Last year when I visited England’s Peak District it was too windy to walk on the tops so this year I was thrilled to be able to walk the famous Kinder Scout edge – the best day walk in the Peak District.
I didn’t like being blown over (literally, we had to crawl) by the high winds on Mam Tor last year during a walk from Castleton and so we did 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.
Next we took a 40-minute detour up onto the Kinder Plateau, which was enough to get a taste of the peat bogs and tussock!
Returning to 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 gambol and the pub beckons.
At the end of the day I was left in no doubt that this is the best day walk in the Peak District.
By Natasha von Geldern
Where to stay in the Peak District
There are a number of accommodation options in the Peak District and I have stayed at both the YHA in Castleton and the YHA in Edale. Edale is particularly convenient for this walk but I thought the Castleton YHA offered better value.
Have you been hiking in this part of England? What is your best day walk in the Peak District?
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