Last year when I visited England’s Peak District it was too windy to head up onto the tops so this year I was thrilled to at last be able to walk the famous Kinder Scout edge. In March 2014 I got blown over by the high winds on Mam Tor and so headed for a beautiful low level walk beside the Ladybower and Derwent reservoirs. This year I experienced the classic Peak District landscape of craggy gritstone escarpments (known as ‘edges’) and soft green valleys and this area has quickly become one of my favourite places to walk in England.
The Peak District National Park became the United Kingdom’s first National Park in 1951 after a series of campaigns and protests by leisure activity enthusiasts and nature conservationists. Indeed in 1932 Kinder Scout was the setting for a mass trespass action where walkers literally fought for the right to walk across open moorland in defiance of local landowners. Five of the trespassers were imprisoned after scuffles with gamekeepers!
Thanks to these activists we can enjoy 555 square miles (or 1,440 square kilometres) of upland country in Derbyshire (mostly) that is ruggedly beautiful, despite having no actual peaks! The highest point is Kinder Scout at 2,087 feet (636 metres), which is really more of a boggy plateau than a summit.
I stayed in the tiny village of Edale, which is tiny but has two good pubs and a pretty church, and did the classic walk along the start of the Pennine Way, up Jacob’s Ladder, then skirting around the edge of the Kinder Plateau past tumbling rock formations like Swine’s Back, and wild escarpments all the way around to Ringing Roger, before dropping steeply down into Edale again.
The locals have certainly thought up plenty of dramatic names for the otherworldly rock formations. a 40-minute detour up onto the Kinder Plateau was enough to get a taste of the peat bogs and tussock.
Along the edge each turn in the path brings views of a new valley, each with its own colours and contours, sweeping down to the soft green fields of the dale below where lambs gambolled and the pub beckoned.
By Natasha von Geldern
There are a number of accommodation options in Edale but I would not recommend the YHA. Last year I stayed in the Castleton YHA and found it well located and good value. The Edale YHA was disappointing – a ‘private room’ costing 100 pounds for two people/two nights was more like a cupboard with a sink. The basic shower room was down the hall and the toilet was downstairs. There was no window, only a velux roof window that did not open, or have a blind. The room was so small you basically had to catch yourself from bumping into the opposite wall as soon as you walked into the door. The 8 pound evening meal didn’t even touch the sides but the hostel is over half an hours’ walk from the village so I didnt’ have much choice. The breakfast was better value. Rant over!