the Raven Stones, a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley.
The views were something else. The green and purple hillsides were captivating. Seeing Greenfield Brook snaking down the valley below me into the reservoir gave me a great sense of accomplishment. This of course, meant that it was time to celebrate with lunch.
Two sandwiches later, I slowly made my way back down the stream and finished my anti-clockwise route along the three reservoirs.
Mam Tor and the Great Ridge walk
Castleton and its quintessentially English vibes had me brimming with joy. It’s everything a city escapee could wish for. It’s rustic, with higgledy-piggledy shops, stone walls wrapping around sturdy cottages and the promise of a good ol’ hike just around the corner.
Mam Tor and the Great Ridge is one of my favourite hikes in the Peak District. My route began along the muddy, uneven slopes of a steep hillside. It had me torn between gazing out over the lush green fields and looking down at my own clumsy feet.
After crossing the road leading up to Winnats Pass, I cut across a field and up an obnoxiously steep hill. I wasn’t sure whether to climb or crawl, as every part of my body began to protest in unison.
People coming down the hill were experiencing an equal, if not worse struggle. They desperately clung to a barbed wire fence for support.
After crossing a few more fields I came out on a road. It wound around the side of the hill and lead me to a paved walkway. From here, the ascent was surprisingly easy and I even felt a slight spring in my step.
I continued on along the ridge, which separates the Hope and Edale Valleys. It treats you to a view of both at the same time, one to your left, the other to your right. Spectacular.
The ridge walk is mostly paved and flat, a welcome rest for the weary legs and internal organs.
Over a stile and up a short, steep slope, I reached the craggy summit of Back Tor. Then, continued on to the final high point of the hike, Lose Hill Pike.
Ringing Roger to Grindslow Knoll
Past The Old Nags Head pub (just up the road from Edale station), the lane eventually ends. The path leads you under the cool cover of the flourishing woodland surrounding Grindsbrook.
Across the trickling brook and up some steps will bring you out into an open field. Instead of following the path around to the left, which leads onto the popular scramble of Grindsbrook Clough, take the steep route to the right and ascend up and around The Nab.
Eventually you’ll reach the base of Ringing Roger. This is series of beautiful wind-blown rock formations, which require a touch of light scrambling.
There is then another climb across Golden Clough. This can be accessed along a series of paths to reach Kinder Plateau.
Follow the single path along Kinder Plateau. Drink in the views across Edale to your left and Kinder Scout to your right. This section of the walk was mostly flat, with a number of good viewing spots atop of the rocky escarpment.
Eventually, the path connects with the head of the Grindsbrook Clough scramble route. Cross over the brook itself and head left towards the towering hilltop of Grindslow Knoll.
The panoramic view from the top is sensational. Expect to find a number of other walkers strewn across the summit, tucking into packed lunches, as well as paraglider’s silently riding the air currents across the valley.
The route back to Edale is straightforward. You simply descend the steep path down from Grindslow Knoll, cut across a couple of sheep fields and finally, rejoin the Pennine Way track back into the village.
Grindsbrook Clough is one of the many hikes in the Peak District that will take you up onto Kinder Scout. This route is well known for its boulder scramble section.
Starting at Edale station, the route begins like the previous walk. However, instead of climbing up the steep hill towards Ringing Roger, you follow the path to the left, continue across the field, through some woodland and across the brook.
The walk then starts to curve up the hillside, following the brook, which gradually gets rockier as you ascend.
Eventually you reach a fork. You can continue forwards, or take the slightly more difficult route to the right, which really does involve hoisting yourself up over boulders. I imagine in the wetter seasons this direction would almost be impassable, as there is a waterfall ledge to negotiate.
Once you reach the top, the choice is yours. You can either head back across Kinder Plateau in the opposite direction to the previous walk mentioned, or turn left and make your way to Grindslow Knoll.
The Roaches are another of my favourite hikes in the Peak District. They are an impressive gritstone ridge located in Staffordshire, popular amongst hikers and climbers alike.
I use the same carpark for accessing The Roaches as I do Lud’s Church. I like to combine both walks, seeing as they are so close to one other. The trail is clearly marked with sign posts and there are a number of routes to enjoy around this beautiful ridge line.
For more hikes in the Peak District, check out: Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, for instance.