A landscape consisting of moors, dales, peaks and pikes; vast open valleys brimming with vibrant purple heather, an abundance of sheep and the iconic dry-stone walls unique to the area. The Peak District is situated in Northwest England, suspended between Manchester and Sheffield and at the southern end of the Pennines. It is Britain’s first National Park, created in 1951, and the second most visited in the country.
The Peak District is the starting point of the famous walking trail, The Pennine Way, which begins in Edale before heading onto the grand Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peaks. As such, the park is incredibly popular with walkers who come to the area for the diversity of terrain; from the green rolling hills in the southern ‘White Peak’ area, to the craggy, gritstone rocks and rough, moorland terrain of the more wild ‘Dark Peak’ in the north.
The Peak District is stunning at all times of year; when covered in a blanket of white in winter, under the rich blue tones of the sky in the summer, even on a cloudy day - which is all too common in this area - the diversity of colours and terrain make the landscape both unique and beautiful.
Edale; the small village in the heart of the Peaks that is easy to fall in love with. Most people use Edale as a base for tackling some of the area’s most iconic walks like Kinder Scout and Mam Tor. The village consists of a couple of lovely, traditional pubs; the Moorland Centre, where you can find maps and information on walks; Cooper’s Campsite with an accompanying no-frills cafe serving Full English breakfasts, beans on toast and other hearty post-walk lunches; the National Trust-run Penny Pot Cafe with delicious cakes and coffee; and a number of B&Bs and guesthouses for avid walkers or city-dwellers looking for an escape in the country.
However, the best thing about Edale is its proximity to the hills; an excellent starting place for some of the Peak District’s best hikes. After your walk, we’d recommend stopping at the Rambler Inn; a lovely country pub serving traditional lunches with an open fire to cosy-up beside in the winter and a large beer-garden out front, perfect for spending those long summer days in the heart of the Peaks.
Getting there: there is a train station that links directly to Manchester or Sheffield, running once every two hours. See schedule here. There is also plenty of paid parking if you are using Edale as a base for walks. Max £6 for 24 hours.
With a name meaning “Mother Hill”, Mam Tor is one of the most iconic and easily accessible viewpoints in the Peak District. Avid photographers will head up to the summit for sunrise, in the hope of seeing a rare and unpredictable inversion; when the clouds cover the base of the valley in a blanket of fluffy white, offering stunning views as the mist rises and the vast, green valley becomes visible in daylight. But views from Mam Tor are remarkable at all times of day; Kinder Scout and the Vale of Edale sit grandly in the north, while the Hope Valley and the village of Castleton can be seen in the east. Mam Tor is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or relax in the middle of a long walk.
Getting there: Park at the Mam Tor National Trust carpark for a short but steep walk to the summit. Park in or get the train to the village of Edale for a longer, more strenuous walk. Combine a visit to Mam Tor with a walk along Rushup Edge, Hollins Cross or Back Tor. It is also possible to reach Mam Tor from the village of Castleton.
Jacob’s Ladder to Kinder Scout
A must-do hike for keen ramblers is onto the plateau of Kinder Scout via the infamous Jacob’s Ladder. Named after the connection between earth and heaven, Jacob’s Ladder is a challenging climb up a cobble-stone path that can feel somewhat ceaseless when ascending with a heavy backpack full of camping gear. Though wild camping in the Peaks is not encouraged, it may be done discreetly and if left without a trace; the moorland plateau of Kinder Scout is a beautiful place to spend the night, with breathtaking views looking down to the village of Edale and across to Mam Tor on the other side of the valley. There are plenty of sheltered spots to set up camp atop the moors, where the night brings one hundred million stars twinkling above and the morning greets you with a sunrise of one thousand shades of orange – on a clear day at least.
Getting there: Depart from Edale. There is a train station in Edale that links directly to Manchester or Sheffield, running once every two hours. There is also plenty of paid parking in Edale. Max £6 for 24 hours.
Hike: From the Moorland Visitor Centre in Edale you can buy a National Park booklet which includes eight walks around Edale, two of which (numbers 7 and 8) feature Kinder Scout. The booklet costs £2.80 and includes a map and description of each walk. Alternatively, details of the walk can be found here or use OS Map OL1.
Gear: This hike requires walking boots. Bring a raincoat and something warm as weather can be unpredictable on the plateau. We'd recommend starting early in the day as the walk may take between 4 and 6 hours.
Food & Drink: Take plenty of water and food for the hike. There are a number of food options in Edale upon your return.
There is a famous scene in the 2005 film adaption of Pride & Prejudice where Keira Knightley stands on the edge of a spectacular cliff, her coat billowing in the wild wind. This is Stanage Edge, and it is even more striking in real-life than the film portrays. Overlooking Hathersage and the Derbyshire countryside, you can either enjoy a circular walk along the full 4-mile length of the ‘edge’, or a short but steep ascent from the nearby car-park for vast and breathtaking views.
Getting there: Park at the Stanage Edge carpark, near Hathersage.
Gear: The strong wind seems to be a consistent feature here, so bring a warm jacket or coat.
Camp: Nearby North Lees campsite is an excellent camping option for reaching Stanage Edge, only a 30 minute walk away.
Lady Clough Forest
Though the majority of the Peak District consists of moors and farmland, Lady Clough makes for a beautifully rich woodland walk that is neither strenuous nor time-consuming – unless you are an avid photographer, in which case you may find yourself wandering the woods all day! Consisting of predominantly coniferous trees, with the River Ashop running through the middle of the forest and the stunning open moorland of Ashop Moor if you venture a little further beyond the trail, Lady Clough is arguably the most varied and accessible woodland walk in the Dark Peak.
Getting there: Park at the Hope Woodland carpark along Snake Road.
Hike: Follow the blue signposts for an easy 2-mile walk, or continue onto Ashop Moor for a longer, more adventurous hike.
Gear: We would recommend walking boots due to the rough, woodland terrain and muddy patches after rainfall.
Food & Drink: Check out the Snake Pass Inn for a no frills pub lunch and pint after the walk.
Bamford Edge is a beautiful walk along a gritstone edge above the village of Bamford, looking down onto Ladybower Reservoir and across to Win Hill on the other side of the valley. It is popular with climbers and walkers alike, and can be linked with a walk to Stanage Edge.
Getting there: Park on Snake Road by the viaduct or at Heatherdene carpark where the walk begins by following the path through the woods. You can also start the walk from the village of Bamford where there is a train station. There are a couple of car parking spaces on New Road by a gate and stile that leads directly onto the Edge.
Hike: If parking by Ladybower reservoir, walk to Heatherdene carpark and upwards through the forest to reach the edge. If parking in Bamford, walk up the main village road then right onto The Clough. Just after the junction with New Road there is a gate and stile on the left that lead onto the Edge.
Gear: Trainers or boots would be suitable for this walk.
Chrome & Parkhouse Hills
In the southern White Peak - not far from the town of Buxton - there are two famous hills protruding out of the earth, like hump-back whales coming up for air. A striking example of the erosion and evolution of the earth, Chrome and Parkhouse Hills can be hiked on a 5-mile ridge walk from the village of Earl Sterndale.
Getting there: Park in the small village of Earl Sterndale, just off the A515 heading south from Buxton.
Hike: The hike begins from The Quiet Woman pub in Earl Sterndale and is 5 miles. Use OS map OL24 or see instructions here. Note there is a bit of a scramble if climbing Parkhouse Hill from west to east!
Somewhat resembling Iceland but with a distinctly English edge, Winnats Pass will certainly leave you breathless - especially if you happen to be cycling up it. A collapsed limestone cavern, this windy, narrow road snakes through the Derbyshire hills and has various famous viewpoints from the jagged edges above, looking down the pass and back towards the village of Castleton.
Getting there: By car - follow the A6187 westbound from Castleton to reach the pass. There are a few lay-bys at the top of the pass where you can park. Walk back to the top of the pass, cross the cattle-grid, then take a rough path on the right. Follow round to various viewpoints overlooking the pass.
By train - catch the Manchester-Sheffield train to Hope. Walk through Hope and Castleton, then take the road that bears left to reach the pass. Option 1 (more scenic option): walk through the pass beside the road to the top, where you can then take a rough path on the left (just before the cattle-grid) which leads to various viewpoints overlooking the pass. Option 2: from the bottom of Winnats, take the steep banking on the right-hand side to reach viewpoints overlooking the pass.